25 Most Useless NBA Players of the Past Decade

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2011

25 Most Useless NBA Players of the Past Decade

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    In the NBA, moreso than any other sport it seems, there are players that can just stick around for years and do nothing during the course of a game to really earn a roster spot.

    I assume it seems more prevalent in the NBA because there are only 12 to 15 guys occupying a bench, and you can see all of them during the course of a game.

    There are hordes of players on a football sideline and 25 on a baseball team with a constant flow of players going to and from the minor leagues.

    Meanwhile, a guy taking up space on an NBA sideline is there for 82 games a year, just sitting, waiting for his chance to get in the game, play terrible basketball and collect a paycheck.

    Sometimes, useless players in the league are the problem of the guys who run teams. It's hard to find a seven-footer, so guys like Byron Mullens get to litter the league and make white guys look bad, while players like Pavel Podkolzin get drafted and score four points in two seasons.

    But what is it that makes a player useless?  

    The most useless player to me is the guy that hangs around the league for a puzzlingly long time, plays terrible defense and just stinks up the court every time he takes off the warm-ups.

    Sure, there are some horrible players who come into the league and just stink out loud for about two seasons and disappear, but the truly useless players stick around and manage to be useless for the better part of a decade.

    If they end up getting overpaid, that's definitely a bonus for them.

25. Darko Milicic

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    Darko Milicic has come on in recent years, showing an ability to block shots and play a little defense.

    But I wouldn't feel right writing about useless players and leaving the Human Victory Cigar unmentioned.

    While with Detroit, the highest Milicic ever shot was 32 percent from the field while scoring just over 150 points in two-and-a-half years.

    He was never really given a great shot in his first few years, but even after leaving Detroit, he showed an uncanny ability to have no idea what's going on around him.

24. DerMarr Johnson

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    A big fellow out of Cincinnati, DerMarr Johnson spent most of his career on the bench. Near the end of his career, in the D-League, teams still had the opinion he could add something to their team.

    That's what happens when you have great athletic abilities but don't care at all on defense, don't have a jumper and just don't have a great basketball mind.

    Even through all this, he never lost confidence in himself, continuing to shoot threes even though the best three-point percentage he ever posted was 36 percent. It even dipped as low as 21 percent later in his career.  

    On top of that, he had four seasons where he shot below 40 percent from the field and finished his career with a shooting percentage at 41 percent.

23. Ike Diogu

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    For some reason, Ike Diogu is still in the NBA.  

    I'm sure there is at least one guy in the D-League who could make a bigger impact than this fellow.

    He was promising as a young player, he had some post moves and he was aggressive, but at some point he was just too aggressive.

    In his rookie season, he played just under 15 minutes a game but still racked up nearly three fouls in that time.  

    He was constantly unaware of who he was making contact with and how much contact he was making, leading the referees to whistle him incessantly. 

22. Shelden Williams

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    The former Duke standout and two-time NCAA Defensive Player of the Year seems like he should have ended up better than he did in the NBA.

    The best thing Shelden Williams has going for him is his defense, but even there he is proving to be counterproductive.  

    He is over-aggressive at times, leading to him chasing a block or a steal even when it seems impossible. When he does stand his ground on his man, he continues to play aggressively, leading to an extremely high number of fouls.

    When he was drafted, he was a "tools" guy with excellent strength, a huge wingspan and good mobility. But he's also clumsy, easily outwitted and just not a well put together basketball player.

    At this point, he's not even the best basketball player in his household.

21. Brian Scalabrine

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    I'll defend Brian Scalabrine to the death when it comes to his importance to the teams he's been on.

    But at the end of the day, he could just as easily be hired as an assistant coach or a team consultant (or any other fake title) and open up a roster spot.

    The White Mamba has been on some of the best teams in the league over the past decade, but it's mostly because he is a hard worker in practice and a good guy to have in the clubhouse, not because he can play basketball well.

20. Lee Nailon

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    You know it's not looking good for the prospects of a basketball player when he looks more like a fake superstar in a basketball movie than an actual basketball player (if Stacey Patton don't shoot, Stacey Patton don't play).

    He bummed around the league for the better part of the past decade before teams got tired of offering him minimum deals. He ended up gaining a starting job for the Hornets in 2002 and 2005, after being on four different teams in between.

    But both times he was given an opportunity, he gave little effort on defense and rebounded nothing (I could get 3.5 rebounds in 24 minutes a game).

    Plus, he had way too much swagger for a guy with his absent skills.

19. Melvin Ely

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    Melvin Ely is one of those cases where a guy got into the league because he was tall and then stayed in the league because he was tall, proving nothing during his time in the NBA.

    Terrible on offense and slow-witted on defense, Ely is shooting 46 percent for his career. He is constantly making bad decisions and committing unnecessary fouls on defense.

18. Shandon Anderson

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    He stuck around the league for a decade and even ended up starting for the Rockets for two years.

    But even then, he looked lost half the time.

    Anderson had bad judgement throughout his career, both on offense and defense, and ended up hoisting up shots far too often to be of any value to a good team.

17. Kwame Brown

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    One of the ultimate draft busts, Michael Jordan's original mistake as a member of the front office of a team is finally starting to come around.

    He has stuck in the league this long because he is big, and it seems he has finally started to learn how to rebound.

    Let's see how that works out.

16. Luke Walton

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    Who on earth would think Luke Walton is worth anything near what he signed a contract for? More importantly, were they fired?

    Walton is set to make $11 million over the next two years so he can sit on the bench with a clipboard as an assistant coach in training.

    It puzzles me as to why the Lakers haven't just bought out his contract or convinced him to retire. Then, they could rehire him as a coach and get it over with.

15. Danny Fortson

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    Danny Fortson actually had the look of a good young player back in 2001, when he started for the Golden State Warriors and averaged over 16 points a game and an insane 16 rebounds.

    Then he fractured his foot for what seemed like the 29th time.

    After that, he lost all his explosiveness and lateral quickness and started relying on banging around down low, which only made things worse.  

    It was as if he had no control over his body. He just knew that being physical was his best shot at staying in the league.

    This led to a huge number of fouls being called on him, and him becoming a frequent target for technical fouls.

14. Johan Petro

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    Johan Petro is clumsy, he can't score with any efficiency and he's French.  

    Right there, you should be able to tell he isn't going to be a good basketball player, but he continues to hang around.

    He reminds me of a slightly shorter Shawn Bradley near the end of Bradley's career, when he was a magnate for guards to dunk on him.

    Even after six years in the league, the most likely adjectives you'll hear to describe him will be "raw," "unpolished," and "green."

13. Michael Olowokandi

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    Who can forget the Kandi Man?

    After slowly improving (if you would consider turning a day-old Salisbury steak into a ham sandwich improvement), he was finally poised to break out in 2002.

    But he injured his knee and suffered a hernia, leading to him playing in just 36 games that season.

    From there, he left the Clippers (I'm sure they were crushed) and played horribly wherever he went. Teams that signed him thought that they could revitalize his career and turn him into something worthwhile.  

    Good luck with that.

12. Jarron Collins

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    Never have I seen a more non-athletic big man who also plays no defense and has no low-post moves on offense.  

    Jarron Collins is so bad, Jason Collins is a better basketball player.  

    Hell, I would take Kerry Collins, Susan Collins or a Tom Collins over Jarron Collins.

11. Slava Medvedenko

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    Any time a basketball team is offered a big Eastern European white guy to take up space on their bench and on the floor from time to time, you'd better believe they'll say yes.

    And that's the story of why Stanislav Medvedenko (better known as Slava) spent six years with the Lakers and seven in the NBA altogether.

    He was like any other unpolished product out of Eastern Europe—clumsy, soft on defense and just not quick enough to adapt to the American version of the game.

10. Mark Madsen

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    Hey, did somebody mention a slow, clumsy, big white guy playing for the Lakers?

    The only thing Madsen ever had going for him was his intensity, but even when he was intense it was a bad thing, because he was at times out of control.

    He would commit fouls left and right, and before you knew it he was back on the bench.

    For his career, he averaged 1.9 fouls a game and just 2.2 points.  

    That's a tad embarrassing but not as embarrassing as this.

9. Drew Gooden

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    You can look at his stats and tell me he's averaged nearly 12 points and eight rebounds for his career and call him useful.

    But at that point, I may just slap you right across the face.

    Drew Gooden is the special kind of useless that you have to see to believe. He is constantly out of place on defense, he always has a clueless look on his face and to every one good thing that he does, he does a dozen bad.

8. Brian Skinner

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    You will see this guy jumping more often from biting on a pump fake than you will see him jumping to actually take a shot.

    He just finished his 13th season in the NBA, to which I say, is there really nobody else teams can give a contract to?  

    There has to be at least one player in Europe or in the D-League for each team that could take his place.

7. Ira Newble

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    You see, the thing about Ira Newble and why he was so useless is there are very few teams out there who have a use for a third small forward.

    He looks like Delonte West's big brother and plays like his little sister, but hey, at least he got to play basketball with LeBron James.

6. Damien Wilkins

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    Being Dominique Wilkins's nephew evidently does get you pretty far in life, but it can't make you a good basketball player.

    Damien Wilkins is a terrible shooter, making just over 42 percent from the field in his seven years in the league.

    And it doesn't look like he's getting any better.

    He's stayed in the league by being a decent defender, but even there he relies too heavily on his athleticism, which can come and go.

5. Bostjan Nachbar

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    This man made over $11 million in his days in the NBA, and I would still wager that nobody knows how to say his name.

    He was marketed as a tweener forward who could shoot threes, but he couldn't really do that very well. He shot 40 percent overall for his career and just 37 percent from downtown.

    On top of that, he had no athletic ability required to play defense in the NBA and absolutely fell apart if his man was quicker than him.

    Which amounted to just about everyone he ever defended.

4. Mike Wilks

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    He was a good ball-handler, but that's the best you can say about Mike Wilks.

    In the end, he was just too small and not tough enough on defense to be a good player, but teams kept giving him chances.

    Wilks never scored more than 170 points in a season and never topped 700 minutes played, but he kept getting signed.

    He was a flashy little guy who could impress you with his dribbling skills, but he was just too short.

3. Brian Cook

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    Maybe if this were 1953, Brian Cook would have a shot at being a good professional basketball player, but he just doesn't have the tools to do it today.

    He's not athletic, he can't jump, he isn't quick, can't move very well in either direction and isn't very strong.  

    That sounds like a great combination to be a low-post player in the NBA. Right?

2. Dan Dickau

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    How many teams out there really need a third point guard who can't shoot well and has no tools to be a good defender? None?

    Well, evidently seven different teams over a six-year span decided he would be a good addition.

    He was easily defended due to his size and lack of quickness, and he was easy to shake on defense due to--well--his size and lack of quickness.

1. Sebastian Telfair

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    He came into the league back in 2004 surrounded by quite a bit of hype coming out of high school.

    Sebastian Telfair is the perfect example of why the NBA should have an age restriction on players coming into the league.

    Telfair came into the league and didn't work nearly as hard as he should have at the basics, which led to him being relegated to backup roles and eventually emergency point guard duty.

    He has shot just 39 percent in his career and just 32 percent from three-point range. He averages only two hoists from downtown a game.

    An interesting phenomenon has come out of Telfair's career.  

    It seems as if over the course of his career, teams have talked themselves into signing him or trading for him based on the belief they can turn him into at least something close to what he was supposed to be.

    They all overestimate their ability to turn a player around and end up disappointed once the season ends.

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