There are a lot of great players in the NBA, but some of them get too much hype and credit for posting empty box score stats at the expense of their team’s success. These players, not necessarily in an effort to “ball-hog,” oftentimes will try and be their team’s offense instead of playing through the offense. Some players like LeBron James and Russell Westbrook can get away with this more simply because of their sheer physical dominance, but these players can not. They may look flashy or fancy in the highlight reel, but wins are sacrificed in the process.
PG – Derrick Rose
There were no point guards in the NBA better than prime Derrick Rose. MVP Derrick Rose was the best player in the NBA in 2011. That Derrick Rose, however, is long gone. The Bulls won 62 games during Rose’s MVP season. With Derrick Rose playing the same role, the Bulls won 20 less games. Of course the circumstances were different, Tom Thibodeau’s coaching was on a completely different level from Fred Hoiberg‘s, and Thibodeau also had Joakim Noah and Luol Deng in their prime, but Rose’s decline is arguably the biggest reason for the team-wide despair of the Bulls.
2016 Rose got win shares at 1/23rd the rate of 2011 Rose. Rose also was fifth worst among starting point guards (50 games started and 2000 minutes played) at defensive rating with 110, but his offense was even worse. His defense generated positive win shares, but his offense generated negative ones.
This could clearly be seen on the court; whenever Rose was on the floor, he always had the ball in his hands, everything had to be through him, or else he was a non-factor with an abysmal three point shooting percentage of 29.3%. That’s why his offensive rating was a terrible 96, which was not only 2nd worst among the same set of starting point guards was 2nd worse, but 2nd worst in the entire league behind a rookie Emmanuel Mudiay. Rose was not the same player he used to be, even though this is the most games he’s played since that 2011 MVP season of his.
SG – O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo certainly didn’t live up to the expectation of the “next LeBron James,” and he hasn’t lived up to his current reputation as a talented shooting guard either. Mayo was horrible this season. In the past Mayo was at least good for eleven or so points per game on shooting percentages in the low 40s – at the very least, as he occasionally outperformed those marks. This season, however, Mayo missed half the season, only averaged 7.8 points per game, and shot just 37.1%.
This is a player who is supposed to be in the prime of his career at age 28, and here he is playing the worst basketball of it. Mayo was so bad, he amassed negative win shares. He had 0.6 defensive win shares, but -0.7 offensive ones. Yet for some reason the Bucks started him for 24 games, and they played him 26.6 minutes per game in those games. With quality guards like Khris Middleton, Jarryd Bayless, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and, although he isn’t that much better than Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams on the team, there is no reason for Mayo to be playing that much.
On top of that, Mayo was 14th worst among guards who played as much as he did (at least 1000 minutes played, 24 games started, and 26 minutes per game) in defensive rating with 110, and he was 2nd worst in the same group at offensive rating. Mayo was nothing short of toxic to this team on the court, and his failure to live up to expectations his talent set for him is bad for a young Milwaukee team off the court as well.
SF – Jamal Crawford
One might be surprised to see Crawford on this list, after all, how can a player who plays like a starter off the bench be overrated right? Wrong. While there is much respect for a player competing at as high of a level as his at age 36, it doesn’t change the fact that Crawford hurts the Clippers more so than he helps them.
For one, his shooting percentages are horrible. Crawford shot 40.4% from the field this season, and 34.0% from behind the arc. These percentages aren’t surprising, considering that the majority of Crawford’s baskets come from un-assisted midrange shots created from isolation plays – arguably the most inefficient shot in basketball. This is made only more noticeable when Crawford is compared to his teammates; Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are all incredible under an analytics-driven lense. Crawford was dead-last on the Clippers in defensive rating too (among players who played more than 30 minutes for team all season.)
Things were different in the past. Not only did Crawford play better offensively (109 offensive rating first two seasons with Clippers vs. 104 this year,) but the team needed him more. Los Angeles’ bench used to be futile, the Clippers won 56 games in 2014-2015, and 52.5 of those wins were credited to the starters and Crawford. It is different now, however, as the bench produced 12 win shares this year, and it really stepped up when Blake Griffin got hurt. The bench does it need one player to carry the entire offense, which is what Crawford tries to do, and even if it did, Austin Rivers has a very similar game, he is 12 years younger, and Rivers is already more efficient. It may be time for the Clippers to part ways with Crawford.
PF – Jeff Green
Jeff Green has been overhyped for a while now, and it’s a shame that teams keep thinking they are getting a steal by trading for him. Los Angeles made this mistake the latest, and while Lance Stephenson wasn’t doing much for the team before the trade, he really emerged on the Grizzlies. Green, on the other hand, played rather poorly.
There is a notion that Green is this versatile forward who can play either the three or the four when the reality is that he cannot play either position effectively. Green as a “stretch four” is simply not true. 31.5% from behind the three point line is a very inefficient mark. His defense is average with a 106 rating, but his offense just isn’t up to par with a 100 rating. The Clippers were also 5.2 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the court, and that was largely without Blake Griffin to play power forward. In other words, the Clippers were better with very base-level NBA players in Green’s place like Luc Mbah a Moute, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson, and a washed up Paul Pierce.
Green’s rumored athleticism should have been on full display on a team that runs so much of its offense through alley-oop oriented plays (Lob City,) but it was not seen. Green hasn’t been horribly detrimental to the team, but the idea that the Clippers, and the Grizzlies and Celtics before them, got him at a bargain is proposterous. Los Angeles gave up a 1st round pick and a dynamic guard in Stephenson, the Grizzlies gave up a great veteran presence in Tayshaun Prince and a bright young wing in Quincy Pondexter, and the Celtics gave up a great bench scoring guard in Nate Robinson and the rim protector of their 2008 championship team just to get Green, who has been all hype eight seasons into his career.
C – Jahlil Okafor
Okafor can be somewhat forgiven because he is a rookie, but the 76ers big man posted some very empty numbers this season. His 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game are impressive, and the 76ers wouldn’t have even made it to the 10 wins they got without Okafor, but it is bothersome that the 76ers were considerably better without Okafor on the court.
Philadelphia got outscored by 16.8 points per 100 possessions with Okafor on the court. While it isn’t like the 76ers were a contender with Okafor on the bench, but the fact that the 76ers were 10.0 points per 100 possessions better without Okafor on the court is bothersome for a player who oftentimes was looked upon as “the only legitimate player” on Philly. Again, Okafor is just a rookie, and he was a teenager to start the season, but on a team full of players who likely would not make a single other NBA roster, how is the team so much worse with Okafor on the court?
Okafor will develop, he showed some great signs of becoming a dominant big in the NBA last season, but he has a good long while to go before he gets to that point. Until Philadelphia becomes relevant with Okafor in a starting role, he should not be looked at more highly upon than the other players on the 76ers.