Ranking The Worst Starting Player On Every NBA Team Right Now
It has been four long and tiresome months without the NBA but, finally, the league tips off tonight for real as the regular season is back.
As a Cleveland fan, you can probably guess why I’m so damn pumped about the news, you know, with the whole anticipation that this is the team’s year to FINALLY win a title for the championship starved city.
While my Cavs boast a starting lineup that will feature three All-Stars—LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving once healthy—there’s always one guy in each starting five that doesn’t seem to carry his own weight, struggling for any number of reasons or, let’s face it, just sucking altogether.
Now, I may have gotten cut from my seventh grade middle school team, but even I think that I could beat the worst starting player on every NBA team right now—well, maybe in a game of H.O.R.S.E.—so I ranked them all from least to most suckiest for all 30 teams, which includes a bold prediction for each.
30. Harrison Barnes – Golden State Warriors
It’s pretty difficult picking a shitty player from a starting five that’s coming off of a title, but it has to be done—and Harrison Barnes is the sad soul who gets the nod.
Once a star in college and expected to continue that role in the NBA, he found that life in the NBA isn’t all roses, struggling to be consistent and forced to play second-fiddle to stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
His lowest point as as hoops player is when he got outplayed by the man he replaced in the Dubs’ starting lineup, Andre Iguodala, during last year’s NBA Finals.
Prediction: Has a few good dunks and starts playing for his next contract to convince other teams that he’s a future All-Star.
29. Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs
The kid can shoot, but Danny Green is on this list for one reason and one reason only—because the rest of the San Antonio Spurs’ starters are insanely talented.
Shockingly, I have nothing bad to say about Green as a player, as he has performed on the biggest of stages and has remained a solid teammate in accepting his role.
Just like the Spurs as a team, quite a boring explanation, I know.
Prediction: Has a game in which he hits 10 of 10 threes.
28. Monta Ellis – Indiana Pacers
You’ve really got to hand it to Monta Ellis. After dropping over 19 points a game last season for the Mavs, he used the solid scoring season to catapult him to a rich deal from the Indiana Pacers to be their complimentary scorer.
It’s too bad Ellis still views himself as “the” man, though, who will unconsciously shoot from anywhere on the floor without much hesitation.
Like others on this list, Ellis is solid and will put the ball in the bucket. But he’s also too high on himself as a player, which can hurt the team in the long run.
Prediction: Verbal fight with head coach Frank Vogel over Paul George getting the last shot and not Ellis.
27. Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets
Oh, how the mighty has fallen.
When the Houston Rockets signed Dwight Howard to a monster contract in 2013, they thought they were getting the perennial Defensive Player of the Year and best rim protector in the game.
Instead, they’ve gotten a player whose numbers dropped to 15/10 last season, playing in just 41 games.
D12 isn’t the same guy he once was, yet he’s getting paid like he is. Even worse, he still can’t hit a fucking free-throw and loses his cool way too often.
Prediction: Turns 30 years old in December and realizes he’s no longer the superstar of a team, starts reminding people how good he is through the media.
26. Jeff Green – Memphis Grizzlies
I actually think that the Memphis Grizzlies are poised for a deep run this year, boasting a starting five that’s as good and experienced as any in the league.
It’s too bad that Jeff Green is bound to hurt them, though, as the former first-rounder will undoubtedly do something that reminds us all that he’s not the player we all want him to be.
An above-average talent who should be a perennial All-Star at this point in his career, Green is inconsistent and timid on the basketball court, and that personality usually comes out at the worst times.
Prediction: Passes up the game-winning trey in overtime in the Western Conference Semis as time expires without getting a shot off, eliminating the Grizz.
25. Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons
One of the few guys on this list that is strictly on here because of the heavy weight of a massive contract, Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson will quickly realize that he’s not the player the team wants him to be.
Inking a big-time deal this past offseason, you can expect Jackson to try way too much for the Pistons this year, putting up big numbers for a team that wins about 30 games.
If you’re a stats guy and a diehard Pistons fan, you’ll think Jackson should be an All-Star. If you’re a realist, you’ll know he’s just a decent player on a shitty team.
Prediction: Is in the top-15 in scoring and top-3 in turnovers, causing him to blow up at his teammates around the middle of January.
24. Michael Carter-Williams – Milwaukee Bucks
This kid was the Rookie of the Year just a few years ago, so how is he on this list entering the 2015-16 season? Easy, he’s struggled finding himself as a pro.
Seemingly the second-coming of Deron Williams, Michael Carter-Williams is at a crossroads as he enters his third NBA campaign. On a positive note, he’s talented and has one of the best point guards to ever play, Jason Kidd, as his head coach. On a negative note, he’s had to be “The Man” for a terrible Sixers team before arriving in Milwaukee, so he’s picked up some bad tendencies.
If MCW reverts to a playmaker for his mates and not an inconsistent shooter for himself, he’ll make a big leap. That’s a big “if” though.
Prediction: Gets traded midseason after Kidd makes him cry for not living up to his standards as a team leader and point guard.
23. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
The Knicks are a complete mess, so why haven’t they just jumped ship and traded Carmelo Anthony already? That’s something I can’t answer, but it’s something they really need to do.
Melo is a star and will put up plenty of points, but he’s better served on a playoff team as a complimentary star, not playing the role of Batman on a team that will continue to suck balls.
Add in his massive salary, and Anthony in New York is an ugly pairing.
Prediction: Continues to hear rumors about how he’s not a superstar any longer and finally blows up at the media after a game in which he scores 50 in a loss.
22. Tyson Chandler – Phoenix Suns
Wait, Tyson Chandler is still in the league? Sure is, and he’s on a Phoenix team that is actually pretty decent.
At this point in his career, though, I’m not sure Chandler has what it takes to make a solid impact, meaning he may become the achilles heel of a Suns team that is vying for a low playoff seed.
He can still rebound—I mean, he is seven-feet tall—but Chandler won’t be able to defend some of the other bigs the Western Conference has one-on-one any longer, which will hurt the squad.
Prediction: Gets posterized by Blake Griffin three-straight plays to become a viral sensation.
21. Trey Burke – Utah Jazz
When you’re the point guard for an NBA team, you’re expected to be the playmaker who gets everyone else involved. It’s too bad Trey Burke hasn’t done that well for the Utah Jazz since coming into the league a couple years ago.
Burke, who was sick in college in leading the Michigan Wolverines to the national title game in 2013, tries too hard to score and not get his teammates included into the offense. That’s a problem.
Not terrible, Burke seems like the classic backup point guard off the bench and not someone who will take his team to compete for a playoff spot.
Prediction: Injures himself while trying to dunk on a break away.
20. Lance Stephenson – L.A. Clippers
After signing a big deal with the Charlotte Hornets prior to last season, something happened to Lance Stephenson. That thing wasn’t good, either, as he went from disrespected, budding star to someone who thought he was better than he actually is, losing that chip on his shoulder.
Now on the Clippers, Stephenson is back on a team with title aspirations, but he’ll have to be in that Robin role, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin the real stars in L.A.
It fits Lance best, but he’ll still do things that show how he rely wants to be “The Man,” which will hurt the Clips in a few games this season.
Prediction: Gets into a one-on-one battle with LeBron James in Game 7 of the Finals, James torches him and the Cavs beat the Clips.
19. DeMarre Carroll – Toronto Raptors
DeMarre Carroll was solid for the Atlanta Hawks last season, helping the team win 60 games and accepting the assignment of defending the oppositions best player.
It’s too bad he got hurt in the postseason, though, as he’s now trying to get healthy for a Raptors team who could make some noise in the East.
When healthy, Carroll can be above-average. He’s not healthy, though, meaning he’ll be more of a detriment on the starting lineup than the player the Hawks were able to put one-on-one against top scorers all of last season.
Prediction: Re-injures himself and misses half of the season as the Raptors are a top-4 team in the East.
18. Meyers Leonard – Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers fans better be happy they still have Damian Lillard to watch every night, because the rest of the team kind of sucks.
Look no further than Meyers Leonard starting at center for them this year as they try rebuilding from a brutal offseason in which they lost a ton of talent.
Like others on this list, Meyers might have apparent talent, but I’ll guarantee you he doesn’t live up to it, becoming nothing more than a former lottery pick who becomes a cheerleader from the bench.
Prediction: Will break his nose twice after trying to reject bigger, stronger centers because, well, he’s Meyers Leonard.
17. Elfrid Payton – Orlando Magic
Elfrid Payton might have some dope ass hair, but that’s the only reason why anyone should really love him.
I know there are some basketball people out there who adore the kid and think he has the talent to become a star—and he might one day—but he’s on a Orlando Magic team that seems to have too many of the same type of guy, searching for a superstar and not just solid players.
Across the board, Payton is consistent, but expectations of him taking that next step will derail his season.
Prediction: Gets into a heated argument with Tobias Harris and Aaron Gordon over who the team’s superstar is, all while Victor Oladipo makes the All-Star team.
16. David Lee – Boston Celtics
Back in the day, power forward David Lee was a double-double machine who could score and rebound at will. In the past few years, though, he’s nothing more than a nice guy with a big contract—yet the Boston Celtics traded for him this past offseason.
A champion with the Warriors last year, there are worst options than D-Lee, but he’s not the player he once was and is nothing but a glorified backup at this point of his career.
Prediction: Injures himself and becomes the best bench cheerleader in Boston since Bill Walton or M.L. Carr
15. Roy Hibbert – L.A. Lakers
Is big man Roy Hibbert really that shitty of a player? Absolutely not. Is he a good fit with the Lakers? Uhh…
Coming over from Indiana this offseason, Hibbert is a big man that many teams would love to have clog the middle, but when a Lakers team with no outside shooters rely on scoring close to the basket, well, this isn’t going to end well, with Hibbert clogging the middle and making it difficult to put the ball in the bucket.
He’s fiery, too, so expect him to complain about something on a team that will suck again this season.
Prediction: Talks too much shit to Kobe Bryant in practice and becomes the storyline for the entire Lakers’ season.
14. Hassan Whiteside – Miami Heat
Count me among those who don’t believe in the Hassan Whiteside hype that infiltrated the NBA last season.
Sure, the dude can play and had a few solid games, but I’ve got a feeling that his success on the Heat last year came at the worst time, as the team was struggling and he got his stats.
With Chris Bosh back and Goran Dragic joining Dwyane Wade in the backcourt for a full season now, Whiteside might think he’s just as good as those guys, which he’s not.
A see a blowup on the horizon.
Prediction: Airballs an unbelievable five free-throws in one game.
13. Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder
I don’t have a problem with Steven Adams, but I do have a problem with him starting for a Thunder team that hopes to try and make a Finals push this season.
A solid player, Adams doesn’t do too much to bring attention to himself, but the problem is he’s not as talented as Enes Kanter, who will be coming off the bench for OKC this year—after they made him the 19th highest-paid player in the league.
That doesn’t make too much sense to me.
Prediction: Head coach Billy Donovan realizes Kanter’s a lot better, benching Adams—who falls to 10th man on the bench and sees little playing time after the demotion.
12. Isaiah Canaan – Philadelphia Sixers
The Sixers have openly admitted that they have no aspirations to win games, hoping to build through the draft.
That might explain why Isaiah Canaan is their starting point guard, as he’s a classic 12th man on actual playoff teams.
A good college player at Murray State, it’s actually laughable that Canaan is going to be leading one of 30 NBA teams this season, as he’s just not talented or big enough to handle the role.
Prediction: He starts the next two seasons as the Sixers’ starter, becomes the one player you can’t name is actually a starting point guard in sports trivia and never plays in an NBA game again after 2017.
11. Rajon Rondo – Sacramento Kings
Already fighting with his head coach, George Karl, why the Sacramento Kings haven’t already traded Rajon Rondo is beside me.
Rondo doesn’t like losing, but the Kings will be losing a lot this season, as he has about one other talented player on the roster, DeMarcus Cousins, and is in a city that nearly lost its franchise because it has sucked for so long.
Expect Rajon to really hate this experience.
Prediction: Goes Latrell Sprewell on Karl and gets suspended for 50 games, which is exactly what he’ll want to escape this shitshow of a season for the Kings.
10. Cody Zeller – Charlotte Hornets
Can someone, anybody, please explain to me why Cody Zeller is starting in the NBA right now?
I get it, the guy is a seven-footer who does a few things well, but his 7 points and 5 rebounds are pathetic for someone with his size, as he doesn’t have that mean streak teams want from their post guys.
A top-five pick in the 2013 draft, Zeller seems to be getting the benefit of the doubt in Charlotte, because he’s a classic bench player who won’t be starting by next season.
Prediction: Misses a gimme layup with under one second left to cost the Hornets a spot at the playoffs.
9. J.R. Smith – Cleveland Cavs
I love J.R. Smith, most of the time, but when the streaky shooter looks more like a turd than the guy who once won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, it’s hard to root for him.
A key contributor on a team with three superstars, Smith’s role as an outside shooter is critical in the Cavs success. Problem is, ol’ dude can be a headcase and sometimes thinks he’s the next coming of Kobe Bryant, jacking up shots and getting down on himself when he misses.
After shitting the bed in the Finals last season and taking less money from the Cavs after no one else wanted him in free agency, it’ll be interesting to see what Smith shows up all year.
Prediction: Has a 40-plus point game before falling into the worst, 10-game shooting slump of his career.
8. Dante Cunningham – New Orleans Pelicans
I’m sure Dante Cunningham is a nice option on a bad team, but for a team that made the playoffs last year, he’s awful to have in the starting lineup.
A decent defender who can knock down the occasional jumper, Cunningham is sort of like that dude in your frat who says something funny every once in awhile, but, generally speaking, doesn’t bring much to the table.
Prediction: Benched midseason after failed team expectations forces a trade for someone more reliable.
7. Kent Bazemore – Atlanta Hawks
I understand that the Atlanta Hawks are coming off of a season where they won 60 games and made the Eastern Conference Finals, but with the departure of DeMarre Carroll to the Toronto Raptors this offseason, they inserted Kent Bazemore into the starting five.
I’m not saying Bazemore can’t play—he’s a solid defender and isn’t going to be looking for his shot in a lineup with four All-Stars from last year—but if the Hawks think they’re getting by the top teams in the East with Bazemore shutting down future Hall of Famers, they’re kidding themselves.
Prediction: Hawks move him to the bench after Bazemore lets a B-level star drop 50.
6. Kevin Garnett – Minnesota Timberwolves
You guys, Kevin Garnett is still in the NBA at 39 years old—and is still starting for a shitty Timberwolves team.
A future Hall of Famer, KG was once the Big Ticket and perennial All-Star in Minny, but now he’s mentoring future stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, hoping his tough love inspires them.
Garnett doesn’t need to be starting to play that role, so tell me why he’ll be getting 20-plus minutes a game on a team that could actually be pretty exciting to watch if he rode the pine instead.
Prediction: Chews out Towns and Wiggins in the media for being too immature, forgetting that they’re combined age is still younger than his own.
5. Otto Porter Jr. – Washington Wizards
The former No. 3 overall pick in 2013 draft, Otto Porter Jr. has yet to develop into a solid NBA player, forced into the starting lineup this year because, well, the Wizards just don’t have any other options.
He was supposed to be the most NBA-ready prospect when he entered the draft a few years ago, but the Wizards have to be secretly pissed off that he’s one of their starters this season—because he’s done nothing to actually earn it.
Prediction: Somehow has an even worse year than he already has, averaging less than 8 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds.
4. Joe Johnson – Brooklyn Nets
There might be other names in the Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup that are actually shittier than Joe Johnson, but they aren’t making over $24.8 million this season, good for second-highest in the league behind Kobe Bryant.
For a guy who gets paid like a superstar, Johnson should probably be averaging more than 14 points per game and helping guide his team to the playoffs. He’s not, though, so he’s an awful option for any team.
Prediction: His scoring “jumps” to 16 points per game on an embarrassing 30 percent shooting. Book it!
3. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
Oh dear lord, I have completely lost my mind, haven’t I? How in the fuck can I put a former No. 1 overall pick and a one-time league MVP in the top-3 of this list!?!
Stop overblowing it, bros, Derrick Rose is no longer the D-Rose we all want to think he is, as he’s battled the curse of nasty injuries and an inflated salary the past few seasons.
After sustaining another injury this preseason—this one to his eye—it’s clear that Rose is already doomed before the regular season even begins, so the Bulls should just plan on playing a good 50 games without him.
Prediction: Starts in less than 30 games after another unlucky injury.
2. Joffrey Lauvergne – Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are going to bad this season, guys. Like, really bad. For that reason, they know that their future doesn’t involve a postseason berth, so why start players who will actually help get them wins.
That’s the only reasonable explanation as to why Joffrey Lauvergne is in the starting lineup, as he’s a 24-year-old Frenchmen who was taken towards the end of the second-round in 2013.
Averaging just about 4 points and 3 boards last season, this is going to be hilarious to watch how bad he really is.
Prediction: The term “Lauvergning” will replace posterizing, with this dude getting dunked on like it’s a bad religion.
1. Deron Williams – Dallas Mavericks
Another former All-Star and lottery pick, whatever happened to Deron Williams is just about the worst nightmare for any basketball player.
Once in the discussion as the top floor general in the game—yes, that was seriously happening—once Williams got bit by injuries and fell on a shitty Brooklyn Nets team, he lost interest and hurt his rep.
He still has talent, but he’ll never be the player he once was or was expected to become.
Prediction: Injures himself in the first game of the season and talks shit about how he’s better than Chris Paul.