Everyone always talks about the best players per position, per league and per team. Endless articles are dedicated to Lebron and Durant, rightfully so, but what about the least valuable players? Who are the players on each team drawing a decent paycheck to just hang around the roster? Or perhaps they are expected to deliver but might not necessarily live up to their contracts.
Some teams were very easy to pick out someone (Thunder) while some teams didn’t really have a bad contract/player in terms of value. Other teams had multiple people to choose from (Knicks), which made it difficult. All in all, I had to pick at least one player per team. Value can either be determined by how much you pay versus what you get out of a player or just by a player not being important to the team, their least valuable asset.
Team – Player
Let’s dive into the least valuable players for each team:
Atlanta Hawks – Thabo Sefolosha
Thabo Sefolosha leads off our list. It’s not really his fault he is leading this off since I put the teams in alphabetical order. His best playing days are behind him. Thabo has always been viewed as a role player. He exploded two seasons ago offensively with the Thunder in terms of rating, not actual scoring. He had a 61% TS (Total shooting) but has since fallen. Hopefully for Atlanta, he can find this magic again.
Boston Celtics – Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace is a no-brainer for least valuable player on the Celtics based on his salary alone. The Celtics do not have many large contracts. I believe Gerald has lost his motivation over the past couple of seasons. A former All-Star, Wallace can fill up a stat sheet quickly. With Boston’s youth direction and Wallace having an expiring contract next year, I would be shocked if he lasted the entire season in Boston.
Brooklyn Nets – Joe Johnson
This team is littered with horrible contracts. Fortunately for Iso-Joe, he has the largest amount of money coming to him this season, which is unfortunate for Brooklyn. Heading into his 15 season, Joe has slowly declined in terms of production. Especially coming to Brooklyn, he had to sacrifice possession and shots. Although Pierce has moved on, KG is not getting any younger, and Brook Lopez is sidelined for some time (again), I still do not expect Joe Johnson to return to his dominant All-Star form.
Charlotte Hornets – Marvin Williams
Charlotte has done a good job of getting value with their players. However, they do have a ton of guys making decent money putting up decent stats. Marvin Williams leads this list of players on the Hornets. It’s not a terrible deal but you’d expect to get more out of someone with that salary and his talents.
Chicago Bulls – Mike Dunleavy Jr.
This was a tough team to find a least valuable player but like I mentioned before, every team has to have one. Mike Dunleavy fits that mold despite having a decent season for a player of his age last year. His contract isn’t terrible but none on the Bulls really are.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Brendan Haywood
What Brendan Haywood will bring to the table for this team will not be meaningful minutes. Instead, he is on this roster for the veteran card. He has never been seen as a “bad apple”. If Brendan does play big minutes it will not be a good sign for the Cavaliers.
Dallas Mavericks – Raymond Felton
His contract isn’t terrible but his play on the court has been at times. Raymond Felton was the butt end of the joke in New York. Phil Jackson moved two guys who were known to not bring good vibes to the locker room. This is what makes Raymond Felton the least valuable player on the Mavericks.
Denver Nuggets – Javale McGee
We have big dollars for a big man who has not played big consistently. Javale is still young, which is good for the Nuggets to try to get some value out of his contract. Injuries have hampered his growth but at some point, Javale will have to perform to the standard of his contract. Until that happens, Javale is the least valuable player for the Nuggets.
Detroit Pistons – Joel Anthony
Here we have another big man who has been passed around the past couple of years. Unable to find his way onto the basketball court, Joel is basically just a body in a suit these days. I don’t expect Joel to find any playing time in Detroit but he sure as hell will try.
Golden State Warriors – Brandon Rush
Brandon Rush has been in the league for some time now and has not been able to find consistent playing time. Even when he has found playing time, he hasn’t been able to perform. His game is based around his ability to shoot the long ball. Unfortunately for the Warriors, he hasn’t given them anything.
Houston Rockets – Jason Terry
Has any role player fallen off as much as Jason Terry? His last good season was with the title team in Dallas. After that he went to Boston. He is most known in Boston as the guy who got a tattoo proclaiming the Celtics will win the title (as he did in Dallas). He was sent to Brooklyn along with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Now he will be riding the bench in Houston unless he can find his stroke again.
Indiana Pacers – Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert’s fall from grace last year hurt the Pacers badly. I would like to believe it was fatigue due to long postseasons. If it was not, the Pacers will be carrying a big contract for a former all star playing like a bench player. Hibbert’s contract prevent the Pacers from going out and signing another all-star to pair up with Paul George.
Los Angeles Clippers – Matt Barnes
It was hard to find a player on the Clippers as most players took less money to play there. Matt Barnes has one of the biggest salaries on the bench with the lowest PER making him the least valuable player on the Clippers by default. He is a gritty player who’s game doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet.
Los Angeles Lakers – Steve Nash
Not much debate here. Nash is the oldest man in the league earning a decent penny for not playing. Injuries, a new system and father time are the culprits behind the decline of Steve Nash. A former league MVP (2 times) and ring less, Nash has had bad luck since he left Phoenix in hopes of winning a title before he retires.
Memphis Grizzlies – Tayshaun Prince
Tayshaun Prince is what you want out of a role player. His ability to fit in and contribute in ways the team needs has earned him a solid NBA career. He is most famous for the block from behind on Reggie Miller. A play that perfectly sums up the type of player Tayshaun is. Or I should say was.
Miami Heat – Josh McRoberts
Miami is still reaping the benefits from the big three era with a lot of veterans with small contracts in hopes of latching onto a title. It’s hard to pick those role players off the bench making league minimums as the least valuable player, especially with Josh McRoberts earning over $5 million. He is a hustle player who has always been known as a bench and role player.
Milwaukee Bucks – OJ Mayo
There were once high hopes for OJ Mayo. He is a super talented athlete but hasn’t found a team or system that allows him to flourish. His inefficiency has become more known with the advancement of NBA analytics. OJ requires a high volume of shots. Basically, he is being passed around to teams who are trying for a high risk, high reward.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Chase Budinger
I picked Chase prior to the rumors the Wolves might move him. I could pick Anthony Bennett but his lack of NBA experience is giving him a pass. Chase on the other hand had been in the league long enough to give us an understanding of the type of player he is. At this point, anything they get for him or from him this season will be a win for the Wolves.
New Orleans Pelicans – Eric Gordon
Shockingly to me, Eric Gordon is still on the Pelicans. He was not to thrilled that they matched the Suns offer in order to keep him a few years ago. The marriage seemed to have heeled between the Pelicans and Gordon. Eric has not played up to the level many believe he is capable of. His efficiency has been on a slow decline as well.
New York Knicks – Andrea Bargnani
I know the Knicks fans are shaking their heads at me for this pick because I am sure they are all fed up with Amare Stoudemire. Amare is an expiring contract for the Knicks right now and is a given as the least valuable because he never plays. However, when he does play, he’s not as bad as Andrea Bargnani. In a way, they both are two guys who couldn’t find a way to fit in when another star came to their team. I would give the nod to Andrea because I think Amare could return to being the player he once was.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Kendrick Perkins
Easy pick, do I even need to explain this one?
Orlando Magic – Ben Gordon
The only person not shocked that Ben Gordon got another NBA contract is Ben Gordon. Yes, I have a feeing even Rob Hennigan was surprised he offered Ben Gordon a contract. Once remembered for putting up 20 points per game in his last year with the Bulls, Ben has not been able to even average 14 points per game for a season. He has not been the same player since he chased the money to Detroit.
Philadelphia 76ers –Jason Richardson
We have another solid shooting guard during his hay day putting up around 20 points per game. Although he has never earned an All Star spot, Jason has made a lot of noise at all star weekends with his dunking ability. Jason is a product of his time. Had he been in his prime today, he could have made an all star team. Twenty point scorers from the shooting guards are a dying breed these days.
Phoenix Suns – Anthony Tolliver
I remember Anthony Tolliver for him mimicking The Decision. He was a nice big man in Minnesota when he got the playing time but never really found his role. He’s just basically just a contract on the Suns books. He might surprise people if he gets some playing time with his ability to run the floor but I don’t see him getting that playing time.
Portland Trail Blazers – Joel Freeland
This was a hard pick because the Blazers because they really don’t have any bad contract. Joel Freeland has been in the league longer than the other young big men on the Blazers and has a lower efficiency rating (on both ends) and a lower PER.
Sacramento Kings – Jason Thompson
I have grown to dislike Jason Thompson purely by his character in NBA 2K15. No seriously, Jason is one of the larger contracts on the Kings, which doesn’t say much for their roster. He also happens to be one of the veterans on the team. He gets playing time but has not performed up to his contract.
San Antonio Spurs – Matt Bonner
Matt Bonner once had an important role for the Spurs but has since declined in skill, as most players do as they age. Another team without a bad contract but someone has to be the least valuable player in this column. If Matt Bonner went down with a season ending injury, it wouldn’t hurt or help the Spurs one bit.
Toronto Raptors – Landry Fields
Oh Landry Fields. You somehow continue to make your name enter into my articles once again. Toronto overpaid for him a few years ago and are still reeling with this bad contract. He hasn’t been the same player since being a surprise for the Knicks and no one is expecting him to go back to that. Until then, he is just costing the Raptors over $6 million and giving them the production of a D-Leaguer who was called up to fill out the roster.
Utah Jazz – Steve Novak
The Jazz has a very young team. They don’t have any veterans sitting around collecting a large paycheck for nothing. Steve Novak makes a good amount of money in comparison to his teammates but doesn’t play a large role. A 3-point specialist who will play single digit minutes most nights earns the least valuable player for Utah. Jury is still out on Derrick Favors but be on the look out for this list next year.
Washington Wizards – Martell Webster
The Wizards are another solid team on this list without horrible contracts and wasted money. What makes Martell our winner for least valuable is the fact he makes more money than Paul Pierce (who had a 17 PER last year). When you rattle off the players who are going to play an important role for Washington this season, Martell’s name is at the bottom of that list, if he even makes it.
Well that concludes my first annual Least Valuable Players list per team. Now I just cornered myself into doing this post next year.
Go ahead and tell me where I am wrong in the comments, you know you want to tell me off.