At the end of last season, I reviewed all the candidates and “honored” Indiana SG Monta Ellis as the league’s LEAST valuable player.
— Obviously, the worst players in the league are the ones who sit at the end of the bench and don’t get any playing time. However, this award is trying to “honor” the player who hurt their team the most this season, so we’re focusing on players who log heavy minutes (20+) and consequently negatively affected their team’s play the most. Simply put: the more you play, the more damage you can do.
— I’m ignoring young players (under 21) who are still developing. A young pup like Malik Monk is much worse than replacement level, but he’s not expected to be a serviceable starter right now. We won’t pick on their growing pains.
— We want to focus on poor play on the court, not necessarily fault the player for their expensive contract or their poor health. Those factors aren’t always in their control.
— I’m also bypassing players on tanking teams that didn’t particularly care about winning or losing this season.
With that said, here are some candidates on my short list:
SG Jamal Crawford, Minnesota: 19.5 mins per game, 14.0 PER
PER (a bad stat in general) doesn’t showcase how one-dimensional the 37-year-old Jamal Crawford has been over the last few years. He’s a volume scorer (10.1 points in only 19.5 minutes) who doesn’t score efficiently, shooting 41% from the field and 34% from three. And that’s basically all he does. He totals 1.1 rebounds per game, and his defensive real +/- is an atrocious -4.98.
SF Jae Crowder, CLE/UTA: 25.8 mins per game, 9.8 PER
Jae Crowder was supposed to be the prototype “3 and D” wing, but he hasn’t been much of either this year so far. He shot 32.8% from deep for Cleveland, and carried those ducks over to Utah with 30.0%. Real +/- also grades him as a negative on the defensive end at -1.28.
SG J.R. Smith, Cleveland: 29.2 mins per game, 8.3 PER
Although he’s still only 32 years old, J.R. Smith may be emulating Jamal Crawford’s late career already. He’s still shooting 36.3% from three, but doesn’t do anything else in his nearly 30 minutes a night, with 2.9 rebounds and 0.9 free throw attempts per game. Real +/- also grades him as a poor defender these days, with a -2.07 impact.
SF Evan Turner, Portland: 25.7 mins per game, 9.5 PER
Evan Turner barely missed the LVP honors last year (finishing 5th) so he’s come back with a vengeance to compete for that trophy. He’s a decent playmaker who hasn’t gotten that opportunity much anymore, registering just 2.2 assists per game. As always, his lack of shooting (32.2% from three) results in him being a net liability on offense, as the -2.72 in real +/- suggests. His defense is average, but not enough to make up for the lack of impact elsewhere.
SG Dion Waiters, Miami: 30.6 mins (only 30 games), 10.7 PER
Miami Heat fans lauded the re-signing of Dion Waiters, despite all indications that he’d regress from a career/contract year. And regress he did. Again, he’s a volume scorer (14.3 PPG) who can’t get to the line (2.3 FTA per game). When that happens, you rely heavily on your shotmaking ability. That worked last season (39.5% from deep) but predictably fell off this year (30.6%). Waiters’ injury may “save” him from LVP honors because he’s no longer around to blame.
So who am I forgetting? Who else should be considered? When you watch your team, who do you groan when you see enter the game?