In the NBA there are three types of teams: those that are challenging for the championship or at least hoping for a deep playoff run, those that are tanking (or are just so bad it looks like they are) and those that are in the middle of the pack, biding their time to figure out if they are a challenging team or a tanking team.
In the quest to become a title-challenger, NBA GM’s and coaches chase the biggest names on the free agency market. Without a star leading the franchise, it is highly unlikely any team can be considered good enough to sit on the throne. As we have learned in recent years maybe one star isn’t good enough either.
Star players can get you to the promised land, second and third scoring options can even the load and a strong bench can carry you through safely. However, every team wants the same things and for that reason, middle of the pack players and “just about” all-stars get paid mega bucks to become a teams missing piece. Unfortunately, NBA players are not like their video game counterparts and just because someone is paid a lot of money, that doesn’t mean their performances automatically coincide.
I’m sure every NBA fan can think of someone who plays or played for their favourite team that didn’t produce the goods they were employed to. I’m sure every fan can also think of a contract they are more than happy to have avoided giving to a flop in free agency. So, who are the NBA players this year that are counting their lucky stars?
For the purpose of shining a light on some lesser known bad deals, I have excluded some obvious players like Timofey Mosgov, Luol Deng and Chandler Parsons. Their failings have already been well documented.
#1 Bismack Biyombo ($17 million)
The Charlotte Hornets are effectively paying a small role player $17 million this season. To make it even worse, he has a player option for 2019-20 which he most certainly is going to pick up unless he experiences some miraculous turnaround in his performances. Biyombo averages under eight minutes a game in which he has managed to muster up just 1.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. Not exactly what you want for that kind of money. To make matters worse, Biyombo hasn’t even played in the last three games for the Hornets, all of which were wins.
#2 Ryan Anderson ($20 million)
Another big man, another big salary, another waste of salary cap space. Ryan Anderson used to be a name mentioned in trade rumours as he was someone that could be added to a playoff team to boost their chances of progressing. Now, a big man that can stretch the floor is not as hard to find and when you take into consideration Anderson is effectively a defensive liability, his worth has diminished drastically. And yet, the Califrnia native is going to walk away with a cool $20 million both this year and the next. Anderson is not hitting threes at the same rate he was in Houston. His 3pt percentage has dropped to 20% and that is largely why he is only averaging 3.7 points per 18 minutes.
#3 Ian Mahinmi ($16 million)
Yet another big man. When will they learn? Ian Mahinmi was signed to the Wizards two seasons ago to be the defensive alternative to Marcin Gortat in what was an improving team in the East. Unfortunately for the Wizards, the majority of his first year was spent on the sidelines with injuries and things haven’t gotten much better since. The Frenchman has averaged just 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds this season and has seven times more fouls than blocks. Not the defensive impact Scott Brooks would want from his big man. When you also take into consideration Washington is $12.6 million over the luxury tax threshold, it just doesn’t look pretty.
#4 Gorgui Dieng ($15 million)
Dieng actually showed a lot of promise last year and despite now being 28-years-old, he showed he can be a valuable two-way player. If he continued to prove himself the money Minnesota forked out to keep him may have been justified. Instead, the Timberwolves signed Taj Gibson to a two year $28 million contract and relegated Gorgui to the bench. Now averaging 13 mins per game along with 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds, the money seems as though it could have been spent a little wiser. Dieng’s salary will increase in the next two years to $17 million and judging by how things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded next year to a faltering team.
#5 Evan Turner ($18 million)
Evan Turner is essentially holding the Portland Trailblazers hostage. Portland will be paying out $18 million to Turner for the next two years and they are no doubt eager to get rid of this contract. Turner’s production isn’t so bad. He averages 7.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He does play 26 minutes which makes those numbers seem a little more minuscule than they are but he still does something. Turner, however, isn’t paid just to do something. That’s definitely not what his contract suggests. He should be the Trailblazers go-to option outside of Lillard and McCollum and be a real issue for defenders but that isn’t really the case. Portland overpaid in the wrong position on this one.
Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat
10.5 ppg, 2.2 apg, 3.0 rbg
Brandon Knight, Houston Rockets
Has only played 4 minutes this season due to injury
James Johnson, Miami Heat
7.7 ppg, 2.4 apg, 2.8 rpg