Who deserves the league’s LVP award?
Some caveats on this list —
— 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.
— I’m ignoring young players (under 22) who are still developing. A young pup like Emmanuel Mudiay is much worse than replacement level, but in theory, the Nuggets are wise to play him with the hope that he can be better someday. We won’t pick on their growing pains.
— I’m also bypassing players on tanking teams that didn’t particularly care about winning or losing this season.
With all that said, he’s my list.
LEAST value players (2016-17)
(5) SF Evan Turner, Portland: 25.6 mins per game, 11.6 PER
Most savvy NBA fans groaned when the Blazers paid Turner $17 million a season this summer, and their skepticism has largely been justified. Turner’s primary talent (his playmaking) isn’t best suited to a team with a loaded backcourt. Turner’s 3.2 assists a game is solid but doesn’t make up for his lack of shooting ability (currently at 26.3% from three). In fact, ESPN’s real +/- lists his offensive impact as an atrocious -2.9, one of the lowest marks in the league given his playing time. Turner’s also a mediocre defender, making him a net negative on the year.
(4) SG Josh Richardson, Miami: 30.3 mins per game, 10.7 PER
The unheralded Richardson came out of nowhere last season and lit it up to the tune of 46.1% shooting from beyond the arc (albeit it on a total of only 115 attempts). Given that, there were high expectations for this year and some heavy playing time given to the 23-year-old (who just barely qualifies for our age limit). Turns out… that shooting may have been a fluke. Richardson’s gotten the green light this year (launching twice as many threes), but his efficiency’s down to 32.6%. His defense is solid, but overall there’s not enough there to justify 30 minutes a night.
(3) SG Arron Afflalo, Sacramento: 25.8 mins per game, 8.7 PER
Unlike the previous two wings, Afflalo’s actually shot well from beyond the arc this season, hitting 41%. The problem is: he doesn’t add much else. He only grabs 2.1 rebounds a game (in 25+ minutes) and his defense (always overrated) has been worse than ever. Real +/- lists him as a -2.7 on that end. The Kings may be tanking now, but they didn’t come into the season with that intention. Afflalo’s mediocre ability is a reason that those playoff hopes were mere pipe dreams.
(2) PF Jeff Green, Orlando: 22.2 mins per game, 10.6 PER
Along with Arron Afflalo, Jeff Green is becoming a staple of LVP consideration over these last few years. Despite a consensus that he wasn’t a productive NBA player anymore, the genius that is Rob Hennigan actually gave him a 1 year, $15 million deal (on the presumption that the Magic may contend for the playoffs). Time to go back to the drawing (white) board, Mr. Hennigan. Green has proven to be as ineffective as ever; he can’t shoot (39.4% from the field, 27.5% from three) and his defense is below average (-1.5 according to real plus/minus). Green may have won the LVP if he got more than his 22 minutes a night.
(1) SG Monta Ellis, Indiana: 27.0 mins per game, 10.2 PER
In theory, Monta Ellis should be a helpful NBA player. At the very least, he should be a scoring machine off the bench, a la Jamal Crawford. Unfortunately, Ellis isn’t an effective scorer anymore, logging just 8.6 points per game despite 27 minutes a night. He can’t stretch the floor (32.1% from three), or defend (-1.7 real plus/minus on that end). He’s not even hitting his three throws (72.7%). Ellis may not be the worst player in the league or even the worst player on this list, but he’s the one logging meaningful minutes for an actual contender and dragging them down the most.
Edit Most Miami Heat fans strongly defend Josh Richardson, so it feels like I’m off on him. The most common “snub” so far has been Chandler Parsons, but he didn’t play enough minutes this year to qualify.