Thursday, January 3, 2013

NBA PICK UP GAME 2012: Shooting Guards (You don't want on your team)

Felipe M

I conducted a small poll asking the simple question, "Which five NBA players would you not want to have on your pickup team?"  Needless to say, I ended up getting very different answers so I decided to split this into a 5 part series based on NBA positions.  What follows is the list of players followed by the reasoning behind the selection. Players are ranked based on perception of most talented, to least talented player.

  1. Joe Johnson--Brooklyn is in the house! Unfortunately, Johnson was hated on this list. Might just be the most overrated player in the NBA. As we're finding out in Atlanta, Johnson might've been holding back the Hawks and has underwhelmed fans in terms of counting stats. His last game against the Oklahoma City Thunder saw him post 33 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, but his previous game against the San Antonio Spurs, he only scored 12 points, 0 rebounds, and 2 assists. Pretty adequate stat line, but for a second banana like Johnson, this is disappointing. He frustrates fans by dribbling the ball too much (a recurring theme in this edition), but the best line came from one fan who stated "being overpaid made him actually think he's worth it."
    • Johnson's scoring, rebounding, and assists' averages are down from last season. Also down are his field goal percentage (FG%), free-throw percentage (FT%), and 3-point percentage (3PT%) from last year. Johnson is also 31 years-old and is playing in his 11th year in the NBA. Add it all up and that would explain why I was confident in predicting the struggles for the New Jersey Nets.
  2. Jamal Crawford--This one is a no-brainer.  You ever play with a guy who all he wants to do is dribble the ball and constantly try to break defeders' ankles and also thinks he can blow by a defense by his lonesome?  Well, that's Jamal Crawford. His handles are fun to watch, but let's face it, in the playground game, unless you're playing in New York City or you're watching a one-on-one tournament, he can be one of the most annoying people on the court. As a Chicago Bulls' fan, Crawford was a very annoying player to watch because of his selfishness.  And he also plays terrible defense (at least that's his reputation).
    • Many fans agree as one person stated that he would "want to play... [with] guys who look to make the right play instead of going for their own shot all the time."  
    • Despite the perceived selfishness, Crawford is indeed an integral part of the surging L.A. Clippers' bench, providing instant offense. He's averaging his most points/game since 2009, averaging over a steal per game for the first time since 2007, and showing improvements in FG% and 3PT% compared to last season.
  3. Tyreke Evans--After 4 seasons in the NBA, Evans has become sort of the ringleader and holding down the title of "Dumbest Player in the NBA" playing for the "Dumbest team in the NBA." It's no secret my disappointment of Evans whose NBA career started with so much promise only to have fizzled in the last couple of seasons. Injuries have a lot to do with it, I'll give him that, but you can't deny his poor play. The Sacramento Kings have tried to do everything with Evans, utilizing him at point guard, then adding guards who can switch to point so Evans can be the off-guard on certain possessions, and they even have placed him at small forward where he clearly does not like to play. After all this time in the NBA, the same old story still is true: if Evans doesn't have the ball in his hands, he simply just isn't interested in playing in the game. It's true in the NBA and it's true when you and your other 3 teammates are working up-and-down the court, but Evans isn't doing much except waiting to get the ball back.
  4. Jason Richardson--This was an interesting one. Richardson has certainly tried his best to go from a high-flying athlete, to a savvy veteran who is comfortable taking shots from anywhere on the court. One fan, however, vented his frustration because of inconsistent play when Richardson was on that fan's fantasy basketball team: "he always came up short, but then just when I was ready to cut him, he'd show up with a big game and then I was forced to keep him around." 
    • The best way to desribe Richardson is by saying that he's a poor man's Joe Johnson: both players are 31 years-old and in their 11th year in the league. Obviously, Johnson plays more minutes, but both have similar shooting percentages from the field and 3-point range. Although Richardson is producing similar numbers like he did last season with the Orlando Magic, Richardson's career, in general, has been declining in the last couple of seasons or so. 
  5. Leandro Barbosa--Yet another guy who is perceived to have a low skill-set, but makes up with athleticism. However, Barbosa, as one fan pointed out, is on this list for a different reason as he has been accused of "sleeping and impregnating Steve Nash's wife."  Besides having a player on your team who is posting his lowest FG% of his career, you can't have a teammate who might end up sleeping with your spouse.  That just can't be accepted. (Let the record show that these are just allegations).

  • Nick Young--"he's a chucker and his 'swagger' would irritate the [hell] out of me," and "he would leave in the middle of a game because he didn't want to miss his barber shop appointment." I've actually played a game with a guy who did indeed leave in the middle of a game because he had to go get his haircut. And is there anyone more annoying than playing with a guy who is more concerned with the way he "looks" on the court than how his "play" looks on the court?  Oh yeah, the jerk who takes countless, stupid shots would be more annoying.  In this case, Young takes the cake on this one.
  • Ben Gordon--Speaking of guys who chuck up shots, Gordon has never met a shot he did not like. The most frustrating part about Gordon is that he will actually make the luckiest shots ever so you really can't yell at him for constantly shooting.  His best years came as a Bulls' player where he would, more often than not, come off the bench and single-handedly ignite countless Bulls' comebacks. He can still shoot the ball, but hasn't averaged 15 points per game since he was a Bull and hasn't averaged over 3 rebounds per game since...he was a Bull.  
    • Best part about Gordon however is he gives every guard that's 6'3" with large wingspans, but who cannot play defense or play point guard hope that he too can one day shoot his way into a multi-million dollar contract
  • DeShawn Stevenson--It only seemed like yesterday that Stevenson was selected out of high school and became an instant bust for the Utah Jazz. However, this is Stevenson's 12th season in the NBA! One of the most inconsistent NBA players you'll ever find, showing flashes in one game, and then doing nothing, but take up space for several games after. If there are intangibles to Stevenson's game (good defender?) that I'm not aware of, I would like to hear them now. 
  • Gerald Green--If the NBA was void of skill and talent and was just a young, athletic, dunking league, then Green would be the greatest player of all time.  

 More NBA discussion is welcomed here.

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