The past few seasons here at Hickory-High I’ve handed out a slew of ‘Anti-Awards‘ at the end of each season, recognizing some of the least productive and discouraging statistical achievements. We’ll be taking a look at early favorites for those Anti-Awards on Thursday, but today and tomorrow we’ve decided to widen our channel of snarky negativity. In the spirit of the Anti-Awards, and with an eye towards this weekend’s All-Star festivities, the staff of Hickory-High has made selections for an Anti-All-Team.
The criteria for being chosen was left up to each individual writer. Some players were chosen for a frustrating lack of positive production. Others were chosen because they in some way represent the opposite of the All-Star ideal. There are bad players, disappointing players, oddities, and those with a style of play that is aesthetically repulsive. There were many worthy candidates and winnowing them down to ten starters and two coaches was no easy challenge. Below is the lineup for the Eastern Conference. We’ll be presenting the Western Conference tomorrow. If there’s someone you think we missed, or unfairly included, let us know in the comments!
Guard – Jordan Crawford – Washington Wizards
Jordan Crawford made a name for himself with an outstanding career at Xavier that ended with a great run in the NCAA tournament and a heart wrenching loss at the hands of Kansas State. Despite losing that game, Crawford’s draft stock rose and he gained the attention of the general public in a similar fashion to James Harden the year previous. He was selected 27th overall and, after a draft day trade, was set to begin his NBA career with the Hawks. Crawford was traded to Washington after playing in just 16 games for Atlanta and lived up to the hype, as he averaged 16.3 points in 26 games for the Wizards in his rookie campaign.
Unfortunately for Washington and Crawford, it is possible that the 6’4” guard peaked that season and is destined to continue his downward trend. Last season Crawford’s scoring average dropped 1.6 points and has dropped another 1.5 points in his 43 games this season. A declining scoring average typically wouldn’t worry me from a 24 year old player, but it has been how he is scoring that is troubling. Crawford shots and minutes have declined every season that he has spent in Washington but his three point attempts have increased. That is worrisome when you consider that Washington spent the third overall pick in the 2012 draft on Bradley Beal (who is essentially Crawford with a better jump shot and a bit more muscle). Despite John Wall missing the 68% of the games thus far, Crawford’s percentage of games started is declining for a third straight season (69% in 2010, 50% in 2011, and 28% this season), which reflects the Wizards lack of confidence in Crawford in year four of his NBA career.
What is an All Star? An All Star is a player who contributes on a nightly basis. Crawford eclipsed the 20 point plateau in seven of 13 games in December, but has totaled more than 20 points in only two weeks since then. An All Star is a player that fills a great role and is sorely missed if he is out of the lineup. Washington has won five of the last six games that Crawford has been inactive and has seen their points per game decrease every season in which Crawford has been on the roster. An All Star doesn’t share his starting spot with a journey man (Garrett Temple) and rarely does an All Star share a first initial and last name with a reserve player that impacts the game more than he does.
I do like Crawford as a piece that can help an already good team, but he (both for his career and for this season) is the opposite of what I want in an All Star.
– Kyle Soppe, @unSOPable23
Guard – Monta Ellis – Milwaukee Bucks
There are a couple things that good basketball players do. Take and make good shots, pass the ball to open teammates in positions they succeed, play good defense, play hard, and understand their limitations. There a couple of things Monta Ellis does really well. Take a lot of shots, walk on defense, sometimes pass the ball to open teammates in positions they succeed, and make Milwaukee Bucks fans question why they enjoy watching basketball. Take a couple of numbers for example. This season Monta Ellis is shooting 24% from behind the arc. A good player realizes that, at that awful number they should avoid taking threes as often as possible. But Monta Ellis isn’t a good player. So instead of minimizing his shot attempts from that area Monta guns away to the point of averaging 3.5 three point attempts per game. A good player realizes that as an undersized two-guard he must never fall asleep on defense and always know where his man is so he doesn’t give up easy baskets.
But Monta Ellis isn’t a good player. Watch a game one day and just focus on Monta playing off ball defense. His strange tactic of completely turning his body to his man often leads to cuts and easy baskets, and his even odder tactic of walking leads to even more easy buckets for opponents as Monta’s help comes so slow. Unlike some players on this list Monta would fit in at an All-Star Game on at least one end of the floor, the defensive, since for the first bit of the game none is played anyway. But like the rest he wouldn’t fit on another, the offensive, where his poor decision making would just lead to a ton of misses as he pulls up for contested jumpers. Although, more misses means more chances for tip dunks from LeBron and Wade and others. So maybe Monta would fit into an All-Star Game, if for all the wrong reasons. But ask Monta and he will tell you he deserves to make it for another reason; because “Monta Ellis has it all.”
– Matt Cianfrone, @Matt_Cianfrone
Forward – Gerald Wallace – New Jersey Nets
While nobody expected Gerald Wallace to live up to his bloated 4-year, $40 million contract, on a bulky 31 minutes per night Wallace is playing his worst basketball in almost a decade. He’s scoring in the single digits for the first time since the 2003-04 season. His rebounding is barely worthy of his nickname, with a mere five boards (and only one OR) per game. His FG% (.430) and FT% (.662) are both significantly below last season’s percentages and his career percentages. Though he’s still a plus defender, Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov didn’t intend to pay $10 million each of the next four seasons for an aging defensive stopper.
– Michael Shagrin, @MShaggy
Forward – Kevin Seraphin – Washington Wizards
When you think of an All-Star game you think of a couple of things first and foremost. Points and highlights. After all this year in Houston, 23 of the league’s best offensive players and Luol Deng will gather to go up and down the floor throwing lobs, and pin-point passes that lead to ferocious dunks and highlight layups. One player that you won’t find for sure in this game, or any offensive exhibition of any kind, is Kevin Seraphin. After all once Seraphin gets the ball it is going in one of two places. Either to the rim, where it probably will miss as Seraphin is shooting only 44 percent for the season, or to the other team as he is averaging almost 2 turnovers a night in only 25 minutes played. For the year Seraphin has only 39 assists despite playing in 48 games for the Wizards. What’s scarier is the fact that those 39 assists show marked improvement for the young forward who in his first two seasons (111 games) totaled only 43 assists. In a game that needs passing to really flourish Seraphin is the last player that should be invited, and that is before even looking at his shooting percentages. What Seraphin has done though is cement himself as an Anti-Award frontrunner for years to come.
– Matt Cianfrone, @Matt_Cianfrone
Center – Andrea Bargnani – Toronto Raptors
This former number one pick has not lived up to expectations so far in his career. I can say that comfortably because the guy is 7 feet tall and only averages 4 rebounds a ball game, ridiculous! Although he has scoring prowess, averaging a smooth 15 points a ball game, there are some games where he just doesn’t show up, for example his 2-19 game against the Spurs. For a guy who is paid 9.25 million a year, these are not the stats fans are looking for. Currently there is a rumor going around regarding a swap of big man between the Bulls and the Raptors. That trade would be Carlos Boozer for Andrea. Raptors do it! I know Carlos Boozer has not lived up to expectations as well in Chicago, but he has played All-Star basketball before in Utah, something Andrea has never done!
– Matt Swiman, @MSwiman
Coach – Byron Scott – Cleveland Cavaliers
Traditionally the All-Star coach from each conference comes from the team with the best record. However, I couldn’t bring myself to select Mike Dunlap, coach of the cellar-dwelling Bobcats, when Byron Scott presents as such low-hanging fruit. At the beginning of the season I thought the Cavaliers were a team that could contend for a playoff spot in the East, instead they have been driven into the ground.
I’ll acknowledge that the Cavaliers have had to struggle with injuries, and I’ll give Scott some credit for the development of Tristan Thompson, but that’s all the warm fuzzies I have to hand out. His most used lineup this season is Irving – Waiters – Gee – Thompson – Zeller, a group that has been outscored by an average of 7.9 points per 100 possessions. That’s the worst differential of any lineup in the league that has played more than 300 minutes together. He has continued to use that lineup nearly twice as often as any other, despite the fact that swapping C.J. Miles in for Waiters makes them 12 points per 100 possessions better. Or that swapping Marreese Speights in for Zeller makes them 11.8 points per 100 possessions better. Dion Waiters has been given the green light to shoot anytime for anywhere, the perfect recipe for developing control in a young guard. With a talent like Kyrie Irving on the roster, everything should be focused on incremental steps forward. Instead the Cavaliers appear to be hopping backwards as quickly as they can manage.
Lineups mismanaged, useful pieces jettisoned to the end of the bench, young players being handed minutes, but stagnating for lack of structure – Byron Scott can coach my Anti-All-Stars any day!
– Ian Levy, @HickoryHigh