More Shadows From the Bottom of the Valley
USA Today Sports
A few weeks ago I took a long, uncomfortable look at what had been the worst single-game performances in this NBA season, according to Basketball-Reference.com’s Game Score metric. Well, since I wrote that post in late February, players the whole league ’round have smacked against the proverbial wall like gnats walloped by a swatter.
At the time of my first post the low point of John Lucas III‘s season, a miserable early-season performance against the New Orelans Pelicans, ranked as the fifth-worst Game Score in 2013-14. A scant month-and-a-half later, the regular season now definitively closed, and Lucas’ performance is only the sixteenth-worst of the year. He has since been “surpassed” by James Anderson, Shannon Brown, Gary Neal, Darius Miller, and also widely recognizable names like Taj Gibson, Vince Carter, Harrison Barnes (himself dipping into the bottom fifteen for a second time), and Paul George (!). You can find the entire list of 2013-14′s worst games here, although viewing it is not recommended for the weak of stomach.
Since that last post there have been three new, totally miserable games that have found their way down to the bottom five performances of the year. In the interests of fairness to Barnes, and Kyle Singler, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who all received my scorn then and have since fallen out of (up from?) the bottom five, here are the three new members in the dishonorable club of the five worst single-game performances of this season. And, sorry Randy Foye, but your #1 worst performance was hardly challenged:
Mike Conley Jr., March 5 v. Brooklyn Nets
The Damage: 21 minutes, 0-for-8, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 turnovers, 2 points – Offensive Rating = 27; Defensive Rating = 119
While this year’s Nets were far from a defensive juggernaut, they looked the part thanks to Conley’s flailing evening. Between numerous doomed circus lay-ups and looping passes intercepted by Deron Williams, Conley appeared to be playing against a troop of Plastic Men, arms stretching to infinity. With Conley mercifully benched for the entire fourth quarter, Memphis outscored Brooklyn 34-16, turning what had been a blowout into a tight contest. Incredibly, it could be argued that Conley did not even have the worst night amongst players on his team: Ed Davis posted a Defensive Rating of 114 and an Offensive Rating of 0. Bagel. Donut. Zero. After receiving a rare start, Davis too was shown the bench after just 12 minutes of play.
Tim Hardaway Jr., March 3 v. Detroit Pistons
The Damage: 22 minutes, 0-for-6, 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 0 points – Offensive Rating = 8; Defensive Rating = 114
Compared to the Pistons’ saggy defense, the Nets are a juggernaut. Hardaway’s miserable night can hardly be attributed to anything Detroit did to deter him: all six of Hardaway’s shots were wise decisions, generated from wide openings off of solid screens. Alas, rook, sometimes the shots just do not fall. Even though Hardaway couldn’t find a way to buckle down and positively contribute to his team in other ways (although it should be noted that the 114 Defensive Rating is actually right in line with his season average), he was nonetheless rewarded by playing 8 of the fourth quarter’s 12 minutes, and in a game that was certainly within the Knicks’ reach.
Chandler Parsons, March 13 v. Chicago Bulls
The Damage: 26 minutes, 1-for-11, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 2 points – Offensive Rating = 26; Defensive Rating = 134
In a game that certainly could be represented as a measure of heart—the Bulls’ brotherhood of smothering defense against the Rockets’ prim, self-interested individual styles—the Bulls unleashed a can of whoop-ass on national TV, blowing out Houston 111-87. With Parsons’ only basket coming on a fast-break lay-up, his usual repertoire of sleek jump shots was entirely disrupted by the impossibly long Mike Dunleavy Jr., along with omnipresent help from the weak side. On a night when James Harden produced a season-low 8 points, one suspects that the Rockets coaching staff might have just burnt the tape of this game up, muttering thanks to the heavens that a first-round match-up with the Bulls is, barring reform, an impossibility.