Previewing The 2013-2014 NBA Anti-Awards
As we prepare for the return of actual, meaningful basketball games it’s time to preview The NBA Anti-Awards! These awards (playfully) recognize some of the most miserable and discouraging statistical achievements in basketball. We’ve had plenty of surprise winners in the past and these awards can be incredibly difficult to predict, but we’d be missing out on a ton of fun if we didn’t at least make an attempt at handicapping each race.
We’re heading into the 4th season in which I’ve handed out these awards, and there is now an archive page where you can find all the past winners. Continue the conversation (yell at me about not appreciating Kobe) on Twitter with the hashtag, #AntiAwards.
The Shawn Bradley Award – This award goes to the player 6’10″ or taller who has had the highest percentage of his own shot attempts blocked (minimum 300 minutes played).
The recipe for winning most of these awards involves inexperience with a heaping helping of increased opportunities. For that reason I think we really need to focus our attention on three players – John Henson, Kelly Olynyk and Enes Kanter. Henson and Kanter are both in line to see a big increase in both minutes and offensive responsibilities. While Henson has the athleticism to be a great finisher around the rim, he also lacks strength and polish, setting the stage for plenty of rejections. Kanter is the polar opposite featuring a post game with both strength and polish but not a wealth of athletic verticality. Olynyk is an interesting candidate for some of the same reasons. Despite being a rookie he’ll likely be a featured part of the Celtics’ interior offense and will be playing against a level of competition he’s never tried to score against before.
The Shawn Kemp Award – This award goes to the player who has fouled out of the most games. From 1986 up through the present, Shawn Kemp is the NBA’s leader in foul outs with 115, 35 more than his next closest competitor.
The runaway favorite here has to be Jared Sullinger. Last year he fouled out eight times in just 45 games before being shut down for the rest of the season with an injury. Sullinger will no longer have the luxury of Kevin Garnett as a defensive back-stop, putting even more pressure on him to execute crisp defensive rotations. There will certainly be some growth carrying over from his rookie season but he fouled at such a prodigious rate last year that it’s hard to imagine anyone else keeping up with him.
The Jahidi White Award – This award goes to the player with the lowest ratio of Ast/FGA (minimum 300 minutes played). The award is named for White who assisted on just 1.7% of his teammates’ baskets over a 334 game career.
JaVale McGee has won this award the last two seasons and there’s no reason to think he won’t be leading the pack again this year. Setting aside his inadequacies as a passer and ball-handler, he plays in an offense where his only responsibility is to catch and finish. But if you’re looking for a dark horse candidate besides McGee, look no further than Bismack Biyombo. He assisted on just 2.5% of the Bobcats’ baskets when he was on the floor last season and has enough problems just catching the ball that getting it back out to an open shooter is usually a bridge to far.
The Darrick Martin Award - This award goes to the player with the lowest FG% and a minimum of 150 attempts. The award is named for Darrick Martin, a career 38.2% shooter who played 514 games over 13 NBA seasons.
This is an award that rarely has repeat winners, because those who win often aren’t given the opportunity to meet the minimum number of field goal attempts the following season. However Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley are two strong possibilities. Both hovered around 40.0% all last season, but will have the opportunity for big minutes and plenty of shots on a rebuilding Celtics’ squad with Rajon Rondo out to begin the year. The same thinking would lead you to the Lakers’ wing rotation where players like Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Wes Johnson and Xavier Henry will all be trying to carry the perimeter offense until Kobe Bryant returns. One other possibility is Marquis Teague, who shot just 38.1% last season and could see more minutes this year as the Bulls try to assess his potential or showcase him for a trade.
The Jason Kidd Award – This award goes to the player with the most turnovers in a single game. Jason Kidd has had a Hall of Fame career with many terrific positive statistical contributions. He’s also had 3 career games with more than 12 turnovers.
If you were going to design an ideal candidate for this award it would have to be someone who carries a huge offensive load for their team. It would have to be someone who’s team is right on the edge of competitiveness, where just making the playoffs turns every game into a must-win and necessitates forceful overreaching. It would have to be someone who appears to believe that their own offensive talents are nearly infallible and they’re their team’s best option on every possession. If that someone also happened to have a catastrophic injury to recover from, forcing themselves to confront their own NBA mortality, well that would be hard a hard combination to beat.
But I suppose it doesn’t have to be Kobe Bryant. Carmelo Anthony could probably pull it off as well.
The Matt Bullard Award – This award goes to the player 6’10″ or taller with the lowest Total Rebound Percentage. (Minimum 300 minutes)
Steve Novak. Andrea Bargnani. Danilo Gallinari. Hedo Turkoglu. Matt Bonner. This award is always one of the most hotly contested and this year should be no different. All your old favorites are licking their chops but don’t take your eye off of Donatas Motiejunas. The second-year power forward should be playing big minutes for the Rockets and has the right mix of perimeter focus, slight build, and fantastic rebounders as teammates. If he ends up winning this award he’ll definitely have Dwight Howard and Omer Asik to thank for it.
The Kobe Bryant Award – This award goes to the player who has missed the most shot attempts in a single game. The award is inspired by Kobe’s performance in Game 7 of the 09-10 Finals.
Kobe Bryant. If you’re curious about my reasoning, go back and reread The Jason Kidd Award.
The Nick Anderson Award - This award goes to the player who missed the most free throws in a single game. Anderson was actually a decent free throw shooter. But his four missed free throw attempts in the 1995 Finals against Houston kind of stand out in my memory.
This has been Dwight Howard’s award every year since it’s inception, but for the first time there is a real challenger in the field. Andre Drummond shot a jaw-dropping 37.1% on free throws last year. He only attempted 2.7 per game, but with a big increase in minutes and offensive responsibility this season there will be plenty of opportunities for him to rack up the double-digit misses it will take to challenge Howard. It will be exciting to finally have some competition here for once.
The Chris Childs Award – This award goes to the player who has posted the highest Turnover Percentage so far this season. It’s named after former New York Knick Chris Childs, who retired with a career Turnover Percentage of 22.8%. (Minimum 300 minutes)
Call me crazy, but this year I feel really strongly about Pablo Prigioni. He finished third las season, turning it over on 27.1% of his possessions. To me it feels like the Knicks moved backwards a little this offseason and I smell chaos in the air. Organizational chaos breeds on the court chaos and Prigioni is chaos incarnate. Sometimes that chaos manifests in something beautiful and unanticipated. But I’m guessing that about a third of the time this season that chaos will manifest in a pass whizzing out of bounds, past the outstretched arms of Andrea Bargnani.
The Andrea Bargnani Award (Formerly the Darius Songaila Award)– This award goes to the player who has provided his team with the least overall production. I use Wins Produced to determine the winner here. (Minimum 300 minutes)
This award is always difficult to project because team circumstance always plays such a significant role in keeping a horrifically unproductive player on the court. If circumstance is the deciding factor than I think it’s safe to assume that the winner of this award will likely come from the Sixers. Scrolling through the roster there are plenty of interesting candidates – Spencer Hawes, the center with a penchant for mid-range jumpers, Kwame Brown, the center with an aversion to positive basketball plays, Royce White, the . . . I’m not sure how to finish this sentence.
But I’ve got my money on Michael Carter-Williams. He’s likely the team’s starting point guard and one with a future legitimately bright enough that he’ll play no matter how bad the immediate results. He’s also a shaky shooter with a turnover problem who will find himself handed the brand new responsibility of running an NBA offense.