The 2014 NBA Anti-Awards: Mid-Season Review
USA Today Sports
With the season just past its halfway point and the All-Star break approaching, it’s time to check in on The NBA Anti-Awards! These awards (playfully) recognize some of the most miserable and discouraging statistical achievements in basketball. We’ll revisit some of the predictions I made previewing the awards before the season began and check in on the leaders in each category.
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).
In the category we find an old friend reappearing at the top – Omer Asik. The Turkish center won the very first Shawn Bradley Award in 2011, but has been narrowly edged out in each of the last two seasons. He’s narrowly met the minutes requirement this year, despite missing significant time to injury, and his Blocked Against Percentage of 17.0% gives him a healthy margin of his closest competitor, Ian Mahinmi. There are a few other factors working in Asik’s favor this year. He’s been injured for the better part of the year and whenever he does return it may take him awhile to work his way back into game shape. He’s also likely to be traded at some point and could find himself in a situation with more offensive responsibilities then he had in Houston. Out of shape + more responsibility = blocks on blocks on blocks. This could be the year that Asik reclaims his throne.
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.
Heading into the season, Jared Sullinger was the clear favorite. Before missing the second half of last season with an injury, he had fouled out eight times in his first 45 games, an almost unheard of rate of disqualification. But this season he’s fouled out just once in 49 games and has cut his personal fouls per 36 minutes from 6.2 to 4.5. Instead of a runaway favorite we’re left with a real dog fight. Roy Hibbert, Jason Thompson and Amir Johnson have all fouled out four times, with another ten players having fouled out three times. The way opponents are attacking Hibbert this season, along with new scrutiny of his verticality-based style of rim defense, he would seem to have the edge. But don’t count out Thunder rookie, Steven Adams. He’s already fouled out three times and is averaging 6.7 personal fouls per 36 minutes. He has continued to play a bigger and bigger role for the Thunder throughout the season and if he can keep getting the minutes he could be a dark horse candidate to swoop in and steal the hardware.
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 won this award in each of the last two seasons but his injury leaves things wide open this year. Bismack Biyombo and Andre Drummond are both within striking distance, but at this point the front runner is the Orlando Magic’s, Andrew Nicholson. To date he has attempted 282 shots from the field while contributing just 13 assists, a ratio of 0.04. There are still plenty of games to be played, but Nicholson looks poised to start building his own legacy in this category while McGee is busy rehabbing his way back to the court.
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.
In the preseason I had a strong feeling about Jordan Crawford in this category. With career shooting averages right around 40% and the opportunity to play a big offensive role for the Boston Celtics it looked like all the pieces were in place for a season of disastrous shooting efficiency. But Crawford inextricably took those expanded opportunities and converted them into a career year. Into the vacuum created by Crawford’s development, stepped Anthony Bennett. To date the number one overall pick in last year’s draft is shooting 30.1% from the field, giving him an enormous margin over players like Alexey Shved, John Lucas and Kirk Hinrich. To put his shooting struggles in context, last year’s winner of this award, Ricky Rubio, finished the year shooting 36.0%. I’m sure this was not the award Bennett was hoping to win heading into the season, but shiny recognition is shiny recognition and he’s already threatening to lap the field.
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.
In my pre-season Anti-Awards preview I crafted an extended and unsubtle dig at Kobe Bryant, implying that this award was essentially his. It was a reasonable enough guess. He won this award the last two seasons and was coming off an injury for a team likely to be struggling on the edge of competitiveness. His subsequent injury will rob him of the opportunity for a three-peat, but he put up a valiant effort. He had seven or more turnovers in three of the six games he played. Currently atop the leaderboard we have a tie between Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, both with 11 turnovers in a single game. Of those two, Curry seems like the safer bet already having racked up four games this year with 8 or more turnovers.
The Matt Bullard Award – This award goes to the player 6’10″ or taller with the lowest Total Rebound Percentage. (Minimum 300 minutes)
This is always one of the most hotly-contested awards, but we always find the same names near the top. Like in years past, Rashard Lewis, Andrea Bargnani, Matt Bonner and Channing Frye are clustered within striking distance. But sitting above (below) all of them is two-time Matt Bullard Award Winner, Steve Novak. So far this season Novak has exactly 31 more NBA rebounds than I do, converting just 5.6% of his team’s rebounding opportunities when he’s on the floor. Like I said at the end of last season, the only real barrier between Novak and continued dominance in this category is meeting the basic minutes requirement.
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.
On November 11, Rudy Gay shot 11 of 37, missing 26 shots in a game against Houston. This is easily the highest mark this season and it’s tough to imagine anyone topping it. The last three years it took 21, 23, and 25 missed shots to win this award, so topping Gay would require a truly historic effort. But really this award seems like it’s Gay’s psychological due. Although he has played well in Sacramento, his time in Toronto saw him wage a one-man campaign against any implication of efficiency and all the values of the analytics movement. He wanted to emphatically state the case that it didn’t matter how many shots you missed, as long as you made one more than the other guys. This game, and this award, stand as a shining monument to his efforts.
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.
Since I started these awards in 2011, this category has continually threatened to turn into a lifetime achievement award for Dwight Howard. Although he’s currently in the lead, having missed 14 free throws in a game on January 8, for the first time he has some real competition. DeAndre Jordan has had games of 12 and 9 missed free throws. Andre Drummond has also had a game of 11 missed free throws. For big men with delightfully clumsy free throw strokes, the NBA is really in a golden age. Howard has the experience and momentum to continue his stranglehold on this category, but it’s just nice to know it isn’t a foregone conclusion halfway through the season.
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)
The past two years this award has been dominated by the turnover-prone backcourt duo of Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley, who finished 1-2 both seasons. But this year the category has returned to the natural order of things, populated by lumbering, stone-handed bigs. Kendrick Perkins is currently in the lead, having turned the ball over on 29.7% of his possessions. But Ryan Hollins, Alexis Ajinca, Greg Stiemsma and Rudy Gobert all have TO%s north of 24.0%. It’s going to take a lot more fumbles and foibles before this award gets locked up by anyone.
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 history of this award has always been tumultuous with Bargnani, Norris Cole and Kevin Seraphin all coming in as past winners. At this point of the season we have a actual tie between Anthony Bennett and Tony Wroten, both of whom have produced -2.0 Wins for their respective teams. But even though things are close, Bennett would win the tie-breaker given that his -2.0 Wins were produced in just 469 minutes. On the Wages of Wins scale a Wins Produced per 48 minutes of 0.200 is considered a star level player. I guess Bennett’s WP48 of -0.209 would make him an Anti-Star. Fitting that he’s also the only player in position to win multiple Anti-Awards this year. No matter how you slice it, this has been a rookie season to remember.