While everybody is talking about who is the best basketball player in the world and who should be crowned MVP this year, LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo, the rest of the NBA community is taking a look at the other side of the street, where the not so talented players are, trying to contribute with whatever they can and bring some help to their teams.
However, some players can't help but being useless for their teams, no matter how hard they want to be a valuable piece, they end up being the complete opposite. One Redditor that goes with the name 'ZandrickEllison' got to work to discover who is the LEAST valuable player in the NBA this season. This has been an award since 2017 and this year won't be the exception.
Given that the league announced the prizes will be based on games through March 11, Ellison announced the LVP on the 2019/20.
While the media may focus on the MVP award and other prestigious honors, reddit has the distinct honor of awarding the LVP. The LEAST Valuable Player. It's a tradition that dates back to 2016-17, when aging Indiana SG Monta Ellis won the inaugural trophy and then promptly disappeared from the NBA forever. In 2017-18, Minnesota SG Jamal Crawford won the (dis)honor with some incredibly bad defensive numbers. Last season, New Orleans SF Solomon Hill won LVP by helping to sink a drowning team and accelerating Anthony Davis' decision to fly the coop.
Before we announce this year's winner, let's review the criteria and caveats:
--- Obviously, the worst players in the league are the ones who sit at the end of the bench and don't get any playing time. However, this award focuses on players who log a decent amount of minutes and consequently affected their team's play the most. Simply put: the more you play, the more damage you can do.
--- And that actual "damage" is important. If you're on a tanking team, no one cares about your poor play; it may even be a positive. I'm also ignoring young players (under 21) who are still developing and can't be expected to be solid players yet.
--- Similarly, we don't want to judge players within the context of their salary any more than the actual MVP does. We also do not weigh in injuries either. For example, the Wizards would have a hard time competing with John Wall on the sidelines (0 games played, $32M in salary), but we want to focus on players' on-court performance instead.
our official top 5 LVP ballot
5. Anthony Tolliver
(15.6 minutes per game, -3.60 RPM)
I've always had a soft spot for the wise ol' owl, Anthony Tolliver. He's reportedly a great teammate and locker room presence. He also started to develop into an effective stretch four towards the end of this career.
But alas, the end of his career may have snuck up on us sooner than we expected. Tolliver disappointed for Minnesota last season, and completely flopped in his return to Portland. At age 34, he doesn't seem to be a viable rotation player anymore. He didn't play quite enough to merit LVP, but he still played more than he should have.
There's a chance Tolliver comes back next year to serve as a veteran mentor and pseudo-assistant coach somewhere, but it's more likely that he retires. If he does, he'll have played for 10 different franchises in his not-so-illustrious but very respectable career.
4. Bryn Forbes
(25.1 minutes per game, -0.95 RPM)
The NBA is all about shooting these days, and Bryn Forbes can shoot. He's hit an even 40.0% from three during his NBA career so far, and wasn't too far removed from that this season with 38.8% on 6.0 attempts per game. As a result, his true shooting percentage (57%) was above average. The Spurs lacked spacers, and Forbes fit that bill.
So what's the problem...? Turns out, basketball is more than a halfcourt game. And whenever the ball crosses that pesky midcourt line, Bryn Forbes starts to become a liability.
At only 6'3", Forbes is undersized to play the SG position, which is where the Spurs played him 74% of the time (according to basketball-reference.) Partly due to those athletic limitations, he only registered 0.5 steals per game, and blocked a grand total of 0 shots in his 1579 minutes of action. The advanced stats get ugly; Forbes ranks near the bottom at his position in DRPM, DBPM, all the alphabet formulas that you can cook up.
At the end of the day, LVP is about negative impact, and there's plenty here. Forbes is not a bad player in a vacuum, but he did not help the Spurs this year. In fact, their undersized lineup is a big reason why they're struggling so much on defense (25th in the NBA). As a direct result, they're on track to miss the playoffs for the first time in decades.
3. Mario Hezonja
(16.3 minutes per game, -2.79 RPM)
During the entire run of the Damian Lillard - C.J. McCollum era, Portland has struggled to figure out their wing rotation. That would be tested even more this season, with familiar faces like Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Evan Turner slipping out the door. The trials and tribulations kept coming like Damian Lillard was Job, as injuries ravaged the Blazers' new depth chart. The team didn't need a star to emerge at forward -- but they needed somebody. Anybody.
In theory, that player should have been Mario Hezonja, a former lottery pick and a live body with good athleticism and size at 6'8". Signed this summer for a modest price ($1.7M), Hezonja had the chance to jumpstart his NBA career with a major opportunity on the team. Instead, he flopped like Marcus Smart taking a phantom elbow.
Hezonja's biggest problem is that, at age 25, he still hasn't found his feel on the court. He's not a good shooter (32.8% from three), and doesn't use his athleticism to find his way to the line (1.1 attempts per game.) He was a non-factor (5 PPG, 3 RPG) on a team that desperately needed him to step up. In fact, the Blazers were so desperate for help that they not only signed Carmelo Anthony, but they played him over 32 minutes a game.
Again, we see a real "LVP" candidacy here with a direct effect on the standings. The Blazers' getting a big fat nothing from Hezonja was a major part of their struggle to get to .500 this season.
2. Dewayne Dedmon
(17.6 minutes per game, -2.51 RPM)
We're not supposed to factor in salaries into this equation, but Dewayne Dedmon's situation merits a mention for context. The Sacramento Kings signed the big man to a head-scratching 3-year, $40M deal this summer (seriously.) Clearly, GM Vlade Divac thought his young Kings were only a few veterans away from making the playoffs, bringing in (and over-paying) Dedmon, Cory Joseph, and Trevor Ariza.
Among the three, Dedmon turned out to be the most disappointing for several reasons. He didn't play well to start the season, and got usurped in the rotation by underrated Richaun Holmes. Rather than suck it up, take a deep breath, and take a relaxing dive in his new Scrooge McDuck money pool, Dedmon started to whine and complain and push for a trade. For a team that was struggling, Dedmon's headache became the last thing they needed. Ultimately, they ditched him back to where he came from in Atlanta.
Now, being difficult and being a prima donna isn't enough to get you LVP honors. You have to stink on the court as well. And sure enough, Dedmon started to check those boxes. Billed as a stretch five after hitting some threes in Atlanta, Dedmon lost his shot in the SMF airport baggage claim. He shot only 19.7% from three for the Kings, registering a 47.3% true shooting percentage on the season. His defense is OK, but it's not good enough make up for his poor offensive play. He's not bad enough to get LVP, but he hurt his team this year.
1. Isaiah Thomas
(23.1 minutes per game, -2.75 RPM)
We've awarded three LVP trophies in the past, and a familiar pattern is starting to emerge. The most dangerous players aren't necessarily the bad players; they're the players who used to be good. Because of their prior success, they tend to get overplayed by their coaches and drag their teams down with them.
It wasn't too long ago that Isaiah Thomas found himself in the MVP conversation for the Boston Celtics, as his incredible shotmaking helped make up for any defensive limitations he may have as a 5'9" player. That said, a small player like Thomas is always going to have a thin margin for error to remain a winning player. He needs to be GREAT offensively to make up for his defense. Unfortunately, his offense has not been great since his infamous injury. He can still make shots (hitting 41.3% of his threes), but he's not getting inside the paint and not getting to the free-throw line (1.9 attempts per game.) As a result, his true-shooting percentage lagged to 53.1%, well below league average.
If Isaiah Thomas isn't making scoring efficiently, then what is he doing to help a team win? He's not a great distributor (3.7 assists per game.) He's a very poor rebounder (1.7 per game.) And yes, that defense is still a major problem. According to ESPN's RPM metric, Thomas graded as a -4.2 impact per 100 possessions, the second worst in the league at PG after Trae Young. Basketball-reference lists his "defensive rating" at 121. For comparison's sake, the worst team defense in the league still held teams under 116. (That worst team? The Wizards.)
You can make an argument that there's still a place for Thomas in the NBA as a sparkplug scorer off the bench. Alas, that's not how the Wizards had been using him this season. He started 37 of 40 games for the team. Largely as a result of that, the Wizards' starting lineup was atrocious defensively. Fellow starters like Bradley Beal and Rui Hachimura ranked toward the bottom of their position in defensive metrics as well. When your lineup stinks defensively, a good coach may look in the mirror and say: hey, maybe we need a change here. Sadly, quick reactions are not Scottie Brooks' strong suit. He has the type of sloth-like speed that even frustrate workers at the DMV. The Wizards eventually dumped IT, but it took far too long to make that shift.
To be fair, the Wizards' options at point guard were limited with John Wall injured. Veteran Ish Smith is mediocre right now, and Shabazz Napier arrived late in the season. Still, the point here is: almost any competent point guard (like a Napier) would have helped the Wizards more than Isaiah Thomas. He had become a negative for them. The cold hard truth is that: it's very difficult to win basketball games with Thomas starting. And given that, he is our official LVP.