In the NBA, there are two-way players who excel on both ends of the court. There are one-way players who are dominant on one end, but a liability on the other. And there are no-way players. As in, there’s no way they should be getting minutes.
Previously, we looked at the two-way players, but now we’ll focus on the one-way and no-way players. As before, we’ll be using ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus because it gives us a good perspective on both ends of the court (ORPM and DRPM) and accounts for statistical as well as “hidden” play.
Here’s another look at the chart of every player’s DRPM and ORPM, with the lines demarcating quintiles:
Rather than break it up into position like we did previously, this one will be broken up into three categories: the no-way players, lopsided offensive players and lopsided defensive players.
Here are all the players who were in the bottom quintile of both ORPM and DRPM. They are the guys who offer pretty much nothing on either end of the court.
Before racing to judgment, notice that there are essentially three categories of players here, and one is not like the other two.
Zach LaVine, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Ennis, JaKarr Sampson, Doug McDermott and Gary Harris are all very young players in their first or second year. By and large, they play for terrible teams. Heck, half of them play for the Minnesota Timberwolves. These players really don’t deserve to be listed as “no-way” players because there’s a good reason for them to be on the court — they need to develop.
Finally, we have the players who either never were, or peaked as middling role players and won’t hit that low ceiling again. These are the guys like Perry Jones and Brandon Rush. I guess every team needs a 12th man.
Basically, anyone on this list who’s been in the league four years or more needs to either step up or step out.
Looking only at veterans, if you want to field a team that exists solely to make the other guys feel better about themselves, a Ridnour, Hinrich, Prince, J.J. Hickson and Jordan Hill lineup would be better than prescription medicine.
Of the 474 players in the RPM database, 20 finished in the top quintile offensively and bottom quintile defensively. Most of these names aren’t a surprise. Carmelo Anthony is still getting it done offensively. His 4.9 ORPM was sixth-best in the league last year. He’s also still not getting it done on defense. Determining a “lopsided score” by subtracting the DRPM from the ORPM, he notches a 6.98, making him the most lopsided offensive player in the league.
The most tilted point guard was Baby Zeke, Isaiah Thomas. Jamal Crawford wins the shooting-guard spot, while Ryan Anderson is our power-forward selection. And completely unsurprisingly, Enes Kanter was the center who did the most on offense while being a complete disaster on the other end of the court.
The other thing that’s noteworthy here is the Lakers. Notice how Jordan Clarkson gave almost the same thing to the Lakers as Kobe Bryant. Notice also how he gave almost the exact same thing to the other team as Kobe Bryant. This makes the addition of Lou Williams, who’s also on the lopsided list, all the more peculiar. How many guards who hurl up shots without defending can one team accrue?
On the flip side, the first thing you’ll notice if you start scrolling over all the defensively-heavy players is that they’re all big men. And none more so than Philadelphia 76ers rookie Nerlens Noel, who you see there at the bottom right-hand corner.
The massive amount of white space between him and anyone else is both an indication of how good he is on defense, and how little he impacted the offense. You can scroll over the players, but there’s nothing much else of note here. Steven Adams is here for the Oklahoma City Thunder. If they could somehow find a way to get his defense and Kanter’s offense into one person, they’d have a pretty good player.
But back to the fact that they’re all big men. This is fallout from the rule changes. Big men can have their production duplicated by driving wings and point guards on offense, but they’re still needed for their rim protection on defense. Ergo, it’s easier for a “defense-only” player to latch on in the league in the middle.
But here’s an adjusted view with just perimeter players so we can see who the most lopsided of those are:
At point, Michael Carter-Williams is even better at keeping the other guy from scoring than he is at preventing himself from doing so. At shooting guard, Paul’s little brother, Elijah stands out defensively. Offensively, he still needs some work, though. And Quincy Acy is our most skew-whiff small forward.
If you ever need a game to put you to sleep, add them with Noel and Glen “Big Baby” Davis and you have a better solution than counting sheep.