Season in Review: The Worst Performance

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Choosing the worst performance is like choosing what to eat at a vegan restaurant. How do you pick the worst among a bevy of un-enticing options?

I had no choice. I had to get creative.

Being the enterprising individual that I am, I came up with the JNWPMUM.  The “John Napier Worst Performance Made-Up Metric.” It’s a highly-complicated formula that considers negative impact, minutes played, win/loss, lineups, and other super-secret criteria. The higher the number, the worse the performance. (Note: the calculation of this statistic is proprietary, so please don’t ask for my Excel spreadsheet).

And without further ado, and based upon the JNWPMUM, the five worst performances of the year are:

5) Dion Waiters against the Memphis Grizzles (Jan. 31, 2015). JNWPMUM Score: 63

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In Durant’s questionable return from a 2-game absence, the Grizzlies grit-and-grinded their way to a 85-74 victory. Helping the Grizzlies secure the win was one Dion Waiters, who in 30 minutes of action shot 3-14, scoring just 7 points. Waiters also turned the ball over 4 times. It’s these types of games that put-off so many Thunder fans. He was awful from the midrange (1-4) and worse at the rim (1-5). Every possession he used (and he used a lot, with a usage rate of 28%) just felt like a wasted possession.

You know, the Dion Waiters’ Stepback Rollercoaster has had some highs (like the last game of the season when he scored 33 points), but it’s had some definite lows (the aforementioned game, a game against Miami in which his only contribution was a single basket to go with eight other missed shots). The fun (fun is the right word, right?) of the Waiters’ Coaster is that it’s generated a lively topic of debate. Is he good or is he, um, not good? On the one hand you have his supporters claiming he’s a talented player with a great ability to create his own shot and get to the basket. On the other, you have his detractors arguing that he’s selfish, takes terrible shots, and can’t finish.

I can’t wait to see how Billy Donovan uses Waiters next season.

4) Lance Thomas against the Brooklyn Nets (Nov. 3, 2014). JNWPMUM Score: 64

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I still can’t believe Lance Thomas played as much as he did with the Thunder (he averaged 20 minutes per game). You can’t really blame him entirely for any awful performance he had, because he was being asked to do much more than his abilities merited. That being said, when you play 22 minutes and all you can do is score 2 points (1-10 shooting) and grab 3 rebounds, you’re probably going to make a meaningless list of worst performances of the year. (Oh, and the Thunder got obliterated by the Nets 116-85).

Let’s be honest, Thomas had a few shining moments in OKC, but overall he looked like an end of the bench player. But as an aside, what the heck happened in New York? Maybe we ought to give some credit to Derek Fisher (or that triangle offense!), because Lance was a much better player for the Knicks than the Thunder. His TS% shot up to 48% (versus 40%), and his per 36 minutes in New York weren’t completely atrocious (11 points, 4 rebounds, 43% shooting).

It’s a shame Fisher already has a job. He’d make a great assistant.

3) Nick Collison against the Sacramento Kings (Jan. 7, 2015). JNWPMUM Score: 71

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Really, this game against the Kings was so bad it should never be spoken of again (the Thunder were steamrolled, 104-83). But, for the sake of this article, it must be mentioned. I hate to pick on Nick in a game where almost everyone played poorly, but Collison’s performance was extra awful. He couldn’t defend without fouling (DeMarcus Cousins shot 13 free throws), he missed his only 2 attempts from the field, he turned the ball over 5 times (how is this even possible?), and he managed to only grab 3 total rebounds.

This was a weird year for Nick. He played the fewest minutes of his career (and battled some injury issues like pretty much every player on the Thunder), and not coincidentally, had his least productive year as a pro. His TS% was sub 54% for the first time ever (49%), largely driven by a massive increase in three-point attempts (24% of his shots were threes this year), and the 4.1 points per game her averaged was also the lowest of his career. I don’t know if Collison is in the twilight of his career (okay, he probably is), but it wasn’t all cloudy. Collison assisted at a higher rate than ever (he assisted on 12% of his teammates’ buckets when he was on the court), his rebounding rate held steady, and his turnovers were way down over last year.

So, nevermind on that twilight stuff, I have high hopes for Nick next year.

2) Perry Jones against the San Antonio Spurs (Mar. 25, 2015). JNWPMUS: 72

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It should come as no surprise to see Perry on this list, considering I named him as second-worst player this season. Perry had several bad performances, but it was this performance that convinced me that Jones doesn’t have “it.” I’ve said this before, but I always thought Perry struggled because of a lack of aggression. He just looks so listless out on the court. But in this blow-out loss to the Spurs, Perry was trying to create and make plays. Problem was, he was bad doing it. In addition to his abysmal shooting stats (3-13), his performance is epitomized by his the three-straight failed post-ups of Marco Belinelli. Woof.

1) Russell Westbrook against the Sacramento Kings (Jan. 7, 2015). JNWPMUS Score: 76

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I feel really awkward having a Russ game as the worst performance of the season. This guy had a fantastic year, winning the scoring title, finishing fourth in MVP voting, and winning NBA All-Star Game MVP. But let’s be honest, we all have bad days. And Westbrook’s game against the Kings was a very bad day.

Against the Kings, Russ was going 100 miles per hour in a school zone.  He took a lot of bad and reckless shots (which is why he shot just 16% overall and 0% from three and scored only 10 points). He also had 7 turnovers, many times by barreling over a defender in the lane. I mean, the team was -24 when he was on the court. There is literally nothing positive to say about this performance. (But lots of good things to say about the rest of his season!).

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