There are players that play well and there are others that come up short. Those that play well earn their riches and the accolades. Those that don't end up not having jobs in the NBA. Somewhere between these two are those that wear a ski mask while they play. Of course they don't actually wear those while they play, but they certainly were wearing them to hide that big grin after they knew they would not be the same after signing their big deal. Without any further ado, let's introduce you to the 2016 NBA All Ski-Mask Way team. We will be going two-deep at each position to give it an All-NBA feel. (Disclaimer: All players selected had to play at least 55 games this season)
Point Guards (Eddie McDonald)
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls ($20.1 million)
To play or not to play, that is always the question Derrick Rose always asks himself. Rose was once considered to be one of the next great superstars in this league, but injuries have hindered that. Rose has had numerous season-ending injuries and that is never good. He got paid $20 million this season, but only showed glimpses of his former-MVP play. He has stated in the past that he wants to be able to walk at his son’s graduation and that is perfectly fine. But to pick and choose when you want to play, especially with the salary he got, isn’t the best way to go. In fact, Rose had his ski mask on all season long, depositing checks left and right, despite picking and choosing when he felt healthy enough to play. To add on to that, Rose stated before the season he was looking forward to not this season, but the season once the new NBA television network deal kicks in. Talk about robbing the team you currently play for that depend on you to do so much. Injuries need to be taken seriously, but when given a full bill of health, step up and do what you have to do in order to try and win a championship.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves ($12.7 million)
Ricky Rubio didn’t post awful numbers this season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but for getting paid over $12 million, they could and should have been better. He would have averaged more than just 10.1 points per game, but he shot 37% from the floor and 32% from three. Point guards are more known for setting other teammates up and he did a good job of that averaging 8.7 assists per game, but you have to be able to knock down open shots when the defense gives them to you. This is something that has hindered both the progression of Rubio and his team. Rubio has time to fix things and will be given the opportunity under new head coach Tom Thibodeau. But $12 million is entirely too much for just an average-at-best point guard.
Shooting Guards (Dan Dinkins)
Lance Stephenson, Los Angeles Clippers/Memphis Grizzlies ($9 million)
It bothers me a little to put the Lincoln (Brooklyn, New York) high school product on this list. But to play for two teams this season and average a combined 8.3 points per game makes no sense. He makes no solid case for playing time. And he had the ability to start for Memphis eventually. So he kind of just collected his dough and chilled this season.
James Harden, Houston Rockets ($15.8 million)
29 points per game for last year's Best Player in the League (as voted on by the players) doesn't keep him off this list to me! His extreme lack of defense and ability to truly get others involved is why I feel he belongs here(yes he averages 7.5 assists per game, but I think they are unintentional assists ). Honestly, he would be worth this money, but he just can't get anyone else involved. If the ball didn't die in his hands, he wouldn't be here! I think The Beard's only teammate at times was his Beard. I think it's time he should shave it for two reasons: (1) So people can forget the past and (2) So he can get some sun rays on his face so he can regain the energy to pass on occasions (He has superman like powers when it comes to scoring. So why not recharge the rest of his game!). I SO wanted him to be the MVP of this team. But his teammate he doesn't pass to holds the crown.
Small Forwards (Khalid Boyd)
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings ($12.4 million)
From a points per game standpoint this year, he was solid (over 17 points per game a night). But he probably needed some sports coalition to find him because he seemed missing in action. Without looking it up, if someone asked you who was on Sacramento and they were looking for two quick answers, most folks would say Boogie and Rondo despite Rudy being an integral part of their success. Sacramento is sucking the life out of his career. I've seen people do less in certain aspects of life and the name Al Bundy comes to mind. It's mind-boggling because Gay is no scrub. But he is trying to play like one.
Corey Brewer, Houston Rockets ($8.2 million)
This man was highly touted out of college. He won two national titles and just like that in a matter of a few years, he is on the All Fat Wallets team. This man is a human Hamburglar with his adept pilfering skills. We all wondered why Houston was so bad, well they have three reps on the All Ski-Mask Way Team this season. I guess if I was making money like this, I wouldn’t care how I produced either. With play that is rivaled in instructional kids leagues, he should personally fund a grip of them in Houston, Minneapolis and Gainesville. You’d expect him to be a defensive stalwart with numbers that low, but they dang sure don’t play defense in Houston. Usually you wanna do more with less but he is clearly doing less with more. On his NBA.com profile picture, he is smiling because he is thinking about his season long jux of the organization.
Power Forwards (Eddie McDonald)
David Lee, Boston Celtics/ Dallas Mavericks ($15 million with Celtics)
When a player makes more than $15 million per season, it is expected that said player will be a key factor in a team’s success. When you think of highway robbery, after thinking about $15 million players, think no further than David Lee. He was traded in July of 2015 to the Boston Celtics from the Golden State Warriors in a move that was essentially a salary dump. The Celtics thought they were getting a player that could help their struggling franchise. Instead, Lee lasted just 30 games in Beantown before being waived. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on 15 minutes per game and 45% shooting. Now ask yourself, is that the type of statistical impact you’d want in someone you were giving $15 million to? I didn’t think so. After being waived, he signed with the Dallas Mavericks where his numbers improved, but not enough to help the Mavericks avoid a first-round exit. He even missed the first two playoff games. If there are any policemen or women patrolling the highways, be on the lookout for Mr. Lee as he robbed the Celtics of $15 million.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets ($11.2 million)
Usually when a team gives a player a multi-year extension, it is because a team believes he is a cornerstone player. The Denver Nuggets are trying to build a competitive team and they figure Kenneth Faried is worthy of getting more money. While the Manimal showed glimpses of what he could do this season, his team struggled, finishing 33-49, missing the playoffs. For someone who already makes over $11 million a season and a salary that will grow over the next three seasons, he didn’t lead this team to anything this season. Sure, he had career-games, but that isn’t always enough in the NBA. For that money, he should be averaging more than 12.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He scored just 835 points in 67 games this season. He should easily be able to score over 1,000 points and grab over 1,000 rebounds, not under 900 points and under 600 rebounds. The Nuggets certainly did not get the production back from a guy they have a pretty penny to.
Centers (Khalid Boyd)
Roy Hibbert, Los Angeles Lakers ($15.5 million)
Roy Hibbert's numbers look like a math problem. Points per game minus rebounds equals assists per game. A few years ago, he was touted as a player that finally arrived. My question is where has he arrived? Elite? Serviceable? Consistent once a week? Man listen. This man is the mayor of the city Nowhere Fast, population himself. It's been a while since I've seen someone regress so quickly and still be in their prime. If the Lakers had their way, they'd add his production on the scoreboard and send him home. No sense suiting up to be so ineffective. This year, he's played like a taller, Black Adam Morrison. Like a worse Mark Madsen and I truly didn't think that was possible.
Omer Asik, New Orleans Pelicans ($9.2 million)
Did Asik leave his heart in Chicago and Houston? The Tin Man for the Pelicans made life easy for defenders and tough for Anthony Davis, his all-everything teammate. Asik, the amino acid, who was almost singlehandedly responsible for the Pelicans drowning this season, was signed to give a lift and not life money from the front office. I understand that centers aren't usually in the arena with their other player counterparts, but my goodness! The next time the Pelicans play the Lakers, the overtime should be a one-on-one between Hibbert and Asik on a fleece blanket night.
Co-Coach Fails Of The Year
Scott Skiles, Orlando Magic
The Magic were a talented team that was on the come up...then Scott Skiles came along and tore them down. Every player that was on that team last season had a dip in their numbers. Coincidence, I think not. Skiles has had a three-year plan...to get fired from every job he has had. He comes in, pulls a magic trick and then the team decides they are tired of hearing from him. But in Orlando, he pulled the best magic trick of all, getting the Magic to believe he could actually be the guy and quitting his job surprisingly with no one knowing. The way they produced in Orlando, he should donate his salary to all his Magic players for having to put up with him. Consider his sudden resignation his last parting gift to the team.
Byron Scott, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers were already going to be a show this year, considering it was Kobe's last season. But what also got shine was the way Scott failed to play his young players and get them better. I understand tough love, but what is that for when this team is going nowhere. Let the young kids play. Why are you benching them for? Sounds like he was more about making it the Kobe show in his last year than trying to help these kids get better. Well, hopefully this is his last stop as a coach because each job he has had, he has gotten worse and worse. It's closing time Byron. Not sure anyone will miss you on the sidelines.
Sam Hinkie Executive of The Year (Mike Patton)
Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets
Want to know how to ruin a team? Study analytics and be Daryl Morey. No one can make an offense up out of numbers like him. Better yet, yes you can. His team plays no defense and he gets players based on numbers that are on a paper. Do me a favor Morey and open up your eyes please. Your star plays no defense, you had a Superman that's Kryptonite was playing on the offensive end and you were paying a backup wing $8.2 million and he could not hit the broad side of a barn. He better hope that his new hire of Mike D'Antoni as head coach works. Because if it does not, he may go the way of Sam Hinkie and disappear like Keyser Soze.
The Kendrick Perkins MVP Award (Dan Dinkins)
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets ($22.4 million)
Put 11.8 rebounds a game aside(he's a center. That's his job). 13.7 points per game is Doo Doo for the guy who is supposed to be the top center in the league. His play since leaving Orlando has not matched his salary! But I'm not mad. Get your money! Actually I am mad. He consistently plays like he's not the best center in the league. His defense seems to have disappeared with the rest of the rockets team averaging 1.6 blocks a game. I can't place blame on him playing with the ball hog James Harden. He should and needs to do better!
Better is his rebound average should be over 15/16 per game when you're on a team with Harden. Better is demanding the ball in the post, like you use to! Better is him moving on from Houston and find a team that is a center away from going the distance!!! All things said. These are the reasons you are the MVP of the All Ski Mask team!!! You're the top in committing highway robbery at its finest!!!
Special thanks to My Mind On Sports lead writer Eddie McDonald, Dan Dinkins aka the Mayor from Talking My Team's The Starting Five and Fantasy football enthusiast Khalid Boyd for stopping through and being the committee on this list.
Oh and you can check out the announcing of the 2016 NBA All Ski-Mask Way team on The Starting Five broadcast here! Trust and believe you will catch some things on the podcast that the list could not bring to life.