This list could have easily been quantified by the amount of times a player has been featured on Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaqtin’ A Fool” or to put it another way, the top 10 players with the lowest basketball IQ. Every player makes mistakes and has mental lapses now and then, but when a particular player commits basketball felonies over and over again, they develop a reputation for having a very low basketball IQ.
All of these players are extremely talented, but this list had nothing to do with their physical ability, so much as it has to do with their mental aptitude. Some players do a lot with very little, but these players do very little with what they have been given.
Being a superstar in the NBA has as much to do with a high basketball IQ as it does with athleticism. Chris Paul, for example, has a very high basketball IQ. As a point guard, CP3 is like an extension of Doc Rivers on the floor. There is a reason why his assist to turnover ratio is one of the highest in the NBA. To go even further back, Charles Barkley was not only an extension of the coach on the floor, but an extension of the referee on the floor as well. It was not unusual for Sir Charles to call an illegal defense on his opponents, while he was posting up, so that the referees would be aware of what was happening and call it themselves. And to the referees credit, they would actually call the play that Charles was pointing out. Charles was that alert and that aware of what was happening everywhere on the court.
On the other hand, players with a low basketball IQ have a very difficult time being aware of anything that is happening on the court other than themselves. They are unaware of their teammates, have a difficult time reading the defense and struggle to make the right choices given the plethora of options that a player has to make in a split second.
So, these are the top 10 players in the NBA with the lowest basketball IQ.
10. Jordan Crawford – Golden State Warriors
Jordan Crawford is in the NBA for one reason and one reason alone, and that is to shoot the basketball. Crawford has a deadly shot, but his shot selection is incredibly poor. When Crawford was on the Boston Celtics, Coach Brad Stevens actually transformed him into a legitimate point guard for a few months, but as soon as he got traded to the Warriors, Crawford has gone back to his tunnel vision ways and his ridiculous fadeaways. Crawford has all the tools to be a Jamal Crawford 2.0, but unless his IQ improves a little bit more, he may find himself at the end of the bench his entire career.
9. Brandon Jennings – Detroit Pistons
There are times when Brandon Jennings looks like one of the best point guards in the league. From a fantasy perspective, Jennings has weeks that he blows up and other weeks where he will totally implode. The best point guards in the league can run an offense in a half court set or on a fast break, but Jennings struggled in the half court set this year and was unable to fully utilize the size that the Pistons had with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Couple that with his fire at will offense and Jennings continues to make fans pull out their hair in agony.
8. Monta Ellis – Dallas Mavericks
Monta Ellis has one of the worst three-point shooting percentages in the NBA for a shooting guard at 32% from downtown, yet he continues to take 2.5 attempts per game. Additionally, Ellis takes as many long 2-pointers as anyone else in the NBA, which is the worst shot that you can take from an offensive perspective. If Monta was more efficient on offense, he could make a strong case for being an All-Star each year.
7. Andrea Bargnani – New York Knicks
There are certain players in the NBA that have a deer in the headlights look every time you watch them play and Andrea Bargnani is one of them. Bargnani may have played basketball out of his love for the game when he was young, but that fire is almost extinguished. The Italian big man just doesn’t care anymore, which is really evident by the way that he plays and his demeanor on the court. Bargnani shoots 27% from the 3-point line, yet he continues to take 2.6 attempts per game. At this point in Bargnani’s career, his best position is at the center spot. When Tyson Chandler went down, Bargnani actually did fairly well in the paint and was totally engaged. When he becomes a spot-up four, he loses all interest.
6. Rudy Gay – Sacramento Kings
The verdict is finally out on Rudy Gay. After being bounced by the Memphis Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors, Gay now finds himself on his third team within two years. Gay has all of the tools and size to be a superstar in this league, but he hates taking the ball into the paint. Gay loves long two’s and shooting low percentage shots. Gay has improved since being on the Kings, but he has to find a way of getting to the line more, in addition to posting up now and then, instead of running away from contact and physicality. He has a lot of the same tools, size, and athleticism that LeBron James has, but his IQ must catch up with all of his other talents.
5. Josh Smith – Detroit Pistons
Josh Smith, You are not a small forward! Smith thrived as a power forward in Atlanta Hawks and even then he was jacking up three-pointers. Now that he is a small forward on the Detroit Pistons, Smith jacks up three’s even more than before. He shoots a whopping 3.4 three pointers per game, but only makes 26.4% from downtown. No wonder, Joe Dumars is no longer the general manager of the Detroit Pistons.
4. Michael Beasley – Miami Heat
Michael Beasley was a monster in college. He was actually one of the best rebounders in the country. However, once he got into the NBA, he began making bad decisions on and off the court. If Beasley was focused each and every game, he could easily be an All-Star. When he was taken with the number two pick, that is what every scout thought he was going to turn out to be. However, up until this point in his career, Beasley has not developed a post-game to be a four and he has not developed his three-pointer well enough to be a three. But Beasley’s greatest tragedy was his inability to assert himself on the defensive end. Beasley continues to get lost on defense, especially if his man moves well without the ball. And even with good coaching around him, Beasley still finds himself struggling to learn the in’s and out’s of the NBA.
3. J.R. Smith – New York Knicks
This past Sunday against the Miami Heat, J.R. Smith broke the record for the most three-point attempts in a single game by shooting twenty-two of them from downtown. The remarkable part is that he hit nearly half of them, which is astounding. Such is the life of being a teammate of J.R. Smith. When Smith is on, he is on, but when he is off, he is off. And believe it or not, he has a hard time differentiating the two. Smith is the quintessential example of the irrational confidence guy. He believes in himself too much, to the detriment of his own team.
2. Nick Young – Los Angeles Lakers
Swaggy P. makes basketball look easy. His jumper is smooth and he can get hot as fast as anyone else in the NBA. However, Nick Young suffers from a severe case of tunnel vision and fails to utilize his offensive skills to get others involved. Combine that with Young’s failure to attack the rim and his love for long 3-pointers, and that makes Young one of the most frustrating players to watch in the NBA. If Young learned how to play more in the flow of an offense and be disciplined with his possessions, instead of being a black hole and making 5 moves before he took a shot, he could easily play on a championship caliber team.
1. JaVale McGee – Denver Nuggets
Everyone’s favorite star on “Shaqtin’ A Fool,” JaVale McGee has now become a household name. No one doubts the athleticism and potential that McGee has. He is a true seven-footer that can protect the rim and even hit the open fifteen-footer. However, it is when McGee thinks that he is a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, or power forward, that he finds himself in trouble. From running the fast break to no look passes, McGee sometimes loses himself in the moment. It may be a nightmare for his coaches, but he brings pleasure to viewers everywhere that need a comical relief in the midst of an intense game.