The NBA regular season ends in less than four weeks, and a lion’s share of the national articles until then will be about playoff teams, playoff contenders, awards and the pursuit of history. For the fans of teams with no hope of a postseason berth, this article is for you.
The first annual All-Loser Teams feature three starting fives from franchises that will certainly be drafting in the lottery this year. It excludes teams such as Chicago, Washington, Detroit, Houston and Utah, who are still in the hunt.
These teams were chosen based on their statistics and performance for this season alone. A few players were shifted from their natural positions to ensure that the most talent was packed into these 15 spots.
On to the rosters:
Rajon Rondo, PG, Sacramento
The undisputed choice at this position, Rondo is the league leader in assists and assists per game. His current 11.9 per contest would be the highest mark since the 1994-1995 season, when the legendary John Stockton averaged 12.3 dimes. Rondo will command a big contract this summer, when the salary cap spikes to roughly $92 million. Bounce-back seasons don’t get much better than this.
Danilo Gallinari, SG, Denver
A bit oversized for the position, Gallo deserves his spot on the first team. He’s ninth in the league in offensive rating – best among players on non-playoff teams – and his 5.5 offensive win shares also leads lottery players. The 27-year-old Italian is putting up career highs in points, rebounds, win shares and PER, among other notable categories.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York
It’s been another tumultuous season for Melo and the Knicks, but that hasn’t impeded his All-Star level production. Anthony’s scoring numbers are down, but he is averaging a career high in assists. His defensive rating also is at its best level in four years.
Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans
The easiest call on this list, Davis is putting together another stellar season despite being overshadowed by other superstars. He leads non-playoff teams in win shares and is sixth in the league in made field goals, third in blocks per game and seventh in PER, points per game and rebounds per game. Oh, and he turned 23 just a week ago. Davis is still one of the league’s singular talents, even if people may forget about him sometimes.
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento
There was debate whether to put Cousins or Brook Lopez in this spot, but Boogie’s per-game numbers edged out Lopez’s advanced stats. You can find the player comparison here, but Cousins’ 27-plus points and 11 rebounds per game is hard to argue with. Despite being on a team with a 108.5 defensive rating – 24th in the league – Cousins has a 103 defensive rating that would be even better on a decent team.
Jrue Holiday, PG, New Orleans
Holiday is in contention for the Sixth Man Award, along with Will Barton, and edged out Ricky Rubio for a coveted spot on the Second Team. Holiday’s shooting numbers and PER barely gave him the edge, though it was close. He should get even better going forward as he fully recovers from right leg surgery.
Khris Middleton, SG, Milwaukee
Middleton won a battle with Andrew Wiggins for this spot, mainly based on his superior shooting and efficiency numbers. Middleton has earned his large contract extension by averaging more than 18 points while shooting over 40 percent from three. The 24-year-old has taken a step back defensively this season, but so has the entire Bucks team.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee
Although he has yet to develop his 3-point shot, the “Greek Freak” is now shooting over 50 percent from the field along with career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. He is already showing signs of becoming a triple-double machine. Not bad for a 21-year-old.
Karl-Anthony Towns, PF, Minnesota
It has been a pretty spectacular rookie season for KAT. He is already averaging a double-double at 20 years old and has locked up Rookie of the Year. Towns also is going to become a threat from 3-point range – already shooting 34.4 percent – and will probably become unguardable in the very near future.
Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn
Overlooked amidst all the dysfunction within the Nets this season is the fact that Lopez is having one of his best seasons, averaging over 20 points and eight rebounds. He is in the top 20 in PER and win shares, deserving of all the positive attention he has gotten.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota
Rubio is fifth in the league in both assists and steals per game, but his shooting numbers continue to disappoint. Having said that, the Spaniard is putting up career highs in offensive rating, PER and win shares per 48 minutes. So there are still signs of progress for the 25-year-old, who also defends very well.
Andrew Wiggins, SG, Minnesota
Wiggins already is putting up more than 20 points per game in his age-20 season. But he still needs to improve his 3-point shooting, rebounding and defense. At worst, it seems like Wiggins can develop into an Anthony-like scorer in this league. At best, he could be a 10-time All-Star.
Thaddeus Young, SF, Brooklyn
Thad took the final spot on this roster over guys such as Jabari Parker and Will Barton based off of superior shooting, scoring, rebounding and efficiency numbers. Young is an underrated player because of his lack of a long-range game. But he is putting up stats he can definitely build on going forward. He has earned his place here.
Greg Monroe, PF, Milwaukee
Although he would say his first year with the Bucks has been a disappointment, Monroe is still averaging 15.8 points and 9.4 rebounds while putting up his best shooting percentage in four years. His PER and offensive rating are career highs as well.
Nikola Jokic, C, Denver
Jokic gets this final spot over fellow rookie Kristaps Porzingis and Orlando center Nikola Vucevic based off of superior efficiency numbers. He is shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three with a 22 PER and more than five win shares. At 20 years old, Jokic has a chance to be a future All-Star for these Nuggets.
Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for SheridanHoops who focuses on analytics, profiles and features. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. Follow him on Twitter.