Playing in The Upside Down

Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

Even good players have terrible games, forever etched in the Hall of Shame for all to see.  So with the caveat that an NBA player’s worst game is one million times better than my best pickup game – let’s take a look at some of these most terrible games.

We’re gonna use Game Score for this – it is a simple box score conglomeration stat created by John Hollinger that attempts to weight the various stats and come up with one number to explain how good the game was.  Here are the exact details:  PTS + 0.4 * FG – 0.7 * FGA – 0.4*(FTA – FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 *AST + 0.7 * BLK – 0.4 * PF – TOV)

For reference, the greatest games by Game Score are Michael Jordan‘s 69-point game, Kobe Bryant‘s 81-point game, and a hyper-efficient 61-point game from Karl Malone.

Only three games since 1983 have scored lower than negative ten in Game Score. Here they are.

Thurl Bailey – November 15, 1986 – Utah vs. Denver (-10.4)

“Big T” Bailey was a solid contributor to the Utah Jazz for many many years.  He had a beautiful, high-arcing shot that Hot Rod Hundley liked to refer to as a “rainbow jumper”.  But when the shots don’t go down they just don’t, and on this day Big T couldn’t get anything going.  Though he did grab 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, the good parts were negated by five turnovers and a miserable 2 for 20 shooting day.

Delaney Rudd – November 2, 1990 – Utah vs. Phoenix (-10.8)

Another Jazzman, Rudd backed up John Stockton competently for a few years.  But in this game, he managed to cause a lot of problems in only nine minutes of play.  He just couldn’t seem to keep his hands on the ball.  And when the smoke cleared, Rudd had six turnovers, five personal fouls, four missed shots, and a dead partridge in a rotten pear tree.

David Wesley – April 12, 2001 – Charlotte vs. New Jersey (-11.7)

Wesley played 14 seasons in the NBA, amassing nearly 1000 games.  Hopefully, he has been able to block this one out of his memory.  As far as good parts, Wesley did grab two steals in the game.  But those were easily overshadowed by the four turnovers and 13 shots without making a single one!  He missed four shots in the 1st quarter, but that didn’t bring him down, in fact, he kept shooting into the 4th quarter – probably just trying to keep from having a full goose egg in the points column.

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