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On a big-picture level, every NBA player is incredibly good at basketball. Even if you picked the worst player in the entire Association and dropped him into a pick-up game, he’d dominate the competition.

With that caveat out of the way, though, it can get a bit boring discussing talent and elite skills. Sometimes you want to eat a bit of metaphorical junk food and talk about some less-than-ideal athletes. After decades and decades, isn’t it a bit tiring talking about the likes of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan?

With that in mind, we asked ChatGPT to create the worst NBA player possible by combining elements of other athletes’ repertoire. And while the AI did come up with an answer, let’s just say some of the answers took the easy way out.

Let’s break it down.

ChatGPT created a Frankenstein’s monster of bad NBA skills

If you’ve ever listened to sports talk radio or sat at a bar for more than a few minutes, you know that sports fans can’t resist a good hypothetical. Neither can AI, it seems, provided that it’s being guided by a sports fan.

In that vein, Sportscasting asked ChatGPT to “design the worst-possible NBA player with the skills from other players.” While there are plenty of ways to answer that question — we’ll look at some of those alternatives shortly — below is the response we received.

Certainly, here’s a whimsical take on designing the worst possible NBA player by combining the undesirable skills from different players:

  1. Height: 5’0″ (extremely short for an NBA player)
  2. Agility: Shaquille O’Neal (limited quickness and agility)
  3. Shooting: Andre Drummond (poor free-throw shooting and unreliable jump shot)
  4. Basketball IQ: J.R. Smith (notorious for poor decision-making and shot selection)
  5. Defense: James Harden (lackadaisical defense and inconsistent effort)
  6. Post Moves: Andrea Bargnani (ineffective footwork and scoring ability in the post)
  7. Athleticism: Kendrick Perkins (limited athleticism and mobility)
  8. Rebounding: Enes Kanter (struggles with positioning and boxing out opponents)
  9. Leadership: Dwight Howard (questionable leadership skills and locker room presence)
  10. Mental Toughness: Andrew Bynum (often perceived as lacking motivation and focus)

With this combination of undesirable skills, our “worst possible” NBA player would struggle in almost every aspect of the game. Their lack of height, agility, and athleticism would hinder their ability to compete with taller and quicker opponents. Their shooting would be unreliable, making them an ineffective scorer, especially from the free-throw line.

Defensively, their lack of effort and poor decision-making would leave them vulnerable to opponents’ attacks. Their post moves would be ineffective, and their rebounding skills would be subpar due to poor positioning and boxing out. Additionally, their questionable leadership and mental toughness would hinder their ability to rally teammates and perform under pressure.

Please note that this combination is meant to be humorous and not a reflection of the skills of the players mentioned. NBA players are highly talented individuals, and even those perceived as “worst” in certain aspects still possess exceptional skills compared to the average basketball player.


That’s quite the mouthful and seems impressive on the first pass. As we go deeper, though, some of the shortcomings become apparent.

Height could have been taken from Muggsy Bogues

While it’s a minor quibble, ChatGPT loses points here for failing to tie height to a specific player. If we’re following the logic that short is bad, then it should have gone with Muggsy Bogues’ 5-foot-3 frame. The guard was the shortest man to ever play in the NBA, even if that stature belied some incredible athleticism.

It’s also worth noting that if we’re using a height untethered to a specific athlete, there’s no reason to keep things logical. If a 5-foot-0 NBA player would be bad, why not make our worst-case scenario stand a foot tall? Or a few inches if you want to be truly absurd?

Shaquille O’Neal was actually rather agile for his size

Here’s the first place where the AI seems to take the easy way out. Shaq was a massive man, and toward the end of his career, he certainly lost a bit of foot speed. That doesn’t make him the least-agile man in NBA history, though.

Even if we overlook the agility of his early days — watch the young Diesel in the clip above and tell me he wasn’t an incredible athlete — for an aggregate, O’Neal isn’t the worst. At worst, good agility and poor agility would average out and put him somewhere in the middle of the road.

So, whose agility should we use? ChatGPT was on the right track of picking a lumbering big man, but other options, like Greg Ostertag or Zydrunas Ilgauskas, might have been the better choice.

And, if we really want to nitpick, it’s tough to separate agility from the athleticism category lower down the list.

Andre Drummond isn’t exactly a marksman, but there are better (or worse) candidates for shooting stroke

Again, it’s easy to see the logic here.

Andre Drummond is a historically bad free-throw shooter, and it’s easy to use that as a proxy for pure shooting talent. As you dig deeper, though, things start to fall apart.

If we’re using foul shots as the marker here, Ben Wallace was even worse than Drummond. And if we’re using straight-up shooting percentage (within a reasonable sample size), then John Mahnken and his 27.2% accuracy across his career take the cake. Admittedly, though, the NBA was far different when he played (1946-53), with drastically depressed shooting percentages across the board.

J.R. Smith has earned his place on the list by virtue of one high-profile moment

Are there other candidates for this unfortunate “basketball I.Q.” honor? Of course. Few of them, however, can match the profile of J.R. Smith’s most famous gaffe.

As you will surely remember, the then-Cavaliers guard corralled a rebound in the dying seconds of Game 1 during the 2018 NBA Finals and headed toward half-court to dribble out the clock. The only problem? Cleveland wasn’t winning; the score was tied. Then, in overtime, the Golden State Warriors pulled ahead to secure the victory. They ultimately cruised to the title in four games.

Could you make a case for someone else, like Shaqtin’ a Fool fixture JaVale McGee, to claim the top spot here? Sure, but it’s tough to compete with that iconic photo of LeBron James gesturing toward Smith with a mixture of sheer confusion and rage painted across his face.

Calling James Harden a defender is a lazy trope

James Harden (R) defends Giannis Antetokounmpo.
James Harden is a better post defender than you’d think. | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

If you’ll allow me to detour into soccer for a brief moment, there was a concept that made the rounds on social media that said David Luis was pilloried as a walking disaster because his foreign name and distinctive hair made his high-profile mistakes that much more noticeable. If he was an English defender named David Louis who took the pitch in a crew cut, some wondered, would he have a different reputation?

At this point, we could probably ask a similar question about James Harden.

When you think of the bearded guard, a few things probably spring to mind. Beyond his incredible scoring, maybe you remember those infamous photos of him looking rather out of shape while seeking a trade. Perhaps you associate his name with laziness, overall lack of effort, and all that’s wrong with modern basketball.

While some of those come down to personal preferences, it’s not fair to call Harden a terrible defender. He has decent hands and, thanks to his stature, can provide some physical toughness on the wings and do more than hold his own in the post.

Are some fans (and ChatGPT) thrown off because he defends differently than your stereotypical guard? Or does his tendency to be a bit lackadaisical overshadow the positives of his defensive game? At this point, the world may never know.

And, if we’re talking about a guard with bad defense, how about Trae Young as an alternative option? He’s not the worst of the worst — and his offensive upside more than compensates for any weaknesses — but he’s pretty bad by elite player standards. If you want someone who’s bad bad, just choose a random team and look up the last name on its depth chart.

It’s not really fair to grade Andrea Bargnani on his post moves

Did you really want Andrea Bargnani to get the ball on the block? Not really, but at the same time, that wasn’t his game.

The Italian may have nominally been a center (or power forward, depending on the lineup), but he was never a true post player. Saying he has the worst post moves would be like saying Shaq had the worst three-point shot. It’s not technically wrong, but it’s not really a fair assessment.

So, if we’re talking about taking post moves from an actual low-post player, I’d look in Dwight Howard’s direction.

Could the big man score in the paint? Of course. During his younger days, he looked like one of the Association’s most dominant interior players. He thrived, however, thanks to his size, strength, and athleticism. Footwork? Finesse? A conventional post move? Those were unnecessary when your upper body looked like something out of a comic book.

It’s tough to separate athleticism from agility, but Kendrick Perkins probably wasn’t the worst of the worst

As mentioned above, it’s tough to truly isolate athleticism and assess it within an NBA context. Do we boil it down to how high someone can jump? Does overall speed matter, or is that more a part of agility? Perhaps poor athleticism is simply a “you know it when you see it” sort of thing.

Either way, Kendrick Perkins probably shouldn’t be at the top of the list (although he’s probably in the upper echelon). While his size, lack of highlight-reel plays, and status as (usually) the weak link in a lineup made him an easy pick, there’s more to athleticism than foot speed. Was the center slow on both ends of the floor? Of course, but he could also provide some high-quality help defense around the lane, which suggests he wasn’t completely hopeless from a mobility perspective.

So where would I go instead? I’d have to go for Shawn Bradley (completely unrelated to his paralysis, which is obviously tragic and no laughing matter) or, more recently, Tacko Fall. Is working with a massive frame a challenge? Yes, but there’s something to be said for an NBA athlete who seems to be fighting their body with every step.

Going by the eye test isn’t always fair, but for something as amorphous as athleticism, it’s one of the best metrics we’ve got.

Rebounding was a key part of Enes Kanter Freedom’s NBA career

Before he added Freedom to his name and became known for his political takes, Enes Kanter carved out a niche for himself on the hardwood. Rebounding was a key part of that reality.

While some bad seasons dragged down his career average, Freedom averaged 7.8 boards per outing across his career. It’s not unreasonable to expect more from a center, but it is worth noting that the 2011 third overall pick did average 11 rebounds per game in two separate seasons. He wasn’t posting Wilt Chamberlain-level stats, but no one can do that anymore.

So whose rebounding do we want to give this worst-possible player? As laid out by NBC Sports, Damjan Rudez was historically bad for a 6-foot-10 player, but he (potentially) dodges the bullet by being more of a perimeter player. The same can be said for Bargnani; as we explained in the post moves section, he is a big man but wasn’t really an interior presence.

Our pick? Nenê (bet that’s a name you haven’t heard in a while).

While the Brazilian was an incredible athlete capable of throwing down some rim-rocking slam dunks, a starting NBA center should average more than 6.0 rebounds across his career. And, in this case, athleticism counts against him. Freedom had some of that big-man awkwardness ala Shawn Bradley that could allow you to overlook some weaknesses; Nenê, however, looked like he should be cleaning up the glass, only to leave plenty of metaphorical streaks behind.

Does Dwight Howard’s personality really equate to bad leadership?

While it’s tough to isolate most of these skills, leadership may be the hardest of them all. Not only is it personal — everyone will respond to a different sort of motivation — but we only see what the athletes choose to show up. What happens in the public eye is only part of the story.

Let’s use Dwight Howard as an example.

Was the big man outwardly goofy? Yes. Did we hear some stories about how he was potentially a bad teammate? Yes.

But at the same time, Dwight essentially was the Magic during his early years in Orlando. Even if he wasn’t giving the Gettysburg Address in the locker room, he probably showed some form of leadership, regardless of whether it was simply taking place on the court.

Is that enough to balance out some big-time missteps, like acting like he was buddy-buddy with Stan Van Gundy minutes after the coach revealed that Howard wanted him fired? Does it matter that he matured during a second stint with the LA Lakers?

You can decide that for yourself.

And, if you want an even hotter take, how about considering Michael Jordan for this category? While the living legend is remembered as someone who dragged his team to the promised land on six occasions, he accomplished that by talking trash, punching people, and being something of a jerk. Do those methods count against MJ? Or do his ultimate results make some less-than-ideal leadership OK?

Again, you can decide that for yourself.

Talking about mental weakness is 1) pretty tough from afar and 2) feels a bit gross


John Salley Perfectly Explains Why Neither Michael Jordan Nor LeBron James Can Be Considered the NBA GOAT

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s tough to assess mental strength/weakness from afar. Not only do we not really know what’s going on behind the scenes, but it’s also hard to see beyond our sports fan conditioning. Sometimes refusing to play through the pain, for example, is viewed as weak when, in reality, it’s probably the healthy choice.

Let’s use Ben Simmons as an example since he’d probably be the easiest contemporary pick for this category. Could you argue that he showed some mental weakness by holding out and forcing his way out of Philadelphia? Sure, but things get trickier when you start taking mental health — and, more recently, his physical health — into consideration. As basketball fans, it’s easy to tell the big Australian to “suck it up,” but that’s neither fair nor healthy.

So, based on those factors, I’m striking mental weakness from the player profile. Sorry, ChatGPT.

On the whole, that’s reflective of how the AI did in this little experiment. While many of the choices made sense, they were based on pop-cultural depictions, snap judgments, and, for lack of a better term, half-truths. That, however, may simply be par for the course at this point in artificial intelligence’s lifespan.

Which NBA components would make up your worst basketball player? Let us know in the comments below.