Envy is a horrible thing.
I often envy my fellow Stiffs writers’ abilities to qualify their opinions with quantifiable statistics and well-thought processes of elimination. I do so much of that type of thing in my day gig that I chose long ago to (mostly) steer clear of the same here, as I have often found I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
But I do admire the work, and figured maybe I could give it a whirl, just on the dark side. The opposite end of the spectrum. Here are the five guys out of the 367 who wore the jersey who I think proved to be the biggest disappointments for these Denver Nuggets. Here’s how I came to my conclusions, so you can tell me what I did wrong (or right) when you tell me who I left out.
Sample size, that is. For instance, there are three guys who have played for the Nuggets who have averaged the triple goose egg. Zero points, zero total rebounds, and zero assists in their career for the Denver Nuggets. But we’re going to let Charles Smith, Charles Parks, and Garth Joseph off the collective hook this time around, as in the five combined career games they played, the had a grand total of 15 minutes on the floor. Garth and the Charles Brothers exhale a collective sigh.
No, Size Really Matters
The same goes for guys who Denver took a flyer on in the draft and never got to see enough of the floor. Erick Green comes to mind here. Green barely saw 400 minutes in his 46 games with the Nuggets, and didn’t catch any more air in 6 games played in Utah. Not that it wasn’t a letdown, it just wasn’t a top-five bummer in the 50 seasons Denver has under their belts.
There had to be at least some expectations for the guys coming in the door. That’s why four of the five guys on this list are Denver Nuggets draft picks, not a player someone else passed our way. Michael Doleac was statistically poor during his stay with the Nuggets, but was in his sixth season by the time the Nuggets got him, and had already shown he wasn’t what Orlando had hoped he might be when they drafted him. No surprises by the time he hit Denver.
We’re looking for guys who didn’t produce much on the offensive end, didn’t inspire much on the defensive end, and were a net negative on the floor. That knocks Ryan Bowen off the list, who didn’t produce a ton on offense, but was a solid defender and all-around effort guy in nearly 300 games over five seasons for the Nugs, averaging a positive WS/48 in his stay. Admittedly, this weighs more towards guys who had good-to-mediocre expectations and didn’t produce than it does to guys who had huge expectations and ended up mediocre.
All of that said, there are some nice guys on this list who just found their way to my own bottom five-of-three-hundred-and-sixty-seven. Each was still a good enough basketball player to get to the pros, reminiscent of a favorite family joke.
What do you call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his medical class?
Counting them down...
Number Five - Yakhouba Diawara
Feelings were mixed amongst Nuggets Nation about Diawara’s arrival, having gone undrafted after an All-Conference stint in his last year at Pepperdine. Yakhouba ended up spending a few months with a French team before the Nuggets signed him in July of 2006. Diawara’s hustle and heady game had some faithful excited, while others had their doubts. Sadly, the latter group was right, as Yakhouba played 1,719 minutes in 118 games over two seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 3.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in 14.5 minutes a game.
Number Four - Bo Ellis
Ellis had just had a remarkable run to the NCAA Championships with Marquette, going All-Tournament in the bargain when the Nuggets picked him up in a trade with the Washington Wizards, who had selected him at 17 in the 1978 draft. With expectations reasonably high, Ellis averaged 3.6 points, 2.9 total rebounds, and 0.7 assists in his 11.8 minutes-per-game. Ellis was enough of a letdown that Denver dropped him after two seasons, only to pick him up for a third at a cheaper price.
Number Three - Chris Herren
Though Denver selected Herren in the second round of the 2000 draft, he was a high-risk, high-reward type of a guy who had shown some impressive flashes under Jerry Tarkanian at Fresno State. Sadly, Herren’s demons got the better of his life and his game, and he managed only 3.1 points, 1.2 total rebounds, and 2.5 assists in nearly 600 minutes played over 45 games with the Nuggets. Though Herren had a very small sample size in comparison to most on this list, he was most famous amongst Nuggets Nation for his shoeless shooting.
Number Two - Kim Hughes
Hughes has the distinction of being the only guy on this list who didn’t start his career with the Denver Nuggets. He actually didn’t even start his pro career in the NBA, with his rookie year being the last year of ABA play. Kim took the league out in style, being the youngest part of Julius Erving’s championship New York Nets. Hughes averaged 8.2 points, 9.2 total rebounds, and 1.4 blocks while going ABA All-Rookie. He was not as fortunate in the next two seasons he spent with the Nets in the NBA, but hopes were still high that a change of scenery might kickstart his game. Denver gave Hughes the opportunity to shine, averaging 15.4 minutes over 159 games in his two-plus seasons in Denver. The outcome was an average of 2.9 points, 4.5 total rebounds, and one assist per game. Not what he would have wanted it to be either, I’m sure. Hughes went on to a lengthy coaching career (including time as a Nuggets assistant), and stayed close to basketball for a lot of years.
Number One - You Knew It When You Read The Headline Of The Article
Sometimes a mystery barely is one. For example, when J.J. Abrams announced his second Star Trek movie (Into Darkness) with a teaser of, “we’ve got a famous Star Trek bad guy, but we’re not going to tell you who it is...”
Well, duh. If I asked you to name three famous Kirk-era Star Trek villains, I’d be wildly impressed if you actually got to a second name. When you think of Star Trek bad guys, a specific moment tends to come to mind...
So when the surprise bad guy turned out to be Khan, it was such... an enormous... surprise. Feh.
So, the name which hasn’t been spoken just yet has to be our guy, right?
Actual Number One This Time - Nikoloz Tskitishvili
Tskitishvili was the fifth pick of the 2002 NBA draft, two picks ahead of fellow Nuggets rookie teammate Nene Hilario. Most every NBA team had scouted him, and he was theorized to be the next Dirk Nowitzki by many who had seen his “advanced skillset”. All he needed was experience and muscle. Just add water. This was going to be easy.
It’s no fun picking on Skita, as failing on a scale that makes you one of the great NBA draft busts of all time is a horror I’d not wish on my worst enemy, let alone a skinny 19-year-old kid with a then-limited grasp of English being asked to explain his slow pace in front of a huge and excited audience. A recipe for...
Averages of 3.2 points. 1.9 total rebounds. 0.7 assists. 0.3 blocks. All when getting 12.5 minutes a night. The 143 games Skita played for the Nuggets were 1785 of the most painful minutes to watch in their history.
Again, sorry, Skita.
What say YOU, Nuggets Nation? Do you have to know the lows of a situation to appropriately appreciate what highs look like? If you look at the picks and choices made in this article, Do you feel even better about the talent that the Nuggets have wrangled now? Who was even worse than the gents I had on my list? Educate me on why Tony Battie or Kostas Papanikolau should have been on my list. Memories like this make me recall when watching the Nuggets made me all...
Which one was LESS of a surprise in the reveal?
This poll is closed
Khan in Star Trek "Into Darkness"
Skita at the top/bottom of this list