No player wants to be the worst player for their team in a game, let alone the worst player on the entire floor. Everyone has off-nights, but not often do players hit rock bottom like this list of performances. All information used to create this list can be found on Basketball Reference here.
How did we decide which games qualify as the worst?
We used Basketball Reference's GameScore statistic.
What is GameScore?
GameScore is a measurement of a player's productivity that factors in most aspects of any given game. It is by no means a definitive way to determine the worst games out there, but it's an easy statistic to use as a search filter. According to Basketball Reference's 'Glossary' page, the scale of GameScore is similar to points scored. Put simply, a GameScore of 40 would be considered outstanding and a GameScore of 10 is about average.
You will notice that the performances on this list dip well below 'average'. Let's get started
5) Mike Conley - GameScore: -7.0
Mike Conley's performance came in a loss against the Detroit Pistons. Coming into the game, the Memphis Grizzlies and Detroit Pistons had near identical records (18-19 and 17-19 respectively) and each wanted to prove themselves to the other team. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond each played nearly 40 minutes in this game with Blake putting up 26/8/7/2 in the win. From the Grizzlies' side, Jaren Jackson Jr. had one of his best games of the year putting up 26/10 on 74% shooting from the field.
One player missing entirely from the scoring column in the box score was Conley. He put up a line of 0/3/1 with 3 turnovers in over 28 minutes of action. Having only 1 assist didn't do him any favors either. Clearly this game served as inspiration though as in his next game he went off for 31 points on 50% shooting against the Brooklyn Nets.
4) Trey Lyles - GameScore: -7.2
This performance occurred in the Denver Nuggets' 2nd game of the season. They played the Phoenix Suns. Trey Lyles played just over 16 minutes off the bench in a blowout Denver victory.
His contribution was atrocious.
He scored only 2 points on 0-4 shooting (2-4 FT) with 6 turnovers and 3 fouls. Even against a lowly Phoenix defense he could not get anything going. He was the worst player to touch the floor that night.
3) Kadeem Allen - GameScore: -7.4
On March 18, the New York Knicks lost to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors by a final score of 128-92. This meant that there was plenty of garbage time for the bench players to show their skills in their hunt for more minutes as the season came to a close.
Kadeem definitely did not have his best performance.
Allen was given 26 minutes of playing time (4th most on the team) to prove himself. He proceeded to not score, shoot 0-8 FG, 0-5 3PT, then rack up 3 turnovers and 2 fouls. He had one rebound, one assist and one steal which is... neat I guess. Meanwhile, his bench buddy Allonzo Trier scored a very efficient 22 in 31 minutes that night. Kadeem tried to keep up but failed.
His performance was so bad that he was scratched for the Knicks' next game. He did end the season with a few solid bench games in a row though. Good on him.
2) Andrew Wiggins - GameScore: -8.4
Chicago Bulls @ Minnesota Timberwolves, November 24, 2018. The Wolves were a few games below .500 while the Bulls were already 10 games below. The Wolves needed this win against a weak Bulls squad.
Wiggins didn't help their cause.
Wiggins shot 0-12 with one rebound, one assist, and one turnover. That's about as empty a box score as it gets. Though Wiggins was not alone in this his horrendous performance. His teammate, Robert Covington, shot 1-18 from the field while fouling out in 35 minutes. Covington did finish with a full statline of 4/6/1/3/3 which is likely why he didn't also land on this list. Wiggins' game on the other hand had no redeeming qualities in it.
The Wolves were somehow saved by Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose who combined for 57 points on 22-36 shooting with Jeff Teague chipping in an efficient 18 points in a win against Chicago (yes, the Wolves still won this game).
1) Dirk Nowitzki - GameScore: -8.6
I remember watching this game. This was a mid-season game that pitted the Dallas Mavericks against the Boston Celtics where Dirk played 16 minutes off the bench. The crowd at the TD Garden was cheering for Dirk to score one final basket in Boston. He tried, but sadly he could not pull through for them.
He shot 0-10 FG, 0-8 3PT with 2 rebounds and 3 fouls in 16:07 minutes of playing time. An incredibly bad performance, but in the grand scheme of bad games it's more like a "pretty darn bad game".
I'm not going to take shots at Dirk here. He was 40 and on his last legs in the NBA (and I also think that Wiggins' statline is worse). One bad game in his final season can be overlooked after all that he's done. I'm sure he's enjoying retirement.