Ball hog. Chucker. Black hole. Jacker. Whatever you want to call it, it all means the same thing – the last person you want on your team when hooping it up. Ball hogs are the worst, always chucking (and missing) bad shots and never sharing the rock. So I’ve decided to call out the worst offenders in NBA history via a statistical ranking. Consider it community service.
On my website, The Hoops Manifesto, I’ve been tracking the biggest black holes over the past couple of NBA seasons, but decided I wanted to crank it up a notch. So, I’ve statistically calculated the worst ball hogs in NBA history.
First, my methodology for determining this, straight from my site:
My task was simple enough – I wanted to figure out, statistically, who the biggest ball hog/black hole/teammate from hell/etc. was in the NBA. With the plethora of stats available today, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure that out, I surmised. While I was researching what stats I should use – Usage %, Assist % – I stumbled across a now defunct site – Basketball-Statistics – that had already done this back in 2009. Perfect!
After giving their formula some thought and test drives, it seems to pass muster. You can check out the formula here, but in summary it takes into account how much a player uses up his team’s possessions (Usage %), how well he shoots (True Shooting %) and how often he sets up his teammates (Assist %). It also takes into account what position on the court the player plays and adjusts the formula based on the average numbers players playing the same position put on the board. So, for a true ball hog, we are looking for a guy with an above average Usage Rate (above 20%) who shoots poorly and doesn’t pass.
Only catch doing this for all-time NBA players is that Usage Rate only started being tracked in the late 1970s, so in actuality this is a ranking of the worst ball hogs over the past 40-45 years. With that out of the way, let’s get to the public shaming!
1) Mike Mitchell – Wing – Cleveland, San Antonio – 1978-88
Ball Hog Score: 79.2
Sorry, no glamorous big name comes in at #1, and I hate to rag on the dead (Mitchell passed away from cancer in 2011), but the numbers don’t lie.
On the surface Mike Mitchell looked the part of a star – in fact, he was an All-Star in 1981 – and he’s still among the leaders in career scoring in Spurs history. But his career Usage Rate was off the charts at 25.1%, he shot slightly below average for a wing from his era, and his 6% Assist Percentage is nowhere close to the 15% rate wings from his era posted.
2) John Drew – Wing – Atlanta, Utah – 1974-85
Bag Hog Score: 73.5
Another non-glamorous name, and another guy who looks like a star at first glance – two All-Star appearances, 20.7 ppg for his career – but a chucker, nonetheless. His Usage Rate was almost 31%(!!) for his career and his assist rate only 9%.
3) Eddy Curry – Big – Chicago, New York, Miami, Dallas – 2001-13
Ball Hog Score: 70.1
Here’s a name you probably remember, as he was a high-profile draft bust. Weight and heart issues basically had Curry out of the league by age 27.
When he did play he was a black hole: 24% Usage Rate, 4% Assist Percentage. Not what you’re looking for from a fourth overall draft pick.
4) Nick Young – Wing – Washington, Clippers, Philly, Lakers, Golden State, Denver – 2007-19
Ball Hog Score: 69.3
Another modern era player all should be familiar with – Swaggy P. And not a surprising name to see pop up here. He’s a known jacker.
22.7% Usage Rate for his career actually seems low for Young, but 7% Assist Percentage and 54% True Shooting are on brand for him.
5) Stomile Swift – Big – Vancouver/Memphis, Houston, New Jersey, Phoenix
Ball Hog Score: 66.6
Another high-profile draft bust. Swift never did live up to his #2 overall draft selection by the Grizzlies, and was out of the NBA before he turned 30. Frequent shooting, frequent missing, and infrequent passing were the culprits.
As for Hall of Fame talent, Moses Malone scored the worst, coming in at 11th overall. And, no, Kobe Bryant was not identified as a ball hog. His -27 score showing he was actually the opposite of a chucker (slightly above average TS% and an off-the-charts for a wing player 24% Assist %). It also probably comes as no surprise that LeBron James ranks at the very bottom of the ball hog statistical ranking, earning a -104.9 (Giannis Antetokounmpo was next at -101.3).