Over 16 years ago, David Wesley recorded arguably the worst statistical performance ever
David Wesley, the current color analyst for the New Orleans Pelicans, had a really rough time trying to get things going for him in this low scoring affair against the Nets back in 2001. His inability to put the ball through the hoop in that game didn’t faze him at all, since he was taking a shot every three to four possessions (finished the game on 0-for-13 shooting in 28 minutes).
Shooting a lot was actually justifiable for Wesley, as it was his best scoring season (17.2 points per game) and he just returned from a solid road game where he dropped 22 on over 50 percent shooting. However, he contracted a serious case of an off-night.
He hardly contributed in any other aspect of the game as well (one rebound, one assist, one steal), and he also committed an uncharacteristically-high number of turnovers (four) and fouls (four). Paul Silas recognized there’s no point in playing Wesley his standard minutes, and the win was almost certain against a Nets lineup that only hardcore fans would remember (Keith Van Horn, Johnny Newman, Lucious Harris, Doug Overton, and Evan Eschmeyer were still with the team).
So, in the greater scheme of things, this game was pretty irrelevant, but will go down as one that featured a terrible, or arguably the worst performance ever by an otherwise solid player — take note of this very important context. Wesley paid respect to this game in his final season, where he compressed everything about his 2001 performance into one move.
Other than Wesley, only two players finished a regular season game with the Hollinger Game Score worse than -10. One of them is the relatively-anonymous Utah guard Delaney Rudd, who had a terrible performance against the Suns, but condensed in a much smaller timeframe. The nine minutes in which he shot 0-for-4 additionally hurt his team by committing six turnovers and five personal fouls while doing nothing else.
Definitely not a great way to showcase your abilities in a season opener. However, he eventually deserved his five seconds of fame, tying Game 5 of the 1992 West Finals as a substitution for the injured John Stockton. Oddly, he reached the status of a basketball legend in the French basketball league later on in his career.
The player that completes this dreadful trinity is a guy that the majority of current NBA fanbases are probably too young to recognize, but who apparently could ball. Thurl Bailey (19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and two assists per game in his best season) obviously had free reigns to take as many shots as he wanted, which didn’t end up right in the game against the Nuggets back in 1986. Sure, he grabbed eight rebounds, but shooting 2-for-20 (his offensive rating was a measly 26) coming off the bench while turning the ball over five times was probably a result of his misunderstanding of the term “spark off the bench”.
An amazing coincidence in this story is that Delaney and Bailey were not only teammates in Utah, but met in the later stages of their careers in Europe as well. According to this “Where are they now?” article published on the Jazz’s official site about Delaney Rudd, Bailey was impressed by Delaney’s popularity in France:
Rudd became so popular in France that his team had his picture on the side of their bus, something former Jazzman Thurl Bailey could not help but notice when Bailey’s Italian league team traveled to France to play Villeurbanne.
“He rode from the airport on our bus, said Rudd. “When I got to the gym he was laughing because he said he had never seen anything like it before.”
It’s interesting to note that the top five for of the worst individual performances according to Hollinger’s Game Score is rounded off by Steve Nash, who shot 2-of-11 paired with six turnovers, and only one assist. Goes to show that there’s no player that is flawless, and that even MVP-caliber players are bound to have an occasional off-night, though this one was particularly poor. Steve at least had age (he was 37 at the time) as an excuse.
The mentioned performances, besides Steve Nash’s from 2011, took place 15+ years ago, but we’ve had a fair share of atrocious performances in recent times as well. The most notable one is the Hollis Thompson Show from 2015 game against the Warriors, in which he fouled out in 28 minutes after shooting 0-9, turning the ball over five times, and almost breaking the magic barrier of a Game Score of -10. Just goes to show that David Wesley’s “achievement” is not one of those records that got out of reach, but that the odds that we’ll get to witness another utter disaster of an individual performance in the near future are in our favor.