BOSTON - The NBA is full of talented players who will put up eye-popping numbers all season, only to come up short more nights than not in what truly matters, winning.
Here we take a look at the best players on bad teams, and by bad we're talking about clubs that are expected to finish with a sub-.500 record.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Here's why: Devin Booker gets buckets like few in the NBA are capable of doing. Making his scoring all the more impressive is that he gets little if any consistent support. And that's not likely to change anytime soon. Last season, he averaged 24.9 points per game which ranked 10th in the NBA. More significant than the numbers, was the fact that it was the highest scoring average in the league for a player whose team failed to make the playoffs.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Here's why: The good news is that the Cavs' roster isn't nearly as depleted as it was the last time LeBron James came and left. But this team has the feel of those not-so-great Minnesota teams Love played for; teams that failed to get to the playoffs while Love became a double-double machine. While this team won't sink to the absolute bottom of the NBA landscape, they will far removed from being a playoff team even as Love puts up big numbers.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte
Here's why: A two-time All-star, the Hornets have made moves in recent years that indicate Walker's time with the franchise may be coming to an end. With our without Walker, Charlotte isn't expected to be a factor in the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Kemba Walker remains a keeper for fantasy league owners with a career scoring average of 18.9 points while having put up at least 20 points per game each of the last three seasons.
Harrison Barnes, Dallas
Here's why: Rookie Luka Doncic and offseason signee DeAndre Jordan will get much of the attention this year in Dallas, but folks shouldn't act like Harrison Barnes isn't a baller. In his two seasons with the Mavericks, he has averaged 19.2 and 18.9 points, respectively. The addition of Doncic whose strength as a playmaker is clear, and that should result in an increase in Barnes' scoring. But even with Doncic playing well and Barnes scoring more, the Mavericks won't make up enough ground to really enter the fray for a playoff spot this season.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento
I really wanted to have D'Angelo Russell of Brooklyn in this spot, but with the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie last season, there's no telling exactly what we'll see from him this season and the Nets truth be told, may scrap and fight their way into one of the last playoff spots in the East. That's not happening with the Sacramento Kings and their top scorer from a year ago, Willie Cauley-Stein. He averaged a career-high 12.8 points per game last season and will once again be among their top point producers. But even as one of their top players, the Kings are still viewed by most as a team that will struggle this season. Even as Cauley-Stein's numbers rise, the same won't hold true for the Kings' win total. Still, that doesn't take away from the 25-year-old developing into a solid pro which for a Sacramento team with lots of youth and little proven talent, is a good starting block towards what will be another rough season in terms of wins and losses.