Some of the NBA’s greats have taken a stab at putting together a basketball team. The logic has been that great players should be great talent evaluators. While Larry Bird had some relative success – I think – we all know how Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas fared. Meanwhile, less decorated ex-players like Otis Smith, Rod Higgins, Geoff Petrie, and Danny Ainge have had some solid runs at the helm of a franchise. Under this logic, it’s only inevitable that teams will look for the worst players to run the show. New Orleans took a step in that direction when they hired Dell Demps this offseason. The Phoenix Suns, however, saw their lousy ex-player and raised them quite possibly the worst player in NBA history.
Enter Lance Blanks.
Alright, so he may not be the worst player in NBA history, but if you hung around my friend Aaron and I in the early 90s he was. We were pretty big into collecting basketball cards. We spent a lot of time swapping cards, usually the obligatory guy he likes for a guy I like. I believe over time, I traded him all my Shaquille O’Neal rookie cards for all of his Kenny Anderson rookie cards. Pretty sound investment, huh? Anyway, for the guys we didn’t have an opinion on, their value pretty much hinged on scoring average. For example, Kelly Tripucka was pretty much nobody to us, but with a 20+ ppg average, we knew he was legit. Based on this scale, we were able to determine who the most worthless player in the NBA was: LANCE BLANKS. There must’ve been a hundred proposed card trades that ended in the line, “Dude, I’ll give you a Lance Blanks for him!” See, Blanks averaged an impressive 1.7 ppg in his rookie season, and only experienced a minor sophomore slump when he put up 1.5 ppg the following season. In 1992, he was the main piece in a blockbuster deal that sent him and Brad Sellers to Minnesota, in exchange for Gerald Glass and Mark Randall. They were arguably four of the worst players in the league at that time. Clearly Minnesota saw something in Blanks, and were able to harness that talent, and watched him blossom to career highs across the board. Blanks put up an astonishing 2.6 ppg, nearly a full point more than his previous career high. He averaged double digit minutes (10.5) and even earned a spot in the starting lineup twice!
Overall, I’m excited to see what Lance Blanks can do as the Suns GM. First order of business should be trading Steve Nash for the next Lance Blanks. He ought to look at Atlanta guard Mario West. In 39 games played last year, West dropped 30 points on the season, for a 0.77 ppg that Blanks could only have dreamed to achieve.