3. Dante Cunningham – 132 Games Started, -2.4 Box Plus-Minus as a Pelican
As the old adage goes, “Hindsight is 20/20.” But even with that bias in mind, why on Earth did Dante Cunningham need to start 132 games for the Pelicans?
You can’t hit me with the double big lineup to juice your defense argument. Cunningham was a forward, so he doesn’t fall under this category. You can’t tell me that he was there for spacing purposes – 34.5% 3-point shooting on 1.8 attempts per game during his time as a Pelican is hardly what you would consider a spacer.
And you sure as hell can’t tell me that this was the Pelicans’ attempt to flank Davis with the two-way forward he needed to make a deep playoff run in New Orleans. In 263 total games with the team, Cunningham averaged 5.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, and 0.4 BPG in 24.3 minutes of action per night. On top of that, he had an OBPM of -2.3 and an overall BPM of -2.3 (meaning he hardly contributed anything on defense).
What we have here is a super-charged version of what we saw with Gee earlier. A player playing a position where two-way value is a must for contenders, yet Cunningham didn’t seem to contribute any positive value on either end of the court. At least not enough to warrant starter-level minutes.
You could make an argument that in terms of pure talent Cunningham was better than Gee during their respective times with the team. But the fact that he started nearly 3.5 times more games than Gee earns him his place on our list.