The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Larry Hughes is not a good basketball player

Posted by disappointmentzone on 24 December 2006

Outside of a few people who blog about the Cavs and a couple of friends, I have yet to witness anything remotely close to a sustained, thoughtful discourse on basketball in Cleveland. Not that I’m surprised: anything popular generates a lot of noise and finding the signal always takes a committed effort. It is unfortunate that there is no mechanism in place for sorting out the signal from the noise — like a really nice forum — but from time to time noise and signal become unified; the boisterous opinions speak as one and that voice is coherent and intelligent.

So it was at the Cavs-Pistons game on Thursday night. In the middle of the third quarter Larry Hughes missed a jump shot, which is to say he took a jump shot, and the people in my section actually paying attention to the game all slumped a little bit and let out a smattering of grumbles and moans. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around whenever Hughes took (that is, missed) a jump shot the grumbling and moaning that was apparent in my section in the third quarter was apparent to everyone in the arena because just about everyone was grumbling and moaning. A few people even booed.

I could not have been happier.

Larry Hughes is not a good basketball player. Any thoughtful discussion of the 2006-07 Cavs has to address Larry Hughes and the quicker the consensus is reached that’s he’s not a good basketball player the better that discussion will be. And allow me to be clear about one thing. Larry Hughes’s contract has nothing to do with how bad of a basketball player he is. This isn’t a Moneyball situation. Sure, his (in)ability would be more tolerable if he were paid $2M per year instead of $13M, but he would still not be a good basketball player.

He’s not terrible, mind you. He’s OK on defense. He can dribble. He is capable of making a positive contribution to the team, but he seems entirely unwilling to do the sort of things necessary to ensure that he is making a positive contribution whenever he steps on the court. It’s not just that he’s quick to shoot the jumper — I’ve heard some people complain about how whenever Hughes gets the ball he seems to do nothing other than shoot and that this is his problem — it’s that he shoots the jumper at all. He is not a good shooter. He is not a good shooter. He is not a good shooter. You don’t need any fluency in statistics to understand that when he throws the ball at the hoop he misses an awful lot. This point is really that simple. He is not a good shooter. When all he does is shoot — and this is essentially all he is doing on offense — it is impossible for him to be anything other than a bad basketball player. When you do something poorly and it’s all you do the only outcome is to be bad. That’s Larry Hughes as long as he’s shooting jumpers.

Now that we’ve established that Hughes is not good let’s move the discussion beyond “Hughes: good or bad?” to something more nuanced, such as How the Cavs can have success with Hughes given the current roster? Doing so will certainly increase the signal-to-noise ratio.


We are in the heart of this holiday season of giving and good cheer and so I think it’s worth taking a moment to say thanks to everyone who frequents this humble site. So thanks. Have a happy holidays.


15 Responses to “Larry Hughes is not a good basketball player”

  1. yanni_gogolak said

    lets look at something here:
    lebron: 47.8% (46% career, not fair to compare anyone to him though)
    hughes: 41.7% (41.5% career)
    jones: 43% (41% career) 4yr/$16 mil
    wesley: 22.9% (42% career)
    snow: 42.6% (42.7% career)
    daniel gibson: 32-75 (42.7%)
    shannon brown: 10-33 (30.3%)

    thats a look at the shooters, hughes is actually right on his career number, i think its more of a coaching thing, nobody moves when lebron has the ball, hughes can throw it down, and u hardly ever see that

  2. To compare Hughes’s numbers this season to his career numbers does not address the problem of his inability to make jump shots. I agree that Mike Brown is not doing well with the offense.

  3. gms11 said

    I completely agree with the original post. Larry Hughes is NOT the answer as the great compliment to Lebron in Cleveland. I agree, he is a good player. GOOD. Not great. Often when I complain to friends and others about Larry Hughes, and the inexplicably large contract to which he was signed, I get the typical responses: just wait until he’s healthy… its his defense we need… he’s the 2nd scorer Lebron needs to succeed.

    To address these comments…
    His health –
    Larry Hughes will NEVER be healthy, in my opinion. He’s 6-6 185. 185. Let me repeat. 185. In a league which has evolved into one of incredible physicality, a player of Hughes’ frailty is prone to the types of injuries that have plagued him in his time with the Cavs, and I am one who doesn’t necessarily see this tendency changing. And this ‘just wait unitl he’s healthy’ argument is for the birds. I heard the same with Ken Griffey Jr. in Cincinnati. At what point do we need to admit it was a bad signing?

    His defense –
    Yes, Larry Hughes comes up with steals. But OFF the ball. Thats not necessarily the defensive answer the Cavs need. What they need is a great on-the-ball man-to-man defender, and that Larry Hughes certainly is NOT. Don’t believe me? Pay attention to the next ten games, and specifically the player Hughes is matched up with. Chances are, that player will score at or above his season average nearly every night. It’s not Larry’s fault; he’s simply not strong enough to get around screens and stop penetration.

    His scoring –
    Yes. Lebron needs a 2nd scorer. To me, to continue to count on Larry to fulfill this role is the gravest of the Cavs mistakes. He is an inconsistant jump shooter, does not create for others, and again, is not strong enough to finish around the basket. Thats right, contrary to what seems to be popular belief, Larry Hughes is a POOR finisher. His athletism seems to be freakishly absent from his days with the 76ers and wizards. In traffic, the best he can hope for is a foul, which often doesn’t come because of his weakness around the basket.

    Sorry for the length… just a frustrated cavs fan venting. We are so close to putting together a championship team, and I do believe Larry can have a role in creating that. Just not the one to which he is currently assigned. He is a role player. At best. We need another scorer.


  4. CavsRules said

    Ha, yea, well, that good player didn’t let Kobe(BEST in NBA) score in the last 4 minutes in the ball game.

    Bryant scored 36 points to lead the Lakers, who went 3-5 on an eight-game swing through the bitterly cold East. Bryant scored Los Angeles’ first 14 points in the final quarter, but with Larry Hughes guarding him, he didn’t score again in the final 3:39 after making two free throws to tie it at 81.


  5. Hey, he played well for four minutes. He must be a great player.

  6. CavsRules said

    You honestly don’t know the guy. It took him 3 season’s with the Wizards to learn the offense, and the teammates. As you see his numbers, they go up every year. Also, Mike Brown is an idiot, and he should be pushing Larry to drive more, instead of pulling up for jumpers. He played 4 minutes, and SHUT DOWN THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA. He doesn’t ‘suck’ or trash. And no, he isn’t the greatest player, but he for sure as hell is good.

  7. 3 seasons is a hell of a learning curve and I suppose that his game finally coming together has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his third season was his contract year. And I’m sure that Mike Brown is the one focing LH to take 19 foot jumpers seven seconds into the 24 second clock.

    He played well for 4 minutes. He must be good. You’re right.

    PS: His numbers have not gone up every year. You are wrong.

  8. CavsRules said

    Uh, you should check and find out. Your talking to his #1 Fan, I have watched this guy from day one, so don’t tell me he isn’t a good player. Just because he has come here and AVG 14 PPG(career 15) so now he is bad? You kidding me? Give me a break.

    His numbers did indeed go up, 1st season he was at 12 PPG, next season he was at 18 PPG. And his final season was at 22 PPG.

    So how are they NOT going up??

  9. He isn’t just now bad. Except for one season in Washington–he was pretty good that season–he has always been a below-average player, and by my definition “below average” means “not good”. I’m not saying he’s terrible, mind you. He’s in the top tier of all basketball players in the world. But relative to other NBA players he’s below average.

    Here’s how his numbers have not gone up every year: in the past two seasons they have gone down.

    It’s fun to argue about Larry Hughes, but it would be nice to see the measure against which you are judging him. Is there some statistic you are using? If so, what is it? If not, what you are offering in his defense–“but I’ve seen him with my own eyes!”–is arbitrary.

    BTW: PPG is not a great measure of skill. Except for his last season in Washington, Hughes has never been an efficient scorer. He scores a lot of points but he misses a lot of shots. The average NBA player would score more points than Hughes if that average player took the same number of shots.

    If you want a more detailed analysis of Hughes, check out “Cavaliers Roster Analysis” in the header at the top of the page.

  10. CavsRules said

    Really, every where I go people all always crying over how many points this guy puts up. Well as u can see, his points went up after every year. I laugh when people say he sucks. I just remember the day he made the Defense team, and lead the NBA in steals. And I just laugh at them. Like I have been here. Hell, I was doing a story on the Cavaliers, and need a pic of Hughes, and of course, I come across this site, and see this ridiculous story on how he isn’t a good ball player. Thats just ridiculous. Honestly, just because he hasn’t fit in with the Cavaliers, so now he is not good? Are u kidding me? You put this guy back with WAS, he would do VERY well. Cleveland needs one more piece in order to make a run, and if they get Bibby, that, IMO, is the final piece needed.

  11. If he is not playing well he is not good. If he has only played well in one season he is not good. He is not good, he is not good, he is not good. He’s struggling to be average. When you can justify how Hughes is a good basketball player with some sort of evidence then this conversation will be fruitful to continue.

  12. CavsRules said

    Mike Brown hasn’t helped Hughes at all! You are forgetting things around him, like the coach, other players. Sure he has been a disappointment this season, well, once we signed him. Mike Brown is a terrible coach and isn’t making the changes to help Hughes out. He isn’t helping make James and LBJ a good duo, and he has failed as a coach. He played well his 2nd season with WAS also. He also played a few good times with GS. Even tho that team was terrible. Not a good player? Tell that to the award that says “Defensive Team” ;)

  13. Anonymous said

    larry hughes is good he just get injured too much i think thats the reason he don’t drive because he can’t keep getting hurt

  14. Justin said

    Your comments make absolutely no sense at all. Larry Hughes HASN’T improved his numbers every year, DOESN’T shoot a high percentage, CONSISTENTLY takes bad shots, REFUSES to attack the basket, and generally f***s up the (albeit horrible) offense on a nightly basis. Is Larry Hughes a good basketball player?…absolutely! Did he have a great season his last year in Washington?…sure! However, the point Disappointmentzone is trying to make is that he never has been and never will be worth $12, $10, or even $7 million a year.

  15. Larry Hughes said

    Yes, you are all right. I suck. I just played New Orleans and played 31 minutes and scored 2 points. I would like to give my salary back to the Cavs, as the others choices you had to choose from when you picked me, such as, Joe Johnson and, oh yea, Michael Redd, are kicking my little rear in stats.

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