Worst Starter No. 4 – Jae Crowder
The worst season of the LeBron James return era was clearly 2017-18. The team’s depth was eroded from multiple seasons of being all-in, and Kyrie Irving had jumped ship and forced a trade over the summer. The return from that deal should have helped them maintain their high level of play: Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder were both productive players on good teams in Boston.
Things did not go according to plan, and Crowder was far from a player the team could rely on. He started 47 games with the Cavaliers, shooting a mediocre 42.7 percent from the field (a ho-hum 55.5 percent true-shooting) and a truly abysmal -6.8 point differential; that is, the Cavaliers were 8.4 points per 100 possessions worse when he was in the game, in the 14th percentile leaguewide.
A player known for his tough defense was a turnstile with dreads that season, with opposing teams shooting five percentage points better when he played. VORP (Value over Replacement Player) estimates that the Cavs could have signed someone off the street and been 0.3 wins better than simply playing Crowder for 53 games.
The Cavs pulled the ripcord by the trade deadline, sending Crowder on to the Utah Jazz and remaking the team around their core. He established a solid career for himself from there, but his time in Cleveland was truly awful.