Brandon Rush has had a forgettable career thus far, but as we head into the home stretch he may be on his way to a milestone of sorts. Rush has a PER of just 9.96 in his second pro season, but somehow leads the Pacers in minutes played with 2,159 --157 more than the next closest player, Troy Murphy.
If he manages to maintain his lead, he’ll claim the dubious distinction of being the worst player ever to lead his team in minutes. My search through the record books unearthed only two other players in the post-merger era to lead their team in minutes with a single-digit PER: Bruce Bowen with San Antonio in 2003-04, and Jason Collins with the Nets a season later.
But those were two of the best defensive players of the decade (if not ever, in Bowen’s case), so it’s obvious why they played so much. Rush is just an average defender, making his usage more perplexing.
Sure, Indiana is a bad team, but even on bad teams, the leader in minutes is usually a player of some accomplishment. The leaders on New Jersey (Brook Lopez) and Minnesota (Al Jefferson), for instance, have stellar PERs despite the woeful state of their teams.
In Rush’s case, injuries to Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, the frequent use of smaller lineups and the team’s general dissatisfaction with free-agent bust Dahntay Jones have conspired to keep him on the floor for 30 minutes per game in spite of his own mediocrity. He just needs to keep up that pace for a dozen more games to claim this “record.”