When DeSagana Diop entered the NBA as the eighth pick in the 2001 draft, he looked destined to have a remarkable career. And indeed he has—in a sense.
No active NBA player has managed to last as long as Diop while playing so little. Diop, a 7-footer from Senegal, was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers but is now with the Charlotte Bobcats, for whom he is a healthy but increasingly noncontributing member. He didn't play in their loss to the Houston Rockets Monday, the third straight game in which he was active but didn't get in.
In Diop's 12 seasons, he has appeared in at least 50 games six times and made 93 starts. And yet, Diop has averaged only 14 minutes per game over his career. That translates to roughly 696 per season—easily the fewest minutes of any active player who has spent at least a decade in the NBA.
There is, of course, a reason why Diop continues to find work in the NBA year after year. He has averaged 1.1 career blocks per game despite his limited minutes. But Diop's weak offensive prowess—not to mention his .467 career free-throw percentage—makes it difficult for coaches to make him a bigger part of their rotation.
That said, it could be worse. Sean Marks, a 6-foot-10 big man from New Zealand, spent 11 recent seasons in the NBA with six teams. He averaged just 206.7 minutes per season—the fewest of any player in history who spent at least 10 years in the league.—Jared Diamond
A version of this article appeared January 22, 2013, on page D6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Captain of the All-Invisible Team.