Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 NBA Disappointments

Here are ten NBA players off to slow starts this year because of age, less playing time, and/or diminishing skills.  I expect most of them to improve, but don't think any will be as effective as they were last season.

Jason Kidd
If you were playing that bad, you might
try to eat your jersey, too
The Dallas point guard will turn 39 in couple months, and he has already seen his minutes slashed from 36 per game in 2009-2010 to just a hair over 28 this season.  This reduction in playing time combined with his diminishing skills have turned the perennial double-double threat into a shell of his former self who is averaging under five points and five dimes a game.  Slumping teammates Dirk Nowitzki, Lamar Odom and Vince Carter haven't helped his assist totals, but Kidd's field goal percentage and rebounding have tumbled, too.  Simply put, it's hard to be contribute much on offense when you average five shots a game and never get to the line.  The good news is that his three-point stroke and quick hands have remained intact, so he still has some value even if he can't come close to matching his eight points/assists from last season.  The Mavericks haven't looked like themselves in the early-going and the offense has struggled to gel.  I fully expect the defending champs to eventually turn it around and for Kidd to follow suit, it seems that the condensed schedule is taking a toll on the both of them.  Don't expect any triple-doubles from the future Hall-of-Famer.

Steve Nash
Like Kidd, Nash, has suffered from decreased playing time this year.  The two-time MVP is down to about 30 minutes a night, his lowest total since the 1999-2000 campaign.  His field goal percentage is up but this improvement is negated by declining statistics across the board; he's taking fewer shots, making fewer threes, isn't getting to the line, and has, for all intents and purposes, stopped rebounding.  Nash will be 38 in a few weeks, and while he's still a great point guard it seems unlikely  that he'll be able to match last year's elite production.  Oh, and he hasn't had any help in Phoenix since Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson moved to the East coast and left the Arizona heat behind .

Dorell Wright
Wright had been a bench player on Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat, but he thrived playing 38.4 minutes per game for the all-offense no-defense Golden State Warriors last season.  He came out of nowhere to average 16.4 PPG and lead the Association in three-point attempts and three-pointers made.  He seemed to fit right in in the West's ramped up offensive environment.  But with new head coach Mark Jackson's commitment to improving the D, Wright has become and afterthought on a squad with weapons such as Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, and David Lee.  His field goal attempts are down almost 50 percent and he's looked tentative on offense, but he dropped 20 points on the Heat the other night in a performance that hopefully snapped his shooting slump.  Even if Wright starts playing upwards of 35 minutes per game I still think he's going to be a massive disappointment this season.

Lamar Odom
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year hasn't been himself lately
Stuck in a timeshare with Shawn Marion, and can't do much with 20 minutes per game.  Not surprisingly he is admittedly unhappy, and this trade (which didn't make much sense in the first place because Dallas needed a center, not another power forward) is already shaping up to be a mistake for the Mavericks.  They hoped he could help fill the gaping hole in their interior that resulted from the Tyson Chandler trade while adding some firepower on offense, but it's just not working out.  Hopefully Dallas will ship him out before the trade deadline and send him somewhere he can consistently notch double-doubles.  Think he'd rather be playing alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum instead of washed up Jason Kidd and Vince Carters?

Nick Young
The shooting guard was a nice surprise for the Wizards last year after putting up 17.4 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field, 39 percent from downtown and 82 percent at the charity stripe in his first season as a starter.  Unfortunately, Young is one-dimensional in that getting the ball in the hoop is pretty much the only thing he can do; he doesn't pass, rebound, or play good defense.  Since scoring and percentages have taken a lockout-induced hit, Young's numbers are down and he isn't nearly as effective as he was last season.  It doesn't help that Jordan Crawford (you may remember him as the young man who dunked "over" LeBron James during summer camp before last season) eats a lot of his minutes, but if Young is going to have any value at all his scoring needs to return to its 2010-2011 levels.

Devin Harris
Utah's brittle point guard maintained his solid fifteen point, seven assist production after New Jersey traded him, Derrick Favors, and a first round pick to the Jazz for Deron Williams last February, but his statistics have fallen off a cliff in the early going.  He's still starting, but is averaging just over 26 minutes per game, the fewest since he wore a Mavs jersey back in 2006-2007, and his numbers look a lot like Jason Kidd's.  This one's a head-scratcher for me because he played so well for Utah last year and he doesn't have an injury that could be affecting his performance.  The bottom line is that he hasn't been playing well, and if he doesn't get his act together soon his starting job may be in jeopardy.

J.J. Hickson
It sucked to be a Cavs fan last season, but Cleveland could find some small consolation in Hickson's breakout year.  He helped pick up the slack in the wake of LBJ's departure, and even though his field goal perentage dipped almost ten full percentage points he set career highs in almost every category while averaging nearly fourteen point and nine rebounds a game.  His tremendous athleticism helped him shine on a terrible team and many hoped he would take a Greg Monroe-esque leap forward in 2012, but last summer's trade to the Kings landed him in a crowded frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins and Chuck Hayes, and there just aren't enough shots to go around on a team that also includes shooters such as Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, and the Jimmer Fredette.  His minutes are down, his percentages are in the toilet and it looks as though he won't be able to build upon all the improvement and progress he made last season.  On the bright side, he's still only 23.

David West
West got a big boost in New Orleans because, aside from playing with Chris Paul, he was the only legitimate scoring threat in the frontcourt.  Now that the 31 year-old is coming off knee surgery, has lost a good chunk of playing time to Tyler Hansborough, and is surrounded by quality players such as Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, former teammate/CP3 backup Deron Collison, Paul George, and George Hill, it's going to be impossible for him to approach the 19-20 points he averaged per game over the past five seasons. Indiana emphasizes defense and is below average offensively, a strategy that also suppresses West's production, but in general the Pacers simply have too much talent for him to stand out like he did with the Hornets.

Stephen Jackson
The 12 year veteran's numbers have regressed for the second straight season, and it looks as though his age (33) and checkered injury history may be factors.  He's still averaging more than 33 minutes a night, right in line with his career average, but his shot attempts and percentages are down.  He'd be better off playing with a point guard who embraces the role of a facilitator, a la Rajon Rondo, instead of a high-volume shooter such as Brandon Jennings.  Jackson's stats are still good, but he's clearly past his prime and won't rediscover the form that averaged more than 20 points a game from 2007 through 2010.
Captain Jack isn't a great fit for the Bucks
Elton Brand
A victim of Spencer Hawes' transformation into a double-double machine.  Brand enjoyed a nice bounceback last year for the Sixers after putting up his best numbers since his last season in LA, but his minutes are down more than seven per game this season and at 32 he isn't getting any younger.  Much like David West, Brand suffers from playing on a team that has too much depth (Hawes, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Jody Meeks, Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner are all capable scorers).  Expect Brand to regress to his 2008-2010 numbers, and accept the fact that he hasn't been the same since he left the Clippers as a free agent in the summer of 2008.


  1. Nash's FG% is currently the second-highest of his career. His PER is just a notch behind his first MVP year. Even at almost-38 he leads the league in assists. If some of his other numbers are down is it possible that is due in part to the fact he gets to play these days not with Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson, but with Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye?

  2. No doubt that Nash is still a great player in spite of his advanced age and less talented teammates, but I think we can all agree he's not what he once was. I just have this sneaky feeling that he's going to miss substantial time with an injury, or that his production will suffer if/when he gets banged up.