Solid understanding of trends.
Now that the NBA season is about to hit the one-month mark, we have a solid understanding of trends taking place around the Association.
We previously focused on the 15 most-impressive players in the NBA thus far this season. It’s now time to go a bit negative in checking out the 12 biggest flops.
This includes a forward in Oklahoma City who continues to struggle with his shot and a team in Southern California that hasn’t lived up to expectations.
These are among the biggest flops in the NBA thus far.
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
After struggling in last season’s playoffs and fresh off signing a max contract with Oklahoma City, George just has not lived up to the hype thus far this season. The Thunder might be in the midst of a six-game winning streak, but George has played a small role in that. He’s averaging just 22.4 points per game and shooting less than 43 percent from the field. That includes a remarkably low 48 percent from two-point range.
If the Thunder are going to have any chance to compete in the Western Conference moving forward, George must up his game. The continued injury concerns relating to Russell Westbrook magnify this even further.
Whether it’s the firing of head coach Tyronn Lue or continued trade rumors, the LeBron James-less Cavaliers have been a complete and utter dumpster fire. Add in the struggles of rookie Collin Sexton and Kevin Love’s injury, and this is brought to an entirely new level.
Cleveland boasts a league-worst 1-10 record and is losing by an average of nearly 11 points per game. There’s nothing acting head coach Larry Drew and Co. can do that will change the narrative as this season progresses. Cleveland is the least-talented team in the NBA and has not even started its lengthy rebuild yet. It’s going to be rough for Cavaliers fans over the long haul.
Carmelo Anthony, Houston Rockets
Houston added Anthony to the mix in an attempt to find a third scorer behind James Harden and Chris Paul. It did so with the idea that he would take to a bench role much better than we’ve seen thus far this season. The results just haven’t been there.
The 10-time All-Star is averaging less than 15 points per game and shooting at just a 44 percent clip from the field. More to the point. Houston boasts a 2-3 record when Anthony sees 30-plus minutes of action. The team also ranks 27th in defensive efficiency with him on the court. Ouch.
Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks
The injury to rookie lottery pick Kevin Knox has been the biggest story in New York thus far this season. But Ntilikina‘s inability to progress as a second-year player has to be concerning for the brass in New York. The 20-year-old guard is averaging just 8.1 points and shooting at a 36 percent mark from the field. That includes a horrendous .304 three-point percentage.
The Knicks’ rebuild will depend heavily on Ntilikina improving from what we’ve seen this season. Unfortunately, he’s just not playing that big of a role. Just 20, there’s hope here. That’s for sure. We’re simply worried he’ll never pan out like the Knicks hope.
Los Angeles Lakers
Outside of JaVale McGee’s performance, this season has been a complete dumpster fire for Luke Walton and the Lakers. The new core pieces, LeBron James included, have not meshed together well. It’s led to a 5-6 record and Walton finding himself on the hot seat.
What we’re seeing here is a lackluster defender and an inability to hit shots from the perimeter. Los Angeles is yielding 119.1 points per game, the second-worst mark in the Association. It’s also shooting at a pedestrian 34 percent from distance. These two facets will have to change in order for the Lakers to even play playoff basketball come spring time.
Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons
A season that’s been defined by a brilliant performance from star forward Blake Griffin in Detroit has also seen this former lottery pick fail to live up to his billing. Having averaged just seven points on 37 percent shooting in his first three NBA seasons, Johnson has actually regressed some this year.
The former No. 8 overall pick is averaging seven points on 36 percent shooting and has seen his playing time take a hit under first-year head coach Dwane Casey. Despite starting seven games, he’s averaging just north of 26 minutes per outing. Still only 22 years old, there’s some upside here. Whether the Pistons can unearth it remains to be seen. We’re not too optimistic.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
It’s easy to understand why Jimmy Butler has been frustrated with his young teammates. As talented as any wing in the Association, Wiggins has consistently failed in taking that next step to star status. Even after “earning” a max extension from the Wolves, this former No. 1 pick doesn’t look like anything more than a No. 3 option on a good team. Add in below-average defense, and that’s magnified even further.
Thus far this season, Wiggins is averaging 17 points on just 42 percent shooting. Minnesota is also minus-41 when he’s on the court through nine appearances. That’s just not good for anyone involved.
Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics
If there’s one Achilles heel for this Celtics team, it has to be backcourt production behind star guard Kyrie Irving. Simply put, Smart and Rozier have gotten off to horrible starts for a Celtics team that’s a somewhat disappointing 6-4 through 10 games. We don’t have to look past the performance of these two to understand why.
Smart and Rozier are averaging a combined 12.5 points on 34 percent shooting from the field. For Rozier, that includes a ridiculously low .326 percentage from two-point range. Boston might have the talent to come out of the east, but these two certainly need to step up in order for that to come to fruition.
We’re just going to assume for a second that head coach Scott Brooks and general manager Ernie Grunfeld are not long for their jobs in the nation’s capital. At 2-8 on the season, it’s been a complete dumpster fire in D.C. Washington ranks in the bottom half of the league in scoring and is dead last in scoring defense at nearly 121 points per game.
John Wall and Bradley Beal don’t seem destined to be playing with one another over the long haul. Meanwhile, the contract these Wizards gave Otto Porter Jr. now looks like one of the worst in recent NBA history. Earning $26-plus million this season, the forward is averaging just 11.3 points per game. Ouch.
Jabari Parker, Chicago Bulls
Parker pretty much signed a one-year, prove it deal to come home to the Windy City this season. If the early part of the schedule is any indication, the injury-plagued forward isn’t going to receive that lucrative long-term contract once free agency comes calling next July.
Showing himself to be out of shape and with an injury-depleted Bulls team needing more production, Parker has not delivered. While he is shooting at a solid 46 percent from the field, the former No. 2 pick is averaging less than 15 points per game. He also shooting us 28 percent from distance. These are not numbers indicative of a max-contract player.
Clippers starting backcourt
The Clippers as a team seem to be going in the right direction. They are a surprising 6-4 in a top-heavy Western Conference with the likes of Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari playing high-level basketball. Unfortunately, the team’s backcourt could hold it back big time moving forward on the season.
The likes of Avery Bradley and Patrick Beverley are averaging a combined 13.6 points and shooting 35 percent from the field. Despite being lockdown defenders, these two need to up their game offensively moving forward. Los Angeles can’t have a starting backcourt that’s not a threat to score in the Western Conference. There’s no other way to go about it.
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
We can easily conclude that Simmons’ early-season performance is one of the reasons why Philadelphia has struggled to a 7-5 start to the campaign. Coming off earning NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, the 22-year-old has regressed a great deal. He’s averaging just 14.1 points on 51 percent shooting. While those shooting numbers are good, they are lower than the 54 percent he shot last season. Simmons also has not even attempted a single three-pointer this season.
Consistency continues to dog the dynamic player. He’s hit the 20-point plateau just twice this season. Philadelphia is also pretty much even when Simmons is on the court. That’s not the type of difference maker these Sixers figured they had in the youngster.