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Old 01-21-12, 11:48 PM
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Bender Bending Rodriguez, Esq.
 
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LOWE: 10 Disappointing players this season

It's still early in the season, but some players deserve to be called out, writes Zach Lowe. Some are obvious, some are not, but here are 10 of the season's biggest disappointments.

Some failing to live up to expectations[/b]
2011-12 Season


We covered some of the season’s early pleasant surprises two weeks ago, so now it’s time to put on the sad face and focus on players underperforming relative to expectations as we near the quarter mark of this nutty season. I’ve done my best to exclude players who have missed lots of games because of injury or are still recovering from offseason surgery; rookies and second-year players; veterans who are still learning their place on new teams; and guys who simply appear to be missing open looks they’ll start making soon. Also excluded: the harrowing early-season slippage of Amar’e Stoudemire, which I covered in-depth on Thursday.

• Devin Harris, PG, Utah Jazz


His 0-of-7 clank-fest against Dallas on Thursday was a bit of an outlier, but it still fits within a miserable season for Harris, who is shooting 35 percent, playing inconsistent defense and posting career-worst numbers almost across the board. Harris is just lost in Utah, reduced to managing a post-heavy offense that demands floor spacing he cannot provide. At his best, Harris is a pick-and-roll driver who piles up free-throw attempts. Utah’s offense, built around Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, doesn’t cater to those skills. Harris has attempted just 14 shots out of the pick-and-roll all season, according to Synergy Sports, and he is attempting fewer free throws per 36 minutes than in any season since his rookie year.

The Jazz are open to moving Harris, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, and they have performed better on both ends — by huge amounts — with Earl Watson in Harris’ place. Watson has done nicely as a feisty pace changer off the bench, but if you’re playing him 30 minutes a game — and getting little from your wing players — your team is probably in trouble.

• Andray Blatche, PF, Washington Wizards


Blatche’s annual promise to re-dedicate himself and lead the Wizards by example has once again fallen flat. In the past, Blatche’s defenders — a shrinking group — could find some numbers to demonstrate he might be an asset despite his blatantly selfish chucking and (let’s be kind) “inconsistent” defensive effort. That isn’t the case this season. Blatche is shooting 39.9 percent and jacking 6.6 long two-point jumpers per 40 minutes despite a half-decade of evidence that he cannot hit them at even a league-average rate. Guess what? He’s shooting 35 percent on long two-point jumpers, below both the league average overall and the average for power forwards (both around 40 percent).

Side note: Only five power forwards receiving regular playing time have attempted more long twos per minute, according to Hoopdata. Dirk Nowitzki is not one of them, meaning Andray Blatche is shooting long twos more often than the greatest big man shooter in league history. He’s also posting career-low rates in free-throw attempts and assists, and this is just getting depressing. In fairness, the Wiz are playing better offense with Blatche on the floor, but even that version of Washington’s offense would rank last in points per possession.

• Luis Scola, PF, Houston Rockets

When the Hornets nearly acquired Scola in the aborted Chris Paul trade, the skeptics noted that Scola’s career-best season in 2010-11, at age 30, defied normal aging curves that could manifest at any time. Is that happening now? Scola is shooting a career-worst 46.7 percent, getting to the line less often than ever before and rebounding more like a small forward. Some of the rebounding decline is due to playing heavy minutes with a rebounding monster (Samuel Dalembert), but the Rockets overall have rebounded much worse with Scola on the court.

One of the league’s craftiest post players is struggling badly on the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop, where he usually feasts on mid-range jumpers. He’s shooting just 27 percent on the play, and while some of those looks are open shots that will fall soon, he has been ice cold when defenders can contest his shot. Scola is a below-average defender who struggles to make multiple cuts on the same possession, so if he’s not scoring efficiently, the slope becomes slippery.

HONORABLE MENTION

• Elton Brand, PF, Philadelphia 76ers: He’s rebounding well, and the Sixers swear they are not worried about his slow start.

• Toney Douglas, PG, New York Knicks: Everyone has beaten up the Knicks enough already.

• Grant Hill, SF, Phoenix Suns: As Alvin Gentry told SI.com on Wednesday, Hill is recovering from knee surgery and starting to look like himself.

• Shannon Brown, SG, Phoenix Suns: Floundering in the larger role he wanted, but let’s give him time.

• Matt Bonner, PF, San Antonio Spurs: His minutes and his three-point percentage go hand-in-hand, and both are down. It’s early.

• Chauncey Billups, G, Los Angeles Clippers: He’s becoming an even more extreme version of himself, hitting threes at a higher rate (39 percent) than twos (31 percent) and getting to the line a ton. Holding the fort decently while Chris Paul recovers.

• Arron Afflalo, SG, Denver Nuggets: Not quite living up to his contract, but not playing poorly either. Let’s see how the season progresses.

• Wesley Johnson, G-F, Minnesota Timberwolves: Off to such a disastrous start, I nearly broke my ban on including second-year players.

• Jamal Crawford (SG) and Raymond Felton (PG), Portland Trail Blazers: Forgiven based on the pace and shot-creating they are providing a solid Portland team. They will not be forgiven if the low shooting percentages (both) and massive turnover rates (Felton) sustain long term.

• Nick Young (G-F) and Jordan Crawford (G), Washington Wizards: Blatche won out in the “most depressing Wizards player so far” contest.

• Tyreke Evans (PG)/Marcus Thornton (SG)/John Salmons (SF), Sacramento Kings: So much cold shooting here, though Thornton makes up for some of it with three-pointers, and Evans does so by getting to the rim and the foul line. Still, the early returns are discouraging all around.

• Tim Duncan, F-C, San Antonio Spurs: Still working the post game and the pick-and-roll, still displaying some of the league’s smartest defense. But his shooting percentage (46.7 percent) and Player Efficiency Rating (18.5, after a career-low 21.9 last season) have never been lower, and there are some nights where he just looks so old. He clearly cannot carry this offense anymore, even for short stretches.

• Glen Davis, F-C, Orlando Magic: Missing too many mid-range jumpers, but contributing on defense. We’ll give it time.

• Lamar Odom, F, Dallas Mavericks: Given all the recent trauma in Odom’s life and the sudden change of scenery, he deserves more time before anyone classifies him as a huge disappointment in Dallas. He’s showing signs lately of finding his game.

• Jason Kidd, PG, Dallas Mavericks: Probably the league’s worst shooter right now, at 30 percent, and committing an inexcusably high number of nutty turnovers. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt, though.

• Austin Daye, SF, Detroit Pistons: Shooting 20 percent (not a typo), but in such a limited number of minutes, you can’t place him on this list in good conscience — yet.

• Avery Bradley, G, Boston Celtics: Has struggled (39 percent shooting) in multiple chances to grab a permanent rotation role, but he may get his shot this weekend as a starter in place of the injured Rajon Rondo. Let’s see how he does.

• C.J. Miles, G-F, Utah Jazz: Two straight good games got Miles off the main list, but the Jazz will need better than 37 percent shooting from him if they want to continue to push the Western Conference’s elite.

• Deron Williams, PG, New Jersey Nets: Spared because of two very good games in New Jersey’s last four, and because no one has a more limited supporting cast. If he shoots 37 percent all season and keeps turning the ball over like this, we’ll talk.

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Old 01-22-12, 01:17 AM
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Reads Tim there CRIES man.
__________________
Win or lose this is a game -
You could let it pick your brain for weeks and months, just replay it over and over, won't do you any good at all. When someone loses a loved one and they do that it only brings forth anguish. I feel acceptance is sometimes the key, it happened, now you have to react to it. Giving up is not an option.
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Old 01-22-12, 05:20 AM
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Yet another reason, or two, why we need another BIG!

Shore up the front line, Pop!
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