Biggest NBA Duds Of 2011-12
This lockout shortened season has allowed for many rough starts for both individual players around the league, as well as for entire teams. There have been a slew of injuries as players attempt to completely get back into basketball shape, but with each game holding so much importance this year, there isn’t time for excuses.
Gathering a list of players and entire teams who have been disappointing to this point occurred by considering where the expectations were for the player or team coming into the season. Not all teams came into the season with playoff expectations and not all players can be All-Stars and each was judged according to the factual expectations placed upon them by the team executives or coaches entering the year.
The Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats are 3-21 on the season and very well may be the worst team in Charlotte’s history, which is saying something. This is a team losing games at a ridiculous pace in this 66-game season, already racking up 21 losses and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Their use of a first round pick on Bismack Biyombo is proving to be a stretch at this point unless things change drastically as well, as many continue to question Michael Jordan’s drafting decisions.
While they do have five players averaging in double-figures scoring, one of them is something called Byron Mullens. This does not strike any sort of fear among their opponents in the NBA. Their leading scorer, Gerald Henderson is a solid player, but on a truly competitive team, he is probably the third best option. In short, this team has a long ways to go before they are truly competitive.
Wes Johnson – Minnesota Timberwolves
Starting 22 of 23 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves at both the shooting guard and small forward positions, new head coach Rick Adelman is giving Johnson all the opportunity he can to succeed. In fact, Adelman has probably given too many opportunities at this point with Johnson averaging 5.9 points—on 36% shooting and 24% from the three-point line—to go along with 3 rebounds and less than an assist per game. With Ricky Rubio on the roster, Johnson finds himself wide open for many shots and is having difficulty finding any sort of rhythm, forcing the Timberwolves to wonder at what point a slump becomes the fact.
If Johnson doesn’t find his shot soon—or find other ways to contribute to his team—his minutes will fall dramatically, jeopardizing his place on the team. There are plenty of players competing for time at those two positions such as Luke Ridnour, JJ Barea, Wayne Ellington, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and Martell Webster. The Timberwolves wanted Johnson to fit into the role of the starting two-guard for their team, but to this point, it is not working at all.
The New York Knicks
After showing a lot of promise at the beginning of last season, the Knicks and Nuggets put the NBA world through Carmelo overload with the trade rumors. After the trade finally went down, many acted as if the Knicks were only a piece away from being major threats to the Miami HEAT and Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference. As a whole, they were given a pass last year with the reasoning being they were putting things together on the fly mid-season, but the lockout didn’t allow them to have a full training camp together this season either, as is the case with each NBA team.
Adding Tyson Chandler to the mix this year was a good move, but at what point do the Knick seriously have to consider they made an error in judgment in trying to make a poor man’s version of the Miami HEAT? They traded away their depth to Denver and will have a lot of issues finding the pieces to fit with their stars to make a championship level squad. A 9-15 record is tough to swallow after all the hype and Amare Stoudemire is not the only one who should receive blame here.
The Washington Wizards
While very few truly expected the Wizards to compete for a playoff berth, they should be better than they are. However, they are in the midst of major growing pains this season, currently with a 4-20 record. The collective immaturity on the team helped aid in the firing of Flip Saunders, but the interim coach Randy Wittman will not be any sort of answer, as his head coaching track record speaks for itself in very bad fashion.
This is a team that does have good, young talent, but lacks true veteran leadership. It is critical they find ways to both add to their talent level and add veterans to their mix who can show the young players how to be professionals in the NBA.
Channing Frye – Phoenix Suns
Currently, the Phoenix Suns are on the outside looking in at the playoffs, sparking the yearly conversation of whether or not they should finally trade Steve Nash. Yet, when the Suns have a weapon on their roster that isn’t being utilized as completely as it should be, that conversation should be put on hold again unless Nash himself requests to go elsewhere.
Averaging only 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in his nearly 22 minutes per game is well below what Frye should be able to accomplish for his team. Making Frye’s play even more frustrating to Phoenix is how well he played last season, his career year to that point, averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds, both career highs. He is much more talented than how he is currently playing.