Ranking The 2012 NBA Playoff Duds
To advance in the playoffs, teams need their best players to be their best players, but they also need their secondary contributors to step up. In these playoffs, as in other years, some players emerge as studs while others fail as duds. Too many duds, and your team is heading to the exits early.
Poor performances are not always the fault of the individual, but excuses are hard to accept when your team’s playoff life is hanging in the balance. Here is a look at some early duds.
Marvin Williams, Atlanta Hawks
The second overall pick of the 2005 NBA draft may not have lived up to the initial lofty expectations, but Marvin Williams has been a solid contributor for the Hawks this season. Now, with the rash of injuries to his team’s big men, it was time for Williams to step up and assume a bigger role. Talk about wilting under the pressure.
In three playoff games, Williams is averaging 2.7 points on 17.6 percent shooting and has yet to hit a three-point shot. Despite his team’s glaring need for the 6’ 9” forward to be on the floor, head coach Larry Drew has only played Williams an average of 18.3 minutes per game and with what he has gotten out of him, Coach Drew has to be wishing he had another option.
Vince Carter and Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks could just as easily be up 2-1 instead of down 0-3 in their best-of-seven matchup with the Thunder and those two close losses in Oklahoma City will give them cause for reflection this summer. Two of the Mavericks key rotation players have been absolute duds in the playoffs.
Throughout most of his long and successful NBA career, Vince Carter was a 20 points per game lock in the post season. This year, the 35-year-old is shooting a playoff career low 29 percent from the field and just 14.3 percent from three-point range. While his point production is only slightly below this year’s career-worst regular season, if Carter isn’t scoring, he isn’t going to contribute enough elsewhere to offset it.
Expectations were already low for center Brendan Haywood, but three points and three rebounds on 27.3 percent shooting are bad even for him. Dallas doesn’t have the depth of last season’s team to hide two of their rotation players playing so poorly. These playoff duds have been too much for even Nowitzki to overcome.
Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
Everybody’s favorite whipping boy in Chicago has been adding gist to the mill this post season and if the Bulls can’t handle the eighth seeded 76ers, a lot of the blame is going to fall on Carlos Boozer.
Boozer has been earning his reputation for not living up to the monster contract the Bulls bestowed upon two summers ago, but all would be quickly forgiven if he could find his previous playoff form. In 44 postseason games with the Jazz, Boozer averaged 20.3 points and 12.5 rebounds and was a dominant offensive force. His postseason numbers in Chicago are quickly headed toward 12 and eight.
Losing Derrick Rose for the post season gives the Bulls an excuse for not advancing to the conference finals, but it doesn’t excuse the team from not getting beyond the first round. Boozer is this team’s main offensive threat after Rose and the Bulls cannot advance without a significant increase in offensive production from him. Currently the Bulls fourth-best active scorer in the playoffs after an 18 and 10 game in Friday’s loss, Boozer has been a major dud when his team needed him the most.
Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic
No one gave the Magic a chance once Dwight Howard was lost for the playoffs and winning Game 1 over the Pacers came as quite the surprise, but eight points per game from Hedo Turkoglu will all but assure the Pacers will easily advance in this series.
The loss of Howard should have given the Magic’s wings more perimeter play and more shots, but it has been “Big Baby” Glen Davis who has stepped up to average 18.7 points per game. Turkoglu is only managing to hit 36 percent of his attempts and he’s struggling on the defensive end as well. The Magic will be lucky to win another game if Turkoglu, or someone other than Davis, doesn’t become a stud in a hurry.
Steve Novak, New York Knicks
Just to be clear, no one player deserves to be singled out for the pending four-game sweep by the HEAT. The Knicks collectively just don’t measure up, but at least one Knick has been made completely inconsequential during the series.
Steve Novak has been the league’s top three-point threat this season and continues to hit on 50 percent of his threes in the postseason. The problem for the Knicks has been the HEAT’s defense is limiting Novak to just two attempts per game.
Much of Novak’s ineffectiveness can be attributed to a smothering defense and the Knicks’ inability to draw defenders off the three-point line, but after six seasons in the league and his third trip to the post season, the 28-year-old Novak should have figured out how to get open by now.
Novak is still a great three-point shooter, but a three-point specialist who can’t get an open look is a dud in the playoffs.
Devin Harris, Utah Jazz
In their first two playoff games, Devin Harris has contributed just six points on 31.3 percent shooting and 1.5 assists as the Jazz have been man-handled by the Spurs. The rest of his teammates struggled as well, but the Jazz have no chance to win a game in this series unless their point guard play improves dramatically. The Jazz will be hoping Harris goes from dud to stud on their home court.
No dud is doomed to infamy or obscurity as long as their team is still in the playoffs. Each of these duds still has time to step up their game and wipe away at least some of the bitter taste of losing and letting one’s teammates down.
Noticing another playoff dud worthy of mention? Let us know in the comments below.