Top 5 Disappointments of the NBA Season (So Far)
Every NBA season, things that seemingly begin as virtual certainties unravel before our very eyes to the amazement of all NBA connoisseurs. To no one’s surprise, the first seven weeks of the 2012-2013 NBA season have had their fair share of disappointments as we close in on the year 2013.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the biggest disappointments a quarter of the way through the new season:
5. The Washington Wizards’ League-Worst Start
Even though starting point guard John Wall has been on the shelf since the start of the season, the Wizards brought in plenty of veteran backup this offseason to try to emerge as contenders in 2013. Unfortunately for the Wiz, the team has gotten off to a disastrous start as seemingly nothing has gone right early on this season. Last year’s trade deadline acquisition – Nene – has missed a chunk of the season, as well, while offseason acquisitions Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza have been resounding disappointments. Featuring the lowest-scoring offense in basketball to go along with the worst record in the NBA at 3-18, Washington’s fleeting playoff hopes coming into the season are clearly out the window and Wall’s return is still up in the air. Although a playoff berth might have been a pipe-dream for Washington, even the most pessimistic of fans couldn’t have expected this.
4. The Boston Celtics’ Mediocre Defense
Whether because of advanced age or chronic injuries, the Celtics have to be considered disappointing underachievers 23 games into the 2012-2013 NBA season. A large factor in Boston’s mediocre 12-11 record – good for just eighth in the East – has been a normally-stout defense that has failed to impress so far this season. Not only are the C’s not in the top five in the NBA in defense for the first time in the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce-driven era, but Boston isn’t even ranked in the top half in the league in points allowed. At 16th in the NBA, allowing an average of 97.9 points per contest, Boston sports its worst defense since the 2006-07 season – in which they finished a dismal 24-58 on the year. Especially with Ray Allen now residing in Miami, Boston simply doesn’t have an explosive enough offense to deal with that kind of letdown on the defensive end. Defensive stalwart Avery Bradley, who returned to practice with the team for the first time this season earlier this week, may return to action soon which would certainly help shore up the perimeter. Still, head coach Doc Rivers has to be disappointed with the team’s middle-of-the-pack start to the season defensively.
3. Pau Gasol’s Horrendous Start
A four-time NBA All Star and one of the keys to the Los Angeles Lakers most recent two NBA Titles, Gasol has been a shell of his former self as we head towards 2013. An All-NBA 2nd Team selection as recently as 2011, Gasol’s number have been in freefall to start 2012 as the Lakers power forward has averaged career-lows across the board in 17 games this season. Whether it’s the inability to adjust to playing next to Dwight Howard, to adapt to Mike D’Antoni’s offense or simply because he’s creeping up on 33 years of age; Gasol has been a key to LA’s awful start. To try to help Gasol get back into the flow of things, the Lakers have rested the big man eight straight games to help alleviate the tendonitis Gasol has been experiencing in both knees early on in 2012. Time off to heal certainly won’t hurt but, based on what we’ve seen so far this year, a return to form for Gasol isn’t a guarantee.
2. The Los Angeles Lakers Meltdown
The Preseason Champs have left much to be desired as the team, after shedding a solid head coach in Mike Brown five games into the season, have been a catastrophic disappointment early on in 2012. Injuries to the aforementioned Gasol and prized free agent acquisition Steve Nash haven’t helped as Los Angeles has been a mess all season long, but the Lakers aren’t necessarily a lock to get things together when those two return. Offensively – where Gasol and Nash figure to contribute most – the Lakers have been rock solid, ranking sixth overall in the NBA with 102.1 points per contest. Defensively, even with arguably the best post defender in basketball – Dwight Howard – roaming the paint, LA has been a massive disappointment. One of the 10-worst teams in basketball in terms of points allowed (99.3 per), the Lakers have been prone to carelessness when it comes to getting back on defense. The return of Nash and Gasol will no doubt be a key factor in terms of the Lakers getting back on track but, unless LA starts displaying some of the fundamental defensive principles that championship teams possess, it could be a quick postseason exit for Los Angeles.
We all know injuries are a part of the game but, seemingly more than ever before, NBA superstars have found themselves on the shelf due to injuries to start the 2012-2013 season. Former NBA MVP’s Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose – with both Rose and Nowitzki having been in street clothes all season – have been missing in action to the detriment of each of their respective teams. All Stars Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum and Andrew Bogut have also missed much of the season, while budding stars like John Wall, Eric Gordon and Avery Bradley have been sidelined from the start of the year. Put those players together on a team and, when healthy, you have a squad that might compete with the USA Men’s Basketball team with all of that talent on display. In all seriousness, this has the be the best disappointment this season simply because of the effect each of these players would have on their respective teams. Fans should feel ripped off a quarter of the way through 2012-2013 because we honestly haven’t seen the best of what the NBA has to offer and won’t really know how good any of these teams can be until their superstars return to action.
It’s still very early in the 2012-2013 NBA season, but there’s no doubt these are some of the biggest disappointments as we get ready to jump into the new year.