Disappointment is name of their game
5-on-5: With the season passing the quarter mark, who has not met expectations?
John Hollinger named his All-Disappointment Team. Now it's our 5-on-5 crew's turn to weigh in on the most disappointing players and teams in the NBA so far.
1. Who's the most disappointing player in the Eastern Conference?
D.J. Foster, Clippers, ClipperBlog: Deron Williams. Offensively, Williams is posting career lows in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage and assist rate. He's committing turnovers like an old ABA player, and defensively he's still not a factor. It's time to stop giving Williams a free pass. Yes, his teammates are bad, but he's not helping the way a "superstar" should.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Amare Stoudemire. Amare's penchant for efficient scoring all over the court has taken a nosedive this season; he's taking fewer shots around the basket and missing more shots everywhere. The team's scoring load has been overtaken by Carmelo Anthony -- who is normally a less efficient, less productive and more prolific scorer -- but given how Amare has functioned offensively this season, it's difficult to contend that he should increase his load.
John Krolik, Cavs The Blog: John Wall. He has superstar potential, but his jumper was absolutely terrible last season and he didn't appear to fix it this past summer. He's shooting 25.8 percent from 3-9 feet, 28.6 percent from 10-15 feet and 22 percent from 16-23 feet -- and he hasn't made a 3 all season. Yikes.
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Danny Granger. No player shooting 36 percent or worse this season has attempted more shots -- and thus done more damage to his team -- than Granger. He was an effective scorer once upon a time, but in his current form, Granger has become a legitimate offensive burden for a team that needs him as its high-scoring anchor. Considering the impact that an improved Roy Hibbert and the addition of David West should be having on Indy's offense, I blame Granger's poor shooting for the Pacers' below-average output.
Daniel Nowell, Magic Basketball: Deron Williams. His team's general awfulness has mostly overshadowed it, but Williams' play has not been near his norm. It seemed that Williams would have the jump on the rest of the league, coming back across the pond in game shape, but so far, it's questionable whether he will command franchise-player money in this summer's free-agent market.
2. Who's the most disappointing player in the Western Conference?
Foster: What has become of Luis Scola? He's last in the league among all starting power forwards in total rebounding rate and has stopped getting to the foul line completely. You hate to slap the soft label on him, but that's how Scola is playing right now.
Kharpertian: Lamar Odom. Odom figured to be a major cog in Dallas' finely tuned machine, but presently he's just a lost nut. His inability to score this season cripples his usefulness, and his overall game has nosedived; Mavs coach Rick Carlisle can't justify gifting playing time to a power forward with a broken jumper and anemic post game. The Mavericks had to relinquish only a first-round draft pick to acquire him, but the way he's played, Dallas got a raw deal.
Krolik: Lamar Odom has absolutely fallen off a cliff this season. After one of the best seasons of his career, he's posting a single-digit PER for the Mavericks, and it looks like he still hasn't recovered from the Lakers' desire to trade him for Chris Paul. You hate to see one of the nicest guys in the NBA struggle like Lamar has, but there's no doubt he's been ineffective.
Mahoney: Jason Kidd. Kidd has face-planted his way into the new year after being an essential defender, effective playmaker and useful shot-maker during the Mavs' championship run. None of those three traits has carried over, as Kidd looks slow (and a bit lazy) on defense, has hurt Dallas with his decision-making, and is connecting on just one-quarter of his 3-point attempts thus far this season.
Nowell: Tim Duncan.
Perhaps he has not been a "disappointment" -- as in, performing more poorly than expected -- but almost nothing in the league is more disappointing than Duncan's rapid fall. He certainly hasn't been outright bad, but the nights are getting more and more frequent when Duncan's play is a painful reminder of how long we've taken his greatness for granted.
3. Who's the most disappointing rookie this season?
Foster: Jimmer Fredette. Earmuffs, Kings fans. The scariest thing about Fredette's rookie campaign is that the comparisons to Adam Morrison's rookie year are completely valid. Fredette is trying to do too much, too soon, and that's reflected in his awful shooting percentages.
Kharpertian: Jimmer Fredette. I understand his not functioning as a particularly good passer, rebounder, ball handler, etc. But wasn't he supposed to score in bunches, at the very least? Wasn't Jimmer the guy with unlimited range and no conscience? As with all rookies, there's still much time left, but Jimmer has hardly fit the bill Sacramento signed him for.
Krolik: A lot of people saw Jimmer's struggles coming, but he's a one-dimensional scorer who's currently shooting 33.6 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from deep. That is not good, especially after his promising preseason.
Mahoney: Jimmer Fredette. A player marketed as having one NBA-ready skill has seen that skill abandon him. Projections and predictions on Fredette varied wildly going into the season, but most at least spotted him the accuracy of his jumper. That assumption has proven faulty, as the Kings rook has made just 34 percent of his shots overall and just 31 percent of his 3-pointers. Worse yet: Fredette has failed to even vaguely resemble an NBA playmaker or defender.
Nowell: I think most of the rookies have performed at least as well as expected, but I'll say Kemba Walker, for the simple reason that the glimpses of what he offers Charlotte have been perhaps less frequent than one would expect. The Bobcats should consider leasing MSG for a few home games.
4. Which is the most disappointing team in the Eastern Conference?
Foster: The Detroit Pistons. In terms of efficiency, Detroit has one of the worst offenses and defenses in the league right now. The Pistons aren't even in the majority of their games -- only two of their 14 losses have been by single digits. Most thought they'd be bad, but not this bad.
Kharpertian: New York and Boston are battling for my disappointment every day, but Boston's dismantling of Orlando ended that discussion temporarily -- at least Boston would make the playoffs if the season ended today. The Knicks are mired in a six-game losing streak, most recently in a double-overtime thriller in which Carmelo Anthony took 18 shots from the fourth quarter onward to Amare's one (a 3-pointer in the game's final seconds). A team with New York's offensive firepower shouldn't be 24th in the league in offensive efficiency. It's gotten so bad that Knicks fans are talking themselves into Baron Davis.
Krolik: The Celtics. I thought the Big Three had one more run left in them, but it looks like Father Time has caught up to them at last.
Mahoney: New York Knicks. I suspect this pick will be unanimous, or close to it. The Knicks' offense (24th in the league!) is a stagnant mess, and their defense (10th) is propped up by favorable scheduling.
The fact that Baron Davis will have the weight of Gotham on his shoulders when he returns to the court says plenty; this team and its fans aren't just desperate for a savior, but desperate for the hope that finding such a savior is even a possibility. Davis has merely been named the white knight by default.
Nowell: With apologies to the Wizards, who are all bad at everything, I have to say the Knicks. I think people underestimated just how tough it would be for this roster to compete the way coach Mike D'Antoni wants, but still. Six losses in a row? You'd think they'd be talented enough to avoid those sorts of valleys.
5. Which is the most disappointing team in the Western Conference?
Foster: Sacramento Kings. Bad teams tend to put points on a pedestal. The Kings took it a step further and built entirely around scorers (and Chuck Hayes) and expected it to work out. It hasn't. How bad is it? Going into Monday night, Sacramento averaged more turnovers per game than assists. No team has done that over a full season in three decades.
Kharpertian: The Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant's annual assault on Kareem's scoring record aside, this team just isn't good offensively. Outside of the Bryant-Gasol-Bynum Big Three, the Lakers are a mess of unreliability. They're not out of contention by any stretch, but they're further from the Western Conference elite than expected.
Krolik: If the season ended today, the Lakers would miss the playoffs. I think they'll eventually right the ship, but their offense has looked terrible, they have nobody who can drive the lane and free up their shooters, and they appear to be waiting for a Dwight Howard trade to save their season. Again, I ultimately think they'll be fine, because counting Kobe Bryant out is never a good idea, but they're off to a rocky start.
Mahoney: Los Angeles Lakers. Most of the disappointing teams in the West -- including L.A. -- have begun to rebound, making the Lakers the unfortunate team that still kind of merits this distinction. L.A.'s D has been terrific, but the decision-making on offense gives some cause for concern. The offensive flow is gradually getting better, but I still have a hard time justifying how the trio of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum can score at a below-average rate, even without the triangle or a strong bench.
Nowell: Golden State. There are problems that excuse some of the Warriors' struggles, but at some point, the luster of new ownership will fade and this perennially Sisyphean squad of fun players will wear out its window to develop. I would've liked to see a new vibe for the franchise to start this season, not to mention a healthy Steph Curry.