With an NBA offseason that’s about five months long, it’s always curious how much can change in such a short amount of time. Some players can go from unknown names to All-Stars and other players may look like they left all their basketball talent on some beach somewhere. One must wonder if some of this drop in production is from a lack of offseason training, old age or just a loss of talent. Whatever the case is, this season has showcased a few players that have fallen off. Here are 10 of the most noticeable.
*** *** ***
After winning the Sixth Man of the Year award last season, J.R. Smith solidified himself as one of the best shooters in the league. Smith had the best season of his career, averaging 18.1 points and 5.3 boards. But this season, everyone is still wondering when Smith will decide to show up to work. His performance so far, along with the Knicks as a whole, can be described with one word: ugly. It’s as if the Monstars from Space Jam came to New York and took all of Smith’s basketball ability.
His 11.4 PPG are the lowest since his second year in the league during the 2005-2006 season. He’s having the worst shooting season of his career, shooting 33 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep. He’s only playing about two less minutes than last season also, which makes this problem even more concerning. Smith has only eclipsed the 20-point mark once this season, and it took him 19 shots to get there. With 148 field goal attempts and 137 points, he’s also a part of the infamous more shots than points club.
Shooters usually go through hot and cold streaks, but this just abnormal. Something’s going wrong in the Big Apple and J.R. Smith’s abysmal start to the season is one of the issues.
It’s hard to believe how bad of a season Kevin Garnett is having. I know this is his 19th season and he’s 37 years old, but this is bad, real bad. Garnett is averaging a measly 6.5 points this season in 22.5 minutes of action. He’s averaging more rebounds (7.5) than points (6.5). Also, he’s a part of the more shots than points list with 135 field goals and only 104 points. Garnett has represented a brand of hard-nosed basketball throughout his lengthy career, which makes it sad to see his decline be so severe.
Garnett only has two games this season where he’s scored over 10 points and he has seven games where he hasn’t even scored over four points. Last season it appeared that Garnett still had some gas left in the tank (14.8 PPG), but after moving to Brooklyn, Garnett must’ve left everything back in Boston.
Tyreke Evans is on a list with Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in their rookie season. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Evan’s scoring has dropped every season since his fantastic rookie season and he’s averaging 11.8 PPG this season. Shooting 41 percent from the field and 11 percent from deep (2-for-18), Evans looked especially bad during the season’s opening weeks, at one point sporting a PER of less than 2.0. He’s in a new situation with the Pelicans in New Orleans and he’s only playing 25.6 minutes this season, the lowest of his career. He has started to get it going, averaging 14.6 on 47 percent shooting over his last five, but he’s become just a decent sixth man after being viewed as a cornerstone just a few years ago.
The minutes aren’t there, but neither is the production. Tyreke Evans has to produce something to earn minutes on the court and he’s not producing enough value to take more minutes away from Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. The whole Pelicans team has been underachieving this season after starting the season with playoff expectations. I’m not going to say that Tyreke Evans is the key piece to this team, but he will have to reclaim some magic he found his rookie season in order for the Pelicans to start winning some games. With Anthony Davis sidelined, now is the time for ‘Reke to start causing havoc.
Josh Smith just turned 28 and hopefully he found some consistency in all the birthday cake. Once again, we have a player in a new home (Detroit) that seems to have left their talent somewhere else (Atlanta). To date, Smith is averaging 14.3 points and 6.8 boards. Both are his lowest totals since his second season in the NBA in 2005-2006. While Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond have been dominating the paint for Detroit, Smith seems to have wandered out to the three-point line without much success.
For some reason, Smith is taking 4.7 THREES A GAME. I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous for a player that is shooting 28 percent from deep for his career. He’s only making 1.3 of his 4.7 attempts, good for 27 percent. If you want a reason for Josh Smith’s decline, look no further. I understand that the paint is being manned by mammoths like Drummond and Monroe, but there’s no excuse to take that many threes. Not to mention, he’s shooting a paltry 40 percent from the field and 54 percent from the free throw line. If Detroit wants to go anywhere with the talent they have amassed, Smith must stop doing a terrible Ray Allen impression. Josh Smith might need some help from the Motor City to reclaim the talent that earned him a $54 million contract with Detroit.
METTA WORLD PEACE
Metta World Peace is in his 15th year in the league and has been on the decline for a few seasons. However, this season it seems that it’s hit the lowest point. I actually forgot he played for the Knicks, which might or might not be a bad thing with how awful everything is in New York right now. This season, MWP is averaging 5.8 points and 2.3 boards in 16.7 minutes per game. He’s shooting a career-low 37 percent from the field.
After a long and storied career in the NBA, the wheels might have completely fallen off for the artist formerly known as Ron Artest. He’s averaged 33.3 MPG for his career and he’s only playing 16.4 minutes per game on a team that needs as much help as it can get. That right there should tell you about his decline. As the Knicks crumble into mediocrity, Metta World Peace looks to be right there with them. It’s been a great career, but it might be time for MWP to finally hang them up.