I’m very vocal in regards to people I care about. I don’t necessarily believe in being quiet or soft spoken. Hence, that’s why I write. I love Joe Johnson. I was always enamored by his velvety smooth game and demeanor on the court. He wasn’t as boisterous as KG and never taunted his opponents. He simply let his game do all the talking. That’s why I loved him. He was 20 points, five rebounds, five assists every night.
I was overly elated when Johnson came over via trade from the Hawks to my hometown Brooklyn Nets. I gloated that we would have the best backcourt in the league with JJ and Deron Williams. I thought Johnson would instill life into an offense which appeared dead last year. I thought Johnson would walk that same pep and swagger that illuminated the Phillips Arena in Atlanta. I thought Joe would be Joe. But like many players so far this season, he’s fallen off the radar and has drowned into a pool of obscurity due to his horrid play. He’s not the only one who forgot how to play. There are nine other guys who are suffering from a fall off and need our prayers. Check it out.
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10. EVAN TURNER
Evan Turner has been playing solid ball this year – 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a night. The reason I thought Turner has been disappointing thus far is because he has yet to blossom into the player we all dubbed him to potentially be when he was entering the draft: a hybrid between Brandon Roy and Grant Hill. He’s a guard who can rebound and distribute the ball. We know that. So when the 76ers elected to trade Andre Iguodala, I thought this wouldn’t only give Turner more wiggle room, but in fact, it’d be a chance to become an integral piece surrounding Andrew Bynum. With Bynum yet to suit up, Turner was at an advantageous position in securing his spot as the top dog. Then Jrue Holiday transformed into a top tier point guard with this stellar play, transitioning himself into Philly’s alpha dog. Granted, Evan has showcased his versatility on the boards, in addition to four assists per night as well. I would appreciate a better shot selection since he’s shooting a measly 41 percent, but for now, I’ll take it.
9. BRADLEY BEAL/AUSTIN RIVERS
I had large expectations for these two rookies not only because of their talent level but also because of their unique situations. Both players have a significant piece missing from their respective teams: Eric Gordon in New Orleans and John Wall in Washington. You would think these gaping holes would allow Beal and Rivers to flourish. Yet they haven’t. Beal has picked up as of late after playing tentatively in the first few games. Now, he’s being more assertive and is taking more of an initiative in finding his shot. Still, he’s been shooting 32 percent from the field and was said to be depressed a few games ago because of his poor play.
Rivers has been trying to adapt to the point guard role since he has always been playing off the ball all his life. He is averaging 3.4 assists, and his turnovers have dropping below two a night. Yes he’s starting to acclimate himself and become more selfless but I feel that has been serving as more of a negative considering his killer instinct and knack for scoring was his meal ticket.
8. C.J. MILES
Byron Scott was salivating over Miles’ game and improvement coming into the season. I thought Miles was going to simply walk into the starting lineup and help create a competitive perimeter scoring group between himself, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. The last two have stepped up considerably, but Miles hasn’t. I’ve seen more action from the man named C.J. in NBA 2K, then the C.J. who’s donning the Cavaliers jersey in real life. Miles was known as a capable scorer off the bench in Utah. That was his trademark. Yet this season, he’s averaging five points a game and shooting 29 percent from the field. Miles needs to produce more or soon he’ll be more familiar with the pine and fresh Armani suits, and watching on the sidelines, perhaps with more DNPs next to his name in the box score.
7. MICHAEL BEASLEY
Michael, you’re killing me. You’re making me looking like a moron. I’ve vouched for you on numerous occasions. I’ve always said you were a multi-faceted player who was a nightmare to his opponents because of your uncanny ability to shoot the rock for a 6-10 (even if he’s closer to 6-8) southpaw. You were a talented commodity out of Kansas State and was a force to be reckoned with in college hoops. But, everywhere you’ve gone (with the exception of Minnesota where you did post 19 and six two seasons ago), you’ve played subpar. You were a No. 2 pick. The Suns coughed up $18 million thinking you would be the coveted wing player they last saw in Shawn Marion. You’re shooting 39 percent. You had your teammates gush over your God-given abilities in the offseason just to be proven wrong by your insipid play. Twelve points a game in a Suns offense with someone of your touch is just confusing.
6. CARLOS BOOZER
Boozer received a lot criticism within the past few years. Is it warranted? Well, when you get an $80 million deal over a five-year span, you’re supposed to perform at your peak form. Has Boozer played at his highest level? Is he the same double-double freak that thrived in the pick-n-roll system with Deron Williams in Utah? I mean, Freddie Gibbs told us he would have traded Boozer for four D-League players because of his inconsistent play. Would I have done the same? No. That’s radical. But, for a few seasons now, he hasn’t been that 20 and 10 monster that he once was. On top of that, this season there’s no Derrick Rose. This could have been Boozer’s takeover moment a la Hov. He hasn’t taken advantage of his MVP’s absence, averaging just 14.4 points and 9.8 boards while his Bulls are playing mediocre ball.
5. ROY HIBBERT
The thing with giving huge contracts is you wonder if the signee will duplicate that success again? Will they recapture that hunger that helped spawn that large contract in the first place? I’ve always admired Hibbert since he played for my beloved Hoyas. He’s a legit seven-footer who’s actually a real center: a smooth post game, combined with a nice defensive presence â€“ a rarity in the game today. His hard work paid off last year when he was named to the All-Star team for the Eastern Conference. Then in the offseason, he signed a lucrative contract after Portland nearly wooed you away, receiving the max deal from the Pacers for four years and $58 million.
I’m glad Hibbert is still an anchor defensively, averaging over three blocks. That’s big. What I’m annoyed with is that in Danny Granger’s absence, Hibbert’s been a lackadaisical big man who somehow forgot how to play around the basket. He’s an All-Star and a max player who shot close to 50 percent last year. Now, he’s shooting below 39 percent and averaging just 9.5 points a night.
4. JEREMY LIN
Linsanity was shot and killed by nobody but himself. The pressure for Lin to help restore some of Houston’s basketball greatness Houston has apparently hurt his output. During the preseason, his game was off, and it’s been up and down so far this year. Houston accommodated him by trading for James Harden. Since the trade, Harden has overshadowed Linsanity and has Lin looking like a subpar point guard. Granted, I knew he would struggle against the opposing point guards in the Western Conference. Going against elite point guards with names like Paul, Parker and Westbrook on a nightly basis is more than a laborious task. But Lin’s still struggling to find his touch inside the arc and is shooting 37 percent from the field. I thought Lin would be better, especially since Harden helped remove the burden offensively (in addition to the rise of Chandler Parsons). Barely double-digit scoring isn’t going to get the job done.
3. PAU GASOL
Gasol is looking like the odd man out in Los Angeles. He’s looking like a sore thumb in the Lakers’ equation to success. It seems like everything was all good just a week ago for Gasol. Remember when he was first traded to L.A.? The Kobe/Pau experiment helped win two NBA titles. Now Gasol is the one berated by fans and media reporters. Gasol spoke up recently and asked to be in the post more often where he could do damage. But will that actually come to fruition in Mike D’Antoni‘s high-octane, Seven Seconds Or Less offense? Dwight Howard and Steve Nash would thrive in the pick-n-roll, but where would that leave Gasol? Gasol hasn’t been the same this year; he’s averaging a career-low in points (13.1 a game) and field goal percentage (42 percent) this season.
2. JOE JOHNSON
Johnson has four years and over $89 million dollars left remaining on his contract. This six-time All-Star has been non-existant at times in my team’s offense this year. Remember when Iso-Joe said he would no longer pound the ball and would be more fluid within the offense? Well, he lied. He appears lost. His game is out of whack. He’s shooting a career-low 39 percent from the field, and is averaging only 15.2 points, 3.0 boards and 3.6 dimes a night. You could argue he’s still getting accustomed to the flow in Brooklyn a as third option, but he’s 31 years old. He’s not a rookie. This isn’t his first time around the block. Luckily my Nets have a healthy Brook Lopez, who has been balling lately, and Deron Williams, who has been dishing off the rock beautifully. But if the Nets want to go far, they’re going to need Johnson to return to pure form.
1. ANDREW BYNUM
He was given the opportunity to be a centerpiece and was handed the keys to a franchise seeking a championship. With the Lakers, he was playing third fiddle behind Kobe and Gasol, and wasn’t entirely appreciated. Then, Doug Collins and the Philly brass decided they’d trade Iguodala in hopes of landing a top-two center – when healthy – to be the face of a franchise that hasn’t reached the Finals since 2001. Collins got his wish and received the enigma that is Andrew Bynum â€“ a turbulent center who would hoist threes when he wanted to prove a point and rattle his coach’s brains. The beauty with this beast is that he’s a young fella who has already proven his All-Star credentials (18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a night last season), and has the potential to lift an entire franchise. But when you decide to be cute and go bowling with a weird perm haircut, re-injury yourself, and subsequently find yourself sidelined indefinitely, it’s hard to not be disappointed.
Which players do you think aren’t living up to expectations?
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