The marathon NBA season came to its end last week and for some, it’s a blessing in disguise. Everyone had players that didn’t live up to expectations this season. We are going to look at some of these poor souls with one minor disclaimer: The excessively injured will not be included. Sure, their injuries are disappointing, but most — excluding Andrew Bynum — can’t be blamed for that. Yes, I know what happens when one assumes but just go with it.
Here are your Eastern Conference Disappointments.
*** *** ***
Atlanta Hawks: DEVIN HARRIS
Dude has been in the league forever and also seems like he is forever hurt. Maybe it’s unfair to list him here as someone who was expected to do anything more than he has but he can’t be ignored. Atlanta is thin in the backcourt and Harris had every opportunity to make an impact, especially with Lou Williams lost for the year. Harris responded with his worst scoring average in six seasons at just 9.9 points per game and a poor efficiency rating of just 10.4.
Boston Celtics: JASON TERRY
Terry as a suitable replacement for Ray Allen didn’t work this season. He had similar stats to Allen in Miami but his play hasn’t had an impact, especially on the road. Terry averaged just 8.7 points on sub-38 percent shooting away from the TD Garden this year. Boston is hoping Terry saved his best for their playoff run.
Brooklyn Nets: MARSHON BROOKS
After a successful rookie season, the offensively talented swingman was the odd man on the Nets’ depth chart. Keith Bogans and Jerry Stackhouse stole his minutes as he struggled to play the type of defense the team expected of him. He dropped from 12.6 points in 29.4 minutes per game last season to just 5.4 points in 12.5 minutes per game this year. He finished the year better than he started it and could be useful in the playoffs, which would salvage an otherwise uninspiring sophomore campaign.
Charlotte Bobcats: BEN GORDON
Fans are always asking “What the hell happened to that guy?” The short answer is poor teams and poor systems. In his last two stops (Detroit and Charlotte), he has been among a crowded backcourt. Still, not standing out on the Bobcats should say all that is necessary about his season this year. Gordon can still score and averaged 11.2 points per game on just 41 percent shooting. I guess things wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t making $12.4 million this year with a player option of $13.2 million next season. (Dishonorable Mention: Tyrus Thomas)
Chicago Bulls: RICHARD HAMILTON
Little stood in the way for Hamilton to succeed this season and be a key member of the Bulls. He should have thrived, especially with Derrick Rose sidelined. Instead he withered under the pressure he faced from Nate Robinson and eventually got hurt… again. He managed to play in just 50 of Chicago’s games and the team was 28-22 with him in the lineup. The surprising thing is his averages across the board are consistent whether they won or lost: 10.2 points and 42 percent shooting in wins; 9.3 points and 44 percent shooting in losses, showing how little impact he had this season. That’s disappointing
Cleveland Cavaliers: DANIEL GIBSON
At the beginning of this year, it was clear Cleveland would use Gibson as a reserve at both guard positions. He could have had a J.J. Redick-type of role but his shooting and playmaking ability just isn’t up to snuff. Despite some moderate early season success, Gibson saw his playing time decrease because of poor shooting and defense. This season was the worst shooting year of his career and he is showing more Damon Jones in his game than Redick. He appeared in just 46 games while also battling nagging injuries and the Cavs might be quietly rejoicing that he is in the final year of his contract.
Detroit Pistons: RODNEY STUCKEY
Over the summer, it was reported that Stuckey was healthy, and was working on his jumper to be ready as the starting shooting guard for the Pistons. He did start to begin the season, but was supplanted by Kyle Singler and Brandon Knight as the year progressed. Stuckey’s jumper was actually worse than it was a season ago. His percentages dropped in field goals (41), three-point shooting (30) and free throw shooting (78). Maybe he should fire his shooting coach. Stuckey is proving to be just a rotation player in the league and not the go-to-guy the Pistons once hoped he could be. (Dishonorable mention: Charlie Villanueva)
Indiana Pacers: D.J. AUGUSTIN
It was thought that all Augustin needed was a fresh start. Optimism for a bounce-back season grew when he signed with the Indiana Pacers last summer as a complement to starter George Hill, filling in for Darren Collison off the Pacers’ bench. Well it turns out that Augustin needed more than just a fresh start. Somewhere along the way he has lost confidence and his coaches have too, giving him just 16.1 minutes of burn per night. On a team defunct of a legit backup point guard Augustin managed averages of just 4.7 points and 2.2 assists.
Miami Heat: NORRIS COLE
We seem far removed from the “Cole World” references Heat fans used at the sight of anything positive Cole did last year. He still has room to grow but this has been a down year for the second-year pro. His field goal and three-point percentages went up but his free throw percentage (65) and points per game (5.6) dipped. Being a backup point guard on a team that features three All-Stars is hard and Cole has yet to find a way to turn things in his favor. (Dishonorable Mention: Rashard Lewis)
Milwaukee Bucks: SAMUEL DALEMBERT
The veteran center began the season as a starter but struggled with minutes in the temperamental system of Scott Skiles. He eventually lost his starting job and was replaced permanently by the NBA’s second-leading shotblocker, Larry Sanders, even after Jim Boylan took over the team. Sammy had a nine-game stretch from January 29 to February 13 where he averaged 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, showing he can still contribute. On the season, however, he posted 6.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in just 16.3 minutes per game. Whether it’s his fault, the system or the emergence of younger bigs, it appears Dalembert won’t be in the future plans of the Bucks. (Dishonorable Mention: Ekpe Udoh)
New York Knicks: STEVE NOVAK
Defenses no longer just allow Novak to shoot freely and discount double check his way back on defense. After leading the league in three-point shooting last year at 47 percent, Novak is down to 42.5 percent and scoring just 6.6 points per game. The Knicks are deeper this year and that does attribute to some of Novak’s struggles as he is being used as a threat more than as an actual option.
Orlando Magic: HEDO TURKOGLU
From injury to suspension for the use of steroids, it was a lost season for Turkoglu. His best days are clearly behind him after a season where he averaged terrible twos: 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He questioned his role on the team after returning from suspension but it was clear he had none. Turkgolu has a player option for next season, so Magic fans can thank former GM Otis Smith for the $12 million owed to Turkgolu in 2013-2014. (Dishonorable mention: Al Harrington)
Philadelphia 76ers: KWAME BROWN
The Sixers were optimistic coming into the season that their frontline could survive without Andrew Bynum for a short time. Before Bynum was acquired, Doug Collins even called Brown his starting center. Collins has done a reverse skate on that proclamation as Brown saw action in only 22 games and started just 11 of them. Brown was Mr. DNP-CP for the Sixers, averaging just 1.9 points and 3.4 rebounds on the season.
Toronto Raptors: LANDRY FIELDS
He quickly fell out of favor in New York with his disappearing act in the playoffs in back-to-back years. Toronto, desperate for talent, signed Fields away from New York with a three-year deal worth $18.75 million last summer, a move that quickly backfired on them after Steve Nash was traded to L.A. The reward for their generosity? He had his worst statistical season to date with just 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Can you say refund?
Washington Wizards: JAN VESELY
This is a guy John Wall once gushed about. He thought the two could thrive together in the open court. Okay, maybe gushing isn’t the right verb, but Wall still thought Vesely had some talent. To date, Vesely has proved to be little more than an uncontrolled leaper. At 6-11, he is a tweener that doesn’t have the touch or handle to play small forward and he lacks the girth to play power forward. It looks like he will be heading towards another summer league appearance this July to work on the paltry 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds he averaged this season.
Who were the Eastern Conference’s most disappointing players this year?
Follow Warren on Twitter at @ShawSports.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.