Continuing our two-part series on the most disappointing players this season, we’re shining the light on the Western Conference, where there were lots of underwhelming performances. Again, in fairness, those who were injured for the majority of the season were not included.
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Dallas Mavericks: CHRIS KAMAN
The oft-injured center was ecstatic to be joining friend Dirk Nowitzki for the 2012-2013 season. What he didn’t know was that Dirk would be out for as long as he was and that minutes would be hard to come by in Rick Carlisle‘s system. Kaman saw a career-worst 20.7 minutes per game despite per-36 minute averages of 18.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. It begs to question why Carlisle didn’t use him more. Kaman’s confidence was shaken as a result. His contract expires this summer and it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Kaman returns to Dallas — despite his friendship with Dirk. (Dishonorable mention: Darren Collison)
Denver Nuggets: ANTHONY RANDOLPH
No matter the city or team, Randolph is never going to live up to the talent in his body and push for consistent time on the floor. Denver is not short on tall dudes so Randolph was going to have a hard time cracking the rotation regardless this season. But at 6-11, Randolph is an athletic big that should be doing more than just providing insurance for the Nuggets. Just imagine if he and JaVale McGee ever put things together. Then again. it takes a pretty farfetched imagination to see such a thing come to fruition. (Dishonorable Mention: Timofey Mozgov)
Golden State Warriors: ANDRIS BIEDRINS
Seriously what happened to this guy? Mark Jackson doesn’t want him on the floor, even with Andrew Bogut only playing in 32 games this season. The door was wide open for Biedrins to produce before Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green leapfrogged him in the rotation. Golden State even elected to go small at times with David Lee at center instead of deploying Biedrins. He finished with just 9.3 minutes of action per game with paltry averages of 0.5 points and 2.9 rebounds. He has a player option worth $9 million next year and almost has to return to Golden State for more “pine time” or risk getting much less on the open market. (Dishonorable Mention: Richard Jefferson)
Houston Rockets: THOMAS ROBINSON
Nobody is more surprised about the lack of impact Robinson has had this season than himself. After a game on March 8, Robinson told the media he hadn’t caught a rhythm all year and made note that he hasn’t gotten the same opportunities other rookies had. Once Robinson was traded from Sacramento to Houston, he was immediately put in a better situation from a management and team standpoint. Unfortunately it didn’t do much for his playing time, which ironically dropped from almost 16 minutes per game with the Kings to 13 with the Rockets. His draft position typically warrants more preferential treatment with minutes but neither organization has felt the need to give in to that thinking. (Dishonorable Mention: Royce White)
L.A. Clippers: LAMAR ODOM
Returning back to L.A. was supposed to be the cure for Odom and the abysmal season he endured last year. He joined a vaunted Clippers bench where his versatility could be used to propel them to new heights. The Clippers have indeed reached new heights, but Odom has had very little to do with their success. He reported to training camp overweight and in turn never got on track this season. He is somehow averaging less minutes (19.7) and points (four) while shooting lower percentages from both the three and free throw line than last year. How is that even possible for a guy this talented? Odom has submarined his career over these last two seasons but perhaps he will improve in the playoffs.
L.A. Lakers: DWIGHT HOWARD
He is still the best center in basketball and this season in L.A. was an adjustment, but expectations are high and he didn’t quite meet them. Yes, Howard played through injury and yes Kobe Bryant is a different type of leader than he is used to. But 20 and 12 are numbers Howard should put up in his sleep. Not that 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds is something to sneeze at, but if Andrew Bynum was able to get 20 and 12 with Kobe, than Howard should have too. (That’s word to Shaq!) Howard could really make his mark on the season with Kobe out for the playoffs which would endear him to the Lakers faithful and somewhat clean up his mess of a season. (Dishonorable mention: Antawn Jamison)
Memphis Grizzlies: TONY WROTEN
The rookie guard is still very raw but he could have made an impact this season with Memphis thin at backup point guard. Jerryd Bayless was brought in to spell both guard spots and started slow himself which should have allowed Wroten to push for minutes. Instead, the Grizzlies brought Wroten along at a snail’s pace, allowing him to appear in just 35 games this season with a short leash of just 7.8 minutes per contest. It appears he hasn’t earned the trust of the coaching staff or management — Memphis signed veteran guard Keyon Dooling in early April, which clearly pushes Wroten further down on the depth chart.
Minnesota Timberwolves: DERRICK WILLIAMS
Ironically enough, Williams did go on a noteworthy tear at one point this season. Still, the total body of work warrants disappointment, considering the amount of injuries the Timberwolves suffered (allowing for Williams’ lukewarm success). Averages of 12 points and 5.5 rebounds aren’t awful but he should have been able to do more, especially from a rebounding standpoint, with the opportunity that was gift-wrapped to him due to injuries. He is likely to slide back into obscurity once the team is healthy again next season. An offseason trade could very well be in the making, as would a chance to finally live up to his billing as a No. 2 overall pick.
New Orleans Hornets: AUSTIN RIVERS
I struggle with putting Rivers here simply because I expected him to have the horrific season he did. Nonetheless, I was in the minority with that opinion to begin the season. Rivers, who averaged just 6.2 points per game, connected on just 37 percent of shots from the floor, with a free throw percentage of just below 54 percent. He was given a great opportunity to start the season with Eric Gordon sidelined and fellow rookie Anthony Davis also in and out of the lineup. Yet Rivers was unable to make much of his opportunity, leaving Monty Williams little choice but to use Rivers sparingly. He played in 61 games before being ruled out for the season with a broken bone in his hand. The season was so rough for Rivers that the poor guy couldn’t even get an invite to the Rising Stars Challenge game at All-Star Weekend. One could argue that he should have stayed another year in college. Look for Rivers to attend Summer League this July to work on his game.
Oklahoma City Thunder: HASHEEM THABEET
The Thunder are one of the rare teams where everybody does pretty much what you expect them to do. Still, someone must draw the ire of disappointment and that distinction goes to Thabeet… kind of like a lifetime achievement award. OKC signed the former No. 2 draft pick as insurance on the cheap for the frontcourt. If he pans out then cool. If he doesn’t, it cost them little and he can be released with little consequence to their salary cap. Thabeet hasn’t developed any semblance of a post game and isn’t as effective defensively as one would hope. He could have potentially forced a timeshare with Kendrick Perkins but Thabeet doesn’t set and hold screens as effectively as Perkins does, which further limits his value. He averaged 2.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.7 minutes just in case curiosity was getting the best of you.
Phoenix Suns: MICHAEL BEASLEY
If there was ever a guy that deserved an Ed Lover “C’mon son” it’s Beasley. Signed for a multi-year deal over the summer, he was expected to get a fresh start in Phoenix and regain the form that made him a No. 2 overall pick. What has ensued is nothing short of shameful. He had disagreements with both coaches the Suns had this season while playing the worst basketball of his NBA career. He started just 20 of the 75 games he appeared in, giving Phoenix 10.1 points on sub-41 percent shooting, 3.8 rebounds and a plus/minus rating of minus-4.5. The Suns most be overjoyed to have him locked up for another two years with $12.2 million owed to him. (Dishonorable Mention: Wesley Johnson)
Portland Trail Blazers: THE ENTIRE PORTLAND BENCH
With the exception of Eric Maynor, who was acquired at the trade deadline, the Blazers bench has been brutal. It would be unfair to call out just one player as the bench unit ranks last in points per game at just 18.4. According to Hoopstats.com, the Portland bench has an efficiency differential rating of minus-17.8, which of course is also last in the league.
Sacramento Kings: JIMMER FREDETTE
To his credit, he played almost five minutes less per game this season but raised his shooting percentages across the board while remaining comparable in points, rebounds and assists to last season. He isn’t going to be a playmaker in this league and the Kings need to figure out how to use him better if he will ever be successful. The Kings roster is infested with tweeners and Fredette isn’t able to stand out. He could be a specialist for another team if Sacramento was willing to move him. They just might be, too. (Dishonorable Mention: Tyreke Evans/DeMarcus Cousins)
San Antonio Spurs: MANU GINOBILI
For a team with one of the best systems in the league, it’s not easy to identify a true disappointment. Still, Manu Ginobili is living off his previous accolades as opposed to earning new ones. Coming off an injury-plagued ’11-12 season where his scoring average dropped nearly five full points, expectations were that Ginobili would have a bounce-back year. Unfortunately, the Batman has again been injured and his scoring average is down another point to 11.8 per game, his worst since his rookie season.
Utah Jazz: MARVIN WILLIAMS
Another case of a guy on a new team hoping for a new start. Unfortunately for Williams, Utah is a team rich in frontcourt depth, which put him at an immediate disadvantage to get his career on track. His minutes reached a career-low (23.7) this season, and his point (7.2) and rebound (3.6) averages have naturally followed suit. The curse of the No. 2 draft pick strikes again.
Who were the West’s most disappointing players this season?
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