5 NBA Players Who'll Fall Short of Expectations in the Second Half of the Season
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There have been plenty of half-season heroes in the National Basketball League before—Yao Ming comes to mind. But to be great, to be a truly exceptional player like Kobe and LeBron, a player has to battle through the rigors of an 82—oops I mean 66—game season and be able to play at an All-Star level throughout the regular season and right into the playoffs.
It’ll be harder to do that this year because of the condensed schedule, weary legs and banged-up bodies. So to help separate the half-season All-Stars from full-season All-Pros, we’re going to break down the five players who won't live up to expectations in the second half of the season.
And yes, Jeremy Lin is one of them.
5. Ricky Rubio, Minneosta Timberwolves, Point Guard
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Rubio was everybody’s favorite new point guard until Jeremy Lin appeared from nowhere. The Spaniard got international attention for his highlight-reel passes and boyish good looks and backed it up on the court playing alongside Kevin Love.
But even though the 22-year-old has been a pro since 2005, he has never played a full NBA season. As the wear and tear keeps eating away at those legs, and teams learn more about his tendencies, it’s going to be harder to keep living up to the hype.
4. Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets, Small Forward
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Before suffering a chipped bone in his left ankle in early February, Gallinari was averaging a career-high in points while leading the Nuggets to one of the best starts in the NBA. But whenever a player injures an ankle, and especially when he breaks it, it always takes a little longer to get the full spring back in the jumper.
Because Gallinari's game is predicated on jump shots and coming around screens for open looks, his ankle injury will likely prevent him from being the same dynamic scorer he was before the injury. Besides, the Nuggets will have to ease him back into the lineup, meaning he’ll get fewer chances when he returns, which is expected to be after the All-Star break.
3. Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns, Center
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Never heard of him? I’m not surprised. Before this year Gortat was about as famous as Jeremy Lin was a month ago. But now he’s a candidate for biggest All-Star snub—the guy is averaging better stats that All-Star Marc Gasol.
Still, it will be hard for Gortat to keep putting up 15 and 10 every game for the lowly Suns, even with Steve Nash feeding him the rock. He’s already started more games this year than he has at any point in his career and is playing four more minutes than he has before.
Those stats, combined with the condensed schedule, will likely equal a second-half decline for the 7-footer.
2. Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic, Small Forward
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Through the first half of the season, Anderson is on pace to set career high’s in almost every statically category imaginable, including points, rebounds, three-point percentage, minutes, well, you get the idea.
He’s already started more games this year than he ever has before playing nearly 10 more minutes per game. That kind of extra use is bound to catch up to him sometime and his three-point percentage—right now at 43 percent—is bound to come back to earth.
1. Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks, Point Guard
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I like Lin. I think he’s a great player with a bright future. But come on now, how can he live up to the Linsanity hype he created in the last two weeks? The answer is he can't. No one could.
Lin is not going to keep winning 90 percent of the games he plays, he’s not going to keep nailing down last-second, game-winning shots—especially with Carmelo Anthony returning from injury—and he’s not going to keep setting career-highs in some category every game. He might keep averaging big numbers for a while.
But remember, he’s never played a half NBA season—let alone full—and teams are going to get better defending him while the rigors of the NBA will catch up to his legs.