10 Big NBA Names Destined to Regress Next Season
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These NBA stars are going to decline next season.
In some cases, former superhuman players will have age, mileage and mortality finally catch up to them. It might be injuries or just the young buck behind them, but they won't get the time and/or be able to produce at their previous levels.
For others, they'll endure a situation that doesn't play to their strengths. A change of scenery via trade or free agency, a new coach or simply the arrival of different personnel could throw things out of whack.
In a few cases, this "regression" is just simply sliding back to the norm. A "one-year wonder" guy with a big 2012 is likely to come down to reality in 2013.
Each of these names is a tangible commodity and a respected player. Yet, whether it's just a tiny slip or an epic free-fall, they'll each take one step closer towards obscurity next year.
I'm not suggesting that any of these players will be terrible by 2013. In fact, some of them might even still be "stars." However, they just won't be as good as before.
The Sun is setting in 2013.
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He's 38, one of the top point guards ever and still one of the game's best.
This past year he STILL averaged 10 assists per game and improved his shooting percentage while playing at an All-Star level.
Was this the last hurrah or a sign that he's just going to keep getting better into his 40s?
Reality requires the latter, right?
Nash has been in the league 16 years now. Time is going to catch up to him sooner than later. If he stays with the woebegone Phoenix Suns, he'll be carrying an ever-heavier burden. How long can that last before he breaks down?
Since he's likely leaving the Suns, he won't have access to their "fountain of youth" training staff. Unless he improbably takes tiny money to play backup for somebody like the Dallas Mavericks or Miami Heat, Nash will still be expected to produce as a starter and star in his new locale.
This can only go on for so long. He's one of the most amazing players of this generation, but he's almost 40, and he's human.
We might see more of this in 2013.
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One of the NBA's true iron men, Andre Miller has missed SIX games during his 13-year career. Whether on the fast break or backing down into the post, he's been awfully hard to stop for a long time.
However, Miller's minutes, role and starts already diminished noticeably this past season. That trend is only going to continue in 2013.
Andre has recently changed his story about whether he wants to stay with the Denver Nuggets. Either way, he seems resigned to the fact that he will become a full-time backup next season.
As evidenced by his underwhelming stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, Miller needs an uptempo system if he's going to thrive. If he goes, there are only a handful of teams who even play at his pace.
If he stays in Denver, the opportunities will continue to dwindle as Ty Lawson rightfully gobbles up most of the minutes.
Andre Miller will still be a productive player, but he's beginning to slip in the numbers game.
Even warriors don't fight forever.
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Kevin Garnett burned a lot of tread in order to put up a surprisingly big 2012.
Garnett's "renaissance" was really just stemming a tide of decline that's been creeping since 2009.
The Boston Celtics will likely spend their considerable largess on getting new front-line faces. If Garnett stays with the Celts, he'll be re-signed on a smaller deal paired with supporting expectations.
It seems more likely that Kevin continues weighing his options. If opting for the money, he won't be suiting up in a tailored fit any longer. The "Big 4" era Celtics largely morphed around Kevin Garnett's every nuance. If he moves on, he'll be the one expected to fit in.
Very few teams are even going to consider handing him major money and minutes. Those that would are going to be disappointed.
Garnett is going to be a nice contributor next year, but the tide is going out, whether he wants to admit that or not.
Production will go down, even if he's a better player in 2013.
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Al Jefferson finally put it all together, played for a winning team and made it to the NBA playoffs.
The 27-year old pivot has some of the league's best footwork and one of its most unstoppable low-block games. There's no reason to think those won't keep getting better. This young man might even continue his ever-so-modest defensive improvement, too!
So how could he possibly make this list despite the fact that he's still a guaranteed starter?
Purely from a production standpoint, there's little conceivable way that Al Jefferson can put up better numbers in 2013. By sharing time with Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and the quickly-rising Derrick Favors, Jefferson will simply not get as many opportunities.
As long as that frontcourt logjam remains, the Utah Jazz will continue their "attack in waves" approach down low. Having this many post options is good for the franchise, but it's bad for opponents and it's bad for Al Jefferson's stats.
This situation could change if "Big Al" or one of the others are moved. For now, there are too many mouths to feed in Utah, and they're getting hungrier all the time.
Good player or rising star?
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Ersan Ilyasova was a revelation for the Milwaukee Bucks last year. Sure, he had been a productive, hustling rotation player for the previous three seasons, but 2012 was pretty special.
He's always been a quantity rebounder and a decent finisher with a sneaky-good outside shot. During the season's final half, Ilyasova suddenly blossomed into the diet version of Kevin Love.
Unfortunately, this is the classic case of a guy getting hot during a contract year on a bad team.
Ersan would be a valuable bench or spot starter on nearly any team in the league. However, somebody's going to get overeager and see him as a budding star.
It's not difficult to foresee a desperate-for-help franchise like the New Jersey Nets or Charlotte Bobcats handing him a fat contract and over-sized expectations.
Ilyasova's role and checkbook are going to be fatter next year, but don't expect his numbers to be. Overexposure can be a one-way ticket to Regressionville.
Back to the norm.
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Did Randy Foye put it all together and regain a starting job in the NBA?
After all, he was a noticeable performer on a suddenly-chic playoff team. Maybe the former No. 7 pick finally lived up to expectations? This was the first time since 2009 that he started more games than he sat.
Unfortunately, this combo guard simply benefited from playing in an injury-riddled Los Angeles Clippers backcourt. With Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul all missing chunks of the season, Randy Foye played in all but one game, starting 48 of them.
The telling stat is that his numbers didn't really rise all that much, despite the gift-wrapped opportunity and being paired with Chris Paul, the game's best facilitator.
Foye has always been better as a combo guard off the bench. He's quickly exposed when playing major minutes at the same position for too long. The guy is 29 already and has yet to show any real upside.
He'll still play in 2013, but those starting appearances were merely cameos for this understudy.
The body doesn't always do what it once did.
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One could make the case that Shawn Marion has been regressing for more than half a decade now. That trend is only going to continue.
A starter out of necessity in 2012, only because Lamar Odom was such a train wreck, Marion posted the lowest numbers since his rookie year. Whether he fits into the Dallas Mavericks' re-tooling plan or not, chances are awfully slim that he'll hold a starting gig anywhere again.
Even if he did, things aren't looking good. Marion has always relied on freakish athleticism for nearly all facets of his offensive game. Whether it's running the floor, finishing in traffic or offensive rebounding, this tweener forward has gotten by with speed and hops.
Those aren't coming back when you're 34 years old. Shawn Marion will continue as a valuable defender because he works hard and is technically sound on that end of the floor. Barring injury, his career will likely survive another three to five years.
However, there's no reason to believe that his numbers will do anything but continue declining from here on out.
At some point, the predictions are going to be true.
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Predicting Tim Duncan's demise was once again premature.
However, like Kevin Garnett, the "Big Fundamental" had a renaissance which was slightly overblown. Duncan absolutely DID look better than he had in a couple of years. Suddenly spry, he occasionally busted out those now retro, completely unstoppable performances.
Yet, Timmy's "return" was only so noticeable because he had fallen so far the year before.
Duncan's communication, positioning and cagey game knowledge are never going to diminish. He could probably pull a Robert Parish and play another half-decade if he wanted to.
However, it's completely unrealistic to expect his minutes or averages to match the inspiring season he just completed in 2012.
Instead, envision a supporting role and proportionate numbers in 2013.
Will it be like it once was?
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It seems completely unfair to include him on this list. I know.
Will he still be able to rely on superlative speed and explosiveness while healing a bum wheel? Will the Chicago Bulls even play him in 2013?
It's entirely possible that he may not be ready until the last few months of the season. If the Bulls are struggling, would they risk bringing him back for a lost cause?
If they're winning, would they simply throw him and their chemistry into the deep end of the pool?
It's a good bet that Rose WILL play next season. However, expecting anywhere close to his MVP-caliber numbers is complete foolishness.
Just getting back on the floor again will be accomplishment enough. Approaching his rookie numbers would be a realistic ceiling...
For 2013 at least.
Don't tell me I didn't tell you.
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Don't tell me that 1,161 games and over 42,000 minutes don't add up. Don't tell me that Kobe Bryant's numbers and minutes rose last year without taking a noticeable toll on his energy and efficiency levels.
Don't tell me you didn't see how tired he was at the end of games or the end of the season. Don't tell me the Los Angeles Lakers are suddenly going to be deep enough or convincing enough to somehow get Bryant onto a reasonable rest plan.
He's not even 34 yet, so this is NOT claiming that Bryant is suddenly going to fall off a cliff next year as one of the NBA's best.
However, there's no amount of Kool-Aid in the world that can undo the fact that Kobe is not operating at a sustainable level right now.
The Lakers have to mix things up this offseason, add some real backcourt help AND somehow talk Bryant into accepting it. Otherwise, he'll continue to push himself just as hard out of necessity and/or stubbornness.
Regardless, Kobe Bryant will not produce at the same levels in 2013 that he miraculously did in 2012.