10 Passive NBA Players We Wish Were More Aggressive
To some NBA fans, nothing can be more infuriating than a player who's soft. I'm talking about players who have talent, but shy away from getting their hands dirty. Game after game, fans wish that these athletes would start playing like, well, athletes.
Take Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, for instance. He's a fine scorer and has a great mid-range shot for a seven-footer, but his efforts on defense tend to be hit or miss. If he played a bit more aggressively, perhaps his team would win more games.
Here are 10 players us fans love to watch, but wish would abandon their passive approaches to the game.
10. James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
Ever since being taken third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA draft, Harden has become one of the premier bench scorers in the league.
This past season, he averaged a career best 16.8 points per contest and shot 49 percent from the field, making 39 percent of his three-pointers as well.
Yet, therein lies Harden's weakness. Almost half of his shots in 2012 came from long range. He has a great NBA body at 6'5", 220 pounds, and it'd be nice to see him attack the rim just a bit more often.
There's nothing wrong with his abilities, but he just needs to be more aggressive instead of throwing up jumper after jumper.
9. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
On paper, Blake Griffin appears to be a great player. In just two seasons, the former Oklahoma Sooner has averaged 21.7 points and 11.5 rebounds.
Yet, as much as I hate to say it, because I love watching him play, Griffin is overrated. On offense, he's explosive in attacking the rim. On defense, he looks like a lost puppy and only seems to get rebounds if they bounce his way.
The saddest part is that Griffin has the body of a dominant NBA big man at 6'10", 251 pounds, and has so much potential to be a truly great power forward.
At this point, he's just another scorer who gets lucky in the rebound department.
8. Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
When I watch Jameer Nelson play, I see someone with talent but who's trying too hard to be like Chauncey Billups.
Throughout his career, he has sacrificed finding the open man in favor of putting up bad shot after bad shot. As a point guard, his career mark of five assists per game is unacceptable.
He could potentially hit free agency in July and given how he has played for the Orlando Magic, it's hard to say how many teams will be interested in his services. Rather than try and be a scoring point guard, Nelson needs to show that he is committed to being a floor general willing to drive to the basket and draw some fouls. And given how injury-prone he is, that could be easier said than done.
Still, if he wants to revitalize his career at age 30, he needs to adjust his approach to the game.
7. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
Rudy Gay is a good all-around player, but his efforts on defense could be a bit more consistent. His 6.4 boards per contest last year are respectable, but are often overshadowed by his 19 points per game.
I understand that the man is a scorer first, but the mark of any great player is one who showcases great skills in all facets of the game.
If this former UConn star can balance his game out just a little bit, he will go from being a really good player to one who is truly great.
6. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
Johnson is fun to watch, but his playing for Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix ruined any chances of his game evolving.
At age 30, the former Arkansas Razorback seems destined to be nothing but a scorer who plays little to no defense. Given how his Atlanta Hawks are a team always seeming to be on the cusp of greatness, something tells me that his game needs to change if they are to go that extra mile.
Look, I'm not knocking the fact that Johnson is a score-first player. It's his greatest strength, and he utilizes it well. Still, he needs to focus more on getting his other talented teammates involved and less on taking jump shots willy-nilly.
If he cuts his shots down by maybe two a game, that could be enough.
5. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
In Gasol's defense, he got a bit more aggressive during the playoffs this year. Yet, despite averaging 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 2012, Gasol is used to a system born in Europe: abandon defense and score, score, score.
That isn't to say that Gasol has always been a passive player. In his days with the Grizzlies, he did a great job balancing his offensive and defensive attacks. However, the scoring game has taken him over now.
And if he wants to lose his reputation as someone who looks passive on the floor, he needs to bring back some of the aggressive rebounding and shot blocking he once exhibited.
4. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
I know that he's just won a championship ring, but Chris Bosh has not done the job the Miami Heat have expected him to do.
Within that team's Big Three, his role is that of the power forward who can score points just as well as he plays defense. Given how Bosh was almost a lock for 20 and 10 a game during his days with the Toronto Raptors, one would think that he is more than capable of doing this.
Yet, since signing with the Miami Heat, Bosh has abandoned his defensive prowess and appears to be focusing solely on scoring. For someone 6'11", 235 pounds, his 8.1 rebounds per game the past two seasons seem oddly low.
Given how his value as a player is now through the roof since he's an NBA champion, it can't hurt him to be more aggressive under the basket and up his value even more.
3. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
Ever since coming to the Chicago Bulls, Boozer has been the definition of soft. Once a double-double machine, the man has simply stopped demanding the ball and looks like a zombie on defense.
I understand that Boozer may seem small for his position at 6'9", but he has a tough-guy body at 266 pounds. He used to be so good at being aggressive, but now seems to have checked out now that he has Derrick Rose taking over most of the time.
If the Bulls want to win a title in the near future, it's about time the former Duke Blue Devil starts earning his paycheck and plays more aggressively on both sides of the floor.
2. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Apart from being one of the most talented players in the NBA, Stoudemire is also one of the most frustrating to watch. He's like the girl with the curl in the infamous nursery rhyme. When he's good, he's very good. When he's bad, he's god awful.
The way I see it, Stoudemire is still shaking off the cobwebs after playing in a Mike D'Antoni style offense for practically the entirety of his career. He has a great jump shot and has a good game under the basket, but he just doesn't use the latter as much as he should.
Don't get me wrong, I root hard for the guy, but his occasional lackadaisical approach on defense can get frustrating. He has the talent to be a great all-around player. He just has to use it.
1. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
Back when he was known as Ron Artest, Metta World Peace was a dual threat on the court. Not only was the man a phenomenal scorer, he was also one of the peskiest defenders in the NBA. In 2004, he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, as he averaged 18.3 points and 2.1 steals for the Indiana Pacers.
He would continue to exhibit his great skills in stints with the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, but that all changed once World Peace came to the Los Angeles Lakers. His tough defense is still sort of there, but his scoring has gotten progressively worse in each of his three years with the team.
I understand that a lot of his scoring woes come from Kobe Bryant hogging the ball, but World Peace's numbers speak for themselves. He has proven that he can score points before and is way too talented to be little more than a pest and a three-point shooter at this point.
In order for him to reestablish himself and not just be a bad contract on the payroll, he needs to have a resurgent 2013—and badly.