NBA: 5 Players Looking for a Bounce Back Season
With a new season quickly approaching, there comes a brand new batch of unanswered questions.
Who will be the top rookie this year?
What team will emerge as a playoff contender?
Can the Lakers immediately play together and become NBA Championship contenders?
One question I will be looking at answering is which veteran that struggled last season will bounce back to all-star form.
I have given five players that I believe can come back from the less-than-stellar seasons they had a year ago.
Amare Stoudemire, NYK
Coming into the 2011-12 season, New York fans had high hopes for both the team and former all-star Stoudemire.
The team finished with a 36-30 record and a 7th seed finish in the Eastern Conference, not living up to expectations. The same can be said for Stoudemire, as he had one of the worst seasons of his 10 year career.
For only the second time in his career, when playing more than 45 games, Amare averaged under 20 points per game. He averaged 17.5 PPG; some of this can be credited to his field goal attempts falling from 19.0 attempts in 2010-11 to a mere 13.9 attempts per game in 2011-12.
The most disturbing drop was in Stoudemire's Player Efficiency Rating (PER). After six full seasons of having a PER over 20, with a career high of 27.6 in the 2007-08 season, this past season was his worst since his second full season in the league at 17.7.
Amare's quality 2010-11 season with New York showed that he could be efficient playing with Carmelo Anthony, so a bounce back to all-star form would not be a surprise.
Monta Ellis, MIL
After a few seasons of being a top-10 scorer for Golden State in 2009-10 (25.5 PPG) and 2010-11 (24.1), Monta Ellis struggled after his move to Milwaukee.
In his 21 games in a Bucks uniform, he averaged only 17.6 PPG. This was over a four point drop after scoring 21.9 PPG in his first 37 games of the year with the Warriors.
Despite Ellis' minutes being nearly the same, his field goals attempted per game dropped from 19.0 to 16.0 after the move, while his three-point attempts dropped in half from 4.2 attempts to 2.1 attempts per game.
Some other averages that dropped were his 3-point percentage (32.1 to 26.7) and free throw percentage (81.2 to 76.4).
However, the biggest drop after the move was in his PER. With the Warriors he had a near career high at 18.6, then suffered a drop to near average at 15.4.
I fully expect Monta Ellis to return to his high-volume scoring ways as he continues to become more comfortable in Milwaukee.
Kevin Martin, HOU
After Rockets fans saw Kevin Martin drop 23.5 PPG in 2010-11, expectations were high for him to take over the team and be the leader of a young Houston squad.
However, all fans received were 40 games played and a six point drop in his per game average to 17.1 PPG. His three-point percentage dropped from 38.3 to 34.7, and after being in the top-10 in free throw attempts for three of four years, his FTA per game dropped from 8.4 to a pedestrian 4.5.
Also, he saw his biggest drop in PER in his career. He was at near all-star level at 21.4 in 2010-11 but followed up with a hardly above-average 16.5, which is the lowest since his second year in the league.
In order for Martin to return to a high scorer and leader of the Rockets, he will need to start attacking the rim again and get to the free throw line.
O.J. Mayo, DAL
In terms of scoring, the best season for O.J. Mayo was his first season in the league when he averaged 18.5 PPG. Since then he has seen a steady decline and finished last season at 12.6.
However a lot of this can be credited to his time on the court dropping by more than 11 minutes from his first two seasons. He also went from starting all 82 games in each of his first two seasons, but in the last two years he has started only a combined 17 games for the Grizzlies.
Despite that Mayo has turned in his best season in PER (14.7) and had the most free throw attempts per game (3.5) last year.
If he can continue to get to the line often, as well as stay efficient while playing more minutes for a veteran Dallas team, I could see Mayo returning to that 18-20 PPG range.
Manu Ginobili, SAS
Injuries plagued the 2011-12 season for Manu Ginobili, and it showed a lot in his numbers.
Nearly all of his stats were down from his average career numbers. His minutes were at 23.3 per game, points at 12.9, steals at 0.7 and field goals attempted at 8.4. None of those numbers have been that low since his rookie year in 2002-03.
The lack of playing time did not affect Ginobili's shooting stroke at all, though. He had a career best 52.6 field goal percentage and a 41.3 three-point percentage.
Those numbers show that if Ginobili can stay healthy and remain on the court, he will be right back to his all-star form.