Worst Performances of NBA Playoffs So Far
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The NBA playoffs offer more than an opportunity for players to break out and make names for themselves. They are also an opportunity for failure.
The stakes get higher, and the competition gets tougher—yet players are more scrutinized than ever. Those extra factors are rarely weighed in when judging a player's performance or worth.
Sometimes a bad playoff performance is just a bad playoff performance. Other times it could be a harbinger for further disappointment. Players sometimes just have an aversion to the bright lights of the postseason. Others once had it and now seem to have misplaced their confidence.
The 2013 postseason has treated us to some wonderful performances by big and small names alike. It has also brought us some warning flags for players who just can't hack it in the playoffs.
All statistics accurate as of May 11, 2013.
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Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets' big free-agent acquisition over the offseason struggled through the year. Jeremy Lin had a roller coaster season, but the postseason is really where he hit a low.
Lin played a full 82 games during the regular season, but he suffered a bad chest bruise during the opening-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He managed to play in only four of the six games, shooting just 25 percent and missing 10-of-12 threes. It was not a memorable first career playoff appearance for Lin.
Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets completed a sad postseason appearance by being chased out of the first round by the No. 6 Golden State Warriors. They got a handful of performances that didn't live up to their regular-season standards, and Wilson Chandler was one of them.
After performing admirably off the bench, hitting 41.3 percent of his threes and shooting 46.1 percent overall, he earned a starting role in the postseason. There he caved under the pressure of increased usage, falling to 35.5 percent overall and 31 percent from outside.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
In a vacuum, Taj Gibson has had a solid postseason for the Chicago Bulls. He's seen a limited role, garnering about 17.6 minutes in every game, while providing 6.6 points and 2.6 rebounds a night and shooting 50 percent from the field.
However, things in the NBA don't work that way. The Bulls chose Gibson, granting him a big four-year extension. He's set to see a pay bump to $7.5 million next year, and Tom Thibodeau should be getting more from that well-compensated a player.
10. Tayshaun Prince, Memphis Grizzlies
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Despite his team's success, Tayshaun Prince has had a pretty iffy first postseason for the Memphis Grizzlies.
It is his first playoff series since 2009, so perhaps some there is some rust. Prince has played on bad Detroit Pistons teams for so long, he still may be trying to find his niche on the Grizzlies.
The main thing to watch is if Memphis is scoring enough. It sacrificed Rudy Gay around midseason to save money and make a run with Prince as its starting small forward. That obviously meant a drop in scoring, but Prince has taken it to another level.
He's shooting just 36.8 percent from the field over nine games. The 33-year-old isn't a high-volume shooter from outside, but his 28.6 percent three-point shooting isn't helping anyone. He has also randomly missed 7-of-13 free throws in the playoffs.
Prince is doing some rebounding and other little things, but 7.3 points per game may be too much of a sacrifice for playing him 33.8 minutes a night.
The Grizzlies clearly haven't needed to notice this problem yet, as they lead the Oklahoma City Thunder 2-1 in the second round, but down the line, Prince's lack of offensive punch could hurt them.
9. Shane Battier, Miami Heat
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This has been an eye-opening season for the aging of Shane Battier. The Miami Heat are starting to realize that his game is slowly slipping to the point of becoming a weakness.
Battier was able to still hit threes during the regular season, which gave him reason to stick around in the Heat lineup. However, what was a 43-percent clip from downtown has plummeted to 27.3 percent in seven postseason games. Battier is shooting just 27 percent overall.
His lack of rebounding is little surprise to the Heat, as he has been fading in that department for a couple years. However, he has submitted three games of one board or fewer during this run.
Battier is slowly losing minutes to Norris Cole and Chris Andersen as valuable bench players during this Miami campaign. He just hasn't been himself on either end of the court it seems, and those non-box score things he always does are getting harder to find as well.
8. Devin Harris, Atlanta Hawks
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Devin Harris is entering free agency this summer, so he was playing for a contract this past season with the Atlanta Hawks.
Harris made $8.5 million this year, primarily backing up the Hawks' backcourt. He assumed starter duties due to a few injuries Atlanta sustained and started opposite Jeff Teague for all six games of the opening-round series against the Indiana Pacers.
With Teague's skill set of a penetrating point guard, it was important to have a talented shooter alongside him for kick-outs. Harris shot just 20 percent from outside in the series and only 36.5 percent overall.
While the Hawks were digging themselves a 2-0 hole in the first two games of the series, Harris shot just 3-of-8 from the free-throw line. During Atlanta's final two losses in Games 5 and 6, Harris was 8-of-23 from the field and 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Harris will be lucky to make anything close to $8.5 million next year, as he failed to come through on the opportunity presented to him this spring.
7. Corey Brewer, Denver Nuggets
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When Danilo Gallinari was ruled out of the playoffs for the Denver Nuggets, everyone moved up a notch and took on some added responsibilities. Corey Brewer wasn't exempt from that rule.
Brewer stepped into a bigger role off the bench, providing extra scoring and perimeter defense. Neither item went particularly well during their disappointing series with the Golden State Warriors.
Brewer's minutes were virtually identical between the regular season and playoffs, yet his efficiency stumbled badly. He bit off more than he could chew, attempting six threes per game and hitting only 25 percent of them. He was up around 30 percent on 3.7 per game before the Warriors series.
Even worse, Brewer's overall percentage dropped from 42.5 percent to 30.9. Brewer was 2-of-19 over the last two games of the series.
This is a time of uncertainty for Brewer, as he enters free agency over the the summer. His stock was fairly high as an important role player on a very good team. Now with a disappointing postseason under his belt, teams will look twice before offering substantial compensation.
6. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
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The Los Angeles Lakers can do a lot of things to ensure Metta World Peace has played his final game in purple and gold.
World Peace is due $7.7 million next season but has an early termination option. The Lakers also hold their amnesty provision, which they could easily use on him to save money for the offseason. World Peace could also provide a trade team with a solid defensive wing on an expiring deal.
Based on the way he performed in the Lakers' postseason series against the San Antonio Spurs, it is probably time for them to pull the trigger on one of those moves.
World Peace saw time in only three games of the sweep, sitting out Game 4 with an injury. While on the floor, he was pretty poor. He averaged just six points per game on 25 percent shooting. He also missed 12-of-14 shots from beyond the arc.
Whether it was injury, age or just plain lack of talent, World Peace was unable to keep up with Kawhi Leonard in the series. He let the Spurs' young wing run all over him and the Lakers, contributing to the four-game sweep.
5. J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
J.R. Smith had set himself up for a nice payday coming down the line this offseason.
He spent the year knocking in 18.1 points per game and helping the New York Knicks to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. For his efforts, the league dubbed him the Sixth Man of the Year.
Since then, he's been in rough shape throughout the playoffs. Smith's first three games against the Boston Celtics were solid and reminiscent of the player New York had during the regular season. Then he was suspended a game for elbowing Jason Terry and hasn't had a good game since.
He's averaging just 13.8 points per game in the playoffs and shooting just 33.9 percent. From deep, he has also lost his touch, dropping to 27.9 percent and 18.8 percent in Round 2, specifically.
Even Smith's free-throw shooting has gone inexplicably cold. He's getting to the line at the same rate but missing about 10 percent more often—down to 66.7 percent from there.
Smith is becoming a liability for the Knicks. Some sort of illness hampered him in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers, so hopefully once he rids his body of that, his touch will come back.
4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
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Paul Pierce did not do himself a great service towards assuring his position with the Boston Celtics next season.
If anything, his playoff performance will make it supremely difficult for the Celtics to pay him his full $15.3 million next season. They have the opportunity to buy him out for $5 million, and after his play in the series against the New York Knicks, that could be a wise decision.
Pierce struggled all series to get his offense going and so did his team. Without Rajon Rondo in the lineup, additional responsibilities were heaped on Pierce, and he crumbled under the weight.
A lot of this will have to do with age, as Pierce turned 35 during the season. He was unable to make things happen against a young Iman Shumpert, who dominated him in one-on-one defensive situations.
Pierce shot just 36.8 percent for the series and 26.8 percent from beyond the arc. Those numbers put a severe damper on his 19.2 points per game—as does his 5.3 turnovers per game.
Pierce tallied 32 assists and 32 turnovers against New York. He was unable to keep the ball under control and hit shots when the Celtics needed them. His 4-of-18, five-turnover performance in the deciding Game 6 illustrated the series perfectly.
3. Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
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The Los Angeles Clippers were one of the best offensive teams in the league entering the postseason. Their dismissal at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies was a disappointing end, and there are a lot of players responsible.
One of those guys is sixth man Jamal Crawford. He averaged 16.5 points per game this season, shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from downtown. Those numbers helped the Clippers to a 56-26 record and the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.
Then came the playoffs. Suddenly Crawford's scoring dropped to 10.8, and the Clippers couldn't top 100 points. After averaging 101.1 points per game during the regular season, they scored in the triple digits just twice in the six-game series.
Crawford's efficiency fell off a cliff with Tony Allen and the Grizzlies' defense hounding him. He shot just 27.3 percent from outside and 38.7 percent overall.
The Clippers need Crawford providing a scoring punch off the bench. He was unable to do that in the postseason, and now they will be watching the remaining games from home.
2. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
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Joe Johnson's playoff track record took another hit in 2013, when the favored Brooklyn Nets were tossed from the postseason by the depleted Chicago Bulls in Round 1.
The Nets lost Game 7 at home by six, which is how many points their highest-paid player scored. Johnson scored six points on 2-of-14 shooting. He was a pain to watch from start to finish, hitting just 1-of-9 from three-point land as well.
For the series, Johnson was a mediocre 41.7 percent from the field but a noticeable 25.6 percent from outside. After Game 2, Johnson didn't connect on more than one three in each ensuing game.
Johnson made $19.7 million this past year, but the Nets are really just getting started with paying him. He'll see pay bumps each of the next three offseasons, culminating in a $24.9 million payday in 2015-16.
Brooklyn sincerely has to hope that it is paying for better playoff performances down the line.
1. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
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It isn't that fans were expecting much from the Milwaukee Bucks in their opening-round series against the Miami Heat. In fact, many expected a sweep. However, they were expecting a bit more fight from Brandon Jennings.
After all the bluster and talk entering the series, predicting his team would win in six games, Jennings should have shown up.
The Bucks' star point guard shot a miserable 29.8 percent from the field, compounding it with 21.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Jennings averaged seven threes per game—too many for a shooter of his caliber.
The 13.3 points per game he scored during the Miami series was a full 4.2 points less a night than he averaged during the regular season.
Jennings was hoping for a big payday this offseason, as he will turn down a $4.3 million qualifying offer from Milwaukee. After his abysmal postseason showing, those dollar signs in his eyes have to get a bit fainter.
Jennings was unable to help his teammates play better, a key component of being a postseason point guard. He actually dropped his assist average from 6.5 per game in the regular season to just four a night in the playoffs. His turnovers per game also bumped slightly to 2.8 per game.