Through about the quarter mark of the NBA season, it's tough to point to the biggest letdowns. Aside from the Eastern Conference, that is. All-Star-caliber players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul have provided the steady contributions we've come to expect. And squads like the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder have been every bit of the force fans anticipated they'd be coming into the year.
That being said, there are certainly some outfits which have underperformed based on their expectations heading into the year. Many touted the Brooklyn Nets as one of the top squads in the East. Of course, many had the Bulls there as well. But that was before the season-ending injury to Derrick Rose, which you can rest assured does have a spot on these rankings.
Read on to see where the Nets, Rose and the other biggest disappointments rank through the early portion of the NBA season.
This was supposed to be the year that Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers made the leap, and at 9-13, they have admittedly shown marked improvement from a season ago. They made solid offseason additions with the perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Jarrett Jack and reclamation project Andrew Bynum.
However, Jack’s on pace to post his worst numbers in three years, and while Bynum’s shown flashes, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever regain the form that made him a consistent force.
Coupled with that, the Cavs boast a number of talented youngsters in Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. Bennett and Zeller have been virtual non-factors, while Thompson and Waiters have provided the solid, if unspectacular, contributions fans have become accustomed to.
And that’s just it—in spite of all these options, nobody seems able to improve their efforts enough to take over second-in-command next to Irving. And until somebody shows the ability to do so, the Cavs are unlikely to do more than hover around .500.
When the 2012 Golden State Warriors won their first playoff series since 2006, many were surprised. That surprised was amplified further when they forced a tough six-game series against the Spurs in the conference semifinals.
However, entering this year, the Dubs would no longer be afforded the element of surprise. With lights-out shooting from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, a healthy Andrew Bogut and invaluable versatility from new addition Andre Iguodala, opponents knew they’d be in for a tough one when pitted against the Warriors.
Of course, having seemingly inserted themselves into the conversation as legitimate contenders, the Warriors weren’t too concerned with sneaking up on opponents coming into the year, but perhaps they should’ve been.
After starting the year 8-3 and looking like every bit of the contenders they were touted as, the Warriors have slumped to 13-11. The seemingly improved Warriors sat at 16-8 after 24 games last year.
The difference is marginal, yes, but for a team that was expected to contend in a tough Western conference, it’s not good enough. There’s certainly no need to panic yet, but now’s the time for the Warriors to start stacking wins and stake their claim as one of the better teams in the West.
After a 2012 season in which both the New York Knicks and the Nets secured playoff berths, many anticipated similar results in 2013. After all, the Knicks returned essentially the same core this year and the Nets seemingly only got better with the additions of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
However, neither squad has been up to snuff this season. In fact, through the first quarter of the season, the two have combined for a paltry 14-31 mark.
As it pertains to the Knicks, much of their underwhelming early-season performance can be attributed to the loss of Tyson Chandler. Without the former Defensive Player of the Year, the Knicks have fallen to second-to-last in rebounds per game and are relying on the likes of Andrea Bargnani and the ghost of Amar’e Stoudemire to anchor their frontcourt.
With the Nets, it’s been more than one debilitating injury that’s made the 2013 season a tumultuous one. Paul Pierce, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams have all missed significant time, and because of that, it’s been tough for the Nets’ All-Star starting five to develop chemistry.
Fortunately for both squads, they play in the weak Eastern Conference and are far from eliminated from postseason contention.
Though it’s certainly not Rose’s fault, his second season-ending injury in as many years has to rank as the biggest disappointment in the NBA this year.
After his 2011 MVP campaign, Rose looked poised to spearhead the new wave of ultra-athletic, score-first point guards along with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. However, when this season reaches it’s end, Rose will have played in just 49 of a possible 164 games over the past two years.
Now, the question is no longer how long will it take Rose to return to form, it’s whether or not he will at all. Having suffered serious injuries to each of his knees at just 25 years old, there’s a very real concern that Rose’s career will go the way of Brandon Roy.
Roy posted three consecutive All-Star campaigns between 2008 and 2010, but multiple injuries forced him into an early retirement and left fans to wonder what could’ve been. While it’s too early to predict the same fate for Rose, it is fair to question whether or not he’ll ever be the same MVP-caliber player again.