The NBA's Biggest Busts So Far This Season
We were all expecting so much more, only to be disappointed by these NBA busts.
It happens every year, fans go into a season expecting so much out of a particular player or group, only to find out that their chosen object of affection is actually a mirage.
Whether it be injury, playing time or simple incompetence, these gentlemen have not lived up to expectations this season.
Luckily, the NBA has been pretty solid overall, but these names do still exist.
Regular Whipping Boys
There are a few people who it just doesn't seem nice to criticize any more. We've all been laying on them pretty hard for quite a while and have simply come to expect very little out of them. They are the regular whipping boys.
It doesn't seem fair to expect so much from Amar'e Stoudemire any more. He is clearly permanently injured in some ways. However, that contract and shadow of what he once was scream for more production. Unfortunately, those great days are gone forever and Stoudemire will long be considered on of the bigger busts of this generation.
At the time, Kendrick Perkins deserved the contract he got. Teams were placing a premium on tough, defensive bigs, and Perkins would be called upon by the Oklahoma City Thunder to play against the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and other teams with big offensive frontcourts.
Unfortunately, his game didn't age well. Perkins has added nothing to his skill set over a decade in the NBA. Now he is way overpaid and the poster boy of guys who should have been amnestied.
While they may not be the NBA's biggest busts, there is a group of players out there who are on the fence right now. They need to improve quickly to ensure they don't wind up on this list in another month.
It is year three for Ricky Rubio in the NBA and his shot has just not come along. Similarly troubled with the art of shooting, Rajon Rondo was shooting over 50 percent in his third NBA season. Rubio is shooting at a 35.2 percent clip right now and isn't hitting shots or finishing at the rim.
Kevin Love has had to kill himself to get the Minnesota Timberwolves to .500, but he needs help. Rubio desperately needs to improve his scoring ability.
With Kobe Bryant out to start the season, this could have been a year where Pau Gasol reasserted himself as a dominant offensive big. Instead, he has just been average.
His 43.9 percent field-goal clip is the worst of his career, and overall things have just been bland. Bryant is out again now, so Gasol has a second chance to prove time isn't yet passing him by.
It is unclear what it was that knocked J.R. Smith off his game. Perhaps he stared too long at the Sixth Man of the Year award he won last season. Maybe it was simply the comfort level of a three-year, $18 million contract.
Either way, Smith has fallen off a production cliff after 2012-13's breakout year. He averaged 18.1 points per game last season and was instrumental in the New York Knicks having a successful year.
Fast forward to late 2013 and Smith is a massive liability for New York to have on the floor. He is scoring 11 points per game on 11.7 field-goal attempts, a 33.3 percent clip. On 6.4 threes per game, he is shooting 33.6 percent.
This isn't just a simple cold streak, Smith isn't playing the game properly anymore. He got to the line 3.9 times per game last season, evidence that he was active with penetration, even with isolation plays. This year, that number is down to 1.6 freebies a game. Even on those he is shooting just 64.5 percent.
Smith's relationship with his coach seems to be deteriorating as well. According to a source of Frank Isola's, the two got into a verbal fight recently.
All trade rumors and speculation aside, Omer Asik has been a sizable bust this season.
There were always question marks on how he would fare with Dwight Howard soaking up a ton of frontcourt minutes for the Houston Rockets, but Asik was still a talented player with an opportunity.
Whether it was mostly an injury or mostly him pouting, we may never know, but Asik quit on Houston after he couldn't get much going in his shrunken role.
Asik averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game last season, earning every second of his 30 minutes a night. Enter Howard, and Asik was playing just 18.3 minutes, usually in a very crowded paint.
The deck was somewhat stacked against him, but there was an opportunity for Asik to handle the situation better. Instead, he has become one of the NBA's biggest busts so far this season. That may change with an upcoming change of scenery, but according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Asik will be staying put for the time being.
"This gives [Houston] a chance to buy some more time," Wojnarowski's source informed Yahoo!.
The Jason Kidd saga has quieted down recently, with the Brooklyn Nets finally getting healthy and winning four of their last six games.
However, as far as busts go this early in the season, Kidd's Nets have to be a major one. With no coaching experience at all, the former star point guard was handed the keys to a roster worth over $102 million and either lost them or forgot how to drive a stick.
The Nets are 9-16 and went through quite an ordeal with top assistant coach Lawrence Frank. In early December, Frank was reassigned to a role that took him off the team's bench during games and out of practices. The move was a demotion for perhaps the best coaching mind on Brooklyn's payroll.
Kidd's inexperience may have shown through in his move to silence Frank during games. According to an NBA.com source reported by David Aldridge, Kidd yelled at his assistant coach once, "Sit the (bleep) down! I'm the coach of this (13-letter word) team! When you're on the bench, don't (bleeping) move!"
The Nets were supposed to be Eastern Conference contenders this season. But, 25 games into the season and they are still searching for win No. 10.
I don't want to spend too much time criticizing a 20-year-old kid who has just 20 NBA games under his belt, but Anthony Bennett has been a complete bust thus far as the No. 1 pick.
Again, it isn't his fault he was chosen No. 1 and makes $5.32 million this year, the fifth-highest salary on the Cleveland Cavaliers, but those things do come into account when you are a professional who is failing at your job.
Bennett is averaging 2.2 points and two rebounds in just 10 minutes per game right now. Obviously the production is low because of the minutes he's getting, but there are reasons for that playing time restriction. Bennett is shooting just 27.7 percent from the field and looks lost and out of shape on the floor.
For a No. 1 overall pick to come in and contribute nothing to his team is a bit alarming, and the bust word must at least be introduced.
This is only counting his progression so far, though, and could very easily change later in the season. Bennett will hopefully continue to get opportunities to improve and eventually work that bust label away. The young man is definitely trying, as he told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
I just have to get back to the player I was in college. I was playing with a smile on my face. It was fun, carefree, running up and down a lot. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I can try to get back to.
Otto Porter Jr.
Like his fellow rookie Anthony Bennett, it is tough to be hard on Otto Porter Jr. at this time.
The 20-year-old has played just five NBA games and is working himself back from an injury. Unfortunately, when you are chosen third overall in the NBA draft, things like salary come into play, and Porter is making $4.28 million this year.
So far, Porter is just 2-of-11 from the field, averaging 10.2 minutes per game. However, the DNPs are racking up and he is looking more and more like a high lottery pick bust. There is still plenty of time for him to work his way back to being worthy of the draft spot, but for now, things don't look good.
When those drafted long after you were taken off the board are wildly outplaying you at the NBA level in year one, it is hard not to be considered a bust.
“It is tough to come out of nowhere and be aggressive," Porter told Michael Lee of the Washington Post. "But it’s going to build the more games I continue to play. It’s about getting the flow back and once you get that back, your teammates automatically start looking for you."
The Milwaukee Bucks Roster
The 5-20 Milwaukee Bucks have been particularly difficult to watch this season and have a few roster names worthy of the bust label so far.
O.J. Mayo got what he wanted in some ways. He is the obvious first offensive option on a team that features him at the top of its payroll.
Unfortunately, the new $8 million dollar man hasn't lived up to his end of the bargain. Mayo is averaging just 13.9 points per game on 39.9 percent shooting. Coming off a very productive and efficient year with the Dallas Mavericks, more was expected out of Mayo this season.
There is so much going on in the Larry Sanders bust camp right now, I am not sure where to even start. After inking a contract extension that will pay him $11 million a year starting in 2014-15, Sanders has been in trouble with the law twice and tore a ligament in his thumb during a bar fight after playing in three games.
Luckily, Sanders does appear close to returning, according to his head coach.
"He has been working out twice a day," Larry Drew told Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He gets in here before we get started and then he comes back in the evenings."
While Sanders isn't yet being paid big bucks, Ersan Ilyasova's contract has kicked in. The power forward is making $7.9 million this year. Injuries have played some role in his disappointing season, but Ilyasova has been a bust on his own. He is averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 38.3 percent from the field.
Four years and $44 million is the deal Tyreke Evans signed when being dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans this summer.
The problem is, 44 is higher than his shooting percentage, which has fallen to 40.4 on the year. This is Evans' fifth year in the NBA and it looks as though his consistent trend of producing less every year will continue. He is averaging just 11.6 points per game, a career low.
After four-plus years of NBA basketball, one has to add something to their game or improve in some area. Yet, for whatever reason, Evans has done neither and actually appears to be going the opposite way.
There has been an adjustment period to being in a new place, with new teammates and a new role coming off the bench. So there is still the chance that he turns his season around and becomes a valuable piece. He did just submit a triple-double, though he shot 2-of-10 in the process.
Evans is a passionate player and gives a lot while on the floor. It is shame if this new location doesn't work out for him. Getting 100 percent healthy will definitely help if he is to work off the bust label.
"I think I just rushed it back the first time a little bit,’’ Evans told John Reid of NOLA.com about his recent injury. "I just want to play. I want to help my team win. That’s the type of player I am.’’