One Money Reason Why the NBA Is Tough To Take Seriously

William KunkelCorrespondent INovember 12, 2008

This NBA offseason, there were 10 players that signed contracts that were worth more than $55 million!  These ten players were Monta Ellis, Gilbert Arenas, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Emeka Okafor, Baron Davis, Andrew Bogut (not lying), and Andris Biedrins. 

All of these players I just mentioned had career years last year, and if not close to it.  Not a coincidence.  It was their contract year! Must have been time to take the game seriously and play hard.  But now, they have their money, and well—they are not producing.

Of course, there are always exceptions and injuries.

Ellis, Arenas, and Smith are all injured.  I would never accuse an athlete of faking an injury—outside of Manny Ramirez.  However, teams invested a very significant amount of their payroll into these players and expect them to be on the floor contributing to the team.  What they do when they return to game action obviously remains to be seen.

Now, as for Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Emeka Okafor, Baron Davis, and yes, Andrew Bogut?  They have all had a significant decrease in statistics.

Andre Iguodala

Andre is averaging a sad 11.5 ppg—a decline of more than eight points from last year.  Not to mention, he is shooting an embarrassing 39 percent from the floor.  While Iguodala is considered to be a poor shooter, I do think that he is good enough to turn it around—if he wants.

Elton Brand

Brand is in a new system which will cut him some slack, but still playing the same game and is a big man.  Elton is averaging less points, blocks and assists, but more rebounds.

Oh yeah, and turnovers. 

There is certainly the argument that it will take time for Brand and Iguodala to gel, but any more of this and the Sixers will remain one of the worst teams in the NBA (2-5).

Luol Deng

Deng is now averaging three fewer points per game than last year, despite playing more minutes. Even though he is not a huge assist guy as it is, he is also down more than an assist per game.  Deng's shooting percentage has also decreased by more than eight percent.  Certainly not a huge drop off, but you don't pay more money for any less production.

Emeka Okafor

Okafor is off to just a terrible start.  He is averaging less points, blocks, assists, and rebounds, while playing more minutes.  Okafor is shooting a touch better, however—but nobody is expecting a bad field-goal percentage when only scoring ten points a game, and you don't leave the paint!

What is more disturbing is that fact that the league average in points is 9.3 ppg. I am pretty sure that a six-yearm, $72 million contract is not the league average.  Time for you to pick it up, Emeka.

Baron Davis

Baron is in a similar situation as Elton Brand—different team and system. However, Baron Davis is the focal point of the team. 

Davis is shooting at the same rate as Luol Deng (39 pecent), and he is considered to be a score first point guard.  His points, steals, assists, and rebounds are all down.  So is his free throw percentage, all the way down to 62 percent. 

No matter what team you play on, it's still the charity stripe.  He is only shooting three percent better from the line than Shaq! 

The past two games Davis has had a combined 55 points—a good sign for the Clippers, who will only go as far as Baron Davis takes them.

Andrew Bogut

Okay.  First I need to say, WOW.  This kid got a five-year, $60 million contract?  Yes, I understand a good center is hard to come by these days, and that Bogut is only 24 years old—but that is no excuse for a team to drastically overpay for one. 

Bogut is not even averaging a double-double.  He averages a measly ten points a game—and, even more astounding, only nine rebounds.  As for a comparison to last year? with no surprise, his points, blocks, assists, rebounds and free-throw percentage are all down. 

Want to know his FT%? Well, it is an outstanding 41 percent (rounded up).  Shaq blows him out of the water! Last year, while not impressive, Bogut shot 59 percent from the stripe.

The Exception

Andris Biedrins

Biedrins has capitalized on his new contract—big time.  He is averaging a superior double-double with 17 ppg and 14 rpg, not to mention two blocks a game.  Biedrins' points have increased from 11 ppg from the '07-08 season.  He has also improved noticeably in blocks, assists and rebounds.

All in all, when a player gets paid more than $55 million they are expected to produce, produce big, and produce for 82 games.  It is simply tough to take these players for real when they play their heart out during a contract year and then crash and burn the following season. 

Having said that, I understand the NBA season is young, very young.  What these players will end up doing this season remains to be seen—but so far, not so good.

On a side note, I despise the Celtics and when they won I was none too happy.  Having said that, despite KG yelling "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE" ( weird and creepy).  It was certainly a breathe of fresh air to see so many players GENUINELY happy to win an NBA championship.  I even thought it was great when Paul Pierce cried this year when receiving his ring.