2015's All-NBA Disappointment Team
There is no All-NBA team for the league's crop of prominent disappointments.
So, let's make one.
We'll remain entirely objective in making our selections, following the same blueprint Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal did when constructing his "All-Improvement" roster. The team will be made up of 12 players: five starters, who represent the most disappointing talent at their position; one second-stringer for each spot; and a backup backcourt and frontcourt presence.
Total Points Added (TPA) will be our guide throughout. TPA is explained in full here, but this is the skinny: TPA measures how much better the average team is per 100 possessions with any given player on the floor. Scores north of zero represent below-average marks, while those below zero indicate suboptimal performance.
The players appearing here have experienced the largest drop in their TPA ratings between last season and now. Since we're not yet midway through the 2015-16 crusade, TPA standings have been prorated to show what they're on pace to be for the entire year.
Only those who appeared in at least 50 games last season and qualify for this year's points-per-game leaderboard are eligible to be included. (You may thank me later, Julius Randle. Same goes for you, Kyrie Irving.)
Lastly, mentally prepare yourselves to see some big-time players. That doesn't mean every name that makes the dishonorable cut should retire and never play basketball again.
In a way, appearing here is a backhanded compliment—evidence that we expect better from each of these players.
Starting Point Guard: Ty Lawson
Team: Houston Rockets
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 15.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 18.5 PER, 32.01 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 6.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.1 blocks, 9.3 PER, -210.04 TPA
TPA Change: -242.05
Statistical regression was inevitable for Ty Lawson upon being traded to Houston. His minutes and usage rate are down, and nearly one-quarter of his shot attempts are coming in spot-up situations—a surefire sign of role reduction.
Though there have been a few encouraging signs of late, Lawson's shooting slashes remain at rock bottom. He isn't driving nearly as frequently, and when he reaches the rim, he's a wild card. He's shooting under 53 percent inside three feet of the hoop; the league average is well north of 61 percent.
Lawson, to put it kindly, has been horrible. And with his value in Houston so unbelievably undefined, it's going to take a change of scenery before he can be anything else.
Starting Shooting Guard: Kyle Korver
Team: Atlanta Hawks
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, 14.8 PER, 156.09 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, 9.7 PER, -48.43 TPA
TPA Change: -204.52
Kyle Korver is slumping by his own standards. His 36.2 percent clip from downtown is a career worst, and he turned in an 0-of-10 performance from deep during Atlanta's Dec. 29 win over Houston.
Fewer of his long-range looks are uncontested at all, though. More than 40 percent of his attempts from deep were open or wide-open last season. That ratio has dipped below 37 percent in 2015-16.
Until he starts making the most of high-percentage opportunities and Atlanta finds new ways to run him off defenders, expect Korver's value to continue its free fall.
Starting Small Forward: Joe Johnson
Team: Brooklyn Nets
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 14.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks, 14.1 PER, 10.78 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 10.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.0 blocks, 8.4 PER, -147.44 TPA
TPA Change: -158.22
On the one hand, what did we expect? Joe Johnson plays for a lowly Nets team that's contending for one of the three worst records in basketball.
On the other hand, c'mon, Joe.
Johnson's usage rate has fallen, but not to the extent that his per-36-minute splits should read like a career obituary. Brooklyn plays slow enough to milk his half-court chops, and he gets plenty of touches in isolation. He's just shooting under 30 percent on those occasions.
To his credit, Johnson isn't playing with any above-average floor generals, so he's forced to create for himself most of the time. That's not ideal for a 15th-year veteran.
Overall, though, Johnson is, much like the Nets, not playing up to snuff.
Starting Power Forward: Zach Randolph
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.2 blocks, 19.5 PER, 66.24 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, 17.1 PER, -79.11 TPA
TPA Change: -145.35
Explaining Zach Randolph's disappointing 2015-16 campaign is simple: Memphis isn't built for him to succeed.
Randolph isn't quick enough to defend today's power forwards, either. His bruising face-up game can get him by at center, but not without a primary driver to keep defenses honest—a luxury Memphis' second unit is not afforded.
Thus, the dilemma.
Inserting Randolph back into the starting lineup—as head coach Dave Joerger recently did—doesn't solve anything. Randolph is older, with a dated offensive repertoire. And the Grizzlies don't have the surrounding versatility to accommodate him.
Starting Center: Tyson Chandler
Team: Phoenix Suns
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 10.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, 20.1 PER, 190.43 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 5.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.7 blocks, 12.1 PER, -62.59 TPA
TPA Change: -253.02
We should have seen Tyson Chandler's stark decline coming.
A hamstring injury that cost him eight games hasn't helped, and his rebounding percentages are hovering right around his career averages. But Phoenix is simultaneously not very good and plays too darn fast.
Chandler cannot run with top-three pace and have a positive impact on defense. He is a net minus on both ends of the floor, and Phoenix has officially relegated him to backup duty behind 22-year-old Alex Len.
It doesn't help that the perimeter-oriented Suns fail to feature Chandler's pick-and-roll savvy enough. They barely rank in the top half of roll-man usage, which, by default, limits Chandler's offensive ceiling—as well as any chance he has of turning things around.
Backup Point Guard: Chris Paul
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 10.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, 26.0 PER 422.78 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 23.9 PER, 219.35 TPA
TPA Change: -203.43
Paul's performance simply isn't up to its usual degree of astounding.
Opponents are shooting 54.8 percent from two-point range when being defended by Paul, up from 46.1 percent last season. He's also a defensive minus for the first time since 2012-13 and on pace to post the worst defensive box plus/minus of his career.
To top it all off, Paul is working harder offensively for fewer returns. His assist and usage rates are up, but his effective field-goal percentage—the measure of two- and three-point efficiency—is the lowest it's been since 2006-07.
Backup Shooting Guard: Danny Green
Team: San Antonio Spurs
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks, 16.5 PER, 225.9 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 7.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.6 blocks, 8.5 PER, 25.05 TPA
TPA Change: -200.85
Offensively, as Pounding the Rock's John Carr wrote, he's lost:
The man affectionately known as Icy Hot cannot find his rhythm. At this point, I'm not even sure he can find Pero Antic's rhythm. Green is currently mired in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, a slump of such biblical proportions that only one stat can even begin to describe how bad it has been.
That stat has changed—for the worse.
Of every player to attempt 145 treys, only one is shooting worse than Green.
Backcourt Backup: Derrick Rose
Team: Chicago Bulls
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, 15.9 PER, -35.49 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 10.6 PER, -206.47 TPA
TPA Change: -170.98
Derrick Rose's gradual demise is reaching new levels of alarming.
Not only is he still incapable of shooting even 30 percent from beyond the arc, but his drives are no longer the offensive boons they once were. His per-36-minute free-throw rate is at an all-time low, and he's shooting a sorry 44.4 percent from the restricted area.
Consider that the league average from within the semicircle is 59.3 percent—nearly 15 points higher.
Backup Small Forward: Chandler Parsons
Team: Dallas Mavericks
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks, 16.3 PER, 108.4 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 9.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 11.6 PER, -47.9 TPA
TPA Change: -156.3
Chandler Parsons' TPA was always going to suffer this season. The Mavericks have monitored his minutes as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery, and Dallas is, on paper, inferior to last year's unit.
But Parsons is proving to be a liability. His effective field-goal rate is approaching career-low unsightliness, and he's faring worse than Festus Ezeli at the charity stripe.
The Mavericks' starting lineup, in turn, looks much better with Raymond Felton subbed in for Parsons:
|Mavs' Starting Five...||Off. Rtg. (Rank)||Def. Rtg.||Net. Rtg.|
|With Felton||114.5 (1)||99 (7)||15.5 (1)|
|With Parsons||97.2 (29)||104 (20)||-6.8 (28)|
Raymond. Freaking. Felton.
Leading into this season, those who argued that Parsons was living up to his massive contract were hard-pressed for sensible justification. Now, with the caveat that arthroscopic surgery is no joke, they don't even have a flimsy leg on which to stand.
Backup Power Forward: Paul Pierce
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 15.2 PER, 56.04 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 5.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, 7.6 PER, -86.69 TPA
TPA Change: -142.73
Paul Pierce didn't sign with the Clippers to be a star.
He wasn't supposed to be an on-court detriment, either.
Head coach Doc Rivers has substantially cut Pierce's minutes, and he might want to keep going. The Clippers get outscored by 5.8 points per 100 possessions with Pierce in the lineup but are a plus-7.3 when he rides pine—a 13.1-point swing that's the difference between ranking 26th and fourth in net rating.
Optimists beware: This is no fluke. Pierce is shooting under 35 percent overall and worse than 30 percent from deep, and the Clippers have played more than twice as many minutes without him as they have with him.
This looks like Pierce's new normal, and it isn't pretty.
Backup Center: Anthony Davis
Team: New Orleans Pelicans
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.9 blocks, 30.8 PER, 336.6 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 23.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.7 blocks, 24.4 PER, 91.52 TPA
TPA Change: -245.08
Anthony Davis is still great. He ranks in the top eight of PER and is clearing 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for a third consecutive season.
Still, Davis' PER has plummeted by 6.4 points. Yes, he's trying to follow up a top-12 PER of all time and yada, yada, yada. But LeBron James' PER has never dropped by more than 3.8 points between seasons.
That Davis' efficiency has suffered so much as he shoots more threes and headlines a badly built Pelicans team isn't a harbinger of doom.
Relative to the bar he set for himself, it's just disappointing.
Frontcourt Backup: Marc Gasol
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
2014-15 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.6 blocks, 21.7 PER, 247.2 TPA
2015-16 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 18.2 PER, 83.28 TPA
TPA Change: -163.92
Zach Lowe of ESPN.com recently asked Marc Gasol about how his defense this season stacks up against peak Marc Gasol defense.
"I don't know," he responded. "I don't know."
Gasol is a defensive plus for a tottering Grizzlies squadron, but just barely. Last season, he was actually a net minus. Though he ranks among the best rim protectors, Gasol hasn't noticeably impacted Memphis' defense since 2012-13, when he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Equally, if not more troubling, he has struggled to keep his frontcourt partnership with Randolph intact. Gasol's per-game numbers are fine, but his individual net rating is better without Randolph, and the duo is producing like an offensive pushover when playing together.
Frontcourt (dis)honorable mentions: Kobe Bryant (minus-155.56 TPA change), Trevor Ariza (minus-150.82), Marco Belinelli (minus-142.13), Markieff Morris (minus-140.62), DeMarcus Cousins (minus-134.66)
Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @danfavale.