At the half way point of the season, we have learned a lot about the NBA. Going into the season, there were a lot of expectations that came with this season (and rightfully so). From the Rajon Rondo fiasco to the Brooklyn Nets, Here are my top five disappointments of the first have of the season.
5. Devin Booker’s wide-open 3 point percentage
Booker is a bright spot of the somewhat dark season for the Suns this year. He is one of the best pure shooters the NBA has to offer and his work ethic alone has made him a future star. However, along with the entire Suns team, Booker has not had the season many thought he would.
Look no further than Booker’s wide open three point percentage.
Last season, Booker was one of the best in these situations among guards in the NBA (50 precent on wide open threes last season). Opposing teams would pay dearly for leaving him open, which also helped the Suns offense mightily last season.
This year, that percentage has dipped to 41 percent. This allows teams to not only forget about Booker on some nights, but to leave him open when they are trying to slow down fellow guard Eric Bledsoe.
If Booker gets that percentage higher, He, along with Phoenix, will begin to rise.
4. Paul George’s Inefficiency
Here is a question nobody thought we would be asking before the season started: ” Is Paul George a top 10 player in the league anymore?”
It might not be that extreme, but this is not the George we thought we were going to see this year. Coming off a devastating leg injury, Paul not only came back to play all 81 games last season, but he was even better than he was before the injury. He led his team all the way to the playoffs, where they lost a tough seven game series to Toronto.
People felt that George would take another leap forward this season after what we saw last season. Many (including myself) thought that George was the second best player in the East and would shorten the gap between him and LeBron James.
Not only has this season been a struggle for the Pacers (which I predicted in my season preview), but it has been larger struggle for them to get their superstar going. George is currently averaging 22 ppg while shooting 38 percent from three. While those numbers are good, His rebounding, assists, steals, and blocks are all down from last year.
Even more concerning has been George’s defense, which has been nothing short of “lack luster” so far this season. George is known for being one of the best lockdown defenders in all the NBA, just not this year. Opponents are scoring 48 precent of the time George is guarding them (up from 31 precent last season).
If Indiana want’s to have a strong second half and ultimately go deep in the post season, it will start with getting the real Paul George back.
3. The 2016 Draft Class
Name the best player in the 2016 draft so far? Take your time, I can wait.
Ben Simmons has not played yet due to a foot injury, but you’d have to go down to the eleventh pick to find a player that has played enough to qualify for said question(Domantas Sabonis).
Brandon Ingram (the second overall pick) has struggled more than excepted on both ends of the floor. Jaylen Brown has not only struggled with injury, but his shooting stroke has not been found. Dragon Bender has done close to nothing this year. Kris Dunn (who many felt would win the rookie of the year) has been all defense, not offense. Buddy Heild (who was the most NBA-ready with his shooting prowess) has been close to terrible offensively and Jamal Murray has shown flashes a times.
It has not come easy for this years draft class. Not easy at all.
2. The Portland TrailBlazers
When you make it to the Conference Semi-Finals a season ago, keep your whole team in tack, spend a small fortune on two players and retain your head coach, you are not supposed to be as bad as Portland has been this year.
Put aside the play of C.J McCollum, nothing has gone right for Portland. From being one of the worst defensive teams in the league, to key players not panning out, the TrailBlazers have a lot of questions that need answers.
Is Damian Lillard a top guard in the NBA? Yes, but the Lillard-McCollum tandem have become a problem on the defensive side of the floor. Offensively, both are great players. Defensively, they are both far from that and because of this, they have hurt Portland more than helped.
Now we get to Even Turner. Before the season started, Turner was viewed as the missing link that could put Portland over the top (as seen by the 70 million dollar contract). Now at the half way point of the season, it is safe to say Turner has not worked out. In fact, Portland is better with him off the floor than when he is on.
Portland is not a good team, and they have a lot of leaks to patch before they can get stable again, or go down sinking.
There is no question that Minnesota has the brightest future behind their young core of KAT, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine. However, there are questions as to why the Timberwolves are so bad on defense.
After bringing in the defensive minded Tom Thibodeau, it was thought that Minnesota was gonna take that leap forward (if not on the offensive end at least on the defensive end of the floor). However, what we got was the same old Timberwolves. They would play great for three quarters, then collapse in the fourth to ultimately lose the game.
Minnesota has been close to unwatchable on defense this year even with Tom Thibodeau in charge of the team. They have been so bad, Thibodeau is even willing to break up their core for a vet or a solid defender according to a few reports.
Even with KAT defending the paint, the Timberwolves defense has been the biggest head scratcher of the first half of the season.
There is still another half season left of basketball to be played, these have been the biggest disappointments in the first half.