Father time always takes a toll on a player’s body and mind and there’s absolutely nothing anybody can do. Of course, there have always been top tier athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and LeBron James, who played at a top-notch level even throughout the last passages of their careers, but they’re the exception to the rule.
A lot of different factors can make a baller lose his touch: age, lack of playing time, trades or changes in the rotation can take a major toll in how they fare in the hardwood, and more often than not, players that were used to be a quite productive wind up just flat out disappearing.
Today, we’re going to talk about 5 players that were key pieces of the rotation of their respective teams not so long ago, but that are mightily struggling to get things going this campaign, hoping they can turn things around pretty soon.
5. Bismack Biyombo
After proving his worth as a standout rim protector off the bench for the Toronto Raptors, Bismack Biyombo walked away from Canada to sign a very lucrative deal with the Orlando Magic, hoping to become their defensive anchor during Frank Vogel’s tenure, and he even took Nikola Vucevic’s starting gig for some time.
Nonetheless, with Vogel constantly shaking off his rotation, Biyombo has lost a lot of ground right now, and his last year averages of 22.1 minutes per contest have gone down all the way to the 15-minute plateau, averaging 4.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. At least he can get more playing time now with Vucevic sidelined until the All-Star break.
Best season of career: 6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 assists per game (2016-17)
4. Mo Harkless
Maurice Harkless was coming off a career-best season with averages of 10 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 dimes per game with 1.1 steals in over 50% from the floor and 35% from three-point land at Rip City, but has gone real south this year in his third campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers.
This season, the defensive-minded wingman is averaging just 5.6 points and 3.1 boards while shooting a horrid 28% from beyond the arc, and he seems kind of slow and out of place in that fast pace Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum put on a nightly basis.
Best season of career: 10.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals (2016-17)
3. Patrick Patterson
Patrick Patterson has never been the most dominant or prolific big man in the NBA, but at least he’s always been a key role player off the bench quite capable of stepping up when needed, especially everytime Jonas Valanciunas was forced to be sidelined with injuries.
Nonetheless, he’s been a victim of the Oklahoma City Thunder effect, and now he’s barely touching the hardwood with all starters piling up as many minutes as they can handle. PP’s averages have come down all the way from 6.8, 4.5 and 1.2 in 24 minutes to 3.2, 1.5 and 0.4 in just 14.2 minutes a night.
Best season of career: 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists (2012-13)
2. Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson had become a major asset for the Denver Nuggets during the last couple of years, even outplaying standout prospect Emmanuel Mudiay to get a grab onto the starting point guard gig at the mountains, but that was before Jamal Murray’s late surge as a ball handler and playmaking.
With Murray taking the reins of the offense, Nelson was pretty much expendable, and the veteran has mightily struggled to find consistent playing time now on board of the New Orleans Pelicans. After averaging 9.2 points and 5.1 dimes per game the prior campaign, he’s come to average just 5.8 points and 4.2 helpers per game in just 29 appearances this season.
Best season of career: 16.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game (2008-09)
1. Arron Afflalo
Not so long ago, Arron Afflalo was one of the most productive low profile players in the Association, a below average defender that could put up 15+ points per game with a couple of big plays and the occasional dime or two, but he’s completely disappeared to the point that we even forgot he was still in the league.
The 10 year veteran had the best years of his career with the Orlando Magic, and now that he’s come back, he’s roughly averaging 13.4 minutes per game despite how injury-plagued Orlando is right now, posting mediocre averages of 2.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.5 dimes per game after averaging 11 points, 2.9 boards and 1.1 assists per game throughout his career.
Best season of career: 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists (2013-14)