You can’t always play at your highest level in the greatest league in competitive basketball, although you must always give your best no matter how much you’re struggling physically, mentally or emotionally.
Now, after the regular season has come to an end and we’re right in the middle of the playoffs, we can take a look back at the entire year and all the players that have really come up short throughout the season, as they weren’t able to live up to the hype that surrounded them at the start of the season.
Some guys struggled with nagging injuries, other couldn’t get steady minutes due to any given reason and some just disappointed everybody with their poor play. So now, we’ll take a look at the top 10 players that need to have a bounceback season next year.
10. Aaron Gordon
Everybody expected Aaron Gordon to be Frank Vogel’s Paul George at the Orlando Magic, but he was a major bust just like the rest of his teammates with a franchise that was keen to go back to the playoffs but struggled through the entire year.
Sadly, the athletic dunker had a very disappointing year with averages of just 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 45% from the floor and a horrid 28% from downtown, failing to reach the next level in his development.
9. Joakim Noah
When you take a look at Noah’s season, you wouldn’t believe the resume the former Defensive Player of the Year and outstanding rebounder and rim protector boasts, reaching the lowest point in his successful career.
Now, even if nobody expected much from Noah or the Knicks this season, the Frenchman had a year to be forgotten, with averages of 5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 swats per game on 48% from the floor and a terrible 43.6% from the charity stripe. Besides, he only played 46 games before getting injured and then suspended for PED’s.
8. Ricky Rubio
It seems like Ricky Rubio is never going to be the dominant point guard everybody expected the former Barcelona standout to be, constantly failing to get better despite being a terrific passer and a very good backcourt defender.
Now, 5 years into his NBA career, the 26-year-old struggled once again with his shot, averaging 11.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game on 40.2% from the floor and 30% from downtown on one of the most interesting teams for many years to come.
7. Brandon Ingram
It’s pretty usual to see rookies struggle through their first season in the NBA, and you have to give this guy a break considering that he was playing behind Luol Deng for at least the first half of the season.
Still, Ingram makes our list as we expected a bit more from the small forward, but he has shown great flashes of the interesting prospect he is, although he definitely needs to improve his shot, averaging 40% from the floor and just 29% from beyond the arc.
6. Kris Dunn
Rubio’s presence has made it quite difficult for both Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn to get some big starter minutes at the point, although it has been pretty clear that the Providence product is ahead of Jones on Thibodeau’s depth chart, but he didn’t do much to earn it.
Of course, as we mentioned earlier on, growing pains are pretty much inevitable in the first couple of seasons, but Dunn’s averages of 3.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 37.7% from the field and 28% from downtown were just awful, although his defense was pretty good for most of the year.
5. Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson seemed like a lock to win the Rookie of the Year after his impressive display in his first Summer League, displaying a great game on both ends of the floor and being one of the most interesting prospects in the league.
Sadly, he hasn’t been able to replicate such success, and even if the future seems quite bright for the Arizona product, his season averages of 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in just 17.8 minutes per game (6 less than during his rookie season) were quite disappointing.
4. Alex Len
The 3rd year prospect out of Maryland hasn’t been able to demonstrate why everybody was so high on him during his time in the NCAA, either for his constant injuries or his inability to gain position underneath both glasses.
The Ukrainian center is one of the most intriguing prospects in the league at 7’1, but his season averages of 8 points and 6.6 boards with 1.3 swats and 3.1 personal fouls in 20 minutes on the floor are far behind what’s expected of him.
3. Reggie Jackson
Everybody expected Reggie Jackson to take his game to a whole new instance since taking the reins on Van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons, even sending the injured Brandon Jennings away from the team.
Nevertheless, the point guard even was benched down the stretch in favor of Ish Smith due to his inability to effectively run the Pistons offense, completely regressing since coming back from injury and demonstrating why the Oklahoma City Thunder refused to pay him big time.
2. Thon Maker
Maker makes our list because he was handed starter minutes (especially during the last passages of the season) but failed to produce good numbers on one of the most dynamic and athletic teams in the league.
Still, the prospect seems like a lock to reach stardom soon in the NBA and the playoff experience he had will definitely boost his improvement, although he’s still very rough and it will be very interesting to see how Jason Kidd handles the 19-year-old.
1. Chandler Parsons
Without any single kind of doubt, the biggest disappointment of the year was the Memphis Grizzlies newest acquisition, as the 6-year pro was expected to have a breakout season as the go-to-guy on offense but wasn’t even able to be on the floor.
Over the 34 games he was actually able to suit up, Parsons averaged horrid numbers of 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in just over 19 minutes, averaging less than 7 field goal attempts per game with 33.8% shooting and 26.9% from three point territory.