NBA Players Not Living Up to Expectations

AP Photo/Steve Dykes

Just about 15 games into the NBA season, we have seen a handful of players who have not lived up to their expectations. We’re at a point in the season where this isn’t just a normal cold streak, but it also doesn’t mean these players’ seasons are over by any means. We have seen players have cold starts and pick it up later in the season, we have also seen players who drop of seemingly overnight.

Lets jump in!

Damian Lillard

Dame has been one of the absolute best point guards in the NBA for the past 5 or so years. An elite three point shooter and just one of the most exciting players in the league. In the 2015-16 season, Lillard averaged 25 points a game, he has yet to fall below that mark since. This season, he is at 20.4 ppg, a significant drop off from 30 and 28 ppg the past two seasons.

Lillard’s biggest concern right now is his shooting percentages. He is known as one of the best three point shooters in the NBA, but now this season he is shooting a career low 28% from beyond the arc, and also just 38% from the field. For comparison, Giannis Antetokounmpo is shooting a higher percentage from three point range. Dame is a career 37% shooter from three point range, and 43% from the field. He just does not look like himself this year.

The Trailblazers sit at .500 on the season right now, obviously if they want to make the playoffs and make any sort of a run, they need Lillard to be back to himself. The expectations for Lillard have consistently been to lead his team to the postseason, we’ll see if he can do this following a slow start.

Christian Wood

Christian Wood was setting the league on fire last season before he got injured. He averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds in his first NBA season with real minutes. He played about 10 minutes more per game than any season prior to last. He shot 51% from the field, and also 37% from three, on 5 attempts a game. Wood looked like he was ready to be an all star in the NBA. He has come back to earth this season.

Wood is averaging just 16 points per game now. He has upped his rebounding numbers to 11 per game, but all his offensive numbers have gone down. The Rockets have won just 1 single game this season. Wood is the leading scorer at 16 ppg. If he wants to be the number 1 guy on this Houston team he needs to step his game back up and get to the level he was on last season. No teams number one scorer should be scoring less than 20ppg.

RJ Barrett

The Knicks drafted Barrett with the 3rd pick in the 2019 draft. Teams expectations for their top draft picks is to improve in their first few years. Barrett has not done that yet. He brought his scoring up to 17 ppg last season, he is back down to 15 this season. His field goal and three point percentages have dropped this season. His three point shot has gone from 40% last season, to just 31% this season. He is also taking almost two more three point shots per game this year.

His inefficiency is holding him back. That generally happens with more attempts, but not to this extent. The Knicks added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in the offseason, that may have Barrett looking to force his shot more often than trying to find the best shot. He was looking to be the go to guy in New York, then Julius Randle showed up, and now two other guys potentially holding back his progression.

Domantas Sabonis

Similar to Christian Wood, Sabonis looked like an elite center last season. He averaged 20/12/6 on solid shooting numbers. This season he is down in every one of those numbers, he’s at 18/11/3. It is not a huge decrease, but as a 25 year old who was an all star the past two seasons, the expectations are to continue to improve. Sabonis had 8 triple doubles last season, and was really looking like an all around offensive force.

Sabonis prior to this season has improved his scoring every year. The rebounding is nothing to worry about with Sabonis, but the scoring and passing need to pick up. The Pacers are struggling this season, so we may see some roster changes that could help both him and the team succeed.

Again, were not even halfway through the season, all of these players could turn their seasons around still. But through 15 games, these players have just not lived up to the hype.

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