Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Which player has let you down like none other this year, expectations-wise? No fair picking someone who’s hurt.
David Aldridge: Nobody’s “let me down–”; it’s not like I loaned somebody $20 and they haven’t paid it back. I would say I’m surprised that Steve Blake didn’t play better for the Lakers this season. I know it takes a couple of years to really learn the triangle, but I thought he’d pick it up quicker than he has and not have to be coaxed to shoot. I suspect he’ll play a lot better in L.A. next year.
Steve Aschburner: Seeing as how I picked Indiana center Roy Hibbert to be the NBA’s Most Improved Player and Hibbert, in many ways, has actually regressed, he’s my pick again for all the wrong reasons. Hibbert did not boost his game in significant ways — his shooting percentage is way down, his scoring and assists are off on a per-minute basis and his rebounds have ticked up only a little. The Pacers’ pivot man did not take responsibility as a leader on or off the floor, and his inconsistent, largely lost season was a major factor in coach Jim O’Brien’s firing. He did get in a great shape and worked hard last summer, but a couple of days working with (and hearing about John Wooden’s pyramid of success from) Bill Walton didn’t have much carry-over.
Fran Blinebury: Though he’s played better lately, Hedo Turkoglu has the distinction of under-performing for two different teams this season. He never was a fit in Phoenix and overall hasn’t been the same Hedo who was a key factor in Orlando’s run to the Finals in 2009.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Aaron Brooks, in a close call over Hedo Turkoglu. Hedo was in a perfect situation in Phoenix, where his offensive versatility could have flourished and his defensive shortcomings would have been overlooked, and he still played his way out of town. But Brooks, though never expected to be a star, went from Most Improved Player last season to being dumped by the Rockets. By coincidence, he landed with the Suns. Wherever the destination, Brooks had a dramatic comedown.
Shaun Powell: Gilbert Arenas. Here’s a guy who had every reason to come back strong from Gun Gate, who had every incentive to restore faith in the fans and his employer, and yet he’s in a fog. His shooting, defense, passing — all lame compared to two and three years ago, when he was fun to watch. If this keeps up, he’ll rank among the most overpaid players in history. Dishonorable mention to Baron Davis for reporting to camp heavy and forcing the Clips to sacrifice a lottery pick just to dump him to the Cavs.
John Schuhmann: I’m going to say that having arthritis doesn’t count as being injured. Either way, Gilbert Arenas has been a huge disappointment. His knee issue may have sapped his quickness, but there’s no excuse for him shooting 36 percent, especially when he’s got Dwight Howard in the paint to help him get open looks. When I ran the numbers through StatsCube for the Most Improved Award last week, Arenas was on the opposite end of every list. If the Magic could get some consistent and somewhat efficient offensive production out of him, they’d be a much more dangerous team in the playoffs.
Sekou Smith: I hate to pick on a player (and his team), especially a guy as hard working and drama-free as this guy, I have to go with John Salmons and the Bucks. After watching them in the playoffs last season, they looked like a team that could challenge Chicago for the top spot in the Central Division with Salmons, Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut. That was in July. Fast forward to now and it’s clear that the performance Salmons gave (averaging 20 points in 30 regular season games to help the Bucks make the playoffs after they lost Bogut for the end of the regular season and postseason to injury) was a mirage. Salmons hasn’t looked anything like the big shot artist I saw late last season and during the playoffs. He’s been solid, albeit in a somewhat diminished role, but has not been anything close to what I expected and the Bucks are headed to the lottery.