An alarming rate of NBA stars has regressed noticeably this season. Some are surprising and some are not, having shown signs of slowing down the past couple years. Easier translation: They’re getting old.
Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, among others, are some that are evidently losing their battle against Father Time. In the case of Parker and Williams, injuries are the main culprit, while Garnett, Dirk and Pierce, they are freaking fossils.
Parker’s decline has been predicted in every NBA summer column since practically forever, and it has only been realized now. The guard from France, though, has been doing better the past week, averaging 21.5 points, 5 assists and two steals. Health has a lot to do with it but it’s getting more and more unlikely that Parker will flash his old form day in and day out.
Like Parker, Williams, once considered one of the top two point guards in the game, has played much more meaningful minutes as of late but the shooting problems still linger. Even though the former Illinois product play an average of 35 minutes the past seven days, he is shooting at a ghastly 29.5 % clip.
Parker, Williams, and a couple of the aforementioned old guys’ decline can be seen from afar but some of their peers’ free-fall is not as predictable. If you’re thinking about Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo, you hit it right in the button.
As recently as a season ago, I have read some columnists wondering whether the ear-blowing Stephenson will one day make Paul George expendable. My, how times have changed. Not only is Stephenson coming off the bench in a Bobcats squad that are legit playoff hopefuls, Michael Jordan and Co. reportedly wanted the former Cincinnati Bearcat out of Charlotte last trade deadline.
Though a transaction never materialized, we all know Stephenson has done nothing to eliminate the talk about his cancer of an attitude.
Rondo’s problem is slightly similar to the Stephenson dilemma in Charlotte but at least Rondo had the resume to show. Nevertheless, the feisty guard’s deterioration is surprising, saying he’s being a shell of his former self is an understatement.
(Here is Rondo’s stats with Boston and Dallas, per Basketball Reference.)
Rondo may be averaging less points in Boston but made up for it by dishing five assists, half a steal, and almost three more rebounds. Plus, the best of it all, he didn’t engage his former coach in a shouting match!
Clearly, it’s a personality conflict with the mercurial and often gritty Rondo with the more laid-back approach of the Mavericks. The 6-foot-1 Rondo flourished in a Boston offense (under Doc Rivers) that allowed him to handle the ball more and not play alongside another volume Usage guy like Monta Ellis.
With the Celtic green, Rondo patiently surveys the floor, penetrate, and more often than not he’ll finish or kick to either Ray Allen or Paul Pierce. Both Allen and Pierce’s knack of making shots at the right time hides Rondo’s inability to make one and the fact that he’s now 29 and an ACL tear victim only highlights the problem. If only he did try to correct those shooting mechanics, he may still be worth a max contract by now.
A 30 percent free throw shooter? Hide the women and the children, please.
NBA Fantasy Forecaster Week 20: Some things worth monitoring
Dennis Schroder’s playing time
Being educated at the Gregg Popovich school of thought, coach Mike Budenholzer is copying his mentor’s maddening method of resting key players in the homestretch. The Hawks is the first (and tied the fastest) team to clinch an NBA playoff spot and Bud “celebrated” the occasion by having Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver take the night off versus Philly.
That meant more minutes and touches to Al Horford, Mike Scott, and Kent Bazemore, but if Saturday is any indication, Schroder is the one that benefited the most. He posted 16 points, a couple of rebounds, and six assists and if Bud decides to let Jeff Teague watch at home, the German-born Schroder can post numbers similar to his All-Star teammate.
The Hawks play a rather easy schedule next week with Sacramento, Denver and the Lakers.
The Swingmen Rotation in Chicago
Shooting guard extraordinaire Jimmy Butler (and Derrick Rose) went down leaving a big hole and quite a huge responsibility for Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, and the others. Dunleavy is the consistent one so far and Snell hasn’t made Tom Thibodeau feel good about himself for leaving him for 30 minutes on some nights. However, Snell has shown the ability to get hot and when he’s riding a streak, the second-year swingman provides solid scoring and three-point shooting.
It’s all a big IF at this point, though.
The Clippers are so banged up right now that J.J. Redick topped at least 41 minutes (47 vs Portland) in three of the last four games. However, for Redick’s owners, that’s pure fantasy gold!
The former Duke Blue Devil is available in almost half of all leagues and if you’re short on three’s, expect Redick to give that category a HUGE boost. He has hit 15 treys in the last 5 games and will continue to make them if given big minutes.