Original ISH CLTHornet
Join Date: Sep 2009
Re: Insider Request
Earl Clark, Suns
He's a lottery pick, he played three seasons in college and he plays for a team with a limited bench. Yet, he still can't get on the floor. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you Earl Clark, the early leader in the race of the biggest draft bust of 2009. Clark sports a PER of 6.99 on 37.1 percent shooting in 36 appearances, and increasingly seems to be falling out of favor, playing a total of seven minutes in Phoenix's past three games.
This is a particularly sensitive topic for Suns fans since the draft has been their bugaboo in recent seasons; the Suns have sold picks that became Rudy Fernandez, Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo while keeping the likes of Alando Tucker, Robin Lopez and Clark. It's the major reason they haven't been able to keep pace with the other elite teams in the West in recent seasons.
Brandon Bass, Magic
You can point to a lot of different suspects in Orlando. Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis all have had their difficulties. But at least they play. Bass signed a four-year, $16 million deal and hasn't been able to get on the court for the Magic, even though his numbers have been pretty decent.
I don't think it's a big secret why -- his defense hasn't been nearly up to snuff on a Magic squad that prides itself on stopping opponents. Every time he gets an opportunity to prove himself he blows a defensive assignment and winds up in Stan Van Gundy's doghouse. Monday night provided a typical show: Bass played a prominent role in the Hornets' 70-point first-half dissection of Orlando and didn't play after the break. For the season, Orlando surrenders 6.7 points more per 100 possessions with him on the court. Orlando might want to throw this Bass back in the water. He seems to fare better as an undersized 5 than as a backup 4.
Brandon Rush, Pacers
It's been a bad year for Brandons apparently (excluding Mr. Jennings in Milwaukee), as an expected second-year breakout from Rush was one reason the Pacers held high hopes entering the season. He played quite well in March and April last season as a rookie, but he's regressed dramatically this season and sports a PER of just 9.54 and is shooting 41.5 percent with terrible supporting numbers. Subjectively, his soft play has left the Pacers exasperated.
Normally, playing that badly would get a player benched. However, Rush leads the team in minutes because Indiana has had so many injuries to its wing players. That, of course, only worsens the damage his disappointing season has done, and while other factors have been important (injuries to Jeff Foster and Danny Granger, T.J. Ford's perplexing tailspin and some bizarre offseason decisions in free agency), Rush's lack of output explains a big chunk of the reason the Pacers languish near the bottom of the East.
James Posey, Hornets
The worst free-agent signing of the 2008 offseason continues to lose value, as evidenced by Carter's 48 points Monday. Posey looks out of shape and unable to contend on defense with elite wing players, and his offensive output -- never a strength even in his prime -- has slumped to a meager 10.3 points per 40 minutes on 38.0 percent shooting. Two-thirds of his shots are 3-pointers but he converts only 34.1 percent, limiting his effectiveness even in his designated role as a floor-spacer. Moreover, he's just not the defensive tiger he was in Boston and Miami, and that's made playing him increasingly untenable.
Current and former Pistons not named Chauncey
Seriously, is any of these guys having a good season? Rasheed Wallace went to Boston and has been a disaster, lobbing up 3s like he's Antoine Walker and puzzling observers with his halfhearted efforts at both ends. For all of Boston's bluster about winning 70 games after Wallace's addition, he could end up being a big reason they fall short of 50.
That makes him a huge disappointment, to be sure, but is he a bigger one than Tayshaun Prince, who suddenly can't stay healthy after not missing a game for the better part of a decade … or Charlie Villanueva, who signed a $40 million free-agent deal but can't even stay on the court because of his defensive shortcomings … or Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell, both of whom are making midlevel money but providing little in return? That's to say nothing of Richard Hamilton or Carlos Delfino, neither of whom is exactly setting the world aflame. Or Darko Milicic, who is having a bad season even by his minimal standards. I hate to pile on here, so let's just call it a bad season for the entire Pistons diaspora save Billups and move on.
J.R. Smith, Nuggets
A phenomenal talent who has been a phenomenal mess this season, Smith found his name in the rumor mill after a particularly selfish stretch left him with the league's worst pure point rating among guards. For a guy who is often asked to run the pick-and-roll to initiate the offense when Chauncey Billups is out of the game, that's a truly disturbing figure.
Smith's shooting has gone south: His normally sweet 3-point stroke is down to 33.3 percent, and his normally stellar true shooting percentage is now a meager 50.7. While he tends to bounce back in the second half of seasons, he has usually heated up by now. This season, not so much: In January, he was worse than ever, shooting just 38.8 percent. The Nuggets were hoping he would be one of the catalysts to their winning the Western Conference. Thus far, he's been more of an impediment.