February 5, 2012
This post right here goes out to all of those great NBA players stuck in below-average teams, surrounded by bad talent or sometimes bad management, losing games night-in-and-night-out, but keeping their heads up high as true professionals should. They are some of the best players in the league today, but haven't received the hype or the respect because of their poor squads. Some of them need to be released from their misery and traded away, some just need a little more help on their side to show the world what they're capable of.
These are the NBA's Lost Ones, players who all play in Sub .500 teams in the NBA (sorry Love and Rubio, T-Wolves touched 12-12 last night!):
Steve Nash: The former two-time MVP is the poster boy of this list, qualifying for all of the above categories as a 'Lost One'. Nash is still a top player in the league. He's averaging 14.7 ppg over an incredible 54.7% shooting in addition with league-leading 9.9 assists a game. Yes, two days away from his 38th birthday, Nash is STILL leading the NBA in assists. His team, however, is only 9-14 so far, and after spending the golden years of his career in Phoenix with Amar'e Stoudemire, Shaun Marion, and Joe Johnson, his best teammates are now Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley. But Nash remains a pro, and just a few days ago, broke the Suns' franchise assist record. I've always been a fan of the Suns, but this legend needs to be traded to a contender so that Phoenix can rebuild and Nash, still chasing that elusive championship, can get one last shot at the promised land.
Deron Williams: A few years ago, the 'best point guard in the NBA' argument featured Williams and Paul. Whatever the hell happened? New Jersey happened. Ever since being traded from Utah to one of the worst teams in the NBA, Williams has been in the league's lostlands. At this point last year in Utah, Williams was having the best season of his career, averaging 21.3 ppg with 9.7 apg before being traded to the Nets. He saw out a injury-plagued second-half of the season with the poor team before having a great summer vacation playing for Besiktas in Turkey, getting his jersey retired in the process. His name may not be mentioned regularly amongst the best PGs in recent months, but Williams is still getting consistent averages of 20.2 ppg and 8.7 apg. Unfortunately, the Nets are awful, holding on to a 8-17 record and have been playing mostly without their only other legit starter, Brook Lopez. Williams is in the last year of his contract: will the Nets trade him away or bring in someone else - like Dwight Howard - to keep him when they make their move to Brooklyn? Or will Williams see out this year and return rejuvenated after signing with a different team next season? Still only 27, he has many good years left under his belt: expect Deron not to be a 'Lost One' for too much longer.
Monta Ellis & Stephen Curry: The Golden State Warriors backcourt deserve a mention together. Ellis (21.5 ppg) and Curry (16.8 ppg) are on paper one of the most explosive backcourts in the NBA. So why the stacked losses? Golden State are 8-13, but their is cause for optimism in the Bay Area. This is an improving team under coach Mark Jackson, and although Ellis (25) and Curry (23) still haven't been able to carry their squad into the playoffs, they are both young and have a promising future ahead. Now only if they can stop getting injured every couple of weeks...
Kyrie Irving: Why am I putting a rookie just 21 games into his NBA career on this list? Because this rookie really deserves more shine and more victories than his current 9-13 Cavaliers. Irving is living up to the hype of being the #1 draft pick, rewarding the post-LeBronacalypse-era Cleveland with 18 and 5 early in his career. More importantly, the Cavs are winning... well relatively. This is a team that only won 23% of their games last year. Now, because of a depleted Eastern Conference, Cavs are only one and half games away from grabbing a playoff spot! And even if they don't, and this continues to be another losing season in Cleveland, few people in the city will notice because they know they have a team leader to build their future around. Hopefully he can be surrounded by some good talent over the next few years to show his complete potential.
John Wall & Tyreke Evans: I have a reason for putting these two former Kentucky guards together. Both are monsters of the stat-sheet and exciting talents to watch, both are only a few years into their career, and both of them have the same question marks hovering over them: leadership and maturity. Wall's Wizards (4-20) and Evans' Kings (8-15) are two of the biggest stinkers in the NBA. The talent in these two guards is undeniable, but neither has yet figured out how to convert that talent into team wins. Surrounded by young talent, both have a long way to go before graduating away from the 'lost ones' list (Wall's way up is much longer than Evans'), but these two are too gifted to be ignored or denied. One day, one or both are going to figure it out and become superstars in the league.
Carmelo Anthony: Wait, WHAT? you may ask me... Isn't this guy a starter in the All Star Game this year? Doesn't he play under the flashing lights of New York City, along with fellow stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Doesn't he average almost 24 points a game? Hell, isn't he one of the best offensive players in the NBA? Yes, yes, yes, yes, to all your questions. Yet, Melo embarrassingly finds himself on this list. His much-publicised trade to New York hasn't been working out too well so far for Anthony or his teammates. The Knicks are losing a lot, and despite the talent on their roster, find themselves at a lowly 9-15 and below Cleveland in the East. Without a talented point guard to run the squad and a consistent focus on team defense, the Knicks are imbalanced and Anthony's individual brilliance isn't enough to fix that. Still, a talent like him - and the talent that surrounds him - can't be kept quite for too long, can it?