The Worst Starts of the 2017-18 NBA Season
With the beginning of each NBA season, there are unpredictable starts and unpredictable performances. Some teams come out the gate really well, while some struggle early on. The same goes with players, particularly those who are on a new team. Players that many experts have predicted to do well are struggling so far, while teams that are destined to be in the playoffs are unable to find cohesiveness within their team. As the NBA heads into its fourth week, we will take a look at players and teams that are having the worst starts to the 2017-18 season. All NBA stats derives from Basketballreference.com.
Now we all know it takes time to acclimate oneself to a new team, but so far Jimmy Butler is not playing like his usual self. Many expected Butler’s points per game to drop, but with teammates more capable of scoring, we did not expect his field goal percentage to drop as well. Butler is currently averaging 15.1 points per game, which is almost a nine point drop from last years’ 23.9 points per game. What’s even more shocking is that his field percentage has dropped from 45.5 to 43 percent even though he has more talent aside him. It’s still early, but Jimmy Butler needs to shoot better for the Wolves to make their first playoff appearance since 2004. Luckily for Butler, the Wolves are 7-3 and are picking up for him nicely.
John Wall is putting up huge assists numbers per usual, but his scoring has taken a hit as he is off to a slow start. Last season, Wall shot 45 percent from the field, 32.1 percent from three and 80.1 percent from the free throw line. Currently, Wall is shooting 40.6 percent from the field, 29.4 percent from three, and 68.9 percent from the free throw line. May not seem like a big deal in hindsight, but Bradley Beal is averaging 25.7 points per game on 50.3 percent shooting and Otto Porter is averaging 18.3 points on 56.9 percent shooting. So on offense, the second and third options are shooting well. Wall is struggling shooting, which is a huge reason why the Wizards are 5-4 to start the season. For someone who is always yelling, “This is my home”, he needs to play better in order for the Wizards to do well.
The Hawks were one of the NBA teams you knew weren’t going to do great, but you didn’t imagine they’d be this awful. They have started the season 2-8 and one of those wins actually came against a team that is playing worse than they are. But more on that later. The Hawks are currently 24th in the league in points per game and 26th in the league in points allowed. That means they are at the bottom in offense and defense. With Paul Millsap's departure, the Hawks weren’t destined to be the 43 win team they were last year. However, with the way they are playing they will not only miss the playoffs, but probably won’t get 20 wins.
Oklahoma City Thunder:
These final two teams will get it together, hopefully, as the season progresses, but for right now they are on this list. Let’s start with the Thunder. The Thunder is the only team in the NBA that has three capable 30 point per game scorers in Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. Each of those three individuals are averaging 20 points per game currently. So why are they 12th in the West at 4-5? Well defense is not the problem as they are 2nd in points allowed at only 97.1 points per game. The issues are coming from the second unit. The bench is only averaging 24.7 points per game with Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton having most of the production. The Thunder will be okay, but will need more players to score, especially if one of the big three has an off night.
What’s going on in Cleveland? The Cleveland Cavaliers are 4-6 on the season. They have lost to the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, and the Atlanta Hawks. None of these teams are title contenders. Four out of those six games were blowouts. The Cavs are without Isaiah Thomas until March, but these losses are inexcusable. The Cavs are ranked 28th (remember there are only 30 teams in the NBA) in opponents points per game and they have the worst defensive rating in the league. Isaiah Thomas certainly won’t help with that. The Cavs start is the most shocking start this season for a team that was just in an NBA Finals. It may be crazy to say, but if they continue playing like this, the Cavs won’t make it to another NBA Finals.