Post All-Star Break Blues
Headed down the stretch in any given NBA season, there are multiple story lines that begin to emerge. Some players raise their game to the next level, rounding into form as they make a playoff push (we identified a few of these guys in this space last week). Other guys unexpectedly hit a snag and struggle to maintain their earlier form as the season winds down.
This is season is no exception as there are more than a few guys who have seen parts of their game decline over the past month.
Let’s take a look at some today:
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
Pre All-Star: 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Post All-Star: 11.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists
Barton was one of the league’s biggest surprises earlier in the season, putting up solid box scores on a nightly basis. However after the All-Star break, Barton has crashed back to earth. The guard is shooting just 36 percent from the floor since the break and a woeful 22 percent from three-point range. With Nuggets leading scorer Danilo Gallinari out for an extended period of time due to injury, the expectation was that Barton would take on a larger role in the offense. It hasn’t happened and while Barton has seen increased minutes and produced solid rebounding and assist numbers, the scoring troubles indicate a player trying to break out of a lengthy slump.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Pre All-Star: 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.9 blocks, 43% FG
Post All-Star: 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 blocks, 37% FG
Make no mistake, Porzingis is an integral part of the Knicks’ future – with or without All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. The upside Porzingis possesses is tremendous, but his struggles coming down the stretch of his rookie campaign cannot be ignored. On the surface, Porzingis’ stats look roughly the same, but on a closer look you’ll see the rim protection and rebounding have started to dip, as well as his efficiency from the floor. The post All-Star break struggle Porzingis is mired in is just the kind of experience that should keep a rookie humble enough to work even harder come the offseason.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Pre All-Star: 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 42% FG, 37% 3PT
Post All-Star: 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 39% FG, 23% 3PT
On the surface, Love has been largely consistent for the Cavaliers this season – especially after an up and down 2014-15 campaign. However, Love has struggled with his shot inside and outside the arc since coming back from the All-Star break. In six games this month, Love is averaging 14.7 points on 35 percent shooting from the field and just 19 percent from three-point range. If the Cavaliers are going to make a run at a title this season, Love regaining his stroke is a must.
Greg Monroe, Milwaukee Bucks
Pre All-Star: 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists
Post All-Star: 12.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Monroe was Milwaukee’s marquee addition last summer and before the All-Star break he had emerged as a nightly 20/10 threat in the box score. But since the break, with Milwaukee falling further and further out of the playoff picture, Monroe has struggled. While Monroe’s minutes have remained consistent, the veteran center has found himself in a reserve role, which has seemingly impacted his scoring.
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
Pre All-Star: 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 47% FG, 39% 3PT
Post All-Star: 9.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 43% FG, 30% 3PT
Barnes is having a March to forget, averaging just 8 points on 37 percent shooting from the floor (7 percent from three-point range). The Warriors are such a talented squad that Barnes’ recent struggles on the floor are easily hidden. But more is expected from Barnes, who is expected to command a major payday in free agency this summer. With veteran forward Andre Iguodala sidelined, more minutes will continue to be passed Barnes’ way.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Pre All-Star: 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 49% FG, 32% 3PT
Post All-Star: 15.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 43% FG, 29% 3PT
Millsap racked up another All-Star selection, but has struggled offensively most of February and March. On a positive note, Millsap hasn’t slipped from a rebounding and ball distribution standpoint and the Hawks are currently one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment. But for the Hawks to make another run to the Eastern Conference Finals, Millsap’s offensive prowess will need to be a catalyst.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.