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NBA AM: Some Early Player Struggles Worth Noting

Lance Stephenson is one of a few notable players who are off to a rough start this season.

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Some early season player struggles worth keeping an eye on

The 2014-15 campaign is just a little over a week old, but even with the small sample size there are some troubling early trends worth nothing. Most of these guys will undoubtedly snap out of the early season funk, while some of the others may linger and impact the trajectory of their respective franchise.

Once again, this is a very early sample but keep an eye out on the following situations:

J.J. Redick, Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Clippers
2014-15 stats:
9.8 points, 26% FG, 21% 3PT, 4 GP

The Clippers are one of the few teams expected to contend for a NBA title this season, but shooting guard has been a potential trouble spot early on. Redick is currently connecting on just 26 percent of his shots from the field to start the season and only 21 percent from three-point range (on seven attempts per outing). With Jamal Crawford missing time due to injury, Redick’s importance in the lineup is further magnified. Redick is one of the better shooters in the league, so look for him to eventually snap out of the funk but it’s still worth noting.

Lance Stephenson, Shooting Guard, Charlotte Hornets
2014-15 stats:
6.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6 assists, 27% FG, 4 GP

Stephenson was signed to a lucrative deal in free agency this past summer and expected to form a big three in Charlotte alongside Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Those plans may eventually materialize, but Stephenson has been unable to find a rhythm offensively with the Hornets and is admittedly frustrated with his performance. The saving grace early on is the fact Stephenson has been able to make an immediate impact as a playmaker and on the glass.

C.J. Miles, Shooting Guard, Indiana Pacers
2014-15 stats:
9.5 points, 2.3 assists, 28% FG, 20% 3PT, 4 GP

The Pacers are hurting this season at the wing with All-Star Paul George on the shelf and Lance Stephenson now in Charlotte. So Miles, a free agent signee, is getting an extended opportunity to play a large role in their offense. The early results have been disappointing with Miles pressing in his new surroundings.

Eric Gordon, Shooting Guard, New Orleans Pelicans
2014-15 stats:
5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 21% FG, 9% 3PT, 4 GP

The marriage between Gordon and New Orleans has always been one worth watching, but in the past when the guard has been completely healthy he produced. This season Gordon has been completely out of sorts and despite the struggles is still averaging 33 minutes per game because of limited depth on the roster. Gordon is the highest paid Pelicans player this season with a cap hit of $14.9 million. It is critical the team finds a way to get him back on track.

Ben McLemore, Shooting Guard, Sacramento Kings
2014-15 stats:
3.8 points, 3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 26% FG, 30% 3PT, 4 GP

There’s no question McLemore has the raw talent and athleticism to be effective in the league. But NBA history is literally littered with plenty of similar talents who failed to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. McLemore still has plenty of time to show and prove what he’s capable of, but he’s appeared lost on both sides of the floor to start the season, which is a troubling sign for Sacramento, who is looking to make strides in the won-loss column in 2015.

Ty Lawson, Point Guard, Denver Nuggets
2014-15 stats:
12.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 37% FG, 14% 3PT, 3 GP

Some are pegging the Nuggets as a potential sleeper team in the Western Conference to compete for a playoff berth, but if Lawson’s early struggles linger long term kiss those aspirations goodbye. Lawson, an All-Star caliber talent, has been inconsistent early on and not surprisingly, so has Denver.

Kyrie Irving, Point Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
2014-15 stats:
16.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 35% FG, 21% 3PT, 3 GP

Ultimately playing alongside former MVP LeBron James will open the game up for Irving on the floor, but for now there’s an adjustment period for the All-Star guard to overcome. The fourth year guard has recorded two 20-point performances, but the efficiency has been absent to start the year.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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