By Richard Anselmo - Contributor
Well, well – the All Star Game is behind us and we have reached the two thirds of the season mark, so let’s take a look at the players that were hot – or not – before the break.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers – Jordan has had an up and down season but really picked his game up after the trade of Blake Griffin to Detroit. Jordan was in a slump before the trade but getting new teammates invigorated him and it showed in his game. Once he got used to playing with Tobias Harris (who came over in the trade) his offensive game made strides and the two of them continue the tradition of Lob City. Being more involved offensively (he had a 30-point game against the Celtics) showed in his work ethic, and he even is improving his free throw shooting. He has a true shooting percentage of 65.6
Playing with another stellar defensive player in Avery Bradley (also received in the same trade), Jordan has improved his already outstanding defense. In the minutes they have been on the court together they have a 13.9 net rating, and a defensive rating of 91.7. If they can keep this up it could mean a playoff push – and new contracts all around.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz – Mitchell has taken on more of a role in the Jazz offense, which is unusual for a rookie. He has improved by the month, and in the last 10-15 games his numbers have improved. This shows in his usage rate, which is 28.7. Mitchell is doing this in only 32 minutes per game. He is improving as a passer and is increasing his ball handling duties by the week. In a recent game he played point guard due to the absence of Ricky Rubio and acquitted himself well. His shooting percentage is not off the charts but he is the main offensive threat on the Jazz roster. His true shooting percentage is 54.4 He works hard on both ends of the floor and is one of the main reasons the Jazz have won 11 games in a row.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans – Holiday, coming off an injury started the season off slowly and was limited in minutes played as well as being not available for all back to back games. Over the past month his improvement is off the charts. A true point guard and team leader, Holiday has really proven his worth since the injury to DeMarcus cousins. All of his shooting percentages are solid, and improving with added responsibility. His effective field goal percentage is up to 54% (which is a career high) with a solid usage rate of 22.3 – an outstanding number for someone who has improved to 19 ppg. He is playing at the best pace rate of his career, and his defensive rating is outstanding. Holiday is leading the team on both ends and will have to continue if the depleted Pelicans are to make the playoffs.
Kyle Singler, Oklahoma City Thunder – Since coming to the Thunder in a trade in 2015, Singler has seen his role diminish by the month. Continuing the least productive season of his career, he is averaging under 2.2 ppg and has shown little of the ball handling skills that were on display earlier in his career. His effective field goal percentage, pace rating and usage rate are all at career lows. His true shooting percentage is only 46.5, easily the worst in his career. If he is not helping a team offensively he won’t be on the floor much, as his athleticism is not conducive to effective defense. He showed some promise early with the Pistons, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing that again any time soon.
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks – Hardaway started the year off hot and then got injured. By the time he came back his timing was way off and it has barely improved since his return. Outside of one good half his game has fallen to that of a replacement level player. Although he is averaging a career high 17.7 ppg, his usage rate has stayed even while his effectiveness has dropped. He is at near career lows in true shooting percentage and effective shooting percentage. He is hurting the team defensively and using too many possessions to be a contributor. Hardaway is long past any lingering effects of the injury but his production is consistently worse. He will need to step up his game in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis or the Knicks will go into a deeper freefall than they already are.
Nicholas Batum, Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets have underachieved all season as Batum was injured early in the season. Since he has been back the team and his individual play have regressed. In February, Batum has slipped in every category and has not been himself defensively. He has been involved in the lowest percentage of his team’s points since he arrived in Charlotte. His scoring average is down despite playing nearly identical minutes. His true shooting percentage is the lowest it’s been in years and his usage rate is down, despite playing at a faster pace than in recent seasons. His numbers are getting worse as the season goes on, and his defensive efficiency has also dropped. He is only 29 so he should be able to get back to what he was, but he is going in the wrong direction.
About the Author
Richard Anselmo is a former Houston Rockets scout, the current director of scouting for AND Sports and a regular guest on the nbAYD Show. Follow him on Twitter: @RichA_NBA
About This Blog
This is the official blog of the NBAyd show. All our correspondents you hear on the show post here, as well as show host Gary Ayd. Looking for more? Visit the premium blog in our members only area for full access to premium articles and commercial free shows!