The 2015-16 season is going as expected at the midseason mark. The Golden State Warriors, last year’s reigning champions, are sitting atop the league standings. The Cleveland Cavaliers, last year’s runners-up, are not far behind with control of the Eastern Conference. The ageless San Antonio Spurs can’t lose at home, and a healthy Kevin Durant back from foot surgery is on pace to get the Oklahoma City Thunder back in the playoffs.
Yes, everything is going as expected alright, except for a few certain individuals who haven’t met expectations of their own thus far. Which players have been the most disappointing at the midseason mark? Here’s 10 to start.
1. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
A two-time All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, Noah’s career was at its peak then. Now he’s that guy on the Bulls roster that can’t stay healthy, much like Derrick Rose was for a while there. Noah separated his left shoulder for the second this season on Dec. 15, and the recovery time after shoulder surgery is four to six months, keeping him out until well into the postseason. And with Noah set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, it’s possible we may have seen the last of him in a Bulls uniform.
2. DeMarre Carroll, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are heavily invested in Carroll after signing him to a four-year, $60 million contract last July, but he appeared in just 23 games for them before knee trouble forced him to sit. Toronto hasn’t put a timetable on Carroll’s return from arthroscopic knee surgery, but the initial estimate was six to eight weeks. The Raptors are only three games back of first place in the Eastern Conference standings, so Carroll’s absence, while disappointing, hasn’t hurt the team all that much.
3. Al Jefferson, Charlotte Hornets
Jefferson has probably had the worst luck of any player this season. He missed six games with a strained groin muscle in December then five more games after that for violating the league’s drug policy. He returned for two games before tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee, and now the Hornets are without their starting center until around the All-Star break.
4. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
The Heat acquired Dragic at the trade deadline last February, and he played well enough over 26 games to receive a five-year, $90 million contract from them in July. But Dragic struggled to find his shooting stroke this season until just recently, and now he’s sidelined with a calf strain. Not what the Heat were expecting when they gave Dragic the 16th-richest contract in the NBA.
5. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
Green is making $10 million this season while averaging 6.9 points, and his field-goal percentage dropped from 43.6 percent last season to 35.7 percent this season. But worst of all, he’s not hitting the outside shots the Spurs pay him to make. Green, a career 41 percent 3-point shooter, is having his worst season from 3-point range since his rookie campaign. He’s shooting 32.6 percent, which is sixth-worst on the Spurs.
6. Timofey Mozgov, Cleveland Cavaliers
Getting traded to the Cavaliers last season was the best move for Mozgov. He averaged a career-high 10.8 points with 6.9 rebounds, and he was able to play in his first NBA Finals. But the Russian seven-footer is finding it harder and harder to be included in the starting lineup these days, making him the subject of trade rumors. The Cavaliers used two first-round picks to get him in the first place, and now they’re trying to get rid of him? Doesn’t make a lot of sense.
7. Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have taken it slow with Parsons coming off hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee in the offseason, and although he’s seen an uptick in his minutes lately, Parsons isn’t getting the amount of shots he needs to be effective. He’s averaging just 9.8 points compared to the 15.7 he had last season as the Mavericks’ third-leading scorer.
8. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
Being split up from his twin brother, Marcus, must have done a number on Morris, because he hasn’t been the same player since Marcus was shipped to the Detroit Pistons last July. After averaging 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 82 starts last season, Morris has gotten playing time in just 28 of 43 games this season, and he’s shooting a career-worst 38.2 percent from the field. Then there’s the whole towel-throwing incident that cost him two games in December.
The Suns may want to rid themselves of the problem altogether by trading Morris, which he demanded in August after his brother was sent to Detroit.
9. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
When Beal is healthy, he and John Wall make up one of the best backcourts in the NBA, but Beal hasn’t been on the floor long enough this season to prove it. Beal missed 16 games with a stress reaction in his right fibula, an injury that has reappeared in each of the last three seasons for the 22-year-old shooting guard, and there’s talk he’ll probably need a minutes limit for the rest of his career, which is just starting to take off.
It’s disappointing that Beal is an All-Star talent, but he averages maybe 64 games per season.
10. Kevin Martin, Minnesota Timberwolves
Martin averaged 20 points as the Timberwolves leading scorer last season, but the youth movement in Minnesota has seen him take on a smaller role this season. Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony-Towns and Zach Lavine are taking the majority of the shots, leaving Martin with his lowest per-game shot attempts since 2005-06. He’s averaging 16.1 minutes in the month of January despite having the fourth-highest salary on the Timberwolves roster.