Once again, the three-week offseason (number may be inaccurate) has concluded and the highly-anticipated NBA regular season is upon us. The Association has reached a level of popularity that hasn’t been seen in recent years, and it’s legitimately exciting. However, with every new year comes the inevitable hype machine. A chugging steam engine of continuous noise, filling the sports world with endless takes on who’s going to be great, who will disappoint, who will hide a cache of guns around the locker room, and which fledgling oaf will refuse to adopt the granny-shot free throw. There’s even hype for those not worthy of hype. I know. Hard to believe, right?
Here are a few guys that will certainly NOT live up to the preseason expectations, no matter how loudly you scream otherwise.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
With all the T-Wolves scuttle revolving around the malcontent Jimmy Butler, more attuned NBA eyes are focused on Wiggins, waiting to see all that promise finally fulfilled. Keep waiting. Through four seasons, Wiggins has never taken that next step, leaving many Wolves fans to appropriately give up hope and enjoy the productiveness of a more deserving young hero like Karl Anthony Towns. With a 5-year, $148 million extension taking affect this season, Wiggins’ bank account outweighs his value. Since Butler’s Twin Cities arrival, Wiggins’ usage has dropped faster than a Minnesotan slipping on their icy driveway, and will continue to, limiting scoring chances for the 23-year-old and rendering him average, as usual.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
Sure, this guy’s no superstar, but a lot of so-called experts are predicting a big season for Thompson, who’s averaged just 9 points per game in his NBA career. The Kardashian-friendly Cavalier was never going to be an offensive juggernaut, but if he wants to assume a leadership role on this young Cleveland team, he’ll have to find a way to maximize what scoring game he has. It isn’t enough, though. Thompson’s strong suit is his defense and rebounding, averaging well over 9 boards per game in 4 of his 7 seasons. But, unless he starts hitting the offensive glass with a Khloe-esque appetite, consider those scoring chances to be few and far between, keeping Thompson where he’s used to being, in the cold arms of basketball obscurity.
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
Dear god. Although Griffin has been in a Pistons uniform since February, it still feels weird and a little gross. What’s even weirder is a handful of NBA pundits think he’s poised to have a bounce-back effort in 2018-19. Bounce-back from what, mediocre? With Griffin’s propensity for injury, I’m not sure how you can ever expect the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk Champion to fully return to form. To top it off, Blake’s said to be adding a more focused 3-point facet to his game, which only adds to the hilarity. Further proof that the Blake Griffin of old is dead and gone. Time to toss up some trash and hope for the best.
Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls
It’s an offensive league, of course, but there are limits to how terrible your defense should be. Lavine, on a 4-year, $78 million deal with the Bulls, is a decent scorer with tons of athletic ability (his dunking prowess can and will get you pregnant), but when you’re giving up as many points as you’re scoring, how much playing time do you really deserve? In his 5 NBA seasons, Lavine has posted a positive plus-minus number only once. Tack on his recovery from last season’s ACL injury and it’s hard to imagine Lavine breaking through to where the experts say he should be.