NBA

3 NBA Stars That Aren’t Playing up to Their Potential

Jan 22, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) drives to the net against Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto defeated Philadelphia. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The last NBA season ended just a few months ago, and the offseason wasn’t as long as it usually is. Because of that or some other reasons, several NBA stars aren’t playing up to their potential. Let’s review who those stars are and what’s not going their way.

Ben Simmons

Feb 6, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) reacts as referee Tre Maddox (23) calls a foul during the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons is an All-NBA player if he can add a shot to his game. That’s what we’ve been hearing about him since his first season in the league. Unfortunately for Ben, he still hasn’t altered his game in that way.

Simmons is a 6’11” point-forward who can do pretty much everything on the court except shoot the ball. His development on the defensive side of the court has been tremendous. Impressive enough that he might even win defensive player of the year. But is that enough to bring a championship to Philly?

Regardless of his defensive abilities, the Sixers’ front office didn’t show much faith in Ben, as they tried to trade him in a package for James Harden. The trade talks went far enough for Simmons’ agent to tell Ben to start packing for Houston. Ultimately, Harden would end up in Brooklyn, leaving Simmons in the City of Brotherly Love.

The Philadelphia 76ers are playing well this season. Under the leadership of Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid, the Sixers lead the East with 17 wins and seven losses. Still, there are unanswered questions about the team’s spacing and how their offense will work in the playoffs.

The former rookie of the year is averaging three points less compared to last year’s numbers. And, he used to take two more shots per game. It seems as if his game is stagnating, and people are noticing. Will Ben Simmons be good enough to bring the Sixers some success in the playoffs?

Pascal Siakam

Feb 8, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson (1) during the second half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors had a slow start to the season. That has a lot to do with Pascal Siakam. Your team will struggle when a guy you’re expecting to be your star player isn’t playing up to his potential. Siakam and the Raptors are in that position right now.

Siakam had a great last season. He found himself on the All-Star team and the All-NBA second team. That was an impressive year for a guy who played in the D-League just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, this year Pascal took a step in the wrong direction. Toronto fans expected Spicy P to be a true leader of the Raptors this season, but some other players seem to be more fit for the position. Siakam is averaging fewer points, and his 3-point percentage has significantly decreased.

Luckily, Fred VanVleet is having a good season, and he had some great games in the last few days. Aside from him, Lowry is having a decent veteran season, and OG Anunoby is better than last year. Still, without a great Siakam, Toronto isn’t a threat in the East.

Siakam needs to find his shot or be more aggressive around the rim if the Raptors want to do anything in the playoffs or even reach them.

Jamal Murray

Feb 8, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) reacts in the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Murray’s this and last year’s regular-season numbers are pretty much the same at the moment. So, what do we mean he isn’t playing up to his potential? Regular season Jamal Murray is not enough for the Nuggets to be a contender. For that, they need “Bubble Murray.”

In last year’s playoffs, Jamal averaged 26 and 6, and his plays made the difference between Denver, Utah, and the Clippers. Their opponents got better this season. Jamal and the Nuggets didn’t.

Murray is playing alongside a real MVP contender in Nikola Jokic, and he isn’t taking advantage of his qualities. Playing with a pass-first center of Jokic’s caliber should be a dream-come-true for Murray. What else can a shooting guard ask for from a number one guy?

Nikola’s numbers are saying enough about his game at the moment. Not often a center is 1.5 assists away from averaging a triple-double with 27 points per game. He is not the reason the Nuggets aren’t as good as last year.

Jamal took the blame for some of Denver’s losses, but now he needs to step up. He needs to be the guy we saw in the bubble. Only that Murray can help the Nuggets. If we don’t see that guy anytime soon, might Jamal Murray get traded? Jokic and Beal sound a lot better at the moment, just saying.

Who are the players you were expecting more from this season? And what NBA stars aren’t playing up to their potential? Let us know in the comments below.

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