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5 NBA superstars not helping their teams – ClutchPoints

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NBA stars are paid highly to lead their teams. They play a huge responsibility of turning their squads into championship contenders. Although throughout the years, we’ve seen them display legendary performances, there are just times when they remind us that they are also human.

The NBA season is still young. But so far, we’ve seen superstars struggle to help their teams garner some wins. For some, it could be a case for the league’s changes. These include a new ball by Wilson that was blamed by some of the players’ shooting struggles. Another could be the league’s new rules, in terms of shooters trying to initiate contact.

On the other hand, some could be struggling with their new scenery while also dealing with chemistry issues. Nevertheless, not all superstars have dominated in the way they were expected to. For this piece, let’s take a look at five superstars who aren’t helping their teams.

This list doesn’t include NBA superstars who chose not to play such as Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons. Their decision to not suit up for their teams has certainly hurt their respective squads. However, this article will mainly focus on superstars who are currently active for their teams.

James Harden

Speaking of Kyrie Irving, there’s no doubt the Nets have badly needed him. With Irving choosing not to get the mandated COVID-19 shot, the Nets have been forced to make do without the playmaker’s scoring and facilitating. Because of this, the team has been banking heavily on Kevin Durant and James Harden. While this duo still looks formidable on paper, Harden has been struggling to thrive in his role, amidst the absence of Irving.

This year, Harden is averaging 20.3 points, 9.4 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game. While these numbers are decent, he’s shooting only 40.6% from the field overall. His shooting clip this year is so far his worse since his rookie season in the NBA. On top of that, Harden is also committing an alarming 5.0 turnovers per game.

Harden has been the next worse problem the Nets have outside of Irving. With the league enforcing a new NBA Foul rules, Harden’s ability to score has been hampered.

But ever since the rule change, Harden hasn’t been getting the calls he usually gets. So far, Harden is only getting 6.8 free throw attempts per outing, which is the lowest since his third-year in the league.

Harden’s struggles haven’t been helpful to the Nets. Although they’re holding the best record in the East at 14-6, it’s questionable for how long they can sustain that. In order to compensate for Harden’s struggles, the squad has banked heavily on Kevin Durant.

Although KD has been phenomenal, by averaging a league-high 28.6 points per game, his health could be in jeopardy in the long run given his injury-proneness. If the Nets want to win an NBA championship, they need Harden to thrive in his role, while maybe also hope Irving would change his decision.

Damian Lillard

The Blazers haven’t been all that great this season, starting the year with only a 10-10 record, including a 1-8 card on the road. Things aren’t looking great, especially after promising to do their part in positioning Lillard to catapult him to a ring after he chose to stay. Aside from having yet to partner Lillard with a star, he hasn’t been all too great individually.

Lillard is averaging 22.0 points per game, which is a drop-off compared to his previous year where he averaged 28.8 points per game. Moreover, the six-time NBA All-Star is only making a dismal 39.9% from the field overall and 30.3% from downtown, which are the lowest clips of his career.

His shooting struggles, like Harden, could also be linked with the NBA’s newfoul rule changes. Lillard is only going to 4.6 free throw trips a game, which is his lowest since his rookie year. The Blazers star wasn’t silent about his displeasure over the league’s rule changes.

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum has been individually great. However, that doesn’t always mean those translate into wins. To make matters worse, his production could ironically be one of the reasons for the Celtics’ struggles. Boston are currently holding an 11-10 record, which is good for ninth in the East.

Tatum has been averaging 25.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this year. Although his numbers are great, it’s his selfish play that has been hurting the Celtics. Early into the NBA season, Tatum’s coaches and teammates haven’t held back in calling him out. After blowing a 19-point lead against the Bulls, Marcus Smart voiced out his frustrations.

Aside from Smart, Celtics newly appointed head coach Ime Udoka also criticized his star player for leaning more on isolation plays.

There seems to be a lot of internal tension going on inside the Celtics’ locker room. The decorated franchise needs to address this early on if they want to be in the playoff conversation.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle is the NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player of the Year, after a breakout season with the Knicks that even saw him garner an All-Star selection. Unfortunately, despite a solid start to the season, Randle has been on a slump.

The reigning MIP is averaging 19.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.0 dimes per game. However, his scoring has dropped this year, while shooting only 41.2% from the field overall, which is the second-lowest of his career.

For the past two games, Randle’s struggles have been clear as day. He failed to make double-digits in points on both occasions, and only shot 27.2% from the field overall and missed all of his five attempts from deep.

While there seem to be no locker room issues within the team, Randle seems to be struggling with his fit alongside Knicks’ offseason acquisition Kemba Walker. Unlike last season, Walker comes in as a ball-dominant guard, which takes touches away from a point-forward in Randle.

Nevertheless, the Knicks have plenty of time to still sort things out. However, one of their main priorities is to help Randle re-discover his peak form in order for the Knicks to become a consistent playoff team in the NBA.

Russell Westbrook

The Lakers haven’t been as great as advertised. They are currently only holding an 11-11 record, which is a far cry from being a championship contender. Their losses have also come against non-playoff bound teams such as the Kings, Thunder, and the Timberwolves. While the Lakers’ current roster may be questionable due to its surplus of aging stars, it’s the misfit of Russell Westbrook that has garnered the center of attention.

So far, Westbrook is averaging 20.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game. Although he has been registering better numbers and has collected a string of triple-doubles, those numbers haven’t been helping in the Lakers’ struggles. In fact, former NBA champion and current NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins has challenged the former MVP to get more wins than triple doubles.

Westbrook is easily a stat-sheet stuffer that traditionally could elevate any team. However, with LeBron James as his teammate, Westbrook certainly takes away the touches of James, who is a better playmaker and facilitator. It’s worth noting that Westbrook makes 4.8 turnovers per game.

Aside from this, Westbrook’s inability to shoot makes him a liability for the Lakers’ situation. He only shoots 31.2% from deep. This only harms the spacing the Lakers need for LBJ and AD to dominate in the paint. There’s no question, the Lakers need to solve this Westbrook riddle if they want to win an NBA title.

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