The NBA, like in all sports, is reciprocal in the sense that when one player’s abilities are declining there is always someone ready to fill the void.
While there are several players who have gotten off to poor or substandard starts to their season -- like Carmelo Anthony, Chandler Parsons, and Kyle Lowry -- there are a few players who have unequivocally demonstrated that their better days are behind them.
The following is five players that are on the decline.
Ersan Ilyasova, Hawks
Ilyasova has been a good role player throughout his 10-year NBA career whether in a starting role or coming off the bench. He is usually good for 10 rebounds and five rebounds a night. At the very least he can stretch the floor with his shooting. However, he has struggled mightily this season.
Ilyasova has missed seven of the Hawks last eight games with a knee injury. The knee injury may have something to do with his rough start as he is averaging a career-low 9.1 points a game and is shooting 27.6% from the field and just 14.3 from beyond the arc.
Players can break out of slums. What is more troubling, is that the 30-year-old’s true shooting percentage is woeful at under 36.0 percent and is usage rate is also at an all-time low at 13.3%, which is 4.5 percentage points below his previous all-time low. Perhaps the most telling statistic, he has been whistled for 4.3 fouls a game.
Dwyane Wade, Cavs
Wade is starting to look his age as he is amid his worst season of his career. Probably the best indicator of his abilities declining is that the 35-year-old requested to come off the bench for the first time in his career and that he is receiving only 23 minutes of playing time. Also, he is not getting to the free throw line as much as normal.
Wade is currently on-pace to set career-lows in scoring average, field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, usage rate, and PER.
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs
Nowitzki is kind of in the same boat as Wade. Both players still have the capabilities to produce big games, but their shooting skills are not what they used to be. The 39-year-old is still a very effective spot-up shooter as well as an excellent finisher around the rim. He also still sinks his patented fadeaway off-the-back-foot and is great from mid-range.
Nowitzki, who started his slight decline last season, is currently shooting a career-low 40.2% from the field. His 10.0 points, 49.2 true shooting percentage and his scoring efficiency of 1.04 points a shot are personal-lows. Nowitzki is also turning the ball over at a higher than normal rate (8.4).
Arron Afflalo, Magic
Just a few years ago, Afflalo was considered one of the best “3 and D” wings. Now, he can’t get off the bench for Orlando. Afflalo is averaging just 8.0 minutes a game as he has appeared in seven of the Magic’s 11 contests. He has tallied a measly eight points, on 2-of-15 shooting (18.2%) including 0-of-5 from beyond the arc, along with three rebounds and three assists on the season.
Joe Johnson, Jazz
Johnson is 36-years-old and had his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign last year. He is currently on the shelf with tendon instability with the earliest date of return expected to be Nov. 15.
The 6-7 wing is in the midst of the worst offensive season of his career, averaging 6.4 points on 39.1% shooting from the floor including 18.8% from beyond the arc. Johnson is producing less than a point a shot for the first time since his second year and his shooting and true shooting percentage are career-lows. He is also turning the ball over at a 14.8% clip which is by far the highest rate of his career.