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3 big men in the NBA who have performed below expectations so far in the 2021-22 NBA season

Nikola Jokic is the top center in the 2021-22 NBA season.
Nikola Jokic is the top center in the 2021-22 NBA season.

The 2021-22 NBA season has seen the return of fans' favorite big men to our screens. However, whilst many have carried their form from the previous season, others have failed to acclimatize, performing below their known standards, in the opening weeks of the new season.

Although there shouldn’t be much concern this early in the season, let’s go through the NBA's three big men that have begun the new season to an unfamiliar standard.


Three NBA big men who have performed below expectations early in the 2021-22 NBA

#3 Clint Capela

Clint Capela #15 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half at the Wells Fargo Center on October 30, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Hawks 122-94.
Clint Capela #15 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half at the Wells Fargo Center on October 30, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Hawks 122-94.

The Atlanta Hawks center has failed to hit the ground running in his second season with the Hawks. The 2020-21 NBA rebounding leader has not been able to recapture the form that saw him inspire the Hawks to fifth place in the Eastern Conference last season. The Hawks languish in 11th place in the league this season, with a 4-5 record from their opening games.

Clint Capela, by all his world-class standards, has played in all nine of the franchise's games this season, averaging 4.4 field goals per game, the second-lowest of his career. His 55.6 field goal percentage is only better than his rookie season.

Since becoming the most dominant rim player of the 2020-21 NBA season, Capela has failed to measure up, averaging 3.7 offensive rebounds against his 4.7 rebounds last season. His 7.6 defensive rebounds at this point are the worst tally the center has averaged since the 2017-18 season.


#2 Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 27, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Kings defeated the Suns 110-107.
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 27, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Kings defeated the Suns 110-107.

The Phoenix Suns big man has shown his pedigree in his first three seasons in the NBA but has failed to surpass those lofty heights this season. Deandre Ayton has played in six of the Suns’ seven games so far, averaging a career-low 6.3 field goals per game, his 58.5 field goal percentage only better than his sophomore year in the NBA.

Deandre Ayton became the first player since Tim Duncan in 1999 to record 15+ points and 15+ rebounds in his Finals debut.Young fella showing up on the big stage ☀️ https://t.co/qEwDSvbGXP

Though he has performed better from range this season, his free throw skills have not been at its best, averaging 61.5% accuracy from charity stripe, a career-low. His rebounding has been stellar as always, but Ayton is yet to take off as expected, producing the fewest blocks per game in his three-year career in the NBA.


#3 Nikola Vucevic

Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on May 15, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on May 15, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Nikola Vucevic has been instrumental in the Chicago Bulls' incredible start to the season (6-3 record), but he has had a slow start thus far. The 2021 NBA All-Star player currently averages 13.4 points, having played 34.4 minutes per game in nine appearances.

Despite the Bulls undergoing something of a resurgence in the opening weeks of the season, overcoming last season’s malaise to rank third in the Eastern Conference. Vucevic has failed to inspire, averaging some of his lowest numbers to date.

I haven’t watched many Bulls games, but Nikola Vucevic has looked terrible

The center scored only four points in the franchise's outing against the 76ers, despite playing 36 minutes. It registered as his lowest points in a game since November 2019, where he played only 11 minutes. His shooting has also been poor in the early weeks, averaging a meager 38.0 percent shooting from the field and 25.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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