Before the start of every season, there are a number of players who, over the course of time, have developed a certain reputation around the league and it can raise a number of questions about that player. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 players who have something to prove this upcoming NBA season.Keep in mind, it’s in no particular order, as all of these players should be desperate to prove their worth.
10. Brandon Jennings – He is in his second year of a three-year, $24 million contract with the Detroit Pistons. He is also a shell of his former-self from his rookie season with the Milwaukee Bucks. His shooting percentage is far from average (39% career, 35% 3-pt) and he might drive new head coach Stan Van Gundy nuts with his poor shot selection. Jennings averaged 0.89 points-per-shot last season, ranking him outside the top 26 point guards who qualified for the ranking. He needs to prove that he can take better shots and create for others, even though he averaged 7.6 assists per game last season.
9. Eric Bledsoe – The whole contract debacle finally ended last week as the Phoenix Suns signed Bledsoe to a five-year, $70 million deal late last week. He has been saying all summer that he is a max-contract player. Well, he got his wish. Now he is going to have to live up to it. He has missed a large amount of games in his four-year career, due to a variety of injuries. He has only started 78 games and 40 came last season. He has shown flashes of being a solid point guard in the NBA. However, the Suns also have Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic. It’ll be an interesting season in Phoenix.
8. James Harden – He is probably the best offensive scorer on the planet Earth, but he can’t defend a downed tree. If Harden wants to be a true superstar, he is going to have to show that he can play something that resembles defense, especially since it looks like Dwight Howard is on the decline.
7. Ricky Rubio – Great passer and good defender. But will he ever be able to shoot at least 43%? That remains the Wolves biggest question heading into the season. Rubio has one of the worst shooters in NBA history when it comes to shooting percentage. With Kevin Love gone, Rubio figures to get some more looks. The real disappointment lies in his inability to finish in the paint (44% for his career).
6. Kyrie Irving – The last eight months of his life have been great. NBA All-Star Game MVP, brand new five-year, $90 million contract, and a great showing in the FIBA World Basketball Cup that led to another MVP award. On top of that, LeBron James came back to Cleveland and they traded for Kevin Love. Now, prove you can be something other than a ball-dominant guard while playing with the best player in the world and another borderline superstar.
5. Anthony Bennett – His rookie season couldn’t have been any worse. It took him nearly a year to score a point in the NBA (sarcasm). But really, it was really awful. Now he gets a new outlook and a second chance with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has slimmed down, a considerable amount, and has added some range to his jump shot. It’ll be interesting to see this young man rebound from a horrible rookie season to see if he can become a fixture in the NBA for years to come.
4. Chris Bosh – A lot of people don’t think Bosh was worth the $118 million that the Miami Heat handed him after LeBron jumped ship to go back to Cleveland. At 30-years-old, and a lot of tread on the tires after four straight NBA Finals appearances, and playing with an older Dwyane Wade, can Bosh become the go-to player, that he was in Toronto, in Miami again?
3. Deron Williams – What happened to this man? After five and a half successful years in Utah, he gets traded to Brooklyn and we haven’t heard from him since. He has put up nothing but mediocre numbers since arriving in Brooklyn and is now 30-years-old and in his 10th season. He isn’t even mentioned in the top 10 point guards anymore. If he doesn’t return to his All-Star form, Brooklyn might be in for a long season.
2. Derrick Rose – After having barely played in two seasons, Rose looked rusty in the FIBA World Basketball Cup. His jumper has always been questioned, and probably will be until he retires. The biggest issue he’ll face is going against contact when he enters the lane. He has to regain his confidence and it might be a long while until we see the old Rose again.
1. Chris Paul – The roster is full of good players at every position. It’s Paul’s turn to step up in the postseason and lead the team to Western Conference Finals, at the very least, and possibly the NBA Finals. If you ask me, his three seasons in Los Angeles have been filled empty calories. All the regular season highlights are filling. But going home early in the postseason leaves fans hungry.