Whether it was injury, lack of playing time or just not fitting in, players cannot wait for the upcoming 13-14 season to prove themselves. Injuries are part of the game and opportunities for players may not always be there. The right system and location of a player always had an effect as well. But with the offseason moves made, new faces on new teams, and recoveries almost complete, here are the top players ready to redeem themselves.
Probably with the most to prove, Derrick Rose has a lot of ground to make up. Rose, a former MVP for the Chicago Bulls, sat out all last season with a torn ACL. Though doctors last season cleared him to play at the beginning of March, he decided to sit thru the rest of the season and the playoff. Even without Rose the Bulls still made the playoffs and the Eastern Conference semifinals, and faced injury after injury, and managed to valiantly put up a memorable playoff run. Through all this fans watched and questioned Rose as he sat idly by watching his team play and not logging a single minute the whole season.
So with the upcoming season looming closer and closer, it time for Derrick Rose to prove not only to Chicago fans but the NBA world that he will return to his former MVP form. Before he was injured he was putting up almost 22 PPG and about 8 APG. A torn ACL is no easy injury to return from but with the NBA world eyes glued to his return Rose will have to prove that recovering all last year and waiting to return was worth it all.
New scene means new opportunities for guard Eric Bledsoe. After spending three years on the Los Angeles Clippers, Bledsoe was traded to the Phoenix Suns along with small forward Caron Butler in a three-team deal. Bledsoe who was drafted in 2010, played a reserve role in all three seasons as a Clipper. After resigning star point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers decided it was time to let Bledsoe go this the trade. Bledsoe with his amazing athleticism, speed and defensive stinginess will now have the opportunity to shine on a rebuilding team in the Suns. In his last season with the Clippers Bledsoe averaged 8.5 PPG and almost 1.5 SPG in just 20 minutes a game. He should start alongside point guard Goran Dragic and he will now have his opportunity to lead and shine in a Suns uniform. Expect him to have a major season and make an impact on the team.
With the departure of veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Boston Celtics will need scorers to step up and help star point guard Rajon Rondo. That man will have to be forward Jeff Green, who the Celtics traded for in 2011. A proven talent Green can be the Celtics go to guy on a rebuilding team. He has such great versatility as he can play either forward position causing match up problems all night against defenders. Green will have the opportunity to shine on the Celtics as he showed glimpses last season of his true potential in the playoffs against the New York Knicks making bucket after bucket showing he could be a offensive threat any night. With averages of almost 13 PPG and almost 5 RPG coming off the bench expect all his numbers to increase this season. Don’t even be surprised if Green sneaks in a couple Most Improved Player votes as well. The Celtics may be in rebuild mode, but Jeff Green has the opportunity to make quite a splash.
The hair styles, bowling and sitting on the bench injured all season was the headlining news for Andrew Bynum last season. Traded during last years offseason, Bynum was part of the major Dwight Howard trade sending him to the Philadelphia 76ers. He was supposed to lift the 76ers into contenders alongside Jrue Holiday and a growing young squad. The season before he had averages of 18.7 PPG and just about 12 RPG and was arguably the best center in the NBA. What happened instead is a whole season on the bench, and sometimes showing little interest in playing. After just a season on the 76ers, they decided to let him walk in free agency after the acquisition of Narlens Noel. Though many teams showed interest in the former all star, he ended up signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now it is time and opportunity for Bynum to get back into the mix of best center in the NBA. The effect Bynum could have on the Cavs could be tremendous for a team poised to make a playoff push. Even before the signing of Bynum, the Cavaliers seemed ready for a playoff push with developing star Kyrie Irving and young players Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson all molding together. With Bynum added to the mix on paper the Cavaliers could actually push the team into contention. Bynum has the ability to dominate on the paint defensively and offensively. When healthy he brings a big man presence that can completely take over games. Along with Irving the Cavaliers have a scary one two punch that could take the whole Easy by surprise.
The Dwightmare seems to be finally over since Dwight Howard chose to sign with the Houston Rockets. It seemed implausible to think that Howard would leave the Los Angeles Lakers after all the hype was thrown around the team to begin last season. With the Lakers acquiring Howard and Steve Nash and already having Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and of course Kobe Bryant, championship aspirations were not only a goal they were the only option for such a proud franchise. But things didn’t go quite that way. Quite frankly they went from championship dreams to desperation hopes.
With Dwight still recovering from his back surgery he put up 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG in the Lakers system. By no means were they bad numbers, but the Lakers and their fans expected so much more from the star center. After a season filled with story lines, ups and downs and scrutiny from the fans Dwight decided the Los Angeles Lakers was not where he wanted to be. So the offseason he picked up his bag after just one year and headed to Texas to join James Harden and his Rockets. With all the expectations of the Lakers off his back the star center can now go back to focusing on what he did best. Have fun. On the Lakers, so much was expected of him because all the great big men before that had worn the Lakers uniform. Now on the Rockets the burden of following anyone’s footsteps is on no ones mind. Only winning is and Dwight can help lift these Rockets to the next level. He will be coached by a former big man great and now coach of the Rockets Kevin McHale. The pieces are in place for him to succeed now that he has time to further recover and put himself in a position where it seems as if he will succeed.
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Main photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc