NBA Preview: 10 People with the Most To Prove This Season

Jonathan PowellContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

NBA Preview: 10 People with the Most To Prove This Season

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    Like a classic television drama, the 2010-2011 season of the NBA left its fans with some dramatic storylines.

    "The New Big Three," "Phil's Last Ride" or "Young Rose Buds into a MVP." 

    Along with those great stories came a few cliffhangers.  When this season tips off, there are a lot of loose ends that need to be sewn up, and here are the 10 people with the most sewing to do.

Greg Oden

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    The former No. 1 overall pick played in his 82nd game last season...of his career...he was drafted in 2007!

    Injuries have plagued the young big man (who could already pass for Shaq's older brother) during his short career.  This season, especially with the Blazers on the verge, it's imperative for him to stay healthy for most of this shortened season to avoid the label of "draft bust."

Erik Spoelstra

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    Poor guy.  So many questions have somewhat sullied his tenure with the Miami Heat.

    Is Pat Riley going to replace him?

    Does LeBron respect him?

    Why does he look so scared?

    Spoelstra has to get the Heat back to the mountain top and win it this time in order to silence the critics, and he has to do it somewhat distractions like last year.

    Despite all of the turmoil, the Heat still managed to make it to the finals last season, but much of the credit was given to Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem...Udonis Haslem? 

    Anyway, to be seen as more of a head coach and less of a mere facilitator, Spoelstra has to show the fire and leadership that championship coaches display.  It's now or never.

David West

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    Mr. West picked a bad season to succumb to a season-ending knee injury, being it was the season before he decided to opt out of his contract with the New Orleans Hornets to test the free-agency market.

    West has been a solid player throughout his career, but at age 31 and coming off a major injury, he will have to perform at an even higher level to prove that he deserves whatever contract he receives from whatever team decides to take a chance on him.

Andrew Bynum

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    This 24-year-old Lakers big man has shown flashes of greatness when he wasn't battling knee injuries.

    Bynum has an overabundance of physical talent, but what he lacks on some occasions is maturity.

    Bynum is suspended for the first five games of this season for a hard flagrant foul on Dallas point guard JJ Barea in the final game of the Mavericks' four-game sweep of the Lakers in last year's playoffs.

    He was ejected for his act of aggression, and his actions afterwards didn't do much to help his cause.

    How are you the least mature person on a team with Ron Art...oops, I mean Metta World Peace?

Brandon Roy

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    Doctors told Roy that his knees lacked so much cartilage he should probably just retire.  After arthroscopic surgery, he returned to the Blazers to play minimal to zero minutes. 

    The Blazers believe that Roy will never be able to return to the level that allowed him to be named the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year and play on three All-Star teams, so it is heavily rumored that he will be Portland's amnesty player this season.

    No matter if he stays in Portland, or finds a new team, Roy needs to prove to himself, first and foremost, that he is still the same player that won all of those accolades.

Russell Westbrook

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    Many critics say that Westbrook's ego got in the way of the Oklahoma City Thunder reaching the NBA Finals last season. 

    Most experts feel that unless Westbrook learns to acquiesce to the face of the Thunder, Kevin Durant, this partnership will never work out.

    It would be a shame for Oklahoma City to let go of such talent because of something as silly as an ego, especially when they are so close.

    Westbrook needs to decide in a hurry whether he wants to win or just be the top dog.  Should be an easy decision, but who knows.

Carlos Boozer

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    Carlos Boozer may not be considered a top-10 forward in the NBA anymore, but he is hands down the league's best magician.  The disappearing act he pulled in last year's Eastern Conference finals was flawless.

    How do you pay a guy $76 million over five years and not have enough confidence in him to keep him in during pivotal moments of playoff games?

    Hopefully, Carlos would like to correct that.

Mike Brown

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    It's easy to succumb to the pressure of coaching the storied Los Angeles Lakers—just ask Rudy T. 

    Through his tenure with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Brown's coaching skill was often overlooked because of the exploits of King James.

    Now Brown has the task of regrouping Kobe and a team that completely went down in flames in the playoffs last season.

    Can Mike Brown get Kobe to buy into his system?  He has to in order gain the confidence of the Purple and Yellow faithful.

Ricky Rubio

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    The T-Wolves originally drafted this teenage (now 21-year-old) phenom point guard in 2009 out of Spain with the fifth overall pick.  He wasn't really feeling Minnesota at the time, so he decided to stay put in Europe.

    After a couple of subpar seasons in the European and Spanish basketball leagues, where he averaged around six points and four assists per game, Rubio decided that "The Land of 10,000 Lakes" wasn't so bad after all, and he should cash his golden NBA ticket this season.

    Setting up Kevin Love shouldn't be so hard, but will Ricky Rubio prove to be worth all the delay and headache?  We shall see.

LeBron James

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    Last summer King James was the butt of many jokes.  (My personal favorite: "I saw LeBron before the game and I asked for $1.  He gave me 75 cents.  I said 'where’s the rest?' He replied 'I don’t have a fourth quarter.'")

    His collapses during the fourth quarter of the finals games against the Dallas Mavericks were so epic that Scottie Pippen is still trying to get Michael Jordan to answer his phone calls. 

    It's kind of hard to call yourself the best when you don't show up during the precise time legends are made.  Luckily for James, the lockout news provided many fans with the distraction needed to forget his paltry playoff performance, but I'm sure Bron-Bron hasn't.

    I'm sure LeBron's No. 1 goal this season is to get back to the finals, and to succeed in grand fashion when the moment calls for him to put his team on his back to get win. 

    First thing's first, he has to get his team back to the NBA Finals.  It's not as easy as Kobe makes it look.


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    As the NBA gets closer to its Christmas Day premier, the first page in each of these chapters prepares to be written.

    Which one will have a happy ending?