NBA Predictions 2012: 8 First-Half Disappointments Ready to Explode
There are players that will need to turn in more impressive efforts in the latter half of the 2011-12 NBA regular season if their respective teams are going to make any substantial noise this season.
Teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks will have to get some stronger efforts from key contributors in order to present a challenge to those clubs that are currently in front of them in the standings.
It will be fun to see which players are capable of stepping up, and these eight guys have a lot of questions facing them as the action gets back under way.
Richard Hamilton, Chicago Bulls
Richard Hamilton has been really limited in his contributions in the first half of the season due to injuries, but he's looking to come out of the All-Star break roaring.
Seen as the prized pickup for the Chicago Bulls during the offseason, Hamilton will provide a major boost to the team when he's able to step back into the starting five.
Chicago is an already immensely talented team, but adding a veteran presence on the wing in Hamilton, who is capable of consistently knocking down the mid-range shot, is a serious lift to an already dangerous team.
Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets
There was a lot of pressure on Arron Afflalo's shoulders after signing a huge deal with the Denver Nuggets during the offseason, and a painfully slow start to the season had many wondering if last season's performance was a fluke.
He didn't have the benefit of training camp or being able to be with his team because contract talks dragged on until right up before the year began, but he seems to have found his groove in February.
After not scoring more than 19 points in a game during December or January, Afflalo dropped 20 or more in six contests during the month of February.
Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors
Dorell Wright's career season with the Warriors in 2010-11 gave some fans lofty expectations for the 2011-12 campaign, but his season has so far been defined by inconsistency.
Although he's shooting just under 42 percent from the floor and has taken a small step back from beyond the three-point line this season, Wright has stepped up his game of late for the Warriors.
Wright is going to have to be a huge contributor in the second half in order for his team to live up to its potential, and he'll benefit if Golden State can get out and run more consistently.
David West, Indiana Pacers
David West's addition in the Indiana locker room has been huge for the Pacers this season, but his play on the court isn't where it had been during his days with the New Orleans Hornets.
He has turned up the heat in February with averages of 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds (compared to season averages of 12.4 points and 6.8 rebounds), and he shot his best percentage from the floor (49.0) over the 13 games in the month to date.
West will be a steady source of contribution going forward for the Pacers, and there is no doubting that he will do anything his team needs of him in order to consistently win.
J.J. Barea, Minnesota Timberwolves
J.J. Barea has had a tough time fitting into his new surroundings after signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the offseason, but there are signs that he's ready to live up to his contract going forward.
After dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries, which limited him quite a bit during January, Barea has carved out a stable role in the rotation off the bench and is settling into a steady 20 to 25 minutes per game.
A spark plug in the second unit, Barea will be asked to provide instant offense and should have success doing so as long as he stays healthy.
Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Amar'e Stoudemire has been a major disappointment for the New York Knicks this season, but things should get a lot better in the second half with Jeremy Lin running the point.
Stoudemire, a player who is known to flourish on the pick-and-roll, will greatly benefit by creating a stable chemistry with Lin that utilizes Stoudemire's strengths on a regular basis.
The one area of concern with Stoudemire is that he hasn't shown the same explosiveness we've seen from him in the past, but an extended rest period during All-Star weekend should help him recharge for a strong postseason push.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Many believed Jrue Holiday would enjoy a breakout season and was a dark-horse candidate to make the All-Star team.
Holiday struggled in February and appeared to be a little tired at times, but the Philadelphia 76ers will need a monumental effort from the starting point guard in order for them to make a serious postseason push.
As long as Holiday can get his jump shot to consistently find the bottom of the net and facilitate the offense with a bit more ease, he's going to be a much better player than he showed during the first half.
Raymond Felton, Portland Trail Blazers
Raymond Felton could really benefit from going to a team that will use him in a large role.
He seems to be drawing a lot of scrutiny in Portland and can't seem to grasp the confidence of Nate McMillan. Felton is someone who has the potential to flourish elsewhere.
Conditioning is always a concern with Felton, but he is a point guard who is capable of finding his teammates when open.
He makes poor decisions at times when it comes to his ill-advised jump shots; a new team, where he could focus on less scoring, may be exactly what he needs.