Time flies when you're having fun, or when it's a shortened NBA season.
The NBA playoffs are right around the corner. That means it's time to separate the men from the boys and the contenders from the pretenders.
Who will step up when the bright lights come on? Who will let their team down in the most important moments?
Only time will tell, or I could tell you right now.
You may be surprised to find your favorite player on this list. But at the end of the day, you've got to be able to handle the truth.
Some players have that extra gear, and some will never reach their full potential.
Before you know it, these guys will be sitting on the couch watching the NBA postseason with you.
Joe Johnson is one of those wanna-be superstars who gets paid but doesn't produce like one.
At times, it seems as though there is hope for Johnson. Times when he breaks out for 37 (mind you, in a four-overtime game), but then he follows up with 11- and 12-point outings.
It looks as though Josh Smith should be making the money in Atlanta.
That being said, let me save you Hawk fans some trouble. Don't go into the playoffs once again with hopes of your team getting anywhere fast. This is not the year Johnson goes crazy and leads the Hawks to the conference finals. He's not a superstar, as much as the media and Atlanta fans want him to be.
The only advantage the Hawks will likely have is matching up with Dwight Howard in the first round. Why is that an advantage? Because the big man will probably check out the minute his team goes down a game. But, don't worry, Johnson will find some way to ruin the Hawks playoff run once again.
Maybe if we stop trying to label him a superstar, the pressure will be lifted and he'll become a better, more consistent player. But I doubt it.
If the Knicks make the playoffs, they will match up with Derrick Rose and the Bulls or the Miami Heat. Both are good defensive teams. Both will give Jeremy Lin trouble.
In Lin's absence, Baron Davis has been playing good basketball. It will be interesting to see how Mike Woodson handles Lin's return. When he is able, Lin will likely be inserted back into the starting lineup and into a huge national spotlight come playoff time.
Once again, everyone will find themselves cheering for Lin to take down the big dogs. Let me be the first to tell you, it's not going to happen. We saw what happened when Lin faced a swarming Heat defense at the peak of Linsanity. And although he played Rose pretty well, playoff D-Rose is a different story and a lot harder to handle.
There will be no Linning for the Knicks come playoff time. When Linsanity is over, it will be brought to an end when his true colors show in a four-game series against a good defense.
If the playoffs started today, the Lakers would play the Memphis Grizzles, a team that would likely be seeded higher if they hadn't been battling injuries all season. However, the playoffs don't start today. By the time they do, the playoff picture in the West probably will look much different.
That being said, I wouldn't bank on Pau Gasol showing up for the Lakers this year, no matter who they play.
It's been a tough year for Pau, with trade speculation and his becoming the team's third option on offense. And with the arrival of Ramon Sessions, Pau's role has been reduced even further. It's only a matter of time before this starts playing with his head. Maybe that will happen just in time for playoffs.
When Pau doesn't get touches, Pau checks out. And when Pau checks out, the Lakers become less effective.
Gasol's poor play won't keep the Lakers from advancing to the second round. But it will persist for as long as LA is in the playoffs and will come back to haunt them, sooner rather than later.
Andre Iguodala is not a scorer. I use this term graciously, but he's an NBA superstar who plays good defense. Talk about your oxymorons. The guy enjoys it.
That being said, that doesn't bode well for the 76ers. Who do they go to with the game on the line? They can't go to Iggy. They'd be better off giving the ball to Jrue Holiday or Louis Williams. But Iguodala is their guy, meaning he will get the ball.
How many game-winners have you seen him hit during his career? One, maybe two? It's not that he won't show up in the playoffs. It's just that he's not the one to look to for buckets, and that will eventually hurt his team enough to result in another early playoff exit.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Lob City will be no longer when the playoffs begin.
Since neither Blake nor Deandre Jordan has been in the playoffs, I'm not sure they understand what teams will be willing to do to keep them away from the basketball, whether it be undercutting or fouling them extremely hard.
Chris Paul can tell them. Playoff basketball is on another level.
With that being said, Blake's easy buckets will be few and far between. Aside from dunking, he doesn't exactly have a polished offensive game.
Don't get me wrong, he will still get his due because of the the pick-and-roll with Paul. But let's be honest. His jumper is sub-par, and his moves don't go much past a little jab step or hesitation.
If the Clipper do lose in the first round, it will be on Griffin's shoulders because, I assure you, CP3 will show up. This won't be his first rodeo.
Just don't expect Griffin's high-flying act to continue in April.
Is Danny Granger a superstar? Is he even the best player on the Pacers?
Well, that's the common belief. But as good as he is on NBA 2K12, he's far from his video-game counterpart in real life.
The Pacers are a pretty deep team from top to bottom, but they are still looking for that guy with a killer instinct who they can go to with the game on the line.
They have been trying to make Granger this guy for years, yet he still hasn't developed that killer instinct. But for some reason, they are still trying to develop it.
If the Pacers find themselves in any close games in the playoffs, they will lose. The ball will be in Granger's hands and they will lose. Until they select, draft, sign or trade for a closer, the Pacers will never be an elite team in the NBA.
Dwight Howard is not fooling me. I don't care if he signs a 10-year extension, it's clear he doesn't want to be in Orlando any longer, and I don't blame him.
Howard has checked out for a long time now. Although he claims to believe that his team can win a championship this year, it's not hard to make an argument against such a belief.
There's no doubt about it, Howard is the most dominant big man in the game today. But as much as Howard doesn't want to be the second option, that's his role on this Magic team of scrubs (oops, I mean "shooters.")
The Magic will likely be able to squeak out of the first round, if they do manage to stay the No. 3 seed. However, advancing anywhere past that is not likely.
Howard will never be able to lead a team to a championship by himself. He can't make free throws and his teammates would have to shoot something like 80 percent from the field whenever he's double-teamed. And that's almost impossible.
Howard already has failed his team with his wishy-washy attitude that has his team and coach unsure of his future. He would have been doing Orlando a favor by demanding a trade.
As good as he is, he lacks the mental focus to be considered great, at least for now. Even though they'll make the playoffs, look for your local Magic players at Disney World sometime in May. They won't make it to June.