7 Most Mysterious Players in the NBA

Stephen Fenech@Fenech2491Correspondent ISeptember 16, 2012

7 Most Mysterious Players in the NBA

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    While NBA writers do their best to project what will happen once the season begins, no one knows what will transpire until the games are actually being played.

    The performances of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul are all likely to be excellent, but some players have more mysterious futures.

    Whether certain players had an off season due to injury or not being able to fit into their previous teams' system, there are a lot of questions circling around players like Lamar Odom

    If the NBA were easy to predict, it wouldn't be interesting to follow. Watching players and teams with something to prove is an interesting experience, especially when they overcome odds and prove the doubters wrong. 

Jeremy Lin

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    Jeremy Lin took the NBA by storm last season as he led the New York Knicks on a magical run that kept them in the playoff hunt despite the absence of Carmelo Anthony

    If Lin had performed at a similar level on almost any other NBA team, Linsanity would not have exploded in the manner that it did. Since Lin was playing in the media capital of the country, his performance was magnified innumerably. 

    Lin's month-and-a-half of strong play earned him a three-year $25 million contract from the Houston Rockets, which the Knicks declined to match. 

    While it shouldn't surprise anyone that a middling team decided to overpay for an unproven player, Lin has weaknesses that need to be addressed if he is to become a quality starting point guard over the course of a full season.

    First, he must improve his ability to drive to his left. Prior to his injury, defenders were daring him to drive left, and he was unable to get the job done. 

    Second, any improvement to his jump shot would make him much more difficult to guard because defenders wouldn't be able to give him as much room on the perimeter. 

    The Rockets don't know what they are getting in Lin, but no one does. 

    That being said, Houston will need Lin to blossom into a star to be a relevant team in the Western Conference this season. 

Mario Chalmers

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    Mario Chalmers broke out onto the national scene when he hit a three-pointer against the Memphis Tigers in the final seconds of regulation of the 2008 NCAA National Championship Game.

    As it turned out, that shot was the biggest of several tournament highlights for the Kansas Jayhawks, as they won the NCAA title in overtime. 

    Even his clutch shot at the biggest moment in all of college basketball that season couldn't propel Chalmers into the first round, as he was taken by the Miami Heat with the fourth pick in the second round in 2008.

    Through the first four years of his NBA career, Chalmers has averaged double-digits in points only once and has yet to stand out as a great player.

    However, the way Chalmers' career is viewed changed after his spectacular performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals. With the Heat up 2-1 in the series and opposing point guard Russell Westbrook having a game for the ages, Chalmers kept the Heat close by scoring 25 points and energizing his team.

    The question is, which Chalmers is the real one?

    Is it the guy who has no problem playing fourth or fifth fiddle on the Heat, or is he the player who hit one of the most clutch shots in NCAA history and took over Game 4 of the NBA Finals with everything on the line?

    If the answer is the latter, then the Heat will be an awfully tough out come playoff time. 

Brandon Roy

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    Brandon Roy retired on December 10th, 2011 due to a lack of cartilage in both knees, leaving the Portland Trail Blazers with a below-average team. 

    While it seemed unlikely that Roy would make a comeback, a comeback is exactly what Roy decided to this offseason.

    Upon announcing his desire to return the the NBA and hosting a few workouts, Roy was offered a two-year contract from the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves to play shooting guard.

    If Roy is able to play anywhere near the level he did during his prime in Portland, then the Timberwolves will be a playoff team once Ricky Rubio returns from injury.  

    I will certainly be rooting for Roy this season, but it wouldn't come as a surprise if his knees simply can't handle the grind of another rigorous NBA season. 

Ryan Anderson

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    Ryan Anderson won the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Year Award for his play during the 2011-12 regular season, but much of that success could be attributed to Dwight Howard's presence in the post for the Orlando Magic.

    While Anderson has a unique combination of three-point shooting proficiency and offensive rebounding, there is no guarantee that he will be able to produce at the level that earned him the Most Improved Player award.

    Howard's ability to draw double teams gave Anderson a handful of open looks every night—something that wasn't the case at the end of the season and during the first round of the playoffs. 

    Over the course of the 2011-12 season, Anderson averaged 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 39.3 percent from behind the arc. That production clearly made Anderson the second-best player on the 2012 Magic, but he will be a member of the New Orleans Hornets this season.

    With the arrival of Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Anderson, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the Hornets as training camp approaches.

    In the playoffs, with Howard unavailable due to a back injury, Anderson averaged just 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds on 40 percent shooting from three-point range. 

    Anderson could prove that his poor performance in the playoffs was a fluke, or it could turn out that he simply can't produce at the same level without a center that is consistently drawing double teams.

    While Davis has the potential to be the NBA's next great center, he won't draw as many double teams as Howard did during Anderson's career year.

    Anderson will have to find ways to get himself open more on his own next season, or he will be labeled as an overrated player who was a product of Stan Van Gundy's system.  

JaVale McGee

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    JaVale McGee is the most athletically gifted seven-footer in the NBA and has the ability to dominate the vast majority of centers that he faces. 

    If you don't believe me, just ask Hakeem Olajuwon who said the following about McGee after training him as reported by MyFoxHouston.com:

    He has tremendous talent. I give him all these moves and he can finish and he's already skilled. So now just show him how to use that skill to (get) to the next level.

    Considering the fact that Olajuwon was perhaps the most technically sound center in NBA history and an absolute force in his prime, I don't take that quote lightly. 

    McGee outplayed Andrew Bynum in multiple games during their first-round playoff series in 2012, and he emerged as one of the game's most dominant big men. 

    However, McGee's performance with the Washington Wizards from 2008-11 cannot be completely overlooked. His rocky play in the nation's capital still makes him a bit of a question mark heading into this season. 

    If McGee is the player the Nuggets think he is—they signed him to a very lucrative deal during the offseason— then the Nuggets will be competitive with the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

    At the end of the day, McGee has the potential to be the one of the league's top-five centers for years to come. If he listens to Nuggets coach George Karl and keeps his head on straight, then he will make those who believed in him look very smart.  

Tyreke Evans

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    The Sacramento Kings drafted Tyreke Evans with the fourth pick in the 2009 NBA draft, and he made management look smart when he won the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award.

    During his rookie campaign, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. He also 45.8 percent from the field but an ugly 25.5 percent from behind the arc.

    As a rookie, Evans appeared to be on the road to stardom. At the time, Evans was viewed as one of the NBA's next great players and along with DeMarcus Cousins, would lead the Kings back to relevance and help keep the franchise rooted in Sacramento.

    Unfortunately for both Evans and the city of Sacramento, the Memphis product has regressed statistically in each of the past two seasons and can't find a position with which he is truly comfortable.

    At 6' 6", Evans is viewed as too big to play point guard, but he doesn't have the shooting touch to play shooting guard or small forward.

    Until Evans is able to carve out a niche that enables him to play up to his potential, it will be impossible to know what could be expected from him on a nightly basis.

    Both Evans the Kings could very well be on the move soon, as Evans is in the final year of his contract, and the Kings haven't been able to secure a new arena in Sacramento.

    It remains to be seen if Evans will be part of the Kings future no matter where they end up playing. 

Lamar Odom

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    Lamar Odom was an integral member of the Los Angeles Lakers teams that won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.

    While the Lakers didn't make it to the NBA Finals in 2011, Odom still performed admirably and was one of the best players coming off the bench in the NBA.  

    The 2012 season saw Odom get traded to the Dallas Mavericks prior to the regular season in a move that looked great for the Mavs.

    As it turned out, Odom never wanted to be in Dallas and had the worst season of his career. When it was all said and done, he averaged 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and a PER of 9.26, which was significantly below the league average.

    Odom was sent home after the 2012 All-Star Game, and was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers during the offseason.

    It is assumed that one of the reasons for Odom's paltry 2012 season was that he wasn't happy in the Dallas area. Now that he is back inside the friendly confines of the Staples Center and in Los Angeles, the question is, will he be able to regain his past form?

    The Clippers are hoping that he is able to perform like the Sixth-Man of the Year award winner which he once was.

    There is a lot of mystery surrounding Odom, but if he pans out, the Clippers will be a much better team.