7 NBA Teams That Desperately Need a Franchise Star

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2012

7 NBA Teams That Desperately Need a Franchise Star

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    One star can't single-handedly win an NBA championship, because a cohesive team effort is needed in order to sustain true success.

    But having a prime-time franchise star or two is a tremendous advantage, and in most cases, you can't win without one.

    There are only so many landmark figures in the league to go around, and therefore, there are a bunch of teams on the outside looking in because they are without a true master of basketball.

    Some franchises can get away with lacking a megastar, but several squads are in desperate need of some hardwood royalty in order to compete or take the next step.

Houston Rockets

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    Shooting guard Kevin Martin is a highly-skilled scorer, and 2012 sensation Jeremy Lin is an enormously popular sports figure— but neither player is a true franchise star.

    Entering the 2012-13 campaign, the Houston Rockets can't count on any one player to lead them to a deep run in the Western Conference playoffs.

    There are a couple of players on the roster who might eventually be franchise stars. If Jeremy Lin builds on last season's breakthrough and develops into a top-tier point guard, he could be a cornerstone. Royce White also has the upside and potential to be a versatile superstar.

    For now, Houston's collective potential is stymied because they lack a lead dog.

Toronto Raptors

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    Among the faces on Toronto's roster are three lottery picks, including a former No. 1 overall selection, and two Olympians.

    The Raptors also have free-agent additions Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields.

    When you add up all these components, the club's competitiveness is still not even close to the level it attained when superstar Vince Carter was in town or when Chris Bosh was the main attraction.

    There's no doubt that Andrea Bargnani and company are going to improve from a record and entertainment-value standpoint. But they won't climb toward the top of the Atlantic Division unless they get a franchise star who can go toe-to-toe with Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and Andrew Bynum.

Orlando Magic

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    The good news in Orlando is that the 1,000-ton gorilla in the room, otherwise known as Dwight Howard, is gone. The public relations nightmare is over.

    The bad news is that the squad is left with a slew of middle-tier spare parts who will be lucky to engineer a fourth-place finish in the Southeast Division.

    New head coach Jacque Vaughn isn't without some decent talent to work with. Jameer Nelson still has some fuel left, Arron Afflalo could flourish in an increased role and Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are exciting prospects.

    Unfortunately, this assemblage of players needs a lot more than Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu and the aforementioned athletes to succeed. General manager Rob Hennigan has an uphill battle in his first few seasons at the helm.

Phoenix Suns

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    Phoenix's situation is a bit brighter than Orlando's, as the team made a couple of quality acquisitions in the offseason. But the tough reality for them is that they need a figure of magnitude also.

    Since 2004, the Suns were fortunate to have an all-world point guard in Steve Nash. Now that he's gone, they didn't just lose a good point guard.

    They'll miss his control of the game, dual threat of shooting and passing, leadership and grit. Lastly, they'll miss his presence in the locker room and in the world, representing the franchise.

    Slovenian floor general Goran Dragic has become a productive NBA guard. He notched 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game along with 46 percent field-goal shooting in 2011-12. He's surrounded by a capable pivot man and some talented swingmen.

    That's a good start, but it all adds up to a .500 finish and a No. 8 seed at best.

Indiana Pacers

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    Easily the best team on this list, the Indiana Pacers' need for a franchise star can be summed up in this picture. 

    No one can stop LeBron James, but teams with dynamic stars can solve him in a series (for example, Paul Pierce in 2008, Dwight Howard in 2009, Dirk Nowitzki in 2011).

    But what about Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert? The Pacers can't be desperate for a star if they have those two, right?

    The harsh truth is they need much more than what these two provide. Hibbert will be consistently productive throughout his career, but his ceiling isn't sky-high, and Danny Granger might have peaked in 2009-2010.

    Indiana played terrific basketball to challenge the Bosh-less Heat in May, but the squad didn't improve enough this offseason to make the next step in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers won't get themselves a franchise star anytime soon, and that's why they'll hit a wall every spring.

Utah Jazz

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    It's no coincidence that the most glorious days in the history of the Utah Jazz were when some sort of dynamic duo was running the show.

    Aside from the John Stockton and Karl Malone years, the Jazz also enjoyed elite Western Conference status when Olympians Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer were firing on all cylinders.

    Fast-forward to today. Utah is in the middle of the road in the West despite having several productive, fundamentally-sound players.

    Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are outstanding forwards, but they lack the star gene that can lead a team to new heights.

    Derrick Favors (21) and Enes Kanter (20) have bright futures, but their days as franchise stars won't come until 2014-15, if at all.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    After the 2011-12 catastrophe, the Charlotte Bobcats are in need of everything, and that includes a franchise star that can make them relevant in the Eastern Conference.

    They might have him on the roster already (rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), but we won't know for sure until he gets a year or so under his belt.

    Charlotte gave up more than 100 points per game last season, and only mustered 87 of its own per night. It's going to take a lot more than a couple draft picks and Ben Gordon to turn this unit into a winner.

    Michael Jordan must hope that Gilchrist becomes a rock for the franchise. Even if he does, they'll still probably need to bring in a major piece that actually intimidates opponents when they see "Charlotte" on the schedule.

     

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