8 NBA Players Who Have the Most to Prove in Season's 2nd Half
NBA All-Star Weekend has once again come and gone, leaving teams just enough time to make improvements for this year's playoffs.
Along with teams seeking improvements, some players will be looking to better themselves in hopes of gaining momentum for the postseason and/or securing a better future.
Whether these players are looking to have a better second half, taking the court for the first time this season or possibly suiting up for a new team this year or next, all of these players have something to prove.
Here are the eight NBA players who have the most to prove in the season's second half.
Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers
I don't know about you, but if I have to see one more horrendous Andrew Bynum hairstyle, I think I might go crazy.
Bynum has yet to take the court this season since being traded this offseason to the Philadelphia 76ers. The man often regarded second-best center in the league has once again been sidelined due to a knee injury and may still be a while away.
While Bynum should focus on getting his knees back to 100 percent before making his debut, his value could take a major hit if he doesn't return.
Set to become a free agent at the end of the season, it's safe to say that Bynum has a lot riding on his return. If Bynum can prove that he can come back healthy, he could be in for a huge payday at the end of the season.
Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets
The 6'6" shooting guard has had a tough time all year carving out a role in the Nuggets' offense. While Iguodala has been able to prove himself as a capable rebounder and willing passer, his 13.2 points per game average is not worth the nearly $15 million he is being paid.
Iguodala should be putting up more points and is more than capable of doing it without sacrificing rebounds and assists. The Nuggets need more offensive production from Iguodala if they want to make serious run this postseason.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Jennings is once again turning in a good season, but is he worth a max contract deal?
Jennings has been reported to be seeking a max deal this offseason as he will become a restricted free agent. While Jennings could be a potential superstar in the future, he is currently not worth that kind of money.
Although Jennings has been putting up pretty good numbers this season of 18.8 points and 6.1 assists per game, he has been doing it on a terrible shooting percentage. In eight games this month, Jennings has shot an atrocious 35 percent from the field.
Jennings will be looking for a huge pay increase from his current deal of around $3 million a year, and if he wants it, he has to play better.
Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers
Danny Granger has yet to star in his first game this season, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a lot to prove.
The 6'8" small forward will have high expectations as soon as he returns, as he will essentially be the fix to the Indiana Pacers' offensive woes. Along with this expectation, Granger will have to prove that he can gel with Paul George and his new leadership role.
While it seems very likely that Granger will be able to jump back into the rotation without issue, he still must show it. Granger could be that guy who puts the Pacers over the top and makes them serious title contenders.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
While Williams did perform statistically well in his first full season with the team last year, he has considerably dropped off since then and has flat out struggled.
This season, Williams is currently averaging 16.8 points and 7.6 assists on 41 percent shooting. While these numbers are still impressive, these numbers are considerably lower than his last four seasons in Utah.
Williams has battled injuries throughout this season and has even blamed the Nets' current system for his lack of production. Williams is still one of the league's top point guards and has the necessary skills to turn his season around.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
The days of Dirk Nowitzki dominating the game seem to have come to a screeching halt.
Since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery this past December, Nowitzki has turned in his worse statistical season since his rookie year in 1998.
Nowitzki is currently averaging 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds on 42 percent shooting. While Nowitzki is clearly still working his way back from injury, the power forward is no longer a young gun.
At 34 years old, Nowitzki is in the back end of his career and may soon start to decline. Nowitzki could turn things around before the end of the season, but it wouldn't be surprising if he doesn't.
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Many would have thought the Dwightmare ended the day Dwight Howard was traded from Orlando, but by the looks of it, it may be just beginning.
Since becoming a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard has continued to struggle to find his role in the offense. Although averaging 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, Howard has grown considerably frustrated throughout the season and has made it known numerous times.
Howard continues to be a distraction to the team and seems to regularly try and point out that he still isn't 100 percent. While I do believe Howard is playing injured, it's starting to feel as if he is making excuses for his struggles and the team's.
Howard needs to prove his commitment to L.A. by doing less talking and more playing. Whether he decides to stay or leave at the end of the season, the future of the Lakers is in Howard's hands.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
It's anyone's best guess where Josh Smith will end up before Thursday's trade deadline, but wherever he does end up; he will sure have to prove himself.
Smith is currently in his last year of his contract and has stated that he will be looking for a max contract deal at season's end. While Smith has been putting up All-Star-worthy numbers this season of 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 blocks per game, his attitude and maturity brings up the question of, if he is worth the money?
While I agree that Smith is a great player and can make a huge impact in games, it seems as though it is a bit of stretch that he will receive that kind of money. Nonetheless, if Smith is able to play at a high level and keep his attitude and maturity in check, he could end up cashing in.