NBA Preview: 6 People Not Named Derrick Rose with the Most to Prove
Lennart Preiss/Getty Images
If you Googled "Derrick Rose" and this article came up, I apologize now because it's not likely you’re going to get what you were looking for. Don't fret, there's a little bit of D-Rose sprinkled in here.
Even though it’s a pre-season game, all eyes will be on center court at the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night when the Chicago Bulls take on the Indiana Pacers. Derrick Rose will lace up his Adidas for his first NBA game since tearing his ACL on April 28, 2012.
In order to ensure a complete, un-rushed recovery, D-Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season, and a lot of fans and critics who questioned his heart and integrity think he has a lot to prove this year. I can agree with that statement but I don't believe he should be the lone bearer of the scarlet "S" (for "scrutiny" of course) this season.
My point? Critics need to start spreading the wealth. There a few other NBA figures that have more to prove this season than Derrick Rose—at least six by my count. Lets take a quick glance at six gentlemen that should be the topic of analytic discussion before the new season begins.
Give it up for Team Scrutiny!
6. DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins signed a huge extension with the Kings this summer.
Rocky Widner/Getty Images
DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended, dismissed from team activities and fined. How does management scold him? By signing him to a 4-year contract extension worth about $62 million.
I don't know whether the Sacramento Kings front office is actually serious about making one of the league's most immature players the face of their franchise, or if it is trying to punish him by forcing him to stay with the lackluster team for the next four years.
Either way, that's a lot of cheddar to give to a grown man that openly pouts on the bench.
I believe that by giving Cousins that huge extension, the Kings are hoping the talented big man will start to understand what type of responsibilities they are placing on his shoulders. With Tyreke Evans being shipped off to New Orleans, Cousins is now the ONLY option the Kings have to run their offense through.
Shaquille O'Neal, a long time Cousins supporter, recently purchased a piece of the Sacramento Kings. Maybe the Kings allowed that deal to take place to provide DeMarcus with a Hall of Fame mentor. If O'Neal can't keep Cousins from "Shaq-tin'" a fool, I don't know who can.
5. Blake Griffin
Hopefully Griffin learned some valuable lessons from the Clippers playoff loss to the Grizzlies last season.
Joe Murphy/Getty Images
During many parts of the last season's first round playoff match-up between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies, I thought I accidentally changed the channel and was watching a basketball themed episode of HBO's Oz.
Blake Griffin has shown on many occasions that his athleticism is matched by very few big men in the NBA, but what was exposed in this playoff series was Griffin's lack of toughness. Randolph was taking matters back to the streets and Blake was not willing to exit his Kia Optima and get dirty.
Randolph openly admitted that he was trying to punk Griffin, and he succeeded in doing so for the world to see. We all know what happens to the kid who gets punked in public. Either he continues to get sand kicked in his face, or he toughens up.
If this season's revamped Clippers plan to make a deep run in the playoffs and take over Los Angeles, fans better hope Blake chooses option two and plays with a chip on his shoulder.
4. Carmelo Anthony
Can Carmelo and the Knicks keep the crown of the Kings of New York?
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images
Fact #1: Four out of the five top picks from the 2003 NBA draft have won an NBA championship.
Fact #2: Carmelo Anthony is not one of them.
Yes, people, Darko Milicic has a ring, and Melo doesn't.
Both the Yankees and Mets are not in the post-season, and the Giants and Jets are quickly taking themselves out of playoff contention in this young NFL season. So Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are slowly being handed the burden of carrying the hopes of New York sports fans to the promised land, on their shoulders.
We all know that Melo can get buckets, but with the Eastern Conference getting exponentially stronger, can Anthony sacrifice said buckets to bring some hardware to Manhattan? With many big names being projected to be on next season's free agent market, this season should be a good indication of what direction the Knicks are headed as a team, and if Carmelo Anthony will be given a map.
3. Jason Kidd
Will Jason Kidd's play-calling be as effective from the sidelines as they were on the court?
Fernando Medina/Getty Images
So, the Brooklyn Nets built a star-studded team in the off-season that is ready to contend for a championship. Now all they need is a capable head coach.
Who do they get?
Phil Jackson? Nope.
George Karl? Uh uh.
One of the Van Gundys? Wrong... two times.
"Hey Jason Kidd just retired yesterday and has no coaching experience whatsoever, lets hand him the keys to the franchise."
Was this Jay (no more hyphen) Z's final gift to the Nets before being forced to sell his share of the team?
Don't get me wrong, Jason Kidd will go down as one of the greatest point guards of all time, but c'mon, make the guy pay his dues just a little bit. Maybe scout for a year, move up to assistant, be an analyst on TNT. I thought there was some kind progression.
I hate to say it but this move was so eccentric, I think a lot of people are looking forward to seeing Jason Kidd fail in his first endeavor as a head coach. He's got the talent on paper, but can his clipboard work make the Nets the saviors of New York basketball? We'll just have to wait and see.
2. Dwight Howard
Can Dwight make Houston his new Metropolis?
Bill Baptist/Getty Images
Dwight Howard was once known for having the brightest smile in the NBA. Last year while in Los Angeles, it looked like he had lost that smile.
Dwight was clearly not having fun playing alongside the Black Mamba. Having his heart, focus and work ethic questioned for most of the season, Howard's character took a huge hit. It didn't get any better when he jumped ship and decided to take his talents to Houston in the off-season.
After creating a soap opera in Orlando the year before coming to the Lakers, it's obvious Mr. D-12 has now added the stigma of being a drama-king along with the criticism of lacking the seriousness to take the direction required to win a championship.
So far, it looks like Dwight has found his smile again, but will he find his edge?
1. Adam Silver
New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has some big shoes to fill.
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images
Under David Stern, the NBA blossomed from a league that fans were giving up on to a global sports conglomerate. Stern ushered in a new and exciting era of professional basketball and wasn't scared to make changes when it looked like the league was beginning to falter.
Last season Stern stepped down and made way for a new commissioner, Adam Silver. That's a hard act to follow, being that David Stern is the only commissioner this generation of NBA fans have ever known.
Will he play it low-key or will he come in with a roar? Will he rule with an iron fist like Roger Goddell of the NFL or be looked upon as an inept buffoon like Bud Selig of the MLB.
Either way, he needs to define himself and the new era he plans to bring into the NBA and step out of David Stern's shadow. It won't be an easy task. That shadow holds Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Larry Bird...its a pretty big shadow.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @j_c_powell .
If you like other things besides sports, check out my blog, Conscious Residue.