Perhaps no profession better embodies the old adage “what have you done for me lately?” than professional sports, where impossible feats are quickly forgotten and titles taken for granted.
The lead-up to each NBA season is no different, as fans bide their summer dog days attempting to pinpoint next year’s narrative threads. For good or ill, such speculation is bound to include who—from teams to players to coaches—has the most to prove heading into November.
Today, we’ll examine nine players who, fairly or unfairly, fall squarely into this narrative camp. Some are tried and true champions undertaking new challenges, others in the vanguard of the NBA’s youth movement, while still others remain in search of some elusive goal, be it a title or something altogether intangible.
The league’s global popularity might mean no one is completely immune to the searing spotlight. These guys, by contrast, could use some SPF 5,000.