Top 5 Players Whose Careers are At a Crossroads
These five players are at a career crossroads. We're looking primarily at young players who've been high draft picks and shown flashes of promise, but haven't been able to sustain their success for a variety of reasons.
Will they figure it out or continue to tease clubs with their potential? Next year could go a long way toward providing the answer.
The NBA’s reliance on younger players means more peaks and valleys. Most of these guys have seen the valley. Will they work their way back toward the peak in 2010.
Comments and discussion are encouraged - Please feel Free!
Center – Andrew Bynum – L.A. Lakers
Armed with a 5\65 Million dollar contract, Bynum has more than set him self up financially for the rest of his life. However it is highly unlikely that he will become “the best center ever” as he proclaimed a few short years ago. Height and talent you cannot teach, but Bynum will not get a chance to showcase his skills with virtually the entire Lakers roster returning. Perhaps Bynum will assert himself to seize the Center position that he has no competition for. Over the past couple of years Bynum has flashed the talent and potential to be the next dominate center of the NBA, the injuries to his knees wrist and shoulders have caused numerous setbacks to what should be a fruitful NBA career.
This year Bynum needs to show that he is worth the investment, while he is still young (21) the Lakers and their fans historically do not have a tremendous amount of patience for underachievers.
Power Forward – Emeka Okafor – New Orleans Hornets
Do you remember when there was a choice between Okafor and Dwight Howard for the number one pick? Now Howard is a superstar and Okafor only seems to have just found the ability to play an entire season in the NBA. Okafor’s numbers have regressed to 13 points and 10 rebounds game which is unacceptable for a player of his talent, and salary.
Okafor is an excellent defensive player that is willing to play defense which will be much appreciated in New Orleans. His scoring should also improve with Chris Paul throwing lob passes in the flow of the offense. Okafor is still very young (26) and while I am unconvinced he’ll ever join the top tier of NBA Centers he should be able to become a complimentary piece in New Orleans.
Small Forward- Luol Deng Chicago Bulls
Deng has been largely ineffective since the 2006 playoffs which earned him his big money contract. While Deng is not deserving of that money I would be greatly disappointed to see Ben Gordon get that type of money.
Chicago is rumored to be willing to trade the veteran as he has not been the player that many saw in that fateful Miami series. Deng is on a downward slope of a career that has seen him injured or ineffective for the past couple of years. Deng claims to be in the best shape of his career after various back, leg, and Achilles injuries that limited his effectiveness.
This year without Ben Gordon Deng needs to be able to step up and assist Derrick Rose in the continued renaissance of basketball in Chicago.
Shooting Guard – Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs
Manu has and is an established star in the NBA, and a mainstay during the Spurs championship runs. However Manu is coming off an injury plagued years, in addition to the 10-15 games he tends to miss per year.
As his contact is expiring this year, and after a summer full of potential trade rumors Ginobili needs to re-establish his dominance on the floor this year. Ginobili’s creativity and recklessness has been a staple of the Spurs every year and they are clearly not the same team with out him. (Re-watch last year’s loss to the Mavericks in the playoffs for a great example).
Richard Jefferson may have been acquired to offset Manu’s absence for any injury he may have, but Ginobili is integral to the Spur’s championship aspirations this year.
Point Guard – Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards
Arenas has always been one of the NBA’s premier showmen, and for the past two years ‘Hibachi’ has been silent on the court, after suffering two knee surgeries in consecutive years. Gilbert has proclaimed that he his healthier and better than he was two years ago when he averaged 27.7 ppg.
While there is much to be desired for Arenas’s ability to become a prototypical point guard, when you are making 111 million you are considered the franchise player. Gilbert must use this year to show that he is still amongst the NBA elite.
At this point Gilbert should be looked upon as the Baron Davis of the Eastern Conference – Oft injured, and self-indulged.