Well, it's that time of year again where the sky clears up and buying a ticket to an NBA game actually means something. We've all seen the guy who came out of nowhere to become a known man during the Playoffs. Last year it was Trevor Ariza, and his stellar defense that made him a talked about player in homes across the nation. In the past, John Starks made his name against the Bulls with his thunderous jam in the 1993 NBA playoffs over MJ and Horace Grant. And who can forget Celtic Glenn McDonald's eight clutch points in overtime in what could have been the greatest game of all-time. (1976 NBA Finals, Game 5) Here in no particular order are ten guys who have the potential to increase their play and in turn increase their pay.
The former Tar Heel and second overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft is for many including myself the Ringo Starr of the Atlanta Hawks. There is a very solid starting lineup outside of Williams who can carry the load along with blossoming 6th man Jamal Crawford. However, the emergence or lack thereof pertaining to Williams is the key factor. Everyone knows the Hawks can score, but their ability to play true, lock-down d, has more question marks surrounding it than trading Dominique Wilkins for Danny Manning. Assuming Atlanta gets by Milwaukee, the next two rounds would include match ups against Vince Carter and Paul Pierce or LeBron James. For Atlanta to have any chance in those series, it will be up to Marvin to step up his defensive play against these proven all-stars.
Fact #1 Brandon Roy is out for the Playoffs.
Fact #2 Marcus Camby is a former Defensive Player of the Year and was still second in the league in rebounding this year.
Fact #3 Marcus Camby has been productive as long as Kobe, Steve Nash, Iverson, Jesus Shuttlesworth, etc. and still is overlooked constantly for his defensive prowess.
Fact #4 I think he looks like Jay-Z, yeah I said it I think he looks like today's top MC, maybe it's because they both block weak attempts towards them.
Fact#5 The Blazers HAVE ALREADY lost to the Suns in the first round
Well, the last statement is not a fact, but if you have the mindset that I hold, then you believe Grant Hill will make it out of the first round for the first time. The Blazers do not have a true offense to run through without Brandon Roy, sorry Blazers fans, it is just not there. Therefore, they will have to rely on their defense against the deadly Suns offense. If the Blazers have any hope in this series it's that they can slow the tempo down, play tough defense (through Camby) and hope that their backcourt can fill in Roy's shoes sufficiently. I don't believe the Blazers can pull out this underdog story even with the brawn and heart of Rocky Balboa showing. If somehow they can pull this out, Marcus Camby will have played the series of his career and finally get the recognition he deserves.
Stephen Jesse Jackson has been an enigma of the NBA ever since he began playing for and winning a championship with the San Antonio Spurs. A large key in the cog for the Spurs he never truly earned notoriety for his play there. Rather, he earned notoriety for being Ron Artest's right hand man along with Jermaine O'Neal in the Brawl from the Palace of Auburn Hills. He followed that by arriving in Golden State and along with Baron Davis taking down Dirk Nowitzki and the #1 seed Dallas Mavericks. He now has the chance to cement together a career known as a great player throughout the country once and for all. He leads a team that has never been to the playoffs against a team that just went to the Finals and is highly favored to lose against them. He can, like Alonzo Mourning before him, lead a Charlotte team to their first Playoff series win in team history. That would not only place him in the loving hearts of the city of Charlotte, but once and for all put it out there that good or bad Jackson is one bad cat in the spring.
In the NBA, every Batman has his Robin. Ever year the trophy stands behind at least two main men if not three. This year will be no exception. The Lakers have Kobe and Pau, the Magic have Dwight and Rashard, but who does LeBron have at his Robin position? Most would put that title upon Antawn Jamison, the new acquisition that can do so many little things to sure up the team. I can understand that thinking, but in a sink or swim mentality without Mo giving it a go this team would simply sink. LeBron is probably the best player in the league, but as we know he can't do it all. It showed in the Conference Finals last season how strong of a need Williams' key jumpers are to their team. Even with Jamison and Shaq now in place he is still the key face. If Cleveland gets their first title since the days of Jim Brown, it will be due to the clutch play of Maurice 'Mo Titles' Williams.
The Slam Dunk Competition is exciting and tantalizing, a respectable and amusing title for most. Being a Knick and winning that award though, just leaves you in forgotten company with Kenny "Sky" Walker. That being said, if you are not playing in May or June no one gives a damn about you. Nate now will taste the Playoffs for the first time as a Celtic in the most dire of situations. His minutes have been limited and he's been the spark plug off the bench. His team has dreams of winning a title and haven't been able to wake up to the reality that the title is not going to be in Boston. This might be Nate's biggest task: filling in and with the Doc's permission going out and being the last ingredient needed to form a Finals run. He can hit the jumpers, play tight d, run the floor, all the things on the basketball court needed, but that might not be enough. The cohesiveness of the team is not on steady ground due to the weakening of the defense that was so good two years ago. The key bench play of Robinson might be vital but we must wait and see what we get from the Celtic starters. I see the Celtics going out in the second round resulting in the inability of Nate getting recognition as that "little guy who can do more than dunk" across the nation. We can only wait and see if I'm wrong or if the games are in a range for Robinson to impact them.