NBA: Top 10 Comeback Players For The 2011 Season
The last NBA Comeback Player of the Year was awarded after the 1986 season. Still, many like to predict which players will improve the most after missing a majority of games in their previous campaign. With the NBA preseason now underway, these individuals are most likely to rebound the strongest as we start the 2010-2011 season.
10. Tracy McGrady
McGrady is finally in a stable situation once again on the Detroit Pistons, and he claims that he is in much better shape than at any point last season.
Although Detroit is crowded at shooting guard and small forward, many forget that McGrady was a two-time scoring champion and can put up points in a heartbeat. Even though there is little chance he returns as a premier small forward as he once was the mid-2000's, McGrady has the chance to be a huge contributor for the Pistons if he can find his niche off the bench.
9. Tony Parker
After numerous injuries sidelined Tony Parker throughout the 2009-2010 campaign, Parker looks ready for the 2011 season.
However, Parker now has to deal with the additional pressure of trade talks and reduced playing time after the emergence of George Hill in the playoffs last season.
No team seems to silence critics better than the San Antonio Spurs, and I would expect nothing less than a great year from Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and company. Parker was good for about 18 points, six assists, and around 50% shooting per game two seasons ago, and we should see similar numbers once again this year.
8. Andris Biedrins
Biedrins appears healthy for training camp after back and groin injuries limited him to 33 games in 2009-10.
This is the first time Biedrins will have the opportunity to play with a true big man in former-Knick, David Lee. As the David Lee hype has increased, so will the defensive attention paid to him in the paint. This should lead to easy scoring opportunities for Biedrins, and a huge increase from the five points per game he averaged a season ago.
With Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Anthony Tolliver also departing from Golden State, Biedrins will get consistent playing time and should regain his double-double form from the 2008-2009 season.
7. Tyler Hansbrough
After sporadically playing in his freshman season due to an inner ear infection and vertigo problems, Tyler Hansbrough seems poised to start at power forward after Troy Murphy was traded to the New Jersey Nets.
Hansbrough's only competition for the job in Indiana is Josh McRoberts, so the opportunity for major minutes is likely.
The addition of Darren Collison, a potential All-Star, will make it far easier for Hansbrough to put points on the board. Hansbrough's never-ending tenacity on the glass should also result in increased rebounding numbers with the thin Pacer frontcourt.
6. Travis Outlaw
After a very solid 2008-2009 season, Travis Outlaw experienced a stress fracture in his foot, limiting him to 34 games in his 2009-2010 campaign.
Outlaw is a very long and athletic combo forward that took a while to come around, but makes a big impact with his mid-range jumper and has improved drastically on the defensive end.
Now with a 5-year, $35 million contract, Outlaw becomes a viable starting option for the New Jersey Nets, where talent is becoming more prevalent. He will have an opportunity to put up some big numbers that could catapult him to the top of the Comeback Player of the Year discussion.
5. Greg Oden
Seemingly a consistent Comeback Player of the Year candidate in years past, Greg Oden is coming off a knee injury that ended his 2009-2010 season after 21 games.
With Marcus Camby now in the mix in the frontcourt, Oden knows that he needs to step up as a consistent contributor in order to maintain his minutes.
There is no reason to think he won't. Oden increased his numbers to 11 points, nine rebounds, and over two blocks per game early in the 2009 season.
Entering his fourth season, Portland is expecting him to accumulate even better numbers in the 2011 campaign.
4. Anthony Randolph
After sitting out the final 49 games of last season with ankle and back problems, Anthony Randolph was traded to the New York Knicks in the offseason.
Randolph showed his athleticism and potential last season, averaging 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and almost two blocks per game in Don Nelson's run-and-gun offense. He enters a similar system with new coach, Mike D'Antoni, but doesn't have to endure Nelson's erratic substitutions and a crowded front-court.
He will be the go-to-guy at power forward, and the attention of defenses will be paid to All-star Amare' Stoudemire, allowing for Anthony Randolph to have a breakout season.
3. Gilbert Arenas
After being suspended for all but 32 games of the 2010 season following his locker room gun incident, Arenas says he is back in the best shape of his life.
He definitely has all of the critics to prove wrong, and now the Washington Wizards have added first overall pick, John Wall, to unload some of the pressure off Arenas. With this new addition, Gilbert will be able to play both on and off the ball, making him an even more dangerous “weapon.”
Still having the ability to put up 40 points on any given night, Arenas is a viable threat to average between 20 and 25 points per game this season.
2. Yao Ming
Yao missed all of last season with a foot injury and has been told he will be limited to 24 minutes per game this year. Still, Yao is poised to average around 15 points, ten rebounds, and a couple blocks per game even under these restrictions.
His size, post moves, and efficient shooting from the field and free throw line make Yao an undeniable threat if healthy. Numbers around the 55% shooting and 86% from the charity stripe that Yao put up in the 2008-2009 season, still make him one of the best centers in the league.
Even if he can only regain most of the form that he had previously in his career, Yao will be a likely candidate for the award.
1. Blake Griffin
A strong candidate for both Rookie and Comeback Player of the Year, Blake Griffin is now back to 100 percent and will enter camp with no restrictions after a left knee injury sidelined him for his entire rookie season.
With no competition at power forward, playing time will be plentiful and the Los Angeles Clippers will rely on the former number one pick to contribute immediately.
Many experts predict Griffin to average almost 20 points, ten rebounds, and 50% shooting from the field, numbers well-deserving of these awards. Some may think these numbers are flighty, but with Baron Davis feeding him the ball, the Clippers expect Griffin to become the focal point of the offense immediately.