Every team needs at least one player who can step up when a star is in a slump.
Many teams are blessed with multiple stars like the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat. This allows a lot more room for error than a team with one great scorer.
Some aren't as fortunate, and it bites them coming down the stretch.
Teams like the New Orleans Hornets or Toronto Raptors could use another option and should look at some transaction possibilities to improve.
This list will not include free agents.
Let's look at some of the players expected to step up big for their squad.
Points Per Game: 16.5
First option: Joe Johnson
With Jamal Crawford likely moving along, Josh Smith could be expected to put up better scoring numbers to help the Hawks. Smith has great leaping ability and athleticism which allows him to finish at an elite level at the basket.
The 6'9" Smith doesn't have the smoothest jumper but can knock down mid-range shots on a consistent enough basis where you have to watch him.
Although Smith might be on the trading block, he will still be a second scoring option on most teams.
Points Per Game: 16.5
First option: Paul Pierce
Just look at the stroke. Could it be the purest in NBA history? Anyway you put it, Allen is the best three-point shooter in the league.
Allen has always had a knack for the long shot, but he also scores from elsewhere with high efficiency. He is in great shape for 36 years old, and although he has never had amazing ability at the rim, Allen can still be a threat anywhere on the floor.
A lot of Boston's 2012 success will rely on if Allen can still score at a productive level. If so, the Celtics could have another title run in them.
Points Per Game: Rookie
First option: Corey Maggette
Before I talk about Walker, let me justify Maggette.
Before Maggette had a weak season in Milwaukee, he was a player that could go for 20 points a night. However, he watch his minutes decrease drastically which lowered his ability to be effective.
With no real scoring threat in Charlotte, Maggette will have to go back to scoring points to help the Bobcats remain competitive.
On to Walker.
Kemba is a rookie coming off an amazing NCAA title run, and expectations are high. So high in fact, I bank on D.J. Augustine landing in a new home post-lockout.
If Walker's junior season for UCONN proves legit, he can score at a high level on an NBA court.
Walker can find ways to get to the basket, and if he can get some nice screens here or there, he can be dangerous.
With a little work on his jumper, could Walker be a 20-point scorer nightly? Only time will tell.
Points Per Game: 17.5
First option: Derrick Rose
Carlos Boozer was considered a letdown for the Bulls in his first year, but he still needs to be that second scoring option once he gets comfortable.
Maybe his hand affected his ability to score, but he is still one of the more efficient scorers in the league with a .537 career field-goal percentage.
Boozer is an effective shooter from mid range and can create shot opportunities off offensive rebounds.
If the former Blue Devil gets back into form, the Bulls could be considered title favorites come playoff time. If he disappears like he did in the Eastern Conference finals, he could hamper Chicago's title hopes.
Points Per Game: Rookie
First option: Antawn Jamison
The reason I put Irving second is because the Cavaliers have a lot of depth at point guard. Odds are they will trade either Baron Davis or Ramon Sessions, but until then, it will be interesting to see how the split playing time.
Irving is the future of the team absolutely, however, Irving could be more effective as a classic pass-first point guard.
A lot of this will be what kind of team Cleveland builds, but with what they have now, Irving could show his scoring ability with a lack of talent around him.
Irving is a rather streaky shooter and has a pretty nice pull-up jumper. Having the quickness he has, look for Kyrie Irving to get to the rim often.
The No. 1 pick is a great playmaker. He will do what is necessary for Cleveland to win.
Points Per Game: 15.8
First option: Dirk Nowitzki
Jason Terry simply torched Miami in the process of helping Dallas win the first championship in franchise history. Terry showed his ability to hit big shots all through the playoffs making him a cornerstone to Dallas' success.
Jason the Jet can hit three-point shots when needed and has an effective mid-range jumper. Scoring is what he does best, and he has never been afraid to put up shots when given the opportunity.
Terry turns 35 in September, and his stats have fallen over the past few years, but Dallas showed age is only a number in the NBA when it comes to winning.
Points Per Game: 12.6
First option: Danilo Gallinari
Arron Afflalo has shown improvements every year in his NBA career and is part of the reason the Nuggets are unlikely to pursue re-signing J.R. Smith.
Along with seeing his minutes go up, Afflalo has raised his points and shooting percentages every season.
Afflalo is capable of great things in this league and without an elite scorer on the team, could watch is numbers and productivity soar.
With Melo gone the Nuggets now must rebuild. However, this is a team that can still compete for a playoff spot as they have a lot of young developing talent.
If Afflalo continues to get better, he could be a key factor in the Nuggets' future.
Points Per Game: Rookie
First option: Richard Hamilton
Detroit has a ton of players on the free agency list, but I would still consider putting Brandon Knight second anyway.
Knight showed he could be a true leader as he was crucial to Kentucky's Final Four run last year. Averaging 18.3 points a game in his Freshman campaign, Knight hit many big shots to propel them to quality wins.
Although Knight had only two points in the first round of tournament play, he made sure it was a game-winner.
Winning two Gatorade National Player of the Year awards in high school shows Knight has true potential and talent.
Knight has good size for a point guard, and if his ability to shoot can translate into the NBA, he can be a valuable starter for years to come.
Points Per Game: 18.6
First option: Monta Ellis
Stephen Curry is improving when it comes to point guard skills but will always be known as an elite shooter.
Curry lacks great athleticism, but what he can do is torch you with jumpers from anywhere on the court. Lacking ability to finish inside, Curry is often seen lurking around the perimeter looking for a chance to get an open jumper.
Although he rarely gets to the line, he is a top notch free-throw shooter at 93.4 percent last year.
It looks like Golden State is building around the young guard. So If Monta Ellis is traded, the Warriors should try to acquire a player who has the tendency to drive, opening up shot opportunities for the sharp shooting Curry.
Points Per Game: 18.3
First option: Kevin Martin
When talking about good big men in the NBA, Luis Scola is usually left out of the conversation. By no means is he a star, but he is a great role player for a team that wants to compete.
Scola has never had a year where he hasn't made at least half of his shot attempts, a much appreciated stat from a forward.
Using his hustle, Scola can score in a variety of ways. He has a good face up shot and is often seen putting in second chance points. He's not the most physical player but runs the floor well giving him more chances to get the ball.
Scola would be an asset on any team, but if Houston wants to trade for a true big man, he could be part of a blockbuster trade.
Points Per Game: 11.6
First option: Danny Granger
George Hill should prove to be a good pickup for Indiana. Although small, Hill could end up being the starting shooting guard for the feisty Pacers.
Hill wouldn't be a second scoring option on most teams, but Indiana has numerous players who could average double digit points this year. Players like Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough will be productive offensive targets, but Hill will be brought in only for scoring purposes.
Hill will be able to generate points in a variety of ways, as he possesses above average athleticism, a 6'9" wingspan and a threatening jumper.
Indiana hopes to be more than an 8-seed next year, George Hill can be a factor to this.
Points Per Game: 22.3
First option: Blake Griffin
Eric Gordon will largely benefit from Blake Griffin's inside dominance. Gordon will often find himself wide open for three-point shots on a pass out or even for a backdoor drive once defenses collapse on Griffin.
Being able to score in bunches, he has all of the things needed to be a top scorer. Gordon has speed, good driving ability, and can hit shots from anywhere around the perimeter.
A lot of the Clippers' success will rest on his shoulders. If Gordon can remain healthy, look for him to put up All-Star numbers and be part of a dangerous duo along with Blake Griffin.
Points Per Game:18.8
First option: Kobe Bryant
Pau is on a team with one of the NBA's best pure scorers in Kobe Bryant, but Gasol has still proven vital to the Lakers' success.
While being considered a typical finesse European, Gasol is a dominant offensive rebounder, averaging 3.3 a game. He also brings a good jump shot and is a great scorer with his back to the basket.
No star can win alone, and that's why it's important for Gasol to score in bunches. Pau had a miserable playoff run in 2011, being eliminated in the Western Conference quarterfinals, but when at his best, he can help guide the Lakers to another title.
Points Per Game: 19.8
First option: Zach Randolph
Rudy Gay was absent in the playoffs due to injury but could have been the difference in a trip to the Western Conference finals.
I truly believe that Gay is the Grizzlies' best scoring option, but watching Randolph destroy defenses in clutch situations gives him the edge.
Gay possesses good length, speed and leaping ability making him a threat all around. He can get the the basket at will and has developed a shooting touch to make him one of the better scorers around.
Rudy Gay has a massive amount of potential, and if he stays in Memphis, he can guide this team to serious playoff contention.
Points Per Game: 25.5
First option: LeBron James
Some critics would have you believing LeBron should be the secondary option to Wade, but it was proven in the finals that James needs to score.
Wade was phenomenal in the finals against Dallas, but it was LeBron's lack of scoring and aggressiveness that truly hurt them. When LeBron is effectively scoring it tends to open up many more opportunities for his teammates, including D-Wade.
What Wade does bring is an elite and unique scoring attack, with the ability to bring home a scoring title any year.
Wade is a top-five scorer in the NBA and is part of the best duo in the league.
If these two can figure out their roles, the Heat can repeat as champs for the next few years.
Points Per Game: 18.5
First option: Brandon Jennings
Stephen Jackson was the best option Charlotte had last year, but he is now going to Brandon Jennings' team.
While Jennings had a worse statistical year in his second season, he shows signs of being a 20-point per game scorer.
What Jackson can do to help is be a consistent offensive threat to really help spread the floor for Jennings.
Stephen Jackson can be a above average scorer, but he will be most effective by lowering his shot attempts and making them count.
Jackson has questionable shooting preferences as he tends to jack up way to many contested shots, especially from three-point range.
He's big for a shooting guard at 6'8". Jackson should use his size advantage to bully smaller defenders and get good looks at the basket.
If Jackson can take a backseat and be a valuable team player, the Bucks could contend for a lower playoff seed.
Points Per Game: 20.2
First option: Michael Beasley
While Kevin Love lead the 'Wolves in scoring last year, he scored a lot of his points in playing the janitor role and cleaning up the offensive boards.
Not only did Love lead the NBA in total rebounds per game, he also lead in offensive rebounds with 4.5 a game.
Love is a good shooter from anywhere on the floor and has the ability to create space for other players. His post game could use some work, but it's when he faces up with the ball he is most effective.
Minnesota has a lot of work to do to become a legit team, but Love is one of the main pieces. Having him and Beasley putting up a combined 40 points a game would be a huge contribution.
Points Per Game: 15.0 (12 games with New Jersey)
First option: Brook Lopez
In 12 games in a Nets' uniform, Williams lowered his points per game and upped his assists by two. This is exactly what is needed for the Nets to compete.
While Lopez is considered soft, Williams has a knack for making big men into good players, just look at Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer.
Williams is a top-three point guard in the NBA and has the ability to both shoot and dish. If New Jersey can surround him some some capable scorers, Williams can make them a contender.
Marshon Brooks has the ability to come in and make an immediate impact which will boost New Jersey. He could take over the second scoring option pending on his success, but for right now, Williams will be the No. 2 guy.
Points Per Game: 10.3
First option: Chris Paul
If this team wants to remain contenders, Emeka Okafor needs to have a big year. It would be nice if Chris Paul didn't have to be the top scorer, but New Orleans might not have that luxury next year.
The Hornets are a mess right now. They are losing eight players to free agency, one of them being David West, the former first option. Above that, New Orleans is currently league owned, making it unlikely players would want to sign there.
With Paul possibly leaving next year, the Hornets should consider rebuilding.
Points Per Game: 25.3
First option: Carmelo Anthony
Although the Knicks were swept by Boston last year, they are still one of the top contenders in the East.
Amar'e is one of the best scoring forwards in the game. He is a ripped, athletic player who has the talents to abuse defenders inside. He's an elite finisher around the rim and looks to score anytime he gets the ball.
If he and Melo mesh well, this will be a dangerous squad.
Points Per Game: 21.9
First option: Kevin Durant
Russell Westbrook has the most potential of anyone on this list. With that statement made there are a few concerns.
Durant and Westbrook didn't mesh well in the Western Conference finals, which could have been the biggest factor in their elimination. Westbrook was questioned for taking bad shots and not involving Durant when needed.
Westbrook is a shoot-first point guard with good ball handling skills. He gets to the basket at will and can finish with authority.
Westbrook needs to average at least 20 points a game, but shot selection should be his biggest fix.
Points Per Game: 13.1
First option: Dwight Howard
The reason Nelson needs to be the second scoring option is because he plays with the best center in basketball, Dwight Howard.
If Nelson can score effectively, it can open up many one on one opportunities for Howard to overpower defenders.
With Howard drawing so much attention whenever he touches the ball, it opens up three-point shots that most teams don't get.
While Reddick is the best shooter on the Magic, Nelson should still get plenty of looks.
Surrounding Howard with knockdown shooters is a must for Orlando's success. Nelson brings enough talent that defenders must keep tabs on him at all times.
Points Per Game: 15.0
First option: Andre Iguodala
Brand was healthy for his second consecutive year in Philly and was big in the 76ers' playoff year.
Brand is a powerful scorer who can be dangerous in the post, but he also gets many second chance points off offensive rebounds.
If Evan Turner doesn't improve this year, Brand will still provide a valuable scoring option.
Points Per Game: 14.7
First option: Marcin Gortat
Steve Nash is a better shooter than Carter, but he is best used dishing the ball.
Nash is always dangerous with his floater and ability to drain deep shots. He is also one of the best free-throw shooters in NBA history, with a career percentage of .904.
If Carter can be reliable, Nash can really help the young players on the team get better.
Points Per Game: 15.9
First Option: LaMarcus Aldridge
Matthews filled in nicely for the injured Brandon Roy, landing him the starting shooting guard position. While Roy's future is in question, Matthews gives them a lot of hope.
The 6'5" guard from Marquette is a strong, physical player who has a lot of talent offensively. He shot well from three-point land last year and was one of the better guards at getting to the rim.
Matthews has the ability to be a quality starter in the NBA if he continues to break out.
Points Per Game: 14.1
First option: Tyreke Evans
Cousins showed tons of promise in his rookie season, but his immaturity could haunt him. With a little work he could be the best scoring option on the team.
There aren't many big men who are as physically gifted as Cousins at 6'11", 270 lbs.
Offensive efficiency should be his biggest concern skill wise during the offseason.
Cousins has the body to move defenders out of his way for good post shots, but making only 43 percent of his attempts hindered the Kings.
Still maturing personally and physically, Cousins a a player to watch in 2012.
Points Per Game: 13.4
First option: Manu Ginobli
The last two seasons we have seen steady decline in Duncan's game. He is taking less shot attempts and playing less minutes.
However, Tim Duncan is still one of the best fundamental scorers in NBA history.
Maybe it's just part of aging, but if the Spurs want another title run Duncan has to be dominating. Not only does that give them the inside presence they need, but it opens up the floor for Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker to do what they do best.
Does Duncan have what it takes to remain an All-Star caliber player?
Points Per Game:17.2
First option: Andrea Bargnani
DeRozan was another player who broke out in 2011, doubling his previous scoring average. Most known for his sick rim finishes, DeRozan is still an abysmal shooter.
Driving is his best quality, often using it to get to the line, but against great defenders, he proves to be ineffective.
Working on a mid-range jumper can really open up his game, but for now, expect some exciting highlight dunks.
Points Per Game: 17.3
First option: Al Jefferson
Jefferson and Millsap could swap this upcoming year, but this has been the first time Millsap has averaged over 15 points in his career.
Point guard Devin Harris is blessed to have two physical big men to drop dimes to. Both have shown they can score at a high rate, giving Utah to one of the better big men duos in basketball.
Millsap isn't tall for a big man but uses his wide frame to work his way inside for points. He is still developing a face up jump shot from inside, showing signs of progress last year.
Bringing in 2.2 offensive rebounds a game, he is another player that benefits from second chance points.
Points Per Game:16.8
First option: John Wall
Blatche's stats get better every year he plays, if he can stay out of legal trouble, he can be a legit threat.
Andray Blatche is a pretty good shooter anywhere on the floor, opening up other opportunities for other players.
His downfall might be his inability to score in difficult situations. Working on that along with bringing up his field-goal percentage might make him a household name.