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NBA 2009-10: "I'll Prove-it" Team!

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IOctober 4, 2009

BOSTON - APRIL 18:  Paul Pierce #34, Ray Allen #20 and Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics watch from the bench in the first half against the Chicago Bulls  in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on April 18, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

As yet another NBA season approaches, there are a number of key players who have said or have done something that puts them onto the NBA’s “I’ll Prove-it Team."

They aren’t always different players, but hopefully they’ll have different reasons!

The top candidates for this season’s “I’ll Prove-it Team” and their runner-ups for each position are shown below. If you think that someone’s been missed, voice your opinion.  We all want to know who’s got something to prove this season.

Point Guard

Now starring for the Portland Trailblazers is a 33-year-old, 10-year veteran point guard.

Andre Miller, Portland’s big free agent signing this off-season, brings his career averages of 14.6 points and 7.4 assists to a good, young team in need of veteran leadership. But this signing only makes sense if Miller can lead his new team deep into the 2010 playoffs.

Runner-up: Rodney Stuckey. 

Detroit traded away All-Star Chauncey Billups to clear cap space and hand the reins over to the up-and-coming Stuckey. Well, the A.I. experiment is over! The team is now reconstructed, with Stuckey clearly the team’s point guard leader.

It’s time to "Prove-it" young man!

Shooting Guard

In a huge shake-up for an NBA finals team, the Orlando Magic let Hedo Turkoglu slip away uncontested to bring in former All-Star and “real” slam dunk champion, Vince Carter. As the Magic’s point forward, Hedo had the ball in his hands a lot. But Vince Carter brings a level of scoring and athleticism the Magic didn’t have last year.

A career 23.5 point, 5.5 rebound, and 4.3 assists player, at 32 years old, Vince Carter has seen his stats slipping the past two seasons. The Magic gambled heavily on this $16 million per year half-man, half-amazing player. It’s time to prove he’s still got it!

Runner-up: Ray Allen. 

Now, most people would think that Ray Allen has nothing left to prove. But this 34-year-old, 20.9 point per game, nine time All-Star has gone on the record looking for a contract extension. 

Time to "Prove-it" all-star!

Small Forward

There are lots of small forwards with something to prove this season.

Can Richard Jefferson bring the Spurs back to the finals? Will Luol Deng return healthy and productive with the Bulls?

But when a newly signed veteran free agent says it’s on him if his new team doesn’t repeat as NBA Champions?

Ron Artest, it's time to "Prove-it!"

Runner-up: Trevor Ariza. 

In perhaps the most reactionary signing of all-time, Ariza signs with Houston for the full mid-level exception almost immediately after learning of the Ron Artest deal. 

Did he even consider other offers?

The "take that Lakers" approach only carries any weight if Trevor Ariza’s game continues to blossom.

Power Forward

No one can deny Kevin Garnett’s passion. No other player could stand on the sidelines in a suit shouting “Way to go M*therf***ers!” during an internationally broadcasted playoff game.

But KG’s injury last season was serious. Don’t believe otherwise. There is no way KG doesn’t play if it’s anything less. No one believes that Kevin Garnett, at age 33, is ready to take it easier, let alone retire. This year will be all about proving that he’s still got it!

Runner-up: The runner-up "Prove-it" power forward has a lot to make up for.

There was no bigger free agent signing disappointment last season than Philadelphia’s acquisition of Elton Brand. The career 20 & 10 power forward, who was coming off a major injury the season before, never seemed to fit in on his new team. Then another major injury ended his season.

No one has more to prove to his team and his general manager this year than last season’s $80 million man, Elton Brand.

Center

The 37-year-old, 17-year veteran, perennial All-Star, and multiple NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal has joined the Cleveland Cavaliers with one goal in mind: “Bring a ring to the King,” as Shaq said when he joined Cleveland.

Not surprisingly, O’Neal’s stats have been in a seven-year slide. But understandably, Shaq believes he’s still a difference maker. Paired up with the best young player in the game, it’s time to prove you’ve still got it Shaq.

This summer in a move that caught some people by surprise, Bryan Colangelo extended his young center and 2006 1st overall draft pick, Andre Bargnani, for five years at the price of $50 million.

In his first three NBA seasons, Bargnani only averaged 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks. So far in his career, he has taken a lot of criticism for not playing like a big man.

The last half of last season saw Bargnani’s numbers improve to 19 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.15 blocks. Much better, but still lacking from a rebounding perspective. 

If Bargnani’s game continues to improve, he’s well worth that big contract.

"Prove-it" big man!

The Rookie

Only one rookie is truly under the gun this season, Blake Griffin.

Every other rookie can fail to win the Rookie-Of-the-Year award, and still have had a great season. Not Blake Griffin.

This dominant college power forward was labeled as NBA ready, and a franchise player long before the draft. Anything less than being the best rookie, nay All-Star consideration, will be labeled as disappointment.

Prove your critics right Blake! That’s not too much pressure for a rookie is it?

Who else belongs on this "I'll Prove-it" Team?

Well, they might be playing for Who's Heading For A Fall!

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