EACH new season offers players the chance to prove their worth to the NBA community. Entering this NBA season though the transcript is somewhat different after the most tumultuous offseason in recent memory. Sure guys like Kyrie, Chris Paul/James Harden, the new OKC ‘Big 3’ and other superstars are out to show that they are the real deal. I’m looking at the other ‘lesser known’ types who may be trying to join that superstar group or young guys looking to shed the dreaded ‘bust’ label. Here are the eight players who are in that second tier ready to restore their reputations.
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Chandler Parsons, Memphis Grizzlies
THE much publicized social media life of Chandler Parsons is quite the opposite from his on-court production. Parsons landed in Memphis with lofty expectations, but since then has been a shell of his former self. Granted injuries have taken their toll, but entering year seven of his NBA tenure it’s time to stand up. While the Grizzlies plan to bring Parsons off the bench initially, he should be starting for this team later in the year if things go according to plan. If.
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Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
THE clock is ticking for Andre Drummond and the Pistons. After what feels like an eternity trapped in mediocrity, the time for Drummond to become a bigger star is now. With his game revolving around catching lobs, snagging boards and missing free throws, Detroit is teetering on the edge and they may choose to pull the pin on the Drummond era if signs of improvement aren’t there. If Dre can expand his game offensively it can lead to more Detroit W’s. If not he may be shown the door.
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets
For his career, Mudiay is a 36.9% shooter from the field. That isn’t very good. In fact, O.J. Mayo, Kirk Hinrich and D.J Augustin all have better career averages…FROM THREE (none of whom are exactly three-point bombers). Time is still on the young Nugs side, with just two years under his belt and has shown signs of growth having shot 44% from the field and a shade under 40% from three in a 16 game stretch in the middle of last year. If Mudiay’s numbers are once again in the 30’s though then Denver may opt to hand Murray the starting gig and relegate the former 7th overall pick to the bench, or worse trade him away from the team.
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Cleveland Cavaliers Point Guards
BOTH Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose have had a topsy-turvy 12 months. With one reaching incredible highs and one trying to buck incredible lows, they both find themselves in Ohio eager to re-affirm their legacy as dangerous, aggressive guards, who can get to the rack with an enviable style and craftiness. Their health will again play a part in their production and come playoff time we could see some more heroics that help the Cavs claim another title. Or we could see one/both of them searching for a new home next season after a wasted year.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
SURE, we know Aaron Gordon can dunk, but what else does he do? After flirting with playing at both forward spots for the duration of his career, it seems like he is better suited to the power forward spot and operating closer to the basket. Then again a guy who made less than a third of his shots from 3-10 feet from the bucket and averaged just five rebounds last year doesn’t sound like the guy you want starting at the four. The arrival of Jonathan Issac and a full season of Terrance Ross should see Gordon play closer to the basket more often, but in a contract year, he will have to do a lot more than what he has in the past to prove his worth to the city of Orlando.
Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trailblazers
FOR a 20 game period Jusuf Nurkic was the talk of the town. Putting up 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per, many thought that he would be the missing piece that helped the Blazers make a deeper playoff push. However, once again injuries dictated the cruel narrative that was the rest of Nurks’ season. He has had an entire offseason to overcome those issues though and seems like he is raring to go after shedding some excess weight. He wasn’t the most motivated human during his time at Denver and if he can remain focused all season he may become Portland’s walking double-double.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
BACK in January of 2016, I remember watching Buddy Hield wide-eyed and excited. He poured in 46 points in an overtime loss to the Jayhawks and was the talk of the nation. After an interesting first season as an NBA pro, Buddy finds himself as a key piece of the Sacramento Kings’ future. With a real chance to emerge as their ‘go-to guy’, it will be interesting to watch Hield in year two and see if he grasps the opportunity in front of him with both hands, or he becomes the next Nik Stauskas/Ben McLemore.
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