The NBA Offseason has been chaotic so far and we’re just getting started. It’s shaping up to be an exciting season next year, with plenty of star players moving to new teams. However, we’re going to look at the NBA players who should feel like they have something to prove in 2017-18. Whether it’s rebounding from a difficult year, or if it’s living up to expectations, let’s countdown the top 5.
Although Lonzo has not played a single minute in the NBA, there is still enormous pressure on him. No player in recent memory has had more publicity than this guy heading into his NBA career. He already has is own shoe brand and his dad has proclaimed him to be better than Steph Curry! On top of that, he is playing in LA where the spotlight is always on. That’s a lot for a rookie to live up to.
Another guy who hasn’t played a minute in the league yet. Ben Simmons is just as hyped as Ball and has drawn comparisons to LeBron James! Now with Fultz joining the Sixers, there is even more pressure on Simmons to live up to the hype and help the Sixers build a powerhouse.
1. James Harden
Now don’t be mistaken. James Harden had a spectacular season and was an MVP caliber player all year long.
That being said he suffered a monumental collapse in game 6 versus the Spurs in the western conference semi finals.
Harden has now had a few playoff let downs in his career, and now with a loaded team heading into next year, he should be out to exercise his playoff demons and prove that he can win.
2. Emmanuel Mudiay
Mudiay had a very disappointing second season in the NBA. He showed tremendous potential in his first year and looked like the Nuggets point guard of the future. However, he couldn’t carry any of that momentum into year 2.
His numbers were down pretty much across the board and he just didn’t show the kind of improvement that people expected. Now, injuries did play a part but it clearly wasn’t the only cause.
Hopefully he can stay healthy and get back on track with a big year next season. People forget that this guy was compared to John Wall before being drafted 7th overall, according to nbadraft.net.
3. Reggie Jackson
The Detroit Pistons were meant to build on their successful 2015-16 campaign, but were a disappointment this year. A lot of that was due to point guard, Reggie Jackson. Now, Jackson did miss the start of the season because of injury. But when he returned, he never quite regained form.
He put up about 14 points and 5 assists while being inefficient from the field. That’s just not good enough for a starting point guard, especially in this era of NBA basketball.
As long as Jackson stays healthy next year, expect him to have a big bounce back season.
4. DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best big men in the game. No one is denying his talent. But he has never been on a winning team and has had a whole bunch of off court issues.
Now on a new team, he has a chance at a fresh start. A full training camp with Anthony Davis should allow the two to develop better chemistry. That will then be flat out terrifying for opponents. With Cousins now in a situation where he can win, expect him to be as motivated as ever come the start of next season. Also expect him to be more focused on the defensive end. He has always been a capable defender, but he should become a motivated one next year as well.
A more focused, mature DeMarcus, paired with Anthony Davis. Seems like the second coming of Tim Duncan and David Robinson!
Aldridge was meant to be Tim Duncan’s successor for the Spurs. So far it hasn’t worked out that way.
He is supremely talented on the offensive end and is virtually unstoppable when his jumper is rolling. However, since game 2 of the 2016 conference semis finals versus the Thunder, LaMarcus has shied away from big moments.
This was most evident in this years playoffs where he averaged just 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds. This is a guy that can easily put up 20 and 10.
He had a golden opportunity to prove that he can still be “the guy” when Kawhi went down against Golden State. Instead, he shriveled under the pressure and averaged just 11.3 points in the 3 games without Kawhi. That’s just unacceptable for a player of his caliber.
He owes his team and should come out on a mission in 2017-18 to remind the league of just how good he can be.