Players that have something to prove this season-Part 1
The former fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, Hezonja saw limited time last year coming off the bench for the Magic last season. Management sees the potential and ability in Hezonja, so they decided to trade key piece Victor Oladipo to free up space on the depth chart for him. He will now be playing behind Evan Fournier who is a great young player himself who just got a huge contract. Hezonja will have plenty of opportunities to finally show his skills and go through the grind of the NBA season in more of a larger role. Time will tell if he was the right pick at number five.
A candidate for the sixth man of the year award last season, Jeremy Lin was one of the best backup point guards in the NBA last season and this past offseason, he has found himself a home back in New York again. A perfect player for a team that has been struggling to perform. Lin will have every opportunity to show New York how great of a show he can truly put on.
The Magic gave up a boatload of assets to acquire Ibaka this offseason, so they are obviously expecting him to perform. Ibaka is also going into his contract year and he has a lot of reported interest around in the league in the 2017 free agent market as well. He finally has a chance to show his capabilities on an up and coming Magic team where he will be relied on as a veteran leader. An underrated part of Ibaka’s game that you have to watch this season is his offensive game. Having played on a team like the Thunder where he started as a raw prospect and was forced to mold his game into a tertiary role, Ibaka should get more touches and it will be exciting to see what he will do will them.
As the Golden State Warriors opted for Kevin Durant this season in free agency, it allowed the Dallas Mavericks to swoop in and take a promising yet somewhat disappointing talent already in Harrison Barnes. Signed to a five year-95 million dollar max contract in the offseason, Barnes will be expected to step in and contribute as a high-end player right off the bat. Barnes needs to show that he isn't just a tertiary or a quaternary option, and must become a force offensively if he wants to live up to the contract he signed. With players like Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki bound for retirement sooner rather than later, it will be up to Barnes to lead a young Mavericks team into the fray for the years to come.
Another promising but somewhat disappointing talent due to mostly injuries, Bradley Beal appears to be the star shooting guard for the Wizards for years to come. He recently signed a max five-year, 129 million dollar contract and looks to be an all-star. However, he has not been able to put together consistently productive for a variety of reasons, injuries being the namely one. Everyone in the league knows about his shooting ability and the way he can make his teammates better (the team wins more when he plays and are generally more productive), but he can sometimes be inefficient and he has been known to butt heads with backcourt partner John Wall. The Wizards and Beal need to piece together if they want to be taken seriously as a contender in the East.
The best backup point guard in the NBA for some time now, Schroder has now been complaining for a few years now about wanting a starting role. With Jeff Teague beeing traded this offseason, the starting role is all Schroder's now. Per 36 minutes stats and more minutes have served Schroder well over the last few years, and it appears he is ready to take the next step in his career. Schroder needs to show that he is not only ready to be a starting-calibre point guard but exceed expectations as he has been building his own hype train with his comments. Fans will expect a lot out of him and it is his job to show that he's truly a great hidden gem in this league.
Although he has already solidified himself as a top point guard, he just signed the biggest contract in the NBA history. There will be bigger contracts in the future because of the rising salary cap, but right now there is some pressure on Conley to upper the ante on his play. Point guards will go at him all season, knowing that Conley is not worth that money. They want to prove that they're better than him and potentially get a huge pay day themselves. Conley will definitely have his work cut out for him this season and must persevere to be even somewhat worth the contract he signed this offseason.