Who Is Under The Most Pressure To Win An NBA Title?
July 2, 2012 Leave a Comment
With the completion of the NBA Draft and free agency looming, it is the perfect time to see who is under the most pressure to bring home an NBA title to their team and city. With LeBron finally getting the monkey off his back, this list may surprise you on who may be under the most pressure to win.
5.) Kevin Durant
Durant is only 23 years old, he has more title runs in him and his age definitely helps him out here. However, Durant seemed rattled with spotty refereeing and James Harden performing his best disappearing act in the Finals.
Despite that, the Thunder will get better and they will learn from this experience. We could have a GREAT rivalry between the Heat and Thunder for years to come and it is only the beginning.
Durant already has regular season success as he is the reigning 3-time scoring champion and there is no question of his offensive prowess. Yet, Durant does struggle on defense with his lack of “muscle” as LeBron was able to have his way with Durant in the post.
Durant is a SUPERSTAR at the age of 23, although he is young and some may give him a pass because of Oklahoma City’s age but the question remains to be seen with Durant:
How will he and the Thunder bounce back from a Finals defeat?
4.) Dan Gilbert, Owner – Cleveland Cavaliers
Not only players feel pressure to win championships, but owners too.
Dan Gilbert put himself in this position with this quote:
“THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE. YOU CAN BANK ON IT”
Well, that did not go as planned..
The only person that has guaranteed a championship was Joe Namath (my man) as he led the Jets to their 1st and only championship in 1969. Joe Namath had one thing going for him, he was able to control the game from the field while Gilbert on the other hand, will be in the seats hoping the pieces he put together fit.
The Cavs had an excellent draft last season with the selection of Point Guard Kyrie Irving and Forward Tristan Thompson, both players posses the talent to be impact players and all-stars. In this year’s draft, the Cavs selected Center Tyler Zeller out of UNC, Zeller is a talented big man but will need time to develop so in reality the Cavs are still a long ways from competing for a title.
Also, It does not help that Gilbert did not even give credit to LeBron for his spectacular postseason as he stated:
” Great NBA season. Enjoyed Playoffs. Congratulations to Miami and OKC for an exciting Finals. Back to work on next week’s promising Cavs draft”
As the saying goes “Karma is a bitch” and maybe Mr. Gilbert should really reconsider his not only disrespectful but childish behavior towards LeBron. LeBron made his decision, GET OVER IT.
If the Cavs become a contender within the next 2-3 years, they will have to go through LeBron and the Heat to get there and I’m sure LeBron won’t forget Gilbert’s disrespectful and childish tweets.
It’s always good to provoke the best player in basketball, and LeBron is only cracking the surface of his talent.
Good luck, Mr. Gilbert.
3.) Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls
The Bulls literally fell apart this postseason.
They had everything working for them, they had home court advantage for the eastern conference playoffs and they have arguably the most explosive point guard in the NBA in Derrick Rose.
However, Rose had an injury plagued season as he sat out majority of the season with a groin injury. Despite that, the Bulls did not miss a beat and clinched the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Once the postseason came around, the Bulls seemed ready for a serious championship run with Rose back healthy and the team playing at a high level.
Unfortunately for Rose and the Bulls, during their game 1 victory over the Sixers, Derrick Rose tore his ACL and was out indefinitely. Joakim Noah shortly followed after he rolled his ankle and was limited to a walking boot for the rest of the series. A team that seemed so poised for a run became the 5th team in NBA history to be upset in the 1st round by the 8th seed (Philadelphia 76ers).
The pressure will be on the Rose this offseason to not only come back healthy but to come back stronger and regain his MVP form. The Bulls (if healthy) are the ONLY team that can stand in the Heat’s way of another championship title run. Rose has his MVP, he is a dynamic threat but could use an offensive interior presence to help him out.
The pressure is definitely building on Rose to deliver a championship. The Bulls have the pieces to compete for a title, they need to stay healthy and continue their defensive dominance under coach Tom Thibodeau.
2.) Chris Paul – L.A Clippers
Now this may seem premature to say but when you think about it is definitely true.
“Lob City” had its premiere showing and L.A. along with the rest of the NBA loves the excitement the Clippers can bring. However, the Clippers have most of their team intact for next season and they are big, athletic, and now playoff experienced.
Now we will see if the Clippers can not only succeed in the playoffs, but play with expectations.
Chris Paul is the key here, the Clippers will go as far as Paul carries them. Griffin is an explosive dunker but struggles in the half court offense at times, so he needs the easy pick and roll lobs from Paul to get going and the same can be said for DeAndre Jordan. Caron Butler can create for himself but he is definitely a different player when he has someone setting the table for him.
The only thing the Clippers are missing is some depth on the bench, but with a good draft day and bringing in a veteran with championship experience can go a LONG way for this team.
Also, for the first time in the team’s history the Clippers can steal the spotlight in L.A from the Lakers. The Lakers are old and barring any big deals are on their way down the totem pole in the west. With an aging roster and new head coach Mike Brown trying to build the roster in his liking, the Lakers look to be on the downside for at least a season or two.
1.) Amare Stoudmire/Carmelo Anthony – Knicks
I could not choose between the two, so I decided to use them both as the #1 players under the most pressure in the NBA to win a title. Both players have never made a finals appearance and both players are talented enough to get there.
Out of Melo’s draft class that included LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, Melo is the only one without a ring and without a finals appearance. Thank god for Melo’s sake Darko Milicic turned out to be a bust for #2 overall pick or else Melo would REALLY be feeling the heat in terms of not having a championship. Amare has had playoff experience and success with the great Phoenix Suns teams coached by Mike D’Antoni, however those teams never made it out of the conference finals.
It’s one thing to have playoff failures in Phoenix and Denver, it is completely different to have playoff failures in New York City. In addition, Knick fans have been STARVING for title as the Knicks have not won a championship since 1973.
The addition of Tyson Chandler adds defense and championship pedigree for Melo and Amare. However in the 1st year of New York’s version of the “big 3″, they won only 1 game in 1st round of the playoffs.
By the way, how pathetic was it when the Knicks were celebrating as if they had just won a championship, when in reality they had only won 1 game in the first round of the playoffs. I know it was the franchise 1st playoff win in a decade, but please act like you have been there before.
Melo is a great scorer but struggles with playing with another bonafide superstar (I’m being very nice by calling Amare that). Melo must adjust his game to benefit not only himself, but the others he plays with. If Melo can do that, than the Knicks have a serious shot at being at least serious title contenders. On the other hand, Amare needs to regain his pre-Melo play, he was aggressive and looked to not only score but to dominate.
It looks Amare cares more about his ridiculous clothing style and calling people on twitter “Fags” instead of going to work with Melo and getting better as a duo. If Amare wants to be remembered as the guy who brought “basketball back to New York” than I serious suggest he getting to work on his game and his body.
With every season that these two go without a ring, the pressure will on only build up and it will be nothing these guys have ever experienced. The New York spotlight is a double-edged sword, you will ever be praised as a God or be treated as a no body regardless of your statistics.
The only important statistic is the number of championships and right now Amare and Melo have ZERO.