First of all, I want to wish all of our readers a Happy New Year! Today we start fresh with not only a new year, but a new decade as well. For some NBA players, January 1st couldn’t come soon enough. 2009 was a tough year for several players both on and off the court. But as bad as things have gotten for some people, you always have a chance to redeem yourself. We’ve already hammered to death Tracy McGrady and Nate Robinson’s tough year. And while they both hope 2010 is going to bring them more luck, here are five other players who hope to turn things around in the new year.
Caron Butler: After missing the playoffs in ’08-09, this was supposed to be a huge year for the Washington Wizards. Gilbert Arenas was finally healthy and the team added a couple of talented players during the offseason. Butler was supposed to be the leader and one of the go-to guys on this Wizards team that was expected to be a top 4 team in the East. So far, the Wizards have stunk. They are 10-20 and have dropped three straight to end the year. Caron is having one of his worst seasons as a pro at 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, while shooting 42.9 percent. Plus, it has been reported that there has been some tension between him and Gilbert. The Wizards hope that they can finally start playing to their potential in the second half of the season and Caron can return to being the 20 point, 7 rebound, 5 assist guy he was expected to be.
Al Jefferson: Most people thought that Big Al was going to be the most dominant big man in the West this year. After being forced to miss most of the second half of last season due to an injury, Jefferson was expected to return in ’09-10 as a beast. They also thought the Wolves were going to make an improvement from last season (they are currently in last place in the Western Conference at 7-26). The Wolves fell on some bad luck with the Ricky Rubio situation and Kevin Love’s injury to start this season. Jefferson’s numbers have been up and down and he will not make the All-Star team like most people predicted. But now that Love is back and Jefferson is finally starting to get used to the triangle offense, the Wolves hope that they can finish 2010 strong.
Delonte West: Out of all the five I listed, West has had the toughest year off of the court. We are all well aware of his offseason troubles and his battle with his personal demons. Although he is seemingly doing better, he still has a ways to go – especially with his upcoming legal issues that he has to resolve. The Cavs have been outstanding as far as supporting West and being understanding of his situation. There are several professionals who are trying to help West get a grip on his problems. On the court, it obviously hasn’t been a great year as he is just averaging 7.1 points and 3.1 assists per contest. But he proved that he can still put up numbers after he scored 17 points in a win against Atlanta this week, including a monster dunk over Josh Smith. We hope D-West is able to get his personal and professional life in order in the new year.
Elton Brand: While some people were skeptical about whether Elton would be a star again, nobody probably envisioned that he would be coming off the bench at this point of the season. The Sixers’ season has taken a nose dive even with a healthy Brand and the addition of Allen Iverson. Brand has struggled to adjust to new coach Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense. After a horrible start to the season, Brand was demoted to coming off the bench last month. While the luck hasn’t been on Brand or the Sixers’ side so far, they have ended 2009 on a positive note. They’ve won two straight and EB showed glimpses of his old self by going for 25 points (on 11-16 shooting) and 9 rebounds in a road win against Portland on Monday night.
Blake Griffin: This last spot should probably go to Greg Oden, who once again was forced to shut the down with a knee injury. But since he won’t return this season, I can’t say 2010 will be a feel-good story for the former number one pick in the draft. So I gave this spot to last year’s number one pick, Blake Griffin. The Clippers’ top pick has yet to see any action on the floor after being sidelined with a left knee injury. The forgotten rookie is slated to come back sometime in the next month and could help the Clippers in their run to get a playoff spot.