View Full Version : Top Ten Make it or Break it Players

10-01-2004, 05:44 PM
If anyone here has ESPN Insider can you try posting this because there's a pretty good chance someone from the Pacers is one there...

10-01-2004, 05:48 PM
ESPN.com - NBA - Ford: 10 make-or-break players
Ford: NBA's breakout players

By Chad Ford
NBA Insider

Late bloomers can be the bane of everyone's existence in the NBA.

They get fans worked up, get GMs fired and drive the media crazy with their
tantalizing antics in practice and their slivers of greatness they show once or
twice a season.

They're teases -- peep shows that tantalize, but somehow never find a way to
deliver the goods.

On Monday, Insider broke down 10 players on the verge of breakout seasons.
Inevitably, several of those players will disappoint, leaving fans mumbling the
familiar refrain "wait till next year" as they watch their teams count lottery
balls in April.

As pressures mount, expectations build and everyone grows restless. Several
players are walking into training camp facing make or break seasons.

Today, Insider breaks down 10 players with whom we've lost patience. Some are
young, maybe too young. Others have been playing peek-a-boo with us for years.

Several were actually on the list last year and are getting a second chance.
Either way, this year we're not accepting any excuses.

It's now or never. Time to put up or shut up. Pick your cliché.

Eddy Curry, C, Bulls

Last year we put him near the top of the "Breakout List" and watched with utter
horror as an overweight, underperforming Curry slogged his way through the
season. There is no question that Curry has the talent and basketball skills to
be one of the top four or five centers in the NBA.

Does he have the heart? The jury is still out on that one. The encouraging news
coming out of Chicago this summer is that he's been working out regularly with
former MJ trainer Tim Grover, currently weighs in a svelte 285 pounds
(positively thin for Curry) and appears, for the first time in his career, to be

The fact that he's playing for a big contract next season shouldn't hurt his
performance either. If Curry falls flat again, get ready to put him in the same
pantheon with other talented but overweight big men like Oliver Miller.

Tyson Chandler, C, Bulls

What's the surest sign that Bulls GM John Paxson is going into the season
sweating bullets? Both of his talented big men are on this list.
Chandler suffers from a different problem than Curry. His work ethic is
outstanding. Chandler, however, isn't nearly the talent Curry is. He's shown
signs of becoming a Theo Ratliff type player who runs the floor, grabs rebounds
and blocks shots. Offensively, he treats the basketball like a hot potato.
And while the folks in Chicago claim he's healthy, we're always suspicious of
21-year-old kids with recurring back problems. If Chandler and Curry blossom
this year, the Bulls will be playoff contenders in the East. If they falter
(again) this will likely be the last time you see both of them wearing a Bulls

Kwame Brown, C, Wizards

It's not Kwame's fault that Michael Jordan selected him as the No. 1 pick in the
2001 NBA Draft. Brown put up solid numbers for the Wizards last season, but they
fell well short of what most scouts believed he was capable of when he entered
the league.

Brown's problems fall somewhere in between Curry and Chandler. He's not quite as
lazy or as skilled as Curry. He's more talented, but less dependable than
Chandler. Eddie Jordan was hired, in part, to find a way to get the most from

After a so-so first season together, have the Wizards given up? Signing free
agent Antawn Jamison takes away 25 touches a night in the paint. When you figure
that Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes will also take a high volume of shots,
where does that leave Kwame?

Jonathan Bender, F, Pacers

We could rename this list the "Jonathan Bender" list and even the Pacers
wouldn't be able to argue. Bender is on this list for the third straight year,
redefining the term "second chance".

Every year, there's a logical explanation for keeping him on. Injuries, minutes
and head coaches have all held back his development. This year, he has no more

The Pacers traded away Al Harrington in large part to give Bender a more
prominent role in the offense. While he still won't be a starter, he'll likely
be the first player off the bench. When he's played significant minutes, Bender
has shown the ability to do a little of everything. He's athletic, a
sharpshooter and plays with a lot of energy.

If he can sustain that for 30 minutes a night over the course of an 82-game
season, the Pacers will be scary. If he can't, then Larry Bird and company blew
several great opportunities to trade him this summer while his value remained

Stromile Swift, F, Grizzlies

It appears that Swift and the Grizzlies can't see eye-to-eye on a contract. That
means that Swift will sign the Grizzlies' one-year tender offer and will become
an unrestricted free agent next summer. The clock then begins ticking.
Swift is coming off the best season of his career, but he's still too much
upside, not enough production on the court. Several teams that desperately
needed young, talented big men (see Charlotte and Atlanta) passed on him this

More teams will do the same next year unless Swift can prove to them that he can
give a consistent effort night in and night out. We know he's capable of being a
15-point, 10-rebound, 3-blocks-a-night type forward. But he's got to show it
more than once a week.

Mike Dunleavy, F, Warriors

Dunleavy has a big supporter in new GM Chris Mullin. Mullin has made most of the
changes to the Warriors over the past two offseasons with Dunleavy in mind. This
year, he's stocked the team with veteran role players in an attempt to provide a
nice support system to Dunleavy. But is Dunleavy worth it?

Some scouts feel that Dunleavy himself is no better than a third or fourth
option on a good team. Obviously Mullin feels differently. Last season Dunleavy
started strong and ended with a whimper. This year, it will be up to him and
Jason Richardson to manufacture almost all of the Warriors' points.

He also needs to keep his turnovers down and improve defensively. If he doesn't,
the Warriors are looking a more years of misery ahead. Mullin better be right on
this one.

Vladimir Radmanovic, F, Sonics

Muttonchops might be vogue again before Radmanovic fulfills his potential.
Radmanovic's agent, David Bauman, stunned Sonics brass last month when he faxed
over an extensions proposal that asked for near max dollars for the Serbian
forward. The Sonics and many other teams still have high hopes for Radmanovic,
but his production so far hasn't come close to warranting that type of

The truth is that while Radmanovic may have a load of talent, he's a bad fit on
the Sonics as long as Rashard Lewis is on the team. The two players have very
similar games. The Sonics tried to move Radmanovic to the starting power forward
position last year in an effort to give him consistent minutes, but the results
were mixed at best.

Now that Nick Collison is healthy and Danny Fortson is in the fold, chances are
he's going to go back to being Lewis' backup. If that happens, Radmanovic will
demand a trade. The Sonics have been reluctant to move him for years. But are
the two sides running out of options?

Dajuan Wagner, G, Cavs

It seems Dajuan Wagner forever will be known as the kid who scored 100 points in
a high-school basketball game. His claim to fame in college and the pros has
been nothing to write home about. It's pretty obvious that the Cavs made a huge
mistake drafting him ahead of players like Amare Stoudemire, Nene and Caron

When he isn't injured, he's jacking up wild shots and turning the ball over. His
production decreased every month of the season. By March he was averaging a
meager 8.8 ppg on 34 percent shooting. Insider has been told that neither Paul
Silas nor LeBron James is a fan.

With Jeff McInnis, Eric Snow, Luke Jackson and Aleksandar Pavlovic all coming to
the team in the past six months, Wagner's future in Cleveland has never looked
more precarious. The team tried to trade him this summer, but his value is at
rock bottom at the moment.

Drew Gooden, F, Cavs

Maybe it's just a coincidence that Jim Paxson's brother, John, is the only other
guy in the NBA with two players on this list. Luckily for Jim, he has LeBron.
Unfortunately for Jim, this should be Carlos Boozer, not Gooden, playing the
power forward position for the Cavs.

The loss of Boozer sent the Cavs into tailspin mode and they got the best
available power forward on the market. Gooden has already been traded twice and
for good reason. While his production on the court has been pretty impressive,
sources in both Memphis and Orlando claim that he's a knucklehead off the court.

They also claim that he struggles to remember plays and loses focus quickly. If
he can show maturity on and off the court, he has the talent and the supporting
cast to do big things in Cleveland this year. If he screws it up, he'll be
playing for a minimum contract in the league in two years.

Marko Jaric, G, Clippers

We had high hopes for Jaric when he bolted Europe for the NBA. The son of an
international Hall of Fame point guard, Jaric was widely considered the best
point guard not in the NBA when he joined the Clippers two years ago. While he's
shown flashes of that brilliance, for the most part his play in the NBA has just
been average.

He doesn't have the quickness to guard some of the quicker point guards in the
league and his perimeter shot has been off the mark the past two seasons. Now
with hot-shot rookie Shaun Livingston in the fold, are Jaric's days in LA
numbered? Jaric wants out, preferably to a team that plays a more European style
of basketball (he'd be great on a team like the Jazz or Pistons).

The team was reluctant to move him this year, fearing that Livingston, who is
just 18 years old, wouldn't be ready to run a team full time this year.

10-01-2004, 05:52 PM
I curse the speedy fingers of Jay22204.......

10-01-2004, 07:56 PM
"several opportunities to trade him this year"

Interesting, I wish he would mention a few of them.

Jose Slaughter
10-01-2004, 08:19 PM
The talk was Mullin wanted him in a deal for Dampier.

Also the T-Mac deal.

10-02-2004, 10:20 AM
1. Bender
2. Bender
3. Bender
4. Bender
5. Bender
6. Bender
7. Bender
8. Bender
9. Bender

10-02-2004, 10:21 AM
1. Bender
2. Bender
3. Bender
4. Bender
5. Bender
6. Bender
7. Bender
8. Bender
9. Bender

10-02-2004, 10:41 AM
1. Bender
2. Bender
3. Bender
4. Bender
5. Bender
6. Bender
7. Bender
8. Bender
9. Bender

I think Pollard has broken out as far as he can.

10-03-2004, 08:52 AM
Sorry for the double post. I still don't know how to delete one yet.

10-03-2004, 11:00 AM
Bender had trade value? Who knew?