Players To Put Up Or Shut Up
Lou Williams - PG Sixers

Williams has been improving every year since being a 2nd round pick out of High School. He finally has his time to shine, thanks to the departure of Andre Miller this off season.  He will be the opening night starting point guard, but he has not always displayed point guard skills. The Sixers drafted Jrue Holliday in the first round this year out of UCLA, so Williams is going to have to show he can run the show, or it might be back to scorer off the bench for the young guard.
Tyrus Thomas - PF Bulls

Tyrus Thomas was a borderline choice for my breakout players list. If the Thomas that played in last year's playoffs shows up this season, than the Bulls may have a star in the making on their hands. He displays a game much along the lines of Shawn Marion, except Thomas is much stronger. The problem with Thomas is, the talent has always been there, but consistency was never there. The Bulls went out and drafted 2 potential replacements in Taj Gibson and James Johnson out of USC and Wake Forest respectively. Thomas could fetch something good in a trade, and the Bulls are very high on Gibson. This is Thomas last shot as a Bull, this is his make or break year.
Rodney Stuckey- PG Pistons

Rodney Stuckey's potential led Joe Dumars to deal Chauncey Billups early last season. Dumars of course was trying to free up some cash as well, but in dealing the heart and soul of his club, he was choosing to rebuild with Stuckey as his point man. Stuckey a guard out of Eastern Washington, certainly has a lot of ability. He can score the ball in a variety of ways, and at times shown he has point guard skills. The problem is the Pistons found a gem in Will Bynum, an undrafted player out of Georgia Tech. Bynum was really effective after earning minutes last year when Allen Iverson refused a bench role. Then this pre season he led the team in scoring. He averaged almost 3 assists a game last year in only 14 minutes per game, so the thought that he also might not have point guard skills might be a bit of a reach. Bynum is a good basketball player, as is Stuckey, but one of them will emerge this season.
Amir Johnson - PF Raptors

Amir Johnson doesn't necessarily need to have a monster season. His main goal should be to show the coaches and front office, that he has developed enough to be their heir apparent at power forward should Chris Bosh leave via free agency after the season. Johnson was asked to make an impact for the Pistons but he wasn't fully ready. He then moved on to the Bucks, and is now a Raptor. He has had enough time learning the game, and this is probably his one chance to show he's a capable NBA player.
Julian Wright - SF Hornets

The decision to start Wright over Peja Stojakovic and his monster contract is a sign the coaching staff really believes in this kids ability. Wright is pretty much good at everything one can do on a basketball court, but dating back to his college days at Kansas, has always shown he is content to disappear in games. That is a huge problem for this Hornet team, who lacks a scorer on the wing, and can't rely on just David West and Emeka Okefor to score the ball when Chris Paul can't get his shot off. A good year from Wright is the difference between this team being a first round loser in the playoffs, and possibly contending in the Western Conference. Wright is nearing the end of his rookie deal, so this is his chance to establish himself as a Hornet for a long time.
Greg Oden - C Blazers

By no means is this a last chance for Mr. Oden, or even a threat to him having a long and productive NBA career. This is specifically speaking for him as a Blazer, and the future of this team. The Blazers have done an unbelievable job of stockpiling the right talent through the draft. They have really struck gold on a lot of their choices, and this is the year where they will start to make their push towards the top of the Western Conference. If Oden establishes himself on the court as a star, than he, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Brandon Roy will be putting the NBA on notice that this is not a team you look forward to playing against. They are 3 deep literally at all other positions, and the team is going to be good for a long time with or without Oden. If they want to try to build a dynasty, this movement has to be done with all 3 of them together. If Oden waits any longer to make his move, than he will fade into the back as a Blazer.
Yi Jianlin - PF Nets

The Nets have their big 3 in place, and are going to start climbing the Eastern Ranks. As they do this, they will be adding parts to aid their trio. If Yi Jianlin wants to be apart of all of that, he needs to show he can contribute soon. He often has looked lost and a step slow on the court, but also that he possess a lot of ability. The Nets can't wait on him much longer to figure it out. He needs to show he can be a solid complementary scorer, and that he can knock down some jump shots at the end of games. With Vince Carter gone there are a lot of extra shots to go around, and Yi needs to go get some of those.

By Staff Writer Dan Sausville