The 2013-14 NBA season tipped off Tuesday evening with the odds-on favorite for hoisting another trophy receiving their rings in South Beach.
Unfortunately for West Coast fans, the Miami Heat roster doesnt feature any talent from around the 49th parallel (though Canadian Joel Anthony has two more rings than anyone would have expected).
While there are a few teams that feature Northwest ballers with the potential to knock the defending champs off their pedestal, for others this season is about retribution and solidifying their name in the hearts and minds of fans.
Although it goes without saying that every player is in need of a big season in order for their team to reach the top of the mountain, the following five players will have the spotlight on them more than others.
Let’s face it. Steve Nash for various reasons did not have the season that anyone expected when he signed on with the Los Angeles Lakers a year ago. This season, there are far fewer expectations for the LA club, but a far greater need for Nash to channel back to his MVP-like form.
Without Dwight Howard — not to mention the unknown return of Kobe Bryant — the Lakers will place the ball in Nash’s hands and let him do “nash like” things with the Lakers offense. After a season of playing with the Mamba dominating the rock, Nash will be able to pilot the offense his way, even if just for a short while.
While he headed to LA in search of a title and to be close to his kids, fans and Nash himself hope to see more court time than time on the sidelines.
Unfortunately, the reality is, Nash will once again play fewer than 30 minutes a game and is rumored to be sitting on the tail end of any back-to-back games.
J-Crossover has found a role with the second unit in Lob City, one which was familiar to fans as he battled throughout the season for another Sixth Man trophy.
If the Los Angeles Clippers are going to actually compete for a championship and not just nightly POG highlights, they are going to need Jamal Crawford to put on another award-worthy season.
After a handful of under-achieving years, Martell Webster proved his worth to the Washington Wizards last season. Averaging 11 points and almost four rebounds, playing the most minutes and second most games of his career, the Seattle native may have found a home in the eastern version of Washington.
The Wiz may have drafted a small forward for the future in Otto Porter, but if they are going to sneak into one of the last playoff spots in the East, Webster is going to play a huge role.
As Webster is to the Wizards, Terrence Ross is to the Toronto Raptors.
Capturing some national spotlight last year at All-Star Weekend, Ross will once again have to battle with Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Landry Fields for minutes in the Raptors rotation. While Gay and Droz are pretty much locked into their roles, look for Ross to mirror the role that Crawford plays for the Clippers.
Tyreke Evans and Aaron Brooks have both moved on, leaving the point guard battle for the Sacramento Kings between newcomer Grevais Vasquez and third-year floor general Isiah Thomas.
Once again, the diminutive Seattle native will have to prove himself worthy of the starting role. The Kings are clumped in a group of teams who have the potential to battle for one of the final playoff seeds in the West, should all their cards fall into place.
Should that goal be successfully reached, maybe then Thomas can quiet all the doubters.