Every year, players come into the season with a chip on their shoulder. These players were once highly regarded prospects or pros at one point. Whether it be injury or regression, they slid down the ladder and questions remain about what version of the player we will see next season in the Eastern Conference. Here are the Eastern Conference players with the most to prove in the upcoming season.
Eastern Conference Players with the Most to Prove in 2019
Although he is still a top player in the league, questions revolve around Kawhi Leonard and if he can still perform at a top level. He was a top three MVP candidate the year before. However, injuries throughout the year left many questions about his future. Will he regress or continue to flourish as one of the best players in the NBA? The skill is there, but the question remains as to whether he will finish the year completely healthy. Leonard averaged 10 fewer points last year than the year before in only nine games. One major thing to watch is how he meshes with his Raptors teammates. After missing almost an entire season, Leonard will need this season to show he is still a top three player in the league.
After posting career-high numbers with the Utah Jazz in 2017, George Hill looked to solidify his career further by signing a three-year contract with the Sacramento Kings. With the Kings, his three-point percentage was actually better than it was with the Jazz. When he got traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, however, all his numbers went down. He averaged seven points less in his time with Cleveland and Sacramento than he did with Utah. His three-point shooting also took a dip after the trade to Cleveland. Hill went from shooting 45 percent from behind the arc with the Kings to shoot 35 percent with the Cavs. His woes did not end when the playoffs started. In the playoffs, he averaged close to career lows in three-point percentage and points. With LeBron James gone he will be one of the main focuses of the Cavs offense this year. It’s going to take a lot to show he’s still the same player he was in Indiana and Utah.
Once one of the highest coveted college players, Jabari Parker’s career has somewhat been paused because of injury. Two ACL injuries have setback his career. After averaging 19 points in his one year at Duke University, Parker broke out in his third year in the league. He averaged 20 points for the Milwaukee Bucks in 51 games before his second ACL injury took him off the court. After coming back from injury last year, Parker averaged 12.6 points and shot 48 percent in 31 games for the Bucks. The skill is there, but the real question is whether he can stay healthy for an entire season. Parker has averaged 46 games in his four-year NBA career. Signing with the Bulls gives him a fresh start and the ability to show off his skill and gain recognition as one of the top forwards in the game.
CHARLOTTE, UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 23: Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio Spurs passing the Charlotte Hornets’ defense during the NBA match between San Antonio Spurs vs Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum arena in Charlotte, NC, USA on November 23, 2016. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)