Monday , Oct , 23 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

This could be their year

(Sports Network) – The 2006-07 NBA season will definitely be filled with
game-winning shots, highlight-reel dunks, classic finishes and plenty of
excitement. There are always players who raise their game to the next level
and surprise by putting it all together in the new campaign.

This could be their year

Which players are going to shine in the new season? Who is going to have the biggest impact on his new squad? Which rookie is going to standout? Who is ready to become a first-time NBA All-Star?

Take a look at some players who are going to do big things this season.

1. TAYSHAUN PRINCE (DETROIT PISTONS) – The unsung hero of the Pistons. Last season, Prince was the only Detroit starter who did not play in the All-Star Game. He was worthy of a spot on the Eastern Conference team, but five players from the same team would have been too much.

Prince does it all. Last season, the 26-year-old Prince played excellent defense and averaged 14.1 points and 4.2 boards in 82 contests. Expect him to get more touches on offense this season which will result in bigger numbers statistically. This is the year that the Kentucky product gets the accolades he deserves and plays in his first NBA All-Star Game.

2. MIKE BIBBY (SACRAMENTO KINGS) – Bibby will finally get the recognition he deserves and play in his first NBA All-Star Game. The 28-year-old Bibby is entering his ninth year in the league.

The starting Sacramento point guard had his best season as a pro for the Kings in 2005-06. He led the team in scoring (21.1 ppg) and assists (5.4 apg). Bibby loves to have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line and is the leader of the Kings. This is the year that Bibby has his name mentioned in the same sentence with the elite point guards in the NBA.

3. CARMELO ANTHONY (DENVER NUGGETS) – The 2003 NBA Draft Class has done very well for itself. LeBron James, who the first overall pick, and Dwyane Wade, who was the fifth selection, are both two-time All-Stars. Wade has already won a championship ring with Miami and was the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. Now its Anthony’s turn to reach stardom.

There is no doubting Antony’s talents. The twenty-two-year-old Anthony, who was third pick in the 2003 draft, had his best season as a pro in 2005-06. The Syracuse product averaged a team-best 26.5 points and collected 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 80 contests. He also had an excellent summer playing ball for the United States in the World Basketball Championships at Saitama, Japan. This is the year that Anthony joins James and Wade in the All- Star Game, as he continues to post impressive stats in the scorebook.

4. DWIGHT HOWARD (ORLANDO MAGIC) – Howard is also on the verge of becoming an NBA All-Star and being mentioned with the elite players in the NBA. The 6-11 power forward led the Magic in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (12.5 rpg) and shot an impressive 53.1 percent from the floor during the 2005-06 campaign.

The 20-year-old Howard, who was the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, already solid statistics should increase in the new season. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him average 20-plus points and over 15 rebounds per game in just his third year in the league. Howard has shined in Orlando and is the cornerstone of the franchise.

5. CHRIS KAMAN (LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS) – The Clippers starting center just keeps getting better. Last season, Kaman posted career-highs in points (11.9 ppg) and rebounds (9.6 rpg) in 78 contests. He was a big factor in the Clippers earning their first postseason berth since the 1996-97 campaign.

Kaman, 24, was the sixth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He is not mentioned in the same sentence as fellow 2003 draft class members Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But, he has developed into a solid pro and 2006-07 could be the year that he puts it all together and becomes one of the top centers in the league.

6. T.J. FORD (TORONTO RAPTORS) – Toronto team president and general manager Bryan Colangelo brought in Ford so he could be the quarterback and catalyst of the Raptors. The team’s new starting point guard was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in a trade for versatile forward Charlie Villanueva during the offseason.

The 23-year-old Ford had a solid season for Milwaukee during the 2005-06 campaign. He averaged 12.2 points and a team-best 6.6 assists per game in 72 contests. The 6-0 Ford excels in transition and pushing the ball up the court. Colangelo, who was the general manager of Phoenix for 11 years and team president for seven before taking over in Toronto, hopes the lightning-quick Ford can do for the Raptors what reigning MVP Steve Nash has done for the Suns.

7. RAYMOND FELTON (CHARLOTTE BOBCATS) – The 22-year-old Felton, who was the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, had a solid rookie campaign and continued to improve as the season progressed. The North Carolina product, averaged 11.9 points and 5.6 assists in 80 contests.

Felton is one of the big pieces to the puzzle in Charlotte. The Bobcats have found their point guard and expect big things of him The 6-1 Felton started 54 games in 2005-06 and showed that he has a very bright future in the league.

8. ANDRE IGUODALA (PHILADELPHIA 76ERS) – With All-Star Allen Iverson and Chris Webber as his teammates, Iguodala has not been able to do everything that he is capable of. The former first-round pick averaged 12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in his second year in the league.

The time has come for Iguodala to breakout. The Arizona product needs to improve his jump shot, but his unbelievable athleticism helps makeup for that shortcoming. He is a solid defender, dominant in the open court and can handle the rock. Potential is a dangerous word in sports, and Iguodala needs to start producing the numbers on the stat sheet that star players do.

9. DEVIN HARRIS (DALLAS MAVERICKS) – Dallas head coach Avery Johnson showed a lot of confidence in Harris during the 2006 playoffs. The 23-year-old Harris, who averaged 9.9 points and 3.2 assists in 56 regular-season contests during his second year in the league, was put into the starting lineup alongside Jason Terry in the postseason and became a key part in the Mavericks’ run to the NBA Finals.

Harris is a hard-nosed player who does a nice job running the point. The 6-3 Harris will get consistent playing time and will be much more productive in year three of his career. He is ready to earn his place on the NBA map.

10. RANDY FOYE (MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES) – Foye was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, but ended up with the Timberwolves after being dealt by the Celtics to Portland. The Trail Blazers sent Foye to Minnesota for Washington guard Brandon Roy, who was selected with the sixth overall pick by the Timberwolves.

The 6-4 Foye will play immediately and can play both guard spots and has a solid all-around game. He can knock down the outside jumper, is effective driving to the hoop, sees the court very well, can handle the rock and is a decent defender. He could very easily end up being the best player from the draft.