This is the man on whose shoulders the future of the Portland Trail Blazers hangs. Drafted as the second pick in the 2006 draft, the 6 ft 11 in power forward has been a Trail Blazer so far in his career and made it into the All-Star team for the first time last season. Aldridge has a career average of 17.8 points on a near 50 percent field goal shooting and 7.5 rebounds per game, and looks set to carry Portland into the playoffs this season. He is definitely one player to watch out for in the next few years.
‘The Birdman’ is a nine years NBA veteran who has career averages of 5.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 482 games. Preferred as a backup big through most part of his career, the extensively tattooed athlete started his career off with the Chinese Basketball Association and then turned to NBA. He has since represented the New Orleans Hornets and the Denver Nuggets, and is presently in loop to be the part of the defending champions Miami Heat.
Just in his 4th NBA year, Darrell Arthur might not have blossomed completely, but he is certainly a valuable player for the Grizzlies, who offered him nearly $ 9 million – three years extension this summer. The 6 ft 9 in forward has just recovered from a non-displaced fracture in the head of the fibula and is looking good in his comeback. He possesses a good leaping and rebounding ability and can be an asset off the bench.
At 6 ft 2 in, Daniel Gibson is a guard who has been a part of the Cleveland Cavaliers ever since the team drafted him as the number 42 pick back in 2006. Gibson made an instant impact and held an above ten point average in only his second year with the team. His numbers have been on the rise ever since LeBron James left for Miami. So far this season, he has been averaging 9.3 points on a near 48 percent shooting from the floor, coming off the bench in all the games.
Matthews is perhaps one of the most under rated shooting guards in the league. The player went undrafted in the 2009 NBA draft, but eventually made the cut with his performances in the summer league for Utah Jazz. He played for one year with the Jazz, who didn’t match the $ 34 million offer sheet put forward by the Portland Trail Blazers the following summer. Matthews eventually become Trail Blazer and injury issues to their All-Star Brandon Roy meant that he got extra playing minutes.
The player didn’t disappoint. He scored 15.1 points per game in his very first season with the Trail Blazers and has now become a permanent starter for them. He is very much part of the young core – also including LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard – on which the franchise is relying to take them into the future.
At the age of 42, Taj McWilliams-Franklin is still one of the most dominant power forwards in WNBA. The player holds the records of most offensive rebounds in the league history; is a two time WNBA champion and has been an All-Star six times in her career. McWilliams-Franklin, who has been a part of seven WNBA franchise in her above thirteen year career, reached the Finals this year as well, but her team Minnesota Lynx lost the series 3-1.
Had Kendrick Perkins been fit in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics would have the champions. Such was the impact that Perkins made to that team. He was however surprisingly traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2010-11 season, and after contributing in taking OKC to the conference finals in his very first year, he helped them reach the NBA Finals this time around, only to be stopped by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Perkins has brought a lot of attitude and intensity to the team, and also forms an excellent front court partnership with Serge Ibaka, who is the best shot blocker in the league.