Carl Landry, Sacramento Kings
Over the past few years, Carl Landry has been able to put himself on the NBA map as he has become one of the most promising young players in this league.
Last season he played a pivotal role in the Houston Rockets playoff run which ended against the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers as they gave Kobe Bryant and company all they could handle. The Rockets were able to take the Lakers to a full seven games and Landry was a big part of their success, but this season he has been traded to the Sacramento Kings in the trade which sent Tracy McGrady to the New York Knicks and brought Kevin Martin to the Houston Rockets.
With a more prominent role with the Kings, Landry could be an All-Star caliber player in the years to come.
Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks are a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference as they have gone from perennial loser in the East to one of the best teams in the conference.
The Bucks still have a long way to go before they can compete with the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic or the Boston Celtics, but they are quickly making an impression and could be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs this season.
This season the Bucks saw arguably their best player in sharp shooter Michael Redd go down with a knee injury for the second season in a row, but with rookie phenom Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Andrew Bogut picking up the slack, Milwaukee is the fifth seed in the East and the hottest team in the league since early February.
Andrew Bogut has been a key contributor to their success as he is averaging a double-double and leading the league with a little more than three blocks a game.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
A few years ago, when the Los Angeles Lakers made the trade for Pau Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies received Pau’s brother Marc Gasol in return. Even though Marc was a good player at that time, he wasn’t thought to be equal value of his big brother, but this season he has proven that he will sooner, rather than later, be one of the best big men in this league.
Coming into this season the Memphis Grizzlies weren’t thought to be a team that could contend with the likes of the best of the best in the Western Conference, and they still aren’t, but they have been much improved and one of the main reasons for the franchise’s turnaround has been Gasol’s presence in the paint.
Andray Blatche, Washington Wizards
It is extremely difficult to give any praise to any player on the Washington Wizards after yet another nightmare season full of trades and off the court problems involving Gilbert Arenas, but if there is any positive to take out of this disastrous season it is that Andray Blatche is quickly turning into a force to be reckoned with in the paint.
It remains to be seen whether or not Blatche can continue to play as well as he has this season in the next season, but his future is starting to look bright as he could quickly turn into an All-Star caliber player with Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood leaving town.
Aaron Brooks, Houston Rockets
Much like Carl Landry, Aaron Brooks played a big part in the Houston Rockets success against the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs last season.
Without Tracy McGrady, Brooks took it upon himself to be the undisputed leader of the team next to Yao Ming and as a result was damn near unguardable in that series.
Unfortunately, the Rockets lost in seven games and were sent packing, but this season Brooks hasn’t missed a beat with 19.8 points per game and is the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player of the Year!