By Gordon Robinson

  1. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) – With Kevin Durant continuing to have foot trouble the play of Russell Westbrook is going to be pivotal. OKC currently sits eighth in the West and if they plan to move up or even hold off Phoenix and New Orleans, Westbrook is going to have to continue to play consistently at a big time (MVP) level.
  2. Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) – LeBron James is going to be LeBron James for the Cavs but it will be up to Kyrie Irving to help Cleveland to continue to climb the Eastern ranks. If Irving can continue to play his role then all will remain positive in Cleveland but if he chooses to go rogue and try to be “The Big Man” of the big three then the Cavs will be in trouble.
  3. DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) – With Blake Griffin out Jordan has held down the paint for the Clippers. In the month of February, Jordan average over 16 rebounds and 16 points.  A win or loss can be the difference in being the third seed and being the sixth seed in the West.  Since there is currently no timetable on Blake Griffin’s return, Jordan is going to have to step up his offensive production, especially his free throws.
  4. Goran Dragic (Miami Heat) – The Heat made a trade at the deadline to bring in Dragic to be a part of their playoff push, but just as he arrived the discovery was made about Chris Bosh having blood clots and not being able to return to the team. If the Heat is going to continue to be a playoff team it is going to be up to Dragic to get familiar with everyone in his new locker room and prove that he is worth the hype.
  5. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs) – It seems like every year about this time everyone is ready to count the Spurs out, saying that they are too old to keep this up. If they are going to make their usual push then it will be up to Leonard to stay healthy and play consistent minutes.  He is currently San Antonio’s scoring leader and is definitely the best wing defender on the team.  Let’s see if this young man can put a bus full of old guys on his back and make another championship run.