Sunday, September 24 2023

The NBA is in full swing with the playoffse beginning next week, bringing special pressure to a handful of teams and players.

Unsurprisingly, there are a few familiar faces on Chris Broussard‘s latest “Under Duress” list.

Here’s the “First Things First” host’s top three NBA stars whom he believes must step up ahead of the postseason.

3. Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors

The outlook: Wiggins has been away from the Warriors for over a month dealing with what the team has dubbed a “personal” matter. But his impending return could spell trouble for Western Conference foes the team will see in the postseason. Wiggins was one of Golden State’s most important players last season during its title run, and the squad is hoping for a substantial boost from him on both ends of the floor.

Broussard’s thoughts: “First of all, Andrew, I’m glad that everything has seemingly gotten better with your family. … Here’s the deal, Andrew: Rightly or wrongly, people are looking at you to kind of turn this thing around in Golden State. It only needs to be turned around on the road, but they are looking at you to help do it. You are one of the best defenders in the league, you also have become a really good 3-point shooter, 40 percent, you were great in the Finals … and we need you to come out and play great for the Warriors. … Here’s the thing: You don’t really like the spotlight. … When you were in Minnesota as the No. 1 pick, you didn’t want that smoke. … So I’m going to motivate you: Remember, you’re not carrying the team!”

Luka Dončić, Andrew Wiggins featured in Broussard’s “Under Duress” list

Chris Broussard reveals his latest list of NBA players under duress this week.

2. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns


The outlook: Father Time is knocking on Chris Paul’s door, and one of the NBA’s greatest point guards does not have much time to capture a coveted title. With the best array of talent he’s ever had at his disposal, the “Point God” is expected to do some supernatural things on the court in efforts to guide his team to the promised land.

Broussard’s thoughts: “Chris, this is it. This is your chance. That elusive championship ring that you haven’t been able to get, it is there for the taking. You got Kevin Durant, you got Devin Booker, you got a 7-footer in Deandre Ayton who gives you 17 and 10, and you don’t have to run many plays for him. Some people on this panel think you’re the weak link. … So you’ve got to go out and do your thing, Chris. … I believe in you!”

1. Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks

The outlook: There is absolutely no denying Dončić’s talent. He’s been among the NBA’s elite since he touched down on the American hoops scene. But for all he has to show from a talent perspective, he’s done little to reward the Dallas faithful with sustained winning. And the team’s most recent stretch of games has the Mavs looking more like a rebuilding team than a playoff one. Kyrie Irving is in the mix for now, but the majority of Dallas’ woes will fall squarely on Dončić should they continue.

Broussard’s thoughts: “Luka, Luka, Luka. … You probably only got two games left this season … and when you only have two games left, guess what? You are going to be criticized. You just will. Some people are going to say Luka doesn’t play defense. … Some people will say, ‘Look at his body language, he’s not a leader. Yeah, he can score, he can pass, but he’s not a leader.’ But Luka, this is the motivational part: What you’ve got to do is the same thing Michael Jordan did when he was criticized … got in the lab. And that’s what I want you to do this offseason. … You got to become a better free-throw shooter, you got to give more effort defensively, you might have to change your eating habits, you certainly have to get in better shape, and I think you need to figure out how can be a part of the system, rather than being the system.”

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