Summer Dreaming: Comeback Player

More Summer Dreaming: MVP | Coach | DPOY | Sixth Man | Most Improved | Rookie

Now we’re into the part of our Summer Dreaming series where we’ve saved everybody eight months of waiting and handed out all of the official NBA awards for 2015. Next up is a look at a few off-the-record categories, starting with Comeback Player of the Year, which the league has not handed out since the 1984-85 season.

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant showed some magic before his injury last season

Kobe Bryant, Lakers — Go ahead, point to those 36 candles he just blew out on his birthday cake. Point to the torn Achilles’ tendon, the fractured kneecap, more miles on his body than an old pickup truck. But you might want to do that pointing from a distance, because the most relentless, driven, refuse-to-face-reality player in the league is apt to bite off that finger. There are all sorts of reasons to doubt that he can return as the player he once was. But, truth is, he won’t even try. While he’s got to carry the load for this revamped — OK, stripped-down-for-spare-parts Lakers team — he’s likely to do it closer to the basket. New coach Byron Scott wants Kobe to use his post skills and smarts to go to work on the inside and put less wear and tear on his body. It’s not likely that Bryant can work miracles and get the Lakers to the playoffs. But he’ll show a lot more than anybody has a right to expect from a  player in his 19th NBA season.

VIDEO: Derrick Rose was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2011

Derrick Rose, Bulls — How quickly they turn. In 2011 he was the toast of Chicago as the youngest player ever named MVP. They were starting to line up artists to create the statue that would go up next to Michael Jordan outside the United Center one day. Now Rose has played just 10 games in the past two seasons due to injuries to both knees and a lot of the so-called loyalists are ready to turn the page and call him injury-prone. Remember, though, that he’ll be just 26 in October and that puts him a decade ahead of Kobe Bryant … plenty of time to return to form. He’s coming back to a team that’s added Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott to a core of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. It says here that playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup will prove to be a benefit in the long run, getting Rose needed minutes and a chance to get back on track before dueling it out with LeBron James and the Cavs for Eastern Conference supremacy.

VIDEO: A coaching change in Brooklyn could be right to Brook Lopez’s liking

Brook Lopez, Nets — A broken right foot last December sidelined him for the season. A short time later then-coach Jason Kidd went to a small-ball lineup that turned the Nets’ season around and got them to the playoffs. But Kidd is gone to Milwaukee, replaced by Lionel Hollins, who got the most out of the Grizzlies by going into the low post with the grind-it-out talents of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Lopez is Hollins’ kind of center, a big man with solid fundamentals who knows his way around the basket. Lopez has reportedly dropped 15 pounds during his rehab, looking noticeably lighter and a bit quicker in workouts. However, you can expect Hollins to slow the pace of the offense and make the most of Lopez’ ability, especially at the defensive end.

VIDEO: Al Horford sat down with’s Sekou Smith early last season

Al Horford, Hawks — Just when the hard work was starting to pay off with back-to-back selections to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2010 and 2011, Horford virtually lost of two of the next three seasons due to an unusual injury — torn pectoral muscles, left side in 2012 and right side in 2013. In his absence, first-year coach Mike Budenholzer got the Hawks to buy into his share-the-ball beliefs that he brought over from San Antonio, and that got Atlanta into the No. 8 spot in the playoffs. The Hawks have definitely overpaid to put Thabo Sefolosha out on the floor as a needed wing defender. But if they’re going to take a step back up in the improving Eastern Conference, it will be Horford getting back to his old double-double self (17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds per game) from the 2012-13 season. His injuries have definitely drawn less attention than Bryant, Rose and maybe even Lopez, but his loss was just as significant to his team.

VIDEO: Roy Hibbert was a Defensive Player of the Year nominee

Roy Hibbert, Pacers — No broken bones, no torn ligaments, just a shattered confidence and reputation and a franchise left in pieces. Hibbert’s crisis of self-doubt resulted in his game falling faster than a piano off the rooftop of a skyscraper. When he was one of the league’s top rim-protectors in 2012-13, Hibbert solidified the Indiana defense, enabling the Pacers to sniff at the heels of the then-defending champion Heat. When he felt neglected in the offense over the second half of last season, the Pacers were a disjointed mess. Now they’ve lost the injured Paul George, likely for the season, and Lance Stephenson took the free-agent dollars and fled to Charlotte. That means the Pacers clearly don’t have the talent to compete at the top of the Eastern Conference. Still, this is an opportunity for Hibbert to accept the challenge and the burden as a leader and to start to lay a new foundation for the future. This time, at least, he should get his shots.

VIDEO: Deron Williams turns around Chris Paul in this play from 2013-14

Deron Williams, Nets — It wasn’t that long ago when some scouts would have tabbed Williams as the best all-around point guard in the league. He has size, the ability to break down defenses and he can both get to the rim and nail his open jumpers. But that hasn’t been on display much since he joined the Nets. Now the soon-to-be 30-year-old is trying to overcome a series of ankle surgeries that have clearly slowed him down and made his whopping contract one of the most unrewarding in the league. New coach Hollins is not one to baby his players. He’ll lean heavily on Williams to run the offense and be the leader. But a slower tempo could be just what’s needed for a return to previous All-Star form.


  1. terst says:

    What about Danilo Gallinari? And Javale too!

  2. Coolman says:

    People dont’ remember this…but kobe went to germany to inject some super liquid into his knees…..i guess drugs do work….

  3. Coolman says:

    Sorry but the fact is…with todays medical advancements…players can play longer than every before. 19 seasons in the league? kobe should of retired 1 year ago…..don’t be suprised if he gets injured again….grandfather time doesnt wait for anyone….only drugs make you stronger….

  4. ATL says:

    Check out the Hawks and see how there winning percentage is gonna jump up…They will become a top 5 team in the East and move to the second round of the Playoffs…You heard it here first!

  5. marlon green says:

    It’s not likely Kobe can work miracles and get the Lakers to the playoffs? Excuse me but isn’t that the whole reason why we are discussing him being the comeback player of the year? Wasn’t he the one who played his heart out and played 3 or 4 entire games without taking a break and ending up tearing his achillies just so the Lakers could make the playoffs? Wasn’t it Kobe that sank 2 free throws to ensure the Lakers won the game against the Warriors to get in the playoffs? You guys are pitiful, this is by far at least a top 5 player of all time and you give him NO RESPECT!

  6. Yoni says:

    Kobe is the man, even at 36 years old. I will certainly not be the old Kobe, but for sure will be better than 39 years old Michael Jordan, who still was able to average 20 points per games.
    Lakers will maybe not be able to content for the playoff, but I am sure that they will deliver some nice and competitive games during the season.
    Go Kobe, I am glad to be able to see again this living legend!

    • lepiv7 says:

      Kobe at 36 MIGHT be better than Jordan at 39, but he wont be better than Jordan at 36, that’s for sure.

  7. NBA prospect / insider Nathan says:


  8. Kuhlmans Calixte says:

    How dare you say its over for kobe…look
    at tim duncan. Quick to kick somebody while there down huh?

  9. joe black says:

    Lakers are going to make the playoffs. Lose first round.

  10. coolman says:

    sorry but kobe is too old…he is now playing because he wants to prove….he has proven enough….its time to call it quits….great career…but sorry its over….everyone has retired….2 more years? seriously?

    • gunner says:

      too old? tim duncan just led his spurs to a championship and he’s older than kobe… you’re quick to judge.. kobe has something to prove, not in terms of being a dominant player because we all know he is one of the most dominant in history of the game, but he has to prove to himself than he can outscore jordan which he is too close not to go for it!

  11. bry says:

    go lakers!

  12. boom says:

    I love how everyones talkin trash about kobe and saying that he cant lead the lakers into the playoffs when just what? two years ago? He led them to the playoffs after steve nash and Dwight howard got injured. Ha haters gonna hate I guess

  13. harriethehawk says:

    Correction. The Bulls will make 2nd seed in opinion. But not because of Derrick Rose’s comeback, rather a combination of team effort. Rose is no longer the face of the Bulls. Al Horford was and still is. Let’s Go Hawks!!!!

  14. harriethehawk says:

    I know I’m biased, but I really believe Sir Al Horford will make the strongest comeback this season. Why? Because out of all these teams listed in this article, only the Hawks will take their rightful place in the seeding; back to 3. The Fakers aren’t going anywhere near the playoffs, regardless of how well Kobe plays, Deron Williams is a bum and the Nets stink, Hibbert is a rough tough cream puff and so is Larry Bird and Company (all talk no action), not gonna comment on Derrick Rose specifically, although I do believe Chicago will make 3nd seed in the Leastern Conference. It will be due to a combination of factors (other teammates) not just him, and Brook Lopez? He can be good, but he plays with Derron Williams and Joe Johnson, the biggest bums in the NBA.

  15. ldhl89 says:

    The lakers are not going to make the playoffs again

  16. K Jo says:

    Use your post skills to put less wear and tear on your body? I don’t get it.

  17. Bob Ellison says:

    YO — Drummercash:

    Bryant, as always, is whistling in the graveyard — & blowing smoke!

    Now you know why you’re twitching.

    You’re welcome . . .

  18. vincent says:

    obviously this award would go to the heavily injure all-stars. in this it would be bryant or rose

  19. kevin says:

    the lakers will be better than I expected them to be as long as Kobe Lin and Boozer stay healthy. I expected the lakers to be a total flop this year when I heard how much they were paying Kobe but it looks like they might get a 6 seed.
    I think the clippers will destroy the lakers for a while though now that Balmer bought the team I think he will pay any price to make them a champ.

  20. Scisca says:

    When I look at Indiana, I think that Lance has to be so glad he left. There’s no telling if and when the Pacers return to being a contender, Hornets have much better chances to compete in the East at this point. Hibbert the leader? Seriously? The guy is soft as a fluffy bunny.

  21. GBU says:

    Javale McGee will be back too… He’ll be the “Most Improved” player in “Shaqtin’ A Fool”

    Cant wait to see him 🙂

  22. I have to go with Al Horford as the comeback player of the year. That 3rd seed in the east is wide open and his 17/10 plus leadership, and being one of the better 2-way players in the league should make a big difference for the Hawks. Jeff Teague’s coming out party in last years playoffs will also be a bonus and they may end up with potentially 3 all-stars (Horford, Millsap, Teague) and a 3-pt shooting Championship come All-Star weekend.

    Brook Lopez also makes a strong case for Brooklyn who will need his scoring with Pierce’s leaving to the Washington Wizards.

    Jarret Jack will be great insurance if Deron Williams can’t hold up. Both Brooklyn players are in contract years so I think they’ll turn in quite the year.

    Amare Stoudamire could have been on this list as well. He’s in a contract year and will be back in the starting lineup.

  23. Thomas Young says:

    You could have just talked about my boy Gallo instead of coming up with a lame excuse to put Hibbert on the list. Smh, Javale is coming back too.

  24. Trix says:

    People that say Kobe won’t be relevant is just hating and taking shots while he is down. He is took smart and skilled a player to not make an impact. Just wait till next season.

    • TEG says:

      at least you said something that’s relevant to this article, that comment you posted will be a DREAM. Lakers WILL miss playoffs again.

  25. dRAGO says:

    Brayant will need to adjust his game drastically if he hopes to remain relevant in the NBA i don’t believe the Lakers have a team that can reach the playoffs and no free agent at the highest level will touch them.So he will probably try to do everything and brake down again and probably for the last time.Rose could become a superstar again since his injuries are not Brandon Roy level of damage his future is still open.Lopes is probably the most endangered player in this list since foot injuries tend to stick . Horford is not in danger i believe he has 3 or 4 decent seasons in him.Williams is a Penny Hardaway situation.Hibert is the kind of player that most teams have read through and they know how to contain.His skill level is not improving as defenses are adjusting to him but let’s see what Karem has to say.

  26. Drummercash says:

    KOBE, KOBE, KOBE…kill’em Kobe & do it better than the GOAT did upon his return! I’ll ride with u (KOBE) until the ride iz over! #burnrubber #1waychampionshipsfor2moreseasons

    • Tyvone Rice says:

      Kobe will be a beast and the lakers will make the playoffs this season im gonna say 7th or 8th seed.KOBE BEAN BRYANT the 2nd GOAT.LETS GO KOBE.LAKERS4LIFE