5 NBA Players Under The Most Pressure To Win Their 1st Championship

NBA superstars are often judged by their ability to lead their teams to a championship, creating a lot of pressure on players who have failed to do so to this point in their careers. Here are the guys that are under the most pressure to win a title this year:

5) Carmelo Anthony, New York KnicksCarmelo Anthony

It's extremely unlikely that Melo will ever win a championship, especially this year, but that's the only thing that will improve his reputation. Last season was the first year in his career that he missed the playoffs, but he still is known as a ball-stopper and someone who isn't a leader. Expectations are extremely low for him, but Carmelo will have to deal with the pressure of needing to win a championship for the rest of his career.

4) James Harden, Houston RocketsJamesHarden

Now that Harden has emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate, people are expecting him to take the next step and carry the Rockets to a title. The honeymoon stage of his ascension to superstardom is over - it's now time for Harden to bring some hardware to Houston.

3) Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Injuries have caused Rose to fall from his perch among the league's top tier, but the only thing he has left to accomplish is winning a championship. The Bulls certainly have a roster capable of winning the title, and anything less than that will be considered a failure. Rose often gets the benefit of the doubt because of his injuries, but there will be no doubting his greatness if the Bulls are able to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy next season.

2) Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

This is a two-for-one special since they play for the same team, even though Durant is slightly under more pressure. We thought Oklahoma City's 2012 Finals appearance was the start of the next dynasty, but the Thunder have yet to win the Eastern Conference since then. Injuries have played their role, but if Durant and Westbrook want to solidify themselves as two of the best in the game, they need a championship.

1) Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers121230235711-chris-paul-123012.1200x672

You could easily flip Paul and the OKC duo, but the fact that Paul has yet to even make the conference finals in his career gives him the top spot. He is entering his 11th year in the league, and after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Rockets this year, Paul - and the whole team - are under an immense amount of pressure to show that isn't their ceiling.

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