The skill-development gurus are preparing for the home stretch of their cutting-edge workout protocols. The personnel sharpies are angling for the final master strokes that shape their rosters for a title run.
And the players in question are attempting to focus on a year that could either validate an existing contract or generate a handsome new one.
The nuanced agendas for each of these NBA insiders should contribute mightily in our attempt to identify the top candidates for break-out individual performances this season.
Please note that incoming rookies are exempt from consideration; sure, a break out or two may be achieved from the 2009 draft class, but we're looking for players who were less than professional stars last year and threats to approach that status this year.
Also excluded are players such as Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, a kid who already has demonstrated statistical chops and will receive much more acclaim when his team begins to win a lot more frequently.
Anyway, the players selected may have inspired inclusion by possessing rapidly improving sets of skills. Others may be due for upper-tier arrivals due to roster shifts that create more playing time. Still others may belong in both categories.
Anthony Randolph, PF, Golden State Warriors
Thaddeus Young, F, Philadelphia 76ers
Right, this guy may have had his break-out season as an NBA sophomore last year, increasing his scoring load from eight to 15 points per game.
But much of that numerical rise is credited to a 12-minute-per-game increase; now Young must adjust to working more with power forward Elton Brand and completely without departed point guard Andre Miller.
A reasonable improvement was made from 3-point range last season, but if Young is to really emerge, he must make a bigger commitment on the glass. Last year's 12-minute -per-game increase translated to a measly rebounding upgrade of less than one per game.
Aaron Brooks, PG, Houston Rockets
OK, this is a conditional pick. And the condition has a lot to do with Aaron's commitment to moving the ball around a little more.
While it's true that he went wild as a scorer in a few playoff games, Brooks must do a lot better than three assists per game. The kid can score, though. With the Rockets on the short-handed stage, he bagged 14.3 points per game over the last 41, including the playoffs.
But if Brooks uses his penetration skills for the greater good, new teammate Trevor Ariza could, in theory, find his way onto this list.
Andrea Bargnani, F, Toronto Raptors
Now entering his fourth NBA season, the former first overall draft pick increased his per-game minutes by eight as his scoring average zoomed from 10 to 15.
However, if the 7-foot Bargnani is to come within sniffin' distance of stardom, he'll have to do much better than five piddly rebounds per game. He might earn even more respect if the Raptors can find a few guys he can guard.
Rodney Stuckey, PG, Detroit Pistons
Stuckey, a scoring-guard type cast as a lead guard by the Pistons, had a major rise in minutes last season and responded by going from seven to 13 points per game.
While his drive-and-pitch game has yet to reach card-carrying-point-guard levels, it's been demonstrated that being able to start the offense and defend the position can be more than enough for success on a good team.
Stuckey will have to adjust to playing alongside big free-agent ticket Ben Gordon, but Ben is replacing Allen Iverson, so Rodney should have the ball in his mitts a lot more often.