I think this has to be the year of Yao. He has played consistently well, and knock on wood, has been mostly healthy. This is the year, that I also think that he has a solid credible team around him. In the combination of Artest and Battier, Scola and Landry, Brooks and Lowry, he has sufficient talent that he can feed off.
I strongly believe that Yao can switch to another gear and take this team very far. I think he knows that a window to win anything significant becomes a bit smaller every year, and this year he has to take advantage of it. He does not need to do anything physical to get there, but what he needs to do is purely mental. By now, he has to know that he can shoot over anybody.
If his guards won't pass him the ball, he needs to know that, in the interest of the team, he needs to demand it, even if it means yelling at them.
If people front him, double him, or triple him, he can still see over everybody, and know that he can make the right decision, and find the open man.
If people attempt to foul him, he knows that he is going to ensure that their indiscretion will be punished at the free throw line.
If Ron dribbles around, he has to know that he has to get on Artest.
He has tried to the gentle giant for all these years, it is time to BE the giant. A lot is riding on him, and he has the skills to deliver. All he needs is the right attitude of doing what it takes.
Yao, over the years, has sought to make himself a better player by hardwork, and perseverance. He is humble. It is one of his admirable qualities. He is his best critic.
Now, he just needs to all that humility go. There are no more mountains for him to climb, no new moves to learn. He has incredible basketball skills. A line from Tao Te Ching:
He who knows he has enough is rich
Yao has enough. It is his time