For young players to blossom and play well, they have to be put into the right situation. Players such as Trae Young, De’Aaron Fox, and Karl-Anthony Towns have been given the keys to their respective teams and we have seen them take off and essentially turn into All-Stars.
But there are a lot of players around the league who have not been afforded the same opportunities, and people often give up on these players. Guys like Victor Oladipo, Hassan Whiteside, and Kyle Lowry, for example, were able to find success on different teams after their original teams had essentially given up on them. It was easier for them to improve as players as a result of their environment and on the simple fact that they were surrounded by the right people.
So, on that note, here are 5 players who need a change of scenery to find success.
5. Frank Ntilikina
Frank Ntilikina was the 8th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and has been nothing short of disappointing since being drafted by the New York Knicks. Frank was originally picked by Phil Jackson to fit into his triangle offense — but with Phil now gone, this pick is looking to be a bad one.
Frank is a 6’6 point guard and hasn’t been given the right tools to succeed. The Knicks have seemingly given up on him as he is now buried on the depth chart behind point guards Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. Though his career has started off rocky, Ntilikina could definitely turn it around on the right team. Standing at 6’6, at the point guard position, Frank has great defensive abilities and could provide a lot for a team looking for point guard depth or a team looking to a deep playoff run.
4. Malik Monk
Malik Monk was the 11th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets and has been quite underwhelming in his first two seasons. Monk was a highly touted player coming out of Kentucky due to his great scoring abilities and his insane athleticism, but he has not been able to replicate that success so far in the NBA.
You could place part of the blame on the fact that the Hornets are just not good at molding players. Charlotte’s front office is one of the worst, if not the worst in the NBA. The numerous blunders they have made, whether it be giving max money to guys who don’t deserve it, the poor drafting over the years, or the fact that they have been unable to get Kemba a competent 2nd option just shows how incompetent they are.
Last year, the team played Jeremy Lamb over him to try to compete, and on multiple occasions, wouldn’t play Monk at all. If Monk were to go to a team that knows what they are doing, we could potentially see him turn into the player we thought he would be when he was drafted out of Kentucky.
3. Jaylen Brown
Since being drafted in 2016, Jaylen Brown has always played a limited role for the Boston Celtics. As a result, Brown has been unable to take off. Over the course of his three-year tenure with the Celtics, Jaylen has played with Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, and soon to be Kemba Walker. Not to mention, the Celtics had signed Gordon Hayward and drafted Jayson Tatum, two players who play the same position as him.
Last year, JB took a step back in his game due to the multitude of ball-dominant players that were on the Celtics. With Jaylen being a restricted free agent this offseason and the Celtics already having a high payroll, it wouldn’t surprise me if he isn’t on the team for the 2020-21 season. If Jaylen Brown can find stability and be the focal point in an offense, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a Victor Oladipo type jump in his game.
2. Justise Winslow
When Justise was drafted 10th overall in the 2015 NBA draft, a lot of people were calling him the steal of the draft. At Duke, Justise was a player with insane athleticism and a nice shooting touch. And though he has had an okay NBA career so far, he isn’t the player that many people had expected him to be so far.
The Miami Heat have done multiple things to get him more involved in the offense such as playing him at point guard, but the biggest reason as to why Winslow hasn’t taken off yet is due to the fact that the Heat have yet to put an emphasis on grooming him. They have always been competitive and not a team that looks to “tank” to focus on developing their young talent.
When he was drafted, Justise was immediately thrown into the fire and was expected to compete at a high level as in 2016, the Heat won 48 games and were one game away from making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Another reason for his underwhelming start to his career is the fact that the lineup around him just hasn’t been good. Winslow has played his career with tons of subpar shooters with guys such as Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, and Bam Adebayo just to name a few. This has forced Justise to essentially turn into a spot-up shooter and play a lot of off-ball offense. If he were to go to a team that puts more of an effort to make him better, we could really see him take off.
1. Mo Bamba
Mo Bamba had a pretty underwhelming rookie season last year. When he was drafted 5th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, it was obvious that he was going to replace Nikola Vucevic.
That idea seemed to be thrown out quick as Vucevic had his best season by far last year, was an all-star, and re-signed with the Orlando Magic on a 4-year, 100 million dollar deal. This move also shows that the Orlando Magic are looking to contend for the playoffs as last year was the first time they had made it since the 2011 season when Dwight Howard was on the team.
This now means Bamba will come off the bench and play limited minutes this next season. When he was drafted, it was obvious Bamba was very raw and he would be a project player, but for him to improve he would have to play tons of minutes for the Magic and he cannot do that if he is coming off the bench. This past offseason, Mo Bamba has been working this offseason, stating he has gained 20 pounds of muscle. For us to see what Bamba can really do, he has to play and it doesn’t seem he will be playing a lot for the Magic next season.