Every year in the NBA, we have players who shock the world and silence the haters. After Stephen Curry exploded and took the NBA by storm in 2016, critics thought that this would be the end of LeBron James as we know it. LeBron then went on to defeat the Warriors in the NBA finals after coming back down 3-1 and showed the world that he is still the King.
Last season, we saw Kyle Lowry rewrite the stigma of him being a playoff choker and helped the Toronto Raptors win a championship.
Time and time again, players turn their careers around, and we have several players looking to silence the critics this year. Here are 5 players who are having a bounce-back season so far this year.
Markelle Fultz has had one of the worst starts to his NBA career that a first overall pick could have. After being drafted 1st overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017, many people expected Fultz to continue the dominance he had at Washington where he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in his only season there.
Since being drafted, Markelle has only played in 33 games in 2 seasons for the Sixers and it was a mystery as to why he wasn’t playing. It wasn’t until December of 2018 that we learned that Markelle had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and this nerve disorder would sideline him indefinitely.
Being impatient, the Sixers decided to trade Markelle to the Orlando Magic for essentially cap relief and Markelle is now playing basketball once again. For the Magic this season, Markelle is averaging 9.9 points per game on 46.3% shooting from the field. Though these numbers may not seem great, the fact that Markelle is playing basketball currently is great and hopefully over time, we will see him continue to improve and show why he was the number one overall pick.
Andrew Wiggins since being drafted in 2014 has been crucified and labeled as a bust. Wiggins won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 averaging 16.9 points on 43.7% shooting from the field. His averages continued to raise, and he had his best season in 2016 when he averaged 23.6 points on 45.2% shooting from the field.
With Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns both playing well, the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to trade for Jimmy Butler, but this move would prove to be disastrous. Wiggins would end up becoming the third option after this trade, and with poor coaching, Wiggins statistics took a huge dip.
Over the last two seasons, Wiggins would average 17.9 points on a putrid 42.5% shooting from the field and 33.5% shooting from three. With these horrendous seasons, people have labeled Wiggins as lazy and a shot-chucker.
With Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau long gone now, Ryan Saunders has taken over as head coach and he has not disappointed. Saunders has made an effort to get Wiggins more involved in the offense and his efforts have paid off as Wiggins is currently averaging 24.6 points per game on 46.1% shooting from the field, which are both career highs for him. Wiggins still has some things to work on, but he has been silencing the critics so far this season.
It is safe to say that Tristan Thompson is having a season that no one expected him to have. Thompson was drafted in 2011 with the 4th overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers and was a key part of them winning a championship in 2016. The season before this, Thompson signed a five-year, 82-million-dollar extension with the Cavs, and this came as a surprise to many.
Tristan, at the time, hadn’t shown anything to warrant this type of contract and the Cavs could’ve gotten the same production that Tristan has given them from another player for a lot less money. Since this extension, Tristan has averaged 8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on 57.2% shooting from the field and would’ve more than likely been traded last season if it wasn’t for his injury.
This past offseason, the Cavs signed former Michigan Head Coach John Belien and this signing has, so far, looked like a great one. Belien has implemented his team-basketball system on the Cavaliers team and this system has helped Tristan out the most as he is averaging 17.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game through the team’s first 8 games, all of which are career highs.
With Tristan set to become a free agent at the end of this season, if he continues his play, he should be looking at a big payday.
It looks as if Dwight has rewritten the stigma surrounding him. Dwight was once a dominant force on the Orlando Magic where he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award three straight times and took them to the Finals in 2009. Since then, Howard’s career has been on a downward spiral, starting in 2012-13 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the Lakers, Dwight was more about himself rather than the team and it was obvious that the Lakers wanted to move on from him. Howard signed with the Rockets the following season where he did have a resurgence but once again, it didn’t work out. Stories came out that Howard and James Harden had chemistry issues and with Howard’s ongoing injuries, both parties decided to move on. After Houston, Dwight bounced around as he played for the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, and the Washington Wizards, spending a single season with each team.
Dwight signed with the Lakers this past offseason to replace DeMarcus Cousins after he suffered an ACL injury and has had a resurgence with them. Howard has looked fully invested and has shifted on focusing more on the team rather than his stats. Dwight’s impact this season goes past his stats as he has continued to show off his insane athleticism and great paint defense.
This season, Dwight is putting up 6.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 76.7% percent from the field all while playing 20.9 minutes per game.
Dwight’s impact has helped the Lakers to a league-best 7-1 record and his presence will be needed for the Lakers as they look to win a championship this season.
Last year was definitely a forgettable one for Goran Dragic. Coming off of an all-star season where he averaged 17.3 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 37% shooting from the three, many expected Dragic to continue this type of success the following season. This wasn’t the case as, last season, Goran dealt with ongoing knee injuries that ultimately led to him having knee surgery and only playing in 36 games. To add insult to injury, when he did play, he did not look like his former self as he averaged 13.7 points per game on 41.3% shooting from the field and 34.8% shooting from three.
After having a healthy offseason, Goran has come into this season red-hot. So far this year, he is averaging 16.7 points per game on 47.5% shooting from the field and 45.3% from the three-point line all while coming off the bench for the Miami Heat. Goran has been a key part in the Heat’s hot start and if he continues to play like this, the Heat would be a team that could wreak havoc in the Eastern Conference.
Frank has played well in the Knicks’ last two games and it looks as if he will stick around on the team after all. Frank was the 8th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and many Knicks fans were disappointed with this draft pick. Frank was drafted by Phil Jackson to be a part of the triangle offense but has disappointed so far in his young NBA career.
Through his first two seasons, Frank has averaged 5.9 points on a putrid 35.4% shooting from the field and 30.5% shooting from three. With his inconsistent play and constant bashing by the media, Frank looked like a player likely to be traded this season but has played well in his past two games.
Against the Detroit Pistons, Frank put up 11 points, 4 assists and 3 blocks on 71% shooting from the field. Against the Dallas Mavericks, Frank stuffed the stat sheet as he put up 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks all while shooting 80% from the three-point line. These past two games not only give confidence to Frank, put gives confidence to the coaching staff and fans.
The Knicks now have to decide on whether or not to insert Frank into the starting lineup and even if they don’t, Frank looks like a player who will finally have his chance, once again, to win Knicks fans over.