It is not easy for former All-Star players to accept a bit-part role. We have seen throughout NBA history that players don't respond to that well, and it often goes bad. We have seen how a legend like Allen Iverson failed to accept a smaller role and that effectively ended his time in the NBA. Even Carmelo Anthony took years before realizing the sacrifices he had to make to play in the league again.
Now, Carmelo Anthony is thriving with a bench role. Anthony has come to grips with how the league has changed and has found a home with the Portland Trail Blazers. Besides Carmelo, other All-Stars have found new roles in the NBA and are prospering. Here are the former 7 All-Star players who are thriving off the bench.
7. Rajon Rondo
Season Statistics: 5.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Rajon Rondo is mainly known for his All-Star years with the Boston Celtics. Rondo was a key defensive stopper and also one of the best playmakers in the league during his prime. Even before Rondo became an All-Star, he was part of a "Big Four" alongside Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen that won the NBA title in 2008.
Rondo is now a backup point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers and is considered a key piece to the Clippers' title hopes this season. Rondo showed he prospered with a bench role with the Lakers last year, and his basketball IQ and leadership is his best attribute at his age.
6. Paul Millsap
Season Statistics: 9.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Paul Millsap is a great veteran for the Denver Nuggets. Millsap can defend, rebound, and shoot the jumper. A player who was mainly a paint player, Millsap has revolutionized his game to include a three-point shot and found a home in Denver. Even if the Nuggets aren't expected to contend this year without Jamal Murray, Millsap is a key piece.
Millsap was an All-Star with the Atlanta Hawks between 2014-2017 averaging over 17 PPG over those four seasons. Millsap is years old and his experience for multiple playoff teams is crucial for his team, and he will be counted on to play well in the postseason.
5. Marc Gasol
Season Statistics: 5.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.1 BPG
Marc Gasol is a former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year who is one of the best Memphis Grizzlies players ever. Gasol was a legitimate star in his prime and his presence in the paint was undeniably great. But as Gasol aged and slowed down, he was still an impactful player for the Toronto Raptors team that won the NBA title in 2018.
Gasol's playmaking and defensive IQ at his age are still important, and he is now a part of the Los Angeles Lakers team that features big-time stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While Gasol hasn't had his best season in the Purple and Gold, he will be counted on to play big minutes in the postseason.
4. Blake Griffin
Season Statistics: 11.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Many fans were annoyed when the Brooklyn Nets acquired Blake Griffin after the former All-Star was bought out by the Detroit Pistons. Griffin was a monster in his prime and one of the best dunkers we have ever seen. But as the years have passed, Griffin lost his athleticism and is now limited to the occasional dunk and three-point shot. But Griffin is a nice piece for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets don't really need more than Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving; but Griffin adds some size in the paint and a player who can play in any offensive set. If Griffin can have a few big games in the playoffs, he will prove his worth as a former star prospering in a bench role.
3. Dwight Howard
Season Statistics: 7.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG
It is great to see Dwight Howard finding his role in the NBA again. It seems so long ago when Dwight was the best big man in the league, as he single-handedly carried the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009. Dwight suffered multiple injuries that decreased his athleticism, and many thought he would never find another role again.
But Dwight Howard proved he was a capable role player for the Lakers last year, as he was a big part of why Los Angeles won the chip last year. This season, he is playing big minutes by backing up Joel Embiid and his size and rebounding will be invaluable for the Sixers' title chances this season. Even if Dwight isn't an MVP player anymore, his impact is undeniable as a bench player.
2. Carmelo Anthony
Season Statistics: 13.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG
After getting cut by the Houston Rockets in 2019, nobody thought Anthony would get another job. He was a former All-Star and gunner who could not come to grips with accepting a bench role, which made people think he would follow the same path as Allen Iverson. But Carmelo has revolutionized his game and has improved his game as a knockdown shooter.
Portland Trail Blazers have two offensive stars in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, so Anthony gets a lot of good looks when they draw defensive attention. Anthony will be the first to admit how it took a long time for him to realize he isn't a superstar anymore, but that realization has paid dividends so far as the 10-time All-Star recently moved into 10th in all-time scoring.
1. Derrick Rose
Season Statistics: 14.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.4 BPG
By far the most impactful bench player as a former All-Star is Derrick Rose. Rose has been traded a few times over the past few years but has found a home with the on-fire New York Knicks. Rose was the youngest MVP in NBA history when he won the award in 2011, but injuries cut short a surefire Hall of Fame career. Instead, Rose has bounced back and accepted a backup role in New York.
Rose, at times, looks like an All-Star with the Knicks. The man who was once the most explosive point guard ever, Derrick Rose is at his best penetrating the lane for layups or passes to open teammates. Rose is having big games at the right time for the Knicks because New York are 4th in the Eastern Conference much to everyone's surprise.