When looking back at 2017, the NBA landscape has taken a massive change. Superstars have switched teams, sometimes multiple times, and both conferences have endured a shakeup that has affected the rest of NBA history. More importantly, the superstar movement has placed the NBA in a very good position. There is more parity in the league than ever before, as the Golden State Warriors were a massive problem in terms of league competition. Thanks to player movement and trades, every NBA team has at least one untradeable player on its roster.
When analyzing the rosters in 2017, that was not the case. 10 top stars in the league have all changed teams over the past 4 years, and the NBA is truly not the same. By looking back at 2017, here is where each of these 10 NBA superstars originally resided and how they ended up in their respective teams in 2021.
10. Paul George - Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers: 2017
Oklahoma City Thunder: 2018, 2019
Los Angeles Clippers: 2020, 2021
Paul George was the man in Indiana. After taking his game from a raw forward to one of the best two-way players in the world, the Pacers were a threat to the juggernaut Miami Heat in the East. They even reached the Eastern Conference Finals, led by Paul George. For the first time since Reggie Miller, Pacers fans felt they had a top player and they did for a while.
But 2017 was the last year George was with the franchise. He demanded a trade from Indiana, and he was shipped off to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a package centered around Victor Oladipo. With the Thunder looking like championship contenders with George and Russell Westbrook, the Pacers were forced to rebuild without their franchise player.
9. Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder: 2017, 2018, 2019
Houston Rockets: 2020
Washington Wizards: 2021
Russell Westbrook is Mr. Thunder. Westbrook could have stayed with the franchise forever because he was the man with all the pressure and skills to carry out the decision-making for the team. Westbrook loved carrying the team and putting up monster statistics, and Thunder fans truly appreciated it.
But Westbrook's time with the Thunder came to an end in 2018, as the team went into full rebuild mode. After multiple playoff failures with George and Westbrook, the Thunder moved Paul George to the Clippers and Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. It is crazy to see Westbrook with his 3rd franchise right now as a member of the Washington Wizards, and a lot has changed since 2017 for the triple-double machine.
8. Chris Paul - Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers: 2017
Houston Rockets: 2018, 2019
Oklahoma City Thunder: 2020
Phoenix Suns: 2021
Chris Paul might be the greatest Los Angeles Clippers player. He made the laughing stock of the NBA relevant and showed his leadership by making the Clippers title contenders in the Western Conference. Even if Chris Paul never won an NBA title with the team, he is credited for taking the franchise out of the dumps and into the spotlight.
Today, the Clippers are title contenders thanks to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but it was Paul that first made the paradigm shift in the city. Now, Paul is a member of the Phoenix Suns and he has taken yet another franchise from mediocrity to title contenders.
7. Kyrie Irving - Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers: 2017
Boston Celtics: 2018, 2019
Brooklyn Nets: 2020, 2021
Kyrie Irving was the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers to start with until LeBron James returned to his hometown team. With LeBron in town, Irving automatically goes to a secondary role in the team. That's what happens with LeBron because the attention he brings everywhere he goes is truly unprecedented.
Irving and James won an NBA title together in 2016, but it was only 1 more season before Irving would force his way out of town. Kyrie decided he didn't want to play with LeBron James anymore and demanded a trade. The Cavaliers traded him to the Boston Celtics, where Irving had a chance to lead a franchise. That didn't work out, and Kyrie is now a sidekick to Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.
6. Jimmy Butler - Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls: 2017
Minnesota Timberwolves: 2018, 2019
Philadelphia 76ers: 2019
Miami Heat: 2020, 2021
Jimmy Butler did a lot with the Chicago Bulls. He went from an undrafted rookie averaging 13.1 PPG to the Most Improved Player in the NBA in 2015 averaging 20.0 PPG. Butler's hard work and dedication later took him to the All-Star Game in 2015, and he was supposed to be the next star for the Bulls since Derrick Rose ran the city.
But the Bulls weren't good enough, signing aging stars Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo for a season and Butler later left to join the Minnesota Timberwolves. Looking back at Butler's time with Chicago, he could have been a very key piece if he managed to stay. The likes of Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic are on the roster, and Bulls fans can only dream of a potential Big 3.
5. Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Pelicans: 2017, 2018, 2019
Los Angeles Lakers: 2020, 2021
Anthony Davis was arguably the most dominant big man in the NBA when he was with the Pelicans. The young star was putting up Hall of Fame numbers and looked destined for greatness. The only thing holding him back was postseason success because his supporting cast suffered injuries and inconsistencies for years.
Fast forward to 2021, and Davis is already an NBA champion after teaming up with LeBron James last year. Davis made a huge fuss to force himself out of New Orleans, even though the Pelicans management tried to build a team by surrounding him with the likes of Jrue Holiday, DeMarcus Cousins, and Rajon Rondo. Anyways, it seems like Davis will be a Laker for a very long time to come.
4. James Harden - Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
Brooklyn Nets: 2021
It is strange to see James Harden without a Rockets uniform on. After all, he revolutionized the franchise by being Houston's franchise player for the first time since Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Harden made Houston relevant and he became an MVP player while wearing the Rockets uniform. But coming up short year after year in the Western Conference got to Harden this year.
The Beard forced his way out of Houston by bashing his teammates, coach, and entire management earlier this season. One day later, he was moved out of town to join the Brooklyn Nets. Alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, James Harden looks destined to win his first NBA title. But will he value it as much as a title with the Rockets? Only he will know.
3. Kawhi Leonard - San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs: 2017, 2018
Toronto Raptors: 2019
Los Angeles Clippers: 2020, 2021
Kawhi Leonard rewrote what his destiny was supposed to be. Leonard already had an NBA title with the Spurs under Greg Popovich, but once Tim Duncan retired, it was Leonard's team once and for all. Leonard just looked like a Spur, since he played hard on both ends and was hardly flamboyant. But Leonard decided he wanted out of San Antonio, and the rest is history.
Leonard was traded to the Raptors, and in his first and only season with the team, won his 2nd NBA title. Shortly after, he joined the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency where he is currently the franchise player. Nobody would have expected The Claw, or any star, to ever leave the Spurs but Kawhi certainly made history.
2. Kevin Durant - Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors: 2017, 2018, 2019
Brooklyn Nets: 2020 (DNP), 2021
Kevin Durant never got it done with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but joining the juggernaut Warriors changed his career. In 2017, he was a member of a dominant Warriors squad that would go on to win 2 straight NBA titles. After suffering an unfortunate Achilles injury in 2019, his time in Golden State was done and he is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Durant seems to have a knack for joining superteams as he is on another one with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Blake Griffin, and company in Brooklyn. Durant looked like a Warrior for life alongside Stephen Curry, but a bust-up with Draymond Green may have forced him out of town. Durant is at his best again this year and he could be a 3-time champion at the end of the year.
1. LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers: 2017, 2018
Los Angeles Lakers: 2019, 2020, 2021
LeBron James is the best player in the world and has been for the better part of the decade. The King was with the Cavaliers in 2017, a year after he led an iconic 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors. Of course, Durant joining the Warriors completely altered the Cavaliers' title chances.
LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love were no match for the Warriors superteam and would go on to lose the next 2 NBA Finals. LeBron James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and as a 4-time NBA champion due to last year's championship victory, he seems to be on a path to retire wearing the Purple and Gold.
Credit for idea: Hoop Colony