The 2020 / 2021 season is filled with ups and downs. Yet another season passed with the crowning of a new champion. Some teams got better, some got worse and others stayed stagnant. The front offices across the league are bound to reassess their performance, take stock and realign their future to remain competitive.
Similarly, players are looking to either maintain their excellence or to change their situation for the better by raising their chances of winning or get paid handsomely for their services. With the NBA trade season and free agency well underway, several teams will undergo a refurbishment of rosters and many players will get a fresh jolt of life via new opportunities.
As agents work laboriously to get their players a favorable career outlook and financial situation, it is time that we study the top 10 players likely to get a career restart due to their newfound situation.
The New Zealand-born Australian player is a good team player since 2012. In his lone season with Phoenix Suns this year, Aron clocked career-best statistics, improving hugely from his career per-game averages, from 6.0 to 11.5 points, 0.8 to 1.6 assists, 4.5 to 5.6 rebounds, 51.4% to 55.8% effective field goal percentage, 51.7% to 58.2% two-pointers shooting percentage, 32.7% to 35.1% three-pointers shooting percentage, as well as 0.2 to 1.4 three-pointers made.
His late-career leap, mature veteran work ethic, and great defensive efforts caught the appreciation from the Toronto Raptors, earning him a new contract to play for 'the North'. With a great cast of quality players and excellent coaching staff, Aron can look forward to extending his services to greater heights.
Chris Paul defied all critics' predictions when he got traded to Oklahoma City Thunder and helped them to a fifth seed in the Western Conference. At year 15, the 'Point God' is still playing at an elite All-Star level, thanks to his impeccable leadership and basketball IQ.
His 2019 / 2020 statistics are still well within his career averages of 17.6 points, 5 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. Clocking 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists for the season, Chris Paul is the very reason why a newly assembled young Thunder team made it into the playoffs despite limited experience and pedigree. Now that Chris is teaming up with an elite shooting guard in Devin Booker, the Phoenix Suns show is set to be exciting, fast-paced, and promising.
The former champion has not had a chance to display his skill sets ever since LeBron James exited Cleveland due to the team missing the playoffs and meaningful basketball. With his recent trade to the Boston Celtics, Tristan is again given a slate of competitive roster to play with.
Tristan was able to maintain a decent statistics line the past season, improving his per-game averages from his career averages, from 9.4 to 12 points, 8.7 to 10.1 rebounds, and 1 to 2.1 assists. With the brilliant coaching and effective system of his new head coach, Brad Stevens, Tristan Thompson is likely to capitalize on the golden opportunity to showcase his talents and value-add to the team's success.
The key advantage of Hassan Whiteside is his amazing athleticism. With his size, strength, and reach, Hassan has the attributes of an annual star type of center. His earlier seasons drew comparisons to Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, and Alonzo Mourning. However, coachability, team chemistry, and level of motivation became hurdles to the rise of this big man. With greater maturity, Hassan would hopefully play with better team spirit and less diva personality.
Next season, he will reunite with the team that drafted him, Sacramento Kings. Hassan has come full circle since his rookie days. Few fans know that this center has been a journeyman to eleven teams to date. From Kings to Reno Bighorns to Sioux Falls Skyforce to Rio Grande Valley Vipers to Amchit Club to Sichuan Blue Whales to Al Mouttahed Tripoli to Jiangsu Tongxi to Iowa Energy to Miami Heat back to Sioux Falls Skyforce and finally to Portland Trail Blazers.
Far from declining on the physical front, Hassan is still a competent force down under. Perhaps a reunion with the Kings, especially a rebuilt and younger roster, would inspire Hassan to be more focused and remember the spark that started him on his NBA career in the beginning.
Following his poor shooting during this year's playoffs, Danny Green received much flak for his inconsistency. During his interviews after winning the championship, he shared that he was nursing an undisclosed injury and hanging on to play throughout the Lakers playoffs run. Truly, Danny would have more to contribute when he eventually reaches full recovery.
With the quick roster shuffles after the Sixers hired Daryl Morey, Danny joined the Philadelphia 76ers in a bid to help them push for the NBA finals. It was unfortunate that Danny had to play through injury during this year's playoffs. As long as he recovers, he will be in a great position to shine again as a highly experienced three-time champion, multi-time defensive team member, and a reliable 'three-and-D' type of wing player. The reloaded Sixers team would be a great platform to restart his career and renew his outlook.
Gordon Hayward was never fully healthy since his horrific injury in his Boston Celtics' first season. Due to intermittent injuries, he never had enough games to regain his rhythm, leading to a lesser showing in the playoffs.
With the Charlotte Hornets acquiring him, Gordon is given a fresh breath of air to play team basketball again. There will be less pressure to win than his former teams, Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics, allowing Gordon more room to pick up where he left. With a relatively less talented roster of Terry Rozier, Devontae' Graham, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, and PJ Washington, Gordon would likely be tasked to mentor and provide the stabilizing force to help develop the young talent.
With the recent third draft pick selection of LaMelo Ball, the hornets now have a bona fide future franchise player to tag along with the renewed Gordon Hayward, and 2021 looks more promising for them all.
In a recent interview, Wesley shared the unique bond that his family has with the Lakers. His father, Wesley Matthews Sr., won two championships with the Lakers. Wesley mentioned he is indebted to the late Kobe Bryant for his advice on recovering from his Achilles's injury earlier in his career. With such huge motivation and bond, Wesley Matthews is surely going to harness his chance to continue his family's winning tradition and repay his debt to Kobe.
Throughout his career, Wesley is known as a dependable team member and a good 'three-and-D' player. His season with the Milwaukee Bucks gives him added intel on how to help the Lakers game-plan against a potential Finals match-up. The union of Wesley Matthews with the Los Angeles Lakers is also a perfect opportunity for him to do whatever he can to strive for his first championship trophy and hopefully help the Lakers repeat as champions.
The Spanish center - power forward is already a champion with the Toronto Raptors. His previous stint at Oklahoma City also demonstrated his willingness to do all the dirty work of cleaning up the glass, swat away shots, and jostle for offensive boards. In short, Serge is a prototypical solid veteran winner to have in any roster.
After the Clippers disappointed fans by falling short during the playoffs, the addition of Serge Ibaka instantly reignites their fighting chance. His calm and smart plays help bring an 'X-factor' to the Clippers. Being thrown countless times into clutch situations and late-game situations also mean Serge can make the right plays down the stretch to help Kawhi Leonard and Paul George perform better. The window is open for the center to capitalize on every chance to help this contending team make a deep push next season.
Seth Curry has switched teams six times since his debut in 2013 / 2014. Although he barely played in his first two seasons, his diligent work ethic and great team spirit have earned him progressively longer play minutes with the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers as well as Dallas Mavericks.
Coming off a career-high three-pointer shooting percentage of 45.2%, Seth leads the league in this category, showing his family pedigree similar to Dell and Stephen Curry. Seth also has an elite career average for his three-pointers shooting percentage at 44.3%, making him an intriguing addition to the Sixers. Now that the Philadelphia 76ers hired Daryl Morey as front office head, the team is bound to retool and recalibrate with a ton of quick shooters. Seth is in a perfect situation to blossom and shine as a lethal and pivotal shooting guard to help the Sixers make a deep run in the postseason.
As a premium point guard in the NBA, Jrue Holiday has drawn respect from many All-Stars, with many quoting Jrue as the most underrated player in the NBA as quoted by 'All the Smoke' podcast hosts, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
Jrue's defensive smarts, tenacious hustles, and preemptive disruptions make him an instant upgrade for the Bucks' point guard line up. Jrue made jumps in per-game averages this season with the Pelicans, from 15.9 to 19.1 points, 3.9 to 4.8 rebounds, and 6.4 to 6.7 assists. The Bucks acquiring him would put him in good stead to propel to another level now that he has two-time Most Valuable Player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as prolific scoring wingman, Khris Middleton, as his new running mates.
The list above looks like a wide array of diverse individuals with an interesting range of potential improvements. These ten players intrigue us with their potential surprises and performance in their new teams. As the next season unfolds, let us take time to appreciate their new chapter and look forward to these players with a renewed lease of basketball life.