Rookies and sophomores often shine during those years, but being a consistent NBA player takes a lot of time, adjustments, hard work and of course, playing time, something that’s definitely earned nowadays considering how competitive the league is.
Sometimes, teams take a leap of faith in one guy or two as their go-to players for the future, but struggles, change of directions or simply bad luck makes them change their mind and give up in their youngsters in order to acquire different talent.
Other teams enter win-now mode and need to move a promising player to acquire expiring deals of guys that can contribute right away in order to boost their rosters and put together a playoff run, making their prospects leave for a rental on guys that may not even resign with the team.
And this offseason it’s very likely to be another example of that, as some teams are reportedly hearing calls about some of their youngsters to see what they can get in return in order to contend in the foreseeable future. So, let’s take a look at the top 4 youngsters that we would exchange during the offseason.
4. Stanley Johnson
Johnson seemed poised for stardom after his impressive NCAA career and a breathtaking summer league right after being drafted, but his development seems quite stalled and has even regressed a lot.
Nonetheless, the Small Forward is an All-Star in the making and a very intriguing prospect with the ability to grow as a dominant two-way player, and even if the Pistons should just enter rebuild mode and build around guys like this, it wouldn’t be crazy to think they might as well trade him for veterans to try and improve their roster.
3. TJ McConnell
McConnell has been quite impressive for the Philadelphia 76ers, making big time shots despite not being much of a scorer and showing outstanding basketball IQ and playmaking ability as a pass-first point guard.
Still, the Sixers will have Ben Simmons as their primary ball handler, while Chacho Rodriguez could lead the second unit as a Lou Williams type of guard, so McConnell would be kind of expendable in the Sixers’ never ending pursue for assets.
2. Dante Exum
Exum was quite rough when he was drafted by the Jazz, but seemed more than ready to take the starting point guard duties at Utah and develop into that dominant two-way point guard he was overseas.
Sadly, inconsistency, bad decisions on the court and a season-ending injury, while he was on FIBA duty, made him stall and even lose playing time, and with the Jazz trying to keep Hayward on board, it would be safe to expect them to trade Exum in exchange of more proven veterans like Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.
1. Lucas Nogueira
Bebe Nogueira was a very dominant prospect during his time in Brazil, and even if he’s looked very impressive in very little playing time with the Raptors, it seems like it may take a while before he reaches his true potential and can be a steady contributor on an NBA team.
And with patience running out in Canada as the Raptors keep falling short in the East, Nogueira could might as well wind up on a losing team where he may thrive with a lot of playing time and chance to make mistakes, while DeRozan gets some help and they try to convince Lowry to stay.