We are nearing the end of what has been arguably the craziest offseason in NBA history. When’s the last time so many superstars switched teams? Not even superstars, but B-level players like Paul Millsap and Danilo Gallinari?
At the 2017 NBA Draft, we saw a number of teams also get active by trading away studs and/or moving up to select a future star (hello, Philadelphia 76ers).
Taking all of the big trades and signings into account, we can see that a number of players in new uniforms are bound to succeed with their squads. On the flip side, a number of players figure to suffer a little bit for changing jerseys. That’s just the nature of switching teams in today’s NBA.
With that all said, here is a look at eight NBA players who’ll be better off with their new teams, and a look at seven who won’t be so fortunate.
*Stats courtesy of ESPN*
15. Better Off: Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas was 90 percent of the Boston Celtics offence last season. He led the team in scoring with 28.9 points per game — far and away the best numbers of his career. Thomas carried the Celtics to the top seed in the Eastern Conference, before a hip injury caused him to miss most of the third round. The Celtics were embarrassed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games.
As everyone knows, Thomas was the centre of a package deal to Cleveland that saw Kyrie Irving head to Boston. Though Thomas will see his stats dipped (thanks to having to share the ball with LeBron James), he’s a huge winner here.
Thomas won’t be THE only guy scoring in Cleveland. He didn’t get that much help from his Celtics teammates. LeBron, Kevin Love, Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose promise to take some of the stress off of Thomas. And oh, Cleveland gives him a much better shot at winning a championship than Beantown would at this time.
14. Suffer: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving isn’t going to be suffer a whole lot during his career with the Celtics. But as of right now, he’s probably not going to enjoy Beantown as much as Cleveland. Sure, he got his wish of being “the focal point” on another team, but Irving doesn’t have the weapons in Boston that he did in Cleveland.
Irving did average a career best 25.2 points per game last season, but having the opposition focus more on LeBron James made it easy for Kyrie to score a bunch. In Boston? Teams will be using the double teams and their best defender(s) on him. It’s not going to be easy.
Realistically, Irving will have to wait at least two years before he can lead his Celtics to the promised land. He may be happy about being dealt out of Cleveland, but it’s LeBron’s throne in the East right now.
13. Better Off: D’Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell was just one of the many young players on the Los Angeles Lakers that also featured Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. Russell — the second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft — was never going to be THE GUY in L.A. And with the Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball with the second pick in 2017, Russell clearly had no future here.
The Lakers packaged Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets, and the former will flourish on a rebuilding team that’s trying to add plenty of youth. With newcomer Allen Crabbe also arriving to Brooklyn via trade, Russell will get the chance to spearhead the rebuilding Nets offence.
12. Suffer: Blake Griffin
Despite the many rumors that Blake Griffin was ready to leave the Los Angeles Clippers after the 2017 season, he re-signed for the maximum contract: Five years worth a total of $173 million. This came after the Clippers opted to trade away superstar Chris Paul to the Houston Rocket, so it was a bit surprising for some to see Griffin stay loyal to his team.
The Clippers are no longer a true NBA championship contender, and with his best teammate gone, Griffin is going to struggle to play without CP3. He’s going to have to carry the offence all on his own, making it easier for defenders to focus solely on Griffin and not Paul as much.
Griffin will remain a force, but his stats could easily go down without Paul as his set-up man. The Clippers might not even make the playoffs, so Griffin may pay quite the price for taking the max from his team.
11. Better Off: Jae Crowder
Jae Crowder was a terrific fit in Boston under head coach Brad Stevens and his defensive system. Though Isaiah Thomas stole most of his thunder, Crowder played a huge role in helping Boston turn into an Eastern Conference juggernaut. He’s one of the game’s best defenders and a slick three-point shooter (.398 from downtown in 2016-17).
But because the Celtics only relied on Thomas to carry the offence, Crowder couldn’t quite unleash his full potential. He’s going to get that chance in Cleveland, as the team will look to take some of the heat off of LeBron.
Crowder will play a huge role if and when Cleveland meets Golden State in the 2018 NBA Finals. The world will finally recognize his terrific defence, and Crowder will get the chance to win a championship. He may have loved Boston, but Cleveland’s a great fit for Crowder.
10. Suffer: C.J. Miles
The Toronto Raptors’ two biggest moves of the offseason were re-signing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka to three-year deals. But in one of the biggest under-the-radar moves of the offseason, they acquired shooting sniper C.J. Miles from the Indiana Pacers, before extending him for three years worth $25 million.
Miles will undoubtedly help a Raptors team that was porous from beyond the arc last season. He shot a ridiculous .413 from three-point range last season, and is a career .361 from downtown.
But Miles — who’s averaged over 10 points per game in the last three seasons — will see his stats dip a bit next season. The Raptors offence revolves around Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Throw in Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, and you can see why Miles will struggle to maintain his solid offensive stats. But hey, he’s probably fine sacrificing the points to play on a winning team.
9. Better Off: Paul Millsap
In what was one of the biggest moves of the entire offseason, the Denver Nuggets signed to a three-year contract worth $90 million. Paul Millsap is coming off a career season with the Atlanta Hawks in which he averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. The 6-foot-8 power forward should be a terrific fit in Denver, after being just one of the many scoring standouts on Atlanta.
Millsap joins a Nuggets team that narrowly missed the playoffs in 2017 with a 40-42 record. With Nikola Jokic at centre, Millsap should help Denver form one of the league’s most dangerous front courts.
With Wilson Chandler and Gary Harris as the shooters, Denver now has all the pieces to finally be a playoff team once again. Millsap will undoubtedly flourish on a team where he could be the “focal point” of the offence.
8. Suffer: Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine figured to be a big part of the Minnesota Timberwolves future, alongside Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. But the T-Wolves pulled off a major coup at the 2017 NBA Draft, grabbing Chicago Bulls superstar Jimmy Butler in exchange for LaVine, Kris Dunn and a 2017 first round pick.
LaVine was a terrific fit in Minnesota, where Wiggins and Towns could lead the offence. But he now joins a Bulls team that’s completely stripped of talent, considering Dwyane Wade is expected to receive a buyout.
With the Bulls undergoing a massive rebuild, LaVine can’t expect any help coming up any time soon. The 22-year-old averaged 18.9 points per game last season, but it could be quite a slow start for him in Chi-Town. He’s not going to be as productive in 2017-18.
7. Better Off: Gordon Hayward
After seven seasons as a primary scorer for the Utah Jazz, Gordon Hayward decided to take his talents to Boston — signing a four-year contract worth $128 million. Hayward’s coming off a career season that saw him average 21.9 points and 5.4 assists per game, so perhaps we’re just beginning to see the best of the 27-year-old.
Hayward will be a terrific fit in Boston’s offence, and he should help fix a team that was among the worst in rebounding last year. Hayward and newcomer Kyrie Irving will form a dynamic scoring duo in Beantown.
With his terrific scoring ability and talents around the rim, Hayward could easily set a career highs across the board. Leaving Utah for a team that figures to compete for long-term championships was a genius move for Hayward.
6. Suffer: Danilo Gallinari
After losing Chris Paul in a trade with the Houston Rockets, the Clippers were desperate to add another scorer to help out Blake Griffin. So they pulled off a three-team trade involving the Nuggets and Hawks, bringing over Italian centre Danilo Gallinari to Los Angeles.
Gallinari was a terrific fit with the Denver Nuggets, averaging 19.5 points and 18.2 points per game last season. He and Nikola Jokic were the backbones of Denver’s offence last season, but Gallinari isn’t going to experience the same success with the Clippers.
L.A. is going to live-and-die by Blake Griffin. Furthermore, they already occupy one of the game’s top centres in DeAndre Jordan. Gallinari doesn’t appear to be an ideal fit for the Clippers — at least on paper. He will undoubtedly score less points as he joins a team that’s built around its two premier forwards.
5. Better Off: Paul George
After spending seven years as the face of the Indiana Pacers franchise, Paul George came clean this offseason and told the team about his intentions to leave and sign elsewhere next season. Instead of waiting until next year to resolve the matter, Indiana sent George to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
George is hands down one of the league’s elite players. He’s averaged 18.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game up to this point of his career. Now he goes to a Thunder team that owns reigning league MVP, Russell Westbrook.
Simply put: These two will absolutely dominate the NBA landscape in 2017-18. Westbrook does it all: He scores, gets assists and racks up rebounds. George is among the league’s top defenders and scorers. He gets the chance to chase a championship with Westbrook. Expect a career year for George.
4. Suffer: DeMarre Carroll
After a frustrating first-round sweep via the Washington Wizards in 2015, Masai Ujiri got agressive and sought DeMarre Carroll. When all was said and done, Carroll joined the Toronto Raptors on a four-year worth $58 million. But injuries and a lack of fit in Dwane Casey’s system made Carroll an afterthought in Toronto.
The Raptors were desperate to clear his salary, so Carroll was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets along with 2018 first and second round picks. That’s how desperate Toronto was to get rid of his salary. It helped them re-up Ibaka and Lowry, while signing Miles.
3. Better Off: Jimmy Butler
Despite career highs in points (23.9), rebounds (6.2), and assists (5.5), and leading the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs in 2017, Jimmy Butler was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the aforementioned deal that sent LaVine, Dunn and a 2017 first rounder the other way.
Though Butler expressed his desire to stay in Chicago, he will undoubtedly be an even bigger star for the Timberwolves. With Dwyane Wade sidelined for much of last season, Butler was a one-man scoring machine for Chicago. This time, he gets to work with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns — two of the game’s biggest rising stars.
Butler now gets the chance to build off a career year by playing with two of the NBA’s top scorers. He’s now on a team that will compete for many championships in the future. Good thing that he left what appears to be a sinking ship in Chicago.
2. Suffer: Dwight Howard
Things haven’t been the same for Dwight Howard since the failed ‘super team’ with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash back in 2012-13. After an up-and-down tenure with the Houston Rockets, Howard joined the Atlanta Hawks last season on a three-year deal worth $70 million.
Howard proceeded to post his worst offensive totals since his rookie season in 2004-05, averaging just 13.5 points per game. The rebuilding Hawks then traded Howard to the Charlotte Hornets in a move to clear salary.
Unfortunately for Howard, the Hornets don’t give him much of a chance to succeed. Kemba Walker is a good but not great point guard. They don’t have the players on the roster to make Howard better. D12 has kept trying to revive his career with new teams, but Charlotte will be the latest reminder that his best days are behind him.
1. Better Off: Chris Paul
Despite being a perennial MVP candidate while having Blake Griffin at his side, Chris Paul just wasn’t able to get the Los Angeles Clippers out of the second round of the playoffs — though it was far from his fault.
It was clear that CP3 needed a new home, so the Clippers opted to send him over to the Houston Rockets that sent seven players and a 2018 first round pick the other way. Finally, Paul gets a real shot at a championship.
That’s because he joins a Houston team that won 55 games last season, despite James Harden being a one-man show. The duo of Paul and Harden have the potential to be the top-scoring tandem next season. The Rockets are simply a championship contender, when you throw in that they also signed defensive stalwart P.J. Tucker.
All is looking well for the Rockets next season. Paul gets a fresh start and will have his best sidekick ever. He surely has to be looking forward to Houston.
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