The NBA offseason has completely changed the landscape of the league as we head into next season. Everyone expected the Golden State Warriors to dominate the NBA for the foreseeable future after their NBA Championship victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a historic 16-1 playoff run. That still may be true, but teams are not lying down for them. There were many huge moves from free agency, along with trades and the NBA Draft over the past few months.
We witnessed more big trades than ever before with a few more still rumored to be going through discussions. It was one of the best drafts in recent memory as well with a handful of talents having a great deal of hype behind them. The young talent should make an instant impact in improving teams next season. Free agency was hype as usual with major names being offered big money.
This list will take a look at the future when it comes to the players arriving in new places this upcoming season. Some will deliver great results to improve their careers and their new teams. Others will struggle and disappoint. These are eight NBA players that will succeed on their new teams and seven that will fail.
15. Succeed: Paul Millsap – Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets just missed the postseason last year after having a surprisingly decent season. They made a big step forward into attempting to play playoff basketball this time by signing free agent Paul Millsap. Not many casual fans respect Millsap for the talent he is, but the power forward has been an All-Star over the past four years for the Atlanta Hawks.
Millsap signed a contract to become the new face of the Nuggets. The career story of Millsap has seen him always thrive in less pressured situations under the radar in Atlanta and Utah. Denver won’t be much different aside from the lovely fact that he’s making a lot more money. The Nuggets will not be a contender, but they should make the postseason and have strong momentum going forward to add more players.
14. Fail: Chris Paul – Houston Rockets
Chris Paul did not want to continue playing for the Los Angeles Clippers and wanted a change. The legendary point guard requested a trade to the Houston Rockets after opting in to the final year of his contract. Paul will play one season with James Harden as they attempt to lead the Rockets to challenge the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference.
The reason Paul isn’t looking to sign an extension is because the situation could be a disaster. Houston is coming off a tremendous season with Harden primarily playing point guard. Both Paul and Harden will have to split the ball handling duties leading to them each having to sacrifice and change their game. Paul not getting full control of an offense for the first time this late into his career will ultimately lead to failure before he finds a new team next year.
13. Succeed: Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers made a huge move trading up two spots in the draft to get the overall top pick and select Markelle Fultz. Philadelphia is ready to take the big step forward in hopefully contending in the near future. Fultz has tremendous potential to become one of the top tier point guards in the lead if he can put it together at the NBA level.
Things appearing to be working great for the 76ers right now after signing J.J.Redick and the Eastern Conference falling part. Fultz has great talent all around him and the low pressured situation of no one expecting them to contend right now. This is a great situation for Fultz and the 76ers will do everything possible to give him the opportunity to succeed. All of the new faces in Philly is great but Fultz may be the most important.
12. Fail: Kelly Olynyk – Miami Heat
Pat Riley is usually known for making some of the best possible moves in setting up a great roster. One move that has Miami Heat fans scratching their heads is Kelly Olynyk joining the team for four seasons at $50 million. Olynyk has been a role player coming off the bench for the Boston Celtics over the past few years.
The lack of all-around talent of Olynyk makes it hard to believe he’ll be a difference maker for a team looking to become a title contender in the Eastern Conference. Miami will need Olynyk to step up in a major way to add depth on the Heat roster. They want him to lead the bench and potentially play big minutes at the power forward position. Olynyk will just let him down unless they can get his game at a level that it has never been at before.
11. Succeed: Derrick Rose – Cleveland Cavaliers
The recent news of Derrick Rose signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers for just $2.1 million is a calculated risk for his career. Rose is no longer the MVP Award winner we remember from his Chicago Bulls glory years. The stock of Rose is at an all-time low despite being relatively healthy all year and averaging 18 points per game during his season with the New York Knicks.
Rose is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the reserve point guard. The worst case scenario for Rose means he’ll get to shine in limited minutes. If Kyrie Irving is traded as he requested at any point before or during the season, Rose is now the starting point guard on a team with LeBron James, Kevin Love and various great shooters. Every talented NBA player sees their value improve after playing with James and Rose will be able to cash into it when becoming a free agent again next summer.
10. Fail: Danilo Gallinari – Los Angeles Clippers
Danilo Gallinari is actually the player that left the Denver Nuggets to open up a spot for Paul Millsap. The Los Angeles Clippers had money to spend after losing out on Chris Paul. Gallinari is an underrated three-point shooter that can open up that aspect of the game for the Clippers as they move forward. Unfortunately, the lack of a strong point guard or facilitator will hurt everyone on the team but Blake Griffin.
Gallinari is being asked to become a top three player on a strong playoff team. That’s not going to happen at all and the Clippers could realistically miss the playoffs. The long-term contract for Gallinari will not be a good one for the Clippers. Hopefully the shooting skills are enough for him to do well, but they’ll be more asked from someone of his stature on the roster. Gallinari is sadly just a secondary player on a good team.
9. Succeed: Rudy Gay – San Antonio Spurs
One of the most talented players to take a pay cut to join a contender was Rudy Gay. An injury saw him lose all of his value on the free agent market and he had zero interest in opting in to remain with the train wreck Sacramento Kings. Gay is a great scorer and quite athletic, but he has failed to be the “top gun” on a credible team.
The San Antonio Spurs proved to be the perfect fit for him to find a new role on a great team. Gay is likely going to be a bench player leading the second team. The Spurs want him to score in bunches when their top stars are off the court. San Antonio often rests their top stars and manages minutes meaning Gay will have plenty of chances to shine. The fact that he gets a chance to legitimately contend for a ring just adds to it.
8. Fail: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers went all in on acquiring talents under contract for just one season. They badly want to sign top tier All-Stars next season and care more about cap space. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was one of the new pieces after signing a one year contract rather than going for stability with a long-term deal elsewhere.
As a young talent with potential, Caldwell-Pope had a chance to get a big contact from struggling teams, but he bet on his talent by going with the Lakers. Unfortunately, this isn’t an ideal situation for him. The young pieces of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle along with All-Star center Brook Lopez makes him a lower tier option of the starters. Caldwell-Pope will not put up big numbers on this roster and will be forced to take a smaller contract next summer.
7. Succeed: D’Angelo Russell – Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets made a huge splash in taking advantage of the Los Angeles Lakers desire to get cap space. Brooklyn sent Brook Lopez’s expiring contract for D’Angelo Russell and the salary dump of Timofey Mozgov’s contract. It was all worth it on the Nets end to get the services of soon to be third year point guard Russell.
At just 21 years old, Brooklyn finally has a young asset with the potential to be great. Russell has been solid during his first two seasons with the Lakers but it was always a bad situation for him. The negative reputation following his scandal with Nick Young ruined his time in Los Angeles. There’s a lot more at stake for Brooklyn to use him in a major way. Russell and Jeremy Lin running the offense as the starting backcourt is finally good news for the future of the Nets.
6. Fail: Jeff Teague – Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves made a splash acquiring Jimmy Butler to add to their young core of top talent featuring Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Another under the radar move they made was trading away Ricky Rubio and signing Jeff Teague as the new point guard. Teague is a solid point guard but the level of play at the position is greater than ever.
You would be giving Teague the benefit of the doubt if you say he’s on the better half of starting point guards in the league. Teague is going to be the weak link if he can’t make the offense work. Rumors of Kyrie Irving wanting to join the Timberwolves will just add more pressure. Teague is not in a great spot to start his Minnesota career and it’s hard to envision him doing well.
5. Succeed: Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers
The most intriguing rookie entering the season is Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball. Magic Johnson believed in Lonzo’s talent enough to trade away D’Angelo Russell for an expiring contract to clear salary cap space. Ball badly wanted to join the Lakers and his wish came true with the second overall pick in the draft.
Most people want to see Lonzo do poorly due to his dad LaVar being a complete fool running his mouth to the media. Ball has already showed how talented he is as a passer by winning the Summer League MVP. Summer League is not that important, but the level of play is closer to the NBA style than college. The future of Lonzo is very bright and the Lakers will give him every chance to succeed. Ball should be considered the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
4. Fail: Tim Hardaway Jr. – New York Knicks
The New York Knicks made a shocking move by offering a ridiculous contract to Tim Hardaway Jr. Knicks fans are not happy about the team offering $71 million over four seasons to someone that has only had one solid season in the NBA. To make matters worse, Hardaway was actually drafted by the Knicks who traded him away for basically nothing a couple of years ago.
Hardaway’s big season saw him average a mediocre 14.5 points per game. The youth is the one thing on the side of Hardaway going forward, but he’s just not worth the salary. New York is expected to trade Carmelo Anthony meaning Hardaway will have to be the second option behind Kristaps Porzingis. Hardaway will likely be the new victim of Knicks fans when he gets booed for failing to live up to the contract.
3. Succeed: Gordon Hayward – Boston Celtics
Everyone expected the Boston Celtics to make a big trade given the amount of young assets and lottery picks they own. Boston instead decided to keep the majority of their pieces and still acquired an All-Star. Gordon Hayward made the decision to leave the Utah Jazz and reunite with his college coach Brad Stevens on the Celtics.
The trio of Hayward, Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford will give Boston a chance to overtake the Cleveland Cavaliers in their attempt to make the NBA Finals. Hayward’s profile is just going to rise in the significantly bigger market. The lesser competition in the Eastern Conference gives him a better chance at making more All-Star appearances going forward as well. Hayward has everything working in his favor and his talent improves the Celtics dramatically.
2. Fail: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder made a shrewd move coming out of nowhere to acquire Paul George in a trade from the Indiana Pacers. Oklahoma City only gave up the bad contract of Victor Oladipo and young prospect Domantas Sabonis. George adds a second Superstar behind Russell Westbrook as the Thunder look to compete in the Western Conference this upcoming season.
The problem is George will be a free agent next summer and is rumored to only want to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. There will be more pressure on George this season than ever given all the rumors surrounding him. George playing with a talent like Westbrook will change the style of his game big time as well. Between the learning curve, the tough competition in the West and a limited time, George is most likely going to be a poor fit for the Thunder.
1. Succeed: Jimmy Butler – Minnesota Timberwolves
The best move in the offseason was the Minnesota Timberwolves trading for Jimmy Butler. Minnesota did not have to send much more to the Chicago Bulls aside from Zach LaVine. Butler is one of the best wing players in the league and is a huge difference maker. The Timberwolves acquired someone that is already great and has the potential to get even better considering he’s just 27 years old.
Butler is ecstatic about the new opportunity and will force a big three with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. With enough experience and time together, this core could challenge the Golden State Warriors in a few years. Butler’s brilliance is not only on the offensive side as he’s a superb defender. Minnesota should be playoff bound and has arguably the brightest future in the NBA after adding Butler.
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