There are many stars in the NBA, some luckier than others. Some stars are drafted into really bad teams and are there to try and turn the franchise around. They can not help what teams they go to, they just have to trust scouts and management to make the teammates around them better.
Kyire Irving was drafted in 2011 1st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. For three sseaons years, the Cavs did not make the playoffs and had the number one overall pick in two of the next three drafts. Kevin Love was drafted by the Memphis Grizzles in 2008 but was traded on draft day to the Minnesota Timberwolves for O.J. Mayo. Love spent the next six seasons in Minnesota and failed to make the playoffs during his time there. So, in 2014, Love and Irving partnered up in Cleveland and added superstar LeBron James to make the playoffs for the first time in their careers and went to the NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, other superstars may be traded or go to different teams because of unfortunate circumstances. After not making the playoffs for eight straight seasons, the Denver Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony. With Anthony there the next eight seasons, the Nuggets made the playoffs every single year. In 2011, Anthony went to the New York Knicks for a different scenery and now he has not been to the playoffs the last two seasons, the first time in his career he has not reached the playoffs.
There are stars/superstars out there who are just flat out too good for their team, meaning that they have all the individual talent but they do not have the pieces around them that they need to have a playoff contending team. These are the players too good for their teams.
15. Karl Anthony-Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Okay, so Karl Anthony-Towns is a rookie, but he has all the signs of a star player. Towns is showing that the Minnesota Timberwolves did not make a mistake taking him first overall in this past draft. In his first game against the Chicago Bulls, Towns had to go against star player Pau Gasol, but he did not shy away from the challenge. Towns finished the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks. Towns showed that he was NBA ready and that he was not scared of competition. In a game against the Dallas Mavericks, Towns finished with 27 points, 17 rebounds and 6 blocks, proving that he has a bright future.
Although Towns is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year and has all the makings of a great big man, the Timberwolves have no chance of making the playoffs this season. The Wolves do have a nice young team, with players such as Andrew Wiggins, Towns, Lavine, Shabazz Muhammad and others but it may take awhile for them to become a playoff team, unless they make some changes.
14. Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves
This is another young star in the making, that was picked first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wiggins was eventually sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves for LeBron James, which is ironic because Wiggins was compared by many to James when he was in college because of his freakish athletic skill set.
Wiggins and Towns are teammates and will make this team better eventually if they both stay. It may take a long time since they are in the highly competitive Western Conference, but these two have the makings of All-Star caliber players. If the GM makes some trades, free agent pickups, and other transactions, the Timberwolves may be in the playoffs sooner then later.
13. Derrick Favors – Utah Jazz
This year the Utah Jazz are pretty decent. At the All-Star break, they were 26-26 and 8th in the Western Conference. Although they are playing pretty good right now, I doubt they make the playoffs due to the strength of the West.
Derrick Favors was actually drafted by the Nets in 2010, but was dealt to the Jazz midseason. In five seasons with the Jazz, Favors has only been to the postseason once, in which the Jazz got swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Favors was not getting a lot of plying time when he first arrived to the Jazz, which is probably why they weren’t successful his first couple of seasons. Although the Jazz look good now, this hot streak will most likely not last causing Favors to miss out on the playoffs once again.
12. Greg Monroe – Milwaukee Bucks
Greg Monroe can not catch a break. Monroe was first drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2010, to try to rebuild their team after Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace, all apart of their 2004 NBA Championship, team departed. While Monroe was with the Pistons, they failed to make the playoffs for five straight seasons, causing Monroe to part ways with them and join the Milwaukee Bucks.
Last, first year head coach Jason Kidd and the Bucks surprised many by, not only making the playoffs, but grabbing a 6th seed. They lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round in 6 games but put up a great effort and earned the respect of teams around the league. After being eliminated from the playoffs, the Bucks felt they needed one more piece and Monore was the answer.
11. Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns
Before Eric Bledsoe got hurt on December 26 and was listed out for the season, Bledsoe was set to have a breakout year. Bledsoe was averaging 20.4 ppg (career high), 4 apg, 6.1 rpg (career high) and 2 spg (career high). Before Bledsoe;s injury, the Suns were 12-19 on the season, which isn’t that great, but after his injury the Suns went 2-21 and sat at 14-40 at the All-Star break, showing how much value Bledsoe was to this team. His backcourt teammate Brandon Knight also got hurt, but they lost a lot of games while he was still playing, showing that Bledsoe was their team MVP.
Since coming to the Suns in 2013, the Suns have not reached the playoffs, but that is not an easy task in the Western Conference. His first season with the Suns, they went 48-34 and missed the playoffs by one game, which is great for the West. If they were a team in the Eastern Conference Standings, they would have been the 3rd seed, which shows how tough the West is when it comes to playoff time. The following season, they went 39-43, 10th in the West, and missed the playoffs by six games. Bledsoe said he is going to come back better and stronger than ever, which may not be a good thing for opposing teams.
10. Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic
After just one season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Nikola Vucevic was sent to the Orlando Magic in 2012. The Magic were still trying to recover from the departure of Dwight Howard, who had carried them to the NBA Finals in 2009. Since coming to the Magic, Vucevic has not disappointed. Last season he had a coming out party, averaging 19.3 ppg (career high) and 10.9 rpg. Although Vucevic had the talent, he did not have much help around him, causing the Magic to go 25-57.
This season at the All-Star break the Magic sat at a record of 23-29 and are 3.5 games out of the playoffs. If the Magic turn things around and step up, this will be Vucevic a team could make a run at the playoffs.
9. Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets
The Nets drafted Lopez in 2008 hoping that he could bring them success in the playoffs once again, with the Nets not getting past the second round of the playoffs since 2003. The Nets struggled when Lopez first got there and did not make the playoffs during Lopez’ first four seasons.
The Nets then added some pieces to help Lopez like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Thaddeaus Young helping them make the playoffs the last 3 seasons. However this season, Williams parted ways with the Nets and joined the Dallas Mavericks. To make things worst, the backup Jarrett Jack got injured and is out for the rest of the season. Despite Lopez’ strong numbers the Nets are struggling in the Eastern Conference this season.
8. Rajon Rondo – Sacramento Kings
After playing 8.5 seasons with the Boston Celtics and winning an NBA Championship, Rajon Rondo left to go to the Dallas Mavericks. Many criticized Rondo for his play last year and said that he had lost it and wasn’t the same since he tore his ACL in 2013. Many said he would never be the same because of the injury, but Rondo proved everybody wrong with his first season with the Sacramento Kings.
Despite Rondo having a great season, the Kings as a whole are not and are having to fight through the Western Conference. The Kings have had the injury bug all season, including Rondo who missed a couple of games but if the team get healthy, Rondo, along with All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, may lead the Kings to the playoffs after all.
7. Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers
In the 2015 offseason, The Portland Trailblazers lost 4 of their five starters, with Lillard the only one remaining. When this happened, many thought it was a rebuilding season for the Trailblazers and that they would try and build a team around Lillard. Well, it seems that the Trailblazers have shocked everyone as they are playoff contenders this season. Which is due to the play of Lillard and his backcourt teammate C.J. McCollum.
If Lillard was not apart of the Trialblazers roster, they would one of the worst teams in the league. Lillard was a NBA All-Star snub this season, but his play has not been overlooked. If Lillard can take his team to the playoffs this year, it would be something that nobody saw coming, besides there Trailblazers and Lillard.
6. Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond came into the league as a role player. His first season in Detroit in 2012, he only started in 10 games. The following season he started in 81 and proved that he belonged on the court. Drummond was even selected to his first All-Star game this season.
Although Drummond is having a breakout, career year, his Pistons are struggling after having a decent start to the season. Drummond has not reached the postseason yet in his career, but once the Pistons get healthier, they should grab a low seed in the playoffs.
5. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony has always been criticized for being the only star player from the 2003 lottery picks without a ring, although the other three stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade had to all team up in Miami to get a ring. Anthony hasn’t had much help while in New York, although they did win a franchise best 54 games in 2012, but lost in the second round the Indian Pacers.
The last two seasons, the Knicks have not made the playoffs. Anthony only played in 40 games last season, which is the main reason they did not reach the postseason. Despite not making the playoffs the last two seasons, the Knicks have not really made any major changes. They brought in Phil Jackson as the GM but he is not really doing much. Then they brought in role players like Aaron Affalo and Robin Lopez who are both having subpar seasons. If Anthony wants to win a ring, he is going to have to leave New York and join a team with a star player, or trust in Jackson to get someone to come to New York to play with him. Jackson did draft Kristaps Porzingis, who has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, but he is still young and that is not enough. Melo is not getting any younger, so sooner or later he will chase the rings instead of the money.
4. Paul George – Indiana Pacers
Paul George had that horrific injury in 2014 when he landed awkwardly in a FIBA World Basketball game during the offseason, breaking his leg and missing the majority of the 2014-15 season. George came back at the end of the season and played in six games, trying to gets his legs back under him. After this injury, many wondered how George would come back and play after that career changing injury.
Since being drafted by the Pacers in 2010, George has been to the playoffs every single season besides the one where he was injured. However, this season the pacers lost 3 of their 5 starters and with George coming off that injury, many thought the Pacers would fall off for a while. George had a different idea in mind and is having a strong season. In 2013 the Pacers made the Eastern Conference finals with only 5 players remaining on their roster from that 17-man roster in 2013.
3. James Harden – Houston Rockets
After spending his first three seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder as one of the best 6th man in the league, James Harden decided he wanted to leave Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s shadows and become a franchise player himself. In 2012, Harden joined the Houston Rockets and has carried them to playoffs every single season, including the Western Conference Finals last season.
Last year Harden played lights out and was second in MVP voting to Stephen Curry. Harden carried his team to 56-26 record, despite them having the injury bug throughout the entire season. Each year the Rockets seem to get better, but this season they have declined. After having only 26 losses the entire season last year, the Rockets have already surpassed that total this year. The Rockets have had many injuries again this season, while Harden tries to put the team on this back like he did last season.
2. DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins has emerged as one of the best big men in the league. The only problem is that Cousins can not do it alone. In 2014, the Kings brought in star forward Rudy Gay midseason to help him out, but even that wasn’t enough. This season they added the missing piece they thought they needed in Rajon Rondo. So far it’s not looking like a bad decision. While the Kings are not a top team this season they are in the race thanks to Cousins and Rondo. Since joining the Kings in 2010, Cousins has never reached the postseason and the most games the Kings have won is 29, which was last season.
1. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is one of the best young players in the league, but many would not know that because he has a serious case of the injury bug. Since coming to the NBA in 2012, Davis has not played a full season yet, including this season. Davis is arguably one of the best overall players in the league and is the future of the NBA. He can shoot, defend, drive, and now has even added the 3-point shoot to his resume.
Davis and the Pelicans made the playoffs for the 1st time last season, grabbing an 8th seed and going 45-37, mainly due to Davis literally carrying the Pelicans on his back. The Pelicans got swept by the Warriors who went on to win the NBA Championship.
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