When players go to another team, whether it's through trades, free agency or drafts, it is either going to bad or good, there is really no in-between. Either that player is going to help their team get better or not. Transitioning to another team is not an easy task, on or off the court. The players have to adjust to new teammates, the coaching staff, management, fans, and the new arena that they have to play in. Then players also have to move their family to a whole new location and residency, which also takes some time.
The most important part is adjusting to playing in a new system with new players. Coming to a new team, players have to start all over again, trying to impress their new coaches, team, fans, and management. It's like coming out of college and getting drafted because everybody will pay attention to how well you perform, deciding whether they made the right choice or not.
Some players have went to teams with little success. Maybe they didn't get along with a coach or teammate, or maybe they just weren't a good fit for the type of system that team was trying to run at the time. Then there are the players that get a shot with a new team and finally get to display their talent. They know at the time that this is a big opportunity to step up for a team and reach the ultimate goal, winning an NBA Championship. These are the players that took advantage of the opportunity that was handed to them.
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15 J.J. Redick
When J.J. Redick first entered the league with the Orlando Magic, he struggled a lot, not averaging double digits points until his fifth year in the league. Just when Redick was getting comfortable in Orlando, averaging 15.1 ppg, Redick was shipped off to the Milwaukee Bucks midseason. With the Bucks, Redick only started in two games and averaged 12.3 ppg. In the offseason, Redick was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers where he never looked back. In his three seasons with the Clippers, Redick has averaged the three highest ppg of his career, including a career high last season with 16.4 ppg. This season, Redick led the league in three-point shooting percentage with 47.5%.
14 Marcus Morris
In his first four seasons in the league, Marcus Morris played for two different teams, including teaming up with his twin brother Markieff in Phoenix. In his last season with the Suns, Morris averaged 10.4 ppg and 4.8 rpg, which were both career bests up until that point. In the offseason, the Suns cleaned house, including trading Morris to the Detroit Pistons. With the Pistons this season, Morris had a career year while also helping the Pistons back to the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
13 Al-Farouq Aminu
In his first five seasons, Al-Farouq Aminu had already played for three teams and could not find his place in the league. Aminu played for the Dallas Mavericks for the 2014-15 season, where he averaged 5.6 ppg and 4.6 rpg, and only started in three games. In the offseason, Aminu signed a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, still trying to find a place called home. The Trail Blazers had just lost four starters in the offseason and were in rebuilding mode. This season, Aminu averaged career highs in both the regular season and playoffs. Portland was a perfect fit for Aminu and he should be there for awhile.
12 DeMarre Carroll
In the first four seasons of his career, DeMarre Carroll could not find the right team for him as he played on four different squads. Carroll also did not average points in double digits for his first four seasons. In the offseason of 2013, Carroll signed with the Atlanta Hawks where he had a breakout season. The season before that, he played for the Utah Jazz, where he averaged low numbers. The following season with the Hawks, Carroll averaged career highs in all numbers. In his second season with the Hawks, Carroll helped the Hawks to a franchise best record of 60-22. However, Carroll moved on to the Raptors where he helped Toronto make a deep playoff run this season, which he couldn't have done without finding life in Atlanta.
11 Paul Millsap
When Paul Millsap entered the NBA, he started his career off with the Utah Jazz. Millsap put up good numbers with the Jazz, but better numbers when he left. Millsap left the team after seven seasons and joined the Atlanta Hawks. In his first season with the Hawks, Millsap averaged 17.9 ppg, a career high .The following season, Millsap helped the Hawks to a franchise best record of 60-22. Since Millsap joined the Hawks three years ago, the Hawks have made the postseason every season and Millsap has been selected to the All-Star game all three seasons.
10 Isaiah Thomas
After being selected last overall in the 2011 Draft and only being 5'9", Isaiah Thomas has been solid wherever he has gone. In his first seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Thomas was a solid PG, known mostly for his scoring ability. Despite his play, Thomas was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the offseason and although Thomas played well and the Suns were having success, they traded Thomas to the Boston Celtics midseason. With the Celtics, Thomas averaged strong numbers coming off the bench and really came into his own. Due to his success from his first season and the early season injury to Marcus Smart, Thomas was moved into the starting lineup, averaging 22 ppg, a career high and making his first All Star game.
9 Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson was unlucky to be drafted to the same team as Russell Westbrook, making him Westbrook's backup for the first four seasons of his career. In 2015, Jackson was traded to the Detroit Pistons before the deadline. When he came to the Pistons, Jackson easily set career highs in every relevant category. This season, Jackson set a new career high in ppg and led the Pistons to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Jackson is a perfect fit for the Pistons and got five-year, $80 million contract.
8 Ish Smith
Ish Smith did not have a regular start to his NBA career. As a rookie, Smith played for two teams in Houston and Memphis. In his sophomore year, Smith played for two teams again in Golden State and Orlando. In his third year, he played for another two teams in Orlando and Milwaukee. Smith traveled around for a little more until he finally ended up with the New Orleans Pelicans this season, making him one of the top bench players in the league. After just 27 games with the Pelicans, Smith was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, who only had one win for the season at that time. Although the 76ers were still really bad, Smith made them better by having his best season yet. Smith has finally found a place where he can call home, even though he may not like it.
7 Brandon Knight
In his first two seasons with the Detroit Pistons, Brandon Knight was a decent point guard. He looked like he had potential, but could not shine with the Pistons. Knight's most memorable moment with the Pistons came when DeAndre Jordan posterized him. After his time with the Pistons, Knight was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he started to play much better ball and putting up solid numbers. During his last season with the Bucks, Knight was considered an All-Star snub, as he averaged an impressive 19.6 ppg and 5.1 apg.
6 Will Barton
Most people did not know who Will Barton was until this season when he was a participant in the Slam Dunk Contest and one of the top sixth men off the bench during the regular season. Barton started his first couple of seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he barely got playing time. During the middle of his third season with the Blazers, Barton was traded to the Denver Nuggets where he got playing time to display his talents. His last season with the Blazers, Barton averaged poor numbers. When he was traded to the Nuggets later that season, all his stats improved. This year, Barton averaged a career high of 14.4 ppg with Denver.
5 Marcin Gortat
Marcin Gortat was drafted by the Orlando Magic while Dwight Howard was still there, which means he was the backup and did not get much playing time. He was basically drafted to have someone to give Howard a rest. In the middle of his fourth season with the Magic, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. With Steve Nash as his PG, Gortat found a new home in Phoenix and showed his potential, averaging 15.4 ppg in his first full year there. He's since moved on to Washington and is a valuable part of the rotation.
4 Hassan Whiteside
Many basketball fans don't know that Hassan Whiteside started his career with the Sacramento Kings back in 2010. In his last season with the Kings, Whiteside posted absolutely terrible numbers. After that season, Whiteside was assigned to the Kings D-League team. Following that, Whiteside went overseas and did not play in the NBA for two seasons. When he returned to the NBA, the Miami Heat signed him and Whiteside showed that he was grinding during those two years away from the league. Whiteside's numbers have been way up ever since, as he has developed into one of the best big men in the league.
3 Eric Bledsoe
As a rookie, Eric Bledsoe was a solid PG. The following season, the Clippers went and obtained superstar Chris Paul, which cut Bledsoe's minutes down. In his third season with the Clippers, Bledsoe got more minutes although he was still Paul's backup. Bledsoe was soon traded to the Suns, who were in desperate need of a player to take over as their leader. Bledsoe filled that void by showing what Paul and the Clippers had taught him in Los Angeles. Bledsoe has fit in well in Phoenix and had the best season of his young career in 2015/16, averaging an impressive 20.4 ppg and 6.1 apg.
2 Tobias Harris
The Charlotte Bobcats drafted Tobias Harris but traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks on draft night. The Bucks wanted a player that could play both sides of the ball, which Harris could do. However, Harris was not a good fit in the Bucks system at the time and was traded to the Orlando Magic midseason in just his second season with the Bucks. Once he was traded to the Magic, Harris began to shine, and although he was traded to the Detroit Pistons in 2015/16, he is still playing some terrific ball.
1 James Harden
During the 2011-12 season, James Harden was named the Sixth Man of the Year and helped the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals. After the Thunder lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat and Harden did not show up for the Finals, he was offered a contract of around $55 million. Harden felt he deserved more money and took a five-year, $78.7 million contract with the Houston Rockets. In his four season with the Rockets, Harden has led his team to the playoffs every season, including the Western Conference Finals last season, and was runner-up to Stephen Curry last season for the MVP Award. Harden has showed that he is more than a man off the bench and could lead a team, which he is currently doing.
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