As the NBA landscape drastically changed this summer, several players are have found themselves in new situations heading into the new season.
Many players are heading into the 2019-2020 season with something to prove. Here are 5 players who will have a chip on their shoulder to start the season.
The player who was arguably hurt the most by the Celtics’ disappointing season last year was Terry Rozier. After breaking out during the 2018 Playoffs, where he famously dominated Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe, ‘Scary Terry’ took a backseat as Kyrie Irving returned to his starting role.
Rozier did not play well last season, averaging nine points per game on 38 percent shooting.
Given this, the Hornets were criticized for giving a big contract to Rozier to replace Kemba Walker, now a Celtic, as the starting point guard.
With a new team, and a clearly defined role as the starter, Rozier has a chance to prove his playoff performance of two years ago was not a fluke.
While the Hornets have a severe lack of talent, and almost certainly will be one of the league’s worst teams next season, a motivated Rozier could give the team some hope.
In the Anthony Davis trade, the Lakers sent three solid young players along with picks to the Pelicans in exchange for the superstar center. Of the group, Brandon Ingram has shown the most promise.
Ingram missed the tail end of the season last year while dealing with a blood clot issue. First and foremost, the upcoming season will give him an opportunity to back into the swing of basketball.
Ingram’s third year in the NBA was his best. Last season, Ingram averaged 18.3 points on nearly 50 percent shooting from the floor.
On a talented Pelicans roster, Ingram, only 22, is the team’s best scorer behind Jrue Holiday. Ingram will have the opportunity to prove that he is healthy again, can be a polished scoring option on an up-and-coming team, as well as show the league that the Lakers should have held onto him in the trade.
In a blockbuster move, Chris Paul, along with multiple first-round picks, was traded to Oklahoma City in exchange for Russell Westbrook. After just two seasons with the Rockets, management decided the aging and injury prone yet productive Paul was no longer part of the team’s championship formula.
While many expected the Thunder, who had amassed tons of assets after dealing Paul George to the Clippers as well, would trade Paul. However, partially given his huge contract, nobody seems interested.
Paul is coming off a season where he played 58 games, averaging 15.6 points and 8.2 assists, a slight dip in stats.
Wether or not OKC does decide to trade him, Paul needs to prove himself this upcoming season. As the outlying veteran star on a rebuilding team, CP3 needs to prove that he can stay healthy, help develop young talent, and get his shooting percentages back up. Paul should be looking to show he can still produce enough to be part of a competitive team.
After three solid seasons in the NBA, D’Angelo Russell took a leap last season with the Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 21 points and seven assists per game, which led him to make his first All-Star appearance.
In free agency, the Nets were able to land both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, meaning Russell would be on a new team. The Warriors were able to partially fill the void Durant left, signing Russell to a max contract, along with re-signing Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
As there have been talks of Golden State using Russell as a trade piece in the future, he should be looking to prove he can fit right in with Steph Curry in the backcourt. Thompson will be missing a large portion of the regular season following ACL surgery, so Russell will have a big responsibility when it comes to scoring.
Russell also needs to prove that last season was not a fluke. He has made an impact on his teams since entering the league, but now Russell should be looking to maintain his stardom.
Ben Simmons, the 2018 Rookie of the Year, is a core part of the Sixers’ roster going forward. The team re-tooled this summer, bringing in Al Horford and Josh Richardson, along with re-signing Tobias Harris, to join he and Joel Embiid.
Simmons is an incredibly well-rounded player. The 6’10” point guard averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists last season, as the Sixers came just short of making the Eastern Conference Finals.
For Philly to make the next step and contend for a title, Simmons needs to address the famously weak area of his game: his jump shot.
With Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick gone, the Sixers lack spacing. While Embiid and Horford can make threes, they likely won’t be playing out on the perimeter all the time.
Simmons will have to find the ability to start taking and making threes. It may be what’s standing between the Sixers and an NBA title.
Featured image credited to Getty Images.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.