With the NBA Season officially over and the summer about to begin, each team in the league wants to be the next one to have a victory parade and hold up the Larry O’Brien trophy at this time next year. So let’s take a look at one player on each team at the current moment that has to take a major leap in order to get their team one step closer to the championship goal.
Boston Celtics- Robert Williams
Williams didn’t play much as a rookie and when he did he was a shot blocking machine. He had 12 games of two or more blocks and in 5 of those games he did it in less than 9 minutes of playing time. Al Horford and Aron Baynes are gone and newly added Enes Kanter isn’t the best defensive center in the league. So Robert has every chance to make an impact in his second year in the league.
Brooklyn Nets- Caris LeVert
Yes, Caris did have a solid end of season run after he returned from his foot injury. But with a summer of full health and not being injured, the Nets might not need a 2nd/3rd star. He could be in for a Victor Oladipo type of year this upcoming season. He’s going to be needed especially since Kevin Durant could miss the majority or the entire 2019-2020 season. He could be an Eastern Conference All-Star this season.
New York Knicks- Dennis Smith Jr.
The former ninth overall pick hasn’t been the game changing point guard during his first two seasons in the league. Some of it has been on his shooting (39.5% as a rookie and 42.8% last year) and his playing situation (Luka Doncic taking over as the primary ball-handler before his trade to New York last season). Now Dennis has his chance to thrive as the main engine in what could be one of the best young core groups in the NBA. He still has superstar upside and with some young pieces that fit around him (RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox), Dennis could be the most improved player in the entire league this year.
Philadelphia 76ers- Josh Richardson
If any one player can change the fortune’s of a team in 2019-2020, it’s Richardson. Philadelphia is already one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and has a potential championship team already. But if Josh elevates his game into the next level, the Sixers will win the East. He has that much talent. He’s very versatile and he goes largely under the radar by most NBA fans. Now, he won’t have as many shot attempts (14.1) per game as he did last year in Miami. But he should have better looks because of the types of players he will be playing next to.
Toronto Raptors- OG Anunoby
Toronto watched Pascal Siakam take a huge leap into potential stardom last season and Anunoby can do the same this year. Especially with Kawhi Leonard’s departure to Los Angeles. Before the acquisition of Leonard, OG was scheduled to be the starter at the small forward position. He came into the league as an talented defender with elite athleticism. Now Anunoby will need to add an offense to a team who missing the NBA Finals MVP. What he needs to improve is his overall shot selection. He took half of his shots from the three-point line and was only a 33.2% shooter.