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.
- Denver Nuggets- Jamal Murray
Murray became a household name outside of Denver during this year’s playoffs. His fourth quarter in Game 2 of the opening round was one of the best individual performances in the entire playoffs. If Denver plans on making the NBA Finals in 2020, Murray needs to play like the Murray that is in Game 4 against Portland instead of Game 7.
- Minnesota Timberwolves- Robert Covington
Covington hasn’t played a game since December 31st due to knee problems that led to a late season surgery. But when he is completely healthy, Robert is one of the best overall defensive players in the entire league. He is one of the only players in the league that can guard most guards and forwards in the entire league. Minnesota was 23rd in the league in points allowed, that number will decrease if Robert is completely healthy.
- Oklahoma City Thunder- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
He’s shown huge upside as the future point guard of the Clippers going forward. The 6 foot 6 inch Canadian needs to improve his assist to turnover ratio if the Clippers expect to join the top half of the Western Conference standings in 2020. Shai had with a 3.07 assist to turnover ratio in the second half of the season. A huge improvement over his 1.91 ratio for the whole season.
- Portland Trail Blazers- Zach Collins
Portland lost 5 members of their forward rotation (Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, Jake Layman and Meyers Leonard) in the off-season clearing the way for the former Gonzaga star to play big minutes this season. Collins showed flashes of his potential during the teams playoff series against Denver. With Jusef Nurkic being out potentially until February, Collins should get plenty of chances to display his growth as a starter.
- Utah Jazz- Royce O’Neale
With Joe Ingles potentially coming off the bench, the defensive minded O’Neale could earn some extra minutes at small forward position. He has shown that when given the opportunity to get on the floor, he’s made an impact. He did an outstanding job guarding James Harden during the playoffs. Now if O’Neale can be more consistent scorer,the Jazz would have another player who can help take some of the scoring pressure off star guard Donovan Mitchell.