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.
- Dallas Mavericks- Jalen Brunson
After the All-Star break, Brunson showed the entire league that passing on him in the draft was a mistake. He became the perfect back-court mate for super rookie Luka Doncic and doubled his scoring and assists numbers over the final 24 games.
With Brunson and Doncic in the starting lineup together, Luka’s assists numbers went up almost 2 per game in the second half of the season. Already known as a hard-worker, Brunson rise will be a important piece in the Dallas playoff push in 2020.
- Houston Rockets- Gary Clark
When Head Coach Mike D’Antoni inserted Clark in the game, you had a very good idea what he was going to do. Clark took 151 total shots last season and 138 of them were from downtown. So,he took 91 percent of his total shots from the three point line.
He fits perfectly in the run and gun style of the Rockets as an sharpshooting option. His biggest improvement has to be shooting away from Toyota Center. Clark hit 37.2% from distance at home and 21.2% on the road. If Houston is going to keep up with the elite teams in the Western Conference, Clark has to close that gap in shots missed from the three point line on the road.
- Memphis Grizzlies- Dillon Brooks
After having an impressive rookie season, Brooks spent the majority of this season injured. He played in 18 games last season before shutting it down in early January with an ruptured ligament in his toe.
Not knowing the future of Kyle Anderson (Who is still recovering from his Thoraic surgery), Brooks will be counted on to at least duplicate his rookie season numbers. Where he can make a big difference is that if he can return to the form on offense that allowed him to score 15 or more points in 13 of his final 21 games.
- New Orleans Pelicans- Lonzo Ball
A change of scenery could energize the third year guard from UCLA. Lonzo hasn’t lived up to being selected second overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has struggled with injuries and inconsistent shooting during his two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.Now with an off-season trade to New Orleans, he gets a chance to be the main ball handler on a team can potentially cause damage in the playoffs.
The Pelicans added Ingram and Hart in the Anthony Davis trade. They also added some potential impact rookies (Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes) and very good veterans (J.J Redick and Derrick Favors) to a team that is lead by the highly underrated Jrue Holiday. Ball can use his next-level court-vision to create open shots for new teammates and if he can learn how to hit his shots consistently, New Orleans could be the most dangerous team in the entire in NBA.
- San Antonio Spurs- Dejounte Murray
Midway through the 2017-2018, the Spurs made the second year guard from Washington a full-time starter at point guard. Once head coach Gregg Popovich made the adjustment to his starting lineup, the defensive-minded Murray started to blossom. Besides averaging 10.1 points and 7.0 rebounds a game, Dejounte was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team.
As he was getting ready for his third season, Murray tore the ACL in his right knee. He missed the entire 2018-2019 season and even though the Spurs replacements (Derrick White, Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills) did a great job in helping to team to reach the playoffs. A fully healthy Murray not only help this team reach the playoffs, but they good chance to win a first-round series.