All Change Of Scenery Team
Sports and especially writing about sports is an area where clichés are commonly (mis)-used. While a large part of this is a product of writers being lazy and lacking creativity, an equally significant reason is because they make sense. Anyone who has followed any sports, not just basketball, has witness the phenomenon of certain players whose fortunes seem to flip as soon as they change teams. To me this makes a lot of sense. So many variables other than an individual’s talent are factors in the equation of hardwood success, with chemistry, opportunity, coaching and luck, to name a few.
Let’s take a look at some players around the league whose recent change in zip code looked to be just what they needed.
Jeremy Lin – PG - New Team: Brooklyn Nets – Old Team: Charlotte Bobcats
Unfortunately, Lin’s hot start with the Nets have been derailed by injury, but in the first handful of games in Brooklyn, he looked like a difference maker. Lin, a fan favorite, has been under the magnifying glass over his career due to his overnight stardom during the “Linsanity” craze. At this point we know the 28 year old is, a ball controlling point guard that can put up above average numbers when given the minutes and shots. While this isn’t the superstar that some thought he could be during those few weeks in 2012, Lin is still a pretty good player in a perfect situation on the Nets. The Barclay Boys aren’t a roster packed with talent, so a guy that can score points and distribute is exactly what they need. I fully expect that when healthy Lin continues to put up great numbers and end the season on the top half of Eastern Conference point guards.
George Hill – PG – New Team: Utah Jazz – Old Team: Indiana Pacers
I have to admit that I was one of those people who muttered the “If the Pacers had a better point guard they could go farther” several seasons ago, when Indiana was battling at the top of the Eastern Conference. Those days are long gone, and now a 30 year old Hill is in the midst of a surprise career season. Unlike others on this there is no clear explanation for this jump, just a guy who has elevated his game to a near All-Star level. Already a solid defender, Hill scoring output has increased and is shooting an molten hot 45% from deep out pacing his career average and almost all of the Western Conference (Steph Curry included). It should come to no one surprise that the Jazz look to have finally turned the playoff corner in the West, with Hill looking to showcase his newfound success on a national stage come springtime.
Harrison Barnes –SF – New Team: Dallas Mavericks – Old Team: Golden State Warriors
It was only five years ago when Harrison Barnes, a 5-star recruit with aspirations of being the NBA’s next superstar small forward, was playing in Chapel Hill, NC looking to continue the Tarheel’s reputation of being and NBA factory. After two stellar years Barnes, entered the draft and was scooped early by an up and coming Golden State Warrior’s team. What happened in the next 4 years featured Barnes playing an auxiliary role on some of the most successful teams the modern NBA has seen. While the team glory was obviously great for Barnes, the devolved role of a “3 & D” wing squandered the 5 star skillset that made him such a sought after prospect. Last summer, Barnes signed with the Dallas Mavericks and so far this season has flourished in a much expanded role. So far he is up to over 20 points a game and a rare bright spot on a terrible Dallas squad. While this season may be a wash, it is already clear that Barnes has what it takes to be the NBA star he was projected to be. With Dirk’s career in its twilight look for Dallas to build around him as their new franchise forward.
The Chicago Bulls – Addition By Subtraction – Subtract: Noah & Rose Add: Rondo & Wade
It makes me happy that after a full summer of every talking head trashing the moves that Chicago made, they are looking like a top 5 team in the East. I get it, they don’t have great shooting, but using that is a total reason to discount a squad of 8 or 9 good players is silly. Replacing Rose with Rondo has put the ball in the hands of two strong scoring wings in Butler and Wade, with Mirotic and Doug McBuckets being great compliments off the bench. While Noah was a fan favorite, they probably get 90% of what he gave, in a more consistent fashion with Robin Lopez. His departure also opens the door for more minutes to Taj Gibson, who is one of the league's most underrated players. You won’t see any Chicago Bulls on the floor for the 3pt contest, but I’m relatively sure you will see them in the second round of the playoffs.