We may only be roughly halfway through the 2019/20 NBA season, but already the goose of many teams is already cooked as far as making the play-offs is concerned.
Those outfits will already have one eye on the off-season, and specifically the need to hang on to their key players who may just have designs on moving to pastures new given the underperformance of their current employer.
There are some players who probably won’t leave their below-par team no matter what – Damian Lillard, the points leader in the NBA so far, looks set to be a Portland man until the end of time, for example.
But there are some undervalued stars who could set the sport alight if given a chance to shine on a stronger roster. With that in mind, here are five names we can comfortably put into that category.
No matter what happens from now until the end of the campaign, Bradley Beal is putting up career-high numbers in a Washington Wizards outfit that is transcending expectations for all the wrong reasons.
At the time of writing, Beal ranks tenth in points scored and has made 84% of free throws in a Wizards team with a current record of 15-30.
The 26-year-old is performing to an All-Star level in a mediocre outfit, and that is the only reason why he hasn’t been given a starting berth in the All-Star game, you’d fancy.
The former Florida Gators man has resisted overtures to join Miami Heat in the past, but you suspect even Beal’s magic wand won’t be strong enough to help the Wizards make the play-offs this term. While you can get the full NBA odds at William Hill, we’ll note here that the capital side are quoted at a price of +100000 to win the Southeast Division.
And that will surely make him one of the hottest trade targets of the offseason…
It never rains but it pours. The Phoenix Suns continue to struggle to make headway in the stacked Pacific Division, and to make matters worse it looks as if the jewel in their crown could be heading for a divisional rival.
Devin Booker continues to be linked with a trade to the Lakers, and that would create the rather mouth-watering prospect of the 23-year-old hooking up with LeBron in a combo for the ages.
The Suns’ star currently ranks seventh for points in the NBA and boasts a rather healthy 92% free throw conversion – the highest in the NBA for 150 attempts or more, and while he is far from the finished article now seems to be the opportune time for Booker to cash in with a trade to one of the money franchises.
Knowing that they can rebuild and consolidate with the funds generated, the Phoenix outfit might just be willing to talk terms…
He may have signed a contract extension last October but, in the grand scheme of things, that means very little for the future of Domantas Sabonis.
The Pacers man can still quite easily secure a trade elsewhere in the offseason, although any suitors will have to come up with a significant stack of cash to secure the power forward’s signature.
But here’s a guy who seems equally adept in offense and defense, who ranks fourth in the NBA for rebounds and inside the top-40 for points as well.
Although he represents Lithuania, Sabonis was actually born in Portland – you may recall his famous father Arvydas, and you wonder if a move to the Trail Blazers to follow in papa’s footsteps might just be in the offing.
Set to be one of the hottest free agents in the game when his contract runs out at the end of the season, Andre Drummond will be able to pick and choose where he heads this summer.
One place he surely won’t be headed is Detroit, given that his current employers, the Pistons, have performed so haplessly in 2019-20.
The 26-year-old has opened doors for himself on the back of an incredible season in defense where he leads the way for rebounds and is top-10 for securing turnover ball.
In amongst the train wreck that has been the Cavaliers’ season, one shining light that has remained bright throughout, however, is Tristan Thompson.
He has delivered admirable numbers in a team that has completely shed its winning identity, and retains his ability to win plenty of ball off the backboard.
There’s nothing particularly eye-catching about Thompson’s get-the-ball-and-feed-it style, but he would be worth his weight in gold on a roster with more creative offensive types around him.
Thompson, and the other four players on the list, will undoubtedly all be feverishly courted in the coming months.