Kyrie Irving, Victor Oladipo, and Kristaps Porzingis all have had career years since trades have made them number one options. No longer with ball-dominant stars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony, they’ve found success.
Not every star has been able to correlate strong individual numbers with team success. Look at Jimmy Butler and Paul George, who were traded following drama-filled seasons and early playoff exits.
Here are the stars on playoff teams that we’d like to see be the main star on their own teams.
5. Klay Thompson
2017-18 Averages: 20.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 49.2 FG%, 45.2 3FG%
Potential Averages: 23.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 45.0 FG%, 40.0 3FG%
Unlike other stars on this list, Klay Thompson won’t have much more success as the number one option on his own team. His average field goal attempts will go up, but his efficiency will not. Thompson plays alongside Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, decreasing double teams.
Thompson has insane accuracy on catch-and-shoot attempts, but he can’t penetrate the paint as well as other guards like James Harden. His play-making isn’t a huge part of his game either, as he’s never averaged more than 2.6 assists per game.
4. C.J. McCollum
2017-18 Averages: 21.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 45.6 FG%, 42.5 3FG%
Potential Averages: 26.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 45.0 FG%, 42.0 3FG%
Following LaMarcus Aldridge’s move to the San Antonio Spurs in 2015, C.J. McCollum became a deadly scorer with the Portland Trail Blazers. McCollum improved his scoring output from 6.8 ppg to 20.8 ppg, winning Most Improved Player in 2016.
With Portland’s salary cap situation looking dreadful, McCollum’s name has surfaced in trade rumors. Although it’s unlikely he gets moved, especially since he put up 50 points in three quarters against the Chicago Bulls. McCollum would dominate as the number one option.
3. Bradley Beal
2017-18 Averages: 23.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, 46.2 FG%
Potential Averages: 25.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 45.0 FG%
In 15 games without point guard John Wall this season, Beal is averaging 24.2 ppg and 4.2 apg. A bigger sample size will come with Wall set to miss the next 6-8 weeks with knee surgery, which could give us the answer.
Unlike Thompson, Beal isn’t surrounded by as many ball-dominant players, which makes his lack of increased output without Wall confusing. We’d still like to see what he does in the coming months and if he can keep the Wizards in the playoff race, but he’s unlikely to end up on a new team.
2. Kawhi Leonard
2016-17 Averages: 25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 48.5 FG%
Potential Averages: 28 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 46.0 FG%
With his injury saga being almost as abnormal as that of Markelle Fultz, Leonard has grown frustrated with the Spurs. Jalen Rose reported he wants out due to their inability to attract big name free agents.
Nobody wants to see Kawhi Leonard leave Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. But Kawhi as the star on his own team would be remarkable.
Having freedom on the offensive end would likely lead to increased points and assists. Also, he could guard the other team’s second best option instead of their first, which would take pressure off Kawhi.
Regardless of where he goes, Leonard is going to be an MVP and DPOY candidate, but a move could improve his chances of winning the former.
1. Draymond Green
2017-18 Averages: 11.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 45.2 FG%
Potential Averages: 18.5 ppg, 10.0 RPG, 9.0 APG, 45.0 FG%
The reigning DPOY is the engine that helps the Warriors run and one of the most versatile players in the league. Increased responsibility for Green and averaging more than 8.8 field goal attempts would likely see his stats jump up.
Draymond could also see himself be in the conversation of MVP depending on team success, like Joakim Noah in 2014.