If you’ve been watching the NBA long enough, you know starting gigs don’t usually last for long, as young prospects or already proven superstars tend to take away a lot of minutes from veterans or role players that have established themselves in the league but are no franchise players.
Year in and year out, veteran players see their performances go downwards and their minutes diminish, something quite natural as health, speed and athleticism are great concerns for aging players.
This upcoming season isn’t going to be the exception to this role, and considering what we’ve seen from these players and their respective teams this campaign, we can go ahead and tell you right away about the top 5 veterans that are going to be playing off the bench next season.
5. Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez was one of the few bright spots for the Chicago Bulls throughout the first passage of the campaign, but being an aging veteran and entering next season at age 30, he’s not a key part of the team’s plans going forward.
As a matter of fact, he’s only on the team’s rotation at this point of the season because the league issued a warning against the Bulls for tanking, and even if he leaves the team, he’s not an upgrade over any other starting big man in the league right now, but could be a great asset off the bench.
4. Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews is nowhere near the player he used to be during his Portland Trail Blazers tenure before suffering a season-ending injury, and even though he’s still quite a good backcourt and wing defender, his stroke from deep has taken a major toll.
Also, with Seth Curry set to make a comeback the next campaign and the Mavs reportedly very high on the possibility of drafting Michael Porter Jr, it would make a lot of sense to send the 31-year-old 3 and D specialist to the second unit.
3. Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph had already embraced a substitute role during his last campaign as a part of the Memphis Grizzlies, but now he’s just taking away minutes from the Sacramento Kings young frontcourt of Labissiere and Cauley-Stein.
The Kings are going through their never-ending rebuilding process and they will not use the 36-year-old beyond this season, so if he doesn’t decide to retire, he could be a major offensive factor for a contending team off the bench.
2. JR Smith
JR Smith completely regressed this season after becoming one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ key factors in both ends of the court, and his streaky shooting from beyond the three-point line has pretty much vanished this season.
Smith could still log a lot of minutes at the 2 if he decides to lead the way for any team’s second unit, and he could even become a 6th Man of the Year candidate given the right situation, just like Eric Gordon did the prior campaign.
1. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has been a fine complement for Paul George and Russell Westbrook, but he’s far behind his former self and isn’t the dominant hard-nosed scorer he used to be during his Nuggets and Knicks year.
Melo joked about him never coming off the bench for this team when he got traded to the Thunder, but truth to be told, even if he decides to leave the team, he would be better off leading the way for the second unit against less skilled defenders, and he’d be a lock to win the 6MOY with his scoring ability while leading a contending team towards his first ever NBA Championship.