Which new faces in new places am I most excited to watch this season?
We’re less than a week away from the beginning of the 2020-21 NBA season! It will only have been two months and 11 days between the final buzzer of last season and the first tip-off of this one. However, there was plenty of player movement within that short span of time.
I already gave you my Rookie Excitement Rankings a couple of weeks ago, and today I’m here to give you my New Acquisition Excitement Rankings. These are players with prior NBA experience that have joined a new team during the 2020 offseason via trade or free agency.
I won’t hold you much longer. Here is my list of the 26 new acquisitions I’m most excited to watch in 2020-21! Where are these players on your personal list? Did I leave off anyone that you happen to like? Let me know in the comments!
26. Jerami Grant, Detroit
Jerami Grant was an invaluable part of the Denver Nuggets‘ Western Conference Finals run. Now he finds himself in the Motor City with a bigger payday and a bigger role. I’m pulling for the forward duo of Grant and Blake Griffin to be a formidable one, even if the Detroit Pistons as a whole aren’t competitive this year.
25. JaVale McGee, Cleveland
JaVale McGee just won his third NBA title. Two months later, he finds himself in training camp with the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in a more competitive situation via buyout or trade. For now, though, he’s here. No matter where he plays, I’m excited to see him running to the rim for some nice lobs and swatting shots out of bounds.
24. Alfonzo McKinnie, Los Angeles L.
Alfonzo McKinnie is on his fourth team in as many seasons. After spending 2019-20 with the Cavs, he’s back in position to compete for an NBA title. He’s a solid defender and is good for the occasional spot-up 3 to keep the opponent honest. McKinnie won’t start the season with a major role. However, I’m excited to see if he can develop into a reliable reserve on a Los Angeles Lakers team that’s looking to win now.
23. DeMarcus Cousins, Houston
DeMarcus Cousins returns to the NBA after a season away due to an ACL tear. I watched his first two preseason games with the Houston Rockets against the Chicago Bulls last weekend. He looked good, scoring inside and out, rebounding well, hustling, and willingly giving up his body on the defensive end to take charges. I was happy to see a little bit of the old Cousins out on the floor. I’m definitely pulling for him to have a comeback season.
22. Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee
Jrue Holiday has long been lauded as one of the league’s best defenders. However, much of his work was overlooked because he played for the New Orleans Pelicans, a franchise that has only been marginally competitive during his seven years in the city. Now, he has the opportunity to show his stuff for a Milwaukee Bucks team that is pushing for a championship. With the spotlight on him, I’m hoping he’ll be able to show casual fans what they have been missing.
21. Kris Dunn, Atlanta
Kris Dunn joins the Atlanta Hawks after three seasons running with the Bulls. He is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league (league-leading 3.8 steal percentage in 2020) and a talented playmaker (5.1 assists per game as a Bull). Unfortunately, my man couldn’t shoot (31.0 percent from 3-point range as a Bull)! Dunn will miss at least the first week of the regular season, which includes a reunion matchup on Opening Night vs. the Bulls. But when he finally gets to play, hopefully his defensive playmaking skillset can mesh well with his new team.
20. Omari Spellman, New York
Omari Spellman was supposed to be the Draymond Green of Atlanta’s “Golden State East” plan in 2018-19. However, that plan quickly fizzled out, and Spellman now finds himself with the New York Knicks. I think Omari still has the potential to be a good stretch four in this league; I get Sam Perkins vibes from him. So I hope he’ll have the opportunity this season to show his stuff and turn things around.
19. DeAndre Bembry, Toronto
After four steady years in Atlanta, DeAndre Bembry has decided to move north of the border…well, I guess he’s still in the States for now. Bembry is a solid defender and can be a good secondary playmaker. However, he doesn’t have a reliable outside shot (a career 26.9-percent shooter from 3). I will be looking to see how well he meshes with his new team, considering he is going from the basement-dwelling Hawks to the conference-title-contending Toronto Raptors. Here’s hoping it’s a great match.
18. Shaquille Harrison, Utah
I understand why the Bulls chose to not bring back Shaq Harrison, but I’m still a little sad about it. He is notably a fierce defender, but was also pretty solid on the offensive end (38.1 percent from 3 in 2020). He should be a great fit with the Utah Jazz, and shores up a bench that sorely needs help at the back end of the rotation. Now that he’s with a playoff contender, Harrison will finally get some much-needed recognition for his abilities.
17. Robin Lopez, Washington
Honestly, Robin Lopez is a great addition to any team. He’s a great personality to have in a locker room, and is always a professional on the court. Robin was one of the few bright spots of the Bulls’ dreaded 2018-19 campaign. It was also nice to see him reunited with his twin brother Brook for the 2019-20 Bucks. Now he moves on to the Washington Wizards. I have full confidence that no matter how big his role is in DC, Robin will give the Wizards workman-like effort.
16. Harry Giles, Portland
Harry Giles has the potential to be an impact player. He averaged just 14.3 minutes per game in his two seasons with the Sacramento Kings. However, over that same span, he has per 36-minute averages of 17.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks. He’s a guy that’s just waiting for the right opportunity, and I’m excited to see if he’ll find it with the Portland Trail Blazers this year.
15. Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta
Danilo Gallinari has always been a solid player, and has particularly hit his stride in the past half-decade. Gallo has averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game over the last five years. Now he brings his multi-faceted stretch four game to the Hawks. However, after starting all 267 regular season games he’s played the last five seasons, he will now slot into the sixth man role in ATL. It’s intriguing to see such a productive player willingly come off the bench. Good on him, and I hope he meshes well with his new teammates.
14. Wesley Matthews, Los Angeles L.
I have always admired Wesley Matthews for being the quintessential 3 & D wing. Now he gets to be that guy for the Lakers, a team his father, Wesley Sr., played for from 1986 through 1988. Senior won two titles in the Purple & Gold. I’m excited to see if Junior can add a title to his own trophy case.
13. David Nwaba, Houston
David Nwaba has always been a very talented slasher and defender, and has been developing his outside shot in recent years. All he has needed is a team to settle in with. An achilles tear cut his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets short, but he subsequently joined the Rockets with the expectation of playing this year. He game should fit in well with Houston, no matter how the team looks by season’s end.
12. Isaiah Hartenstein, Denver
Isaiah Hartenstein is a prospect that has intrigued me since his days as a teen with Lithuanian team Zalgiris Kaunas. He was coming along just fine in the Rockets’ system, but was dropped during the 2020 hiatus as Daryl Morey & Mike D’Antoni chose to go all-in on the “Smallball” system heading into The Bubble. Fortunately, Hartenstein gets a second chance in Denver. I could see him developing into the team’s new Mason Plumlee.
11. Wesley Iwundu, Dallas
I have taken an interest in following Wesley Iwundu‘s career ever since I did an in-depth season review of his rookie year with the Orlando Magic. He has the tools to be a solid perimeter defender and a playmaking forward, but he has to continue to develop his jump shot. His second NBA stop puts him back in his home state. I’m rooting for him to succeed with the Dallas Mavericks.
10. Garrett Temple, Chicago
Garrett Temple was Chicago’s lone free agent signing this offseason. He’s not a flashy pickup, but I think he was a good get that can bolster the Bulls’ rotation. Garrett can be a good veteran presence for the young team. He is also a solid outside shooter, though he hasn’t been as sharp the past two seasons. Temple shot 36.9 percent on 3’s from 2014-15 through 2017-18. However, that has dropped to 33.4 percent from 2018-19 through 2019-20. I hope he can fix his shooting woes and is able to mesh well with the team. His presence could be the small piece the Bulls need to be a playoff contender.
9. Robert Covington, Portland
Robert Covington, one of the top 3 & D forwards in the NBA, has landed in Portland. He joins a franchise that sorely needed an upgrade at the power forward position for the past five years. Covington’s production has been so steady over his seven years in the league that I’m not even worried about how he’ll do this year. I will just be praying for good health so that Blazers fans can to fully enjoy the best forward they’ve had since LaMarcus Aldridge.
8. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta
Bogdan Bogdanovic has had my attention since his 2018 buzzer-beater over the Lakers. I was also witness to his career-high 35-point game in the Bubble. Despite his exemplary play over three years in Cali’s Capital, he was always doing with Buddy Hield over his shoulder demanding a bigger role with the team. This offseason, the Kings chose Hield over Bogdanovic. It’s unfortunate, but it gives him a fresh start with the Hawks and the opportunity to utilize his skills on a playoff contender.
7. Chris Paul, Phoenix
Chris Paul, the best point guard of this millennium, will continue his Hall of Fame career in the Valley of the Sun. I was thoroughly impressed with his performance with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year. I figured he would have a solid individual 2019-20 season, but I definitely didn’t expect him to be the veteran leader of a fifth-seeded playoff squad in the West! Paul now joins a Phoenix Suns team that does have playoff expectations. Luckily, thanks to Devin Booker‘s presence, he’s in a position where he won’t have to carry as much of the load, but can still make huge contributions. I’m looking forward to seeing what CP3 gives us in Year 16.
6. Steven Adams, New Orleans
Aquaman arrives in the Big Easy! Steven Adams is a great upgrade at the starting center spot in New Orleans. He is a great rebounder and screen-setter, a reliable defender, and a good passing big man. On top of that, I know he will be a great presence in the locker room. He’ll fit like a glove within new head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system. Hopefully this franchise can finally turn the corner with Adams in the middle.
5. Russell Westbrook, Washington
I have long had mixed feelings about Russell Westbrook. However, I am definitely excited to see how things unfold now that he is running point for the Wizards. How will his style of play mesh as he shares the backcourt with fellow high-usage guard Bradley Beal? I can see easily see Westbrook and Beal connecting for some drive-and-kick 3-pointers. But how will that work when Beal is driving and Westbrook is on the wing? Head coach Scott Brooks has quite a bit to figure out. However, we all know that no matter the gameplan, Russ is going to play his high-octane style every night.
4. Kelly Oubre, Golden State
Kelly Oubre is an energetic, versatile wing known for his athletic play and his swagger on and off the court. He now has the chance to fill a major role for a Golden State Warriors team looking to bounce back from a lost season. He arrives in the Bay out of necessity, as the loss of Klay Thompson for a second season forced the Warriors to find help on the wing. I’m excited just thinking about all the dunks Oubre will be throwing down and the 3-pointers he’ll sink off of dimes from Stephen Curry. It should be a good time in San Francisco.
3. Seth Curry, Philadelphia
Seth Curry has had a journeyman career: the Philadelphia 76ers are his seventh team in seven NBA seasons. However, he has been a human torch everywhere he has gone! Over the last four years, he has shot 44.3 percent from 3-point range on 1,005 attempts! The mercenary now takes his talents to a Sixers team looking to be consistent enough to be a championship contender. Curry’s steady hand from beyond the arc will definitely help.
2. Derrick Jones, Portland
Derrick Jones, our reigning Slam Dunk champion, has signed a new deal to play in the Pacific Northwest. First and foremost, I’m here for the dunks. My fingers are crossed that Mr. Jones will give us a healthy season full of acrobatic displays.
However, the Trail Blazers brought Jones in — and have made him the starting small forward — for much more than that. I’m sure they also want Derrick to utilize his wingspan and leaping ability to play good defense and rack up some steals, blocks, and rebounds. I will be rooting for Airplane Mode to deliver for Portland on all of those fronts.
1. John Wall, Houston
It has been almost two years exactly since John Wall last played a NBA regular season game. I would have already been excited to see him play again with the Wizards. However, he now finds himself on this list after the Wizards traded him to the Rockets.
Like Cousins, Wall looked very impressive in his two preseason bouts against the Bulls. He was as fast as he ever was, relentlessly beating defenders off the dribble, and dished out 13 assists between both games (nine in the first game). I’m so glad that he was able to play at a starter-caliber level even after such a long absence. Here’s hoping that he will be able to continue this production throughout the entire season. If he does, I have no choice but to tune into Rockets basketball in 2021!