With the start of the next season looking to be nearly two months away, here’s a look at some of the key players poised to bounce back in 2021. These players on this list all contribute a large part to their respective teams. Most of them either underperformed or dealt with serious injuries last season.
Key Players Poised to Bounce Back in 2021
Mike Conley struggled to shoot the ball during the regular season and dealt with some injuries during his first year with the Utah Jazz. After spending 12 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, he needed time to learn the head coach Quinn Snyder’s system.
In his 47 games in the regular season, he averaged 14.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 40.9 percent from the field. However, his playoff performances for the Jazz were an encouraging sign for him to bounce back next season.
Conley saw his scoring and shooting efficiency go upwards as he averaged 19.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in the five playoff games he played. He shot a scalding-hot 52.9 percent from three on 6.8 attempts per game. Conley missed the first two playoff games because he had to leave the bubble for the birth of his son. The Jazz fell to the Denver Nuggets in the first round after blowing a 3-1 lead.
As long as Conley can stay healthy, expect the 33-year-old to shoulder a large role in the Jazz offense moving forward.
Victor Oladipo struggled last season for the Indiana Pacers after coming off of an injury that abruptly ended his season in 2019. A lot had to do with rust and needing more time to get in a rhythm. Oladipo played 19 games during the regular season and averaged 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He hasn’t shot the ball well since his return. Oladipo shot 39.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from three.
While his scoring was up in the playoffs, his efficiency didn’t go up. Oladipo averaged 17.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 39.3 percent shooting from the field in the Playoffs. The Pacers got swept by the Miami Heat in the first round.
Oladipo is one of the prime candidates to bounce back next season as he is only 28. He was playing his best basketball in his career up until the devastating quad injury. As of right now, his name is on the trade rumor mill. Regardless of what team Oladipo ends up on next season, he will be one of the go-to guys on offense.
When Kevin Durant is fully healthy, he is one of the best players on the planet. The question will be how much time he will need to get back into a rhythm and how this injury will affect him going forward. Durant missed the entire season last year after suffering an achilles injury during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant has always been consistent as a player. Since his second year in the league, he has averaged at least 25 points per game and has done so efficiently. He was playing some of his best basketball in his career before the devastating injury.
While this kind of injury has shortened many players’ careers, Durant is a player who relies more on skill rather than athleticism. He is a seven-footer who plays like a guard. Some of the medical experts think he will do just fine coming off of this injury. The 32-year old Durant will make his debut with the Brooklyn Nets next season after previously playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. If he can look like his old self, the Nets can expect him to score 25 to 30 points for them on any given night.
Klay Thompson missed the entire season last year after suffering a torn ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He was playing some excellent basketball before he got hurt. When Thompson is healthy, he is one of the best two-way players in the game. He’s usually the player who defends the best opposing guards for the Warriors. Thompson has averaged at least 20 points per game over the last five seasons he played in. He’s one of the best shooters of all time as well having shot over 40 percent from three in every season of his career.
Thompson had been one of the most durable players before the ACL injury. He rarely ever missed games. The long playoff runs that the Warriors had in previous years might have taken a toll on him. The 30-year-old is a prime candidate to bounce back next season. The Warriors had the worst record last season and they’ve missed Thompson on both sides of the ball.
Stephen Curry is a top-five player when he’s fully healthy and arguably the best shooter in the history of the NBA. However, last season didn’t go according to plan for him. Curry only played five games in the regular season and played some subpar basketball for his standards. The broken hand injury sidelined him for several months. Curry returned for one game before the season got suspended due to the pandemic.
Curry has had a long list of injuries in his 11-year career. The time off will likely have rejuvenated him after being a part of the long playoff runs the Warriors had in recent years. If he can stay healthy throughout the next season, the Warriors will bounce back as a team. Curry will be the go-to guy for the Warriors on offense.
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