Every season, there are players in the NBA who, for whatever reason, need to seek redemption.
It could be because they did very poorly the previous year, a catastrophic injury, a major trade or intra-squad turmoil.
Each new season is an opportunity for such players to turn the page and rewrite their reputation and narrative in a way that is much more favorable to them and more inspiring to fans.
For the 2022-23 campaign, there are three men in particular who are behind the eight-ball and are in need of a very strong season in order to re-establish their value around the league.
Last summer, Lillard asked to be traded, as his Portland Trail Blazers lost yet again in the first round of the playoffs and didn’t look likely to improve by a significant margin.
He backed off that request, but Portland had an ugly season marked by multiple personnel moves, and he ended up suffering an abdominal injury that limited him to just 29 games.
In those 29 games, Lillard shot just 40.2 percent overall and 32.4 percent from 3-point range, well below his usual numbers.
He has made it clear many times that he wants to remain with the Blazers and win a championship with them and not anyone else.
“I want to win as a Trail Blazer. I want to win a championship where I am. I don’t think I would feel the same joy and happiness if I did it elsewhere.”
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) October 13, 2022
It is certainly admirable that he is so loyal to the only team he has ever played for, but he probably has a better chance of winning the Powerball jackpot than he does of winning a world title with it.
At the very least, Lillard, who is now 32, needs to have a great season, the kind of which he put up with regularity prior to last year.
If he does that, he could at least give Blazers fans a glimmer of hope for the near future.
After the Philadelphia 76ers lost Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals at home to the Atlanta Hawks in a contest that Simmons was very passive in, head coach Doc Rivers gave what seems like a neutral statement about him.
A reporter asked if Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team, and Rivers simply said he wasn’t sure.
It triggered something inside of Simmons, who subsequently demanded a trade and cut off virtually all communication between himself and the entire organization.
He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets midway through the 2021-22 season, but he didn’t suit up for them, citing a back injury and purported mental health issues.
But Simmons seems to be healthy, both physically and mentally, and he could be the Nets’ missing piece.
He certainly looked like the missing piece in their last preseason game on Wednesday, which was a 107-97 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
📊 7 PTS | 10 AST | 8 REB | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/rnQVdqd0EZ
— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) October 13, 2022
The Aussie native can give Brooklyn the type of thrust and velocity on the fast break it hasn’t had since the days of Jason Kidd some 15 years ago, and he can help drastically improve a team that has had plenty of defensive woes.
When the Los Angeles Lakers traded three good role players for Westbrook last summer, they thought they had just assembled a superteam.
Instead, Westbrook failed to fit in, and they missed the play-in tournament.
Ever since at least January, he has been the subject of incessant trade rumors, not to mention excessive scapegoating by Lakers fans.
If he doesn’t make things work this season, whether the Lakers trade him or simply let his contract expire at the end of the year, it could be hard to imagine another team being willing to sign him.