Today we’ll be highlighting one player on each team that is an X-Factor on their team. This player could be a second or third option that isn’t playing well or consistently right now. This could also be a key role player or young player that has a big role on elevating their teams play to the next level. It could be also an injured player that could bring their team to the next level when they return.
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De’Andre Hunter (#12) SF 6’8, 221 lbs
Hunter, who is currently out due to a wrist injury, is hands down the Hawks best defensive player, especially on the wings. His return could help restore and fortify their defense as well as solidify their rotation again.
Jaylen Brown (#7) SG 6’6, 223 lbs
Brown has had an up and down season, dealing with hamstring injury. He still is the second best player on the team but the team hasn’t look great with a 16-17 record at the moment. If Brown can remain healthy along with Jayson Tatum, Boston could bounce back in the second half of the season.
Joe Harris (#12) SG, 6’6, 220 lbs
Harris is currently out with ankle surgery. With his return, Brooklyn adds an additional shooter to space the Floor for Kevin Durant and James Harden. Harris makes a already deadly Brooklyn offense even more dangerous.
Miles Bridges (#0) PF, 6’7, 225 lbs
Bridges’ ability to play multiple positions for the Hornets makes him essential for them. He brings high energy, defense and athleticism on both ends of the floor. He’s also averaging a career high in Points (19.7), Rebounds (7.2) and Assists (3.7).
Alex Caruso (#6) SG, 6’5, 186 lbs
Caruso’s is playing an essential role in the Bulls 20-10 record. His defensive ability can raise the ceiling for this team and is a big reason why the Bulls are so good right now.
Lauri Markkanen (#24) SF, 6’11, 240 lbs
Surprisingly Markkanen has been playing the SF position for the Cavs. However it’s been working for the Cavs, due the impact of Mobley and Allen behind him. If he can provide enough offense for them and not be bad on defense, the Cavs can make the playoffs as well as make a deep run this year.
Kristaps Porzingis (#6) PF, 7’3, 240 lbs
Porzingis is finally getting his run as a focal point on offense with head coach Jason Kidd. Kidd has made an effort to feature KP in the offense more. It also helps that Luka has been out from time to time.
Aaron Gordon (#50) PF, 6’8, 235 lbs
Gordon may have to take a bigger role on offense with Porter Jr and Murray out for the Nuggets. He does have the ability to do so being that he was the go to guy in Orlando for a few years. The only issue is can he consistently elevate his offense game to help the Nuggets? Or is he just a defense minded role player at this point of his career.
Isaiah Stewart (#28) C, 6’8, 250 lbs
Steward, Famous for being elbowed by Lebron James is a young undersized center, with some potential to be a defensive force one day, with more time and experience in the league. Will he be able to evolve into a more important player for the pistons future? Or is his destiny is to be an NBA journeyman who at most will be a ninth or tenth man in a rotation?
Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson (#11) SG, 6’6, 220 lbs
Thompson is slated to return sometime in January for the Warriors. In his heyday, he’s a skilled two way player who can shoot the lights out and guard three to four positions. Can he be the same Klay we grown to know and love? Or will he be a shell of himself?
Jae’Sean Tate (#8) SF, 6’4, 230 lbs
An undersized but physical Forward, Tate has the ability to mold into a Draymond Green like player. Will he become that type of player? Or will he become another role player at the end of the bench in a few years.
Chris Duarte (#3) SG, 6’5, 190 lbs
Duarte earned his way to starting some games for the Pacers. He has become a young three and d wing who has potential to grow. Can he continue to grow into being more? We’ll see how that goes.
Los Angeles Clippers
Reggie Jackson (#1) PG, 6’2, 208 lbs
Jackson who’s averaging 17.2 Points per game with 3.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game is a key player for the clippers right now. Already missing Kawhi Leonard, Jackson has played an essential role in the Clippers offense this season. Now they will also be without Paul George for at least a month (due to his UCL injury in his Elbow). Can Jackson elevate his play to keep the Clippers afloat?
Los Angeles Lakers
Trevor Ariza (#1) SF, 6’8, 215 lbs
Ariza is badly needed for this Lakers team at this moment. His ability to guard multiple positions at 6’8 can help the Lakers defense be better. Also if Ariza can re discover his shooting stroke then he would be a God send for the Lakers franchise that is currently playing without Anthony Davis right now.
Dillon Brooks (#24) SF, 6’7, 225 lbs
Brooks is averaging a career high 19.3 points per game. Another wing player who’s in the three and d mold, but can become the Grizzles second best player. Will he be able to do so consistently to take some pressure off of Ja Morant?
Tyler Herro (#14) SG, 6’5, 195 lbs
The combo Guard who has served as the team’s sixth man for the time he’s been on the Heat. Can he continue to elevate his play to help the Heat make another playoff run? Or will he fail to do so?
Donte DiVincenzo (#0) SG, 6’4, 203 lbs
DiVincenzo just made his return on Christmas day from his ankle surgery and clearing Health and Safety protocols. His presence gives the Bucks another shooter and scorer to surround Giannis with. If he can stay healthy DiVincenzo could be the final piece for the Bucks to be able to repeat as champs.
Anthony Edwards (#1) SG, 6’4, 225 lbs
Edwards is having solid season, Averaging 22.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. For now, Edwards is quickly becoming the second best player for the Wolves behind Karl Anthony-Towns. Edwards is a true x-factor because if he keeps on improving and getting better, he could be the face of the franchise, either along with Towns or in place of Towns.
New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson (#1) PF, 6’6, 284 lbs
Williamson as a player isn’t an x-factor; we know what he can do when he’s healthy. The issue is that will he ever be healthy to fulfill that potential? Only time will tell on that.
New York Knicks
RJ Barrett (#9) SG, 6’6, 214 lbs
As a Knicks fan, I always like Barrett’s style of play. Now I’m waiting for him to put it all together and get the chance to become more that what he is right now. Can he become an all star player for the Knicks? Or will he stay in his role as a three and d two way starter?
Oklahoma City Thunder
Darius Bazley (#7) PF, 6’8, 208 lbs
The Combo forward Bazley found himself from a contender in his rookie season with Russell Westbrook, to now a long term lottery team. Can he still get the opportunity to grow and maybe be in the Thunder’s future plans? Or will he be put aside for many of the their other young players in the coming years.
Franz Wagner (#22) SF, 6’10, 220 lbs
Wagner is an combo rookie forward, with good scoring ability. He could be the Magic’s bet player going forward, but can he consistently improve and grow on both ends of the floor.
Tyrese Maxey (#0) PG, 6’2, 200 lbs
Maxey has been a solid option at PG in place of Ben Simmons. The issue is can he keep this up when the 76ers make the playoffs? Can Maxey help the 76ers make a deep playoff run?
Deandre Ayton (#22) C, 6’11, 250 lbs
What make Ayton an x-factor for me is that he’s a traditional center playing in a era where there’s not so much of them are in the league. Ayton is a throwback to the Centers of the 90’s and older, like Patrick Ewing or David Robinson. Can he still help the Suns and be on the court when teams go small ball against them? We’ll have to wait and see as he makes his second playoff run with the Suns.
Portland Trail Blazers
Nassir Little (#9) SF, 6’5, 220 lbs
Little gives them a Wing with size that can guard many of the league’s two’s and three’s. Will he get the opportunity to play more to help the Blazers? or will he be too inconsistent to help them?
Davion Mitchell (#15) PG, 6’0, 202 lbs
Mitchell has be a solid rookie so far for the Kings. While he’s not a scorer, his defense gives opponents trouble. Will he be able to play with D’aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton? Or will one of them have to be traded?
San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson (#3) SF, 6’6, 220 lbs
Johnson is one of the Spurs many young players. He has two way potential put still have long ways to go. Having experience in team USA helps, but with that experience can he take his game to the next level? Or will he just become a role player?
OG Anunoby (#3) SF, 6’7, 232 lbs
Anunoby who having a career year at 19.3 points a game, has steadily grown each year since coming into the league. Already a defensive stud, Anunoby has made strides in his offensive game, shooting 35.7 percent from three. He has been struggling with injuries with his Hip for most of the year. Can he stay healthy to help the Raptors go deep in the post season?
Mike Conley Jr (#11) PG, 6’1, 175 lbs
Conley Jr has a key role in the Jazz, especially on offense. His ability and ball handling help takes the pressure off of Donovan Mitchell. Can he stay healthy to help the Jazz and can he also stay consistent as well?
Kyle Kuzma (#33) PF, 6’9, 221 lbs
Kuzma is finally getting the shine and chance to show what he can do on the Wizards. He’s no on a team where his offensive abilities are needed for him to do more than to shoot the three ball. Will the opportunities help Kuzma be more consistent or will he struggle to do so?
There you have it, an x-factor for each team. Be on the lookout for each of these players and their impact on their respective teams. I’ll be locked in on league pass to see how it goes for them.