2021-22 Kia Season Preview

'Who He Play For' study guide for 2021-22 season

A new season is upon us, which means Charles Barkley's attempt at figuring out offseason changes is coming soon. Catch up on familiar faces in new places.

Plenty of players familiar to NBA fans changed teams in the offseason, meaning it may take a little while to get used to seeing them in their new digs. And no one needs more help with this every year than Charles Barkley. Below are some of the familiar faces in new places for the 2021-22 season, which officially tips off on Oct. 19. 

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Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks added guard Delon Wright from the Kings via a three-team, offseason trade.

Gorgui Dieng joined the Hawks after playing with the Spurs and Grizzlies last season.

Boston Celtics

Dennis Schroder is a member of the Celtics after leaving the Lakers a free agent.

How he got here: Dennis Schröder signed a one-year deal with Boston as a free agent.

What he did in 2020-21: While Schröder averages dropped in his lone season with the Lakers to 15.4 points per game, while shooting 44% from the field and 34% from deep in 2020-21, he joins a Boston team that needed another option at the point guard spot after Kemba Walker’s departure.

A look ahead to 2021-22: It’s still unclear who will be running the point guard position in Boston this season, but Schröder has demonstrated his ability to produce and brings a new level of speed and explosiveness to the Celtics.

Al Horford was traded to Boston by Oklahoma City, marking his second tour of duty with the team.

The Mavs dealt Josh Richardson to Boston early on in the offseason.


Brooklyn Nets

James Johnson moved on to Brooklyn via free agency.

Former Spurs standout Patty Mills signed with the Nets in the offseason.

Paul Millsap is back in the East after signing with Brooklyn in the offseason.

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets got defensive big man Mason Plumlee via an offseason trade with Detroit.

Versatile wing Kelly Oubre Jr. opted to sign with Charlotte in the offseason.

Ish Smith is playing for his 12th NBA team after leaving Washington for Charlotte.

Chicago Bulls

Chicago remade its backcourt in the offseason, picking up Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan via sign-and-trade deals.

How they got here: Lonzo Ball landed in Chicago via a sign-and-trade deal involving the Pelicans and Hornets, while DeMar DeRozan was also added via sign-and-trade.

What they did in 2020-21: In his 11th NBA season, DeRozan averaged a new career high in assists (6.9 apg) and scored 20 or more points in 40 of 61 games played for the San Antonio Spurs in 2020-21. Meanwhile, Ball is coming off his best season yet, where he also saw career highs in points (14.6 ppg) and field-goal percentage (41.4%) while averaging 5.7 assists.

A look ahead to 2021-22: The Bulls look forward to seeing their stellar offseason moves, which also included adding young talent such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Alex Caruso, pay off heading into 2021-22. After missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, Chicago is confident that DeRozan and Ball — alongside star Zach LaVine and veteran scorer Nikola Vucevic — can turn things around.

More: With DeRozan and Ball, Bulls eye jump in Eastern Conference

Former Lakers fan-favorite Alex Caruso signed with the Bulls in the offseason.

Slam Dunk champion Derrick Jones Jr. was sent from Portland to Chicago in a three-way trade.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs picked up Lauri Markkanen via a sign-and-trade deal with the Bulls.

How he got here: Markkanen landed in Cleveland via a sign-and-trade with Chicago as part of a three-team deal with Portland.

What he did in 2020-21: Markkanen averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in 51 games for the Bulls last season, his fourth with the club. He also showed some improvement from long range, shooting 40.2% from 3-point range, the best percentage of his career.

A look ahead to 2021-22: The addition of Markkanen can hopefully improve the Cavs’ struggling offense, which finished last season ranked 28th in offensive rating, 28th in 3-point attempts and 29th in 3-pointers made. As the team continues to rebuild, they will look at Markkanen’s ability to play multiple positions and stretch the floor in 2021-22.

Ricky Rubio was dealt to Cleveland by Minnesota in the offseason.

Denzel Valentine is playing for the Cavaliers after leaving the Bulls.

Dallas Mavericks

Sharpshooter Reggie Bullock came to Dallas in free agency.

Former lottery pick Frank Ntilikina signed with Dallas in the offseason.

Denver Nuggets

Veteran big man Jeff Green opted to sign with Denver in the offseason.

Detroit Pistons

Free-agent big man Kelly Olynyk headed back East to sign with Detroit.

Golden State Warriors

Otto Porter crossed over to the West in the offseason and signed with Golden State.

Andre Iguodala is back in Golden State after signing with the Warriors in the offseason.

Houston Rockets

Bruising big man Daniel Theis opted to sign with Houston in the offseason.

Indiana Pacers

Torrey Craig moved on to Indiana as a free agent in the offseason.

LA Clippers

Thanks to an offseason trade, Eric Bledsoe is back in L.A. for a second stint with the Clippers.

How he got here: Eric Bledsoe returns to L.A. for his second stint with the Clippers via a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.

What he did in 2020-21: Bledsoe spent last season with New Orleans, averaging 12.2 ppg and 3.4 rpg while attempting more 3-pointers (5.0) than his previous 11 seasons.

A look ahead to 2021-22: The Clippers bring Bledsoe back after drafting him 18th overall in 2010. Bledsoe has 11 years of NBA experience and can add to LA’s mix of young and veteran players. The team needs the use of effective role players like Bledsoe if they want to continue their championship pursuit, especially since Kawhi Leonard’s return is still unknown as he recovers from a partially torn ACL in his right knee.

More: Breaking down Bledsoe to the Clippers

Justise Winslow is a versatile defender who signed with the Clippers in the offseason.

Los Angeles Lakers

Russell Westbrook (0) and Carmelo Anthony (7) came to the Lakers via a trade and free agency, respectively.

How they got here: Russell Westbrook arrived via trade from Wizards, while Carmelo Anthony signed as a free agent.

What they did in 2020-21: In Westbrook’s lone season in Washington, the triple-double king was in full form, averaging 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds in 65 games. As for Carmelo, he helped Portland secure its eighth consecutive playoff berth in his second season with the team, thanks to his improved 3-point shooting (40.9%).

A look ahead to 2021-22: The addition of Westbrook gives the Lakers their new ‘Big 3’ alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. “My job is to make sure I uplift ‘Bron, AD, make sure those guys are competing at the highest level and making sure I make my teammates around me better,” Westbrook said at Lakers media day. Additionally, this will be the first time we’ll get to see LeBron and Carmelo team up, a longtime wish since they entered the league in the 2003 draft.

More: Will experience push updated Lakers to top of West?

Young sharpshooter Malik Monk left the Hornets for the Lakers in free agency.

Former Heat guard Kendrick Nunn signed with L.A. in the offseason.

Former Nets big DeAndre Jordan is back in L.A. and playing for the Lakers this time.

Memphis Grizzlies

Rebounding dynamo Steven Adams is in Memphis now after an offseason trade with New Orleans.

After two seasons in Minnesota, the Wolves dealt Jarrett Culver to the Grizzlies.

Miami Heat

Raptors legend Kyle Lowry is on the Heat now after arriving via sign-and-trade deal.

How he got here: Kyle Lowry arrived via a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Goran Dragić and Precious Achiuwa

What he did in 2020-21: Lowry appeared and started in 46 games for the Raptors where he saw averages of 17.2 ppg, 7.2 apg and 5.4 rpg. Lowry currently ranks fifth in total assists (5720) among active players.

A look ahead to 2021-22: Miami hopes Lowry’s veteran experience and championship pedigree can help the Heat re-emerge as a true contender in the East. That will depend on his on-court relationship with good friend and star forward Jimmy Butler, who recently signed a four-year, $184 million contract extension with the team. After nine seasons and an NBA title with Toronto, Lowry brings skillset and leadership to the starting point guard spot.

More: Lowry says he’ll be the calmer leader for Heat

Defensive-minded swingman P.J. Tucker signed with Miami in the offseason, leaving Milwaukee.

Markieff Morris joined the Heat after winning a championship with the Lakers.

Milwaukee Bucks

Grayson Allen was dealt to Milwaukee via an offseason trade with Memphis.

Rodney Hood moved on from the Raptors and signed with the Bucks.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Patrick Beverley was dealt several times in the offseason before eventually landing in Minnesota.

Taurean Prince is in Minnesota via the trade that sent Ricky Rubio to Cleveland.

New Orleans Pelicans

A sign-and-trade deal involving three teams got Devonte’ Graham to New Orleans.

Jonas Valanciunas arrived in New Orleans via the deal that also brought Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans.

Garrett Temple continues his journey with different franchises in New Orleans.

New York Knicks

New York native Kemba Walker signed with the Knicks after he was traded to and waived by OKC.

How he got here: Kemba arrived in New York after a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who received the All-Star guard in a previous exchange with the Boston Celtics.  

What he did in 2020-21: Knee injuries limited Walker to 43 games in 2021 in his second season in Boston. In those games, Walker saw averages of 19.3 ppg, 4.9 apg and 4.0 rpg, and also shot his best percentage from the free-throw line (89.9%).

A look ahead to 2021-22: New York is ready for Walker, who is a native of the Bronx, to take over the starting point guard spot. Walker will be the primary facilitator with an expectation to produce numbers like those from his Charlotte days. But the Knicks will need him to stay healthy and find a rhythm with teammate and reigning Most Improved Player Julius Randle, who won the award last year after an impressive 2020-21 season.

More: Will Kemba’s homecoming elevate Knicks?

Evan Fournier is staying in the East after signing with the Knicks in free agency.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Derrick Favors was traded in the offseason to Oklahoma City by Utah.

Orlando Magic

Fun-loving big man Robin Lopez signed with the Magic in the offseason.

Philadelphia 76ers

Former rebounding champ Andre Drummond signed with the 76ers in the offseason.

How he got here: Andre Drummond arrived in Philly via free agency on a one-year deal.

What they did in 2020-21: Drummond spent the first half of last season in Cleveland where he averaged 17.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg and 1.2 bpg. He had more field goal attempts (15.2) in 25 games with the Cavs than ever before over the course of his nine NBA seasons. The two-time All-Star was then acquired by the Lakers after a buyout, and saw averages of 11.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 1.0 bpg in 21 games.

A look ahead to 2021-22: Philadelphia pursued the veteran center to give their superstar Joel Embiid additional frontline help. An elite rebounder, Drummond will have to adjust to his new backup roll but can bring a ton of energy off the bench.

More: Can Drummond coexist with Embiid in Philadelphia? 

Phoenix Suns

Suns center JaVale McGee joined the team via free agency.

Elfrid Payton is back in Phoenix for a second stint after signing there in the offseason.

The Suns picked up Landry Shamet via an offseason trade with the Nets.

Sacramento Kings

Tristan Thompson will play his first season in the West after being traded to Sacramento in the offseason.

San Antonio Spurs

Former top 10 pick Zach Collins signed with San Antonio in the offseason.

Doug McDermott signed with the Spurs after spending the last three seasons with the Pacers.

Toronto Raptors

Precious Achiuwa was traded from Miami to Toronto in the offseason.

Goran Dragic landed in Toronto as a part of the sign-and-trade deal that got Kyle Lowry to Miami.

Utah Jazz

Rudy Gay moved on to the Jazz via free agency in the offseason.

Center Hassan Whiteside is in Utah now after signing there as a free agent.

Washington Wizards

Washington added (from left) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell and Aaron Holiday via a variety of offseason deals.

Check out the best preseason plays from some familiar players on new teams in 2021-22!

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