64 good, gettable NBA players
We scoured the league for shooters, scorers, big men, and difference-makers.
BY DAVID THORPE
To my eyes, right now 18 NBA teams have authentic aspirations to make the 2024 conference finals. It doesn’t take elite intelligence analysis, however, to figure out that the math is tough and most of those 18 will need help—especially in the East, home of the league’s two leading title favorites, the Celtics and Bucks.
Now imagine you’re Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields. What are you wondering right now? You're wondering, I’d wager, whether or not Trae Young is the guy. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with transcendent playoff runs, but also: coaches keep getting fired! Trae has defensive challenges, but on top of that it seems like he’s just not an easy guy to play with, despite racking up a ton of assists. In some ways, Trae’s like a far far far less athletic Russell Westbrook. No one can accuse Russell Westbrook of not being a good passer, yet do you know how many terrible shots Russ has taken in his career?
Landry can't just look at metrics to sort out his thoughts on Trae. You’ve got to project character, growth, maturity, the ability to connect with teammates on a deeper level. If it doesn’t work out with coach Quin Snyder, that’s 0 for three—and that’s a strikeout.
And so I think this gets you into the thinking behind this article: the Hawks have what it takes to upgrade this roster to get better right now, to win with Trae, and it might make sense to do that soon. But they also might go another way, bail on this whole approach, put Trae and every valuable veteran in play, and become the Oklahoma City Thunder of the East by hoarding draft picks, young talent, and cap space.
When Joe Cronin just steered the Blazers down Thunder Road by trading away Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic, the story is that he kept notes of all the trade conversations, about who is available, in a Moleskine notebook that he carries in his pocket. (Historically teams do that analysis on whiteboards, but Cronin didn’t trust his secrets not to leak.)
This article is essentially your version of that notebook. Which good players might be available to Landry Fields if the Hawks go shopping? And, also, for the benefit of the 29 other teams, who are the Hawks who Fields might end up trading away if the Hawks pivot the other direction?
I’ve scoured the league for players who are a) available, b) could make a difference for a good team, and/or c) have potential and trade value.
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