30 NBA players that got better after leaving their first team

NBA (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
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Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

30 NBA players who got better after leaving their first team: 16. Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine has fought for respect since he broke into the league. He struggled throughout his freshman year at UCLA after the coach who recruited him was fired before he even made it on campus. He slid to the back of the lottery and was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft as an upside play.

The Timberwolves were transitioning into the post-Kevin Love era and traded for the number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins a couple of months after the LaVine selection. LaVine spent the majority of his first two seasons coming off the bench and was a sensation at All-Star Weekend, winning the Slam Dunk Contest and starring in the Rising Stars Game. He would return to the dunk contest the next season and repeat his victory.

During his time in Minnesota, LaVine showed flashes of being an explosive dunker and scorer but was ultimately sent to the Chicago Bulls as part of a trade package for Jimmy Butler. LaVine was never a Tom Thibodeau player and then during his first season in Chicago, he struggled.

Ever since then, however, LaVine has been on a star trajectory. He is getting better and this year, at long last, was named an All-Star. This season he is averaging 28.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists on shooting splits of .523/.437/.868. He is on the cusp of leading the Chicago Bulls back to the postseason and with the recent addition of Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline, they may finally be ready to do more than just appear.