It’s no secret that NBA players can flourish if they are thrust into the right situation. Whether it’s via trade or through free-agency signing, the right circumstances can do wonders for a player’s career. But despite this well-known secret, a plethora of teams are willingly sacrificing their current young talent to land an established star despite sacrificing most of their future assets.

In today’s list, we will name the top 10 NBA players who blossomed after their original team gave up too early on them. This list will include everything such as trades and free agency signings of young talents who flourished in their time in a new uniform.

10. C Jakob Poeltl

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – DECEMBER 22: Jakob Poeltl #19 of the Toronto Raptors dunks during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on December 22, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
The Austrian big man was originally selected by the Toronto Raptors as the 9th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. He didn’t find his groove with the team that’s why he was hastily shipped to the Spurs in 2018.

Poeltl gradually improved his play under the tutelage of Coach Popovich in his four-plus seasons in San Antonio. As fate would have it, the Raptors realized their mistake and traded more than half of their kitchen sink to get Poeltl back.

9. F Rui Hachimura

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – FEBRUARY 14: Rui Hachimura #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three point basket during the second half of a game against the Utah Jazz at Delta Center on February 14, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)


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Rui Hachimura’s time with the Wizards was largely forgettable due to the team’s inability to build a proper roster that could compete on a nightly basis.

The 9th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft was traded to the Lakers in exchange for chips and fries. Not surprisingly, the Japanese-born forward flourished under the bright lights of LA alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

8. G Jalen Brunson

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 08: Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks dribbles during the second half against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 08, 2024 in New York City. The Knicks won 98-74. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Brunson’s career started off slow in Dallas but his play subsequently improved on a yearly basis while playing alongside superstar Luka Doncic.

Mark Cuban had the chance to extend Brunson to a 4-year $50 million plus extension last year but hesitated at the last minute. The Mavs let him walk in free agency for basically nothing in return.

The former National College Player of the Year signed with the Knicks last season and quickly established himself as an All-Star and one of the best point guards in the league.

7. F Julius Randle

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 25: Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks dribbles against Michael Porter Jr. #1 of the Denver Nuggets during the first half at Madison Square Garden on January 25, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Drafted by the Lakers as the 7th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the team did not offer Randle an extension after his rookie contract expired in 2018. He signed a two-year $18 million deal with a player option with the Pelicans but only played one season for them.

New York quickly took a gamble with the underappreciated forward and flourished during his time with the team. It is baffling to understand how two teams gave up early on Randle early in his career.

6. F Brandon Ingram

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – MARCH 08: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans is guarded by Cameron Payne #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on March 08, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
To be fair, the Lakers had no choice but to include the promising young forward in a trade to acquire superstar Anthony Davis in 2019.

Ingram has been balling for the Pelicans since the trade and has been named an All-star in 2022. The lanky 6’8″ forward has been a constant 20-point scorer for New Orleans from day one and developed into one of the best small forwards in the game today.

5. F Mikal Bridges

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 05: Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts in the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center on March 05, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Nobody on earth expected Bridges to average 20 PPG after being part of a trade to Brooklyn in exchange for superstar Kevin Durant. Although he was the main defensive guy for Phoenix, he was just the 4th option in scoring for the team before the trade.

But the Nets saw his potential and made him their go-to scorer which has brought them tremendous results. Bridges is currently one of the best two-way players in the league today.

4. F Lauri Markkanen

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 25: Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz celebrates after scoring a basket against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Capital One Arena on January 25, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Both the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up too early on Markkanen’s potential to be elite at this level. The Finnish big man and former 2017 lottery pick finally found a home in Utah, where he thrived as the number one option for the team this past season.

He became a first-time All-star with the Jazz and also won 2023’s Most Improved Player Award. Now entering his prime years, Markkanen is just beginning to scratch his full potential as a player and is poised to take a bigger leap for the Jazz in the near future.

3. G Tyrese Haliburton

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – FEBRUARY 25: Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Indiana Pacers drives to the basket while defended by A.J. Lawson #9 of the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 25, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
The Kings traded the promising young point guard in exchange for Domantas Sabonis in 2022 in a bid to contend in the brutal Western Conference for years to come.

Haliburton blossomed in his time with Indiana as he was already voted as a two-time All-star. He also signed a 5-year $260 million extension with the team. With the Kings ending their 16-year playoff drought last season and Haliburton balling out for Indiana, this is a rare win-win trade for both teams.

2. F Khris Middleton

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JANUARY 26: Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by Max Strus #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game at Fiserv Forum on January 26, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The elder statesman on this list, nobody expected much from Middleton as he was a late second-round selection by the Pistons in 2012. He only played 27 games for the team and spent time in the G-league to hone his skills in the hopes of becoming a regular contributor for Detroit.

When he was traded from Detroit to Milwaukee, his inclusion was a mere filler for the trade to work. But Middleton vastly improved his skills to become the player he is today.

He is a three-time All-Star and became an NBA champion in 2021. Middleton is currently the Bucks’ third-best player behind Giannis Antetokounmpo.

1. G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

HOUSTON, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 25: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in action against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on February 25, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
The Canadian guard’s ascension as a tier-one superstar didn’t happen overnight, but it was evident from the start after his trade from the Clippers to Oklahoma City.

While Paul George – the guy whom he was traded with – remains one of the best two-way players in the league sans injury, Gilgeous-Alexander has developed into a bona fide superstar with the Thunder in recent years.

He is currently averaging over 31 PPG this season for the unbelievably young Thunder team. They are poised to be serious contenders within the next few years while the Clippers have yet to win anything despite the Leonard-George pairing.