2.) Ben Simmons
The Brooklyn Nets looked like a championship contender heading into last season, but a nightmarish start, off-court controversy, and shocking trade requests from their superstars forced them to hit the reset button. Though Ben Simmons was supposed to create a three-headed monster alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, multiple injuries and an unmistakable lack of confidence turned the perennial All-Star into a shell of his former self.
Simmons was among the most dominant players in the league before an unceremonious holdout with the Philadelphia 76ers and lingering back pain left him on the sidelines for the entire 2021-22 season. When healthy, the 27-year-old is a devastating downhill driver with the burst to collapse defenses and court vision to sling pinpoint passes to wide-open teammates. He also has the defensive versatility to switch effectively across every position.
While he might never recapture his All-NBA standing, the 6-foot-10 forward can still be impactful as a connective tissue playmaker who locks down the best scorer on the other end of the hardwood. That skillset makes Simmons appealing in a vacuum, but matching his $37.9 million salary to orchestrate a blockbuster would be a tall task for the Spurs. San Antonio would be better off saving their cap space to pursue big-name free agents next summer.