There is no award for NBA Comeback Player of the Year like there is in the NFL, but that doesn't mean there aren't players in the NBA making their mark after a down year. Maybe they missed the previous season due to injury or a contract dispute, or maybe they just lost their way and looked to be out of the league. These are the players who deserve to be recognized for returning from the brink and proving they still have what it takes to compete at basketball's highest level.
Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis missed the entire 2018-2019 season after tearing his ACL the previous year, but he has returned to the floor in the 2019-2020 season as a star and a key partner for point guard Luka Doncic. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony may be the poster child for Comeback Player of the Year after he was all but out of the league in 2019. Anthony signed midseason this year with the Portland Trail Blazers and made an immediate impact as one of the feel-good stories of the season.
So who should be named the 2019-20 NBA Comeback Player of the Year? Who has had the most remarkable bounce-back season in pro basketball? Vote up the players who are showing they still have the talent and the drive to recover from an off year or a devastating injury and leave their mark on the 2020 season.
- Photo: Detroit Pistons / Instagram
Derrick Rose, a three-time All-Star and former NBA MVP, has been beset by injuries throughout his stellar professional career. He has played a full season just once since his last All-Star appearance in the 2011-12 season. Last year looked to be a career reinvention with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but ankle trouble and an elbow injury limited him to 51 games.
Over the summer Rose signed with the Detroit Pistons, his fifth professional team, and has been committed to proving he can still compete at the highest level. Partway through the season, he is averaging 16.5 points and six assists in more than 20 minutes per game.
22662A great comeback?
- Position: Point guard
- Teams: New York Knicks
Possibly the feel-good story of the 2019-20 NBA season, Carmelo Anthony looked like he might be out of the league after a tempestuous 2017-18 with the Oklahoma City Thunder and a disatrous 2018-19 stint on the Rockets, with whom he played just 10 games before being cut loose to watch the remainder of the season at home.
It was quite a fall for the 10-time All-Star and one-time NBA scoring champ as he began the 2019-2020 season at home as well before a midseason call from the Portland Trail Blazers brought him back to the game. Not only has Anthony been a welcome presence in the league, with fans and players alike excited for his return, but he has been a boon to the Portland offense, averaging 16 points per game and six rebounds in his first month with the squad.
23773A great comeback?
- Position: Small forward, Forward
- Teams: Portland Trail Blazers
- Photo: Los Angeles Lakers / Instagram
Dwight Howard, an eight-time All-Star and one of the greatest defenders in NBA history, appeared to be nearing the end of his stellar career after spinal surgery and hamstring issues forced him to miss nearly the entire 2018-19 season. He was traded by the Washington Wizards to the Memphis Grizzlies, who waived him a month later.
Two days after that, however, the Lakers took a chance and signed Howard to come off the bench in support of LeBron James' and Anthony Davis' new LA juggernaut. From the start of the season, Howard has been a valuable role player and the kind of veteran presence any title contender would love to have on the roster.
21664A great comeback?
- Position: Power forward, Center
- Teams: Los Angeles Lakers
Markelle Fultz was the No. 1 overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2017 NBA Draft and entered the league with high hopes amid even higher expectations. However, his time in Philadelphia was marked by injury woes, shot issues, and intense media scrutiny, which finally led to him sitting out nearly all of the 2018-19 season.
Midway through that campaign, the 76ers traded Fultz to the Orlando Magic, for whom he did not debut until the 2019-20 season opener. Since the trade, Fultz's shot appears smoother and more mechanically sound, and his injury issues have yet to flare up. He is averaging double-digit points in more than 25 minutes per game and appears ready to put the past behind him.
10786A great comeback?
- Position: Shooting guard, Point guard
- Teams: Orlando Magic