KEY POINTS

  • NBA players tend to play well when facing their former teams
  • James Harden, John Wall and Aaron Gordon are some of the big names that were traded in the 2020-2021 NBA season
  • Harden is the most talked-about trade story in the NBA this year

When a player that was recently traded gets to finally face off against his former team, there’s always an additional boost.

Whether the split was amicable or not, the player who switched teams often tries to show his former team what they’re missing out on. 

This year has been no different. With a handful of players donning different uniforms this season, there have been quite a number of noteworthy performances against former teams. 

READ ALSO: NBA Teams That Hit Big Time At 2021 Trade Deadline

James Harden

James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets loses the ball as he is pressured by P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets and Victor Oladipo #7 James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets loses the ball as he is pressured by P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets and Victor Oladipo #7 Photo: Getty Images | Bob Levey

Perhaps the blockbuster trade of the 2020-2021 season was the January deal that sent former MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets.

It was a deal that had been in the rumor mill since the off-season, but Houston only pulled the trigger in early 2021, with hopes of being able to convince Harden to stay.

Alas, the Rockets could not keep their guy and wound up shipping him off to his preferred destination.

Since then, the Rockets have struggled mightily, while the Nets are currently tied for first place in the East--with Harden once again in the MVP conversation. 

In Harden’s first game against the Rockets as a member of the Nets, Harden put up 29 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds in a 132-114 win. 

John Wall

John Wall #1 of the Houston Rockets dribbles in front of Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards John Wall #1 of the Houston Rockets dribbles in front of Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards Photo: Getty Images | Will Newton

Speaking of the Houston Rockets, one of the team’s biggest acquisitions for the 2020-2021 season was John Wall, who they got from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook.

While it had been rumored that Wall had wanted out of Washington for a while now, the off-season move still came as a surprise, especially since Washington had maintained that they were planning on building around the backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal. 

So when Wall finally got to suit up against the team that had drafted him back in 2010, it was no surprise that he showed out. 

Wall scored 24 points and dished out five assists to lead the Rockets to a 107-88 blowout of the Wizards.

Less than a month later, Wall was stellar once again versus the Wizards, posting 29 points and 11 assists in a losing effort. 

Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon Aaron Gordon dunks on the Orlando Magic Photo: Getty Images

One of the biggest moves of the 2020-2021 trade deadline was the Orlando Magic shipping Aaron Gordon to Denver.

Gordon had publicly asked for a trade earlier that week and was the focus of a number of trade rumors.

Ultimately, Denver was able to snatch the high-flying forward to pair with their young core led by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. 

When Gordon went up against the Magic for the first time in his career, he also turned in his best performance as a Nugget, so far.

Gordon put up 24 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks to help lead the Nuggets to a comeback 119-108 win. 

Chris Paul

Chris Paul Chris Paul Photo: Getty Images

During the 2020-2021 offseason, the Phoenix Suns pulled off a huge move by bringing in veteran point guard Chris Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Paul was the biggest reason why the Thunder managed to make the playoffs--and nearly upset the Houston Rockets--during last season’s playoffs. 

This season, Paul is a huge reason why the Suns are second in the ultra-tough Western Conference. 

When Paul faced the Thunder for the first time since getting traded, the NBA’s “Point God” was indeed on point, scoring 32 points to go with five assists and five rebounds, albeit in a losing effort. 

Jrue Holiday

Jrue Holiday Jrue Holiday guards Lonzo Ball Photo: Getty Images

Jrue Holiday just secured the bag, signing a four-year, $160 million extension with the Milwaukee Bucks.

It seemed to be warranted since Holiday is averaging 17 points, 5.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and nearly two steals per game for the Bucks. 

Holiday was the Bucks’ big signing of the off-season, having moved Eric Bledsoe and a handful of picks to the New Orleans Pelicans. 

When Holiday played the Pelicans for the first time this season, he showed exactly why he was worthy of a big extension as he posted 22 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in a losing effort.