There are a lot of basketball players that dream of playing their careers in the NBA. Although there are multiple ways of getting into the league, there is no doubt that the road to enter the NBA is tougher than ever. For highly touted prospects, they enter the league’s doors by being selected in the annual NBA Draft. On the other hand, some play well internationally to gain the attention of some scouts. While others, they make some noise in the G-League with the hopes of earning a contract in the NBA.

Typically, players under the 10-day contracts aren’t names that will impact teams to a championship. In fact, most of them are either journeymen or players who barely see action. However, there are a few who fly under the radar that have the potential to shock the league when given the opportunity. For this piece, let’s take a look at the five best 10-day contract pickups this season.

5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

NBA Best 10-day contracts

Season stats: 3.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.6 blocks

With Lillard and McCollum playing well, the Trail Blazers are a well-oiled team this year that can make some noise in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, the team still lacked depth in the frontcourt and defense. As a result, this led to the signing of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a 10-day contract.

Hollis-Jefferson has provided productive minutes for Rip City whenever he is on the floor. In limited minutes, he gave the team a shot in the arm in terms of defense. Although his numbers don’t say much, his impact transcends what he produces in the box score. In fact, Coach Terry Stotts loved what he got from the 6’6 forward in a game against the Clippers.

According to an postgame interview with Stotts, he said “I thought Rondae did a nice job defensively. I thought he just made some things happen and got some extra possessions, provided some energy and good length.”

Hollis-Jefferson has signed two 10-day contracts and has been signed for the rest of the Blazers’ season. Although he might not be seeing a lot of action especially come postseason, he does serve as a good insurance big, especially if an injury happens to one of the team’s centers like Jusuf Nurkic, who has suffered gruesome injuries in the past.

4. Austin Rivers

NBA Best 10-day contracts

Season stats: 6.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks

Austin Rivers has had a rollercoaster ride this season, as he found himself getting traded from New York to Oklahoma, and then being waived. Fortunately, the Nuggets were looking to add depth to their guard spot which prompted the team to sign Rivers to a 10-day deal.

The Nuggets suffered a huge blow by loosing Jamaal Murray to a torn ACL. With Murray out, the team lost an elite scorer. However with the signing of Rivers, he has helped the team cushion the blow. At 6’4, Rivers has decent size at the guard position. Furthermore, he can score in multiple ways.

Although Rivers isn’t a replacement for Murray, he has given the Nuggets more depth at the guard position. In addition to this, with his scoring abilities, he can easily work with Nikola Jokic.

According to sports reporter Jena Garcia, Rivers said “What makes this team special, your best player is a pass first superstar…He has no ego. I’ve never seen anything like it…It’s been special. I’ve never played for a team like this…”

Rivers has signed two 10-day contracts, and has been signed for the rest of the season. If the 6’4 guard can continue to make an impression in limited minutes and Jokic continues to play like a MVP, the Nuggets may still have enough pieces to work with to contend for a championship.

3. Freddie Gillespie

Raptors, Nick Nurse, Miley Cyrus, Freddie Gillespie, Malachi Flynn

Season stats: 5.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.0 blocks

Coming out of Division III, no one really expected Freddie Gillespie to make waves in the NBA like he is doing right now. After going undrafted in the NBA Draft, he took his talents to the G-League and played for the Memphis Hustle. Gillespie averaged 10.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per outing which merited a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors. He admitted the challenges that come with proving your worth in 10 days.

But despite the odds, Gillespie proved to everyone that he has a place in the NBA. With his positioning and hustle, Gillespie can gobble up rebounds whenever he is on the floor. His hustle plays certainly affect the team positively. The Raptors were struggling on rebounds before his arrival, and signing him solved that problem for the team. As a result, Gillespie has converted two 10-day deals into a two year contract.

2. Mike James

Season stats: 7.4 points, 4.2 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 0.2 steals, 0.0 blocks

The Brooklyn Nets are already a stacked team with KD, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. Because of this, they are a legitimate contender and they just got deeper when they acquired the services of Euroleague star Mike James. James had a decent stint in his first year in the NBA four years ago when he suited up for the Phoenix Suns and the New Orleans Pelicans. However since then, he has taken his talents to Europe.

With the Nets suffering setbacks such as an injury to Harden and the retirement of LaMarcus Aldridge, the team has been searching for players that will keep the team afloat in time for the postseason. Because of this, the Nets signed James to a 10-day deal. Although James is still under contract with CSKA Moscow, the Russian club is willing to allow him to play in the NBA while James serves his suspension after an altercation between him and Coach Dimitris Itoudis.

James has made the most out of his NBA comeback with the Nets. In limited minutes, he has provided scoring power and another facilitator for the depleted Nets. In fact, he played well in the win against the Raptors where he dropped 11 points and eight assists off the bench while making four of his five shots. If James continues his fine play, the Nets certainly increased their chances of winning the championship this year.

1. DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins Clippers

Season stats: 7.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks

It wasn’t long ago that DMC was considered to be one of the elite centers in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his career. But despite the turnaround, Cousins can still bring a lot to the table, even as a backup center. After being waived by the Houston Rockets, the four time All-Star was picked up by the Clippers to a 10-day contract.

But despite the limited role, Cousins has been the spark off the bench. Although he has slowed down due to injuries, Cousins is still a respectable big man on the court. In fact, opposing teams still choose to double team him.

In a postgame conference, Cousins commented “I’m the third-string big, on a 10-day, getting double teamed…I don’t think that’s ever happened before. It’s pretty funny to me.”

After a pair of 10-day contracts, Cousins has been signed for the remainder of the season. The two time All-NBA Team member will give the Clippers some much needed size and depth at the frontcourt which will come in handy during the postseason.