As the season draws to a conclusion, I have decided to reflect on the rankings bleacher report provided us at the beginning of the season for the top 100 players. Noticing this list was very outdated, I decided, it’s time for a new, updated list. So allow me to introduce to you, the NBA Alerts Official Top 100 Players Rankings! All stats in this article are as of when the portion of the article was written, stats not updated. Please note this is also a collective list made my multiple people, not just my opinion. So I’m not hating on anyone this is just a collective list of ideas that represent multiple opinions and beliefs. This list will also be based on THIS SEASON and assuming EVERYONE was healthy.
We have to mention:
There are a few players who just missed the cut, however they need to be included, as the league is full of so much talent, I decided we cannot leave these 10 players out, so consider this the top 110 NBA Players.
Darren Collison – Indiana Pacers
With the fall of Victor Oladipo to a quadricep tear, veteran Darren Collison was expected to take on a heavier role. Collison has filled this role wonderfully. Stepping up his scoring, and shooting above forty percent from three point range has made Collison a reliable option for the Pacers. Collison has avoided any decline he may have been due, in fact, Collison is averaging career high numbers in assists, steals and rebounds, outdoing his best season from four years ago with the Kings. Collison averages 6 assists per game which is perhaps the focal point in his game, he currently sits in the top 20 rankings in assists per game, above other floor generals like Kemba Walker, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic and many other big names. Collison is certainly not a superstar in this league, nor a household name, but his impact on a highly successful team earns him a spot in the honorable mentions portion of this list.
Ricky Rubio – Utah Jazz
Since Rubio was sent to Utah on draft night last year, his role as a player has changed drastically. In Minnesota, Rubio was a pass facilitator, and regarded widely as the next generation of floor management talent. When receiving Rubio, it seems the Jazz have seen something else in him. After seeing his assists per game dropping from a near league leading 9 assists per game, down to an average 5 assists per game, it became apparent that Rubio was going to become a different kind of player than we all assumed. Rubio has seen an increase in his points per game, however this increase is not substantial enough to make up for his decreasing passer role. Rubio will certainly be a strong asset to the Jazz offensive schemes, however we would certainly see his position climb on this list if the Jazz decided to utilize his strengths to their advantage at a higher level than we’re seeing.
Dennis Smith Jr. – New York Knicks
It was widely known to the fans and management, that Dennis Smith Jr. was not happy with his role in Dallas. It seemed as though a trade was imminent. Following his trade to the Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr. has actually been surprisingly good. He has bumped his points per game up to a promising 15, which perhaps is a glimpse of what’s to come with DSJ. Dennis has also seen his ball handling rate go up. When he was in Dallas, Luka Doncic was handling the ball most of the time, and taking most of the shots, New York doesn’t have this problem yet (Tank For Zion?). I expect Dennis to continue to progress very well as he grows his IQ and becomes a better perimeter scorer. As for right now, Dennis just missed the cut to make the top 100, simply because we haven’t seen enough of this new DSJ to make an accurate judgement on how good he really is. It’s very common for players on a new team to come out strong and fade, simply based on excitement, I can see DSJ making the top 100 next time I do this list however.
Marcus Smart – Boston Celtics
Celtics fans, and basketball fans in general, have been waiting for Marcus Smart to break through the same way Victor Oladipo and Pascal Siakam have. Unfortunately, it’s looking like those who were anticipating a break through season may need to try again next year. Smart was simply not given an opportunity to develop to his full potential by the Celtics. He is shooting way less, and actually scoring at a higher rate. Marcus Smart is actually enjoying his first ever season above 40% field goal percentage, which is certainly promising. However, Smart’s ever increasing age, and ever decreasing role on the Celtics could catch up to the once prized young player. Smart doesn’t have long to prove himself a strong player in the league, and if he wants to make the top 100 any time soon, Boston will need to provide him with a better opportunity to do so. Don’t count Smart out, as he is one of the players in this league due for a breakthrough season.
Joe Harris – Brooklyn Nets
Joe Harris has been the hot talk as of late. After winning the three point contest, Harris has turned heads in the league. His numbers are all steadily improving, and he is shaping up to be one of the core pieces of the Brooklyn Nets future. Harris currently ranked first overall in three point percentage, and is at the moment the best three point shooter this league has statistically. Along with this, he is also one of two players in the entire league shooting over 50% excluding centers and power forwards (who can score at a much higher FG% as many of their FG’s are close to the basket). Only Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris claim this achievement. The only missing link with Joe Harris is just the portion size we’ve seen from him. The Nets are a deep team, so Harris hasn’t really been fully exploited just yet. If Harris just took more shots and scored at the same rate, or close to it, he could become on the more well known talents in the entire league. The best is yet to come for Joe Harris.
Enes Kanter – Portland Trail Blazers
I wonder if Enes Kanter really knew what he was getting into when he signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. After a lack of playing time with the Knicks, and an eventual buyout, Kanter seeked out a deal in Portland, which many believed would give him an increased role. Enes may as well have kissed the Blazers logo when he got on the floor, as he actually plays less minutes per game in Portland than he did in New York, especially with the emergence of Nurkic as a high caliber center. Kanter is taking less shots, in less time with less opportunities to succeed. If Enes wants to end up back in the top 100 (I’m sure he does but I wouldn’t know), he will need to take on a much increased role on the Blazers. Only then will we truly experience the Enes Kanter we once knew. As for how Kanter has been using his limited time, he actually is hitting very very nice numbers in his PER 36 stats. In fact, these numbers are the highest they’ve ever been for Enes, so maybe it’s worth giving Enes a few more minutes so we can see what he can do to help the Blazers with their quest for the championship.
Harrison Barnes – Sacramento Kings
In one of the douchiest moves in recent sporting history, Harrison Barnes was traded mid-game to the Sacramento Kings. Kings fans were extremely excited that there was someone who was a borderline star coming to save them. Sadly, Barnes has been extremely lowly on the offensive end of the floor, averaging near career lows of 13 points per game, despite receiving a career high 36 minutes per game. What has brought down this offensive efficiency? In summary, it’s a heavier defensive role that has in some ways sacrificed some of his offensive capabilities. Barnes is seeing an increase in rebounds and steals per game, and also has a solid defensive efficiency rating. The Kings have done a good job utilizing Barnes to the fullest, however his time on the court needs to be slightly more focused on an offensive gain, or else the Kings might miss out on the best parts of the former Mavericks go to scorer. If Barnes effectively uses his minutes and sees an offensive boost in his game, he will very likely jump into the 80s of the top 100 players list.
Marvin Bagley III – Sacramento Kings
The Kings caught a tough break on this one. Bagley has been experiencing issues with a knee sprain, which will keep him sidelined for a extended period of time. Bagley was having a very solid rookie season. Certainly not rookie of the year material, but nonetheless it was looking good for Bagley. The Kings elected not to included Bagley in their starting lineup, which might be what keeps Bagley off the top 100. He plays a young 24 minutes per game, which isn’t horrible for a rookie, but the second overall pick has to see at least 30 minutes per game in order to truly make the most of your pick. Bagley has been a strong two-way player and is shaping up to be a Rudy Gobert like player with a great field goal percentage, but a strong defensive presence to back up a very dynamic promising player. Bagley is someone who I would consider a candidate for most improved player by next year as well, as the ceiling is very high for this young man.
Derrick Favors – Utah Jazz
Derrick Favors has constantly been missing out on becoming a household name. It’s not that Favors is a bad player, he’s actually quite good, it’s just that he is extremely mediocre, especially when compared to his very large salary. Favors is only 27, which is that ripe area where stars need to start forming. We haven’t yet seen this from Favors, as his best season was one where he averaged an underwhelming 16 points per game. He now falls much below that, and his minutes are decreasing steadily. Interestingly enough, Derrick Favors has started 59 of his 65 games this season, yet the borderline veteran plays a mere 23 minutes per game. I’m not sure why this is, perhaps Favors is not in great fitness, or he is just being subbed off by his coaches. There isn’t a definitive answer, as Favors is one of the only Power forwards in the league to shoot over 57% from the field. This makes Favors the 11th most efficient scorer in the league, however his minutes are so low. This lack of playing time is what is holding Favors back in my opinion.
Dwight Howard – Washington Wizards
Let me get one thing straight, Dwight Howard’s season in Charlotte was spectacular, and he should’ve been an all star. This year has been a mess for Dwight. Following a three team trade that sent Dwight to Brooklyn, and an immediate buyout, Howard signed a deal with Washington. There he was expected to make a ton of noise with a deadly duo of Wall and Beal. A plethora of gluteal and back issues has held Dwight to extremely limited playing time so far. Howard said that it is extremely uncomfortable to even sit down. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, he was later accused by a transgender ex of threatening words, as Dwight wanted to keep their fling private. This is another story, that you can easily search up online. As for Dwight’s playing time, Howard played just 9 games for the Wizards, playing solid in each of them, however the dosage was way to small to make a true judgement of whether or not Dwight will be able to recreate a surprising year that he had in Charlotte. Dwight returns to the court on February 20th where he will attempt to work his way back into the Wizards rotation.
THE ACTUAL LIST
That’s all for honorable mentions. I apologize sincerely if your favorite player wasn’t included, but I offer you the chance to keep reading, and find them below. Now, let’s get into the TOP 100 PLAYERS IN THE NBA!!!!!!
100: Goran Dragic – Miami Heat
After somehow declining, yet still being selected as an all star, Goran Dragic is now dealing with many injuries that have affected his playing time thus far. Dragic has continued to decline this season, yet his role on the Heat remains consistent. Dragic is the floor general for the Heat, and has been since he arrived in Miami four years ago. Goran still cracks the top 100 for his contributions to the Heat who are currently fighting for a playoff spot in the East. Dragic hasn’t been spectacular, but he still is the leading charge of the Heat. Despite being an all star last season, Dragic somehow managed to fall to the 100th spot on this list, and is even seeming to hand over the starting point guard position to rising star Justise Winslow, who has surprised many people with his ability to play the point guard position, despite being recognized as a SF or SG at best. Unfortunately, this will probably be the last time Dragic ends up on this list, as his time of being a household name in the league begins to fade away into the Winslow era.
99: Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon, recognized as the former sixth man of the year is beginning to see an increased role. Gordon has now started more games than not, especially with the Chris Paul injury. In these games, Gordon was very strong and proved that despite entering his thirties, he is still an elite player and specifically an elite shooter in this league. Eric Gordon has been extremely consistent with his jumper, maintaining very similar percentages almost his entire career. In his tenth season in the NBA, Gordon maintains almost exactly his career averages in points, field goal percentage and three point percentage. Gordon has been a go to player for the Rockets, as his consistency is always a comforting reinforcement to the stardom of James Harden and Chris Paul. It seems like Eric Gordon just fits his system really well. Gordon will probably hover around this area of the top 100 players until natural depreciation in value begins to take place. Eric Gordon will very likely be one of those players we see in the league until their early forties, as his role is not extremely physical, and he has been extremely consistent his entire career, and shows no signs of slowing down, or speeding up.
98: Gordon Hayward – Boston Celtics
If I showed you this list 2 years ago, I would’ve never been allowed to write an article again. Gordon Hayward has been extremely streaky so far. There are games when Hayward is able to go off for thirty plus points, and there’s games when he gets two. This former superstar was devastated by a gruesome injury that kept him out for the remainder of his season. Following his return to Boston, Hayward has been extremely underwhelming. I am not saying I expected Hayward to be a superstar, but he has certainly lowered down his level of play. It might not just be the injury though. Hayward joined a star studded team with Kyrie, Tatum, Horford and many more rising stars. Perhaps Hayward just isn’t in the right system. His situation in Utah was much more desirable, as he was the primary scorer, and the face of the franchise. He now walked into Boston as the third most important player. Hayward is capable of turning it all around though, talent doesn’t disappear overnight, but it will certainly be a Derrick Rose like comeback story if Hayward can make something happen soon.
97: Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves
All credit to the Wolves for trying. The Timberwolves bucked up and paid Andrew Wiggins the big bucks in order to stay in the city of Minnesota. The result of this… well… nothing. Andrew Wiggins has dropped a few big games, however his dedication has been questioned by many people. Andrew Wiggins is the perfect example of untapped potential. He is capable of being one of the greatest scorers we could have ever seen. Much to Wolves fans dismay, Wiggins has done very little to reach that potential. Wiggins has been criticized excessively and overall had a difficult start to his career. However it hasn’t been all bad for Wiggins. He has shown he is capable of being a reliable scorer, yet he simply lacks consistency. Wiggins is able to score 40, which would obviously help the Timberwolves win some games and see a playoffs, yet he does so on such a rare occasion. If Wiggins could improve his three point shooting from 33%, that in my opinion would be the first step to reaching his potential. His field goal percentage is not overly concerning, but it’s not just lack of effort that holds Wiggins back, it’s just as much the fact that Wiggins isn’t going to be perfect, right away. Give him some time and you will see why Wiggins went first overall in the draft.
96: Brook Lopez – Milwaukee Bucks
After parting ways with the Lakers, Brook Lopez has gained the worlds attention, mostly based on his ability to… not do what he’s supposed to. Brook Lopez has taken positional stereotypes, and thrown them up from the logo, and swished them. Lopez is one of the go to shooters for Milwaukee, he spends most of his time on the perimeter, and has limitless range. Shocking for a seven footer. Lopez’s ability to shoot the three gives a whole new meaning to the center position. The only thing holding Lopez back is that in some ways he is extremely one dimensional. He isn’t really that great of a defender, and he gets less rebounds a game then lots of players a foot shorter then him. He’s really relying on his three point shooting to keep himself on a roster. It works for now, but if Lopez begins to lose his touch, he could end up without a true role. Shooting is essentially what Lopez relies on, and being a one dimensional player can only get your so far. Despite this Lopez is a trendsetter that could continue to improve as long as he keeps shooting and doesn’t get caught up in all the attention.
95: Dejounte Murray – San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray was shaping up to have a very strong season. Many believed he was a candidate for most improved player. Murray tore his ACL in a pre season game, so we haven’t gotten to see any of the rising star in his third year. We can only speculate how Dejounte Murray’s season could have gone. Many believed he would break through and become a top 50 player, others believed he wouldn’t even make the top 150. I believe Murray was capable of somewhere between the two, which is why I placed him 95th. Murray’s extremely underrated defense is the focal point of his growing game, and the Spurs were preparing to hand the keys over to Dejounte, as former starting point guard Tony Parker shockingly left for the Hornets in free agency. As for what we do know about Dejounte Murray, he averaged an average 8 points per game, on solid shooting, but weak three point shooting. Murray’s defense surged last year, bringing his steals up to 1.2 SPG, which was a very promising stat for the Spurs who were looking at a potential rebuild season. We can only hope Dejounte Murray will come back from a devastating injury like he did stronger than ever. Only time will tell, for now, Murray will need to spend a lot of time in rehab, before we can give Dejounte Murray a ranking that he truly deserves.
94: Isaiah Thomas – Denver Nuggets
Damn you injuries! If you’ve gotten this far into the article, you must be committed enough to know about Isaiah Thomas’ story. If you didn’t, Thomas was coming off an incredible MVP caliber season when he was forced out in the playoffs with a hip injury, later that month, Thomas was traded in a major blockbuster that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics and IT to the Cavs. When Thomas returned, it was speculated that him and Lebron would dominate the league. Nobody knew that he would soon be traded to LA, where he played only a few lackluster games. Now he plays with Denver, where he has just returned to play recently. Unfortunately I can only base my rankings on Thomas’ actual games played. Whether he is healthy or not, Isaiah Thomas hasn’t been able to get back to the same level he was at two years ago. He averaged 8 points per game in extremely limited minutes, also playing in only 9 games. Now there’s good news about IT, and bad news. Good news is, IT has been averaging above 20 points per game per 36, which proves if he was a starter in the league, he could still have it in him to break the 20 point barrier. Bad news, Nuggets head coach announced last week that Isaiah Thomas would no longer be a part of the regular rotation, as the Nuggets hope to trim down their rotation to develop a better flow in the later half of the season. This is rough news for IT, but he will be a free agent this summer, and will be going into the market healthy. It will be interesting to see what IT does this offseason.
93: Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
A lot of people won’t like Wade’s ranking, however this isn’t about their legacy. No doubt Wade is one of the greats in the game of basketball, but I need to focus on this season alone. Sorry, but at the same time not sorry, because Wade has actually worked his way up my list from the beginning of the season. I expected Wade’s farewell tour to be a little more like Dirk’s. This hasn’t been the case however, Wade has knocked down a clutch game winner over the Warriors, and actually been a very reliable player whether in crunch time or coming off the bench. In fact, Wade might even be the most reliable player on the Heat at the moment. He is having a great year from three point range, and a solid shooting season in general. Wade fans don’t get too excited, this is DWade’s second worst season of his career (at least not the worst) but he is not playing necessarily bad. Many players will never have a season as good as Dwyane Wade is having this year, so I felt it was important that he earns a respectable spot on the list. Obviously Wade won’t be returning to the top 100 list next year, so let’s appreciate the time that we have with this phenomenal basketball player.
92: Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic
Following Aaron Gordon’s massive improvement last season, many believed Gordon would step up to become the Magic’s go to guy as they made a playoff push. The emergence of Nikola Vucevic may have restricted that however. For the first time in his career, Aaron Gordon has seen a decrease in points per game, down from 17 to 15. This isn’t terrible, however it isn’t enough to call Aaron Gordon a borderline star. Gordon is still only 23, and will be a very interesting story to watch throughout the next couple years. The high flier will want to keep becoming a better shooter, and continue to improve his defence if he wants to become an all star. Gordon is an athletic beast that at this very moment will certainly help Orlando make a push to make the playoffs, but won’t be the star player. Gordon is someone everyone has been waiting for since his impressive dunk contest, and he is very talented, so as a casual supporter of the Magic, I can comfortably say Aaron Gordon is due for greatness. As for right now, Aaron Gordon should keep shooting the ball, and get comfortable being a primary option. It also is speculated that Vucevic could leave Orlando this offseason, so who knows what that will mean for Air Gordon.
91: Jarrett Allen – Brooklyn Nets
Anyone that plays the Nets, will eventually get their shot blocked by sophomore sensation Jarrett Allen. Allen has famously blocked pretty much every superstar, highlighted by meeting LeBron at the rim on multiple occasions, and shockingly stopping two of his dunks. The Nets are super high on Jarrett Allen, as they should be. Allen embodies a defensive mentality that this league really needs right now. Allen is so very young, yet he plays like he is in his late twenties. I can definitely see him being of the best centers in 5 years or so. Allen needs to improve his three point shooting, or stop shooting his threes, as his three point percentage this season is awful. In general, Allen is one of the best FG Percentages in the league. He currently shoots 59% from the field which easily ranks him in the top 10 in the entire league for FG%. Allen is a generational talent, and has a generational afro (it’s so nice honestly though), so that pretty much means he’s destined for greatness. As for right now, Allen is steadily improving in every aspect of the game, which is exactly what you want from a young player like Allen.
90: Elfrid Payton – New Orleans Pelicans
Well recognized for the bird nest he used to carry on his head, Elfrid is actually quite a bit more than a habitat for flying animals. Payton is one of the best all around players this league has to offer. Payton is a valuable commodity that many fans fail to recognize. Although Payton’s scoring role is extremely limited, the 24 year old is an elite passer, and thanks to his height (second tallest PG behind Ben Simmons), Payton is also a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor. Payton provides the Pelicans with a defensive edge that many point guards, especially younger ones, lack. He currently averages over one steal per game despite playing in very limited time. If Payton can break onto the scene a little bit more with his scoring, we could see the second coming of Chris Paul, with a few extra inches added on. Payton is shooting career high percentages from the field, as well as three point range, which could be promising for his hopes at being a top tier shooter or scorer in general. The only thing Payton really needs to get better at as soon as possible is his free throw shooting. If he can improve his free throw shooting above at least 70% I would expect Payton to climb this list as he solidifies himself as a point guard that truly has no weaknesses. (Update: Elfrid Payton is a triple double machine, and probably deserves a slightly higher ranking than what I gave him, but I would like to see this play of late that Payton has been showing us at a consistent rate to make a better judgement.)
89: Jeremy Lamb – Charlotte Hornets
At the start of the season, the Hornets announced they would be starting Jeremy Lamb over Michael Kidd Gilchrist, as they attempted to progress Lamb further and seek a playoff spot. Lamb took to the role well, and he now holds 15 points per game, in only 28 minutes per game. Lamb will be a free agent this season, and if he is willing to take a pay cut, he could develop further in a Hornets system that favors him. Even better for Lamb, if Kemba Walker were to leave in free agency, that would make Jeremy Lamb the primary scorer. This could be exactly what Lamb needs to crack the 20 points per game barrier, and begin his path to being a household name in the NBA. Lamb has taken on a much increased role with the Hornets, which is essential to his development. If Lamb is not careful this offseason, he could end up in an unfavorable situation, and fall off the track he’s on right now. Lamb is also only 26 years old, so he has 6 more seasons to really prove his worth. Look for Lamb to slowly progress into a well known player in the league within the next 4 years.
88: Joe Ingles – Utah Jazz
Jinglin’ Joe, has had yet again another reliable season for the Jazz. The former euro league player and math teacher has continued to raise the Jazz up to the next level. Ingles best campaign came from last season in the playoffs when they shocked the world in the playoff series against the Thunder. Ingles averaged 14 points per game on incredible shooting percentages. This season Ingles sits just below 12 points per game. At first glance, many would dismiss Ingles as a role player with no true value. What Ingles does doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Ingles and Rubio are both equally tasked with controlling the pace and moving the ball around the floor. Ingles averages over 5 assists per game, and this season he has dished out 11 assists on multiple occasions. Ingles also is a excellent defender. Although he isn’t overly quick on his feet or light, Ingles is still a crafty player who can make you pay if you’re careless with the ball. Ingles is exactly who you want to surround a young player like Donovan Mitchell with. Great shooter, leader, solid defender and reliable scorer in general. I don’t see Ingles being able to improve much, but he is still going to be a consistent complimentary player to the Jazz, as they make a push for a deep playoff run.
87: Jaylen Brown – Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown was coming off a solid last year season. Showing massive improvement throughout the entire year. Much like his other Celtics teammates, Jaylen Brown has had a tough year. Brown has watched his points per game decrease, along with every other major statistic category excluding free throw percentage and blocks per game. The biggest thing worth mentioning, is that Brown has been getting less minutes. Brown hasn’t even started for over half of his games this season, so it really makes you wonder why Brown hasn’t been given a better opportunity to better himself. Jaylen Brown is still a good defender, explosive attacker, and solid all around player. So his impact on Boston is still apparent. The only explanation for this, at least that I can pull, is that there seems to be some chemistry issues in Boston, and Jaylen has been vocal about his issues with some of his teammates. Don’t forget Jaylen Brown’s altercation on the bench earlier this season. Perhaps Jaylen Brown will slowly slip out of the rotation until he leaves, or forces the coaches to put him back in the regular rotation. For now, Jaylen Brown is still a solid player for the Celtics, but they will need him to step up if they want to truly have a chance at seeing a finals in Boston.
86: Nikola Mirotic – Milwaukee Bucks
After a blazing hot start to the season, Nikola Mirotic was looking like a true star on Milwaukee. At one point, he was one of the top scorers in the league, he dropped 30+ on multiple back to back occasions, and even led the MIP race at one point. Mirotic was suddenly traded to the Bucks, after beginning to cool down. Since being traded to Milwaukee, Mirotic has been extremely underwhelming. He has fallen to a whooping 11 points per game. This is certainly not the “Clean Shaven Mirotic” everyone was putting in their memes just 4 months ago. Mirotic hasn’t really been bad, but this is certainly not the same elite play we saw earlier this year. It seems that Nikola has reinserted himself into the mediocre category among many other role players. The incredible play he did perform earlier this year has elevated his position on this list, as that kind of play cannot be completely ignored. Mirotic will need to have the ball in his hands more often if he plans on a comeback.
85: Caris LeVert – Brooklyn Nets
LeVert, much like Mirotic, had a blazing hot start to his season. LeVert was electrifying, hitting game winners and wowing the crowds of the NBA night after night. Unfortunately, LeVert suffered a gruesome leg injury that put him out of the game for most of the season. He has just recently returned to the lineup, but he hasn’t been the same. LeVert has even been coming off the bench recently, which is something nobody expected to see earlier this season. Unfortunately, this range of players in the eighties are populated by players who have suffered an injury, and returned unable to recreate the same caliber of play. LeVert has still been a solid player, who continues to improve slowly but surely. He sits now at 14 points per game, in just 27 games played, 21 of those as a starter. Levert also approaches free agency soon, it will be interesting to see if the Nets elect to match offers that other teams will definitely be looking to give LeVert this summer. LeVert earlier this season may have been a top 50 player, but he still ranks among the top 100 with his recent play taken into account (averaging just 9.5 points per game since his return to the court).
84: Domantas Sabonis – Indiana Pacers
Coming off last season, Sabonis was considered one of the more promising players to come for the Pacers. Following his trade from OKC with Oladipo, Sabonis has continued to get better each an every season. Sabonis was also a key player in the Pacers near takedown of Lebron’s Cavs in last year’s playoffs. Since his impressive playoff play, Sabonis has come off the bench most of his games, starting only 9 of 63 of the games. Despite coming off the bench, Sabonis has continued to increase his points per game, now above 14. Sabonis should be considered a dark horse for sixth man of the year race. Obviously Sabonis can’t be considered in the race with Lou Williams and Derrick Rose, but he could be the third man in the race. Sabonis was expected to get an increased role with superstar guard Victor Oladipo going down for the year, however he actually didn’t see much more playing time, nor more usage. Sabonis has simply been forced to work harder to achieve what he wants. This paid off. Sabonis was previously considered a side player in the PG Dipo trade, however he has evolved into a contributing member to the extremely deep Pacers team, has and will be extremely important to the Pacers playoff success. I look forward to seeing if Sabonis can emerge as the Pacers go to scorer come playoff time.
83: Rudy Gay – San Antonio Spurs
Rudy Gay was a household league name for almost a decade. After a promising rookie season, Gay has been one of the most consistent players this league has seen for the past 11 years. Wherever he’s traded, Gay continues to thrive season after season as a reliable scorer and defender. Last season was not the same story for Rudy, he played in just 57 of 82 possible games and dealt with an unfortunate series of injuries. Even in his 57 games, Gay had career lows he had not seen since his rookie season. Following the disappointing season, Gay worked hard this offseason, and it has shown, Gay has re emerged as a solid supporting player for the Spurs as he boosts his points per game back up to a reasonable amount. The best thing about Gay this season, is that he’s currently shooting 51.3% from the field, which is exceptionally high for Gay, who has only ever averaged 47% at best and just 45% throughout his entire career. Rudy Gay provides reliable scoring for the Spurs, who are looking to make some noise in the playoffs. If Gay can stay healthy for the rest of the season, he will certainly be used advantageously as the Spurs attempt to reassume dominance over as many western conference teams as possible. The Spurs have a good one, they need to focus on keeping him healthy though, as this has been an issue for Rudy Gay for a few years now. Also he might need to take a bit of a pay cut, as he will be a free agent this summer, and currently makes a hefty ten million dollars for the Spurs. Although he’s been good lately, I doubt the Spurs or any other team will be looking to give the veteran a deal any bigger than his current one.
82: Otto Porter Jr. – Chicago Bulls
Otto Porter Jr. has been someone highly regarded in the league since he was selected in the NBA draft. He earned a near max contract with the Wizards, in hope that he would be the next John Wall for Washington. The Wizards instead decided to commit to Beal, and traded Porter to Chicago. Since being traded to Chicago, Otto Porter Jr. has been exceptional. After a relatively slow start to the season, Otto Porter now sits above 17 points per game, which is extremely exceptional, especially since just before the All Star break, he had only recorded an average 12 points per game. Following a big minutes increase, the Bulls have made it clear they intend for Otto Porter to be one of the key pieces of their future. Despite playing in just 15 games for the Bulls so far, Porter Jr is one of the best shooters in the league. Otto is shooting 48.8% from three point range, shockingly higher than his still impressive 48.3% field goal percentage. What this shows us is that Otto has become a go to shooter for the Bulls, and if he hasn’t already, could emerge as one of the deadliest catch and shoot players in the league. Porter doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what he does, this is mostly because his exceptionally large contract overshadows all the good things he is doing on the court. Porter has three more years to prove himself worthy of his max contract given to him by the Wizards last year, this start with the Bulls is a great start to Porter’s journey of escaping mediocrity. The only reason I don’t have Porter higher is because of his lackluster play for Washington, and just the fact that he has only had 15 games to prove himself worthy to the Bulls. Perhaps it’s a fluke, or perhaps we’re seeing the new era of Otto Porter on the Bulls.
81: TJ Warren – Phoenix Suns
TJ Warren is one of the most underrated players in this league, however he’s not one of the best. Warren is commonly conceived as a average role player who may or may not be worthy of a starting spot on the Phoenix Suns. Once again, due to his contract he is often underappreciated for what he brings to the court. Warren finished last season just falling short of the 20 points per game mark. This season, Warren is sitting above 18 points per game. This makes him the second highest scorer on the Suns, ahead of DeAndre Ayton, Kelly Oubre and only coming up behind Devin Booker. Warren is also enjoying his best shooting season yet, seeing a near 20% boost in his three point percentage. Sadly, Warren has been sidelined quite a while now with a right ankle injury. Warren said in an interview this was tough on him, I can only imagine, Warren was having another great season, and is so close to breaking through onto the NBA scene. Unfortunately I don’t see Warren being a candidate for most improved player, but it’s for the right reason, he averages nearly as many points as all star D’Angelo Russell, yet he’s not even considered top 20 in his position by most fans. Warren seems to be a player who will progressively march onto the elite basketball scene, only 25 years old, Warren offers even more hope to a Suns fan base that has so much to be excited about right now. Get healthy TJ! (He might be healthy by the time I publish this article).
80: Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons
No matter what Instagram page you’re looking at, you have seen Reggie Jackson somehow appear in some kind of weird ESPN stat. Statistically, Reggie Jackson is one of the most clutch players in the NBA. He hits an average three points per game in clutch time (Oladipo leads the league with 5). Surprisingly enough, Jackson has continued to shoot the ball, and score, at the end of games, despite having Blake Griffin on the roster, who as well has been extremely clutch for the Pistons. Obviously Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin come to mind when thinking about the Pistons star players, but Reggie Jackson should not be considered far behind. Everything he does doesn’t always show up in the box score, although lots of it does, Jackson is an excellent floor general and consistently performs whatever is asked of him on the Pistons. He isn’t a great perimeter shooter, which he could improve in order to maintain longevity to his career. His perimeter shooting might actually be the only thing holding him back, as he currently sits at just 37.3% from three. Jackson also could take on a better playmaking role, as he is the starting point guard for a team with two great pick and role players. Assists to Drummond and Griffin should be a given for someone like Reggie who gets a lot of minutes, as well as a high usage rate.
79: Bojan Bogdanovic – Indiana Pacers
Bogdanovic has been a reliable scorer for the Pacers since his acquisition to Indiana last season. The now 29 year old forward has improved every season of his career so far. He currently sits above 17 points per game, and for a bigger player has surprisingly good shooting stats. On the topic of improvement, Bojan has actually improved EVERY major stat category over all five of his seasons so far. Notably, Bogdanovic has knocked down some crucial shots for the Pacers, and has been an extremely valuable, in each of his 70 starts this season. Bogey offers something many players don’t have, the ability to be both reliable, and play at an elite level. Very few players who score over 15 a game can be consistent day in and day out (especially those who aren’t quite superstars). At the same time, Bojan can take over games and score big games, highlighted by his 37 point season high. If the Pacers put the ball in Bogey’s hands, they’re putting it in the hands of one of the most consistent, borderline star players this league has to offer. Bogdanovic is someone who is extremely underappreciated for his ability to score at a high level, at a high rate.
78: Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets
When you think of the Denver Nuggets this season, you’re thinking about Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Isaiah Thomas or maybe Michael Porter Jr. Someone that often gets lost in the Nuggets hype is the Nuggets starting shooting guard, Gary Harris. Last season, Harris was beginning to emerge as a top tier player in the league, cracking 17 points per game, also putting up a high field goal percentage throughout the season. Harris was also a defensive machine, proving to be one of the more promising two way player for the future. Unfortunately for Harris, he has slumped big time this season. After constantly improving every season of his career, Harris has dropped back down to 13 points per game, which is very average. He has however experience a big minutes decrease, this is in part due to Jamal Murray’s surge, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris emergence onto the scene, and Isaiah Thomas’ mid season success returning from hi injury. Harris hasn’t been bad especially for how many minutes he’s been playing as of late. The Nuggets have also announced they will be reducing the roles of certain players in the rotation. Harris maintains his spot in the rotation, which is good news as he will probably be given the chance to prove himself once again as the Nuggets look at a deep playoff run.
77: Jaren Jackson Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies
Prior to an unfortunate thigh injury that will likely keep Grizzlies newly drafted rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. out for the rest of the season, the rookie big man was having a great first season. Jackson wasn’t given big minutes, as most rookies can relate to, but what Jackson was doing for the Grizzlies was extremely promising. In his 58 games played this season, Jackson has led all rookies in blocks per game (this is until his injury) and also was looking to be a solid post scorer. One of the most electrifying things about Jaren was how he could hit deep threes despite being just short of seven feet tall. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a great reminder of the bigs of the past, and also a look to the future. A beautiful mix between a classic defensive scoring big, and a modern shooting big which is something we’re seeing a lot of in these draft classes. Jaren will certainly be a player who rises on this list every single year. Grizzlies fans must be very excited to have JJJ back on the court, as they look to make some noise in the Western Conference once again next year. The Grizzlies also will look to have another draft pick this year, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Grizzlies can put with Jaren this season.
76: Dennis Schroder – Oklahoma City Thunder
When Schroder was sent to OKC this offseason, many people were expecting Dennis to be the sixth man of the year without contest. Even NBA 2K19 predicted he would take home the award. While Dennis hasn’t been as good as he was last season, as expected since he’s coming off the bench, Dennis has still be a strong asset to the Thunder. Despite coming off the bench for all but 13 games this season, Dennis is the Thunder’s third leading scorer behind Westbrook and Paul George. As well, behind Westbrook, Dennis is the second highest in assists per game on the Thunder. Schroder has been exceptional for the Thunder, however he’s just short of being in contention for sixth man of the year. If Dennis wants to work his way into the race in the future, he’ll need to improve his shooting, as well become a better defensive threat. Dennis has shown a lot of maturity this season, and will continue to grow, if all goes well for him, we could see a potential breakout candidate, whether for the Thunder or another team that decides to pursue the young playmaker.
75: Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls
Lauri Markkanen is redefining the sophomore season for NBA players. The sophomore slump is a common word used to signify a lack of success, following a plethora of success. This has not been the case for Lauri. Following a tough injury 68 games through the season last year, Markkanen was sidelined until part way through this year. Many speculated that the best was over with Lauri, however he has bounced back wonderfully, now sitting above 18 points per game. He is also a very reliable rebounder for the Bulls nearly pulling down 9 of them per game. This Finnisher as some call him, has been shaky with his shooting, but overall not too bad. One of the best aspects of Markkanen’s game is how he plays way above his age. When you watch Lauri play, he plays with such maturity, discipline and composure, which is a trait that only our league’s greatest have shown, like Lebron James. Now don’t get upset, I didn’t just compare Lauri Markkanen to one of the best scorers of all time, I just feel the need to point out that Lauri is a player that will only get better with time, however a prime in his earlier years is very likely, as he is so close to breaking through onto the elite stardom scene.
74: Paul Millsap – Denver Nuggets
The best may be over for Millsap. After a couple of nice seasons with Atlanta and Utah, Millsap now stands in Denver. Having missed over half of his available games this season and last season, we haven’t truly gotten to see the Paul Millsap that we saw in Atlanta just two years ago. Paul has declined and is currently clogging the Nuggets cap big time. As a player, Millsap is a solid defender, with some scoring ability, but notably a fiery style that makes him tough to match up against. My only concern with Millsap is that he seems somewhat out of place. The Nuggets are a young developing team, and Millsap is an experienced veteran. It would make sense if Millsap wanted to take on a leadership role in Denver, but he might fit somewhere better, perhaps Brooklyn if that’s the case. Millsap still contributes over 13 points per game for the Nuggets, one of seven players to average double digit scoring on the Nuggets. He’s also the second best rebounding option on his team, only to Jokic. Overall, Millsap is a very solid, experienced player that has a team lots to offer, but might not be in the right situation to do so. I do believe Millsap likes playing with the Nuggets, but he might see an increased role on a team that would be willing to make him the go-to big man on the court.
73: Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are faced with a tough situation. They’re too good. Ibaka is among Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam as elite big men. The hard fact that the Raptors are struggling to accept, is one of them need to be benched, and it shouldn’t be Pascal. Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka have been trading places at the center spot since Gasol was acquired by the Raptors at the trade deadline. Ibaka has been moved to C officially on the Raptors website, which could be problematic, as Ibaka is slightly shorter (6’10 guarding players who are up to 7’2) than his competitors. Gasol provides a better defensive matchup against taller players. So Ibaka is starting to slip out of the Raptors starting lineup. But the cool thing here is, Serge is responding to the threat of being removed from the starters extremely well, in fact, Ibaka is playing as good, better in some aspects, than he did in his hey day with the Finals bound Thunder. This came as a surprise to Raptors fans, who had assumed following a declining performance last year that Ibaka would fall to a rotational player this season. Ibaka has done an excellent job fighting back and proving he is still a worthy starter in the NBA. Ibaka’s best chance to stay afloat in Toronto will be the playoffs that are coming ahead. The Raptors are serious contenders for a title, and if all the Raptors players are healthy, we could see at least a finals appearance. Ibaka will need to play his best basketball these playoffs if he wants to get that championship ring he was so close to over 5 years ago.
72: DeAndre Jordan – New York Knicks
Just when you thought the era of DJ was over, a revival in New York appears. What many people don’t realize is that DeAndre’s revival actually started in Dallas, where he famously “fixed his free throw shooting”. This has been a great step for Jordan, who proves to us that no matter how many years you’ve been playing, there’s always a chance to get better. Jordan did an excellent job at perfecting his weaknesses (although he has yet to attempt a three pointer this season). Jordan has been explosive for the Knicks since his trade, and is looking to have great chemistry with Dennis Smith Jr. Jordan has not ever shot better free throw percentage than his FG%, which says a lot of good things about his FG%, but this season marks DJ’s first season where he is truly effective from the line. Although we aren’t seeing the same Deandre that threw down windmills on people’s heads 5 years ago, we are seeing a much more composed and disciplined player who has and will be a solid piece for the Knicks future. The Knicks will need to maintain DJ and make sure he can continue to play at a high level, so that when it’s winning time in New York, Deandre can lead the young team to a playoff berth and dare I say, chip. (relax Knicks fans you’ve still got a few years).
71: Jusuf Nurkic – Portland Trail Blazers
You’ve probably heard of this guy. Whether it was about him tripping Russell Westbrook, or having some serious on court beef with multiple players, or even getting dunked on by Lebron… Jusuf has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It cannot be ignored, however, that Nurkic is actually playing basketball at a high level. Despite being incapable of scoring a three pointer at a somewhat decent rate, Nurkic is a walking double double. One of 14 players in the league to average double digit rebounds, Nurkic is a very solid big man that the Blazers can look forward to seeing a lot of production out of come playoff time. As we know, a strong big man is essential to team success, Nurkic fits this build perfectly. Nurkic is also one of the best defending big men in the league, and it extremely underappreciated for this. Nurkic is one of seven players in the league to average at least one block per game and a steal per game, interestingly enough, only Anthony Davis, Giannis, Andre Drummond and Nurkic average at least 1 block per game and at least 1.4 steals per game. Obviously the first three names come to mind when thinking about defensive superstars, but Nurkic needs to be included in the same class of defensive skill as these players. If he can get his offensive game up a little bit, Nurkic could emerge as one of the better big men this league will have to offer around five years from now.
70: Josh Richardson – Miami Heat
Initially, I had JRich quite a bit lower on this list. But I decided to give him a chance, and look into him further. I discovered that I had indeed misjudged his ranking. I now have him here, primarily because of his all around ability to score, pass, rebound, steal and block. What I hadn’t truly realized was that Richardson is actually one of the best all around players in the league. Also one of the most underrated all around players. When thinking of all around players, Josh Richardson doesn’t usually come to mind. Miami Heat fans finally have something to look forward to other than DWade’s farewell tour. A franchise that has endured suffering and pain for quite a few years now could have found their savior. The only thing that is holding Richardson back is his flakey jump shot. He is declining in efficiency from long range, and continuously declining in field goal percentage as well. Despite this, the Heat have continued to increase his role and are seeing results not only that show on the box score, but that change the momentum of games on the court. Richardson is an electrifying player with great intensity that many people fail to recognize when considering potential breakout stars.
69: Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers
Whether you love BBB and the Ball family, or have a immense hatred for Lonzo Ball, one cannot ignore the effect he has had on the Lakers this season. After going down with an injury, the Lakers have been awful. They lack a playmaker and relief for Lebron, exactly what Lonzo provided. You might argue that Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson are all just as capable (all just as injured as well) but Lonzo isn’t someone that will just put up raw points, Ball is a floor general, and actually not a bad shooter. He has improved dramatically since last season and actually could step into a scoring role for the Lakers. Ball’s best characteristic is certainly his intense defense. Ball has held many elite point guards like Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard and many more to very low scoring games. Ball is not afraid to get aggressive and is one of the hardest working defensive players, certainly young defensive players, in the league. Ball has the skill set to be a great player, however he has struggled to stay healthy through the early portion of his career, which simply isn’t giving him enough time and experience to grow into the elite point guard that Magic Johnson and the Lakers had hoped he’d be. Hopefully Ball stays healthy next season and can improve to reach his true potential.
68: Montrezl Harrell – Los Angeles Clippers
Montrezl Harrell has been a major boost to the Clippers super power bench. Lou Williams has certainly been great, but Harrell has been just as good. Harrell has broken through as one of the candidates for most improved player, and sixth man of the year. Harrell has also proven worthy to have the ball in his hands in late game situations, as he has been very consistent from the field. Harrell also provides great defensive consistency and can stretch to lockdown players out of his position. I really like Montrezl, he is someone that I would be comfortable building my franchise around if I were the Clippers GM. The Clippers are obviously not a serious contender, but they are still a playoff team, and Montrezl Harrell will have an opportunity to lead the Clippers to a successful playoff season. They will be playing the Warriors or Nuggets, which are obviously not great matchups for the Clippers, but Harrell will need to step up big if the Clippers hope to at least make some noise in the playoffs.
67: Brandon Ingram – Los Angeles Lakers
The third LA player in a row. Ingram reigns superior however, as he is commonly conceived as the future of this league. The Lakers team has been nothing short of disappointing, they are flooded with injuries and are looking to miss the playoffs once again. Ingram was one of the players who went down, in his case an arm injury. Ingram did receive successful surgery and should be ready to go next season. This season however, Ingram played very well. In his third season Ingram has boosted his points per game up to 18, which is a big step from last year. The only aspect of Ingram’s game that didn’t improve this season was his three point shooting which has fallen 6% from last season. His field goal percentage has increased, just short of 50%, which is extremely respectable for a small forward player, especially like Ingram who is a top option for the Lakers, apart from Lebron of course. Ingram is still waiting for a superstar season, and this could be in store for the 21 year old star. When Ingram is back healthy, and if Kuzma, Lonzo, Lebron and the rest of the Lakers are in good health, I can see the Lakers returning to the glory days next season, and beyond.
66: Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
If you’ve checked the NBA stat leaders, or have any interest in basketball and the NBA, you may know that Myles Turner leads the league in total blocks and blocks per game. It’s honestly been a fight to convince the world that Myles Turner is a top 66 player in the league. Many people I consulted about this list actually envisioned him being higher up. Personally, I feel this is where Turner belongs, he’s an elite defensive big who is the first player you want protecting the rim on a fast break. Half of Turner’s game, is without flaw, balanced as all things should be, which begs the question why isn’t Turner up there with players who are known for their defense like Kawhi, Gobert, Embiid. The simple answer is, while Turner’s defense is phenomenal, his offensive skill is simply non-existent. Turner’s only offensive upside is his surprisingly high three point percentage, despite few attempts. If Turner works on his game over the summer, he could be a leader for the next generation of sharp shooting big men, something big’s are phasing towards more and more. Turner should also simply work on becoming a better scorer. For a center, being under 50% is underwhelming, so this rough patch in Turner’s game is all that’s holding him back from a big boost in the league.
65: Malcolm Brogdon – Milwaukee Bucks
After winning the rookie of the year award, Malcolm Brogdon fell into a hole of mediocrity last season. Despite slight improvements, the Bucks weren’t satisfied with Brogdon after a promising first year. This year, Brogdon was given an opportunity to run the show in Milwaukee. He certainly capitalized. Brogdon started off the season missing just one free throw on 78 attempts. This gained him some attention, and people have now started looking at Brogdon with a lot more respect. Brogdon averages very high shooting percentages, especially for a guard. He is also becoming a reliable backup playmaker to Eric Bledsoe. Brogdon was struck with another tragedy when he went down with a “minor plantar fascia tear” in his right foot. Nobody really knows what that means, but in short, a foot injury that could keep Brogdon sidelined for a considerable amount of time. When I did some research on the injury, it said that it could take up to twelve weeks to fully heal. This is bad news for the Bucks, who don’t have 12 weeks to take a heave at a title this season. Many experts are now saying that Brogdon’s injury makes the Raptors the new favorite in the East. The fact that Brogdon is being credited with that much of the Bucks success just shows how valuable and underappreciated he truly his. It will be interesting to see when the Bucks bring back Brogdon though, as some forms of the foot injury can heal in just two weeks. Brogdon is someone who’s presence will certainly be felt if he can return for the Buck hopeful deep playoff run.
64: Marc Gasol – Toronto Raptors
Since his surprise (or not depending on who you ask) trade to the Raptors, Marc Gasol has been caught in a battle for the starting spot on the Raptors. Gasol and Ibaka are currently alternating starts for the Raptors, depending on the matchup. I like this for Toronto, and I like Gasol for Toronto. Despite Gasol seeing a humungous minutes decrease in Toronto, and his first time ever averaging less than 10 points per game in his career, Gasol has been a solid player for Toronto. He’s only averaging 9 points, and 7 rebounds with Toronto, but he is only playing 22 minutes per game, which is like what second round draft picks sometimes get. If this article were post trade deadline only, Gasol would be much lower, maybe not even included on the list, and if this were a pre trade deadline article, Gasol would be top 50 easily. Gasol was having a great season in Memphis, which balances out with his rough start in Toronto. Overall Gasol just isn’t being used the way Memphis was using him. When Gasol is given the ball, he is usually quite effective, however the Raptors still don’t seem comfortable running the offense around this long time Grizzlies member. If the Raptors want to take down a competitive eastern conference, they will need to utilize one of their strongest weapons in Marc Gasol.
63: Deandre Ayton – Phoenix Suns
This is someone that you guys voted in to his position. Initially, I had my doubts about Ayton, I like some others were skeptical. He’s only a rookie, and I haven’t really been hearing about him as much as I hear about Trae and Doncic. Ayton won a popularity vote which earned him a position over Gasol. When I looked into Ayton, I learnt he’s actually been playing really well this season. He’s average a 16 point double double on very high shooting percentages. It’s just so unusual that we don’t hear much about the first overall pick in the NBA draft. Ayton may just be the most underrated rookie on his draft class, funny how that works. Ayton has already dropped 33 this season, which for a rookie who is not usually known for his scoring, is quite impressive. The only disappointment in Ayton’s game so far this season is his defense, which he was praised for in college. Ayton doesn’t even average a full block or steal per game, players like Richaun Holmes are hitting over a block per game… Ayton hasn’t done a great job early of making his defensive presence felt yet, but this doesn’t mean Ayton won’t be a star, the great thing about defense is that it can easily come with hard work. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll get stops. This summer Ayton will want to play in some serious pick up games or scrimmage where he can focus on committing to blocks and forcing NBA fans to remember his name.
62: Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks
People aren’t going to like this one, for two reasons. First, there seems to be a group of people that think Trae Young is extremely overrated, and is a complete bust who thinks he’s Steph Curry because he pulls up from deep and sometimes makes them. Second, there’s also a group of people who think Trae Young is the second coming of Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Brian Scalabrine and Kobe combined. I am here to be the happy medium. While there is no doubt that Trae Young can be shaky from the field, he has proven that he can take over in clutch situations. If we look back to the game of the year, Atlanta vs Chicago 4OT shootout, Trae Young was so clutch. Just incredible. Young is also one of the best playmakers in the entire league, in his rookie year. There’s no doubt that when Trae Young continues to become more disciplined and stop grabbing technical fouls (or not), he will become a top tier player. Now there’s also the point worth mentioning, if Trae Young did what he does now in ten years, nobody would be impressed. Trae still has a lot of growing to do. While he can pull up from deep, he will need to increase his discipline and let the hype leave him unphased. Young also has proven to us that he can stay healthy, which is always something that knocks out at least a couple of the best players in the draft. The Hawks really have it all in their grasp, but they can’t get carried away and let Trae chuck up shots from wherever he wants. The process in Atlanta will be a fun one to watch, as there is no doubt that Trae Young is one of the most electrifying players in the NBA… and he’s only 20!!!
61: Jonas Valanciunas – Memphis Grizzlies
Raptors fans are shaking their heads in dismay right now. It didn’t seem like the Val era in Toronto was working out this season. Following his trade to Memphis, Valanciunas has been incredible. His points per game have been boosted to 17, rebounds up to 8 and even showing some playmaking ability, breaking 2 assists per game for the first time in his career. Valanciunas has also been ranked the fourth most effective post up player this season. The 26 year old center has truly broken on to the scene in Memphis, where he seems to have found a perfect situation. Jonas has been an extremely effective duo with Mike Conley, which is comforting for the Grizzlies, who nearly traded Conley to Utah this year. Valanciunas has also incorporated some three point shooting into his game recently. The Grizzlies lack shooting, so letting JVal take a few threes here and there might be beneficial. Valanciunas has a player option this off season. I don’t see any reason why he declines, he’s in a good situation for himself. If the Grizzlies can keep Conley here, a wonderful duo could rise out of Memphis. Don’t forget about Jaren, and whoever they decide to draft this season. I think Val was a great addition to the Grizzlies roster, one that is certainly pay off, a he enjoys the best portion of his career so far.
60: Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder
Aquaman, or the Big Kiwi himself, whatever you call him, we all know Adams for his bubbly personality, great basketball skill, major glow up, and unusually manly look. Since being drafted into the league by OKC, Steven Adams has done exactly what the team wants from him. Adams bulked up, has improved every year of his career and stayed loyal to the franchise. For the second year in a row, Adams is averaging above 60% from the field. He is also very close to averaging a double double, which is a high achievement. One thing that many people don’t realize about Adams, is that he is extremely skilled at stealing the ball… better than blocking actually. Adams averages 1.5 steals per game, more than Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker and many more big names. One aspect of Stephen Adams’ game this is killing him, is just shooting anything other than a dunk or a layup. Adams has yet to hit a three in his career, and currently sits at a very low 51% from the free throw line. This awful percentage ranks Adams dead last in FT percentage among eligible players. So yes, Steven Adams is the worst free throw shooter in the league, and has yet to hit a three, both key flaws that will need to be addressed if Adams hopes to continue his improvement curve. For now, Adams is still a reliable player who knows his role on the floor and does his job every single night.
59: Spencer Dinwiddie – Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have no shortage of elite young guards. Spencer Dinwiddie has been the second best player on his team this season, with only DLo ahead, Caris LeVert just behind. Dinwiddie is also having a breakthrough season. His points per game are at 17 at the moment, which is a big increase from 12 last year, despite playing nearly the same amount of minutes attempting around the same amount of shots. Dinwiddie has simply, improved. No extra opportunities have been handed to him, yet his field goal percentage has increased dramatically, and his on court efficiency, defensive effort, leadership and all around ability to play basketball are all continuing to grow. Many people fail to realize that Dinwiddie is still very young, nearing his 26th birthday in early April. I’m sure the Nets are very excited about Dinwiddie. My only problem is that I feel like he deserves a minutes increase. Dinwiddie has shown he can work hard to accomplish his goals, and quite often goes off for 30+ points. Despite all this Dinwiddie still comes off the bench and plays rotational minutes around DLo. This man has been playing great, and should be rewarded, I’d like to see 30+ minutes, and maybe a starting job where him and DLo run the two guard spots. Coming off the bench is still a good idea, but he deserves more minutes so he can continue to improve and reach his sky high potential.
58: Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
Honestly, the return of Demarcus Cousins has killed Draymond Green. His value is declining, his contract isn’t getting cheaper, but he is still a solid player. Green averages a very lucky 7 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Maybe I should’ve ranked him the 77th best player in the league, but that would be too low. Draymond has adapted to a decreased role by doing something very few big men do, passing the ball. Only Draymond and Nikola Jokic have truly mastered the ability to take the ball to the rack, as well as dish out passes for teammates. Draymond is also a great defender, he averages over 1 block and steal per game, which is a must have if you want to be considered a major defensive threat. However he is getting less steals and less blocks than he has gotten in the past. After three consecutive all star appearances, Green came up short this season, and it could prove to be a turning point in Green’s career. The other aspect holding Draymond back is his shooting, which has been utterly horrendous this year, especially when shooting from behind the three point line. Draymond’s unorthodox “backpack shooting” form has gotten him a lot of attention, this strange shooting form could be the issue, as Draymond is making just 26% of his three point attempts. Regardless, I like Draymond for what he’s good at, he knows his role, and has adapted well to the arrival of Cousins, I just wish he would hold back on the amount of shots he takes and focus more on helping the Warriors elsewhere on the court.
57. Danilo Gallinari – Los Angeles Clippers
Gallinari is a comeback player that not enough people are talking about. Gali’s name has been floating around the league for 10 years now, he’s never really emerged as a big name, and he’s only played 70 or more games for two of his ten seasons. Gali has also sat out over 50 games four times in his 10 year career. Gali also sat out a full season with an ACL tear five years ago, which is something that quite often changes the way a player moves and plays for the rest of his career. Gallinari has once again come out and proven everyone wrong, year after year. This year, Gallinari is averaging 19.5 points per game, which ties his career high he set for himself two years after his ACL injury. He is also averaging a career high in rebounds, and shooting his best percentage since his shortened rookie year. Gallinari has been a driving force for the Clippers, and been essential to the success the Clippers have been experiencing this season. Gallinari will likely be returning to the playoffs this season for the first time since the 2011-2012 playoffs. These playoffs, Gallinari was not playing his best ball, highlighted by his 17.4% three point shooting throughout his 7 games, and eventual first round defeat to Kobe’s Lakers. Gallinari will be looking to avenge this performance and seek an upset against either the Warriors, Nuggets or potentially Thunder.
56: John Collins – Atlanta Hawks
After a successful rookie season, John Collins has taken the league by storm. After averaging 10 points per game, but highlighted by his defense, Collins flipped the script, and now sits at 19.7 points per game. Collins leads the Hawks in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and field goals made + attempted per game. Collins has broken through, and whether or not anyone is willing to accept it, Collins will emerge as an all star very soon. The young duo of Collins and Young gives Hawks fans something to be excited about, but I think people need to be more excited about the Collins portion than the Trae portion. Collins is only going to get better, as he matures and develops into a star, his game is only going to evolve. I always like to shoutout big men who can shoot threes, and John Collins is one of those cases. Collins has a higher three point percentage than big name shooters like Kemba Walker, Kevin Durant, Lebron James, James Harden, Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons (am I wrong?). Collins still has lots of work to do, but he is certainly on the right path to success, and is thriving in a situation that indulges his needs very well.
55: Hassan Whiteside – Miami Heat
I don’t even know what to say here. Hassan Whiteside is the definition of inconsistent. The Miami Heat have all but given up on Whiteside and he will definitely be traded come the off season. Whiteside has been consistently playing under twenty minutes a game, which is a serious problem. This recent lack of playing time hasn’t been around all season however. Hassan has been averaging 24 minutes per game, which still isn’t great, but it’s enough to average a double double and two blocks per game. I think Whiteside is a great player, but there must be some kind of internal conflict within the Heat team, because despite getting a serious lack of playing time (played 5 minutes against OKC earlier) Whiteside continues to force the Heat to give him some playing time. We’ve seen Whiteside go off for 20 point 20 rebound games, very rare nowadways, but we have also seen Whiteside drop 2 points. For Whiteside, it’s all about becoming a consistent player while he still has the chance to do so. Talent doesn’t just disappear, and just a few short years ago, Hassan averaged a league leading 3.7 blocks per game and one put up 12 blocks in one game. The Heat are not doing a great job of capitalizing on this potential, especially as they look to keep a playoff spot against the Hornets, Magic and Wizards who are all hungry for the 7th and 8th seed. I sure would like to know the reasoning behind Whiteside’s lack of playing time. If anyone reading this has any insider information, I ask that they leave a comment so I can figure this out.
54: Julius Randle – New Orleans Pelicans
The Lakers seem to have a thing with trading/not resigning players who become successful. Julius Randle is a perfect example of this. Randle is the first player on this list to average over 20 points per game. This is a sharp rise from his previous 16 points per game he averaged in LA. Randle has stepped into the leading role in New Orleans following Anthony Davis’ fallout with the franchise. Perhaps Randle’s best quality is the fact that he makes New Orleans an attractive destination for players considering playing for the team. Randle won’t steal all the spotlight, ask for all the money, chuck up bad shots or hog the ball, Randle is a great teammate who is willing to do whatever it takes for wins. Randle will be a great duo with the surging Payton, plus whoever the Pelicans can get in the inevitable Anthony Davis trade. The next question we need to ask ourselves, is how much further does Julius Randle need to go in order to become an NBA All Star. Personally, I think Randle is one great season away from the honour.
53: Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers
Another successful rookie season story, Kyle Kuzma is back and even better. This season Kuzma has dropped 41 points in his career high. This is big news, especially when you have someone like Lebron playing on your team. Lebron doesn’t usually carry many players to score at a high level, the last one being Kyrie Irving. Kyle Kuzma could be Lebron’s next wingman. The Lakers were hoping that Kuzma would become an all star this season, however he still just isn’t quite there. Regardless I believe Kuzma is marginally the second best player on the Lakers. When Lebron was out with a groin injury, Kuz really stepped into the role of being the Lakers first option very well. It wasn’t enough though, the Lakers have been struggling to get any wins. Kuzma will need to step up a little more if he wants to crack into the top 50 players, something that really establishes a player as an elite name in our league. Obviously it’s a little bit too late this season for a Lakers surge, next year, the Lakers could emerge as a team that makes a deep playoff run, led by Kyle Kuzma and Lebron James.
52: Buddy Hield – Sacramento Kings
Buddy Hield has quickly emerged as a fan favorite player in the league. Boosting his points per game from 13 to 20 this season, Hield has established himself as a candidate for Most Improved Player this season. Hield’s new found elite play is founded in the grassroots of his knockdown shooting. Since being traded to Sacramento in the Demarcus à Pelicans deal, Hield has been extremely consistent from the field. Despite Hield only being ranked 52nd on this list, Hield is a top three shooter in the NBA. His shooting might be some of the best in the league. The only reason I kept Hield out of the top 50, is because he seems like a somewhat one dimensional player. Hield relies so heavily on his shooting that it seems like he sacrifices other aspects of his game in favor of his shooting. Hield takes almost half of his shots from beyond the arc. At the same time, Hield may be making the right choice, as his commitment to the three pointer has certainly paid off in his quest to become the most improved player of the 2018-2019 season.
51: Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets
The Blue Arrow continues to impress us. Murray has yet again gotten better, his scoring is improving, he’s becoming a better playmaker and defender. Jamal famously dropped 48 points against the Celtics, and attempted a controversial buzzer beater despite being up a bunch. Kyrie Irving was very unhappy with this and chucked the game ball into the crowd so Jamal wouldn’t be able to get it. Jamal also dropped 46, his second 40+ point game of the season, just a month after his 48 point game. Jamal Murray is also a fast, skilled player who is very very good in the clutch. I see Jamal as someone who could average 25 points, 10 assists and a couple steals within the next 5 years. This is obviously a high demand, but Murray is only 21, and has a lot of developing to do. Jamal should work to increase his three point efficiency, this could be the final piece to Jamal’s impressive skillset. The Nuggets also have clinched a playoff spot, and we will now get to see what playoff Jamal can do. The playoffs are a different atmosphere, so Jamal will either rise to the challenge, or fall into the deep rotation of the Nuggets guards.
50: Lou Williams – Los Angeles Clippers
The idea of a sixth man of the year becoming an all star is something that very few players have accomplished. Lou Williams came so close, this year and last year. If anyone deserves the this, it’s either Derrick Rose, or Lou Williams. Lou has been sooooooo good for the Clippers this year, in fact, he’s simply been the best play for the Clips. After Tobias Harris was traded, Lou took over. Despite coming off the bench every single game this year, Lou is the guy the Clippers want taking the last shot. Lou famously hit the deep three that won the game for the Clippers at the buzzer over the Nets in OT. This is exactly why the Clippers want Lou leading their team. As for his season statistically, Lou is above his career averages in pretty much every major statistic category. In his thirteenth season in the NBA, Williams continues to be extremely effective off the bench. In my opinion, Williams’ lack of ego is what makes him so great, the fact that Williams a superstar, and is still willing to come off the bench for the good of the team. This gives Lou value that outshines any amount of statistics that Williams can put up.
49: Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
After a promising season last year, and an even better playoffs, Clint Capela had it all lined up for himself. Capela has once again shown improvement, despite a slow start to the season. I really like Clint Capela, I think he’s in the best possible place for his development. Chris Paul and James Harden make Capela better, which is exactly what you want as a young big man entering the league. Capela is still looking for his first all star appearance, and truthfully this season he deserved it. Unfortunately a poorly timed hand injury kept Capela sidelined during the all star voting process. Obviously with news Capela would be out over a month, it was hard to convince fans and other voters to vote for Capela, who would be out for the game anyways. Capela is a good scorer, but a better rebounder. He currently sits at sixth in rebounds per game. As well Capela is a fighter, he will fight for the offensive boards, currently ranked 4th in the league in offensive rebounds behind only Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert and Steven Adams. The thing that separates Capela from the rest of these names is that he is a defensive threat, but still possesses a great offensive talent that shows us Capela could be the next big two way big man. I look forward to seeing playing Capela returning to throw down lobs and rack up some blocks as the Rockets make a push for a title.
48: Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
Supporting stars are crucial to team success. Khris Middleton might be the perfect example of a great supporting star. Despite declining this season, Khris Middleton still received his first all star honors. Despite being hilariously outshined statistically by his fellow all stars, Middleton has stood his ground and continued to play his game, his way. Never letting stats cloud his vision, Middleton is a humble player who just wants to help the Bucks win. Obviously Giannis is having a great season, but the Bucks impressive season comes from a deeper source. Middleton is shooting solid numbers, dishing out solid dimes and rebounding at a career high rate. Middleton is also a strong defender, but doesn’t get any blocks, which is something Middleton needs to use, as his height gives him an advantage over many of his opponents. Middleton also has a ton of playoff experience, which will certainly help him when the Bucks make this run they’re shaping up to take. I consider Middleton the X Factor on the Bucks, his success usually leads to the Bucks success, and is a direct reflection of how the game goes for Milwaukee. Middleton isn’t a volume scorer, although he proves he could be on occasion, perhaps if Middleton were on a team where he was a star he could grow into his position as an all star and gain a little bit more respect from the mainstream media.
47: De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
Last year’s slow start to the season has left Fox hungry for success. This season, Fox is truly proving himself as a future star in this league. De’Aaron was making a push to be selected for the all star team in his rookie year, ultimately coming up short. Fox is ridiculously fast, and is exactly who you want starting your fast breaks. The other aspect that is improved about Fox is his shooting. Fox was praised as an explosive shooter coming out of college, in his first NBA season, he had a hard time adjusting to the league, and found little success when the ball was in his hands. This season, Fox has not only shot better, he has also evolved his game to become a pass first point guard. Fox currently averages over 7 assists per game, this ranks him among the top playmakers in the league, in just his second year. His nickname Swipa is also ironically creating a defensive identity for Fox. Fox averages almost two steals per game, and is extremely crafty and annoying for players to deal with. Draymond Green said in a post game interview that he hopes they don’t face the Kings in the playoffs, because Fox and the Kings have such a high playing pace and never waste time. I’m sure Draymond speaks for the entire league when he says he goes home sore after every game against the Kings. Hopefully the Kings can make a late season playoff push, but hopes are diminishing. Next season could be special for the Kings, who will only get better with time.
46: Derrick Rose – Minnesota Timberwolves
I absolutely love Derrick Rose, I think I speak for the majority of NBA fans when I say Derrick is one of my top 10 favorite players. It was hard to put my sentiment behind me, because Derrick Rose’s overall season wasn’t over the top spectacular. Sure Derrick dropped 50, and had us all crying, but the comeback season narrative is being blown a little bit out of proportion. This season, Rose was only able to play in 51 games, and has now been shut down for the rest of the season. Unfortunately I have to say this for how it is, Derrick Rose’s season was once again plagued by injuries. Almost every other game Rose was forced t sit out with a tweaky ankle. Now for the last portion of the season Rose is out for good with a bone chip in his elbow. I hate to break it to you guys, but Derrick is averaging 18 points per game, which is a) not all star caliber, and b) the same as he averaged in New York. Whether this is an overrated season for Rose, or his season in New York was underrated, this wasn’t a top 4 season for Rose. Rose also saw a huge pre all star break, including his 50 point game and multiple game winners. Since the break, we haven’t seen the same Rose. After starting the season with a league high three point percentage, Rose has only hit 1 three pointer since January 18th, going 1/30 in the last 17 games of his season. There’s no question that Derrick put us through a roller coaster of a season, being super clutch and of course dropping 50 including a game saving block, and it’s certainly hard for me to rank DRose 46th, but after consulting many people, and reflecting about life over the past few days it seems like a somewhat accurate ranking for Rose. This was THE HARDEST player to rank of all of them, without a doubt.
45: Al Horford – Boston Celtics
Al Horford is notorious for making the all star game in a bad season, and missing the all star game in his good seasons. This year, Horford came up short of being named an all star, however it was a tight battle. Horford was improved from last season, but honestly, he hasn’t gotten any better, nor worse since his second or third year. Regardless what team he plays on, you can always count on Horford to drop around 15 points for you and grab anywhere from 5-10 rebounds. These stats aren’t necessarily shockingly amazing, but the fact that Horford can consistently put up borderline all star numbers for his team season after season is pretty amazing. Horford is also a defensive threat, who can stretch to play big men, but is still very agile and able to get down and guard smaller players. This season he is also becoming an offensive threat in the making. Throughout his career, Horford has only ever carried a higher offensive rating than the one he carries this year ONE time. This was in 09-10 when Horford earned his first All Star Selection. The last thing I need to mention about Al is that he’s one of those players that doesn’t always get the credit they deserve simply because what they do doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. Horford is a great teammate who can takeover games and doesn’t let high pressure situations get the best of him. A great player for any team who wants an effective player who is also a strong leader and positive role model for younger players.
44: Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans
One thing many people don’t know about Jrue Holiday, is that he’s having the best year of his career. After being selected as an all star in 2013, Holiday watched his playing career fall downhill year after year. Holiday decided to resign with the Pelicans in order to stay with Anthony Davis, which was a good decision. Over the last two years, Holiday has averaged career high numbers in every stat category. This year Holiday is a 21 points per game player, and also dishes out very close to 8 assists per game, ranking him 6th among all eligible players in assists per game. But judging Holiday on his offensive skills but be unfair. Holiday is for sure the best defensive guard in the league. He is energetic, hard working, fast and shifty when defending his opponents. Holiday averages almost 2 steals per game which is near his career high. I think Holiday is extremely underrated, even by myself, his offensive value and potential are both quite high, and his defensive abilities are even higher. Holiday is exactly what the Pelicans need right now, they should make sure to keep him despite Anthony Davis’ soon to be departure. Holiday will be a great role model for players like Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle as they seek their paths to a career much like Holiday’s own career.
43: Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee Bucks
Since his first year in Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe has been a solid point guard in the league. This season, Bledsoe is on a bit of a decline, despite this, Bledsoe just resigned a big 4 year 70 million dollar extension with Milwaukee. This will keep Bledsoe on the Bucks for the next 5 seasons, meaning he’ll be a free agent when he’s 33 years old. I think this will be good for the Bucks short term, Bledsoe is still a reliable scorer and solid playmaker for the Bucks. The only problem with Bledsoe is that he doesn’t seem like a long term player that Milwaukee would want on their team for the next 5 years. Bledsoe is declining from the field, and his three point percentage isn’t seeing any improvement despite the constant need for that to change. It’s also worth noting that even though the Bucks are paying Bledsoe big money to stay with them, he is actually seeing a minutes decrease. This is probably due to Brogdon breaking through this year. This slight minutes decrease gives Bledsoe a little bit of a safety net of blame, since he’s technically still putting up the same numbers in his per 36 stats. As for right now, Bledsoe has the big task on the way of succeeding in the playoffs. Bledsoe is no stranger to playoff basketball, this will be his third time in the playoffs. Last year the Terry Rozier vs Bledsoe episode was epic, so I look forward to seeing what Bledsoe can do this year for a much stronger Bucks squad.
42: Tobias Harris – Philadelphia 76ers
A man of no true home, Tobias Harris has been traded over and over, now playing for his 5th NBA team in 7 years. No matter where he goes, Tobias proves to us that he is a flexible player who can thrive in any system. This makes him a strong asset, as whoever acquires him is pretty much guaranteed a player who can score, no matter what their role is. This season, Harris is averaging above 20 points per game for the first season of his career. Since his trade to Philadelphia for Landry Shamet, Harris is shooting exactly 50%, something he has also never done in his career. This year Harris also pushed for an all star, coming up just short of the achievement, however since the All star break, Harris has put himself in a great position to contend for a spot next season. The one lack with Harris’ game lately has been his three point shooting, which has not been great since his trade to Philly. Tobi also has some playoffs coming up, which he’s only been in once, and was swept with the Pistons. This year Philly looks better than Detroit did in 2015, so it’ll be interesting to see if Harris can step up a little bit for the Sixers as they battle their way to the top of the east.
41: Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers
We really haven’t gotten a solid portion of Kevin Love this season. Love went down in the first month of play and has just returned to play recently. In just 17 games, Kevin Love has been pretty solid. We can’t really say much about Kevin just yet, and he certainly won’t be playing many more games this season, as the Cavs are now clinched out of the playoffs. If Kevin is healthy next year, the Cavs might see some improvements, but Love won’t be enough to carry the Cavs to the playoffs. Still as an individual, I believe Kevin Love is a great player as an individual. In order for him to be effective on a team, the Cavs will either need to trade him to a team where he is a supporting star, or the Cavs will need to miraculously acquire a star player, which probably won’t be happening any time soon. Many people would rank Kevin Love lower, but the 17 games he has played this season have been pretty good, which is why I decided to put his injury aside and give him a respectable position.
40: Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry continues to surprise Raptors fans pleasantly. Quite often considered a candidate for a player who is due for a fall off, Kyle Lowry has been named an All Star all 5 of his last 5 seasons in the NBA. This offseason, the Demar-Kawhi trade really shook things up for Lowry, who is Demar’s best friend and long time teammate. Many people thought Kyle wouldn’t click with Kawhi like he did with Derozan. Much the opposite, Kyle has continued to keep his scoring up, but also boosted his assists per game immensely up to 9 assists per game. Prior to this season, Lowry had never averaged above 7.4 assists per game, so breaking 9 is a big step for Kyle. Lowry has clicked very well and continued to mould into his role on the Raptors. I do believe Lowry will once again be an all star next year, as he has shown great consistency, and the ability to play with many different styles of players. Kyle also has the playoffs coming up, however he was tripped and twisted his ankle in a game against the Knicks, whether or not he does come back to the playoffs he will need to be careful, as the Raptors are going to need him later in the playoffs.
39: Mike Conley – Memphis Grizzlies
Captain Conley, or Captain Clutch, the Grizzlies long time point guard has been through a ton these last few years. Just 2 years ago, Conley was having an incredible playoffs for the Grizzlies. Ultimately the Spurs defeated the Grizzlies, but Mike had an incredible playoffs full of incredible shots and averaged almost 25 points per game. The following year, Conley had to get season ending heel surgery that kept him to 12 games. Many thought it was over for Conley. This season, Conley bounced back big time, now having the best season of his career. Conley is averaging over 20 points per game, and since the all star game, he has been absolutely incredible. He has dropped 40, 35, 31, 30 and a ton of games over 25 points. Conley has also stepped up his passing game big time. Conley has dropped 10 or more assists in six games since the new year. Unfortunately, Conley stepped up his game a little bit too late, as now late in the season Conley is playing like a true superstar, despite the Grizzlies playoff hopes hitting rock bottom. I can confidently say that Conley deserves an all star spot, and he is worth the money he made this year. Conley is also a great leader, and an even better guy. Considered the most “perfect” player in the NBA, Conley has never received a technical foul, and never complains to referees about calls. I love Mike, and he has been phenomenal in setting up the Grizzlies extremely well for next season. I really wish we got to see playoff Conley return to battle this season, and almost got my wish when there were rumors of Conley being shipped to Utah this season. I think Conley is best staying in Memphis and retiring as the greatest member of the Grizzlies of all time.
38: Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic
Magic fans rejoice, your savior has arrived. Your savior also might be leaving soon. Vucevic surprisingly was named a member of the all star team this year. Vuc’s ability to do everything from volume scoring, elite playmaking, and incredible defense. Vucevic is the first member of the Orlando Magic since Dwight Howard to make the all star game. This is a huge honour for Nikola. However many Magic fans suspect their superstar big man could be on the move, as he will be a free agent this offseason, and other than being the star of the show, there’s nothing really left for Vooch in Orlando. The Magic fan base is at an all time low, which is not going to convince Vooch to stay, only to be welcomed by an empty fan base. If Orlando can’t convince Nikola to come back, they would be losing an elite big man who is only 27 and still has quite a few years of prime playing time left. If he does decide to return, it seems like Orlando can only go up from here. Their desire to acquire a new point guard could be exactly what Nikola needs to take the next step to his journey to stardom. Vucevic has slowed down a little bit as the Magic look to tank for a better pick, which hurts Nikola’s stock on this list a bit. Nikola will need to continue the pace that he played at near the beginning of the season if he wants to get back into the all star game and become a top 5 center in the league.
37: Chris Paul – Houston Rockets
CP3 has been on the downward spiral since leaving the Clippers for Houston. Obviously this will happen when you join James Harden, the hard reality is that if you’re on the floor with Harden, you’re not really going to get to shoot very much, and most of Hardens points come unassisted, so Chris Paul won’t really get to thrive. Personally, I think Chris Paul isn’t in the right situation. Paul needs a cutter so he can use his crafty court vision to do what he does best. James Harden doesn’t really provide Paul with any of that. Chris Paul does have great chemistry with Clint Capela though, so at least there’s some benefit to Paul being in Houston. Despite the obvious decline, as well as the injury issues that have been plaguing him, Chris Paul is still a solid scorer who helps the Rockets when the ball is in his hands. When the ball isn’t in his hands, like it has been his entire career, Paul isn’t really useful. He’s never been a force on defense, but his offensive game has always been considered some of the leagues finest. Paul will finally have the chance to play the whole playoffs, as last year he was actually really good, but a hamstring injury kept him out of the last few crucial games against the Warriors. This year, Paul has missed a ton of games, but Rockets fans are still optimistic that playoff Chris Paul is a force to be reckoned with, the only uncertainty is whether or not he can stay healthy. If he can, the Rockets could quickly become a top contender for a title.
36: DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs
Following one of the most shocking trades of the decade, DeMar DeRozan was shipped off to San Antonio with Jacob Poetl in exchange for Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. Since this trade, DeMar hasn’t been the same, missing out on an all star appearance this season. This may not have been deserving, as the only aspect of Demar’s game that has fallen is his three point shooting. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, DeMar now only hits 16% of the three point attempts his shoots. This is something DeMar needs to address as soon as possible. Regardless DeMar does have his own style, so it doesn’t serve DeMar’s game justice when I nitpick his three point abilities. Derozan is shooting better numbers from the field, which surprises me, especially since he wasn’t selected to the all star team this year. Overall, there’s no big holes in DeMar’s game that we need to talk about other than his long distance shooting. Derozan is still a solid defender, actually recording the same amount of steals, and slightly more blocks per game than last year. I want to hear from you guys why you think DeMar didn’t become an all star, I’m still searching for answers so leave a comment down below.
35: Zach Lavine – Chicago Bulls
Zach Lavine is someone people like to talk about in the most improved player race. Coming off an unfortunate knee injury, Lavine has bounced back to the point where he is now one of the leagues top players. Lavine is just so explosive, and proves night after night that he is exactly what Bulls fans think Lavine can be. Not only is Lavine one of the best in game dunkers, explosive scorers and phenomenal shooters, but he is also an excellent defender. Lavine is extremely quick, and when I look at him, I see a prime Derrick Rose. I love Lavine’s athleticism the most. The way Lavine can get up and throw down the hammer is one of the many things that makes Lavine so exciting to watch. Lavine will want to develop into a playmaker if he wants to take the next step for the Bulls. Chicago lacks a true playmaker. Kris Dunn is currently the assists per game leader for Chicago, but I can see Lavine stepping into that role and running the floor a little bit more as he becomes a stronger leader. The best thing Lavine can do at this point in his career, is not get carried away with the hype, he needs to stay healthy and be careful, because his style of play can lead to a wide variety of injuries with one wrong landing.
34: Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
After a phenomenal rookie season, Jayson Tatum was expected to be one of the greatest players in the league. Obviously are sights were set a little too high. While Tatum has actually improved this year, it wasn’t to the degree we all expected. Tatum was expected to be on the same level as Giannis, however the Celtics all around struggles have gotten to Tatum. Tatum’s three point shooting is down big time from last seasons impressive performance. Although Tatum’s shooting is down a little bit, he is still showing a tremendous amount of potential that makes him such an exciting prospect for the future. Tatum also thrived in the playoffs last season, and will surely have the opportunity to do the same this year. Personally, I don’t see Tatum reaching the level many people see him reaching, but I do see him attaining a Blake Griffin or maybe Damian Lillard level of eliteness (is that even a word). His ceiling is high, and his floor is where he is already, which is plenty enough to still be considered a top 50 player in the NBA. Although we haven’t been hearing much about Tatum lately, I am 100% certain that we will be hearing about him so much for the next few years, because at the end of the day, HE’S ONLY 21!!!!!!
33: D’Angelo Russell – Brooklyn Nets
Everyone’s favorite new superstar. DLo is so exciting to watch. Whether he’s hitting game winner, or bringing the Nets back from 30 point deficits, DLo is always on his game. The way DLo sits down into his shot is so satisfying, and his high arcing shot is just so silky smooth. After being traded for a one year rental of Brook Lopez, Russell was expected to break through eventually. 2 years later, it seems like Russell is the front runner for most improved player this season. Highlighted by his first all star selection, dropping 40+ points on multiple occasions and being one of the best playmakers in the league, DLo is a very likeable player who has so much potential. Russell is not showing any signs of slowing, as he’ll likely be playing in his first ever playoffs this season. We know now DLo is a man who lives for the big moments, and they playoffs might be the best demonstration of how incredible DLo can truly be. Russell is the future of the Nets, he’s unselfish, he’s a leader and he’s a generational scorer. Call me crazy, but if I was given the choice to start a franchise with any player, I would pick Giannis first, followed be D’Angelo Russell.
32: Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Despite being just 22, and averaging an incredible 25 points per game, Devin Booker still was not named to the all star game. How this happened… I don’t know. The West has such depth at the guard position, but Booker has been playing so well, he deserves to be an all star. Too many people are using the excuse that he plays on the worst team in the league, this is simply not fair. How many points does Devin Booker need to average to become a respected player in the league. The best thing about Booker, is how confident he is in himself at such a young age. Booker is always willing to take the important shots, and single-handedly lead his teams to the few victories that they get. Booker is super underrated among NBA fans, however Suns fans value their star player as they should. You also can’t say Devin Booker without mentioning his 70 point game. Booker has proven over and over that he isn’t a fluke. Dropping almost 50 points on multiple occasions, and dropping a high of 41 this season. One thing I think the Suns would like to see out of Booker a little bit more is more defensive energy. Sometimes it seems like Booker sacrifices some of his defensive effort to make a significant impact on the offensive end. This is something that will come with time, so stay tuned, the best is yet to come.
31: Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
After a very successful rookie season, Donovan Mitchell has taken the next step. Mitchell currently ranks 17th in the league in points per game. Among the top 20 scorers in the league, Donovan Mitchell is only the second youngest in the rankings, (behind Devin Booker). Mitchell has also led the Utah Jazz to a pretty much guaranteed playoff berth, unless the Kings make a Cinderella story move.Mitchell has established himself as a premier player in the league, and also has shown a tremendous ability to take over in late clutch game situations. Since last season, we’ve seen Mitchell expand his game from a dunker and average shooter,into a great shooter and an increasingly effective playmaker. I do cut Mitchell some slack on the playmaking aspect of his game, as he currently plays with one of the best pass first point guards in the game Ricky Rubio. Mitchell has grown and will continue to grow into one of the better players in our league. Mitchell is a volume scorer who can go off to up to 40 on back to back nights if that’s what he needs to do. Mitchell now is in a position where he can succeed in a playoff situation, which he proved he can thrive in last year. I look forward to seeing how much more Mitchell can grow, as in his second year he’s already averaging almost 24 points per game.
30: CJ McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers
Since breaking into the scene and winning Most Improved Player back in 2016, McCollum has been exceptionally consistent every year. This season, CJ is making waves on the court for the Blazers, and helping Damian Lillard lead the Trail Blazers to a playoff berth. This year, Lillard has stepped up and CJ has taken a bit of a step down in terms of personal play. While CJ has obviously maintained his status as a superstar in this league, he has taken a bit of a decline in his shooting especially. This is CJ’s first season since his breakout year that he has shot under 40% (rounded) from three point range. This still isn’t bad, in fact he’s still an elite shooter, but relative to how he’s been shooting in the past, there’s more there for CJ. McCollum has quietly been improving his ball handling though. This season is his lowest turnover rate since his breakthrough, and he’s only turned over the ball 21 times this season due to lost ball, which is an impressive 64% decrease in these kinds of turnovers. McCollum has however turned the ball over 51 times due to a bad pass, this is still lower than his 72 turnovers from bad pass last season. Essentially, CJ has become more responsible with the ball and continues to prove us that if given the opportunity, McCollum could easily lead a team to success. If Lillard were to go down with an injury, or if CJ was to be traded, McCollum would be a great option to lead a team.
29: Pascal Siakam – Toronto Raptors
One year ago, if anyone saw Pascal Siakam as the 29th best player in the NBA, they would instantly ridicule the list. Now, Pascal has established himself as an elite Power Forward in the league. Siakam has grown into one of the best scoring big men in the game. Pascal is also a defensive monster. The last person you want trailing behind you on a fast break, other than LeBron and Giannis of course, is the big lanky Pascal Siakam. This season Siakam has done it all. He shattered his career high 20 by dropping 44 points on the Wizards back in February. Pascal also carries one of the highest player efficiency ratings among players at his position, which is extremely impressive considering this is only Siakam’s third season, and first season with a true role on the team. Siakam has also started shooting threes, once again progressing with the modern flow of big men shooters. It really seems like the Raptors have it all set up perfectly for them. They have a young, resilient, hard working, dominant two way player who provides a very bright light to the uncertain future that awaits Toronto following the possible departure from Kawhi Leonard and imminent decline from Kyle Lowry. Siakam is the leader to a bright future that can keep Raptors fans at peace for at least 5 more years.
28: LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs
Lamarcus Aldridge has once again proved to us that he is still a force to be reckoned with. Now paired with DeMar Derozan, Aldridge has adapted wonderfully and recognized his role on the floor, whatever it may be. This season, Aldridge has stepped up his defensive game averaging a career high 1.3 blocks. Aldridge has been instrumental in keeping the Spurs in the playoff race despite an obviously rough season. Aldridge is also an exceptional scorer, currently averaging over 21 points per game while still sharing the ball with DeRozan and up and coming guard Derrick White. Interestingly enough, Aldridge ranks 24th in the league in points per game. The only player older than LaMarcus in the top 40 for scoring is LeBron James, who ranks 6th. Aldridge is a great example of an older player who is continuing to produce at a high level and challenging the age boundaries commonly set in the NBA. Among the top 25 scorers, only Giannis and AD have a higher field goal percentage than Aldridge, who is currently thriving on a mid range game much like his teammate Derozan. I absolutely love how Aldridge continues to thrive, as he has for the past 13 seasons in his career. Aldridge is one of the most underrated stars in the league, simply because people have forgotten how much of an impact he has on the Spurs. Aldridge will probably be one of those players who could look at playing into their late thirties and who knows, maybe even his late thirties.
27: Jimmy Butler – Philadelphia 76ers
After being traded to the 76ers after just 10 games with the Timberwolves, Jimmy hasn’t been himself. I give Butler some credit though, he has been THE MOST clutch player in the NBA in my opinion. Butler has knocked down multiple game winners this season, ending Kemba’s 60 point night back in November, the identical buzzer beater 8 days later against Brooklyn, and now the clutch dagger to put Boston to sleep just the other week. Jimmy has been crucial for the 76ers in the late moments of the game, as the Sixers don’t really have any other stars who can knock down long range shots in the dying seconds of a game. As for his all around play, Butler as expected has taken on a decreased role in Philadelphia (a little bit better of a team than Minnesota) but he has still remained a top name in the league. The only stat that concerns me is that Jimmy’s shooting percentages are beginning to take a bit of a plunge as the Sixers prepare for a heated playoff race. Butler has been putting up some good volume points but he has been doing so on somewhat lowly shooting, especially three point shooting. Butler needs to get to his best, because the playoffs are a time when players like Jimmy are needed to step up to the big moments and knock down buckets. Although it may seem like Jimmy is not a great scorer this year, as statistically he doesn’t quite hit the 20 points per game mark, the buckets that Butler knocks down are much more meaningful and crucial in the outcome of a game.
26: Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers
After an impressive Most Improved player award last year, Oladipo started off the season very solid. Now I know I just said Jimmy has been the most clutch player this year, but this is only because Oladipo has only played 36 games this season. Oladipo went down with a ruptured quad tendon which cut his season short. Prior to this, Oladipo was the league leader in clutch points per game. 5 of his 18 points per game were in the dying seconds of a clutch game on average. Oladipo is significantly ahead of the rest of the NBA in this stat, and his ability to take over games is something very special that truly embodies the joys of watching NBA basketball. Sadly we haven’t gotten to see more Oladipo this season, but Oladipo is someone who has already shown us that he is a comeback player. Victor is also an incredible defender, making the all defense first team last season and leading the league in steals (2.4 STEALS PER GAME!!!) Oladipo was also named to the All Star Game this season despite being unable to play. It’s a true testament to Oladipo’s skill and fan love that he can continue to receives votes to the All Star Game despite being injured before the teams were even decided. D’Angelo Russell was given the opportunity to fill Victor’s spot on the roster, which I find very cool since they are both (likely) winners or soon to be winners of the most improved player award, as well as fan favorite players in the NBA.
25: Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
Undoubtedly the rookie of the year, Luka is an electrifying player who plays at a level way beyond his age. Doncic was selected third overall this season, and many believed he would not be accustomed to play in the NBA. He proved everyone wrong, having one of the most exciting rookie seasons anyone has had in years. Doncic has constantly hit clutch game winners and most notably has an unstoppable stepback shot. Somehow Doncic came up short in the All Star voting, despite already being one of the most well rounded players in the league. A stat I find very interesting is that if Luka wins rookie of the year, he will join Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans and Blake Griffin as the only ROY winners to average at least 20 points per game. This is a huge representation of what kind of talent we have on our hands. Luka is an incredible passer, rebounder, defender, ball handler, leader and shooter that will soon takeover the league and potentially be the next face of the league. There is one more stat I feel is worth mentioning. Luka averages 9.4 three point attempts per game. This puts him in the top 4 players in this stat, trailing only James Harden, Steph Curry and Paul George. This shows us exactly how confident Luka is in himself, he’s been playing pro basketball for years now in Europe and is really showing us once again that the European Basketball Leagues, and their players, need to be taken seriously.
24: DeMarcus Cousins – Golden State Warriors
Obviously, using stats to tell you guys what I think of Demarcus Cousins is unfair. Cousins plays on a team full of stat sheet stuffers who will rarely give Cousins the opportunity to score the ball over them. When you play with Curry and Durant, quite simply you aren’t going to be able to average 30 points a game. This is something Cousins knew when he signed with the Warriors on a 1 year 5 million dollar deal. Cousins wanted to make a push for that ring, and whether or not he actually gets it, he will have certainly played to the level that was required from him. DeMarcus has only played a mere 22 games for the Warriors this season, after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered last season with the Pelicans. Cousins has been exceptional off the pick and roll, which is exactly what the Warriors need from him. His contributions on the floor have been noticed big time, because there’s this odd trend that every time Cousins does good, so do the Warriors. Boogie is a tone setter for the Warriors, and although he sometimes lets his attitude get the best of him, he brings an emotion to the court that makes him and his team even more fun to hate.
23: Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards
Since the fall of John Wall this season, Bradley Beal has been called upon by the Washington Wizards to lead their once prominent squad to the playoffs. Despite a multitude of injuries and hardships, the Wizards have been saved by their new franchise player in Bradley Beal. Beal sits just 0.2 points per game back from Anthony Davis for a top ten position in PPG in the league. Currently sitting at 26.0 points per game. Many people believe that Beal is a prominent young player who will soon grow into one of the best scorers this league has, this is false. Bradley Beal is ALREADY one of the best scorers in this league. Beal is currently desperately fighting for a playoff berth, but the Hornets, Magic and Heat all continue to pull away and leave Washington in the dust. Absolute props to Bradley Beal though, he took a beat up team missing 2 of it’s 3 best players all year and turned it into a borderline playoff team. The Wizards certainly gave Beal the opportunity to succeed, Beal played a league high 37.7 minutes per game as the Wizards tried as hard as they could to capitalize on Beal’s incredible ability to score and stay healthy. Beal is also an underrated defensive player, who gives the Wizards a jolt of energy on both ends of the floor. The one aspect of Beal’s game that he can look to improve next year would be his three point shooting, as those numbers have been declining progressively despite Beal’s ever improving game.
22: Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE. Gobert managed to stay healthy this season which was a huge contribution to the success the Utah Jazz experienced once again this season. At this moment, Rudy Gobert is shooting 66.1% from the field. Absolutely incredible. Gobert leads the league in this stat, as well the only people to ever have a single season at a higher shooting percentage are; DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler, Artis Gilmore and Wilt Chamberlain. This is a great accomplishment that is being severely under looked by NBA fans and media. Rudy wasn’t selected to the All Star Team this season, despite having a historical offensive season, as well as continuing to be one of the best defensive bigs in the league. Gobert currently ranks 5th in blocks per game, making him the only player to average at least 2 blocks per game, as well as score 55%+ FG percentage AND average a double double. I’m sounding like ESPN, but what I’m trying to say is that Rudy Gobert is one of the best big men in this league, and has certainly proved to us that he deserves to be recognized for this. The only other player that performs on both sides of the court to the same level or higher than Gobert is Anthony Davis, which really goes to show how elite Rudy Gobert actually is.
21: Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors
Sharpshooter Klay Thompson is having a great year after what many including Klay himself considered a slow start. Thompson is surprisingly averaging a career high 22.4 points per game on very solid shooting. Klay Thompson is one of the “culture shifters” who have contributed heavily to the shifting of basketball towards the three point shot. However there is a common misconception out there that Klay Thompson is a one dimensional, catch and shoot only player. This is surely not true, this season alone, Klay has actually shifted more towards the inside driving shot, which is very uncharacteristic of the Warriors players. Klay has found great success when attacking the basket, which is something he should continue to do if he wants to expand his game. Klay is also a very aggressive defender, this year he is averaging 1.2 steals per game which is a career high for Thompson. Thompson also is extremely agile and doesn’t give up when attempting to defend harder players like James Harden or even Buddy Hield. Klay is obviously one of the elite names in this league, but people who believe Klay is falling off need to check the stats, which clearly show how elite Klay Thompson really is.
20: Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons
For some reason, Andre Drummond is a player who constantly receives hate from fans. Drummond is a generational talent with exceptional rebounding and defensive skills. His impact on the floor is very noticeable, especially on the defensive end. Drummond currently leads the league in rebounds per game averages 15.5. As well Drummond is one of the only players in the league to average both 1.5 blocks and steals. Drummond’s ability to get a lot of steals is something that has surprised many people this season, considering that taller players like Drummond usually have a hard time racking up the steals. Drummond also averages a solid 17.4 points per game, his career high through his first 7 seasons. As you may have guessed, Drummonds points come almost exclusively from inside the paint, or at least inside the three point line, however Drummond has been attempting an unusually high amount of three pointers this season. Drummond is shooting 5 times as many three pointers per game this season than he ever has any other season of his career. Still Drummond shoots an average of just one three pointer every second game, however he still never makes them. Drummond is shooting a league low 13.5% from three point range, and has been heavily criticized, most famously by NBA commentators, regarding some questionable three pointers he has taken lately. But Drummond shouldn’t be judged on his offensive game, he provides so much for the Pistons on defence that his defense alone earns him a top 20 spot on this list.
19: John Wall – Washington Wizards
Please keep in mine this is the top 100 players, all healthy. We haven’t gotten to see a fully healthy Wall in a couple years. Last year he played just 48 games and averaged a lowly 19.4 points per game. This season, we only got to see Wall 32 times before he ruptured his Achilles tendon falling at his home. This is extremely unfortunate as Wall wasn’t having a bad season. Wall was averaging around 20 points and 9 assists at the time of his injury, and obviously he is still dealing with the recovery of his knee injury and getting back into shape after being out so long. I felt it would be unfair to lower John Wall’s ranking for now, because we just haven’t seen enough healthy Wall to justify it. This season, Wall struggled with his shot from deep, shooting career lows in that category, however he actually shot above 50% from inside they arc. This was promising to see from Wall who has always been considered unique for his emphasis on the mid range shot despite it’s decreasing popularity. When Wall returns, he will have the difficult task of getting back into playing shape, and meshing well with a new-look Bradley Beal. Wall will need to live up to his super max contract and hopefully get the Wizards back into the playoffs. I always say talent doesn’t just disappear, so I am confident that when Wall returns, he will re-establish himself as a top 20 player in the league.
18: Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers
After an incredible Rookie of the Year season, Ben Simmons has remained somewhat constant now. Despite not really showing much change from last year, Simmons was selected to the All Star Game this season. Simmons not really improving is still good enough to land him at 18 on our list, however at the beginning of the season I would’ve anticipated something around the top 10. Simmons is a great all around player who uses his incredible size and strength to lock up the smaller point guards he defends. Simmons is a terrible matchup for any point guard, which makes the 76ers a very hard to team to play against. Imagine Isaiah Thomas having to lock up Ben Simmons. This is pretty much what it’s like for the other short point guards like Chris Paul and Kemba Walker. Simmons is a nightmare to play against no doubt, but you can’t say Simmons without saying shooting threes. Simmons is yet to make a three pointer in his NBA career, and has been highly encouraged by social media to make this happen. Simmons is so dominant that he doesn’t really need a three point shot, but the sooner he can develop a jumper, the better. Imagine being 6’0 and somebody who’s 10 inches taller than you is holding the ball in a triple threat. What if he pushes you out of the way and dunks on you, or maybe he’ll splash a three in your face. Simmons would easily be the deadliest player on the court if he could pull threes like Harden and Curry.
17: Blake Griffin – Detroit Pistons
Blake Griffin has shown us the power of staying consistent and the results you get when you keep grinding. Earlier in his career, BG was considered to be the best young player in basketball, highlighted by being an All Star in his rookie season. Griffin eventually began to cool off and after 5 consecutive all star appearances in his first 5 seasons, Griffin missed the All Star Game for 3 consecutive years. Now, in his first full season with Detroit, Blake Griffin has returned. Griffin dropped a career high 50 earlier this year and has consistently been producing performances similar to that one. Griffin also really activated his clutch gene this season, hitting multiple game winners that have kept the Pistons in the playoff race, currently sitting at the 6th seed in the east. I truly think once Griffin escaped all the hype of Los Angeles and being a superstar who dates Kardashians, and was traded to the gritty city of Detroit, he found a new intensity that allowed him to be himself and focus on basketball. Coach Dwayne Casey also has a system that really indulges Griffin and makes him the focal point of their team. I do feel like Blake Griffin has been somewhat underwhelming on defense, but this is not something Pistons fans need to worry about, as Andre Drummond picks up any and all defensive slack left by Blake Griffin. Blake is also shooting threes now, and actually shooting them pretty good. Griffin has used some of his new found crafty handles to get open and consistently knock down threes, which only adds another layer to Blake Griffin’s deep and skilled craft.
16: Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are entering a series of uncertainties at this time of the year. First, will the Hornets make the playoffs, and second, will Kemba Walker resign with Charlotte. Honestly, Walker has very little reason to resign with Charlotte, but I suspect he will. This season Walker established himself as the greatest Charlotte Hornet to put on the jersey. Walker broke through and now sits at 25 points per game, crushing his previous career averages. Walker started the season off incredibly, averaging a league high 33 points per game at one point, and dropping 60 in a loss to the Sixers. Walker is an extremely crafty, quick and difficult to guard player who will slash to the paint if you’re not ready and can pull up from long range better than almost anyone in the league. Kemba is also an underrated defender, who puts in a lot of effort and doesn’t always see the result thanks to his height and general below average size. Walker has not let his size affect him though, he is so skilled at so many different aspects of the game. This season Walker has been forced to really take the lead for the Hornets, increasing how many shots he takes under new head coach James Borrego’s new system. Walker is also developing into a playmaker and showing that as he ages he will still have his passing IQ to keep him playing at a high level for many years to come. Leave your predictions in the comments about what you think Kemba would, and should do about his upcoming free agency. I’d love to hear some interesting concepts not just “Kemba going to NY”.
15: Kristaps Porzingis – Dallas Mavericks
Obviously we haven’t seen KP on the floor yet this season, and his surprise trade to Dallas this season really makes KP a boom or bust player for next year. So the only basis I have to go off of is how KP was for New York last year and years prior. Before tearing his ACL 48 games into the season last year, Porzingis was looking really good. He earned his first All Star Game and was widely accepted as a top 3 player in his position. All good things come to an end though, so the bite size sample we got from KP was certainly incredible, but not enough. Porzingis played on the Knicks where he was given the opportunity to be a primary scorer and carry the team. Whether or not this contributed to his success will soon be discovered once he returns from his injury. Porzingis will now be paired with Luka Doncic as the duo will attempt to make a playoff push. I certainly like KP’s chances of coming back and playing his best basketball. Porzingis has relied, and will likely continue to rely on his strong shooting, so an injury that affects athleticism and speed won’t be a huge hold-back for the 7’2 big man. Hopefully KP gets to come back to the court at the start of the season, he could be something really special.
14: Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
Much like Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns is a heavily underrated big man. Towns has been an exceptional scorer for the Timberwolves, following a disappointing season last year. Towns has also shown extreme promise on the defensive end, as his shot blocking skills continue to grow. His only problem is that sometimes, Towns lacks that next level effort that players like Gobert and Oladipo bring. Other than that KAT’s game has very few flaws. He is surprisingly an extremely good shooter, and shoots above forty percent from behind the three point line. KAT also is one of the top rebounders in the league, currently averaging over 12 rebounds a game. Karl-Anthony Towns is also one of the most resilient players in the NBA. This year, he missed his first NBA game (followed by 2 more for the same reason) due to a car crash that barely left Towns alive. He was placed on concussion protocol and missed 3 games. In his previous 3 seasons, Towns has never missed a game, despite playing a heavy amount of minutes under coach Tom Thibodeau who historically plays his starters for most of the game. Towns never suffering any kind of injury prior to this concussion, which was not even basketball related is extremely promising for the Minnesota Timberwolves and his career in general.
13: Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Not at all related but remember when Dame averaged 27 and didn’t make the all star game. Good times. Anyways, Damian Lillard has continued to be an incredible asset to the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard is universally recognized as one of the most enjoyable players to watch. His ability to shoot from anywhere makes him a threat everywhere on the floor. Lillard has also recently developed some elite playmaking skills. With the rise of CJ McCollum, Lillard now has a primary option when looking for passing options. Dame is a solid to average defender, as well as an average rebounder for his size, and finds most of his success in his scoring and passing abilities. Lillard is still looking to take the next step and become a top 10 player, to do this, he will either need to see a Harden-like improvement in his scoring, or introduce a new aspect to his game that will boost him to the next level, a tier 1 player. For now, Lillard is a perfect point guard for Portland. He sinks shots, moves the ball well and often takes over in clutch moments. Currently the Blazers are tied up in the standings and could be anywhere from 3rd to 8th seed. Regardless Dame and the Blazers are probably going to see the playoffs this season, and we all know what happens when you put Damian Lillard in the playoffs. DAME TIME!!!
12: Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Everyone’s favorite troll, believe it or not, Joel Embiid is actually pretty damn good at basketball. Joel Embiid is one of the best scorers in the league, he currently averages 27 points per game. Embiid improved this from last year, when he averaged just 22 points per game. Embiid using his incredible strength and dominant size to force his way to the bucket play after play. Embiid draws an average of 5 fouls per game, which is second in the league only to James Harden. Embiid makes it so hard to guard him, if you’re in his way, you’ll likely be getting three fouls before halftime. This is Embiid’s bread and butter. Defenders that like to be aggressive pay for it when they play the Sixers. Embiid is also a high level defender. He averages almost 2 blocks per game, which is among the highest in the league. Embiid’s only true flaw is his jump shot, which is extremely inefficient. He shoots just 29% from beyond the arc. I give Embiid credit, as he is trying to progress with the time, but he’ll need to work hard to improve his shooting. Despite this, Embiid is still THE MOST DOMINANT big man in this league and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
11: Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
Whether or not you think Russell Westbrook is a stat padder, we need to accept that Russell Wesbtrook is an extremely high level ball player. Westbrook has shown great discipline this year. With Paul George emerging, Westbrook has stepped aside scoring wise, put his ego behind him and done exactly what needs to be done in order to win. Westbrook is an exceptional passer, the only player to average 10 or more assists. Westbrook has also taken it to the next level. Russ used to be known as a high assist but high turnover guy. This season, Westbrook has worked to discipline himself further in order to become the best he can be. We always tend to hear about Russ missing game winners, but we never hear about all the other players that miss game winners. This whole Westbrick thing has gotta go. Westbrook has a very clutch manner and continues to prove the haters wrong every time he knocks down a clutch shot. The only serious flaw to Westbrook’s game is his three point shooting, which has once again fallen below 30%. Last season Russ said he wanted to work on his long range shooting, whether or not he did, it hasn’t really shown, as Westbrook is attempting more threes per game, and hitting them at a lower percentage. Don’t let his flaws fool you, Westbrook is one of the most elite pass/score point guards in this league, and definitely the most explosive.
10: Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics
Since being traded to Boston, Kyrie Irving has been constantly tested as a leader in Boston, and as a player. In some ways, Kyrie has succeeded. Irving brought the Celtics to the playoffs last year, unfortunately not being able to play in them. This year Irving’s resilience and leadership were tested big time. The Celtics have not met the standard that they set for themselves at the beginning of this year. Irving has been called upon to guide the team to success as they battle through this rough patch. Irving himself has been playing really well. His shooting is solid, he’s been shooting around the same, consistent percentages for the past 3 seasons. This is a good sign for the still young point guard, as he’s proving that he can play at a high level consistently. The best new addition to Irving’s game is his passing. Irving is averaging a career high 7 assists per game, and sacrificing very little of his scoring for this new role. Irving has also amped up his defense significantly, averaging career highs in blocks and steals per game. Contrary to what we believe, Irving may still have plenty more improving to do, as he develops furthermore into a leader, the key for Irving will be patience, just as his mentors like LeBron had for him. This year we’ll finally get to see Celtics Kyrie play in the playoffs, and I’m very excited to see how this goes, as their likely opponent is shaping up to be the Pacers.
9: Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
It seems like there’s a lot of change on the way for Anthony Davis. Davis’ camp recently informed the Pelicans that they would like AD to be traded to a bigger market. Obviously, wherever he goes, he will significantly boost the scoring and defending produced by the team. This season, everything was going well for AD, he was averaging 26+ points per game and leading the league in blocks at 2.4 per game. After asking for a trade, AD has been cut out of the rotation big time. With the elimination of the Pelicans from the playoffs, the Pels have no reason to play AD. In his last 10 games, Anthony Davis has sat out 4 games, and played an average of 21 minutes per game in the few games he has played. When AD is on the floor, he is one of the most dominant players in the league. Davis is a highly efficient finisher near the rim, and has been improving his range shooting very well. Anthony Davis is one of the best offensive weapons in the league, but he is THE BEST defensive weapon in the league. Davis has led the league in blocks 3 times in his career, and is still a top 5 Blocks Per Game player despite playing significantly less minutes this season. Whoever gets Anthony Davis this offseason will be blessed with the best defender in the league, as well as a top 10 offensive player. Hopefully AD finds a new home that he is satisfied with.
8: Kawhi Leonard – Toronto Raptors
The Kawhi-Toronto saga has been incredible. This has been Kawhi’s best season of his career thus far. Leonard is putting up over 27 points per game. Leonard has been the primary option for the Raptors, who have been desperately trying to give the superstar every reason to come back. Kawhi has been putting up game winners, clutch steals, clutch blocks and been just so good for Toronto. Leonard has been great on offense no question, but we know Kawhi as a tier 1 defender in the NBA. Leonard averages almost 2 steals per game, his quickness and dedication to defense has paid off for the Raptors, as they currently battle it out with the Bucks for the first seed in the east. Leonard will be crucial to the Raptors playoff success, he will need to step up and help a team that has usually struggled in the playoffs. If Kawhi continues to play at the level he has been playing at all season, he could propel the Raptors to the finals and who knows… maybe his second championship ring. After that the frenzy begins. Kawhi Leonard will be tasked with deciding what he wants to do in free agency. Many believe he will be off to Los Angeles, other believe he will stay loyal to Toronto. It should be interesting.
7: Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
We had quite a few people ask that Jokic was moved up in the rankings following the draft release. I think it’s appropriate to have Jokic above these other big names. Nikola Jokic is the most well rounded player in the league, it’s that simple. Jokic can score the ball very efficiently, he averages almost 21 points per game. Jokic can also rebound at high level, his rebounds on the offensive end give the Nuggets many more chances and always prove to be crucial in the outcome of the game. Jokic is also they only big man in the league that can be considered an elite playmaker. A big man is someone who usually does the volume scoring, Jokic challenges this role and redefines what it means to be an elite big man. The most important thing about Jokic that ranks him in the top 10, is how well he has done to carry the Nuggets to the success they have experienced this season. Nobody could have guessed that Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets would challenge the Golden State Warriors for the first seed in the West. Jokic has raised that entire team up from a team that may or may not make the playoff, to a team who statistically is favored to come out of the west victorious. Many people don’t see the Nuggets as true contenders, but they have constantly defeated elite teams and will definitely be a major threat in the west thanks to Nikola Jokic.
6: Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant is quietly having a very strong year. For all of his teammates, sometimes there’s good nights, sometimes not. Durant always has good games. He simply doesn’t miss when he shoots. KD is probably the best mid range scorer in the league, an art that many reject. However Durant averages 27 points per game on a team full of all stars by taking lots of mid range shots. Durant is also a solid playmaker, averaging nearly 6 assists per game. Other than KD’s insecure social media personality, Durant’s only flaw this season is a declining three point percentage. This season is Durants worst three point shooting since he was 22, 8 years ago. Regardless of the small flaws, Durant is someone who you can consistently trust to put up points and lead the Warriors to a victory. He will obviously be instrumental in the success that the Warriors want to experience in the playoffs. Durant will also need to be big defensively, as the west is stacked with talent, especially at the small forward position. If the Warriors have to face a team like the Thunder, Durant’s defense will be called upon in the quest to put out the fire that Paul George brings to the court every night
5: Lebron James – Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron’s season with the Lakers obviously didn’t work out. A series of injuries, poor play and just plain bad luck have kept the Lakers out of the playoffs. As far as LeBron’s individual season went, it actually went pretty good. James averaged a very consistent 28/8/8. The only thing that felt missing, was LeBron’s clutch highlight reel gene. LeBron didn’t really make any noise with any game winners, clutch shots or big plays in general. LeBron is 34 now, and he will need to chill out eventually, this could be a turning point season from an explosive dunker into a crafty high IQ player. LeBron pulled off a lot of well executed plays, made smart passes, kept his turnovers low and generally did his job for the Lakers. It is not at all his fault that the Lakers won’t be competing for the championship this spring. There’s only so much the King can do, LeBron still has 3 more years in LA, we’ll see how he turns it around next year as he attempts to take this great, potential filled young team back to the playoffs.
4: Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors
Shocker… Curry splashes deep threes again. Year after year, Curry not only stays elite, but gets better. Curry can pull up from anywhere he wants, whether it’s past half court, or directly off the inbounds. Curry has a higher make percentage throwing up full court shots at the buzzer than a lot of players in this league have just shooting threes. Curry’s defense hasn’t been outstanding this season, but he is still a threat on both sides of the court. More so on the offensive end, simply because he is the greatest shooter of all time. Curry is also driving into the hole much like Klay Thompson more and more. Curry is learning to find the perfect balance between chucking up threes and driving in for the layup or even the dunk. Curry hasn’t quite grown to the playmaker many thought he would be, but he is still a very average passer as he certainly prioritizes pulling up. The confidence Curry has in himself is so high, he doesn’t even need to watch the shot go in anymore. This kind of confidence wins games, and titles.
3: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder
PG13 has stepped up huge this season. George has forced his way into the MVP conversation AND the DPOTY conversation. George currently averages insane numbers, highlighted by 28 points per game, and a league leading 2.2 steals per game. Paul George is also shaping up to be one of the best shooters this league has. PG is just a threat wherever he goes. If he doesn’t have the ball, threat. If he has the ball, threat. If he wants the ball, threat. This is exactly what it takes to be the best. Paul George is the physical embodiment of what it means to be dangerous. You do not want him taking the final shot, teams often double team him for this reason. When Paul George is on defense, you’re pretty much being double teamed if he’s guarding you. The ball is not safe until it’s passed off to whoever PG13 is not guarding. This is exactly why Paul George has earned his title of being a top 3 player in the NBA this season. You just can’t say enough good stuff about this guy, he has been incredible all season long, in every aspect of the game.
2: Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
This is where it gets interesting. Giannis is currently in an epic battle for the MVP award with Harden and George. Giannis averages a 27 point double double, which is an extremely high accomplishment, especially considering how young this guy is. Giannis is a freak of nature, immensely athletic, long, powerful, skilled and motivated. This is the first guy you want to start your franchise with period. Giannis has elevated the Bucks so high this season, much like Nikola Jokic, but to an even higher extent. Also like Jokic, Giannis can do it all. For a 7 footer (close at least) Giannis being able to pass and steal as well as he does is so impressive. Along with being an elite “stealer” Giannis is also an incredible shot blocker, and will always be a threat for a chase down. This all makes Giannis a front runner for both the MVP award, and certainly a candidate for the Defensive player of the year award. For now Giannis needs to focus on getting the Bucks to the finals, which would be an amazing accomplishment for this young man. Milwaukee has finally found their savior in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks will be deadly for years to come if they can make sure to keep the Greek Freak.
1: James Harden – Houston Rockets
MVP! MVB! MVP! MVB! The fact that people are still debating the MVP race is hilarious to me. James Harden is averaging over 36 points a game. He’s dropped 50+ points 7 times this season, and dropped 60+ points twice. He is absolutely unguardable. No matter what you do, either it’s a foul, or it’s a bucket. Harden has perfected the step back and stays absolutely locked in and plays with so much intensity. Beard Mentality is what I call it. Watching James Harden play is the most unbelievable thing since watching Jordan play. I have never seen anyone who can make any shot, anytime he wants. Of course nobody’s perfect, but James Harden is the closest thing we have. Undoubtedly the MVP for this season. I just want all the haters out there to think about something. If Giannis, or LeBron, or KD, or Curry or anyone else did what Harden does, would they be nitpicked and hated on the way James Harden is? The answer is no. Harden is incredible, people often forget he’s also one of the best playmakers in the league, averaging almost 8 assists per game. James Harden is approaching his second consecutive MVP award, which is why he unanimously was awarded the first spot on our list.
I hope you enjoyed reading. Obviously many of you will disagree and agree with many things I put down here. Before you flood my comments with hate, please know that this article took 3 weeks of work to put together, up to 6 hours a day. I do want to hear your guys’ respectful opinion on who you think should be higher or lower, so please, comment your thoughts down below and lets stir up some talk!
Thanks for reading