NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 45-31

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 45-31

Now that Summer League has passed, rosters are being filled out and roles are being competed for as we get closer to training camp. How will each rookie drafted in June produce and who has the potential to become a star in the NBA?

 

 

45. Hamidou Diallo – Oklahoma City Thunder

Diallo after a play for Kentucky.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

After only one year at Kentucky, Diallo comes to Oklahoma City with a chance to grab some rookie minutes at the shooting guard position. With the Thunder’s two stars at the point and small forward, this puts 3 or 4 of their young players in position to compete for minutes at the 2. Diallo might have what it takes to become the future shooting guard for Oklahoma City with his athleticism and defensive potential, however his offensive game is very raw and he’ll likely struggle shooting the ball early in his career.

PPG: 4.2   RPG: 2.1   APG: 1.3   SPG: 1.1    BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: Frank Ntilikina

 

 

44. Issuf Sanon – Washington Wizards

Sanon in the Euro League.

Photo Credit/eurohoops.net

 

Sanon is another late round draft-and-stash and will spend the 2018-19 season in Slovenia. The 6’4″ combo guard would likely see almost no playing time with Wall and Beal occupying minutes with the Wizards. The Ukranian is still young and may come over to Washington in a year or two, but with the guard depth in Washington his rights may be traded away.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Jonathon Simmons

 

 

43. Justin Jackson – Orlando Magic

Jackson still at Maryland.

Photo Credit/dbknews.com

 

After two years at Maryland, Jackson comes to a rebuilding squad in Orlando. The 21-year old forward is coming off of an injury in his last season in college and did not play in Summer League for Orlando. He had a far more promising freshman year for the Terps and it seems Orlando is hoping they have a steal if he returns to that form. His defensive potential is as big as can be with a 7’3″ wingspan, but if he continues his shooting struggles he’ll likely spend this year in the G-League.

PPG: 2.3   RPG: 2.1   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.7

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

42. Bruce Brown – Detroit Pistons

Brown during a dead ball for Miami.

Photo Credit/bostonherald.com

 

The Pistons bring in another young shooting guard in this draft after taking Luke Kennard last year. After letting go of both Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit is looking for a guard to compliment its star front court. While Kennard had a promising rookie year, there’s plenty of room for Brown to make his way to some court time this season.

PPG: 5.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 1.7   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.4

NBA Comparison: Shabazz Napier

 

 

41. Jarred Vanderbilt – Denver Nuggets

Vanderbilt dribbling up the court for Kentucky.

Photo Credit/seccountry.com

 

Out of star-studded Kentucky, Vanderbilt will struggle to find playing time on a Nuggets team looking to get back in the playoffs for the first time since their Ty Lawson days. Will Barton, Torrey Craig, and fellow rookie Michael Porter Jr. will occupy almost all the minutes at the small forward position leaving Vanderbilt off the court for most of the season. The 19-year old swingman has promising playmaking ability and the length to guard multiple positions on defense someday, but his shooting struggles and the depth of Denver’s roster will prevent him from showcasing this just yet. His talent gives him starter potential.

PPG: 3.6   RPG: 2.9   APG: 1.8   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.4

NBA Comparison: Jae Crowder

 

 

 

40. Rodions Kurucs – Brooklyn Nets

Kurucs for Barcelona.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Kurucs was one of the few international players signed to an NBA team in this draft after agreeing to a 4-year deal with the Nets. He’s a winger with a solid jumper and a good feel on the other side of the ball, however his playmaking ability has been disappointing. The 20-year old Latvian has the athleticism and jumpshot to develop into a nice bench option for Brooklyn.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 1.7   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Joe Harris

 

 

39. Isaac Bonga – Los Angeles Lakers

Bonga practicing for LA.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Bonga was traded to LA after being selected 39th by Philadelphia. The 6’9″ German is a forward/center with guard skills who’ll learn perfectly from LeBron James. He’s extremely raw at only 18-years old but his talent is evident early on. His feel and vision are tremendous at his size. While his shooting must be fixed to get him significant minutes on the Lakers his unique skill set could make him a steal.

PPG: 2.3   RPG: 2.2   APG: 1.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: Ben Simmons

 

 

38. Khyri Thomas – Detroit Pistons

Thomas in college.

Photo Credit/omaha.com

 

Coming out of Creighton, Thomas had a very solid Summer League for Detroit. The 22-year old shooting guard is one of the best long-range shooters in the draft shooting at a mark of 41% for the Bluejays this past year. With several other young shooting guards on the team we’ll see if Thomas can carve out some minutes in the Detroit lineup.

PPG: 4.9   RPG: 1.8   APG: 1.0   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: Gary Harris

 

 

37. Gary Trent Jr. – Portland Trail Blazers

Trent Jr. shooting at Duke.

Photo Credit/goduke.com

 

Trent Jr. could end up being one of the steals of the draft. A highly touted prospect out of high school, his shooting ability could be very valuable to the Blazers this year. It’s possible we see them play Trent at the 3 if he shows he’s capable of ample playing time early on. To get a high potential, young shooter in the second round is rare and Portland should give him time to blossom before moving on.

PPG: 7.2   RPG: 2.7   APG: 1.3   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Jeremy Lamb

 

 

36. Mitchell Robinson – New York Knicks

Robinson dunking in an NBA Summer League game.

Photo Credit/sny.tv

 

Robinson looks to be another second round steal as he’s part of a terrific summer by New York. The 7-footer has unbelievable potential as an athlete and defender, putting on a blocking spree in Summer League. He’s extremely raw and needs to put on weight and develop an offensive game but he has all the tools to be the Knicks starting center for the next decade. He’ll see some extra playing time early in the year as KP nurses his injury.

PPG: 5.3   RPG: 4.1   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.3   BPG: 1.8

NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler

 

 

35. Melvin Frazier – Orlando Magic

Frazier at Tulane.

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

After 3 years at Tulane, Frazier is another wing added to the handful of youthful swingmen in Orlando. Frazier is the prototypical modern NBA shooting guard as a 6’6″ 3-and-D guy. The 21-year old should get a shot at the court this year, depending on what the Magic intend to do with Evan Fournier. It’s unlikely he’ll ever be a top scorer on a team but a bench player who can fill in in the starting lineup when needed is attainable with his potential.

PPG: 5.2   RPG: 2.3   APG: 1.1   SPG: 1.2   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Josh Richardson

 

 

34. Devonte’ Graham – Charlotte Hornets

Graham for the Jayhawks.

Photo Credit/kshb.com

 

After one of the most successful careers ever at Kansas, Graham comes home to North Carolina to back up Kemba Walker. With Michael Carter-Williams leaving for Houston it leaves court time for Graham. The 23-year old is an experienced player with a great shooting stroke. His leadership qualities will transition over to the NBA and benefit the Charlotte second unit.

PPG: 6.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 3.2   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: Fred VanVleet

 

 

33. Jalen Brunson – Dallas Mavericks

Brunson for Villanova.

Photo Credit/cbssports.com

 

Another very successful college guard taken in the second round, Brunson could be a valuable bench player for Dallas this year. With Dennis Smith Jr. likely to retain his starting point guard spot, barring where the team decides to play Luka Doncic, Brunson could see backup PG minutes. His leadership and shooting ability will be reliable for the Mavs as they try to build back into contention.

PPG: 4.7   RPG: 1.8   APG: 2.2   SPG: 1.1   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: D.J. Augustin

 

 

32. Jevon Carter – Memphis Grizzlies

Carter at a Grizzlies press conference.

Photo Credit/commercialappeal.com

 

The first of 3 straight veteran college guards, Carter looks to fit perfectly with the Griz after a career at scrappy West Virginia. His defensive toughness is exactly what Memphis is known for and his energy off the bench will relieve Mike Conley and give the team a boost when their stars are off the floor. The Grizzlies won’t be contending this year but Carter is another piece that can help them get back to the postseason.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 2.4   APG: 2.1   SPG: 1.7   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Patrick Beverley

 

 

31. Elie Okobo – Phoenix Suns

Okobo overseas.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.

 

The first pick of the second round, Okobo comes from France to the Suns bringing athleticism and a creative offensive repertoire. He’s able to create shots on his own and facilitate the pick-and-roll well. If he picks up his defensive intensity and polishes his all-around game he’s in the running to be the second part of a backcourt pair with star Devin Booker.

PPG: 5.7   RPG: 1.8   APG: 2.6   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Tyus Jones

 

 

 

Click Here: Picks 60-46

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NBA Draft Scouting Profile: Marvin Bagley lll

Shortly after Duke’s elite eight loss to Kansas, star Freshman forward Marvin Bagley lll declared for the NBA draft. An expected top 3 pick, what will Bagley give an NBA team?

 

 

Marvin Bagley lll

Bagley during a game.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

Height: 6’11”

Weight: 234 ibs.

Wingspan: 7’0″

Position: Power Forward/Center

College: Duke

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

 

 

Analysis: 

Bagley pointing to a teammate after being hit with an assist.

Photo Credit/fansided.com

 

After reclassifying and coming to Durham this season to play with the Blue Devils Bagley has been nothing short of what he was expected to be, putting up a 20 point double-double in the ACC. Joined by several other likely one-and-done players, Bagley took Duke to the elite eight before an overtime loss to Kansas. In the one year he had with the team Bagley proved the hype regarding his offensive game in high school was well warranted. The 19-year old took home ACC Player of the Year after putting up 21 and 11 for the Blue devils and flashing every part of his offensive arsenal throughout the season. He used the combination of his size and quickness down low well, getting around slower college defenders and getting most of his buckets right around the rim. Bagley also used his offensive rebounding ability to get Duke several second chance point opportunities, leading the team in rebounding by a long shot. Like Ayton, the big man shot the 3 ball in the mid-thirties this season, though not with much frequency. If he is played at the 4 in the NBA, developing that long range jumper will take him to a different level as a frontcourt player. Where Bagley clearly needs to work is on the defensive side of the ball. His wingspan at 7’0″ isn’t as impressive as others in the draft and some who are already in the league. His short length and lack of energy on D made for a lackluster freshman season on defense. To turn into an All-NBA player in the NBA, he must learn to play better low post D.

 

 

NBA Comparison:

Bosh after a play.

Photo Credit/dystnow.com

 

While the body types are different, Bagley’s offensive play style and talent remind me a bit of prime Al Jefferson. Bagley is clearly the more athletic player but as far as play down low on offense goes, it’s a fair comparison. From a more all-around perspective, Chris Bosh seems fitting. Bosh was never a star on defense and didn’t ever shine in the playmaking department on offense but he was a perennial All-Star in the prime of his career and had a similar offensive play style to Bagley. The craftiness around the rim and ability to hit the occasional jumper are traits common between the two. If Bagley can improve his jumper he could reach the level Bosh was once at and even beyond that.

 

 

Best Team Fit:

Gasol after a play.

Photo Credit/deadspin.com

 

After a catastrophic tanking season this year, the Grizzlies will have one of the top picks in the draft. Whether or not Marc Gasol remains on the team in the offseason, Bagley would fit perfectly in Memphis. If Gasol stays, Bagley would be in a frontcourt with an experienced stretch center and could benefit from Gasol’s exceptional playmaking ability out of the post. With veteran guard Mike Conley coming back next year, Bagley would be playing with two experienced starters in Memphis where he can learn the ropes of the NBA and prepare to take over the reigns of the team after Gasol’s gone. The lack of talent on Memphis will give him the touches he needs to turn into a superstar quickly for the Grizzlies.

 

 

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: DeAndre Ayton Here:

 

Expendable Players for Each Team at the Deadline

With the trade deadline now just hours away, who are some of the guys on each team who could be in a new jersey come their next time on the court.

 

 

Griffin at his introductory Pistons press conference.

Photo Credit/detroitnews.com

 

 

Atlantic Division: 

Smart during a dead ball

Photo Credit/usatoday.com

 

Brooklyn Nets: DeMarre Carroll, Joe Harris

After a bad stint in Toronto, Carroll has played his way into starters minutes in Brooklyn and despite his overpriced contract, should be an option for contenders. Harris is no star for the Nets but he’s been a surprising bright spot for the young team, stroking it from deep almost as good as anyone in the league. With a low salary at $1.5 million, any contender would be happy to have Harris’ sharpshooting in a offense-driven league.

New York Knicks: Courtney Lee, Michael Beasley

Lee is having likely the best season of his career and with Hardaway Jr. set as the future 2 in New York, look for the veteran to possibly be moved. Despite his tunnel vision and lack of defense, Beasley is one of the best bench scorers in the league, something several teams are looking for.

Philadelphia 76ers: Timothy Luwawu-Cabarrot

The Sixers are likely to stand pat at the deadline this year having already moved Okafor to Brooklyn, but if there was a moveable piece on the team that could attract buyers, Luwawu is the most likely candidate.

Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas

Valancunias’ playing time has been dropping over the past few years and with the coming up of young big men Poeltl and Nogueira, the Raps could deal him, though with the season they’re having it’s likely he’s in Toronto until at least the summer.

Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier

The Celtics could make a number of moves on Thursday but Smart is the most likely player to be headed out of Boston. It’s highly unlikely Rozier is going anywhere as Danny Ainge loves the young guard but if a superstar deal is in place it’s possible he’s involved.

 

 

Pacific Division:

Randle and Clarkson after a play.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

Sacramento Kings: George Hill

The Kings may opt to move their veteran point guard to acquire a few assets and move forward with De’Aaron Fox for the future.

Phoenix Suns: Alex Len

After several years in Phoenix, Len has yet to fully grab hold of the starting job. He’s not being thrown around in too many trade rumors but he’s a possible trade piece for the Suns.

Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson

Randle and Clarkson have been involved in rumors for months but Magic and the Lakers haven’t come up with a deal yet. The two could garner attention from several teams and result in some young assets and draft picks for LA.

Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Avery Bradley

DJ and Lou should be moved by LA by today along with possibly Avery Bradley in a different deal. The Clippers could end up with some high draft picks to get their rebuild on if they sell a few of their older starters.

Golden State Warriors: Javale McGee

Though it’s likely McGee stays with the Warriors given rookie Jordan Bell’s current injury, he’s been on the trade block for a while and may be in a different uniform in a few days.

 

 

Southeast Division: 

Walker, Howard, and Batum on the bench.

Photo Credit/swarmandsting.com

 

Atlanta Hawks: Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova

Both these players have shooting ability that any team would love to have and should be on the move if the Hawks are smart.

Orlando Magic: Everyone

The Magic are loaded with talent but have yet to fully find an identity. Aaron Gordon is clearly their most valuable piece but even he shouldn’t be untouchable at this point. With  new front office in place Orlando should be selling at the deadline.

Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Nic Batum

Though at this point it seems unlikely, Charlotte could move their top 3 players in an attempt to gain a top draft pick or a few young players. Michael Jordan doesn’t seem keen on the idea but it’d be smart for the mediocre franchise to shift in a different direction.

Miami Heat: James johnson, Justise Winslow

It’s likely one of these forwards are moved at the deadline. The Heat would receive more for Winslow but could dump the contract of Johnson while he’s still moveable.

Washington Wizards: Kelly Oubre Jr. 

The Wizards are another team that will probably be quiet tomorrow but with Otto Porter ahead of him for the future and the fact he’s still on his rookie deal, the Wizards should listen to offers for Oubre.

 

 

Central Division: 

Photo Credit/factoryofsadness.com

 

Chicago Bulls: Justin Holiday

The Bulls have already made the trade they needed to make by moving Mirotic recently. If they were to deal someone else, Holiday is a possibility with Zach Lavine just coming back.

Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson

Detroit has also made a recent trade with the acquisition of Blake Griffin. The team should now listen to offers for Stanley Johnson as the young forward hasn’t exactly panned out how they wanted it.

Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young

These are two veterans who can still contribute as starters or off the bench. The Pacers are actually looking at a playoff spot this year but with some young stars ready to step up they may deal some older players if the right offer comes.

Milwaukee Bucks: Mirza Teletovic

Teletovic isn’t a highly desired player but his shooting ability could make him available for a low 2nd round pick at a deadline deal with a contender.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Everyone but LeBron

The Cavs have clear problems right now and to fix it, no matter what direction they decide to go in, anybody but the King should be available.

 

 

Southwest Division:

Evans dribbling.

Photo Credit/sbnation.com

 

Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Matthews

Despite his contract, several teams may be interested in a 3 and D guard who can come off the bench or start for a contender.

Memphis Grizzlies: Tyreke Evans, James Ennis III

The Grizzlies have recently stated that they’d like to keep Marc Gasol rather than dealing him, but they should listen to offers for these two cheap but valuable forwards, especially Evans.

New Orleans Pelicans: None

After the Cousins injury, New Orleans has already transformed their roster a bit and it’d be a surprise to see them move anyone else unless a drastic change in direction would be in place.

San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green

The Spurs rarely make mid-season trades but reports are that they are currently in talks with the Clippers to try to acquire Avery Bradley with Danny Green and a pick.

Houston Rockets: Ryan Anderson

There’s speculation that Houston is interested in George Hill, but the deal seems to have not gained much traction. They would likely need a 3rd team if they wanted to move Anderson’s contract and bring in a different player for the playoffs.

 

 

Northwest Division: 

Mudiay dribbling up the court.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors, Joe Johnson

Hood and Favors are both players that could bring in a first rounder for the Jazz and allow them to fully start the Mitchell-Gobert era. Johnson has reportedly been looking for an exit from the team, but expect him to be more likely bought out in a few weeks rather than traded at the deadline.

Portland Trail Blazers: Shabazz Napier

Napier is having the best season of his career and has been in trade rumors for months. If Portland does deal him they can expect a lot in return.

Denver Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried

The Nuggets are one of the deepest teams in the league and could benefit from letting go of some of these bench players that could get them multiple draft picks or talent in return. They’ve been in some talks with Cleveland about sending a few key role players to the Cavs if the Nets pick is in play.

Oklahoma City Thunder: None

OKC is an expensive team with key players that they won’t trade right now so it’s unlikely to see them move anybody even if they wanted to.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Shabazz Muhammed

After a few years in Minnesota, Muhammed has yet to develop much and will be out of Minnesota by the summer if not now. He’s a good scorer who could benefit a contender off the bench if the Wolves find a partner to take him at the deadline.

 

 

 

With Boogie Out, do the Pelicans Move Davis?

 

Top 15 Centers in the NBA Heading into Next Season

Top 15 Centers in the NBA Heading into Next Season

The center position has seen a decrease in importance as the years have gone on. Let’s look at some of the best guys at the 5 as the season draws closer.

 

Just missed the cut:

Tristan Thompson

Mason Plumlee

Tyson Chandler

Marcin Gortat

Nikola Vucevic

 

15. Clint Capela – Houston Rockets

Clint Capela with teammate James Harden in game.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Capela will start at center again this season after taking over for Dwight Howard last year. With new star teammate Chris Paul coming to Houston to play with MVP candidate James Harden, along with several skilled shooters, Capela’s main job will be to protect the rim and provide a presence inside. The 23-year old Swiss big man has become the Rockets best defender and after a semi-breakout year last year, his strengths are just what Houston needs to compete with Golden State this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.6   RPG: 8.1   APG: 1.0   BPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.1  RPG: 9.3   APG: 1.2   BPG: 1.7

 

14. Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder

Steven Adams in the post against rival Houston Rockets.

Photo Credit/www.foxsports.com

 

Adams remains the third option for the Thunder following the trade for Paul George. The former Pitt star broke out during the 2016 postseason but didn’t completely live up to expectations last year. Adams defensive I.Q. and elite jump hook make him a big piece for Oklahoma City as they attempt to grab another West playoff spot this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 11.3   RPG: 7.7   APG: 1.1   SPG: 1.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 10.8  RPG: 8.3  APG: 1.4  SPG: 0.9

 

13. Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond getting ready to shoot a free throw.

Photo Credit/www.slamonline.com

 

Drummond and the Pistons had a down year last year and need to rebound this year if the core is to stick around for much longer. Van Gundy and co. traded for Avery Bradley this offseason, resulting in the loss of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Bradley and Drummond have the potential to be one of the East’s top small-big duos if Drummond is able to improve his notoriously awful free-throw percentage and mediocre defense.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.6   RPG: 13.8   APG: 1.1   SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.3  RPG: 13.9  APG: 1.0  SPG: 1.2

 

12. Dwight Howard – Charlotte Hornets

Dwight Howard being guarded by Myles Turner in the post.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

Dwight Howard has progressively gotten worse and worse as the past few years have passed. He’s still a double-double center and can hold his own on the defensive end, though his offensive efficiency and importance to his team have lessened.  The league wide play style nowadays doesn’t fit Howard’s and his footwork in the post definitely doesn’t help him at his age. It’s possible Howard sees a lift in his game this season with Charlotte, but don’t expect him to ever bring back his Orlando days.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.5   RPG: 12.7   APG: 1.4   BPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 12.9  RPG: 11.8  APG: 1.3  BPG: 1.7

 

11. Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers

Myles Turner driving to the basket on Kelly Olynyk.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Turner enters this year as the new #1 option for the Pacers after the Paul George trade. He and Victor Oladipo will have the keys to the franchise as their rebuild begins. Turner’s 3-pt shooting ability coupled with his shot blocking ability make him a rare talent in the league. As the Texas native looks to have more opportunities on offense this season, he could emerge as an Eastern Conference All-Star candidate this year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.5   RPG: 7.3   APG: 1.3   BPG: 2.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.3  RPG: 9.4  APG: 1.7  BPG: 2.6

 

10. Brook Lopez – Los Angeles Lakers

Brook Lopez at his Lakers press conference after the trade.

Photo Credit/www.latimes.com

 

Lopez comes home to LA this season to join the young Lakers. The big man will be expected to bring his outside scoring ability and leadership to Hollywood. The former Stanford star became the Nets all-time leading scorer last year and is improving his long distance jumper year by year. If Lopez is able to sustain that 3-pt% and possibly become a more prominent rebounder, he should be the go-to guy in Los Angeles this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.5   RPG: 5.4   APG: 2.3   BPG: 1.7

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 18.9  RPG: 7.6  APG: 3.1  BPG: 1.5

 

9. Al Horford – Boston Celtics

Al Horford driving on Derrick Rose.

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

Horford is now the third piece of the new big 3 in Boston along with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The big man won two National Championships at Florida and enjoyed a successful career in Atlanta before going North to Boston last year. Horford is a bit undersized at the center position and it shows in his rebounding numbers. He makes up for it with his playmaking ability and shot from deep. He’ll need to use both of these skills next season to give the Celtics a chance to get passed the Cavaliers and to the Finals for the first time since the Paul Pierce era.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.0   RPG: 6.8   APG: 5.0   BPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.2  RPG: 7.3  APG: 4.6  BPG: 1.1

 

8. DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers

DeAndre Jordan boxing out Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Jordan and his partner down low, Blake Griffin, will be without their point guard and leader this season as Chris Paul left for Houston earlier this summer. Jordan has climbed to the top of the league over the past few years and made his first All-Star appearance last season. His defense, especially his shot blocking ability have made him the player he is, though his offense is limited and he’s rarely used in plays on that end. With the departure of Paul, Jordan may see an increase in his individual numbers but the Clippers look to be on the outside looking in in the Western Conference.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.7   RPG: 13.8   AGP: 1.2   BPG: 1.7

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.1  RPG: 13.9  APG: 1.1  BPG: 2.0

 

7. Hassan Whiteside – Miami Heat

Hassan Whiteside dunking over Karl Anthony-Towns.

Photo Credit/wwwyoutube.com

 

Whiteside became the leader of the Heat last season after Dwyane Wade made the decision to go home to Chicago. Whiteside has emerged as a top NBA center over the past few seasons after not being able to get his feet under him early in his career. Nearly leading Miami to the postseason last year, look for another big statistical year from him. Expect another double-double year from Whiteside and likely a playoff spot for the Heat in the weak East.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 17.0   RPG: 14.1   APG: 0.7   BPG: 2.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.7  RPG: 14.3  APG: 0.9  BPG: 2.6

 

6. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol being guarded by his brother Pau.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Gasol enters this season without his usual frontcourt partner Zach Randolph. The 7-foot Spaniard isn’t big in the rebounding category, but he makes up for it with his playmaking and defense. He’s helped lead Memphis to 7 straight playoff appearances and become one of the best centers in the league, surpassing his brother. If Gasol continues to make plays out of the post and maintains his percentage from deep, look for a similar season from him.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 19.5   RPG: 6.3   AGP: 4.6   BPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 20.6  RPG: 7.2  APG: 4.1  BPG: 1.4

 

5. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic taking the ball up the floor against the Indiana Pacers.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

After making the All-Rookie second team in 2015-16, Jokic burst onto the scene this year as really a point-center. The Serbian big man has been a second round steal for the Nuggets and become their star this past season. What separates him from most other guys in the middle are his guard skills at his size. He can handle the ball well at 6’10” and make plays out of the post for guys on the perimeter. He’s got a new partner now in Paul Millsap and with an improving young team around him, look for Jokic to take Denver back to the playoffs.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 16.7   RPG: 9.8   APG: 4.9   SPG: 0.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 18.7  RPG: 11.1  APG: 5.9  SPG: 1.0

 

4. Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert blocking a shot against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Gobert is now the man in Utah after Gordon Hayward’s departure to Boston back in the summer. His efficiency on both ends of the floor get him this high on the list. The Frenchman is a tremendous low post scorer and has also become one of the top 3 defenders in the league after finishing as a finalist for the DPOY award this past season. Gobert needs to be even greater this season to give the Jazz any shot at the postseason, though it doesn’t look too good for Utah right now.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.0   RPG: 12.8   APG: 1.2   BPG: 2.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.3  RPG: 13.7  APG: 1.1  BPG: 2.8

 

3. DeMarcus Cousins – New Orleans Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins being guarded by Heat center Hassan Whiteside.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

Boogie and AD enter this season as the clear cut top frontcourt in the league and will have the highest expectations of each of their young careers. Cousins has been developing a three point jumper over the past few seasons. He’s not automatic from deep, but his range could come in handy for a Pelicans team in need of shooting. Cousins’ playmaking ability is also a huge and unique part of his game that will benefit some of the new backcourt players this season in New Orleans. Boogie must continue to show versatility on offense and play energetic defense to help get the Pels back to the postseason in the final year of his contract.

16-17 Stats (NOP): PPG: 24.4  RPG: 12.4  AGP: 3.9  SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 26.3  RPG: 11.8  APG: 4.1  SPG: 1.4

 

2. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid taking a jumpshot over Thunder center Steven Adams last season.

Photo Credit/www.philly.com

 

Embiid broke out last season after not playing a game his first couple years as a member of the Sixers. The wait paid off for the Cameroonian big man. He’s now the leader and star of a young, talented team with Philly poised for the playoffs this year. Embiid’s advanced metrics were crazy last season and his offensive and defensive efficiencies were some of the best in the league. While climbing to the top of the league, Embiid still wasn’t 100% and played on limited minutes before being shut down for the year. Embiid will come back even stronger and better this season for the Sixers and thats scary news for the rest of the East.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.2   RPG: 7.8   APG: 2.1   BPG: 2.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 23.6 RPG: 10.2  APG: 3.3  BPG: 2.8

 

1. Karl Anthony-Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl Anthony-Towns driving to the rim.

Photo Credit/www.cbssports.com

 

KAT comes in at number one on this list. Since he’s been a rookie, Towns has shown the whole league his ability to dominate on the offensive side of the ball and lead the young Timberwolves. Now that he has veteran guard Jimmy Butler in Minnesota with him, Towns will look to make the next step with teammate Andrew Wiggins and take the Wolves all the way back to the postseason. Towns greatest attribute is his ability to get his shot off easily and efficiently down low, and occasionally stretch the floor with an improving 3-point jumper. The Kentucky product majorly improved last season, increasing his points and rebounding totals, showing his rookie year wasn’t a fluke. Defense is a facet of KAT’s game that is solid right now, but if there’d be a part of his game he could improve, emphasis on defense would be it. If Towns’ cleans up a few things in his game and keeps up his work ethic, he could be the league MVP soon.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 25.1   RPG: 12.3   APG: 2.7   BPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.6  RPG: 13.9  APG: 3.4  BPG: 1.8

 

Here are my top 15 point guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 shooting guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 small forward rankings:

Here are my top 15 power forward rankings:

 

Top 15 Power Forwards in the NBA Heading into next Season

The power forward position features some of the most versatile guys in the NBA. Who cracks the top 15 heading into the season?

 

Just missed the cut:

Patrick Patterson

Taj Gibson

Jon Leuer

Thaddeus Young

Larry Nance Jr.

 

 

 

15. Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets

Kenneth Faried hammers down a one-handed dunk for the Nuggets.

Photo Credit/www.autodo.info

 

Faried was involved in some underground trade rumors earlier in the summer but it looks as though he’ll begin the season in Denver. The Morehead State product hasn’t exactly improved much since his first few years in the league but remains a guy who could be an important energy guy for a playoff team, and with the Nuggets improvements this offseason, it looks like he has the opportunity to have that role off the bench. Look for slightly worse numbers this year from Faried, but he will surely be an important piece for Denver behind Paul Millsap.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 12.5   RPG: 8.7   APG: 1.2   BPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 8.2  RPG: 7.6  APG: 1.4  BPG: 0.7

 

14. JaMychal Green – Memphis Grizzlies

JaMychal Green attempts a layup over Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Green is currently in a sticky situation heading into next season. He and the Grizzlies didn’t come out of the summer with a contract extension as Memphis tested the market, winning big by now being able to bring Green back for next year on an RFA contract and giving themselves a year to decide whether to give him a long-term deal next summer. The 27-year old is coming off easily his best season as a pro and with Zach Randolph out of Memphis, could be set for an even bigger year.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 8.9   RPG: 7.1   APG: 1.1   SPG: 0.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.7  RPG: 8.3  APG: 2.4  SPG: 0.9

 

13. Ryan Anderson – Houston Rockets

Ryan Anderson celebrating after hitting a 3.

Photo Credit/www.sportingnews.com

 

Like Green, Anderson was involved in some trade rumors this summer, mostly related to Carmelo Anthony. Assuming he’s in Houston at the start of the season, he’ll likely start again at the power forward position and be another floor spacer for James Harden and Chris Paul. Anderson shot an impressive 40.3% from deep last season and will be expected to carry that percentage into this year and help the Rockets grab a home playoff spot in the West.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.6   RPG: 4.6   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.4

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.9  RPG: 5.2  APG: 1.1  SPG: 0.3

 

12. Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers

Julius Randle takes a jumpshot over Spurs guard Tony Parker.

Photo Credit/www.lakersnation.com

 

Randle will start at the 4 again this year ahead of Larry Nance Jr. The new-look Lakers now feature a new point guard in Lonzo Ball and will look to further develop talented starters in Brandon Ingram as well as Randle. The 22-year old is currently in the best shape of his young career and after coming off another strong rebounding year, could become a top 10 power forward by midseason.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.2   RPG: 8.6   APG: 3.6   SPG: 0.7

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.1  RPG: 9.7  APG: 3.9  SPG: 0.8

 

11. Gorgui Dieng – Minnesota Timberwolves

Gorgui Dieng attempts a left-handed layup above the rim.

Photo Credit/www.minnpost.com

 

Dieng enters this year as the Wolves likely starting power forward over Taj Gibson. Coming out of Louisville, his athleticism and defensive potential were his calling cards, though over the last few seasons he’s showcased an improving 3-point shot and with a Minnesota team expecting to contend this season, Dieng will need to keep his percentage from deep up close to 40%. The T-Wolves aren’t exactly a bad team from behind the arc, but if you look at other top teams around the league, the shooting ability in Minnesota is a bit below average. If Dieng can become almost a stretch 4 for the team, he could be looking at a starting job alongside KAT in the frontcourt for years to come.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 10.0   RPG: 7.9   APG: 1.9   BLK: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 9.6  RPG: 8.1  APG: 2.4  BLK: 1.6

 

10. LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge high-fiving Kawhi Leonard in a game against the Sacramento Kings.

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Aldridge has just moved farther and farther down this list over the past couple years. He’s still a valuable piece for the Spurs and likely the second most valuable player in San Antonio, but he’s not the perennial All-Star he used to be. Aldridge’s defense has never been a strength of his, much like his playmaking ability. For the former Texas big man to stay out of the rumor mill and help San Antonio keep a top spot in the West, he needs to post tremendous mid-range shooting numbers and be stronger inside on offense.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 17.3   RPG: 7.3   APG: 1.9   BLK: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 15.8  RPG: 7.1  APG: 1.9  BLK: 1.0

 

9. Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors

Serge Ibaka celebrating after a play against the Cavaliers.

Photo Credit/www.thestar.com

 

Ibaka came to Toronto in a midseason trade from the Orlando Magic. He joined Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan to form a big 3 in the East and the team was able to keep the crew together to contend again this year. Ibaka came into the league as an elite defender and shot blocker and still carries those attributes, though over the past few years he’s improved his three point shot immensely. The Spanish big man shot around 40% from deep last season and has become one of the best stretch 4’s in the NBA. If he keeps his defensive intensity and 3-pt% up expect the Raptors to be a top team in the East again.

16-17 Stats (TOR): PPG: 14.2   RPG: 6.8   APG: 0.7   BLK: 1.4

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 13.9  RPG: 7.1  APG: 0.8  BLK: 1.6

 

8. Harrison Barnes – Dallas Mavericks

Harrison Barnes attempts a jumpshot against the Bucks last season.

Photo Credit/www.mavsmoneyball.com

 

Barnes had a career year last season in his first campaign with the Mavs as he posted nearly 20 points a contest and was arguably the most important player in Dallas. After years in Golden State playing at the 3 for the Dubs, Barnes logged several minutes at the 4 for the Mavericks this past season. His size, athleticism, and shooting ability seem perfect for a modern day NBA power forward, and Rick Carlisle used him there efficiently. With a young Mavs team around him, I can only see Barnes going up and again setting career highs this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 19.2   RPG: 5.0   APG: 1.5   SPG: o.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.7  RPG: 6.2  APG: 1.9  SPG: 1.1

 

7. Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks

Jabari Parker sets to take a free throw in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

After a strong start with Milwaukee this past year, Parker suffered a season ending injury, the second big road block he’s had to go through in his young career. Despite another hiccup, expect him to come back strong and ready to help Giannis lead the Bucks this season. The Duke product has proven himself to be a young star as he continues to showcase his efficient scoring ability and all-around game while Milwaukee continues it’s rise in the East. If IT4 is out for an extended period or the new Boston stars can’t figure it out right away, watch out for Parker, Giannis, and the Bucks as a possible dark horse in the East.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.1   RPG: 6.2   APG: 2.8   SPG: 1.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.3  RPG: 6.7  APG: 3.2  SPG: 1.4

 

6. Paul Millsap – Denver Nuggets

Paul Millsap driving to the rim.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Millsap comes to Denver this season after a sign-and-trade during the summer. He joins Nikola Jokic in the Nugget frontcourt to form a dynamic duo in the West. After several years with the Hawks in Atlanta, Millsap heads back West and it looks as though Denver is primed for a playoff appearance this season. The 32-year old power forward’s offensive versatility and outside shooting ability make him a perfect fit and if he’s able to keep up his All-Star level play this year, look for Denver at the top of the standings.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.1   RPG: 7.7   APG: 3.7   SPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.7  RPG: 8.1  ARPG: 4.2  SPG: 1.3

 

5. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis flying in for a dunk.

Photo Credit/www.hoopshabit.com

 

With Carmelo Anthony’s future still uncertain, it’s unclear whether Porzingis will be fully handed the keys to the franchise this season or not. Whether Melo is in a Knicks jersey come opening night or not, expect Kris to put up career highs across the board this year. The 22-year old Latvian has been working out with Dirk Nowitzki this summer and has also showcased his skills for his National team during the offseason. If Hornacek makes Porzingis the number one option flat out this season, look for him to make his first All-Star appearance in the NBA.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.1   RPG: 7.2   APG: 1.5   BLK: 2.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.3  RPG: 10.7  APG: 2.1  BLK: 2.2

 

4. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin being guarded by Jazz' Joe Johnson.

Photo Credit/www.sbnation.com

 

Griffin recently signed a new 5-year deal with LA this summer shortly after the departure of Chris Paul. Blake and DeAndre still form one of the best front courts in the league and with new guys around the perimeter, the Clippers could possibly find a way back to the postseason, though the chances aren’t great by the looks of it. Griffin was absent from the All-Star game last season and struggled with injuries again. Despite this, the former OU star maintained solid numbers and did enough to get the Clippers a home playoff spot in the West. It’ll be an adjustment for Griffin this year as he learns to play again without Paul at the point, but look for similar numbers from him.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 21.6   RPG: 8.1   APG: 4.9   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.4  RPG: 8.7  APG: 4.3  SPG: 0.8

 

3. Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers

Kevin Love talking with teammate LeBron James during dead ball.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

With Kyrie out of the Land and Isaiah Thomas likely out for an extended period, Love will start the season as the #2 option for the Cavs. After a few down years to start his career in Cleveland, Love came into his own last season and tallied the votes to be an All-Star starter before getting hurt. It was his first double-double average since joining the Cavs and many began to find more confidence in the UCLA product. If LeBron puts more trust in K-Love this year and Love is able to sustain his percentage from deep while avoiding injury, the Cavs are likely the favorite in the East again.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 19.0   RPG: 11.1   APG: 1.9   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.3  RPG: 10.7  APG: 1.8  SPG: 0.9

 

2. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green celebrating after a play against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Photo Credit/www.espn.com

 

Green helped his Warriors get their 2nd NBA title in 3 years back in June. The Dubs are again expected to dominate and are favorites for the Ship in 17-18 as well. Green may be the least talented of the Golden State big 4 but you can make an argument that he’s the most important. While he won’t give you 20 points a night, the 27-year old can guard all 5 positions and play point guard on offense at 6’7″. Green has the ability to put up a triple double on any given night and posted the second best plus/minus in the league last year only behind teammate Stephen Curry. Look for Green to again help lead the Warriors this season and be in the conversation for DPOY.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 10.2   RPG: 7.9   APG: 7.0   SPG: 2.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 11.7  RPG: 8.8  APG: 7.5  SPG: 2.2

 

1. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis throws down a dunk over Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Photo Credit/www.complex.com

 

Unlike previous years, Davis starts this season with high expectations. He and his frontcourt partner Demarcus Cousins are the best pair of big men we’ve seen in years and with newly re-signed point guard Jrue Holiday, should challenge for a playoff spot this year. The Pelicans didn’t live up to expectations post All-Star break last season but now that they’ve had time to gel, all the pressure is on them to compete in the stacked Western Conference. AD carries a set of skills that are rare to see in a big man as he’s able to use his length and athleticism to dominate on defense and offensive versatility to put up big numbers on that side of the floor. After logging a career high 28 points a game last year and taking home the All-Star game MVP in New Orleans, look for huge numbers again from him and better team success from the Pels.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 28.0   RPG: 11.8   APG: 2.1   BLK: 2.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.6  RPG: 11.9  APG: 2.7  BLK: 2.8

 

Here are my top 15 small forward rankings:

Here are my top 15 shooting guard rankings:

Here are my top 15 point guard rankings:

 

Top 15 Point Guards Heading into Next Season

Top 15 Point Guards Heading into Next Season

The era of the point guard is here in today’s NBA, and the crop of players at this position have never been more talented. These are my predictions for the top 15 guys at the 1 heading into the 17-18 season.

*James Harden will be ranked in the shooting guard rankings due to the Rockets recent acquisition of Chris Paul.*

Just missed the cut:

George Hill

Jeff Teague

Patrick Beverley

Lonzo Ball

Derrick Rose

 

 

 

15. Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

Holiday recently signed a huge new contract with New Orleans to continue to be the leader of their backcourt. His time in the Big Easy hasn’t exactly been ideal, though he’s shown he’s still an above average guard in the league. His efficient playmaking ability coupled with solid scoring ability, including the capability to knock down a 3 from time to time (35.6%) and quickness off the dribble to slash, make him an offensive threat every night. Don’t expect All-Star numbers from Holiday, but if healthy he could finally come into his own for the Pelicans.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 15.4   RPG: 3.0   APG: 7.3   SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.2  RPG: 3.6  APG: 7.8  SPG: 1.4

 

14. Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers

Photo Credit/www.celticshub.com

 

It’s rare that a rookie would make a list like this, but Fultz is the real deal. The former Washington star could come out putting up near All-Star numbers and majorly increase the Sixers win total from last year. If Fultz keeps his shot selection in check and trusts his teammates, expect a rookie of the year award to him and rookie point guard numbers that we haven’t seen since Lillard.

16-17 Stats: PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.9  RPG: 4.6  APG: 5.8  SPG: 1.4

 

13. Goran Dragic – Miami Heat

Photo Credit/www.cbssports.com

 

Dragic is the second piece of a star tandem in Miami with Hassan Whiteside. The team has assembled one of the best supporting casts in the league and should compete for an Eastern Conference playoff spot this season. Dragic hits threes at a pretty good rate for the Heat and is one of the best guards in the East driving to the rim. We’ll probably see a similar year from him this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.3   RPG: 3.8   APG: 5.8   SPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 19.6  RPG: 4.1  APG: 6.3  SPG: 1.2

 

12. Dennis Schroeder – Atlanta Hawks

Photo Credit/www.sbnation.com

 

Schroeder comes into this year expected to have a breakout season. With Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap leaving the Hawks, Schroeder now becomes the team’s number one option and on his way to his prime, we should see his shooting percentages rise. It’s possible the young German posts career highs across the board in 17-18.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 17.9   RPG: 3.1   APG: 6.3   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 20.6  RPG: 4.2  APG: 6.7  SPG: 1.2

 

11. Mike Conley – Memphis Grizzlies

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

Conley is coming off his best season as a pro, posting a career high PPG average. In my opinion he was one of the biggest MIP snubs last year. He and Marc Gasol will be carrying more of a load this season given the recent departure of Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to the Sacramento Kings. If the former Ohio State star is able to keep his percentages up, we could see Conley eclipse 20 points a game for the second straight season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 20.5   RPG: 3.5   APG: 6.3   SPG: 1.3

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.4  RPG: 4.1  APG: 6.2  SPG: 1.7

 

10. Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns

Photo Credit/www.brightsideofthesun.com

 

Bledsoe is now one of the older guys in the Phoenix starting lineup. He comes into this season paired with Devin Booker in the backcourt, which could end up being one of the best guard duos in the league this year. Bledsoe has been involved in trade rumors regarding Kyrie Irving, though I’d expect him to be in a Suns uniform this coming season none the less. If the Kentucky product is able to avoid injury unlike the past, expect another near All-Star caliber season from him.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 21.1   RPG: 4.8   APG: 6.3   SPG: 1.4

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 20.6  RPG: 5.3  APG: 6.7  SPG: 1.9

 

9. Isaiah Thomas – Boston Celtics

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Thomas has shown his offensive ability to be some of the best in the league and made himself a near MVP candidate last season. The  29-year old would be higher on this list if it weren’t for his two undeniable flaws, size and defense. He was ranked as one of the worst backcourt defenders last season and at just 5’9″ you can imagine how he has trouble keeping other guards under tabs. Thomas claims he had a “growth spurt” this summer, so we’ll see if this is true and if his defense improves, though he’s likely not a max player at this time.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 28.9   RPG: 2.7   APG: 5.9   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 26.7  RPG: 3.3  APG: 6.5  SPG: 1.1

 

8. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors

 

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Lowry recently signed a 3-year deal to stay in Toronto. The Raptors will again have most likely the best backcourt in the East with Lowry and Derozan, and have another shot at the conference finals this season. The former Villanova Wildcat is now on the wrong side of 30 and we could see his numbers drop just a tad over the next couple years, though he should still be putting up All-Star numbers. Where we’ve really seen Lowry struggle is in the playoffs, where he seems to always go ice cold. It’ll be important he finds his game come next postseason or the Raptors potential will continue to sit at a conference finals ceiling.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 22.4   RPG: 4.8   APG: 7.0   SPG: 1.5

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.7  RPG: 4.6  APG: 7.3  SPG: 1.9

 

7. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets

Photo Credit/www.sportingnews.com

 

Kemba and the Hornets are coming off a disappointing year, missing the playoffs and not living up to preseason expectations. Their offseason additions of Malik Monk and Dwight Howard should help the team’s lone star, Walker, as we head into this season. The guard carries one of the largest loads of his teams offense in the league and has made himself into an All-Star with his unguardable ball-handling, solid outside jumper, and sweet slashing ability. Expect another 20+PPG season from Kemba and a playoff appearance for his Hornets.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.2   RPG: 3.9   APG: 5.5   SPG: 1.1

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.9  RPG: 4.2  APG: 5.7  SPG: 1.4

 

6. Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers

Photo Credit/www.nypost.com

 

We’re all obviously hearing of all the rumors surrounding Irving, though as of now he is still a Cleveland Cavalier. Assuming he stays in the The Land, expect a similar season from him, though it’s not hard to see he looks to be out the door. Kyrie may just have the best handles in league history, though this will be debated for years, and has improved his jumpshot as his career has gone on. If Irving is still in Cleveland Cleveland come next June, it’s likely the Cavs are back in the Finals and Irving would’ve been coming off another 20+PPG season. We’ll see how this nightmare situation in Cleveland pans out.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 25.2   RPG: 3.2   APG: 5.8   SPG: 1.2

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 23.9  RPG: 3.8  APG: 5.7  SPG: 1.1

 

5. Chris Paul – Houston Rockets

Photo Credit/www.cbssports.com

 

Paul was involved in the first blockbuster move of the summer this offseason when he was granted a trade to the Houston Rockets. The new backcourt duo of James Harden and Chris Paul will be deadly in the West. With two elite ball-handlers and players now in the lineup, Houston could get back to the conference finals this year for a meeting with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll have to see how the two gel together, being that they were both considered point guards last year, and given his new team I’d say Paul’s numbers drop just a bit, though his importance doesn’t change.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.1   RPG: 5.0   APG: 9.2   SPG: 2.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 17.9  RPG: 4.8  APG: 10.3  SPG: 2.2

 

4. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers

Photo Credit/www.sportsonearth.com

 

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are coming off last season as the reigning top scoring backcourt in the league. The Blazers were previously in talks with the Knicks to acquire Carmelo Anthony to add to their star guard duo, though it seems these communications have stalled. Dame in my opinion is one of the most underrated players in the league and has done well leading Portland since the LaMarcus Aldridge departure. If he is again able to stay injury-free, look for big numbers from the Weber State product.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 27.0   RPG: 4.9   APG: 5.9   SPG: 0.9

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 27.6  RPG: 5.1  APG: 6.2  SPG: 1.3

 

3. John Wall – Washington Wizards

Photo Credit/www.youtube.com

 

Wall comes off a disappointing final game in last season’s playoffs, when his Wizards lost to the Boston Celtics in 7. Had the Wiz taken that decisive game, it would’ve been Wall’s first conference finals appearance, which he’s still now looking for. Washington re-signed young F Otto Porter this offseason, keeping help for Wall and Beal to lead the team. The one real flaw left in Wall’s game is his shooting from the outside. In my opinion, it’s the attribute that separated Chris Paul from him earlier in his career. If I were Scott Brooks I’d want to see at least a 37% mark from  Wall next year from deep. Even with this continued problem, the former Kentucky star has repeatedly shown his unbelievable playmaking ability and defense, slotting him in at #3 in my point guard rankings.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.1   RPG: 4.2   APG: 10.7   SPG: 2.0

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 23.4  RPG: 4.6  APG: 10.2  SPG: 2.3

 

2. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Westbrook could easily be number one on this list for many reasons. My analysis really just came down to which player, between Russ and Steph, would I pick for a team I was looking to win a title with, and I’d take the latter. However, that’s no disrespect  to Westbrook. He could possibly be the best rebounding and athletically explosive guard in league history. A year after losing KD to the Bay, the former UCLA guard has a new superstar alongside him in OKC. With the Paul George trade, the Thunder get a guy to take some of the weight off Russ’ shoulders and create a new star duo in the league. Having to watch out for these two slashing to the rim and playing off each other will be a nightmare for NBA defenses. We’ll most likely see some dips in Westbrook’s numbers, but I predict more team success for Oklahoma City this season.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 31.6   RPG: 10.7   APG: 10.4   SPG: 1.6

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 28.7  RPG: 8.3  APG: 10.9  SPG: 1.8

 

1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors

Photo Credit/www.nytimes.com

 

Curry comes in at #1 in the point guard rankings. There will be guys who put up bigger numbers and throw down more thunderous dunks but much of what Steph does doesn’t show up in the box score. The two-time MVP  is one of the best screen-setting guards in the league and it’s not hard to realize the amount of space he opens up for Kevin Durant in the middle of the floor, drawing defenders attention out to the perimeter. His shooting percentages also illustrate his efficient offensive game. In my opinion, the biggest difference between Curry and Westbrook is their effect on their teams. Westbrook was there to do it all last season for the Thunder, not really allowing his teammates to have the ball in their hands or showcase their game. Curry has a much more positive effect on his team, mainly due to his ability to play off the ball. The way he commands attention on the court is easy to see even when he’s just running around in circles in the halfcourt, using his shooting prowess to make the game easier for others. It’s because of all these reasons that when trying to build a CHAMPIONSHIP team, Steph is the better bet.

16-17 Stats: PPG: 25.3   RPG: 4.5   APG: 6.6   SPG: 1.8

17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 26.1  RPG: 5.2  APG: 6.9  SPG: 2.1

Zach Randolph faces possible NBA Banishment

New Sacramento Kings signee Zach Randolph was recently arrested for possession of marijuana with an intent to sell. His mistake could turn out to be more harmful to his basketball career than he thinks.

 

Photo Credit/www.nba.com

 

Z-Bo was a long time member of the Memphis Grizzlies before signing a 2-year $24 million contract with the Kings earlier this summer. Most among the NBA seem to believe this move by Sacramento was an attempt to bring in leadership and a strong veteran frontcourt presence to mentor youngs in Labissiere, Cauley-Stein, and Papagiannis. This new news of Randolph’s affiliation in a possible illegal drug deal will surely give Vlade Divac and the rest of the Kings front office some buyers remorse. Though you can argue this offense is fairly minor considering many around the league have even promoted the legalization of marijuana in the NBA, the law is the law and he reportedly broke it.

 

Photo Credit/www.bleacherreport.com

 

An investigation is apparently still ongoing involving Randolph, and if convicted a possible full banishment from the league could be in line for the big man. This would obviously be awful news for him, as he just signed his new deal. Though at 36 years old, this is probably the best time for him to get in some trouble. It’ll be interesting to see how Adam Silver handles the issue as throughout his first few years as commissioner, he’s shown a very open stance involving some social problems. There will be a continued debate in really all major American sports over whether to make the plant legal in their league or not.

 

Photo Credit/www.nydailynews.com

 

The other big loser if Randolph is convicted is of course the Sacramento Kings. They’ll possibly lose their new addition down low and his expected bench production for this season. Randolph has already chipped away at his reputation for getting in the news for this, and his leadership role could be diminished even if he is allowed to stay with the team. If Zach can’t play, it’ll be up to Vince Carter and George Hill to lead the young prospects this season. Though I doubt we’ve watched the last NBA game Z-Bo will play in, the new King has himself in a bad situation at the moment.