NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

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?

 

 

60Kostas Antetokounmpo – Dallas Mavericks

Kostas playing for Dallas in the NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/theundefeated.com

 

The younger brother of NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft after he was taken 60th overall and acquired by the Dallas Mavericks. The 20-year old has length and athleticism giving him some defensive potential, but he’s far from ready to contribute very much for the Mavs. While it seems like a long shot, his older brother came in with the same build and skillset, which could be an encouraging sign for Dallas.

PPG: 2.2   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.5   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

 

59. George King – Phoenix Suns 

King being introduced as a Sun.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.com

 

59th pick King just recently signed a two-way deal with Phoenix. The G/F out of Colorado is a little older, already being 24 years old, but he’s well developed defensively and could potentially be a solid 3 and D option for the Suns soon. His skillset is similar to two other young forwards on the team, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, so King may not see much playing time with Phoenix, however he could carve out a career on another team if he shows well in the G-League and in small stints with the Suns early in his career.

PPG: 3.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: P.J. Tucker

 

 

58. Thomas Welsh – Denver Nuggets

Welsh after making a play for UCLA.

Photo Credit/bruinsnation.com

 

Welsh is another one of the late picks that will spend most of their first pro season in the G-League. The 22-year old out of UCLA has a solid mid-range game and interior defensive ability, but he’ll be a career bench player if he makes it in the league. His lack of athleticism lowers his potential quite a bit and it’d be hard for him to keep up with the strength and quickness of other centers in the NBA.

PPG: 2.7   RPG. 2.2   APG: 0.3   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

 

 

57. Kevin Hervey – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hervey dribbling up the court in college.

Photo Credit/midmajormadness.com

 

Coming out of a less prestigious university in Arlington, Texas, Hervey joins an OKC team currently contending in the West after resigning Paul George. After losing Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder need someone to come in and be an offensive option at the 4, which is exactly what they get with Hervey. He’s got size at 6’8″ and is a great spot up shooter having been a top scorer in college. His shot creation and defense are sub-par but a less ball-dominant, younger Melo-Type player could be what OKC needs to get home court advantage in the Western Conference again. While he may not be the most talented or youngest in the draft, Hervey is a great fit for the Thunder.

PPG: 6.2   RPG: 2.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: T.J. Warren

 

 

56. Ray Spalding – Dallas Mavericks

Spalding hyping up the crowd after a play.

Photo Credit/thecardinalconnect.com

 

Out of troubled Louisville, Spalding comes to Dallas in the Philadelphia trade involving Kostas Antetokounmpo. Both players have similar builds as Spalding is 6’11” with a reported weight of 215 ibs. The 21-year old will have to put on weight and get stronger to get substantial minutes with the Mavs. He should get some playing time in rebuilding Dallas but he’s not one of the focal young Mavericks just yet.

PPG: 4.6   RPG: 2.1. APG: 0.4   SPG: 0.2   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Deyonta Davis

 

 

55. Arnoldas Kulboka – Charlotte Hornets

Kulboka dribbling up the court.

Photo Credit/therunsports.com

 

Kulboka is a Lithuanian small forward with size at 6’10” who’s rights are currently to the Charlotte Hornets. He’s a talent overseas and is still young at 20 years old, however he’s a prototypical draft and stash and won’t be coming over to the states this year.

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

NBA Comparison: Mindaugas Kuzminskas

 

 

54. Shake Milton – Philadelphia 76ers

Milton still with SMU.

Photo Credit/denverstiffs.com

 

Milton has also signed a two-way deal with Philly and the point guard should see almost all season in the G-League with T.J. McConnell coming back to back up Ben Simmons. Where the SMU product separates himself from other PG’s in the draft is his size. Only Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander can compete with his height. If Milton has good year in the G-League it wouldn’t be surprising to see Milton behind Ben Simmons on the depth chart in a few years to back up size with shooting and size.

PPG: 2.1   RPG: 1.3   APG: 1.7   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Isaiah Whitehead

 

 

53. Devon Hall – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hall on offense at Virginia.

Photo Credit/streakingthelawn.com

 

Out of Virginia, 23-year old Hall is in an interesting situation to start out his career. With OKC starting 2 Andre Roberson going down for the year last season, his recovery and shooting struggles could open up playing time at the position. The versatile 6’6″ rookie Hall will likely compete with Terrance Ferguson for minutes at shooting guard and should win out as he’s currently more developed defensively and as a shooter. If things fall his way, Hall could see several opportunities in his rookie year with the Thunder.

PPG: 5.1   RPG: 2.3   APG: 1.6   SPG: 1.0   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Josh Hart

 

 

52. Vince Edwards – Houston Rockets

Edwards driving to the rim in college.

Photo Credit/purduesports.com

 

Acquired by the Rockets from Utah on draft night, Purdue product Edwards may see a bigger role this year than previously expected. After Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute moved on to different teams in free agency, Houston is looking grim on the wing, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Edwards is 6’8″ with a wingspan upwards of 7’0″ who can guard multiple positions. With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets will need some defensive relief from Melo and could bring in Edwards for Anthony to provide for that. If Melo isn’t shooting well to start the season, don’t be surprised to see Vince Edwards take over the minutes for Anthony, barring a James Johnson trade.

PPG: 4.1   RPG: 2.2   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

51. Tony Carr – New Orleans Pelicans

Carr dribbling up the court for Penn State.

Photo Credit/yardbarker.com

 

After New Orleans took Penn State guard Tony Carr with the 51st pick, the raw 20-year old has signed a contract to play overseas in Italy to begin his career. He won’t be playing for the Pelicans this season.

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

NBA Comparison: Jordan Crawford

 

 

50. Alize Johnson – Indiana Pacers

Johnson in NBA Summer League for the Pacers.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

The Pacers take Missouri State forward Alize Johnson with the 50th pick in the draft. Jimmy Butler look-alike-Johnson is a big energy guy with potential to be versatile and tough on defense which is perfect for Indiana right now. With a scorer in a Oladipo and rim protector in Myles Turner, the team needed a strong, defense wing to complement the two. Johnson could be a steal for the Pacers and possible replacement for the aging Thaddeus Young.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 4.0   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: JaMychal Green

 

 

49. Chimezie Metu – San Antonio Spurs

Metu after a play.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Out of Los Angeles, Metu has explosive athleticism for a big man which San Antonio is lacking greatly. At 6’10”, Metu could develop into a solid defender with a good, energetic inside game. He’ll begin his career behind Aldridge and Bertans for the Spurs. He’ll contrast the older, less athletic big men on the roster well.

PPG: 3.3   RPG: 2.7   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 1.1

NBA Comparison: Noah Vonleh

 

48. Keita Bates-Diop – Minnesota Timberwolves

Bates-Diop for Ohio State.

Photo Credit/landof10.com

 

After entering the draft post-huge year at Ohio State, Bates-Diop had a monster Summer League, starring for the Wolves. The 22-year old could be the backup small forward for Minnesota this year. As Andrew Wiggins continues to struggle shooting the ball, it’ll be interesting to see what the Timberwolves can do with Bates-Diop’s defensive potential and 7’3″ wingspan.

PPG: 7.1   RPG: 3.4   APG: 1.2   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

47. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Los Angeles Lakers

Mykhailiuk during NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/silverscreenandroll.com

 

Mykhailiuk had a great summer league with the Lakers after being taken 47th out of Kansas. The 21-year old Ukrainian can play the 2 or 3 and could challenge KCP and Josh Hart for minutes. Mykhailiuk will surely get an opportunity as the beginning of the season will be a feeling out period for LeBron and the Lakers.

PPG: 3.7   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Tony Snell

 

 

46. De’Anthony Melton – Houston Rockets

Melton shooting a layup for USC.

Photo Credit/247sports.com

 

Melton is a raw point guard out of USC at 20 years old. With Houston currently chasing Golden State in the West, it’s likely we won’t see too much of Melton to start out his career as he’ll be behind Chris Paul on the depth chart, however the young guard has loads of potential and is a rare young piece on the Rockets roster.

PPG: 2.4   RPG: 1.1   APG: 1.6   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Tyus Jones

 

 

 

Click Here: The Raptors Need To Blow it Up

NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

With the 2018 NBA playoffs set to start today, what are the first round matchups and who will be moving on to the conference semifinals?

 

 

Durant and Curry after last year's playoffs.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

 

Eastern Conference:

(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (8) Washington Wizards

Derozan and Wall during a free throw.

Photo Credit/raptorshq.com

 

The first place Raptors will take on Washington in the first round this year. Toronto, who’ve never been the number one seed in the postseason, will be looking for more than just a first round win this year. The story here is the matchup of the two elite guards for each team. The experienced and talented backcourt tandems will look to better the other. While Toronto is much deeper than Washington, the Wizards may find a spark in their team with John Wall’s return. Still though, despite their postseason troubles, the Raptors will take this one.

Prediction: Toronto Raptors; 4-1

 

 

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

James backing down Oladipo.

Photo Credit/zimbio.com

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had their regular season struggles yet again this season, barely hanging on to a home playoff spot in the East. Right behind them, the revamped Indiana Pacers stunned the whole league as Victor Oladipo came home and turned in his first All-Star year in the league. While it’s tempting to pick the Pacers to make the upset and defeat the defending conference champions, the Cavs still have LeBron James and it’d be surprising to see a young team take down The King still in his prime. Cleveland may struggle but they should be fine here.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers; 4-1

 

 

(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Miami Heat

Simmons chasing down a ball in front of Whiteside.

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

Finally back in the playoffs, Philly will need Ben Simmons to carry them through the first round without Joel Embiid. The team recently reinforced their back court by getting Markelle Fultz back from injury who could even start beside Simmons against the Heat. If Simmons stays on the roll he’s on, they’re gonna be hard for Miami to stop. While the Heat are again in the postseason, they have no real star expect for possibly Goran Dragic but that’s a stretch. While Whiteside may be a top NBA center, Erik Spoelstra doesn’t play him like one. Although, without Embiid this round, he could be a factor. Either way, the Sixers should handle this easily.

Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers; 4-0

 

 

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis and Horford fighting over a rebound.

Photo Credit/celticsblog.com

 

This will be one of the more interesting matchups of the playoffs. Though Boston again looked elite this year, they’re now without their two All-Stars, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Though they’re still one of the deepest teams in the playoffs, Giannis and the Bucks have a talented enough offensive lineup to take down the Celtics. Al Horford now becomes the best player on Boston’s available team and several young stars will have to step up for the Celtics to have a chance. Never doubt Brad Stevens but with Antetokounmpo playing like an MVP along with Middleton and Bledsoe, Milwaukee is the favorite here.

Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks; 4-2

 


 

Western Conference:

(1) Houston Rockets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves

Butler driving on Harden.

Photo Credit/cbsaustin.com

 

After getting Jimmy Butler back just a few games ago, Minnesota downed the Nuggets Wednesday to clinch a postseason birth for the first time since KG was there. While making it is an accomplishment in the West, they’ll be running into a buzzsaw in Houston in the first round. With likely MVP James Harden and future hall of famer Chris Paul, It’ll be a tough series for the Wolves. Karl- Anthony Towns will need to show he has an ability to excel against Clint Capela down low and Andrew Wiggins will have to shoot above 40% from 3 for the Timberwolves to have a chance. Even then, it’s unlikely they get past The Beard.

Prediction: Houston Rockets; 4-1

 

 

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz

Mitchell guarding Westbrook.

Photo Credit/thehoopdoctors.com

 

After OKC barely grabbed a home postseason spot at the four seed, they’ll attempt to take down rookie standout Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. While the Thunder have the big names and star power, Utah has quietly crept up the Western Conference standings in the toughest division in basketball and has the shooting, defense and chemistry to make some noise in the postseason. If Mitchell catches fire and Gobert continues his dominance on the defensive end, winning the matchup with Steven Adams, look for the Jazz to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Utah Jazz; 4-3

 

 

(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans

Lillard shooting a layup over Davis.

Photo Credit/oregonlive.com

 

After MVP caliber seasons from both these team’s stars, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard, the two will duke it out in the first round of the playoffs. With the loss of Boogie Cousins earlier in the year, Davis will have to do it all for the Pelicans and hope Jrue Holiday can handle backcourt duties. For Portland, they’ll rely on their two offensive weapons in the backcourt, Lillard and McCollum, to carry the load. With the roll the Blazers have been on, it’s tough to see New Orleans having enough on offense or being able to stop Portland’s explosive guards.

Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers; 4-2

 

 

(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs

Durant driving to the basket against the Spurs.

Photo Credit/cbssports.com

 

With no Curry or Leonard, the excitement that would’ve come with this series after last year’s controversial matchup isn’t as strong. San Antonio always seems to have a shot in every series they play, but they don’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Golden State. Lamarcus Aldridge is by far their best scorer but he isn’t versatile enough to concern Warriors defenders. As long as KD and Klay can catch fire at times and Golden State can prevent sneaky runs by the Spurs they should breeze through this one.

Prediction: Golden State Warriors; 4-0

 

 

 

Luka Doncic Scouting Report Here:

Marvin Bagley III Scouting Report Here:

DeAndre Ayton Scouting Report Here:

With Boogie Out, do the Pelicans Move Davis?

Due to the DeMarcus Cousins recent achilles injury, it’s possible the Pelicans are considering finding a trade partner for Anthony Davis. While the move would be drastic for the franchise, what are some packages New Orleans should look at if they do prefer to deal their superstar?

 

 

Davis running up the court.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

 

Anthony Davis is still 24 years young and is capable of dominating a game at the power forward position, but with upcoming FA DeMarcus Cousins out for the year, coupled with Davis’ notorious injury history, the Pelicans should at least field offers from interested teams. AD is obviously a generational player and even with the current circumstances in New Orleans, he’ll be tough to pry from the Big Easy. Here’s a look at some possible trade packages  for Davis.

 

 

Ainge Finally Unloads the Boston Draft Picks:

Davis dunking; Tatum looking on. (split picture)

Photo Credit/cbsboston.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, Darius Miller

Celtics Give: Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, Al Horford, 2018 1st round pick (Lakers)/2019 1st round pick (Kings)

 

In this trade, the Celtics gather one of the best big 3s in NBA history which will consist of Irving, Hayward, and Davis by next year, also welcoming home Rajon Rondo to come off the bench. In return for their superstar, the Pelicans begin a rebuild around young star Jayson Tatum, also acquiring 23-year old guard Terry Rozier. Al Horford makes this trade possible financially but can also mentor some of the younger guys that’ll be the focus of a more youthful New Orleans team.

 

 

Phoenix Gets Booker Some Help:

Booker celebrating after a shot.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Darius Miller

Suns Give: T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, 2018 1st round pick (Heat), 2018 1st round pick (Bucks), 2021 1st round pick (Heat)

 

Here, the Suns ensure Devin Booker stays in Phoenix for a bit by getting him another star player to make a run at the playoffs with. Phoenix gives up on their two young small forwards Warren and Jackson and move PF Chriss with AD coming to town. The Suns will have to dish out several draft picks to New Orleans as they don’t have a surefire cornerstone prospect like Boston that they’d be willing to trade.

 

 

AD to NYC:

Davis being guarded by 3 Nets.

Photo Credit/zimbio.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Jameer Nelson, Ian Clark, Darius Miller

Nets Give: Jahlil Okafor, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, 2018 1st round pick (Raptors), 2018 2nd round pick (Pacers), 2019 2nd round pick (Knicks)

 

In this one, the Pelicans will have to put their trust in some of the young guys from Brooklyn and hope they can develop into the players they look like they have a chance be. Dinwiddie excelled with Russell out and could be a solid backcourt player for the future in New Orleans. RHJ and LeVert are the real gems here besides the draft picks as they have outside chances of being above average starters in the league. A combo of Russell and Davis in the East would be dangerous and speed up the rebuild in Brooklyn.

 

 

Sixers Create a Frontcourt for the Ages; Give up on Fultz:

Davis and Embiid fighting over the ball.

Photo Credit/thebirdwrites.com

 

Pelicans Give: Anthony Davis, Tony Allen

Sixers Give: Amir Johnson, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, 2018 2nd round pick (Rockets), 2019 1st round pick, 2020 1st round pick, 2020 2nd round pick (Mavs), 2021 2nd round pick (Knicks)

 

This trade would create one of the most dominant frontcourts in NBA history with Davis and Embiid. The Sixers would rocket themselves up to title contention here, though giving up a few young prospects and several draft picks. The disappointing start to Markelle Fultz’s career in Philly comes to a close as he’s shipped to New Orleans with rookie standout Dario Saric.

 

 

Davis Comes Home:

Davis dunking on Markannen.

Photo Credit/thebirdsaves.com

 

Pelicans give: Anthony Davis, Omer Asik

Bulls Give: Nikola Mirotic, Lauri Markannen, Justin Holiday, 2018 1st round pick, 2019 1st round pick

 

If the Bulls were to get involved in the AD sweepstakes, they’d likely need to unload their promising young forward Lauri Markannen, giving the Pelicans a new big man to center the team around. This also gives Nikola Mirotic a chance to get away from the Bulls while Justin Holiday will join his brother in the New Orleans backcourt. The big story here is AD heading back to his hometown Chicago and becoming a part of the high-flying Bulls with Zach LaVine.

 

 

 

Click: Why Paul George Would Ruin the Lakers

Why Paul George Would Ruin the Lakers

In the recent past, it’s tough to remember a time when a franchise was so closely linked to a big time player who wasn’t with the organization. The mutual interest is clearly there in the case of Paul George and the LA Lakers, but would a PG homecoming actually benefit Los Angeles’ future?

 

 

George during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

 

After seven years with the Indiana Pacers, Paul George is now in OKC in the final year of his contract and is eyeing no  team more than his hometown Lakers as his preferred free agency destination. While bringing a superstar talent and perennial All-Star to Hollywood would be a great marketing move for the organization, Magic Johnson might wanna think twice about how signing or trading for George would affect Los Angeles on the court. Here’s why avoiding Paul George would ultimately be best for LA.

 


 

Other Options In 2018 Free Agency

Cousins during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Along with George there are several other star players who’s contracts are set to run out this year, such as LeBron James who Los Angeles also has their eye on. James really seems like he could fit in anywhere and signing one of the best to ever play would obviously do wonders for the Lakers financially, but the guy who would fit best on the team is DeMarcus Cousins. After a few failed attempts at acquiring Boogie from the Sacramento Kings in the past, LA now has a chance to pick him up in the 2018 offseason, despite rumors that suggest the big man is leaning towards staying in NOLA for the future. Cousins appears to be hitting his prime just as he’s about to slip into the open market, putting up almost Wilt Chamberlain like modern day numbers at 27. With Brook Lopez and Julius Randle likely out the door by next year, there should be a gaping disparity in the Laker frontcourt which Boogie could fill perfectly. A more developed Lonzo Ball alongside Cousins could be dangerous in a Western Conference with soon-to-be aging superstars. Spending max money on George would be a settle by the franchise.

 

 

Lineup Clogging and Development Stunting

Ingram and Kuzma celebrating.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

While the Lakers could bring in an All-Star in George to upgrade their small forward spot for now, the team already has a couple 6’9″ potential stars in their lineup. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have quite similar frames compared to George and have the potential to be All-Stars in the future. Signing or trading for George would almost ensure they would either have to move or bench Ingram or Kuzma. Both these two young players could be 20pt scorers as soon as next year if things go right. Deciding to spend money on an older star who may be passed by one or both of these two in as little as 3 years or so would be an awful move by Magic, preventing what could be a great team in a few years. Since the end of Kobe’s prime, the Lakers have been stacking up drafted talent on their team but haven’t found any sort of identity or cornerstone player until now. Drafting Lonzo Ball gives them their point guard for the future while they definitely have their forwards for the future with Ingram and Kuzma. Bringing in some older stars in free agency to put around these 3 is the next step for the franchise, but George is not the guy. LA  has had trouble attracting superstars recently, which may be why they’re so eager to sign George without considering what it’d mean for their young players.

 

 

Losing Out on Free Agents in Future Summers

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

By going ahead and spending money on George this summer, the Lakers aren’t just losing the opportunity to sign other players this year but are also chancing missing out on stars who’ll be on the market in 2019 and beyond. LA native Klay Thompson will be a free agent in 2019 and while he’ll likely stay with the Warriors to try and keep winning titles in the Bay, Los Angeles should at least try and lure him south. They’d have to obviously rid of some other expendable players on the team to pick up Thompson if they do sign Cousins this summer, but a lineup of Ball, Thompson, Ingram, Kuzma, and Cousins could be a title team in a few years. The inevitable truth of having to start paying some of their young guys in a couple years makes money become an issue for the Lakers, making the use of a max contract on George even more unattractive.

 

 

It’s rare for a franchise to turn down a star player in free agency which may be necessary if Los Angeles were to avoid signing George as he’s made it pretty clear he wants to come home this summer, but it’s the best thing for their future. Sticking to their young players and looking to make a splash in free agency in different areas of the lineup would be most beneficial for them especially with the superstars on the market in the next couple years. It’s hard to see the Lakers and George not joining up next fall but considering going in a different direction would be best for LA.

 

 

 

Top 15 Point Guards Here:

Top 15 Shooting Guards Here:

Top 15 Small Forwards Here:

Top 15 Power Forwards Here:

Top 15 Centers Here:

Top 15 Centers in the NBA at the Halfway Point

Top 15 Centers in the NBA at the Halfway Point

Now just weeks away from the All-Star Break, which centers make the cut for the top 15 at their position. Note: Rudy Gobert and Nikola Vucevic will not be included as they’ve missed significant time this season due to injury.

 

 

Honorable Mentions: 

John Collins

Robin Lopez

Steven Adams

Willie Cauley-Stein

Marcin Gortat

 

 

 

15. Enes Kanter – New York Knicks

Enes Kanter flexing ater a play.

Photo Credit/theringer.com

 

In his first year with New York, Kanter is excelling and has been a strong frontcourt partner to Kristaps Porzingis. Currently averaging a double-double, the Turkish big man is putting up over 13 points a game in only around 25 minutes a game. His efficiency and intangibles make him valuable to a rebuilding Knicks team.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

14. Jusuf Nurkic – Portland Trail Blazers

Jusuf Nurkic during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

After coming to the Blazers from Denver last season, Nurkic has done great in a starting role for Portland, being a third option for the team behind star guards Lillard and McCollum. Though he’s missed a bit of time due to injury this year, the 23-year old has still proven to be the team’s best frontcourt option when healthy.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

13. Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers

Myles Turner after making a play.

Photo Credit/complex.com

 

In his first year in the league without Paul George, Turner has been a bit of a disappointment. While the emergence of new teammate Victor Oladipo could’ve taken away from some of his spotlight, the former Texas big man should be having a stronger 3rd season than he his. While his 3-pt shooting has continued to improve, Turner has yet to become a force on the boards, putting up a meager 6.5 a game. If he wants to be one of the best centers in the NBA, Turner must become stronger down low.

Previous Ranking: 11

 

 

12. Dwight Howard – Charlotte Hornets

Howard during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/clutchpoints.com

 

Only half a season into his tenure with Charlotte, Howard finds himself on the trade block. While he’s still a double-double center, the big man now lacks the dominant offensive prowess he had in Orlando. His remaining athletic ability and size make him a desirable center for many teams in the league but his massive contract may turn off potential trade partners for the Hornets.

Previous Ranking: 12

 

 

11. Hassan Whiteside – Miami Heat

Whiteside flexing after a play.

Photo Credit/foxsports.com

 

Though injuries sidelined Whiteside for some time at the beginning of the year, he’s somewhat returning to his old self now. The 28-year old is currently averaging a double-double and leading a Heat team who’s competing well in the East. A shot at DPOY is a stretch but Whiteside is clearly the best player in Miami and should find him and his team in the postseason this spring.

Previous Ranking: 7

 

 

10. DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan dunking on Pau Gasol.

Photo Credit/usatoday.com

 

Nearly at the All-Star break, Jordan finds himself on the Clipper trade block. While Los Angeles looks to have a fair shot at the playoffs this season, they seem more interested in possibly cleaning slate and rebuilding around Blake Griffin. As of now, Jordan is averaging a healthy double-double and is up there with Andre Drummond as clearly a top 2 rebounder in the NBA. He could be out of LA in less than a month, but as of now Jordan is having another typical season for him and is one of the best defensive centers in the league.

Previous Ranking: 8

 

 

9. Clint Capela – Houston Rockets

Capela driving to the basket.

Photo Credit/rebrn.com

 

While he’s still pretty far down on the rung of offensive options for Houston, Capela has continued to improve and is by far the best defensive big man for the Rockets. His offensive efficiency has also gotten better and he’s currently one of the best centers in the league in that department. Averaging a double-double and shooting over 66% from the field, Capela needs to be healthy to give Houston a shot at Golden State in the postseason.

Previous Ranking: 15

 

 

8. Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons

Drummond dribbling in the paint.

Photo Credit/mlive.com

 

Probably one of the biggest All-Star snubs this year, Drummond is having a far better year than his previous for Detroit. The 24-year old is averaging another points-rebounds double-double and leading the league in boards, but where he’s really improved is his playmaking. At 7-ft tall, Drummond is surprisingly putting up nearly 4 assists a game, getting the smaller guys on the floor better shots out of the post. The Pistons have slowed down since the start of the season but the team should be in the running for the 8 spot come playoff time.

Previous Ranking: 13

 

 

7. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies

Gasol during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Gasol is another one of the centers that could be on the move at the deadline, but in the meantime he’s having another great season in Memphis. The Spaniard is scoring well again, shooting at around 34% from 3 on the year. He’s improved on the boards this season and is making plays out of the post for the Grizzlies. A lottery pick looks almost certain for Memphis this year so don’t be surprised if Gasol is in another uniform by February.

Previous Ranking: 6

 

 

6. Al Horford – Boston Celtics

Horford getting ready to pass.

Photo Credit/fanragsports.com

 

In his second year with Boston, Horford will make an All-Star appearance and has his Celtics currently first in the East. While he still seems to struggle a bit in the rebounding department, the Florida product is averaging over 5 assists a game and is one of the most valuable players on the Celtics roster. Horford stays one of the most underrated centers in the NBA, helping Boston reach the top of the East without Gordon Hayward.

Previous Ranking: 9

 

 

5. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets

Jokic during a play.

Photo Credit/theringer.com

 

After bursting onto the scene last year in Denver, Jokic has carried his strong play into this season. The young Serbian star currently averages a double-double with 5 assists a game and has his Nuggets hanging on in the 8 spot in the West. His defense has also made improvements this season which will benefit a young, raw Denver team. Expect to see Jokic in the All-Star game in a few years as he stays one of the top 5 centers in the league.

Previous Ranking: 5

 

 

4. Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers

Love during a play.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Love has recently been in the news for being targeted in an off-court meeting by his teammates as the Cavs struggles continue. Despite all the drama surrounding Cleveland, Love is averaging over 18 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game. As the second option for Cleveland now, he’s excelling and will make another All-Star appearance in a few weeks.

Previous Ranking: 3 (Power Forwards)

 

 

3. Karl Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves

Centers Pachulia and Towns running up the floor.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

With new teammate Jimmy Butler, Towns has the Wolves at the top of their division and looking towards a possible home playoff spot for the postseason. While his scoring numbers have decreased due to the loads new of talent on the team, Towns is averaging a double-double and shooting over 50% from the field. He’ll be making his first All-Star appearance this year alongside Butler.

Previous Ranking: 1

 

 

2. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Embiid during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Embiid will also be making his first All-Star appearance this season after again improving over the offseason. With fellow young star Ben Simmons, the 23-year old has the Sixers hanging on to a playoff spot at the 8 slot currently. While he can improve even more on the offensive end, Embiid’s defensive ability makes him so valuable. Expect him to be in the MVP conversation in a few years.

Previous Ranking: 2

 

 

1. DeMarcus Cousins – New Orleans Pelicans 

Cousins shooting over Robin Lopez.

Photo Credit/al.com

 

Seemingly just hitting his prime, Boogie is having an MVP caliber season and has had some eye opening performances consistently so far this year. The 27-year old is averaging over 25 and 12 while distributing over 5 assists a game. Alongside Anthony Davis in the frontcourt, Cousins has the Pelicans in the 6th spot in the West. A free agent this summer, the former Kentucky star is ensuring his status as a max player and will also be making an All-Star appearance next month.

Previous Ranking: 3

 

 

 

Top 15 Point Guards Here

Top 15 Shooting Guards Here

Top 15 Small Forwards Here

Top 15 Power Forwards Here

Top 15 Power Forwards in the NBA at the Halfway Point

Top 15 Power Forwards in the NBA at the Halfway Point

Here’s a look into the Top 15 power forwards in the league at the halfway point in the season. Note: Nuggets forward Paul Millsap will not be included in this list as he’s missed significant time due to injury.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Thaddeus Young

James Johnson

Dario Saric

Derrick Favors

Taj Gibson

 

 

15. Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers

Randle driving to the basket.

Photo Credit/bleacherreport.com

 

Though he’s clearly on the Laker trade block and almost certainly won’t be a part of the LA roster next season, Randle is having the best year of his young career. While only seeing around 23 minutes of floor time so far, he’s shooting 54% from the field and has also shown his ability to rebound at an elite level when given the opportunity. Making the most of his playing time, Randle deserves a spot on the list.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

14. Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors

Serge Ibaka celebrating after a play.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

After signing a new deal with Toronto in the offseason, Ibaka has remained an important frontcourt piece for the team this season. While he shouldn’t be expected to give you 20 a game or dazzle in the assist department, the big man makes a statement on defense and compliments the Raptors backcourt stars well. He’s slowed down as the years have gone on, but Ibaka remains an above-average 4 in the NBA.

Previous Ranking: 9

 

 

13. Carmelo Anthony – Oklahoma City Thunder

Melo smiling during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/clutchpoints.com

 

In his first year in OKC, Anthony has given the Thunder pretty much what was expected; scoring and basically nothing else. Melo remains a good shooter and crafty scorer but hasn’t been able to develop his defense or playmaking which is necessary to be a star in today’s game. After a disappointing start to Oklahoma City’s season, it’s possible Anthony finds himself on another team by next year.

Previous Ranking: 10 (Small Forward)

 

 

12. Zach Randolph – Sacramento Kings

Randolph during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/hoop-ball.com

 

In his first year with the Kings, Randolph has clearly shown he’s currently the best player on the young Sacramento roster. After several years of team and individual success in Memphis, Z-Bo is now more of a mentor and leader than star for the Kings. On the court, he’s putting up almost 15 points a game while keeping his FG percentage at nearly 50%. His workload is expected to decrease as the season goes on, but Randolph still has some game left in him.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

11. Rondae Hollis Jefferson – Brooklyn Nets

RHJ dribbling up the floor.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

An integral part of the Nets rebuild, Hollis-Jefferson is in his first season handling true starters minutes and he’s performing well. His athleticism and defensive potential make him an intriguing forward prospect. If he finds a jumper over the next few seasons he can maintain a status as a 2nd or 3rd option in the young Brooklyn lineup.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

10. Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls

Markkanen getting ready to shoot.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

In his first year in the league, Markannen has been a pleasant surprise for the Bulls as most expected him to be a bit more of a project. Putting up over 15 and 7 while at some solid percentages, the former Arizona big man has shown he’s the key piece to the Chicago rebuild early in his career. While he’s currently sharing power forward minutes with Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic, Markannen clearly has the most potential and skill out of the three and should see increased minutes with the expected trade of Mirotic away from the Bulls.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

 

9. Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers

Kuzma passing the ball on offense.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Just a rookie, you could argue Kuzma is already the best player on the Lakers. His scoring ability is far more advanced than most expected from the Utah product. With a good 6’9″ frame, Kuzma is able to play the 3 or the 4 and guard a range of positions. As his playmaking and defense progress, Kuzma could be a star in the NBA in a few years.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

8. Harrison Barnes – Dallas Mavericks

Barnes during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/mavs.com

 

Though a long time small forward with the Golden State Warriors, Barnes seems to have essentially shifted over to the power forward position since his arrival in Dallas. His composed face-up play style has lifted his game with the Mavs and allowed him to start off this year averaging nearly 19 points a game at some comfortable percentages. While his playmaking still needs work, Barnes is a key piece of the Mavericks rebuild as he nears his prime.

Previous Ranking: 8

 

 

7. Nikola Mirotic – Chicago Bulls

Mirotic preparing to shoot.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

As the trade deadline comes closer, the likelihood of a Mirotic trade has turned into a certainty. While the Montenegrin big man is being tossed around in rumors, he’s having the best season of his career. Off the bench, Mirotic is averaging over 17 points a game while shooting the 3 at an accurate 45%. His start to the season will benefit the Bulls as they’ll be able to garner more assets in a deal.

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

 

 

6. LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs

Aldridge after making a play.

Photo Credit/espnsa.com

 

Aldridge has enjoyed much more individual success to start the season largely due to the absence of fellow star Kawhi Leonard. As he’s looking more like his Portland self, the 32-year old is putting up over 22 and 8 while shooting about 50% from the field. If Leonard remains out for a bit and Aldridge continues his efficient ways, it’s possible he finds himself in the All-Star game again.

Previous Ranking: 10

 

 

5. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks

Porzingis going up for a layup.

Photo Credit/newsday.com

 

In his first season without Melo, Porzingis is thriving and having by far the best offensive year of his career. His defense is again a strong suit of his as well, putting up well over 2 blocks a game. Where Porzingis can transform into a real superstar who could lead a team to the playoffs singlehandedly is his playmaking and strength down low. Someone with his height shouldn’t have the trouble on the boards that he does. Improving on these facets of his game this offseason could help New York punch a ticket to the playoffs in 2019.

Previous Ranking: 5

 

 

4. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

Griffin backing down on Chris Paul.

Photo Credit/sbnation.com

 

Though he’s again been plagued with injuries this season, Griffin is having another All-Star caliber year. The loss of star PG Chris Paul has meant more touches and expected playmaking from him. With questions surrounding some of his teammates, Griffin has the Clips again in a position to make a visit to the postseason.

Previous Ranking: 4

 

 

3. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors

Green during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/usatoday.com

 

Green is having another tremendous season with the Warriors, leading the team in assists and upping his PPG from last season. Though his defensive statistics are a bit down compared to his DPOY performance last year, he’s having the same profound effect on that side of the ball. It’s likely one of his teammates picks him for the All-Star game this year and he should be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year again as well.

Previous Ranking: 2

 

 

2. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans 

Davis dribbling up the floor.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

Davis is again having an incredible season alongside fellow frontcourt star DeMarcus Cousins. While putting up another double-double average, Davis has gotten his 3pt% up to around 34%, a bit above his career average. At this point, the star forward has all the tools be a perennial MVP candidate. The only thing Davis needs to be a surefire Hall of Famer is good health. He’s had trouble in his young career with various injuries which have held him and the Pels back from success. If Davis is able to have a good run of health and avoid nagging Injuries in the future, he’ll be one of the best players in the league for years.

Previous Ranking: 1

 

 

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbling the ball up the floor.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Giannis has picked up right where he left off last year, stuffing the stat sheet and getting stronger individually while putting his Bucks in the position to make the playoffs again. The 23-year old will certainly be making another All-Star appearance next month and will be in the MVP conversation in June barring injury. With his size, athleticism, and playmaking ability, Antetokounmpo has the potential to be a top 10 player all-time. While his jumper can still be developed to make him pretty much unstoppable offensively, he’s already the top power forward in the NBA.

Previous Ranking: 4 (Small Forward)

 

 

 

Top 15 Point Guards Here

Top 15 Shooting Guards Here

Top 15 Small Forwards Here

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

5 REALLY unrealistic blockbuster trades that could ruin the Warriors Championship run

5 REALLY unrealistic blockbuster trades that could ruin the Warriors Championship run

The Golden State Warriors have one of the most dominant sports dynasties in history going right now. Their juggernaut has other teams in the league scrambling for answers. What possible trades could push a team over the Dubs?

 

1. Houston-New Orleans-Portland

Photo Credit/www.si.com

 

Rockets Receive: Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins

Pelicans Receive: Evan Turner, Eric Gordon, Meyers Leonard, 2018 1st round pick (Blazers), 2020 1st round pick (Blazers), 2019 1st round pick (Rockets), 2021 1st round pick (Rockets), 2023 1st round pick (Rockets), cash considerations (Rockets).

Blazers Receive: Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza

 

It’s HIGHLY unlikely the Pels accept this trade. If things go sour in New Orleans to start the season, we could see them move Boogie Cousins, but this kind of blockbuster deal would be stunning. The Blazers get a fantastic return in this trade, keeping their star duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, while the Pelicans can stock up draft picks and receive solid role players back for their two superstars. The Rockets would obviously be the real winners here. With a 4-headed monster of Paul-Harden-Davis-Cousins, they would become the title favorite in all likelihood.

Trade possibility: 2%

 

2. Denver-Cleveland-New York

Photo Credit/www.cbssports.com

 

Nuggets Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, Willy Hernangomez

Cavs Receive: Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Emmanuel Mudiay

Knicks Receive: Iman Shumpert, Darrell Arthur, Jamal Murray, 2019 1st round pick (Nuggets), 2020 second round pick (Nuggets), 2021 2nd round pick (Nuggets).

 

Again, the chances this trade happens are incredibly slim. In this deal, Cleveland would rid of it’s unhappy star guard Kyrie Irving and bring in solid frontcourt players and a young talented PG in Emmanuel Mudiay from Denver to help out LeBron James. The Knicks would lose Melo, assuming he allows the trade, and the SF would head back to his old stomping grounds in Denver where he began his career. In return, New York would attain future picks and young talented guard Jamal Murray, most importantly. The Nuggets win this trade no doubt, stealing two All-NBA talents and creating a lineup consisting of Irving, Anthony, Millsap, and Jokic.

Trade Possibility: 9 %

 

3. Portland-New Orleans

Photo Credit/www.sportingnews.com

 

Blazers Receive: Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Jordan Crawford, Quincy Pondexter

Pelicans Receive: Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Noah Vonleh, Zach Collins, 2018 1st round pick (Blazers), 2020 1st round pick (Blazers), 2021 2nd round pick (Blazers), 2021 2nd round pick (Heat), 2022 1st round pick (Blazers), 2022 2nd round pick (Blazers), 2023 2nd round pick (Blazers), 2024 1st round pick (Blazers), 2024 2nd round pick (Blazers), cash considerations (Blazers).

 

In this trade, the Pelicans give up their two big men superstars to Portland for nearly every guaranteed pick the Blazers have in their pocket. New Orleans also receive all-around swingman Evan Turner and young frontcourt players, Noah Vonleh and Zach Collins. Portland obviously wins the trade by attaining the two former Kentucky stars to put with their amazing backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The Trail Blazers could beat the Warriors with that foursome, though depth would be an issue.

Trade Possibility: 3%

 

4. Oklahoma City-New York

Photo Credit/www.youtube.com

 

Thunder Receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah, Frank Ntilikina

Knicks Receive: Enes Kanter, Semaj Christon, Doug McDermott, 2019 1st round pick (Thunder), 2019 2nd round pick (Thunder), 2020 2nd round pick (Thunder), 2021 1st round pick (Thunder), cash considerations (Thunder).

 

Here, New York is able to dump Joakim Noah’s awful contract, though at the cost of giving up two of their prized young players. They do however get several future picks from OKC as compensation. The Thunder get Porzingis to slot at the power forward position and put with Westbrook, George, and Adams. Ntilikina provides guard depth off the bench at either the 1 or 2. This team would definitely challenge Golden State, though I think the Dubs would still come out victorious in a 7 game series.

Trade Possibility: 7%

 

5. Minnesota-New York

Photo Credit/www.clutchpoints.com

 

Timberwolves Receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O’Quinn, Frank Ntilikina

Knicks Receive: Gorgui Dieng, Justin Patton, 2020 1st round pick (Timberwolves), 2020 2nd round pick (Timberwolves), 2022 1st round pick (Timberwolves), 2023 2nd round pick (Timberwolves), cash considerations (Timberwolves).

 

The Knicks would again lose their two biggest young talents in this trade, making it very unlikely. They would however get a good stretch/defensive PF in his prime and a young center with massive potential along with several future draft picks. Porzingis seems to be in an odd situation internally with the Knicks right now, and if we see him moved in the next 5 years or so, now would really be the most likely time. New York may just clean out and start fresh, though thats very unlikely considering the talent the unicorn possesses. Minnesota on the other hand would get a stretch 4 to place beside Towns and get a backup guard with great size and defense, something they’ll need to compete with Golden State.

Trade Possibility: 6%

 

 

*The reason a year is in between every first round pick in the trades is due to the NBA rule that a team cannot trade their own 1st round pick two years in a row.*