Russell significantly underperformed his draft position while with the Lakers, but he turned things around in a big way with the Nets. On top of leading a dramatic playoff run, he also became the 2nd player from the 2015 NBA draft class to make the All-Star team.
With a step forward in offensive efficiency, Mitchell can threaten to break the top 10 on this list. He averaged 23.8 points per game this past season, and dominated on the defensive end as well. He’s looking to take a Giannis sized jump forward this season.
CJ has been in an elite scorer in the league for the last few years, but he just hasn’t been able to make the leap to becoming a truly dominant player. After 6 years in the league, it’s unlikely that McCollum becomes an all-around superstar, but there’s no reason why we can’t appreciate how good he still is. Even though he isn’t a 2 way star, the Blazers are still a force to be reckoned with in the West, and they may have the most backcourt duo in the league.
With his move to Boston, Kemba has the big shoes of the recently departed Kyrie Irving to fill. After putting up a career high 25.6 points per game last season, he definitely seems up to the challenge. Like McCollum though, he needs to improve his efficiency. Fortunately, with his new talented teammates, he’s in a great position to take the next step toward super-stardom.
After a career high in points this past season, plus his usual well rounded game, Jrue probably deserves a higher spot on this list. If he’s able to lead this young, but talent, Pelicans team to the playoffs, he’ll certainly vault into the top 15. Until then, he remains an under the radar star in the NBA.
Bradley Beal’s game is what it is, but what it is is pretty spectacular. He’s one of the most efficient scorers in the league, as well as being one of the most effective shooters. Will he ever break the top 10? Certainly not. However, that doesn’t undercut his high point totals and spectacular percentages.
Like Beal, Booker posts fabulous point totals and percentages. However, he also managed to put up 6.8 assists per game last season in a point guard type role. The ceiling is unlimited for this young star. Oh, one more thing… He’s also only 22 years old!
Khris Middleon is a rather interesting case. While his statline doesn’t jump out at you, his peers clearly recognize how good he is. He made the All-Star game this past season, and there is one stat that tells the true story behind that appearance. When Middleton is on the floor, the Bucks average point differential is over 7 points higher than when he’s benched. It goes to show, greatness isn’t about stats, it’s all about winning baby!
Could Simmons be the best player in the league? Absolutely! Will he attain anything close to that level without a half decent jump shot? Definitely not. There is absolutely no way to say where Simmons will end up after this season, but barring a dramatic increase in shots from range and efficiency from distance, he’ll likely continue to hang out in the 20s.
He’s not the same star he was when he was younger, but as this last playoff run demonstrated, he still has what it takes to help lead a team to the promised land. His stock is sure to decline this coming season, but he deserves his current placement after his clutch performance in the finals.
Oladipo is likely to miss some games at the start of this season or his ranking might be higher. That being said, Oladipo has gone from a borderline bust in Orlando, to one of the most dominant guards in the league on both ends of the floor. Nobody predicted him going this far, and it’d be unfair to say his upside is capped at this point. Expect him to continue to rise this year in Indy.
Given his skill-set, KAT should be in the top 10 on this list. However, he has never showed the fire that it takes to be truly great. His constant disappearing act in clutch moments will haunt Wolves’ fans until he finally gets motivated from all this losing. The fact that Jimmy Butler beat the rest of the Wolves starters with only the end of the bench to help him tells you everything you need to know about KAT and this squad.
Despite being traded, CP3 remains one of the better guards in the league, and the Thunder very likely have a playoff shot with him at the point guard spot. He’s definitely on the decline, but combine his veteran savvy with a talented group of young players, and you may have a recipe for regular season success.
The “Stifle Tower” led the league with an unbelievable 67% field goal percentage, and on top of that blocked 2.9 shots and grabbed over 12 boards per game… He’s one of the most dominant big men in the league and it’s impossible to argue that at this point.
At the rim, he’s the best finisher in NBA history. Shooting from deep, he’s absolutely elite. His handles are likely the best in the league as well. Sadly, his lack of defensive effort and inability to be a good teammate have held him back. If those things change while playing with Durant in Brooklyn, this could be an incredibly special team.
The numbers have never told the full story with Horford. He’s the ultimate teammate, a great rim protector, a willing passer, a good shooter, and a clutch master. He gives his all to the game and to his teammates. Philly becomes a much bigger threat with him on the team.
It’s hard to tell how great Klay Thompson is while he plays his role in the Warriors system. It’s obvious he’s a fantastic shooter and scorer, plus, he also always guards the best guard on any team the Dubs face. It’d be awesome to see Klay step into his own spotlight, but he seems likely to remain the Pippen to Curry’s Jordan.
Butler arguably has the biggest chip on his shoulder of any player in the league. So far he has been too hot to handle for 3 franchises, but Miami may just have what it takes to keep him in check. With Pat Riley running a tight ship, and Coach Spoelstra used to handling stars, this Miami team may have what it takes to make a big run in the East.
Once again, Jokic is going to lead his Denver squad deep into the playoffs. At some point, fans will have to drop their preconceptions and admit that this kid is one of the elite players in the league. He can’t jump or run fast, but he dominates every aspect of the game.
In the next 3 seasons, Lillard will vault into the top 10 for sure. It’s even possible he breaks the top 5. He’s a clutch master and a dominant guard in every aspect. Only winning has eluded him. It’ll certainly come together in time for him though.
He has size, strength, finesse, and if he stays healthy, he’ll likely have an MVP award. Last season’s playoffs showed his youth, but now that he’s been to the big stage, expect great things from the most talented big man in the league.
After a dominant season in OKC, George is now headed to LA to join Kawhi Leonard. It’s make or break time for him now, and this season will tell if he can break the top 5 or if he’ll fall out of the top 10. No excuses now.
He’s a walking triple double, but clearly stats don’t make you the best. However, it’s impossible to ignore how talented and great Westbrook is. Hopefully, he can figure it out with Harden now that he’s on another team capable of going all the way.
Why is the greatest shooter in NBA history only at 7? Good question. Unfortunately, while Curry dominates the offensive end, he is an extreme liability on defense. This fact single-handedly lost the Warriors a championship to Cleveland and it constantly shows with Curry always taking the easier guard matchup. Plus, the Dubs have to rely on odd rotations to cover his mistakes. Regardless, he’s too great of a scorer and playmaker to fall any lower.
If Davis can manage to put up a healthy season with the Lakers, this team may have a chance to win it all. Talent has never been a question for “The Brow,” but Davis has only managed to put up 2 full seasons since coming into the league, and even those were fraught with minor injuries.
Despite being one of the greatest to ever play, LeBron has finally been supplanted by a few young stars. Don’t get it twisted though, he’s still dominant and the Lakers will still be a force to be reckoned with in the West.
Since coming to Houston, Harden has been a constant MVP candidate. He arguably could be higher on this list for next season, but with Westbrook coming to town, it’s more than likely that Harden takes a minor step back. Fortunately, this could be a good thing for both the Rockets and his longevity as a player.
Before his injury in the playoffs, Durant demonstrated that he is one of the best all-around players to ever take to the hardwood. He won’t play much this next season, but his talent deserves the #3 spot. A healthy KD and Kyrie seem to have a very good chance of bringing a ring home to Brooklyn.
“The Greek Freak” is a complete force of nature, but Giannis clearly got overwhelmed in the playoffs. Now that he’s had a taste of the big stage, it seems unlikely that will happen again. Prepare to see Giannis win many MVPs awards in the future.
Kawhi Leonard. He flew under the radar a bit in San Antonio, but his time in Toronto showed just how great he really is. It’s safe to say he’s one of the greatest players in NBA history, and if he wins another ring with the clippers, he’ll start a strong push towards unseating Jordan.