Top 100 NBA Players: 40-11

Top 100 NBA Players: 40-11

by October 11, 2019 0 comments

Here’s the third part of a four-part series looking at the NBA’s 100 best players.

40. Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers

Along with Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell provides a spark off the bench for the Clippers. Harrell made huge gains last season, putting up 16.6 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 61.5% from the field. While he might continue to come off the bench, Harrell is closer for the Clippers and a key piece to a championship-level roster.

39. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Middleton continued to improve last season en route to his first All-Star nomination at age 27. Milwaukee rewarded Middleton with a max extension this summer as his ability to catch and shoot the ball makes him the perfect fit to put around Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

38. Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

As the second star next to Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray improved a lot last season and helped the Nuggets lock up the two seed a year after they missed the playoffs. When Murray heats up, he’s hard to stop, and that happened when he put up 48 on the Celtics last season:

37. Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

Arguably the best sixth man of all time, Lou Williams earned the league’s Sixth Man award for the third time in his career last season as the Clippers’ closer off the bench. Doc Rivers will likely opt to keep him on the bench, but he’ll be an integral part of the Clippers’ roster this season. He hit this buzzer-beater to down the Nets last season as well:

36.Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

Tobias Harris was having the best stretch of his career until the Clippers traded him to the Sixers at the trade deadline last season. The reality of the situation is that Tobias Harris did not fit in with Jimmy Butler, and off-ball improvements from Harris will be a big help for the Sixers this season.  

35. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks

John Collins was an absolute steal for the Hawks as the 20th pick in the 2017 draft. After an early-season injury, Collins came back and put up 19.5 PPG and 9.5 RPG and improved as a three-point shooter. Trae Young is great, but for now, Collins is easily their best player since he is a more consistent player. 

34. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Booker’s numbers improved once again as he put up a career-high 26.6 PPG last season. However, Booker has still yet to play in any meaningful NBA games, and his numbers haven’t helped the Suns win games.  

33. Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets

You might see Westbrook down at 33 and think to yourself he should be higher. Guess what: I think it might be too generous. Sure, triple-doubles are cool to look at, but Westbrook doesn’t help his teammates or the team win games. And you can’t forget his toxic personality. I don’t think Westbrook will fit in well with Houston at all. 

32. D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors

While Russell made his first All-Star appearance and was runner up for MIP last season, I still believe Caris LeVert was the best player on the 2018-19 Nets roster. Before LeVert’s injury, Russell was the clear second option, and then he struggled in the playoffs. Now with the Warriors, Russell will play alongside Steph Curry and provide the shooting they’ll miss in Klay Thompson’s absence.

31. Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets

Caris LeVert is making the All-Star team this season. LeVert was the closer and was playing extremely well before he suffered a gruesome ankle injury that cost him a good part of the regular season. LeVert struggled upon his initial return but returned to the level he is capable of playing at during the playoffs. He was easily the Nets’ best player during their series against Philly. Now fully healthy, I see LeVert putting up 20-plus PPG, five-plus RPG and assists per game, and 1.5-plus steals per game as the Nets’ second star next to Kyrie Irving. In a weaker Eastern Conference, Caris LeVert will earn his first All-Star appearance.  

30. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder

Now 34 years old, Paul is well past the prime of his career and has struggled with injuries each of the last two seasons. He will be a mentor for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City if he stays with the team for the whole season. 

29. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings

After he struggled as a rookie, De’Aaron Fox made huge improvements in Year 2 and is the face of the Kings’ future. Fox is a freak athlete and possibly the fastest player in the NBA, and he uses this to get to the rim and set up shots for teammates. 

28. Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

The European duo of Porzingis and Luka Doncic has arrived. Porzingis is finally healthy after he suffered a torn ACL in Jan. 2018. It will be interesting to see if The Unicorn returns to All-Star form. 

27. Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers

Al Horford is very good at all aspects of the game, but not necessarily elite at any one skill. Horford is a perfect fit for the 76ers, and he provides interior defense and takes a lot of the load off of Joel Embiid. Not to mention, the Boston Celtics don’t have anyone to contain Embiid anymore, either.

26. Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

The 2017-18 MIP, Oladipo was having another great season before a quad injury cost him the final 46 games of the season. It’s unclear when Oladipo will return, but it will likely be in December or January. That’s unlike Klay Thompson, who is out until after the All-Star break, so I left Oladipo on the list since he’s projected to play for more than half of the season.

25. Mike Conley, Utah Jazz

It’s weird to think that Kyle Lowry has made five straight all-star games while Mike Conley still has made none. More than anything, it shows the talent difference between the East and the West. Conley is a major upgrade over Ricky Rubio, and the Jazz are a legitimate threat to make the NBA Finals. Here are the highlights from one of his best games last season:

24. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Out of everyone on the top 100 list, Draymond Green averaged the fewest number of points with just 7.4 per game last season. However, Green does so much more for the Warriors in ways the stat sheet won’t show. He’s an elite defender, excellent facilitator, and he elevates his game in the playoffs.  

23.Lamarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

The most unsexy star in the NBA, Lamarcus Aldridge is often overlooked due to his style of play, but he is still an effective scoring option at age 34. 

22. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

While I think ESPN’s putting McCollum at No. 13 is a little too high, I do think he gets overlooked by fans since he plays for the Trail Blazers and is the second star to Damian Lillard. On nights when Dame is off, McCollum is often able to step up, and he played great during the second round of the playoffs against Denver, with Dame struggling. 

21. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Wow, Pascal Siakam came out of nowhere to become a legitimate star in the NBA. Siakam won Most Improved Player and was a pivotal piece to the Raptors’ championship run. Now with Kawhi Leonard gone, the Raptors will rely on Siakam to be their best player. I definitely see Siakam earning his first All-Star appearance this upcoming season. 

20. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

Mitchell continued to improve as a scorer in Year 2, putting up 23.8 PPG on 43.2% shooting. His efficiency can be improved, but with Mike Conley now running point for Utah, that should take some of the stress off Mitchell. He reminds me of prime Carmelo Anthony.  

19. Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons

Griffin doesn’t get a lot of attention because he plays for the boring Detroit Pistons, but going into his age 30 season, he is still an elite talent. No, he won’t throw down the monsters he once did, but he’s an improved shooter and improving as a ball handler. This and-one beat the Sixers in October of last season:

18. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal is someone who has always been forgotten. He was the second star behind John Wall, and once Beal became the go-to-guy for the Wizards, the rest of the team got worse. I think he will likely be traded during the season; Miami seems like a possible spot.  

17. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Right from the start of last season, Luka Doncic established himself as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, and he did not look back. He led all rookies in averaging 21.2 PPG. Now, with Porzingis healthy, Doncic will look to bring the Mavericks back to the playoffs.  

16. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

There have been questions about his leadership in the past, but Towns stepped up after Jimmy Butler was traded. While Andrew Wiggins continues to spiral downwards, Towns has taken his game to the next level, and the Timberwolves will need a big season from him if they want to make the playoffs.  

15. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Simmons has everything you want from a star NBA player … except, of course, the ability to shoot. There have been several videos of him shooting during practice and scrimmage games, but those videos never show viewers the times he’s missed those shots, so I’m not sold on his shot until I see it consistently in-game.  

14. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

Out of all the crazy moves that happened during the offseason, Jimmy Butler taking himself out of a championship roster, and going to the Heat was probably the weirdest. Now, in Miami, Butler will be the focus of the offense and look to take the Heat back to the playoffs.  

13. Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics

Going into his ninth NBA season, Kemba Walker is finally on a team that’s projected to be a top seed in the East. It’s tough to gauge how good he can be because he’s never had reliable talent on his team outside of an aging Al Jefferson. 

12. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert is far and away the best player in the NBA to never make an All-Star team. I would also argue that he’s the best defensive player in the league due to his interior presence and mobility. Gobert is a back-to-back DPOY winner, and while he doesn’t get as much attention as Donovan Mitchell, Gobert is the most crucial member of this Jazz team. 

11. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

On paper, Kyrie had a solid season, but in reality, his lack of leadership towards the younger players hurt the Celtics. However, he’s now in a better situation with two of his closest friends in Kevin Durant and Deandre Jordan. With improvements from Caris LeVert, the Nets should be very good this season. 

 

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