Storyline: Here are my Top 25 NBA players of the season.
25) Kevin Love (19.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 APG, FG% 42.7, PER 21.1) – I could not leave Love off my list, but I almost did. It is hard to say he isn’t worthy with the stat line he had as a THIRD OPTION. If Love continues to do this, I see good things for the Cavs in the playoffs.
24) DeAndre Jordan (12.7 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, FG% 71.4, PER 21.8) – Jordan always plays a consistent season. His numbers always are about the same not much change (working on free throws wouldn’t kill him). But nonetheless a great season from a guy who protects the paint very well every season and always finds himself leading league in fg%.
23) Kyle Lowry (22.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 7.0 APG, FG% 46.4, PER 22.9) – For a season with him missing a portion of the season. Lowry is still worthy of making this list. A very much improved 3-point shot will definitely help a Raptors team with poor shooting in the playoffs.
22) Nikola Jokic (16.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.9 APG, FG% 57.7, PER 26.2) – This is simply another player I wish I could put higher, but I can’t. What’s not to like about this guy: he has great post moves and he’s a great rebounder with passing skills that many big’s do not possess. If he works more on his scoring over the summer, good things can come for Jokic and the Nuggets.
21) Rudy Gobert (14.0 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, FG% 66.3, PER 23.3) – The stat line doesn’t tell it all for Gobert. The defensive anchor for the best defensive team in the NBA had a season the numbers really don’t say. Gobert is my pick for DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year) and I expect the Jazz to surprise people in the playoffs by beating expectations.
20) Damian Lillard (27.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 5.9 APG, FG% 44.4, PER 24.1) – Dame had a roller coaster-type season with the Trailblazers. What seemed like Lillard was tearing it up, turned into McCollum almost playing better than him. Lillard, McCollum, and the addition of Nurkic helped this team fight for a playoff spot.
19) Paul George (23.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, FG% 46.1, PER 20.2) – What keeps George from being higher here is also team success. The under-performing season from George and the rest of the Pacers was completely unexpected. George played his game, but team success keeps him from climbing any higher.
18) Gordon Hayward (21.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, FG% 47.1, PER 22.2) – I wish I could place Hayward higher for the spectacular season he had. Hayward led Utah to fourth place in the Western Conference with one of the best defenses in basketball. Stay tuned to see if this season is the reason Hayward locks in long-term or finds a new home.
17) Chris Paul (18.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 9.2 APG, FG% 47.6, PER 26.2) – No matter who stays healthy for Paul, he will always give you the consistent production. Will he ever fall off? Probably not.
16) Hassan Whiteside (17.0 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, FG% 55.7%, PER 22.6) – A season that didn’t look so good initially for Miami ended up being a successful run. Almost 17 points and 14 rebounds a night is a very impressive stat line for the 27 year old scratching at his prime. Miami has tenacious shot blocking and it was one of the best 2nd half teams in the East.
15) Kyrie Irving (25.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.8 APG, FG% 47.3, PER 23.0) – It was a very good season for this second option in Cleveland. He’s still finding a way to score big as a second option to James. Expect Kyrie and Co. to really turn it up in the playoffs.
14) DeMar DeRozan (27.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.9 APG) – It seems like every season DeRozan becomes a better scorer. 27 a night is a very impressive scoring season. But this year we have superstars Westbrook and Harden who are having unhuman-like seasons.
13) Karl-Anthony Towns (25.1 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, FG% 54.2, PER 26.0) – Towns has climbed up the list of top players, but team success is the huge factor of whether he climbs up higher.
12) Jimmy Butler (23.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.5 APG, FG% 45.5, PER 25.1) – Chicago had a hard time supporting Butler this season. New players like Wade, Rondo, and Lopez still were not enough for Chicago to excel. Butler still found a way to finish with a high PER of 25.1 and he was able to still play his brand of highly talented basketball.
11) DeMarcus Cousins (27.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 4.6 APG, FG% 45.2, PER 25.7) – Cousins is still adjusting to new life and place, but he had a very successful half-season with New Orleans. Expect Cousins to get more comfortable next year and his stock will rise.
10) Giannis Antetokounmpo (22.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 5.4 APG FG% 52.2, PER 26.0) – Here’s another player who had a huge season. Giannis’ 6’10” frame almost makes him a point god. He sees over the top of defenders, out-rebounds with incredible size, and with two steps he’s already at the rack laying it in for two points. Expect Giannis to have better team success next season, which will move him up from this 10 spot.
9) Isaiah Thomas (28.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, FG% 46.3, PER 26.5) – He is a man on a mission. Thomas is a type of player out to prove that everyone is wrong about him. He always plays with a chip on his shoulder–whether it’s because he’s only 5’9″ or because he was the last pick in the Draft. Whatever reason it works. The ‘King of the Fourth’ was worthy of being in this season’s Top 10.
8) John Wall (23.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 10.7 APG, FG% 45.1, PER 23.3) – What a season we got from Wall! He didn’t really have much around him this year, but he found a way to win and get hot at the right time.
7) Anthony Davis (28.0 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, FG% 50.4, PER 27.5) – He’s the clear-cut best big man in the NBA. Davis proved how scary he is when he plays close to 75 games a season. Increasing his points and rebounds per game from other seasons shows he’s STILL improving. That’s scary to think about!
6) Kawhi Leonard (25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, FG% 48.5, PER 27.5) – It was really hard to leave one of the next six guys out of the Top 5, but somebody had to be left out of the party. Kawhi still had an incredible season during a year when people were unsure how dominant the Spurs would be. They ended their season just fine (2nd place in the Western Conference). Kawhi possesses all the tools necessary to be a successful player in the League. It was another great season for him.
5) Stephen Curry (25.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.6 APG, FG% 46.8, PER 24.7) I’m not sure if everyone read my earlier article, but I kind of wrote Curry off during the season for poor performance. Instead of writing an article solely on how he turned it around, I figured I’d say it here. I WAS WRONG! Curry with KD out ended his season on an incredible hot streak, bumping his 3p% back up to ‘typical Curry.’ His end-of-season dominance is why he falls into the top 5 for the 2016-2017 season.
4) Kevin Durant (25.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, FG% 53.7, PER 27.6) – I really can’t say I expected this. I thought he wouldn’t get off to a good start, but would then heat it up later in the year. But Durant came out of the gates with one of the best scoring seasons I’ve ever seen. His performance was truly phenomenal.
3) LeBron James (26.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG 8.7 APG FG% 54.8, PER 27.0) – Do I even have to comment? ‘LeBron James,’ the name says it all. It was another fantastic season for the King. But critics still want to tell everyone he has lost a step and isn’t the same player he once was. Good luck with that argument!
2) James Harden (29.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 11.2 APG, FG% 44, PER 27.3) – Harden’s career almost feels like it has been rejuvenated. It’s not like he wasn’t a top player in the league already, but Coach D’Antoni has brought the Beard’s game to a much higher level than anyone expected. Running the offense with Nash as the centerpiece didn’t work. But this coach found a way to make the offensive game plan one of the best in the League.
1) Russell Westbrook (31.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 10.4 APG, FG% 42.5, PER 30.6) – Russ has shown us he is not human. He has shown us he is a specimen from another planet. His versatility is absolutely amazing. He has one of the best stat lines in NBA history. If he does not win MVP it will because his lack of team success.
(NOTE: All statistics are from Basketball-Reference)