Have you ever been watching basketball this season and thought you knew what was going to happen and all of a sudden Ja Morant is an MVP candidate and the Grizzlies are a legitimate title contender? And then when you predict the Lakers to beat the Nets in the NBA Finals before the season starts and now Kyrie Irving refuses to get vaccinated, Kevin Durant gets hurt, and James Harden gets traded while LeBron James has to deal with whatever Russell Westbrook thinks he’s doing and Anthony Davis keeps getting hurt and both teams might not even make the playoffs? Has that ever happened to you? And then you watch Andrew Wiggins stand in the corner at Target Center for six and a half years and then get traded to Golden State and become a-two-way All-Star and might win a championship and everyone forgot that they hated him when he played for the Timberwolves and now they love him because he plays for a popular team. And then the Timberwolves are better than they ever were with Andrew Wiggins but nobody cares because they don’t watch the games and still hate D’Angelo Russell but he’s actually good and plays defense but all anyone talks about is Anthony Edwards. And then everyone starts comparing Jarred Vanderbilt to a young Dennis Rodman and it catches on and his teammates bring it up but you started it and nobody cares because nobody reads this blog. Has that ever happened to you?
Born in 1946, the NBA is celebrating its 75th birthday this year which means it is old as fuck. The NBA is a boomer, so not great, but hey, we still love them. Like Timothée Chalamet’s tiny horse, in 75 years we’ve seen some of the best athletes in the world go on to “do great things” in the NBA. Now it’s time to honor the 75 greatest players in NBA history by doing what the NBA doesn’t have the courage to do, rank them. To be fair to my guy Adam Silver, ranking former and current employees is a slipper slope. Imagine showing up to your 9 to 5 at “insert digital brand marketing collective here” and all of a sudden your boss was like “well Jim, as you can see you’re pretty good, but you only worked 60 hour weeks instead of 65 so the CEO didn’t get their full $23 million dollar bonus, so you’re the 75th best employee we have.” Brutal. But hey, top 75 is nothing to shake a stick at. I was like 66th in a graduating class of more than 550 and I’m not made I wasn’t number one, I’m happy to know that I’m smarter than 490 other people. Not everyone can be Michael Jordan, but It is way cooler to be an Alex English than an Andrew Wiggins.
My ranking methodology was simple: impact on winning x stats x accomplishments x vibes x era x impact on the game x could the Spark Notes version of the NBA be told without them = the top 75 players in NBA history.
1.) Michael Jordan
Stats: 15 Seasons, 1072 Games, 30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 27.9 PER, 214 Win Shares
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 6x Finals MVP, 5x NBA MVP, 11x All NBA, 14x All-Star, 10x Scoring Champ, 9x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, 1984-85 ROY, Hall of Fame
Jordan is the GOAT until Anthony Edwards wins eight championships and six MVPs in Minnesota.
2.) LeBron James
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1310 Games, 27 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.4 apg, 27.4 PER, 241 Win Shares
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 4x Finals MVP, 4x NBA MVP, 17x All-NBA, 17x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, 6x All-Defensive, 2003-04 ROY
If after every championship you win you have to remind the world that you might be the GOAT but also “don’t care” what people say about you, then you’re just not quite the GOAT.
3.) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Stats: 20 Seasons, 1560 Games, 24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, 24.6 PER, 273.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 6x NBA MVP, 14x All-NBA, 19x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 11x All-Defensive, 1969-70 ROY, Hall of Fame
If you consider birth to retirement (high school, college, etc,) Kareem-Abdul Jabbar is probably the greatest basketball player ever, but what he did in the NBA is still great enough for a bronze medal.
4.) Bill Russell
Stats: 13 Seasons, 963 Games, 15.1 ppg, 22.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, 18.9 PER, 163 Win Shares
Accolades: 11x NBA Champion, (No Finals MVP Award until 1969), 5x NBA MVP, 11x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 1x All-Defensive (Began award in 1968-69 season), Hall of Fame
The George Washington of the NBA still belongs on Mount Rushmore.
5.) Magic Johnson
Stats: 13 Seasons, 906 Games, 19.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 11.2 apg, 24.1 PER, 155.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 3x NBA MVP, 10x All NBA, 12x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Magic is the best ambassador the NBA has and his rivalry with Larry Bird in the ’80s saved the game.
6.) Wilt Chamberlain
Stats: 14 Seasons, 1045 Games, 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg, 26.1 PER, 247.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 4x NBA MVP, 10x All-NBA, 13x All-Star, 7x Scoring Champ, 2x All Defensive, 1959-60 ROY, Hall of Fame
The most physically dominant player of any generation (unless you talk to Shaq), he should have been the GOAT but Bill Russell ate his lunch for 10 years.
7.) Larry Bird
Stats: 13 Seasons, 897 Games, 24.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 6.3 apg, 23.5 PER, 145.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 3x NBA MVP, 10x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 3x All-Defensive, 1979-80 ROY, Hall of Fame
Maybe the fiercest competitor in NBA history after Jordan, the Celtics vs. Lakers cage match rivalry of the ’80s is probably what most people between the ages of 40 and 60 think of first when they think about the NBA.
8.) Tim Duncan
Stats: 19 Seasons, 1392 Games, 19 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 3 apg, 24.2 PER, 206 Win Shares
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 2x NBA MVP, 15x All-NBA, 15x All-Star, 15x All-Defensive, 1997-98 ROY, Hall of Fame
Tim Duncan plays and dresses like he just got a bunch of Khol’s Cash from his grandma for his birthday, but the Big Fundamental handed everyone their ass for 15 years of Spurs dominance.
9.) Shaquille O’Neal
Stats: 19 Seasons, 1207 Games, 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 26.4 PER, 181.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 14x All-NBA, 15x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 3x All-Defensive, 1992-93 ROY, Hall of Fame
The second most dominant big-man ever, Shaq’s peak might be the best we’ve seen since Jordan. If he kept in shape for 15 years there’s no doubt in my mind that he would be in the GOAT conversation.
10.) Kobe Bryant
Stats: 20 Seasons, 1346 Games, 25 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, 22.9 PER, 172.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 15x All-NBA, 18x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 12x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
The closest thing to Jordan since Jordan, there’s a reason why people my age yell “KOBE!!” every time they throw something in the trash.
11.) Hakeem Olajuwon
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1238 Games, 21.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 23.6 PER, 162 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 12x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 9x All-Defensive, 2x DPOY, Hall of Fame
The biggest benefactor of MJ’s 18-month retirement, Hakeem cooked every other center he faced during the golden age of centers in the ’90s.
12.) Kevin Durant
Stats: 13 Seasons, 884 Games, 27 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.2 apg, 25.2 PER, 146.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 9x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 4x Scoring Champ, 2007-08 ROY
Durant has proven himself as more than just one of the best scorers ever, even if he had to join a 73-win team to do it.
13.) Oscar Robertson
Stats: 14 Seasons, 1040 Games, 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 9.5 apg, 23.2 PER, 189.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 11x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 1960-61 ROY, Hall of Fame
The triple-double king before Russell Westbrook dethrone him, the Big-O is one of the five pillars of the foundation of the modern NBA ( Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Oscar Robertson).
14.) Julius Erving
NBA Stats: 11 Seasons, 836 Games, 22 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 22 PER, 106 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion (2x ABA Champ), 1x NBA MVP (3x ABA), 7x All-NBA (5x All-ABA), 11x NBA All-Star (5x ABA), Hall of Fame
If his ABA career counted, Julius Erving would be somewhere in the top-eight, but even though he didn’t get to the NBA until he was 26, “Dr. J” is still one of the all-time legends of the sport. If anyone made the NBA as cool as it is today, it is Julius Erving.
15.) Steph Curry
Stats: 12 Seasons, 762 Games, 24.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.5 apg, 24 PER, 112.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 7x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ
For whatever reason, Steph Curry has his detractors, but his impact on the game is undeniable. The greatest shooter ever changed the way we play the game and led one of the greatest dynasties we’ve ever seen.
16.) Moses Malone
NBA Stats: 19 Seasons, 1329 Games, 20.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 22.3 PER, 167.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 3x NBA MVP, 8x All-NBA, 12x NBA All-Star (1x ABA), 2x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Kind of the most random player to be considered one of the greatest of all time, but Moses Malone was a giant in the ’70s and ’80s.
17.) Jerry West
Stats: 14 Seasons, 932 Games, 27 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 6.7 apg, 22.9 PER, 162.6 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 12x All-NBA, 14x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, 5x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
The Logo took nine tries but he finally got his championship in 1972. One of the godfathers of the NBA.
18.) Karl Malone
Stats: 19 Seasons, 1476 Games, 25 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 23.9 PER, 234.6 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA MVP, 14x All-NBA, 14x All-Star, 4x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
The second best Malone, the Mailman didn’t deliver on Sundays (or in the Finals), but he delivered every other day of the week for 20 years.
19.) Kevin Garnett
Stats: 21 Seasons, 1462 Games, 17.8 ppg, 10 rpg, 3.7 apg, 22.7 PER, 191.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 9x All-NBA, 15x All-Star, 12x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, Hall of Fame
Kevin Garnett was an absolute psycho on the court for 20 years, and it was so much fun to be a huge KG fan growing up. He proved that anything is possible by taking the Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. If the NBA puts him on the Anniversary team in a Celtics jersey we riot.
20.) Dirk Nowitzki
Stats: 21 Seasons, 1522 games, 20.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 22.4 PER, 206.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 12x All-NBA, 14x All-Star
Put the Mavs on his back to beat the Heatles in 2011, but I will never put him ahead of KG and maybe that’s my biggest flaw.
21.) Charles Barkley
Stats: 16 Seasons, 1073 Games, 22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 24.6 PER, 177.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA MVP, 11x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Chuck was screwed over by Michael Jordan more than anyone else other than maybe Patrick Ewing, but he came damn close to taking it to the GOAT in the ’93 Finals.
22.) Elgin Baylor
Stats: 14 Seasons, 846 Games, 27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 4.3 apg, 22.7 PER, 104.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 10x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 1958-59 ROY, Hall of Fame
One of the first players to play above the rim, Baylor averaged 38.3 points per game and 18.6 rebounds per game in 1961-62 while in the fucking Army.
23.) Bob Petitt
Stats: 11 Seasons, 792 Games, 26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg, 3 apg, 25.3 PER, 136 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 11x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 1954-55 ROY, Hall of Fame
Made the All-NBA First Team every season for the first 10 years of his career, then got relegated to the second team in his 11th and last season.
24.) Dwyane Wade
Stats: 16 Seasons, 1054 Games, 22 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.4 apg, 23.4 PER, 120.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x NBA champion, 1x Finals MVP, 8x All-NBA, 13x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, 3x All-Defensive
Wade will go down as one of the best Robin’s ever, but people forget he was Batman in the 2006 Finals with one of the greatest performances in NBA Finals history.
25.) Giannis Antetokounpo
Stats: 8 Seasons, 589 Games, 20.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 4.5 ppg, 23.7 PER, 74.6 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x NBA MVP, 5x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 4x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY
If anyone thought Giannis had hit a wall and couldn’t be the best player on a championship team, they were proven wrong last season. Giannis finally broke through with an historic performance, and now has one of the best resumes of any player in their first eight seasons. It is very easy to see a scenario where Giannis keeps ascending and one day joins the ranks of the 10 greatest players ever.
26.) Scottie Pippen
Stats: 17 Seasons, 1178 Games, 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.2 apg, 18.6 PER, 125. Win Shares
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 7x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 10x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
The greatest Robin of all time played with the greatest Batman ever. Wanted to be the guy so bad that when it was his turn he benched himself because Toni Kukoc was going to get the last shot. That’s a real alpha.
27.) John Havlicek
Stats: 16 Seasons, 1270 Games, 20.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 17.5 PER, 131.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 8x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 11x All-NBA, 13x All-Star, 8x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Havlicek had the luxury of playing with Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, Tommy Heinsohn, Dave Cowens and plenty of other Hall of Famers and he still cemented himself as an all-time great.
28.) David Robinson
Stats: 14 Seasons, 987 Games, 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.5 apg, 26.2 PER, 178.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 10x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ 8x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, 1989-90 ROY, Hall of Fame
The Admiral could be much higher had he not gone to all four years of college plus two years of Naval obligations, but his seven-year peak is a freak show of athleticism, offense, defense, and getting cooked by Hakeem Olajuwon.
29.) Isiah Thomas
Stats: 13 Seasons, 979 Games, 19.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 9.3 apg, 18.1 PER, 80.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, Hall of Fame
If Magic is the NBA’s best ambassador, Isiah might be the worst. Everyone seems to hate IT, and it is very much warranted. The Bad Boy Piston is a villain, and still a bad ass on the court.
30.) Chris Paul
Stats: 16 Seasons, 1090 Games, 18.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 9.4 apg, 24.9 PER, 189.5 Win Shares
Accolades: 10x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 9x All-Defensive, 2005-06 ROY
The “Point God” helped his stock by leading the Suns to the Finals, and could rise even higher if he finally gets that elusive championship ring.
31.) John Stockton
Stats: 19 Seasons, 1504 Games, 13.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 10.5 apg, 21.8 PER, 207.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 11x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, 5x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
The least vaccinated player on the list, Stockton was a great passer, but never quite got the NBA Championship chemistry right.
32.) Willis Reed
Stats: 10 Seasons, 650 Games, 18.7 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 18.6 PER, 74.9 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 5x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 1x All-Defensive, 1964-65 ROY, Hall of Fame
He’s most famous to people my age for hitting the first two shots in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals while injured, but Willis Reed was a dominant center in the era where Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were kicking everyone’s ass.
33.) Kawhi Leonard
Stats: 10 Seasons, 576 Games, 19.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.9 apg, 23.4 PER, 83.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 5x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 7x All-Defensive, 2x DPOY
Kawhi has the weirdest resume of any all-time great. He was drafted 15th, was considered a defensive role player, then won Finals MVP, two DPOY’s, another Finals MVP as a one-year hired gun with Toronto of all teams, now is a perennial MVP candidate with the Clippers, and has also missed essentially two (counting the upcoming 2021-22 season) full seasons due to injury, and basically invented load management. He’s going to be the best player with the worst counting stats.
34.) Steve Nash
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1217 Games, 14.3 ppg, 3 rpg, 8.5 apg, 20 PER, 129.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA MVP, 7x All-NBA, 8x All-Star, Hall of Fame
He maybe didn’t deserve both of his MVP’s but he definitely didn’t deserve to get hip checked by Robert Horry to kill Nash’s best chance at a championship.
35.) Bill Walton
Stats: 10 Seasons, 468 Games, 13.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 20 PER, 39.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 2x All-NBA, 2x All-Star, 2x All-Defensive, 1x Sixth Man, Hall of Fame
Bill Walton easily could have entered the pantheon after winning a championship and MVP by age-25, but those god damn feet cost him the rest of his career. This pick hedges that a bit but it’s undeniable that Waltons few years of his prime were dominant enough to warrant being rewarded as a top 75 player ever.
36.) George Mikan
Stats: 7 Seasons, 439 Games, 23.1 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 27 PER, 108.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 5x BAA/NBA Champion, 6x All-BAA/NBA, 4x All-Star, 3x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
The OG put Minnesota on the basketball map, and now we have the Timberwolves. We should just bring the Lakers back to Minneapolis where they belong.
37.) Bob Cousy
Stats: 14 Seasons, 924 Games, 18.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 7.5 apg, 19.8 PER, 91.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 6x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 12x All-NBA, 13x All-Star, Hall of Fame
The other OG who helped start the Celtics dynasty.
38.) Allen Iverson
Stats: 14 Seasons, 914 Games, 26.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 6.2 apg, 20.9 PER, 99 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA MVP, 7x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 4x Scoring Champ, 1996-97 ROY, Hall of Fame
The kids seem to think Iverson was a god on the level of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He is probably the second most overrated player on NBA Twitter by people who were born after he stepped over Ty Lue (first by a mile is Carmelo Anthony), but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t great, just not top 10 great.
39.) James Harden
Stats: 12 Seasons, 877 Games, 25.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 6.5 apg, 24.8 PER, 142 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA MVP, 7x All-NBA, 9x All-Star, 3x Scoring Champ, 1x Sixth Man
The greatest scorer of this generation who like Iverson is one of the best players to never win a championship.
40.) Patrick Ewing
Stats: 17 Seasons, 1183 Games, 21 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.9 assists, 21 PER, 126.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 7x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 3x All-Defensive, 1985-86 ROY, Hall of Fame
Probably screwed over by the Bulls more than any other player legacy wise.
41.) Walt Frazier
Stats: 13 Seasons, 825 Games, 18.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.1 apg, 19.1 PER, 113.5 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 6x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 7x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Possibly the second sexiest man in New York in the ’70s after Joe Namath. Terrible color commentator.
42.) Gary Payton
Stats: 17 Seasons, 1335 Games, 16.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.7 apg, 18.9 PER, 145.5 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 9x All-NBA, 9x All-Star, 9x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, Hall of Fame
The Glove swung at Jordan in 1996 and missed, but he’s one of the only guys brave enough to get in MJ’s face.
43.) Rick Barry
NBA Stats: 10 Seasons, 794 Games, 23.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.1 apg, 20.2 PER, 93.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 6x All-NBA (4x All-ABA), 8x NBA All-Star (4x ABA), 1x Scoring Champ, 1965-66 ROY, Hall of Fame
Legendary asshole who also happened to be good at basketball.
44.) Kevin McHale
Stats: 13 Seasons, 971 Games, 17.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 20 PER, 113 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 1x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 6x All-Defensive, 2x Sixth Man, Hall of Fame
The greatest Gopher ever who I guess also was a key cog on three championship teams in Boston.
45.) Jason Kidd
Stats: 19 Seasons, 1391 Games, 12.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 8.7 apg, 17.9 PER, 138.6 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 6x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, 9x All-Defensive, 1994-95 ROY, Hall of Fame
Triple threat point guard who might be ever so slightly overrated because of his triple double prowess and underrated for his bleach blonde look in the ’90s.
46.) Clyde Drexler
Stats: 15 Seasons, 1086 Games, 20.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.4 apg, 21.1 PER, 135.6 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 10x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
People thought he was Jordan in 1992, turns out he was Hakeem’s Pippen.
47.) Elvin Hayes
Stats: 16 Seasons, 1303 Games, 21 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 17.7 PER, 120.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 6x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, 2x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Great offensive player who won a championship with the god damn Bullets in the run-and-gun ’70s.
48.) Dominique Wilkins
Stats: 15 Seasons, 1074 Games, 24.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 21.6 PER, 117.5 Win Shares
Accolades: 7x All-NBA, 9x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
The Human Highlight Reel put up huge stats and not a lot of playoff wins in Atlanta.
49.) Russell Westbrook
Stats: 13 Seasons, 943 Games, 23.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 8.5 apg, 23.2 PER, 104.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA MVP, 9x All-NBA, 9x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ
The new Triple Crown King has had his career derailed in the last three seasons but could shoot back up the list with a championship in Los Angeles.
50.) Wes Unseld
Stats: 13 Seasons, 984 Games, 10.8 ppg, 14 rpg, 3.9 apg, 16 PER, 110.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP, 1x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 1968-69 ROY, Hall of Fame
The only player other than Wilt to win the MVP in his rookie season, which is insane.
51.) George Gervin
NBA Stats: 10 Seasons, 791 Games, 26.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 21.7 PER, 88.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 7x All-NBA (2x All-ABA), 9x NBA All-Star (3x ABA), 4x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Silky smooth scorer who made a seamless transition from the ABA to the NBA.
52.) Anthony Davis
NBA Stats: 9 Seasons, 564 Games, 23.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 27.1 PER, 85.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 4x All-NBA, 8x All-Star, 4x All-Defensive
The best two-way big of the last 10 years finally got his establishing ring thanks to LeBron.
53.) Dave Cowens
Stats: 11 Seasons, 766 Games, 17.6 ppg, 13.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 17 PER, 86.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 3x All-NBA, 8x All-Star, 3x All-Defensive, 1970-71 ROY, Hall of Fame
Apparently Cowens is the worst MVP in league history according to everyone who was pissed when Nikola Jokic won the award last year.
54.) Paul Pierce
Stats: 19 Seasons, 1343 Games, 19.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 19.7 PER, 150 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 4x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Pierce probably thinks he’s somewhere in the top 20, but 54 seems right for the guy who definitely didn’t shit his pants during the NBA Finals.
55.) James Worthy
Stats: 12 Seasons, 926 Games, 17.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3 apg, 17.7 PER, 81.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Somebody who never shit his pants in the finals was James Worthy. Big Game James won a finals MVP and three championships with the Showtime Lakers.
56.) Sam Jones
Stats: 12 Seasons, 871 Games, 17.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 18.7 PER, 92.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 10x NBA Champion, 3x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Maybe probably the second greatest third-man of all time behind Harry Lime.
57.) Tracy McGrady
Stats: 15 Seasons, 938 Games, 19.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.4 apg, 22.1 PER, 97.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 7x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Rivalled Kobe in the early 2000’s until injuries ended his career too early. My generation’s Dominique Wilkins. I am probably over rating him and I don’t care.
58.) Robert Parish
Stats: 21 Seasons, 1611 Games, 14.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, 19.2 PER, 147 Win Shares
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 2x All-NBA, 9x All-Star, Hall of Fame
The Chief played more games than anyone and hung around to win three championships with the ’80s Celtics and one with the ’90s Bulls.
59.) Ray Allen
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1300 games, 18.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 18.6 PER, 145.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 2x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, Hall of Fame
The greatest shooter of all time until some asshole named Steph Curry came along and snaked it from him.
60.) Hal Greer
Stats: 15 Seasons, 1122 Games, 19.2 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg, 15.7 PER, 102.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 7x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Probably the best player on this list who most people reading this have never heard of.
61.) Carmelo Anthony
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1191 Games, 23 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 19.7 PER, 104.9 Win Shares
Accolades: 6x All-NBA, 10x All-Star,1x Scoring Champ
This generation’s Tracy McGrady but instead of getting injured he just kinda stopped being great.
62.) Dennis Rodman
Stats: 14 Seasons, 911 Games, 7.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 14.6 PER, 89.9 Win Shares
Accolades: 5x NBA Champion, 2x All-NBA, 2x All-Star, 8x All-Defensive, 2x DPOY, Hall of Fame
Pound for pound the best rebounder ever and an infamous member of the Bad Boy Pistons and the ’90s Bulls who is now the only contact we have with North Korea which must be weird for North Koreans.
63.) Reggie Miller
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1389 Games, 18.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 3apg, 18.4 PER, 174.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Spike Lee’s personal nemesis and the reason he didn’t win an Oscar until 2019.
64.) Dwight Howard
Stats: 17 Seasons, 1182 Games, 16.2 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, 21.4 PER, 138.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 8x All-NBA, 8x All-Star, 5x All-Defensive, 3x DPOY
The only good center in the league from 2008-2014. Superman in the streets but apparently Zod in the locker room.
65.) Dolph Schayes
Stats: 15 Seasons, 996 Games, 18.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 22 PER, 142.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 12x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, Hall of Fame
Yea, you read that right, Dolph Schayes is still one of the greatest players of all time 57 years after he retired.
66.) Bob McAdoo
Stats: 14 Seasons, 852 Games, 22.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 20.7 PER, 89.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 3x Scoring champ, 1972-73 ROY, Hall of Fame
Somehow the only MVP left off the 50 year team in 1996, McAdoo wiggles his way back in the top 75.
67.) Billy Cunningham
NBA Stats: 9 Seasons, 654 Games, 20.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4 apg, 19.4 PER, 63.2 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 1x ABA MVP, 4x All-NBA (1x ABA), 4x NBA All-Star (1x ABA), Hall of Fame
Won a championship as a player with the 76ers in 1967 and another as their coach in 1983. Packed a huge punch in his 6’6″ frame.
68.) Alex English
Stats: 15 Seasons, 1193 Games, 21.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.6 apg, 19.9 PER, 100.7 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x All-NBA, 8x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
John Ford will cry if he doesn’t make the official list.
69.) Paul Arizin
Stats: 10 Seasons, 713 Games, 22.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 19.7 PER, 108.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 4x All-NBA, 10 All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 1950-51 ROY, Hall of Fame
Might have been the GOAT had it not be for the Korean War.
70.) Tony Parker
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1254 Games, 15.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.5 apg, 18.2 PER, 111.3 Win Shares
Accolades: 4x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 4x All-NBA, 6x All-Star
The only loss of his career was Eva Longoria.
71.) Nate “Tiny” Archibald
Stats: 13 Seasons, 876 Games, 18.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 7.4 apg, 18 PER, 83.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 1x NBA Champion, 5x All-NBA, 6x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Only player to lead the league in points and assists in the same season.
72.) Pau Gasol
Stats: 18 Seasons, 1226 Games, 17 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 21.4 PER, 144.1 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 4x All-NBA, 6x All-Star, 2002-03 ROY
Traded for his brother in one of the most lopsided trades to hand Kobe rings 4 and 5.
73.) Bernard King
Stats: 14 Seasons, 874 Games, 22.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 19.2 PER, 75.4 Win Shares
Accolades: 4x All-NBA, 4x All-Star, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
’80s Tracy McGrady.
74.) Dennis Johnson
Stats: 14 Seasons, 1100 Games, 14.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5 apg, 14.6 PER, 82.6 Win Shares
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-NBA, 5x All-Star, 9x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
DJ was the floor general for the Sonics’ lone championship in 1979 then led Boston to two more as a defensive ace.
75.) Dave DeBusschere
Stats: 12 Years, 875 Games, 16.1 ppg, 11 rpg, 2.9 apg, 15.5 PER, 60.8 Win Shares
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, 1x All-NBA, 8x All-Star, 6x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Third/secondish star of the two Knicks titles in the ’70s. Winning ended up getting him in the last spot ahead of other very worthy candidates.
The Biggest Snubs: Vince Carter, Earl Monroe, Pete Maravich, Grant Hill, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Nate Thurmond, Bob Lanier, Artis Gilmore, Chris Webber, Adrian Dantley, Bill Sharman, Tommy Heinsohn, Damian Lillard, and Manu Ginobili.
Can’t wait for the NBA’s 100th anniversary when Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns are the new co-GOATs.
We finally made it. The NBA is back for a full, normal 82-game schedule, fans will pack the stands, the Bubble is ancient history, and we beat Covid. Oh wait, Covid is raging once again across the United States…fuck it, we tried, pack the stadiums, vaccine schmaccine, and blame Joe Biden. While the NBA is on track for its first “normal” season in three years, the lead up to season 75 has been anything but normal. Executives got fired just before training camp, a lot of guys want to get traded but didn’t actually get traded, and the biggest issue at media day wasn’t how much pure muscle every player put on while vacationing in St. Barts, it was several star players’ chance to spread their increasingly uniformed reasons as to why they didn’t get the vaccine (spoiler alert, they did not do a lot of research). Covid is still with us and will play a huge factor in the upcoming season. As of this writing Kyrie Irving is kind of not really part of the Nets organization until he gets the tracker… I mean vaccine. But it’s time to plow past the protocols and into the future. I actually did my research and wanted to get my predictions for the 2021-22 NBA season out in writing so it can inevitably be used against me in the future.
Eastern Conference Standings
1.) Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn enters the 2021-22 season as the prohibitive favorites to win the NBA Championship. The same could have been said about the Nets last season but injuries wreaked havoc on the Golden trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving is an idiot and is poised to miss home games because he refuses to get vaccinated (among other things). Most Nets fans were probably already penciling Irving in to miss at least 20 games anyways this season; he’s never played more than 72 games in an entire season in his career. You have tho think that a healthy Durant and Harden can shoulder the load left by Irving’s stupid, selfish decision. Brooklyn has enough talent on the edges to keep KD and Harden from wearing down, and should be able to sleepwalk to 55 wins, and if Irving wises up this is a 65+ win team.
2.) Milwaukee Bucks
You would think the reigning champs would be favorites to get back to the NBA Finals, but Giannis and company have their work cut out for them if they want to repeat. The Nets were a Durant big toe away from beating Milwaukee in the second round, and the Bucks will need Giannis to have a few 50 point, 17 rebound games in him in order to keep supremacy over a rejuvenated Eastern Conference. Giannis, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton are about as good of a big three as any other outside of Brooklyn. Nets vs. Bucks could become the next great rivalry in the NBA, and Giannis vs. Durant might be the heavyweight fight for best player in the league. It feels stupid to say Giannis “finally” won a championship in year seven, but we now know is trajectory is to become one of the all time greats, and a second title would put him in the pantheon.
3.) Atlanta Hawks
After a wild season that saw Atlanta implode early in the season, seemingly not get along, and fire their head coach, the Hawks turned things around and made a surprise trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Trae Young is the new big bad in the East, and especially in Madison Square Garden. Atlanta might be the deepest team in the league and are primed to take the next step. Although it took a legendary meltdown from Ben Simmons for Atlanta to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, they have to juice to make it back and challenge the Bucks and Nets in the playoffs. It Young wants to become a true superstar, there’s no better way than to throw your team on your back and beat the best teams in the league. He almost did it last year, the league is officially on notice.
4.) Philadelphia 76ers
Usually when you say “it’s the summer of (insert person’s name)” it’s a good thing. The summer of George is every lazy person’s dream. However, the summer of Ben Simmons was a disaster for everyone involved. It all started when the 6’10” freak athlete passed up an easy game-clinching dunk against the Hawks in game seven of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals. The dunk would have propelled the 76ers into the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since Allen Iverson took them to the NBA Finals in 2001. Instead, Simmons passed, the Sixers lost, and Simmons and the franchise have been at odds ever since. Almost every other franchise has been linked to trade rumors for the former first overall pick, but 76ers executive Daryl Morey has been reluctant to trade the three-time All-Star for anything less than another All-Star caliber player. Even with reports that Simmons might return to the team, there’s no way he ends the season in Philadelphia. The relationship is broken and so is he. Both sides need a fresh start, the issue for the 76ers is that it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to give up a star player for Simmons. With all the drama circling the City of Brotherly Love, Joel Embiid will likely vie for his first MVP award, but without Simmons Philadelphia becomes a second-tier team in the East.
5.) Miami Heat
Which season was the fluke: the 2020 Finals run in the Bubble, or last year’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks? Most likely, the true Miami Heat identity lies somewhere in the middle. Jimmy Butler will always work hard and continue to be the man, and even through a slightly down season, Bam Adebayo looks to be on the brink of becoming the best two-way center in the league not named Joel Embiid. The addition of Kyle Lowry will bring some stability and take some pressure off of Butler on a nightly basis. To make a return trip to the NBA Finals the Miami Heat need to magic they saw from Tyler Herro in the Bubble. Herro averaged 16 points as a 20-year-old in the 2020 NBA Playoffs in Orlando, but his production and efficiency dipped in his second season. Now the third-year man out of Kentucky will need to get his juice back and become the star that many in NBA circles projected him as after the Bubble. If he does that then the Heat have a real chance to take the third spot in the East away from the Hawks.
6.) Boston Celtics
For whatever reason, the Boston Celtics were one of the hardest teams to rate this preseason. The organization is in a weird transition period after longtime GM Danny Ainge stepped down, and head coach Brad Stevens took over in the front office. Now first time head coach Ime Udoka his work cut out for him after a wildly disappointing season last year. However, the Celtics have two of the best young players in the game in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, one of the best perimeter defenders in Marcus Smart, and a man who has gained dominion over space and time in our universe in Robert Williams. Seems like they have a chance to keeps the on-court product above average. Twelve-time Tatum could be a sneaky MVP pick, but will need to play at an MVP level to give the Celtics any real chance to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in six years after a first-round exit last season.
7.) Charlotte Hornets
Hum-diddly-dee this is a young, fun, high-flying team that might actually still be a year away from real competition. Last year’s Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball might somehow have a second breakout season in year two. If Ball and MIP candidate Miles Bridges build on their highlight reel relationship, this team might kill Charlotte’s play-by-play guy and yelling enthusiast Eric Collins. Gordon Hayward was kind of almost an All-Star last year and Scary Terry Rozier continues to steadily improve every year. If rookies James Bouknight and Kai Jones can have an early impact, the Hornets have a real chance to rise out of the play-in fray and secure a playoff spot outright. Charlotte might be the the dark horse League Pass team of the year candidate this season.
8.) New York Knicks
Are there any more insufferable fans in the NBA than Knicks fans? Laker fans are close and any fan from Boston is born an asshole, but at least their teams are good. Knicks fans feel good about themselves for the first time since Rudy Giuliani was a “good guy” and now all of a sudden the NBA is whole again? The Knicks’ fall from grace is inevitable after Tom Thibodeau barked his way to a 4th place finish in the East. Julius Randle came out of no where to earn the MIP trophy and an All-NBA Second Team nod, and it all amounted to a devastatingly delicious first round beatdown to new Reggie Miller tier supervillain Trae Young and the upstart Hawks. Good Things in the Garden seem unsustainable. Thibs will run his team into the ground resulting in a catastrophic injury to Randle who led the league in minutes per game last year. Kemba Walker isn’t as big of a point guard upgrade as you would have thought 18 months ago, and RJ Barrett needs to make a significant leap in year three to give New York another playmaker. Signs point to regression and after one season of joy, Knicks fans will be back where they belong, incessantly reminding us how great the Yankees are.
9.) Chicago Bulls
BANB (Bulls Are Not Back) If this was the Eastern Conference of the last 15 years, these Bulls would be a five seed and get crushed in the first round by one of the only four good teams in the first round. Thankfully (although not for Bulls fans) the East is back (EIB) and it will take a lot more than 37 wins to to get into the playoffs. Zach LaVine made his first All-Star team last season, Nikola Vucevic is an automatic 20 and 10, Lonzo Ball is one of the most improved shooters in the league and a good perimeter defender, DeMar DeRozan almost snuck into the All-Star Game last year, and Patrick Williams is one of the most intriguing young two-way players in the NBA. There’s a lot to like about a this revamped Bulls roster, but in the end the defense will be the reason this team only reaches the play-in tournament.
10.) Toronto Raptors
The only people that didn’t have a great time in Tampa last year were the family members of the person who custom makes the Lombardi Trophy, and the Toronto Raptors. The 2019 champs had to play their home games 1,300 miles away from home due to Canada’s Covid policies, and let’s just say the Tompa Bay magic did not rub off on the basketball court. The Raptors finished 27-45, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and got the hell out of Florida faster than Ron DeSantis allowed Covid to spread. They traded the GROAT (Greatest Raptor Of All Time) Kyle Lowry to the Heat (I guess he didn’t mind Florida), and Pascal Siakam is set to miss the first few weeks of the season after offseason shoulder surgery. The good news is they’re back Toronto, which has to be at least a 10 game difference. Toronto also drafted NBA Twitter’s new favorite rookie Scottie Barnes with the fourth pick in the draft. It’s going to be tough to claw back into the play-in picture without a true center on the roster, but a core built around Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Siakam, and Barnes has potential and I have faith that Nick Nurse will get the most out of his team this year.
11.) Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are coming of a season from hell in 2020-21 in which they lost T.J. Warren for all but four games. They traded away Victor Oladipo as part of the giant James Harden deal and got Caris LeVert in return who averaged 20.7 points per game in 35 games for the Pacers, but missed his first 24 games with the club after undergoing surgery to remove one of his kidneys. They hired then fired JV coach Nate Bjorkgren for attending the Jim Boylen school of how to treat grown profession men like they’re 15 year old varsity wannabes. All of that is behind them, and former Coach of the Year and NBA Champion Rick Carlisle is patrolling the sideline, but I still can’t get all the way there with this team. A starting lineup of Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Warren, LeVert, and Malcolm Brogdon (or Ben Simmons!!!) should easily make the playoffs in the East, but I just don’t see it. Their bench is not very deep and I believe a few other teams in the East can make the leap this season, but for whatever reason I just don’t see it for the Pacers.
12.) Cleveland Cavaliers
Somehow the Cavs have wormed their way into becoming one of the most polarizing teams in the NBA. On one hand some believe that their accumulation of young talent including Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen, and 2021 third overall pick Evan Mobley is enough to get Cleveland in playoff contention this season. I’d like to see it on the court before I pencil them into a play-in spot. The Cavs won 19, 19, and 22 games in the three seasons since LeBron bolted for Los Angeles. The Sexland backcourt has flashed brilliance, but both players have flaws that could keep them from impacting winning. Evan Mobley might be the second coming of Kevin Garnett, but most likely it will be 2023 before he can be the best player on a decent team. Cleveland still has to resolve the Kevin Love situation and lacks much depth behind their starting five. While they might show some promise this season, the Cavs are probably a year away from winning basketball games.
13.) Washington Wizards
Congratulations, you’re the Washington Wizards. Your best player is an anti-vaxxer who doesn’t actually seem to know how the vaccine works, although I’m sure he did his own research before asking reports why vaccinated people still get Covid. Well, it’s because of colossal stupidity shown by you, Bradley Beal, and your brethren in stupidity Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and Jonathan Isaac. That’s why we are where we are. After that Washington, how are you feeling about the season? Oh, you just traded Russell Westbrook and picks for three role players? Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, no doubt, no doubt, no doubt. While Beal alone should lift them into play-in territory, the rest of the team doesn’t do much for me, and with the East in a semi-renaissance, the Wizards are a prime candidate to take a tumble down the standings.
14.) Detroit Pistons
#FadeforCade paid off and Detroit landed the number one pick for the first time since selecting Bob Lanier first overall in 1970. If Cade Cunningham flashes star potential early Detroit could have a nice little roster brewing. Isaiah Stewart, a.k.a Beef Stew, is the center of the future, Saddiq Bey was All-Rookie First Team last year, and Killian Hayes is the best prospect from the 2020 draft according to no one except Kevin O’Cantevaluatebasketballprospects. With a handful of promising young talent to fold around Jerami Grant, Detroit probably doesn’t have enough to reach the play-in this season, but another high lottery pick next year could help speed up the rebuilding process.
15.) Orlando Magic
Orlando is going to be back, like historically bad. This year’s fifth overall pick, Jalen Suggs, might as well already be Orlando’s best player. Their other candidate for best player, Jonathan Isaac, missed the last season and a half after tearing his ACL, oh year and he’s a very outspoken anti-vaxxer (even if he claims he’s not). After that it’s a guy more famous for a song named after him (Mo Bamba) than being good at basketball, and Markelle Fultz who shoots free throws like Charles Barkley swings a golf club. It’s time to #ChokeforChet or #HowlowcanyougoforPaolo. Personally, I think they have to draft Suggs’ high school teammate Chet Holmgren and become Minnehaha Academy south.
Western Conference Standings
1.) Los Angeles Lakers
Whoever thought LeBron James would be happy to try to win his 5th championship with Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schröder as his wingmen haven’t paid attention to How the second greatest player of all-time operates, especially since he arrived in Los Angeles in 2018. He and Magic Johnson’s best friend Rob Pelinka figured out how to get him a third star, and make the 2021-22 Lakers the most top-heavy team in NBA history. Pelinka traded a package that included Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell to Washington for Russell Westbrook and a handful of future second-round picks. Now the Lakers have a three-headed monster to compete with the likes of Brooklyn and Milwaukee. The problem is, they don’t have much else. L.A. is likely to start their three future Hall of Famers alongside Wayne Ellington and Kent Bazemore. Even after signing former stars like DeAndre Jordan, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and Carmelo Anthony the Lakers are paper thin around LeBron, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook. Those three should be enough to pace the crippled Western Conference, but any injury to one of them could see the Lakers free fall down the standings like they did last season when LeBron and Davis missed huge chunks of time with injuries.
2.) Phoenix Suns
The signs were there that the Suns were about to break out. They went 8-0 in the bubble, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton were starting to look like real stars, and they traded for the Point God, Chris Paul. We should have known this team was going to dominate, but still we were skeptical. Well, we’re all paying attention now after finishing with the second best record in the West, making the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, and riding that wave all the way to the NBA Finals where they ran into Giannis’ ascent to the pantheon. All the key pieces are back for another shot at the title. Chris Paul is somehow still plugging along at 36, Devin Booker is a gold medalist and the newest member of the Kardashian syndicate, Ayton trying to get a max contact, and Mikal Bridges might be the best three-and D player in the league. Phoenix’s top-four might be the best in the NBA, but the big question is how they deal with a healthy Lakers team. Phoenix beat the Lakers in the first-round last season when Anthony Davis was hobbled all series long. Davis is healthy and Phoenix has depth issues at center behind foul-prone Ayton. The Suns will need everything from Ayton, Paul, Booker, and Bridges if they want to build off of last seasons’ finals appearance.
3.) Utah Jazz
The Jazz had no problems dominating the West in the regular season finishing in first place with a 52-20 record last season. Donovan Mitchell elevated to second-tier superstar while Rudy Gobert won his third DPOY trophy and Mike Conley made his first ever All-Star team. It’s a different story when the Jazz reach the playoffs, losing to the Clippers in six games in the second-round. The Clippers went small, forcing Gobert out of the paint and exploited him on the perimeter. It’s a pivotal year for the Mitchell-Gobert pairing to make it out of the second-round in year five. The Jazz will hammer teams once again in the regular season, but once again falter when they get to the postseason.
4.) Denver Nuggets
If Jamal Murray was healthy and ready to play the Nuggets might contend for the top seed in the West. Sadly, Murray is rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in April, likely keeping him out for most or all of the regular season. The Nuggets hardly missed a beat in Murray’s absence finishing the season 16-7. A lot of that is on the paunchy shoulders of league MVP Nikola Jokic. The Serbian master fully deserved the MVP even if some people think he’s the worst MVP in 50 years (while learning who Dave Cowens was and disrespecting him in the process). The Nuggets also made one of the biggest trades before the deadline dealing Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a future first to Orlando for Aaron Gordon. Michael Porter Jr. broke out in a big way scoring 19 points per game on 44.5 percent from three, earning him a max contract extension this offseason. The Nuggets will be a top-tier team in the West this season, but will need Murray to return for the playoff run if they want to get out of the second round, something they couldn’t do last year.
5.) Dallas Mavericks
I’m not quite as high on the Mavericks as some other basketball sickos, but with Luka Doncic anything is possible. It’s possible that Doncic is the next Larry Bird and the next Magic Johnson at the same time, and will go down as one of the best players in NBA history. But even the greats needed help to get to the finals. Bird had McHale, DJ, Parish, and Tiny Archibald to help him win three championships; Magic had Kareem, Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, and others to win his five titles; Jordan had Pippen and Rodman. Luka Doncic has… Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., not exactly a championship roster. Luka proved last year that he can carry this team in the playoffs but they did get bounced in the first round and kinda blew it against the Clippers. To get to the Finals, Luka will need a running mate. Three years ago that could have been Porzingis but after a couple of injury plagued season’s the 7’3″ Latvian is a shell of his former self. A big trade is in order for the Mavs if they want to maximize the Doncic era and get a championship early in the career of their franchise player.
6.) Portland Trail Blazers
After Damian Lillard’s mini-summer of discontent in which he floated the idea that he might want out of Portland at some point, the Blazers are back with a new head coach in Chauncey Billups and roughly the same roster. They added Larry Nance Jr. to help improve the defense, and Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum are back and healthy. Lillard and McCollum alone give this team a playoff floor, and Nurkic, Nance, Norman Powell, and Robert Covington give the Blazers as solid a top six as you can find in the mid-tiers in either conference. The bench is not deep with Anfernee Simmons and Nassir Little set to see big minutes. We’ll see if Billups can get more out of this unit than former longtime head coach Terry Stotts, but the defense will probably be a problem once again. This team lives and dies with Damian Lillard’s 35-foot threes; if he goes full Super Saiyan they could surprise and make it back to the West Finals, but it he puts together his usual All-NBA Second Team season, it will be hard to imagine the Blazers cracking the top four ahead of the Nuggets, Suns, Jazz, or Lakers.
7.) Golden State Warriors
Thank god Andrew Wiggins finally got vaccinated, now the Warriors can focus on winning a championship. Seriously though, can the Warriors win the championship this season, I honestly don’t know. Steph Curry went nuts last year, Draymond Green was an All-NBA defender, and Wiggins at least looked like he was trying, and still the Warriors finished 8th in the West and crashed out of the play-in tournament. Klay Thompson should be back at some point this season after missing the last two with a ruptured Achilles and torn ACL. Last year’s number two overall pick James Wiseman is working back from a knee injury that cost him the second half of his rookie season. Rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody might be good, or they might be horrible, nobody knows anything with this team. If everything hits, Golden State has the raw talent to compete in the West, but if Thompson is rusty and the youngsters don’t come along then it could be another fight for a play-in spot and another year of Steph Curry’s prime wasted.
8.) Los Angeles Clippers
After the Warriors this might be the hardest team in the West to rank. Kawhi is probably not playing this season. Paul George is good enough to carry the Clippers to the playoffs, but who else will step up, Terance Mann? Reggie Jackson? Is it finally Amir Coffey time? They just don’t have to fire-power to compete with the top-tier teams, and if things start to go really wrong they might even start tanking to get PG and Kawhi a third star to make another run next season.
9.) Minnesota Timberwolves
And now e come to my beloved Timberwolves and I truly don’t know where to go with this team. My heart says KAT has a dark horse MVP season, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell play at a borderline All-Star level, Jaden McDaniels becomes the next Mikal Bridges, and Chris Finch is the second coming of Gregg Popovich leading the Wolves to the 5th seed and a first round upset of the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, my head and history say that KAT will put up empty stats, Edwards will regress, DLo will implode Finch will lose the locker room by Valentine’s Day, KAT will ask for a trade, and it will be time for yet another rebuild. The Wolves have the most talent since Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns were on speaking terms, they seem to actually like each other, and Patrick Beverly has given them a defensive identity. But they’re the ultimate “I’ll believe it when I actually see it” team, so I think ninth might be a little optimistic, I can’t help but be optimistic about this particular group of players. We Minnesota sports fans need a win wince the Lynx are four years removed from their last championship, and a Timberwolves tam that flirts with the playoffs might be the team to do it. I’m ready to get hurt again.
10.) Memphis Grizzlies
Out of all 30 teams I’m predicting I am the most confidant that I have completely underrating the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant led the team into the play-in tournament, won both games and earned a playoff spot where they lost in five games in the first-round to the Utah Jazz. All of this happened with Jaren Jackson Jr. playing just 11 games due to injury, although he did play in the playoffs against Utah. JJJ is back and ready to go this season, so why have I downgraded them from their 9th place finish last season? Honestly it comes down to my blind faith that the Timberwolves will be as good as I hope they are for the first time since 2004, and my unwillingness to bet against Steph Curry and a team that made the Western Conference Finals last year in the Clippers. In the real world the Grizzlies should probably be 7th or 8th, but in my fantasy land they end up 10.
11.) New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have a mountain of a problem on their hands, and it just so happens he’s one of the best young players the NBA has ever seen. His name is Zion Williamson. How is a 21-year-old, baby Shaq, All-Star phenom a problem for the Pelicans? Well it was revealed that Williamson, listed at 6’7″, 284-pounds, fractured his foot in the offseason and required surgery. It’s alarming because the gigantic third-year player already has a troubling injury history for a man his size. On top of the injury, there are rumblings that the budding superstar is growing increasingly unhappy in the Big Easy and could bolt for a big market as soon as possible. None of this is good news for a Pelicans team that disappointed last year and made a few moves that didn’t really change their trajectory for the season. If Zion is healthy and they lean into the point-Zion game plan that worked in the second half of last season they have the top-line talent to compete for the 8th seed. If not, this season could spiral into a total disaster for first year hed coach Willie Green.
12.) Sacramento Kings
The Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and I don’t think they break the streak this season. De’Aaron Fox is arguably the best player in the league who has yet to make an All-Star team; Tyrese Haliburton was a steal in last year’s draft; Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes had career years, and Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III are talented (relatively) young players. I just don’t think it’s enough top-line talent to compete with the likes of Golden State, Memphis, Minnesota, and the Clippers for a play-in spot. Things are beginning to look up for the Kangz, but they might have to wait for next year to end the playoff drought.
13.) San Antonio Spurs
Like this year’s New England Patriots team that has started the NFL season an uninspiring 2-3, the San Antonio Spurs are officially removed from their 15 year dynasty. For the first time in the Gregg Popovich era, this team might be really bad not on purpose. It’s tough to see a scenario where a core of Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Olympian Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell gets anywhere near the playoffs. Some are indicating that this might be Pop’s last season in San Antonio, and if that happens this becomes a full on rebuild.
14.) Houston Rockets
Last season the Rockets were one of the saddest teams in the league. James Harden decided he was over it and they eventually traded him for a lot of future picks and almost nothing tangible in 2021. However, with one draft pick it seems like Houston is somehow one of the more interesting young teams in the league. Houston took Jalen Green with the second pick in the NBA Draft, and traded for the 16th pick and leading candidate for “rookie of the year or out of the league in two seasons” Alperen Sengün. Green might put up 25 a night in his rookie year, but the Rockets are thin as hell behind him. 2020-21 All-Rookie First Teamer Jae’Sean Tate is a nice piece. Christian Wood looks to build on a promising last few years, and Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. are people who are horrible at basketball. John Wall is looking for a trade, but doesn’t fit this team’s rebuilding timeline anyway. It’s a weird mix of youngsters that might not amount to anything, but if most hit Houston could be a fun team to keep your eye on in 2026.
15.) Oklahoma City Thunder
If not for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander the Thunder would be far and away the worst team in the association, and they still might be with him. The team that was most obviously tanking at the end of last season got a bit unlucky in the draft lottery nabbing the sixth pick and drafting Josh Giddey. Outside of that you have Lu Dort, Poku, and a whole lot of guys that won’t be on the roster in six months. OKC is probably already tanking for the 2022 draft.
Brooklyn Nets 4 Los Angeles Lakers 3
Finals MVP: Kevin Durant
Even if Kyrie Irving is dumb enough to sit out the entire season (and maybe retire) because he doesn’t understand science and wants to make a phony statement, I still think Durant and Harden are enough to drag the Nets to a championship. Durant went to-to-toe and probably outplayed Giannis in the second round slugfest last season, doing it mostly without Irving and Harden. The Lakers will prove a daunting challenge but ultimately I believe Kevin Durant is the best player in the league, Harden is probably like 6th and their depth with outplay the Lakers role players to give the Nets their first title and the first basketball championship in New York since 1973. Durant puts up an absurd line of something like 37 points, nine rebounds, and six assists per game on 55/45/95 shooting in a seven game classic to win Finals MVP.
Executive of the Year
Sean Marks, Brooklyn Nets
I reserve the right to amend this pick if and when Ben Simmons gets moved. In a season where we haven’t seen any franchise altering moves (Russell Westbrook to LA not withstanding) it’s tough to decide which executive has done the best job. If the Warriors trade for Simmons and they contend for a championship, Bob Myers will get a lot of consideration. Same goes for any other contender that makes a big league swing at a star player. For now I see Marks winning as a culmination of previous moves and a championship will cement this pick. If he gets Kyrie to get the vaccine just hand it to him the minute the tracker goes into Kyrie’s arm.
Coach of the Year
Nate McMillan, Atlanta Hawks
Is a play-in game appearance for the Minnesota Timberwolves enough to get Chris Finch in the conversation? Finch should win if he wins 35 games with the worst run franchise in sports, but realistically I’ll go with Atlanta’s Nate McMillan. Nate the great took a seemingly broken Hawks team and led them to a 27-11 record after he took over for Lloyd Pierce, and led them to the Eastern Conference Finals where Atlanta took Milwaukee to six games. If the Hawks can pick up where they left off, McMillan should be a shoe-in for the award.
Most Improved Player
For the better part of the 21st century, the NBA’s MIP is usually given to a good young player who raises their game to borderline All-Star/All-Pro territory (and some guy named Bobby Simmons in 2004-05). This year that player is Cleveland Cavaliers third-year point guard Darius Garland.
6th Man of the Year
This all depends on how quickly Klay Thompson returns from his two-year injury odyssey as Poole will start at shooting guard in the five-time All-Star’s absence. He’s lighting it up in the preseason, and like Kenny Wu becoming an honorary Bash Brother in D2: The Mighty Ducks, Jordan Poole is the unofficial third Splash Brother this season.
Rookie of the Year
This could be the most exciting crop of rookies as a whole since LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in 2003. All of the top-five picks have a chance to win Rookie of the Year and become potential star players in the NBA. Jalen Green might score 25 points per game in Houston, Jalen Suggs might be the best player on the Magic already, Scottie Barnes looks like a two-way point-forward menace in Toronto, and Evan Mobley might be the next Kevin Garnett. However, the consensus number one overall pick, Cade Cunningham, is my pick for Rookie of the Year. Cade has a chance to become one of the most exciting you players in recent memory in Detroit. He can play point, play on the wing, he’s a good defender, and can shoot lights out on or off the ball. He might not score as much as Green, or make as many highlight plays as Barnes and Mobley, but Cunningham is the best all-around rookie and with some talent around him could make some noise in Detroit. His stats will probably look something like LaMelo Ball’s rookie season last year, something like 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists should get it done.
Defensive Player of the Year
With or without Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid is one of the best post defenders in the NBA. He’s going to have to do even more if and when Simmons gets traded, and the narrative is ripe for him to pick up some major hardware if he keeps Philadelphia in the hunt in the East with a top-five defense, he should garner plenty of consideration for both DPOY and MVP. He just has to stay healthy and play at least 65 games for the firs time in his career.
Like I mentioned before, I believe Durant is the best overall player in the NBA. He was the leader for the award last season until he got injured, then came back and was one shoe size away from sending the eventual champion Bucks packing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis. Kyrie Irving isn’t playing because all of the news he consumes begins with “BANNED ON FACEBOOK!!!” so Durant will have to shoulder even more of the load. His biggest competition is Luka Doncic who might struggle to win 50 games, Joel Embiid who is missing his partner in crime, and Giannis who beat Durant in the playoffs, won the championship and Finals MVP with a dominant performance. Durant wins his second MVP, third championship, and third Finals MVP to cement his place as a top-10 player ever.
All-NBA First Team
Guard: Luka Doncic
Guard: Trae Young
Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Forward: Kevin Durant
Center: Joel Embiid
The big surprise here is Trae Young in the second guard spot ahed of more conventional selections like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, or James Harden. The 2018 draft night trade that sent the third pick to Dallas and the fifth pick to Atlanta finally fully takes over the league four years later. Trae Young’s ascent to All-NBA First-Team will finally shut up incessant criticism of the Hawks for Giving up Doncic at three to draft Trae Young with the fifth pick. At this point Luka, Durant, and Giannis all seem like first team mainstays with Embiid taking the first team spot away from last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic.
All-NBA Second Team
Guard: Steph Curry
Guard: James Harden
Forward: LeBron James
Forward: Anthony Davis
Center: Nikola Jokic
No surprises on the second team. LeBron James keeps plugging along in year 19. Anthony Davis returns rom an injury plagued season to help carry the load alongside James to lead the Lakers to the number one seed in the West. James Harden picks up the slack with Kyrie Irving set to miss Brooklyn’s home games this season. Jokic, last year’s MVP, slides down to the second team and will miss Jamal Murray for most or all of the regular season. I’m not necessarily predicting Steph to have a down season, I mostly just think Trae Young is going to erupt and usurp Steph for the second spot on the first team.
All-NBA Third Team
Guard: Damian Lillard
Guard: Donovan Mitchell
Forward: Jayson Tatum
Forward: Jimmy Butler
Center: Karl-Anthony Towns
I can hear Leigh Ellis now yelling Hoooooooooomer!!!! How do you have KAT on the third team, he’s so disappointing? Fair, Bam, Gobert, and Ayton all have a better chance to be the third-team center, but I believe KAT will have a resurgent season and the Wolves will surprise people with an appearance in the play-in tournament. The other surprise here is Donovan Mitchell over other guards like Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook and a dozen other guards. Mitchell is the leader of a Jazz team that could easily repeat as the top seed out West. The fifth-year guard would have made All-NBA last year if not for a late season injury. The rest of the entries make sense from a narrative and talent standpoint. Tatum, Butler, and Lillard are all amongst the best 15 players in the league and barring injury should show up on an All-NBA team for the next few years. Biggest snubs include: Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Russell Westbrook, Jaylen Brown, Ben Simmons, Bam, and of course Anthony Edwards.
All-Defensive First Team
Guard: Jrue Holliday
Guard: Matisse Thybulle
Forward: Giannis Antetokoumpo
Forward: Anthony Davis
Center: Joel Embiid
I left Ben Simmons off the first team because I don’t know where he’s going to play this season. It’s hard to see him in Sacramento anchoring a good defense. Holiday and Thybulle are two of the best perimeter defenders in the league, with Giannis, Davis, and Embiid the class of the big men. I left Gobert off the first team because I feel like the Jazz take a small step back and people begin to have Stiffle Tower fatigue.
All-Defensive Second Team
Guard: Lu Dort
Guard: Ben Simmons
Forward: OG Anunoby
Forward: Draymond Green
Center: Bam Adebayo
Don’t worry too much, I’m not dumb enough to think Ben Simmons is going to fall past the second team. Lu Dort is a fan favorite, OG is an MIP candidate, and Draymond and Bam are arguably the two most versatile defensive forwards in the game.
All-Rookie First Team
Guard: Jalen Green
Guard: Jalen Suggs
Guard: Cade Cunningham
Forward: Scottie Barnes
Center: Evan Mobley
The first team is pretty cut and try as the top five picks are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the draft class. Cade, Scottie, Evan, and the Jalens should all either start or play big minutes off the bench for their teams right away. Green might score 25 points per game right out of the gate. Cunningham and Suggs should establish themselves as reliable team leaders immediately, and Barnes and Mobley have great two-way upside.
All-Rookie Second Team
Guard: Davion Mitchell
Forward: Alperen Sengun
Forward: Corey Kispert
Forward: Franz Wagner
Forward: Luka Garza
The second team is way more interesting to parse than the first team. After the top five this class kind of falls off a cliff. A lot of people that aren’t me love Sengün and think he can contribute right away, Davion Mitchell is a lockdown defender already, Kispert is the best shooter in the draft class, and I’ll just take a chance on Wagner and Garza getting enough playing time to shine on their shitty teams.
Again, when these predictions are all wrong, who gives a shit, I’m just some guy on the internet. If you really want to get mad go yell at John Hollinger.
As the NBA season winds down, some players are finally realizing that not being the best super team in the league kinda sucks. LeBron James and Luka Doncic are two of the biggest NBA superstars, and also two of the play-in tournament’s biggest enemies. The Play-in tournament is new this season to help ease the effects of COVID-19. The basic premise is that the top six teams in each conference make the playoffs like normal, but the seventh through tenth seeds in each conference will have to compete in a short play-in to secure the seventh and eighth seeds. Seven plays eight and nine plays ten. The Winner of the first game is the seventh seed. The loser of that game then plays the winners of the nine ten game for the eighth seed. Simple right? Apparently it’s too tough for the most highly tuned athletes in the world to play one or two extra games in a season that has already axed ten games from its schedule. So to appease LeBron, let us look at some alternatives to the play-in tournament.
Imagine Russell Westbrook standing on a stage with the playoffs on the line and he has to spell Antetokounmpo? He’d fucking nail it wouldn’t he?
Who is the strongest player in the NBA? LeBron? Dwight Howard? Zion? Steven Adams? Yeah, it’s probably Steven Adams.
LeBron and the Lakers are obviously the Globogym Purple Cobras, but who is Average Joes? The Spurs? Does that make Pop Patches O’Houlihan? If so, avoid strolling through the casino floor there Gregg.
We could get Aaron Rodgers to host.
Sharks and Minnows
You remember the game we played as kids. Everyone stands on one side of a field with one kid in the middle. All the kids take off running and if you get tagged before you get to the other side you go from being a minnow to a shark. Yeah, that game. Well wouldn’t it be fun watching a bunch of seven-footers running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Who is the fastest? Westbrook? Would Kawhi be the terminator of sharks and minnows? Probably. What a time to be alive.
Call of Duty
It seems like everyone in the league plays Call of Duty, so what better way to decide the playoffs than to have a Call of Duty battle royale? If this happens Andrew Wiggins might actually affect the game.
Better hope Miami isn’t in the play-in because Jimmy Butler doesn’t fuck around when it comes to dominoes.
This would be perfect since LeBron never entered a dunk contest in his career. What better way to make it up to the fans while also allowing LeBron to do one of the things he does best.
Imagine Draymond Green running as fast as he can at you with the sole intent to break your arm into a million pieces. Oh wait, that’s just him playing basketball.
You know that game. You and a friend (or enemy) lock hands and try to twist the others’ wrists until they yell mercy. LaMelo is out after breaking his wrist, but Miles Bridges steps up and breaks the shit out of Time Lord’s wrists while Hornets play-by-play guy Eric Collins loses his mind in the background.
The Celtics will lose (or win depending on how old you are) because they’re obligated to sing Sweet Caroline. Tyler Herro is a rap song but I doubt that means he can sing. My money is on Luka pulling of a perfect rendition of Cry Me a River to propel the Mavericks into the playoffs.
Obviously Steph is going to win this one so there’s no way LeBron would approve it.
Getting British with it with the only good thing to come out of Great Britain since Princess Diana. I bet Lillard would get the first Paul Hollywood handshake for his giant cake replica of his character from Space Jam 2.
The Lakers need to bring back their ringer Mark Madsen.
Most Instagram Followers
Hmmmm, I wonder who that could be.
LeBron just says the Lakers are in
Seems like the most fair option.
Two players from each team go back to the Disney World bubble, and the last one to leave wins. Whatever you do Hawks, don’t send Lou Williams, just send him there with all the Magic City wings he can carry.
That thing where people put their hands on a car
It all comes down to who has the most patience, or who has the most annoying teammate.
My prediction is this would come down to Draymond vs. Westbrook, and they’re both so stubborn it would never end.
Worst teams get in
Lets go Timberwolves!!!!
Who would have thought that in the year of your lord 2021 that LeBron James, arguably one of the top ten most famous people on the planet would be locked in a titanic battle of the ages with a 25-year-old Atlanta gold digger dubbed “Courtside Karen”and her 60-year-old Dan Bilzerian wannabe husband who distributes alcohol? Sounds like some kind of drunken mad-lib you would come up with in your college dorm room at 3AM while you and your roommates are drinking Natty Lights playing Goldeneye. No this actually happened last night and it got me thinking about other random NBA Feuds. NBA players are interesting because they seem like they can get into with almost anyone and anything at any time. NBA players have been feuding non-stop since the league began in the 1940’s. Here are some of the most fun, bizarre and totally random NBA feuds in the 21st Century.
10.) Malik Beasley vs. Scottie Pippen
This one isn’t neccesarily a beef as I don’t think either have spoken public about the other, but Malik Beasley straight up stole Scottie Pippen’s wife. Pippen, one of the greatest basketball players off all-time got cucked by some dude who plays for the god damn Timberwolves, the least sexy franchise in sports (except off the court this year with KAT dating Jordyn Woods). Beasley was seen over the offseason holding hands with Scotties estranged wife Larsa Pippen of Real Housewives of Miami and being Kim Kardashian’s friend fame. While Scottie and Larsa have been separated since 2016 they are not officially divorced, but the biggest part of this is that Malik Beasley is also married and his wife had to file for divorce after seeing his affair on the front page of the tabloids. Maybe the real feud is with beasley’s wife. Last thought is this, is Minnesota the new Kardashian capital of the world. I mean Kim married native son Khris Humphries, and now their former friends are all dating Timberwolves players. Minnesota is back baby.
9.) LeBron vs. Courtside Karen
This feud is hilarious on many levels. 1.) This lady was fucking ready to throw down with LeBron who is 6’9″ 250. 2.) Immediately going on Instagram to bitch about getting kicked out of the game because you wanted to fight LeBron is why I love this generation. 3.) Having to announce that you are not a gold digger when your husband is the shitty Atlanta version of the bad guy from Tenet is an admission that you are in fact a gold digger. 4.) LeBron seemed to be having so much fun in his post game presser essentially calling them drunk assholes. 5.) LeBron apparently called him “old steroid ass” which is the exact joke I’ve been trying to make. Hire me LeBron.
8.) Klay Thompson and Draymond Green vs. Rodney McGruder
This is a relatively new feud as well as Klay Thompson, who is out this year with an Achilles injury, and Draymond Green put Rodney McGruder in a body bag after the Warriors beat the Pistons 118-91 on Saturday. Apparently the 5th year vet McGruder tried to get tough at the end of a blowout loss and the Warriors took exception to it and hilariously roasted McGruder after the game.
Rough look for McGruder getting told to fuck off by two future Hall of Famers, but that’s what you get for trying to act tough when you average five minutes a game.
7.) Robin Lopez vs. Mascots
Robin Lopez fucking hates mascots and nobody knows why.
6.) Nick Young vs. D’Angelo Russell
Another NBA feud involving the ladies but this one doesn’t involve a player banging his teammates significant other. Long story short back in 2016 D’Angelo Russell recorded Nick Young talking about cheating on 2016 famous rapper Iggy Azalea, who was engaged to Nick Young AKA Swaggy P at the time (2016 was wild). The video “somehow got leaked” the rest of the Lakers blamed Russell and froze him out and the Lakers sucked. Things apparently go so bad that the Lakers told Russell to get the fuck outta LA and traded him to the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason. I guess the lesson is never cross the great Swaggy P, king of Los Angeles.
5.) Charles Oakley vs. James Dolan
James Dolan, owner of the Knicks since 1999 and frontman of his band that he won’t shut up about since nobody cares, apparently forgot that Charles Oakley is one of the greatest Knicks of all-time when he had Oakley dragged out of Madison Square Garden in 2017.
Oakley was allegedly heckling the notoriously soft Dolan because the Knicks are garbage, but the only thing anyone can confirm that Oakley said was his name, Dolan. Dolan had security escort the former all-star out but not before Oakley reverted back to his playing days and got physical with the guards. Oakley was then banned from MSG for I guess not being nice to Dolan who should remember who he’s messing with, Charles Oakley will fucking kill you. This is basically LeBron vs. Courtside Karen, but if Karen was the owner of the team.
4.) Jimmy Butler vs. Everyone employed by the Timberwolves
This is my favorite feud because it’s the one that hurts me the most. Jimmy Butler, international friendly guy, was just minding his business in the NBA when the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team he played for, decided to suck, something they had been doing for 10+ years previously. In 2018 Butler had just led the Wolves to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and things were finally looking up for those of us who are dumb enough to be Wolves fans in the first place. After a rocky offseason Butler quickly demanded that the Wolves trade him at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. Three weeks laters Butler had had enough and decided to blow the who thing wide open. First he showed up the practice for the first time since asking for a trade. Then he took the third stringers and took it straight to the starters, trash talking KAT and Wiggins mostly throughout. He then started yelling at everyone in the gym including General Manager Scott Layden telling him he fucking needs Butler and can’t win without him. Immediately after practice Butler sat down for an interview with Rachel Nichols and continued to blast Towns and Wiggins on ESPN. It was like Denzel at the end of Training Day except instead of Terry Crews and other scary guys who shot him, in Butler’s case it was Towns and Wiggins, who probably apologized to him and let him continue his demonic run with the Wolves. Butler finally got his wish in a trade that is still somehow screwing the Wolves over more than two years later, classic.
3.) Matt Barnes vs. Derek Fisher
Another classic edition of NBA teammates fucking each other’s wives. As a basketball fan growing up in the ’90s and 2000’s, the last guy you would think of fucking around with someone else’s wife would be Derek Fisher. He seemed so soft and likeable when he was winning championships with the Lakers, and you assumed all the sleazy stuff was for the megastars like Shaq and Kobe. Not so fast it as turns out that Fisher is a dog. He was getting it on with his former Laker teammate Matt Barnes’ wife when Fisher was the head coach for the Knicks. One of Barnes’ kids called him to say Fisher was there so Barnes allegedly drove 95-miles to kick some ass. They got into a fight and that was that. In hindsight Matt Barnes might be one of the toughest and crazies basketball players ever, maybe just maybe don’t bang his wife, pick someone weaker like Smush Parker.
2.) LeBron vs. Dan Gilbert
LeBron vs. Gilbert is a tale as old as time. Hometown franchise drafts the most famous NBA prospect of all-time. Famous prospect blossoms into best player in the league. Beloved organization does absulutely nothing to help player succeed. Famous player leaves for glitzy Miami on national TV without telling dumpy hometown team first. Hometown team owner gets butthurt and writes a really dumb letter and publishes it nationally saying his dumpy team will win way more championships than greatest player in leagues super team. Super Team wins championship like everyone thought they would while dumpy team takes an even bigger dump with one of the worst seasons of all-time while owner acts like a baby for years afterwards. It’s basically Beauty and the Beast but with Dan Gilbert as the Beast, but instead of learning about true love and not being an asshole, he just sits around looking at his flower while being a dick to his furniture for all eternity.
1.) Gilbert Arenas vs. Javaris Crittendon
Gilbert Arenas vs. Javaris Crittendon will go down in history as the one NBA feud that was .2 seconds away from during into an actual bloodbath in the locker room. It is the reason why the NBA can’t have real feuds and they have to take to the streets and talk trash to wannabe Atlanta influences who marry guys that look like Jim Irsay. No the Arenas/Crittendon duel is the best of the best of actually serious NBA beefs born out of the dumbest scenarios. It all started where all of the good duels in history started, a high stakes card game on the team plane. Arenas apparently pocketed some money ($1,100) that Crittendon thought he was owed and didn’t take kindly to the theft. Two days later when things hadn’t calmed down both brought guns to the team’s practice, Arenas had four unloaded guns while Crittendon pointed a loaded gun at Arenas’ head. Everyone fled the locker room and they eventually figured things out. Both Arenas and Crittendon were suspended for the rest of the season and it ruined their careers. Crittendon never played in the NBA again, partly because he sucked and Arenas was traded the next season and was out of the league before he turned 30. The Crazy part is Crittendon went and fucking killed someone in a gang related shooting and is serving 23 years in prison. This is the most insane feud in NBA history and could have escalated into a huge tragedy in the locker room.
Let this be a lesson to you, don’t piss of an NBA player because they will retaliate by fucking your wife or pointing a gun at you, pick your poison.
What the hell are we doing here people? It’s four days into 2021 and we have to defend Steph Curry against people like this dumb fuck, are you kidding me? Dudes like this who would airball 10-10 NBA threes came out of the Twitter woodwork on Friday after Steph’s once dominant Warriors were destroyed at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, making me angrier than Tony Perkis just trying to shoot a god damn weight loss infomercial .
Damian Lillard piled more dirt on Steph’s grave with his postgame comments suggesting that Curry is struggling this season because he’s not getting the easy, wide open shots that he was accustomed to during the Warriors dynasty. Sobering words from the guy who is currently on the verge of taking Steph’s place as the new Steph Curry of the NBA.
Well the executive producer of Holey Moley read your dumbass tweets apparently (congratulations) because he went full Super Saiyan during Sunday night’s rematch going for a career high 62 points and blasted the Blazers 137-122.
The Steph slander mostly revolved around the oft quoted bad take that Chef Curry is the greatest shooter of all-time by far, but when it comes to true impact on the game, he’s much farther down the list and can’t ultimately be compared to the real greats like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Allen Iverson of all people.
First of all, Iverson, really? Nobody was a bigger Iverson fan than 12-year-old me wearing Iverson’s Reebok Answer IVs and bricking 10+ shots a game, but he’s somewhere between the 35th and 60th best player of all-time, so he’s not even close to the Steph Curry conversation. People 5-10 years older than me bringing up AI in all-time conversations have the same energy as anyone 5-10 years younger than me arguing that Carmelo Anthony is actually one of the inner circle greatest players ever. Yea, sounds pretty dumb doesn’t it?
Next let’s look at Steph’s resume next to LeBron, Kobe, and I’ll throw in Durant to compare the four best wing players of their generations.
705 games 23.6ppg 6.6apg 4.5rpg 47.6FG% 43.4 3P% 90.7FT% 63.3TS% 23.9PER 104WS 50.7 VORP
3x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 6x All-Star, 3x First Team All-NBA, 2x Second Team, 1x Third Team
855 games 27ppg 4.1apg 7.1rpg 49.3FG% 38.1 3P% 88.3FT% 61.3TS% 25.2PER 142.8WS 69VORP
2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 10x All-Star, 6x First Team All-NBA, 3x Second Team
1346 games 25ppg 4.7apg 5.2rpg 44.7FG% 32.9 3P% 83.7FG% 55TS% 22.9PER 172.7WS 80.1VORP
5x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 18x All-Star, 11x First Team All-NBA, 2x Second Team, 2x Third Team
1272 games 27ppg 7.4apg 7.4rpg 50.3FG% 34.4 3P% 73.4FT% 58.6TS% 27.5PER 237.4WS 133.7VORP
4x NBA Champion, 4x NBA MVP, 4x Finals MVP, 16x All-Star, 13x First Team All-NBA, 2x Second Team, 1x Third Team
A few things jump out here: Kobe and LeBron far outpace Curry and Durant in games played, which is why the counting stats like win shares and all-star appearances are so far ahead. The other is that Curry totally belongs in this conversation with these three absolute giants of NBA history in LeBron, Kobe, and Durant. Obviously LeBron is regarded as the first, or for most people, second best player in history with Kobe somewhere in the top 10, and both Durant and Curry not far behind.
One interesting note not seen in the stats is how interconnected these generational talents are. Steph Curry is the sole reason why Durant is a two-time champion, and also the reason why LeBron James is not a seven-time champion, while conversly, Durant and James are the reason why Curry did not win five championships in a row. Curry’s Warriors beat LeBron’s newly formed super team in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in 2015. Durant joined the 73-win Warriors who were fresh off of blowing a 3-1 lead to LeBron’s Cavs in the 2016 NBA Finals. Curry and Durant then teamed up for two of the most pre-ordained back-to-back championships in NBA history in 2017 and 2018. The next year the Warriors were once again the favorite the three-peat, and if not for Durant going down in game 5 of the 2019 Finals against the Raptors, Curry and Golden State could have been the first team to five-peat since Bill Russell’s ’60s Celtics teams. Curry is very arguably the most important player in the NBA in the past 10 years.
The really annoying part about some of the online trash being spewed about Steph’s legacy is that according to online numbskulls, Curry by himself doesn’t make a bad team good, as LeBron and Kobe and other greats would do. They’d take the crappy group of players on their back deep into the playoffs, something Curry apparently has proven that he can’t do, except that’s totally wrong.
Yes the Warriors sucked last year but apparently we all forgot that Curry broke his hand four games in and missed all but one game the rest of the season. So are we judging him because they were 1-3 in those four games with losses to the Clippers, OKC and Phoenix? Or the fact that the Warriors started this season 2-3 before his 62-point eruption? Is that what we’re doing now, saying an absolute baller has proven time and again that he is incapable of dragging a shitty team to a respectable record all by himself because he’s 3-6 the last two seasons? The Fucking Timberwolves were 10-8 last year before going 5-37 to end the season. Who gives a shit what anyone does in any nine game span, especially at the beginning of the season. Or, god forbid, does this argument hinge on the first three years of his career in which the Warriors won 26, 36, and 23 games respectively? If that’s the case we’re going to need a new internet because I will go full fucking Network on everyone’s online asses. Who fucking cares if Golden State struggled in his first three seasons, when he was struggling through injuries and was no where near his prime? Do we forget that Kobe lead the lakers to all of 34 wins the year after Shaq was traded? If the Warriors are 12-34 at some point in March and Steph looks terrible, ok yea maybe he was just a shooter all these years, until that happens let’s all shut the hell up and enjoy his greatness for one god damn minute.
Lastly any argument that begins with the phrase “well if he had come around 10 years earlier he wouldn’t jack up 12 threes a game, or if he was 10 years later people would be ready for the three-point barrage” are made by people who know nothing about basketball. Guess what assholes, Steph Curry was drafted in 2009, as a Timberwolves I’ll never forget it. You don’t get to play that hypothetical bullshit and assume he wouldn’t fit into another era, and therefore he’s not actually that good. This is like saying that if Michael Jordan was playing today he would suck because he couldn’t shoot threes, or Bill Russell would be a benchwarmer today because he was 6’9″. Not sure if we know this, but I’m sad to say that here in 2021, we don’t have fucking time machines so until it’s possible to pluck Bill Russell out of 1962 and put him on the current Washington Wizards and see if he’s actually a better player than Rui Hachimura, let’s leave these guys in their era and assume any hall of famer would adapt to play to the style of the time.
The 2021 NBA season is two weeks old and for the love of god can we wait a month until we make gigantic assumptions about the state of one of the two greatest players of his generation, and a top-15 player all-time? Nobody is saying he’s better than LeBron, Kobe, or even Durant, but god dammit if he isn’t well ahead of Allen Iverson you twats (had to get some British insults in here). If you think anyone has impacted the game more than Steph Curry over the last decade, then you truly haven’t been paying attention.
This is it, the long wait is finally over. It’s been 71 days since the Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy in the NBA bubble. How have we survived this long without the NBA in our lives? Well even though we never thought it would ever come, the 2020-21 NBA season is finally here. This will be one of the most intriguing seasons in the history of the league. Will the Lakers repeat? How will Covid-19 effect play? Which stars returning from injury will have a bounce back season? How many times will I stay up until four in the morning only to watch the Timberwolves get blown out by the fucking Spurs? I cobbled together my predictions for the upcoming NBA season because why read what an expert has to say about this season when you can read some guy on the internet’s predictions instead. At least mine are free (fuck you ESPN+). So sit back, lower your expectations, and enjoy my halfway sober musings.
Eastern Conference Standings
1.) Milwaukee Bucks
With Giannis resigning a huge five year $228 million dollar deal before the season begins the Bucks can finally focus on basketball. As a Wolves fan this is great news because Minnesota is a way cooler place for free agents to sign than fucking Milwaukee, for fans of the rest of the league this sucks. They all thought Giannis was going to sign with their team as a free agent next summer (sorry Charlotte, probably wasn’t going to happen). The Bucks also added Jrue Holliday and won’t have to deal with Eric Bledsoe totally falling apart in the playoffs. Milwaukee will be contenders as long as Giannis is there, and with Holliday they should be just as good if not better in the regular season than last year.
2.) Miami Heat
Miami was one of the top suitors who actually had a shot at getting Giannis in free agency. His signing ruins their plans for the long term, but this season the Heat will be even better than their finals squad from two months ago. They signed Bam Adebayo to a 5 year $163 million contract so he can finally afford Jimmy Butler’s coffee. Tyler Herro will take a leap in his second season and will team up with Duncan Robinson to form the greatest shooting backcourt since the Splash Brothers. Butler is arguably the toughest player in the NBA, and will finally get the superstar respect that he’s deserved for the last six years. Butler and Bam are going to beat the shit out of the rest of the East teams, while Herro and Robinson drain threes right in their face.
3.) Brooklyn Nets
Nets fans are already manifesting an NBA Championship for their team that has two superstars who have never shared the court together. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are either going to be the new Splash Brothers and lead Brooklyn to the franchise’s first title, or they’re going to fall off the face of the flat Earth and annoy the hell out of fans along the way. Championship or bust is probably the mantra this season because you can see either star wanting out of Brooklyn after about 30 games if they don’t like what’s going on. First year head coach Steve Nash will be the deciding factor. If he gets along with his stars and doesn’t try to change or limit them the Nets will be fine, but if he goes full Jim Boylen and installs a punch clock and acts like a high school coach, things will fall apart. The good thing for Nets fans is that Nash is probably the most chill guy in the world which leads me to believe they’ll be just fine.
4.) Boston Celtics
It’s going to be a make or break season for Boston’s youngish core. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are talented enough to keep Boston afloat in the East, but they will feel the loss of Gordon Hayward to the Hornets. Kemba Walker will also be sidelined for the first six-weeks of the season with a knee injury. That leaves the Celtics thin at point guard, and will have to rely on Brown, Marcus Smart, and fucking Jeff Teague in the backcourt. Boston made the conference finals last season and will need its youngest players to step up and play like veterans if they want to achieve their championship potential. Or… we call in Daniel Stern and Dan Aykroyd to come back and kidnap Jimmy Butler. If there is one thing I need to relay to the internet through this blog it’s that Celtic Pride two needs to happen.
5.) Philadelphia 76ers
Trusting the process has levelled off the last three years in Philadelphia causing a lot of commotion in the city of Brotherly Love this offseason. They fired the leader of the process Brett Brown and replaced him with Doc Rivers. The 76ers also hired former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey to be the President of Basketball Operations. That is all fun but is it going to make the Joel Embiid Ben Simmons experiment work? Or are they just going to alter the process by trading Simmons for James Harden? The 76ers ceiling seems to be somewhere between third and fifth in the East and this year the conference is at its deepest in more than a decade. Is that high enough to keep Simmons and Embiid together to see if they can ride a hot streak in the playoffs and maybe make some noise, or is a second round exit the best these two will ever do together? This season I think the East has a clear top four, and a fairly clear next 4-5 teams that can really compete. The Sixers are the first team left out of the elite four who actually have a shot to make the finals.
6.) Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are probably going to be the most boring good team this season. Kyle Lowry is the ultimate no frills veteran, Fred VanVleet is probably a much more fun guy than Kawhi Leonard, but that’s not saying much, and Pascal Siakam might be one of the most frustrating borderline superstars in the league. Many people think that OG Anunoby will be one of the breakout players of the year, and as an Englishman myself I would love to see the British baller standout for more than his scarf game this season. Realistically Toronto probably doesn’t have enough juice to compete for a championship this year, but never count out Masai Ujiri, he could swing a massive move and keep this team contention.
7.) Washington Wizards
Washington made the splash of the shortened offseason by trading John Wall to Houston for Russell Westbrook. At their peak, Westbrook is a decent upgrade over Wall, and Wall hasn’t played in almost two years so the Wizards should get a shot in the arm right away. We’ll see how Westbrook meshes with Bradley Beal, but they should score a shit ton of points. The problem will come when Westbrook and Beal are off the court as the Wizards don’t have a lot of depth. Rui Hachimura is out for at least three weeks with conjunctivitis, forcing Washington to rely heavily on Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, and Mortiz Wagner, which could be a fun euro-lineup, but likely will be a net minus on the court. The future of the franchise all rides on how far their two stars can carry them this year. Perhaps Westbrook and Beal click and can lead Washington to a five-seed, but mostly likely they’re much closer to the play in tournament.
8.) Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have a talented, deep roster that nabbed the fourth seed in the East last season. The question is does Indiana have enough elite talent to compete in a much deeper conference? The answer for me is no. Victor Oladipo has proven to be one of the best two-way players in the NBA, but last season after coming back from a leg injury, Oladipo didn’t look quite the same. He played much closer to a league average wing than an all-star. Domantas Sabonis is one of the better bigs in the league but how does he match-up against the Joel Embiid’s and Bam Adebayo’s of the world? Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdan are nice pieces, but can they outduel the top seven teams that all have legitimate stars to take over in crunch time? T.J. Warren lit up the bubble, can he sustain that level of play? I like Indiana, they’re a nice team and in a usually watered down East, they’re almost a lock for a top five seed, but the East is deep this season and the team that I think gets pushed out is the Pacers.
9.) Atlanta Hawks
One of the sexiest most improved team picks this season, the Hawks were one of the busiest teams in the offseason. Atlanta signed Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, and sniped Bogdan Bodanovic out from under the Bucks. Pair their new assets with Trae Young, John Collins, and their second year wings and Atlanta should be one of the best offensive teams in the league. Unfortunately for the Hawks, their defense could also be described as offensive. Hopefully the sixth overall pick Onyeka Okongwu and Clint Capela will help change the culture, but they may have to score 140 points per game just to keep up with their opponents.
10.) Orlando Magic
Orlando always hangs around the bottom of the playoff standings in the East but will be pushed out of the race this season. Arguably their best piece Jonathan Isaac will miss the season after tearing his ACL. The rest of the roster is filled with a bunch of alright dudes who don’t really move the needle. Aaron Gordon is great in the dunk contest and a fine player overall, but is he really the future? He might be one of the prime candidates for a fresh start somewhere else in the middle of the season. Rookie Cole Anthony is already to coolest player on the team and is buddies with the legend Spike Lee, who if Anthony ever becomes a star in Orlando, should absolutely direct a Disney Movie. Other than that possibility, not much to get excited about for Magic fans this season.
11.) Chicago Bulls
The Bulls maybe made the best move of the offseason by firing the worst coach in the league by far, Jim Boylen. By all accounts, nobody liked him and he was a fucking dick who treated his players like they were coal miners punching in for a hard days work. That kind of hokey high school bullshit will never work in the NBA and the Bulls will automatically be better for it. New head coach Billy Donovan inherits not the worst lineup in the league. Zach LaVine is one of the best scorers in the NBA. Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and rookie Patrick Williams are all promising young players, and if any combination of them can take the next step and become a borderline star in the NBA, Chicago could push for a birth in the play-in tournament.
12.) Charlotte Hornets
LaVar Ball might finally get his one-on-one game against Michael Jordan since the Hornets drafted the third Ball bro LaMelo third overall in the draft. Unless LaMelo is the second coming of Jordan himself, this young Hornets team isn’t doing much this season, but it’s probably going to be super fun to watch. There’s a lot of young talent in Charlotte, but it might be a year or two too early to hope they can figure it out together. The Hornets will be a team to watch in the coming years, and if LaMelo can truly be the superstar that many scouts think he can, and Hayward cane cobble together a season that kind of resembles his game before his ankle injury, maybe they can make a run at the play-in tournament.
13.) Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are finally not the most boring team in the league. Blake Griffin coming back from an injury plagued season last year will electrify the fanbase, but I’m not sure that at 31 he’s ever going to be Lob City Blake again. Detroit will have their version of the French Connection this season in second year wing Sekou Doumbouya and rookie point guard Killian Hayes. Luckily for Pistons fans instead of smuggling heroin, these young guns should be providing some highlights in Detroit this season. While there is finally some young talent in the Motor City, the Pistons also made a ton of super weird decisions in free agency this season. Yes they signed (overpaid) for Jerami Grant, who should perform admirably in the front court, but then they signed Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor, and drafted Isaiah Stewart this offseason which will prove to be impish roster moves this season. Once again the best players are Griffin, and 32-year-old Derrick Rose, which would be fantastic in 2012, but for 2021 it will be another sad-boy winter in Michigan this season.
14.) New York Knicks
Obi Toppin was a nice grab at the 8th pick in the draft, but does a core of Toppin, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Julius Randle really do anything for you? All I can hope for is a Succession season three storyline where Kendall Roy talks shit about James Dolan’s band and gets throw out of Madison Square Garden Charles Oakley style. I’ll end the Knicks section early since I don’t have anything nice to say about them.
15.) Cleveland Cavaliers
Since LeBron James left for the Lakers in 2018 the Cavs have done exactly what they did when James left for Miami in 2010, fucking sucked. Cleveland drafted guards Colin Sexton and Darius Garland in back to back drafts hoping for some Kyrie Irving magic once again. This time Sexton and Garland have been slow to show that they are actually good at basketball. Now they drafted Isaac Okoro who seems alright but is he a star, or do they just have another guy who can be alright but doesn’t move the needle. Legitimately forgot until writing this that Kevin Love is still in Cleveland. At least the Cavs can hope to win the lottery again next year and draft Cade Cunningham as their new LeBron 18 years after drafting the second greatest player of all-time.
Western Conference Standings
1.) Los Angeles Lakers
The reigning champs got better in the offseason acquiring Dennis Schroder, signing Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol which seems unfair. With LeBron and AD the Lakers are far better than any other team in the West. They’re arguably two of the top five players in the league right now, and prime AD is the best player that LeBron has ever played with (sorry 30-year-old Dwyane Wade). This duo should be the next great tandem in NBA history and, unless LeBron takes a nosedive in his year-36 season, they have a chance to possibly three-peat for the first time since the Shaq-Kobe Lakers in the early 2000s. The only thing that can knock them down will be injuries. If the two superstars stay healthy they can beat anyone and will be the favorite to win the NBA Championship.
2.) Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers locked up Paul George on a four year $190 million extension because who thinks it’s a bad idea to pay George $47 million when he’s 34 years old. With 30-year-old George and T-800, I mean Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers will contend this year and until Kawhi leaves LA in free agency to accomplish the impossible, win a championship in Minnesota. The Clippers were minutes away from facing their rivals from across the hallway in the Western Conference Finals in the Bubble, and then collapsed against the Nuggets. The Clippers also dropped Doc Rivers for Ty Lue who will help lead this team to the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, where he will once again get stepped over (this time by Alex Caruso).
3.) Denver Nuggets
*Intense Jason Concepcion voice* A deeeeeeeeeeeeep run in the NBA Bubble and the emergence of Jamal Murray has a lot of NBA fans singing the praises of the Nuggets this season. Murray may have turned into a legitimate superstar in Disney World, and Nikola Jokic is the best basketball player who looks like he should not be good at any sports. Denver might have struck gold with the 14th pick in the 2018 Draft with Michael Porter Jr. They had to wait a year as he recovered from a back injury, but he was worth the wait and broke out in the bubble. The Nuggets showed a lot of grit in the playoffs last year, coming back from two 3-1 deficits until finally succumbing to the Lakers. The talent is there, and the offseason was so short that Jokic didn’t have time to get out of shape and won’t have to spend the first month of the season playing himself back into shape. Denver is a true contender to return to the conference finals.
4.) Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic is very close to being the best basketball player in the world and will give Dallas a chance to compete for a spot in the NBA Finals. The Slovenian sex symbol is the closest thing to Larry Bird the NBA has seen since Keith Van Horn, and when all is said and done, Doncic could be better than both (glad I live across an ocean from Boston). His Euro lifemate Kristaps Porzingis is the player that could really sink Dallas’ title hopes. If he stays healthy and puts up somewhere close to 20 points, ten rebounds, and two blocks, Dallas will be just fine, but if the unicorn limps through the season and looks like a shell of himself, Dallas will be an easy out in the playoffs. Luka has a chance to win the MVP and will lock up the award in his third season if he can lead the Mavericks to a high seed in the loaded Western Conference.
5.) Portland Trail Blazers
A disappointing regular season was masked by a bubble run that vaulted the Blazers into the 8-seed and a quick 4-1 first round exit at the hands of the eventual champion Lakers. Portland had a nice offseason adding Robert Covington, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Jones Jr. to a core of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Carmelo Anthony. Lillard is a dark horse to win the MVP this season, and if he can lead this team to a top-four seed in the West, that could actually happen. The return of Nurkic in the bubble energized the team, and you hope that he can continue to anchor the front court and keep them competitive in the playoff race. Some members of the media are higher on the Blazers, some think they may miss the playoffs entirely, I have them right in the middle as the fifth seed in the West.
6.) Utah Jazz
Utah disappointed in the Bubble after leading the Nuggets 3-1 in the first round, the Jazz fucking blew it and lost in seven games. They didn’t really do much in the offseason and finished sixth in the West last year, so sixth seems like a reasonable spot for them to finish this year too. Donovan Mitchell is going to continue playing at an all-star level, and Rudy Gobert, after becoming the unintentional face of the NBA Covid-19 season, signed a huge contract and will still be in the running for DPOY. Mike Conley can’t be much worse than he was last year, and Joe Ingles is one of the best bench players in the league. Utah isn’t the flashiest team in the league, but should have a good offense and one of the better defenses in the league and will be a steady team all season.
7.) Houston Rockets
James Harden, more like James soften am I right? Thicc boi James Harden is the talk of the league as the season gets underway as he has requested a trade out of Houston. Nobody knows where he’s going to end up, or when he’s going to get traded, but until a deal is made the Rockets will still be a playoff team. Harden matches up with former stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins in a Rockets lineup that would absolutely win the championship in 2015. We’ll see if the former Kentucky Wildcat teammates have any gas left in the tank after injuries have ravaged the primes of two of the brightest stars in the league. Houston is definitely the focus of the NBA as long as James Harden is partying with rappers and dropping 50 points on a daily basis. The franchise is in crisis mode, but will stay relevant until they cave and trade Harden for 30 cents on the dollar.
8.) Phoenix Suns
Phoenix’s 10-year playoff drought might finally be over this year with the addition of the point god himself Chris Paul. A Big three of 35-year-old Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton is intriguing in the deep Western Conference. The Suns went 8-0 in the bubble and are hoping to take that momentum and turn it into sustained success that the fanbase needs desperately. Monty Williams is a capable coach to steer this team into the playoffs if the core can gel. The race for the 8th seed will be hotly contested in the Western Conference as there are probably eight teams with a legitimate chance to at least make it into the play in tournament. Phoenix has the top talent to beat most of the rest of those teams and should consider this season a disappointment if the Suns fail to make the playoffs again.
9.) Memphis Grizzlies
Ninth already seems too low for the upstart Grizzlies this season. Ja Morant legitimately seems like one of the best players in the league in year two. He’s looked unstoppable in the preseason (albeit mostly against the Timberwolves) and has a real chance to contend for a spot on an All-NBA team this season. Fellow burgeoning star Jaren Jackson is recovering from a torn meniscus, and will miss the start of the season. Jackson and Morant form one of the most exciting tandems of young talent in the league. Brandon Clarke is old as shit for a second year player (he’s just 24) but has shown that he can be a nice third complementary piece to Ja and triple J. Jonas Valanciunas is quietly one of the best maulers in the NBA, and Memphis boasts a deep bench. Youth might be the biggest strength and biggest weakness for this team. You should expect everyone to continue improving, but sometimes young teams have their growing pains. In all likelihood Memphis glides into the playoffs, but there are enough unknowns out west to push the young Grizzlies out of the postseason.
10.) New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson has lost his crown as the thick king of the NBA (that crown belongs to James Harden) but is poised to become one of the best and most popular superstars in the NBA. Zion only played 24 games in his rookie season, but averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds. With his frame, injuries will always be a risk, but Zion is legitimately one of the best young players the NBA has seen in several years. Alongside Zion is the NBA’s most improved player Brandon Ingram, who himself is only 23-years-old creating one of the most tantalizing young duos in the league. Lonzo Ball provides a defensive punch in the backcourt, and the signing of Steven Adams bolsters a shallow front court behind Zion. Swapping Jrue Holliday for Eric Bledsoe and several future firsts and pick swaps won’t help this year, but the future is bright in New Orleans.
11.) Golden State Warriors
The Warriors’ championship window will always be open as long as they employ the producer of Holey Moley, but Steph Curry will have to hit a hole in one to get the Warriors back into contention this season. Golden State suffered a huge blow when Klay Thompson suffered an Achilles injury during a pickup game during the offseason. Their one hope to get back to the mountain top…fuck it’s Andrew Wiggins, they’ve got no shot.
12.) Minnesota Timberwolves
As a Wolves fan I always want to be super optimistic and hope that they can finally pull together and become a consistently competitive team, and as a Wolves fan I know it’s never actually going to happen. I always talk myself into it, this year it’s “oh well they have Towns, and Russell is really good, and Rubio, we like him, and maybe Anthony Edwards can be the next Donovan Mitchell, and Ryan Saunders is better than his dad was, and they should easily be the eighth seed and probably actually the sixth seed, and maybe they can surprise the Clippers in the first round, and Towns can go nuts and possibly make the second round and get lucky and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could make a conference finals”. Bullshit, halfway through the season I always have to call bullshit on my expectations. Since Kevin Garnett left to win a Championship in Boston and buy opals from Adam Sandler the Timberwolves have never lived up to expectations. Even the year they had Jimmy Butler, that team should have been the third seed and barely snuck into the playoffs. It’s never going to happen and this team is no different, at least for this season. Towns might be healthy, but he hasn’t shown that he can lead a team and create wins in his first five years, so why start now. Russell is a talented player, but does he really impact winning? Ask Laker, Nets, and Warriors fans the last five seasons, they are probably fond of him but are glad their franchises aren’t building a team around him. Rubio is more of a sentimental acquisition than actual playoff puzzle piece. Anthony Edwards may be talented, but will likely take a year or two or five to reach his full potential and won’t likely impact winning during his rookie year. Does this team have plenty of talent? Yes. Does this team excite me? Yes. Will this team inevitably take my optimism and shove it down my throat until I choke on my own fandom? Unavoidably yes.
13.) Sacramento Kings
The Kings truly have a solid base of young talent, but I have absolutely no faith that the Kings can actually tap into the talent and compete this season. De’Aaron Fox played at an all-star level last year around some nagging injuries. Marvin Bagley III has shown flashes of future stardom, but only played 13 games last year. Buddy Hield is one of the best shooters in the league, and rookie Tyrese Haliburton has a chance to be one of the best rookies in this year’s class. Sacramento’s talent trails off shortly after that and will cause problems when their starters are on the bench. Sacramento is in the same place it’s been for the better part of the decade; too good to get the top pick, but not good enough to actually compete for a playoff spot.
14.) San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio’s 20 plus year reign of terror in the West is finally over and it’s going to get ugly pretty fast. Their best players are either on the wrong side of 30 (Lamarcus Aldridge and Demar DeRozan), or Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, who are fine players but they’re not Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, or Manu Ginobili. Sorry Shea Serrano but this is probably the most boring team in the league and that includes Orlando and Cleveland (both the cities and teams). I can’t see Popovich coaching this mess passed this season. I guess that’s what you get for being a 20-year dynasty.
15.) Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC completely punted on this season by sending Chris Paul to Phoenix, Steven Adams to New Orleans, Dennis Schroder to the Lakers, and losing Danilo Gallinari to Atlanta in free agency. They’ve mortgaged the present for 17 future first round picks through 2026, and are in line for the top pick in the loaded 2020 draft. This team will absolutely suck this year, but will probably more closely resemble the 2012 finals team that feature Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden throughout the next decade plus.
Los Angeles Lakers 4 Brooklyn Nets 3
Finals MVP: Anthony Davis
A Lot of this is riding on my belief that the Nets will somehow get James Harden. That trade seems a lot less inevitable than it did even just a week ago, but I believe that Brooklyn finds a third team to facilitate a better young piece to Houston while the Nets will part with Caris LaVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. The Lakers have the best one-two punch the NBA has see since Shaq and Kobe. While their depth is a question, LeBron and AD are enough to get the Lakers back-to-back championships for the first time since 2010. The Nets have the offensive firepower to contend with anyone with KD and Kyrie and will outgun the rest of the East in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, they’ll run into Anthony Davis, who I believe will have one of the best finals showings in recent history to secure finals MVP.
Executive of the Year
Sean Marks, Brooklyn Nets
This mostly hinges on Marks facilitating a trade for James Harden, but even if that trade doesn’t happen Marks should be in contention this season for pairing KD with Kyrie. The two superstars have yet to take the court together, but if things go right the front office will look pretty smart and get the accolades for it, even though it’s probably a year later than it should be.
Coach of the Year
Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
Carlisle won the award in 2002 as the Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons. This time he nabs Coach of the Year thanks to Luka Doncic. I think Luka is going to help carry the Mavericks to a top-four seed in the West and give them a real shot to make the Western Conference Finals. Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the league, and if the Mavericks win as many games as they did last year in just 72 games this year, he’s going to be a strong candidate.
6th Man of the Year
Tyler Herro, Miami Heat
Herro had a fantastic rookie season both on and off the court for the Miami Heat. He helped the Heat surprise the basketball world and make it to the NBA Finals. Herro will likely see his role expanded in his second season. The problem is there’s a very good chance that Herro could start for the Heat this season. I believe they need him to score off the bench and he will be the leader of the second unit and has a chance to push close to averaging 20 points a game.
Most Improved Player
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Ayton has been pretty good during his first two seasons in the NBA, but the addition of Chris Paul is going to do wonders for his career. Nobody is ever going to forget that the Suns took Ayton instead of Luka Doncic, but that’s the Suns’ fault, not Ayton’s. The point god (and HGH) will help elevate Ayton to an all-star level center whose offense is already going to take off, and has show improvements on defense. I see him making the leap and possibly averaging 25 and 12 on a playoff team and becoming a bonafide star player in his third season.
Rookie of the Year
Obi Toppin, New York Knicks
The Knicks were one piece away from championship contention and went out and found their guy in the draft in Obi Toppin. Wait you’re telling me the Knicks were actually bad last year?
The Knicks suck, as you know, but the Toppin pick was actually pretty good. He’s the most NBA ready player in this class and he’ll contribute right away. The Knicks have some young talent with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, and Toppin should be able to complement them well. Don’t be surprised if he comes out and averages 16 points and seven rebounds, good stats for a rookie, but also don’t expect him to magically resurrect the Knicks anytime soon.
Defensive Player of the Year
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Davis finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year to Giannis last season. I believe there will be a lot of Giannis fatigue this season and Davis will slip in and fill the space. Playing alongside LeBron will only help his case as the Lakers will once again be one of the best defensive teams in the league. I have a lot of stock in AD this season and believe this is the season where he truly takes the mantle as the best player in the league. Problem for him is that won’t translate into an MVP because he plays with LeBron, which is why LeBron didn’t win the award last season.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
The NBA’s number one boy has a chance to average a triple double this season and lead the Mavericks deep into the playoffs. He’s already the best playmaker in the NBA and is most often compared to Larry Bird. Doncic is only 21 years old and has the chance to become one of the best players in the history of the NBA. If Luka can add a three point shot to his arsenal, he’ll be completely unstoppable for the next 15 years. This year the Mavericks have enough firepower to compete in the loaded West, and if Kristaps Porzingis can get healthy, they have a real shot to at least get to the Western Conference Finals. Luka will be the face of the league sooner rather than later, and this will likely be the most important step into super stardom.
All-NBA First Team
Guard: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Guard: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Center: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Forward: Giannis Antentokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Forward: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Not a lot of surprises here except for that LeBron James isn’t present on the first team, and we’ll get to that shortly. I have high hopes that Kevin Durant will return to form after 18 months off while recovering from an achilles injury. We may have forgotten that before the injury, Durant was the best player in the league.
All-NBA Second Team
Guard: James Harden, Houston Rockets
Guard: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Center: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Forward: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Forward: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
LeBron James doesn’t fall off too far in his age-36 season. It will be the first time since 2007 that a healthy LeBron doesn’t make the first team. Second team is nothing to scoff at though as LeBron is in line to lead the Lakers to back-to-back championships. Devin Booker might be a reach here but he’s been so close to breaking through into the elite tier of NBA players and I think this is his year to finally make his mark on the league.
All-NBA Third Team
Guard: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Guard: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Center: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Forward: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Jamal Murray gets a full head of steam going after his fantastic bubble performance and finally blows up this season. Murray averaged 26.5 points and shot 45.3 percent from three in the playoffs last season. If he can keep that up for the regular season for a top three seed he could skyrocket up and contend for a spot on the second team. Kawhi Leonard load manages his way all the way down to the third team. Honorable mentions include: Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Russell Westbrook, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown.
All-Defensive First Team
Guard: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
Guard: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Center: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Forward: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Getting a little wonky with positions because there shouldn’t be positions with these end-of-year teams but should be no real surprises here.
All-Defensive Second Team
Guard: Kris Dunn, Atlanta Hawks
Guard: Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia 76ers
Center: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Forward: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Taking a big swing for the second team and projecting Dunn and Thybulle to make big leaps this season and become two of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. Gobert could push for the first team but the Jazz might take a step back defensively this season. Kawhi and probably Butler to a point could push for first team recognition, but they’ll both probably manage their loads too much for the media to reward them with a first team slot.
All-Rookie First Team
Guard: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
Guard: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Center: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
Forward: Obi Toppin, New York Knicks
Forward: Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
The big wildcard here is Wiseman. We haven’t seen him play in the preseason, and who really knows how Steve Kerr will utilize him in his rookie season. Wiseman might be the most talented rookie in the NBA but his role could keep him off of the first team. All of my other picks should either be starting for their respective teams, or getting close to starters minutes. Toppin is going to score, LaMelo will produce highlight assists every night, and Haliburton and Okoro should be solid all the way around. None of these guys are going to produce the best rookie season we’ve ever seen, but all should be exciting and produce enough to garner first team votes.
All-Rookie Second Team
Guard: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Guard: Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons
Guard: Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic
Guard: Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
Forward: Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
Both Anthony Edwards and Killian Hayes could play their way onto the first team, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Edwards was trash in his first two preseason games, then came out and shut down Luka Doncic on consecutive plays and finally showed some signs of life in his third and final contest. He could easily end the season averaging 18, five, and five on a .500 team that’s vying for the eight-seed, or average seven, two, and two while shooting some god awful number on a last place dumpster fire. Either outcomes are possible, but as a Wolves fan, if the second happens somebody please check on me, I will not be ok. I threw Maxey in here mostly because I couldn’t find another lottery pick that I really believe will have a good rookie season. I’m not super high on guys like Deni Avdija (At least for this season), and Onyeka Okongwu’s role is still up in the air, so Maxey was a guy I think could provide a spark off the bench for the 76ers.
If any of these predictions are wrong, who gives a shit, I’m just some guy. If you really want to get mad go yell at John Hollinger.
Atlanta Hawks/Pembroke College
Really happy to be here.
Boston Celtics/Balliol College
Both were better 500 years ago.
Brooklyn Nets/Wadham College
God damn hipsters!
Charlotte Hornets/Linacre College
Straight trash homie.
Chicago Bulls/New College
Got really cool all of a sudden in the 80’s and 90’s
Pretends they’re special because they had something nice once.
Dallas Mavericks/Magdalen College
You won one championship 10 years ago, calm down.
Denver Nuggets/ Lady Margaret Hall
Pretty trendy all of a sudden.
Detroit Pistons/Merton College
Zero fun, sir.
Golden State Warriors/St. John’s College
Rich as shit.
Houston Rockets/Oriel College
A lot of controversy going on at the moment.
total mismatch, a lot of great stuff mixed with utter trash.
Los Angeles Clippers/Keble College
Really beautiful, but does anyone actually like them? probably not so much.
Los Angeles Lakers/Christ Church College
Full of 18-year-olds who think they’re influencers.
Memphis Grizzlies/St. Peter’s
Miami Heat/Exeter College
Going to fuck you up.
Milwaukee Bucks/The Queen’s College
Front and center but don’t compare to their rivals.
Minnesota Timberwolves/ Harris Manchester College
I love them but nobody else even knows they exist.
New Orleans Pelicans/Worcester College
Bandwagon fans are fun…for awhile.
New York Knicks/All Souls
Rich and steeped in tradition, but ultimately little to no actual substance.
Oklahoma City Thunder/Brasenose College
Kind of responsible for Brexit and the relocation of the Sonics, RIP.
Orlando Magic/Somerville College
Margaret Thatcher seems like she would have some thoughts about Disney World.
Philadelphia 76ers/University College
Trust the process.
Phoenix Suns/St. Hugh’s College
At least they’re trying.
Portland Trail Blazers/Jesus College
Sacramento Kings/Corpus Christi College
Close in proximity to greatness, but sucks itself.
San Antonio Spurs/Hertford College
They’re just there year after year after year.
Toronto Raptors/Wolfson College
New, way the fuck up north, and pretty ugly.
Utah Jazz/St. Cross
Washington Wizards/Trinity College
Fucking hate how much better the Celtics/Balliol have always been.
The starters for the 67th NBA All-Star game were announced earlier this month. LeBron James lead the voting in the East. He’s joined by Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and DeMar DeRozen who were voted in as starters. In the West, Steph Curry lead the voting and is joined by fellow starters Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. In a change of format James and Curry will captain each team, and draft their team from the full all-star pool of players. The reserves will be announced on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern on TNT. Here are the seven players from each conference that I think should make the all-star team as reserves this season.
Eastern Conference Reserves
Backcourt: Bradley Beal, Shooting Guard, Washington Wizards
In his sixth season, Bradley Beal should finally be making his all-star debut. He’s averaging career highs in points (23.6), rebounds (4.3), and assists (3.7). He should have been and all-star last year, but should be a lock for the team this year.
Backcourt: Victor Oladipo, Shooting Guard, Indiana Pacers
Who would have thought that we’d be talking about Oladipo as an all-star when he was traded for Paul George in the off-season? He’s having a career year averaging 24,2 points, more than six more points than he’s ever averaged in a season.
Frontcourt: Kristaps Porzingis, Power Forward, New York Knicks
Some argue that the Unicorn should be a starter instead of Embiid. Porzingis has shown solid improvement every season in his three years in New York and is leading the league in blocks with 2.3 a game.
Frontcourt: Kevin Love, Power Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kevin Love is having another good season for the Cavs. While his numbers have taken a dip this season from last year, he’s still one of the best forwards in the East and deserving of his fifth all-star selection this year.
Frontcourt: Andre Drummond, Center, Detroit Pistons
Even though the Pistons are currently on the outside of the playoff picture, Drummond should make his second career all-star appearance. He’s still a monster on the boards, leading the league in rebounding with 15 a game, and shooting a remarkable (for him) 63% from the free-throw line.
Wildcard: Kyle Lowry, Point Guard, Toronto Raptors
Lowry’s scoring is down this year (averaging just 17 points a game) but he’s helped lead the Raptors to the third best record in the league. He should join teammate DeMar DeRozen on the roster once again.
Wildcard: John Wall, Point Guard, Washington Wizards
There are others who some think might deserve the nod over Wall, but when you average 19 points and nine assists on a solid playoff team you get put ahead of the other contenders. I think Wall earns a spot for the fifth consecutive season.
Snubs: Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford, Ben Simmons, Goran Dragic
Western Conference Reserves
Backcourt: Russell Westbrook, Point Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
Westbrook is a lock to make this year’s team. while he may not be the MVP he was last season, he’s still putting up huge numbers to lead the Thunder to solid contention for a top four seed in the West.
Backcourt: Jimmy Butler, Shooting Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
After a shaky start to his Timberwolves career, Butler has turned himself into a legitimate MVP candidate while turning the Wolves into a real contender in the West behind Houston and Golden State.
Frontcourt: Karl-Anthony Towns, Center, Minnesota Timberwolves
KAT probably should have made his all-star debut last year, but the Wolves were so bad he didn’t warrant consideration. This year is different as he’s still averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds and the Wolves are in third place in the West.
Frontcourt: LaMarcus Aldridge, Power Forward, San Antonio Spurs
Aldridge has held down the fort for the Spurs this season while Kawhi Leonard has only played in nine games this season. Aldridge should be a lock to get back to the game after missing out last year.
Frontcourt: Paul George, Small Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder maybe didn’t fleece the Pacers as much as we thought in the Paul George trade, but George has still been great for the Thunder. He’s second in the league in steals, and still scoring 20 points a game in a line-up that also features Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
Wildcard: Damian Lillard, Point Guard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard has been snubbed the last two years but I think he gets in this time. Once again he’s proven he’s one of the most dynamic players in the game, and has the Trail Blazers in the playoffs right now. I don’t think he can handle being left out for a third straight year, but I don’t think he’ll have to worry about it.
Wildcard: Chris Paul, Point Guard, Houston Rockets
My last entry is Chris Paul. I know he’s missed 19 games this season, but when he’s played he’s just been so good. The Rockets have the second best record in the league and deserve to have two players represent Houston.
Snubs: Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell