It’s October, autumn just came swiftly around the corner and everyone is starting to ask themselves the same question as every year: Where did the summer go? It’s getting pretty cold outside, the weather is about to annoy most of the peeps going to work, university or school and after a long day en route, only darkness will be awaiting them. This is the time of the year most people start counting the weeks till December and its X-MAS insanity with anticipation. But there is an increasing group of “Others” who start counting the days for a different reason – not only with anticipation but with sheer excitement. They are called NBA-Fans and their holy holiday is about to come: On October 25th, the NBA is finally back! Previous to the NBA Tip Off, we are not only counting the days till the first jump of the 2016-17 Season, but also provide you with the KICKZ ultimate countdown of the TOP TEN NBA-players of today.
After an interesting and informative preseason, the regular season is finally here!!! The last weeks centered around familiar faces in different jerseys, new talented faces in improved teams and happy faces all around the world when reminded that there are 82 basketball games of their fav teams in the near future. With legends like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett leaving, there are some open spots to fill. Lists are always a sensitive issue and never definitive, but the KICKZ team tried to specify not only their favorite players but the beasts worth being in it. (Lucky for you, Steph Curry!) The NBA has tons of talents on the court, so have mercy with us if your darling is not part of the TOP TEN.
While there is plenty of time left in the 2016-17 season for players to prove us right or wrong and move up and down the list, here are my superstars worth mentioning. Before presenting you the list of my KICKZ colleagues, I will refresh your memory with a preview of my ten favorite players:
P.S.: Feel free to tell us your TOP TEN of the upcoming season underneath our post.
10. Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks
2015-16 Season: 21.8 (PPG), 7.7 (RPG), 4.2 (APG)
A player is nothing without his team and a team is nothing without his one-of-a-kind player. Therefore, don’t let the Knicks record fool you, ‘cause I consider Melo belonging to this countdown. Truth be told, he is definitely lacking playoff wins, but being nominated an All-Star for eleven times speaks for itself, I’d say. Defensively, he has some issues, but offensively = wow! He is one of the purest scorers and can put up huuuge numbers – depending on the team, ofc! With the right team around him, he can carry the whole squad to glory (see TEAM USA and his three gold-medals). He is a weapon anywhere on the floor! I predict both Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will have an incredible season. Melo, it’s your turn to maneuver the NYK back to the top of the league. He will thrive with his new teammates and – together with Kristaps Porzingis – be poised for making the playoffs.
9. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Nickname: Dame, Sub-Zero
2015-16 Season: 25.1 (PPG), 4.3 (RPG), 6.8 (APG)
Even if the Portland Trail Blazers kinda lost their entire starting lineup and won’t be able to make a run at the title this year, Damian Lillard will still be the face of the franchise and step his game up like crazy in order to somehow lead Portland to the Western Conference Finals. Despite facing some health issues, he put up career numbers last season – being healthy now, expect him to climb even higher and become an elite player in 2016-17. Blazers as well as Lillard have been quite underestimated the last seasons, so I expect him to go nuts in order to get the recognition he deserves.
8. Kristaps Porzingis, PF, New York Knicks
Nickname: KP, PorzinGOD
2015-16 Season: 14.3 (PPG), 7.3 (RPG), 1.3 (APG)
Kristaps Porzingis is the player to watch in the 2016-17 NBA season: With the 7’3” Latvian already being compared to Dirk Nowitzki, Porzingis is the real deal! He is an incredibly exciting player and already shows signs of being a role player, an All-Star even! My predicitions: Kristaps Porzingis makes the All-Star Team. In his superb rookie season, he balled his way in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and fans worldwide. He is one of the very few big men who can hit a three-point shot and consistently protect the rim, an interesting “hybrid” of Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett in a way – wait for a player you have never seen before. I am pretty sure Porzingis carries his incredible success into the next season as well – it’s All-Star time for the 21-year-old power forward! The Latvian might be the biggest factor whether the Knicks will finish this season as a true Eastern Conference contender or not?!
7. Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors
Nicknames: KD, The Durantula
2015-16 Season: 28.1 (PPG), 8.2 (RPG), 5.0 (APG)
Most of the chaos of this offseason centered around Kevin Durant and his journey to the GSW. Some say it has dampened his reputation, but choosing Golden State in free agency has nonetheless been a big and promising step of his career. The preseason showed that the Warriors needed little adjustment period welcoming KD amidst their line up. Curry and Durant coexisted on the court quite well, combining for impressive numbers and thus, thrilling the Dub Nation as an ideal fit for the offense. Even if there has been a change in the scenery, there is no change in Durantula’s high level of play. Durant is still one of the best sharp-shooting forwards – the question is nonetheless how much value can a player like him add to probably the most efficient offense in NBA history? Whether one supports the “traitor” in the Golden State jersey or not, KD will perform magic with his superstar colleagues in the Oracle Center. Let’s just see whether his numbers will be as great as with OKC…
6. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Nickname: Uncle Drew
2015-16 Season: 19.6 (PPG), 3.0 (RPG), 4.7 (APG)
Oh Kyrie, you proud owner of probably one of the greatest shots in the NBA Finals history. It’s June 19th 2016, one minute until the 2016 NBA Champion will finally be announced after seven strenuous games and it’s the clutchest shot Cavs No. 2 could have dreamed of in his entire career: Kyrie Irving sanking a step-back, go-ahead three-pointer – right in the face of GSW! This was probably the absolute highlight of his four years NBA so far, but I am pretty sure there are a lot of big games about to come next season. It is almost impossible to stop Uncle Drew 1-on-1 – Steph Curry was witness of this in last year’s championship round. In the Finals, Irving averaged an impressive 27.1 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.9 RPG and 2.1 SPG while shooting 46.8% from the field. The 24-year-old will take his game to the next level this season and given some more years, he will sure be on everyone’s TOP TEN list.
5. Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
Nicknames: Chef Curry, Baby-Faced Assassin
2015-16 Season: 30.1 (PPG), 5.4 (RPG), 6.7 (APG)
Golden State Warriors’ No. 30, Steph Curry, pretty much disunites the entire NBA fan base. He is a player you either love deeply or hate profoundly, but nonetheless, one has to admit that he is a genius and has a spectacular offense game. Winning 73 games, pulling in more All-Star votes than James, claiming his second straight MVP and setting a tremendous record due to his three-point shooting skills (402 three-pointers!!!), the notorious “Baby-faced Assassin” earned himself a legendary status last season. Apart breaking all this poor records, he joined the prestigious 40-50-90 club (averaging at least 40% from three-point, 50% from the field, and 90% from the free-throw line, easy!). It goes without saying that Curry is the closest to dethroning King James, but it was nevertheless not him holding the Larry O’Brien trophy last season (number five on my list therefore – and ‘cuz I am no big Curry-fan haha). Yes, his skills are outstanding and he sure as hell will have a third extraordinary season, but Mr. Curry, please stop chewing and throwing your mouthpiece!
4. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
Nickname: The Claw
2015-16 Season: 21.2 (PPG), 6.8 (RPG), 2.6 (APG)
Oh boy! Despite his age, Leonard is already a true NBA superstar. The two-times Defensive Player of the Year winner keeps expanding his offense, but this season he will explode. After increasing his numbers in each of his first five seasons and earning his first All-Star and All-NBA First Team selections, the Claw has proven that he belongs to the top of the league and will be in the conversation for future MVP candidates for years to come. Last season he was the 3rd most efficient small forward in the NBA, queueing up behind LeBron and Durant – quite impressive for a 24-year-old. With Duncan gone, it is now time for Leonard to carry a heavier load this season, but he will take over the locker room nonetheless. This guy has an incredible talent and I expect him to have another pretty successful season as one of the best defenders in the league – the Defensive Player of the Year award is already entitled for the small forward of the Spurs.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Nickname: KAT, Big KAT, Special-K
2015-16 Season: 18.3 (PPG), 10.5 (PPG), 2.0 (PPG)
In his amazing rookie season last year, Karl-Anthony Towns has already proved everyone that he belongs to the big names of the NBA. After bursting onto the scene of the league, it was soon only a matter of time until the 7’0” center of the Minnesota Timberwolves would take his game to All-Star level. The Dominican-American blossomed last year, played on both ends of the ball and put up such great numbers, that some experts already started making comparisons to Tim Duncan, Shaq and other All-Stars. The 21-year-old is determined to bring his franchise back to the top – it sure will take a while – but the kid has a bright future ahead. Towns is already one of the best centers in the NBA, so my prediction is that he won’t have a problem making one of the All NBA teams next season. He is one of the most exciting young guys to watch and will take the league by storm, so expect him to have a great year ahead. Let’s see, if KAT will lead the T-Wolves out of their 13-years lasting playoff-misery.
2. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Nicknames: King James, LBJ, The Chosen One, Bron Bron
2015-16 Season: 25.3 (PPG), 7.4 (RPG), 6.8 (APG)
After last year’s Finals it is official: LBJ is still THE king and the best player in the NBA. His combination of size, speed and strength make him an unbeatable beast – LeBron’s supremacy is undeniable! Both the 2015 and 2016 finals illustrated his greatness: first fighting an unwinnable battle kinda alone until the bitter end, then winning an unwinnable battle after facing a 3-1 deficit, King James finally brought cursed Cleveland their first sports championship in over 50 years. I still get goose bumps thinking about his breakdown after realizing the Cavs truly made it in Game 7. In the finals, the small forward led all players in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks, becoming the first player to do so. He responded to Curry & Co. by posting the following stat lines in Games 5,6 and 7: 41P/16R/7A/3S/3B, 41P/8R/11A/4S/3B and 27P/11R/11A/2S/3B! This guy, his ball game and his leadership are legendary, he already saved his spot in NBA history for sure. But most marvelous is the fact that he shows no signs of slowing down at all – another ring is destined to be on the last year’s Finals MVP’s hand! If King James and his team would make it to the finals once again, it would be his seventh in a row – pretty impressive! LeBron James is definitely an “once-in-a-lifetime player”! Wait for monster numbers in 2016-17!!!
1. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Nickname: Westbeast, Beastbrook, Westgod
2015-16 Season: 23.5 (PPG), 7.8 (RPG), 10.4 (APG)
If you haven’t read our KICKZ NBA predictions for the upcoming season yet, please feel free to do so! After reading the blog article, you will sure be persuaded of Beastbrook being on fire this season as one of the best triple-double-boys ever. With Durant now gone, I am pretty sure that OKC’s No. 0 will break his own record of whopping 18 triple-doubles – a masterpiece only three other players in NBA history have achieved so far (Westbrook joining Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson). Westbrook’s effectiveness will intimidate opponents and teammates alike when killing the ring again this season. Westbrook has to be listed at the top of these superstars, end of the story! (Sorry, LeBron)
P.S.: The award for “best dressed player of the 2016-17 season” is already in Westbrook’s hands, without any doubt haha!
I am pretty sure some will disagree and a lot of you will pick entirely different players, but to our defense, it’s kinda impossible to make a list given all the talents in the league… Let’s see what my team has to say:
10. Paul George
Was LeBron’s fiercest rival prior to his injury and could be back to his best this year. MVP caliber talent!
9. Kawhi Leonard
Mr. Quiet Guy. His athleticism and huge hands make him the best defender in the game. Plus he can score from anywhere on the court.
8. Anthony Davis
It’s all about health for AD. The Brow could well be in the Top3 if his body wouldn’t break down every couple months.
7. Chris Paul
Still the Point God, but has lost a step on his competitors. Floor General par excellence!
6. Kyrie Irving
The Ankletaker keeps getting better every year. Best handles in the game, period! Clutch as fuck!
5. Steph Curry
MVP of the regular season, MDP of the Finals in my eyes, Most Disappointing Player that is. Something to prove this season…
4. Kevin Durant
One of the best scorers I’ve ever seen. Deadly shooter, quick feet and nice handles. But also the worst transfer I’ve ever seen. Comparable to Karl Malone joining the Bulls.
3. Russell Westbrook
Westbeast! Otherworldly energy and athleticism. One of the toughest competitors in the game. He is also blessed with talent and will rack up huge numbers this year as OKC’s option number 1, 2 and 3.
2. James Harden
The Beard is one of the most versatile offensive players in the league. Can dribble, shoot, attack the rim and pass the ball with the best of them. Similar to Westbrook, he will be THE man in Houston and produce ridiculous stats. MVP.
1. LeBron James
They don’t call him the KING for nothing! Best player of his generation. Went ALL IN and brought the Larry O’Brien Trophy to the LAND. Yeah, I’m a Fanboy… but fuck it!
10. Kevin Durant
I don’t like his move to GSW but still… One of the best ballers in the NBA. Keen to see how Steph, Clay and him work together.
9. Vince Carter
Although he is one of the oldest in the league now, one of my all-time favorites is going to show one or another highlight-reel dunk this season.
8. Damian Lillard
No All-Star honors and an early Play-Off end las season will fuel his engine to show what he is capable of.
7. Kyrie Irving
Young Fella will put his name under the Q’s roof if he keeps playing like he does.
6. Steph Curry
Don’t like his mouthguard actions but his range and skills are too sick.
5. Kawhi Leonard
The SDSU representative will dominate both ends of the floor in San Antonio and lead the old-aged Spurs to another deep Playoff run.
4. Russell Westbrook
This guy will blow up stat-sheets. He has the green lights in front of him with the leaving of KD.
3. LeBron James
Respect for his Game was always there. But after his return to Cleveland and his sick performance throughout the whole season I start to like this guy.
2. Dirk Nowitzki
The German Wunderkind in his last seasons for the Mavs. Represent!
1. Kobe Bryant
I don’t care about last season and his last season. Kobe = #1. Always.
10. Paul George
becoming better from year to year – slasher – good finishes – good shooter
9. Dwayne Wade
good athlete – born go to guy -highlighter – fans darling – good package
8. Russell Westbrook
perfect athlete – fast – strong – vert. – no fear – strong will to win
7. Anthony Davis
crazy Athlete – good vert. high flyer – tall guy that can shoot mid range
6. Carmelo Anthony
Size – Speed – Strength – best allrounder with LBJ
5. Damian Lillard
Speed – Strength – good nerves – good D -> killed the Warriors last Season
4. Kevin Durant
Perfect package – size – speed – shooting – court vision – clutch
3. Steph Curry
MVP – perfect shot – good handles – no nerves
2. Kyrie Irving
Best PG – Clutch – good decisions – crazy handles
1. LeBron James
Most versatile player /strong – court vision – shooting – defence
10. DeMar DeRozan
Simply cause he’s on fire!
9. Kevin Durant
Spider legs and arms to bring the points to the table. Hahaha
8. Russell Westbrook
Hard as a motherfucker!
7. Ben Simmons
Injured right now, but the guy to put your eyes on!
6. Steph Curry
hi haters and another 3
5. Draymond Green
fuck yall haters, he‘s going hard
4. LeBron James
The complete player overall!
3. Karl-Anthony Towns
Number one draft, number one concentrated force
2. Kyrie Irving
Uncle drew knows, what more can I say
1. Kristaps Porzingis
Simple cause his going down this year
10. Andrew Wiggins
We only saw a glimpse of what he can do last season. This year he will emerge as an All-Star caliber player and make the highlight reel on a nightly basis.
9. Kyrie Irving
Matured a lot during last year’s championship run and learned that sometimes less is more and slow is quick. Uncle Drew is now in full control.
8. Anthony Davis
Fell from grace last season when he wasn’t fully healthy and somewhat disappointed when he was. Still you can never count out The Brow to wreak havoc.
7. Damian Lillard
Maybe the most underrated among the PG elite. The Dame is keeping the Blazers afloat all by himself and making his teammates better. Good rapper, too.
6. Kevin Durant
Make no mistake. KD is the number two option on the Warriors. Maybe even three. His season will be solid but nothing compared to OKC numbers.
5. LeBron James
I expect him to be on cruise control through the regular season and save most of his energy for the playoffs. Still LeBron will rule the East easily.
4. Steph Curry
He will have to sacrifice part of his offense now that Mr. Durant is onboard but Steph will continue to put up superstar numbers without breaking a sweat.
3. James Harden
Now the lone star (get it?) in Houston and Mike D’Antoni will make sure ‚The Beard‘ is the focal point of every facet of the Rockets’ offense.
2. Karl Anthony Towns
The best big man in the game and it’s only his second season. KAT will turn the T-Wolves into a true contender for the title and compete for the MVP title.
1. Russell Westbrook
Unleashed. With KD gone and OKC fresh out of championship ambitions there is no reason for Russ to not go completely loco on fools.
10. Jimmy Butler
Dwyane Wade, pitched as some sort of star mentor to Butler, feels more like unnecessary competition for attention and shots!
9. Anthony Davis
He scores at superstar level (24,3 PPG)!
8. Paul George
The new season will remove all doubt for sure…
7. James Harden
Since 1970, only two players have matched his 2015–16 production in all three categories
6. Russell Westbrook
…you will not catch Westbrook on his night off because there are no nights off!!
5. Kawhi Leonhard
In fact, last year his usage was topped by only two players: Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant… says it all!
4. Chris Paul
The most efficient high-usage pick-and-roll player in the league last season!
3. Kevin Durant
This year, he is set to join a Golden State team that has ranked first in assist ratio in each of the last two seasons…
2. Steph Curry
No words needed for the 3pointer!
1. LeBron James
He ranked No. 1 in real plus-minus during the regular season and No. 1 in raw plus-minus in the postseason… nothing more to say about the KING!
Looks like LeBron James made the run for our No.1 player of the NBA today, but let’s see… in the end, it will all be settled on court!
Watch out, the list of countdowns continues with these clutch videos of the NBA Preseason 2016:
TOP TEN DUNKS OF THE PRESEASON 2016
TOP TEN ASSISTS OF THE PRESEASON 2016
TOP TEN DEFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE PRESEASON 2016
In cooperation with FIVE MAG!