When the NFL Season starts, I always think about the NBA. Basketball season is the one a lot of people take advantage of because there are so many different games going on at the same time. Knowing that next season is right around the corner, I decided to make my list of the five players I believe will be the most influential and play up to an elite level…
1. Giannis Antetokoumpo: Forward, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis is just an all-out beast. If he gets in the paint, pretty much no one can stop him from taking it to the basket. In my opinion, “The Greek Freak” is the most athletic player in the league. I mean, last year he jumped from a spot really close from the free throw line for a monster dunk! And the best part: He didn’t travel! His arms are so long that he can weave the ball so that no defender even gets to touch it while going through the lane to get a nice finger-roll layup. And then add the fact that he won the NBA MVP award last year — what a baller!
2. Anthony Davis: Center, Los Angeles Lakers
I seriously think that this guy is the best two-way player in the game. Anthony Davis is a scary man when he is posting people up in the paint to get a floater or a dunk in. Very few players can contest him primarily because of his height, but also because of his skills. I’ve also seen some of the nastiest blocks come out of this guy. Despite the fact that he’s 6’10”, his wingspan stretches to about 7’6″! Davis’ teammates can count on him at both ends because he will perform well regardless on offense or defense.
3. LeBron James: Small Forward, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James is the type of guy that will have a great season no matter who is around him. He also has been playing the game at an elite level for a very long time. Despite the time that was taken away last year recovering from an injury, James played solid basketball whenever his team was on the court. Some players just have a presence that makes others around them succeed to the highest level that they are capable to.
4. Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, Los Angeles Clippers
Besides the fact that he won the NBA Finals last year and was voted Finals MVP, I think that Kawhi has more to offer in other areas that less people are talking about. A lot of people will say that Kawhi is good because he is so popular currently. I mean, the whole Summer of free-agency was dependent on him. I see Leonard as a Michael Jordan-type player. Not because I think he was at the same caliber that M.J. was, but because he plays the game so similarly. He has mastered the fade-away to the point where no one can guard him — just like Jordan. Kawhi showed this when he took that last second three over Joel Embiid in Game 7 of the Finals of their division.
He is also a more iso-oriented player, meaning that he will often have his teammates clear up space in the final seconds of their possession, so he can take the ball one-on-one against a defender and score. He takes games by the reigns and is extremely influential in how they play out…
5. Damian Lillard: Point Guard, Portland Trailblazers
Imagine a basketball player that has the shooting skill of Steph Curry and is as good at moving the ball as Russell Westbrook. That’s Damian Lillard for you. Because he is not on a big franchise like the Warriors, Dame does not get as much credit as he deserves. He still plays at an elite level though. He also can take the game and lead it, similar to Kawhi Leonard. One play really stuck with me last year — that was the one where the Blazers and the Thunder were playing each other in one of the Western Conference Divisional Finals last year and Dame pulled up near the half-court line.
Pretty crazy huh? I see these men as the future NBA Superstars this season. There are so many other great players too. This basketball season is going to be loaded with talent and superstardom. Who are your top 5?
Image Courtesy: Michael Tipton (www.flickr.com/photos/rmtip21/9163118621), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic | Flick