These rankings are going to be a little bit different without Kevin Durant sitting at the top. Maybe Kawhi would have knocked him off the top and he could have been number two. We’ll have to see how things shake out next year and if Durant comes back at all for this coming season (doubt it).
30. Troy Brown – Washington Wizards
There have been quite a few Wizards coming in dead last in the rankings here. That’s not a good sign for their season projections. I do think we’ll see a big jump from Mr. Brown this year. I think he has the game to average almost 15 points a game and probably flirt with 7-8 boards a game as well. Would like to see him take the next step defensively as well. He’s got quick hands and decent footwork.
29. Andre Roberson – Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s almost been two years since Roberson has been on a basketball court. His knee pretty much exploded. People say he looks good in his recent scrimmages, but there is no way he’s the lockdown defender he once was when he comes back. He better have worked on that jump shot while he was out.
28. Justin Jackson – Dallas Mavericks
I am not sure what we are going to get out of Jackson this year or even he’ll finish the year as the starter in Dallas. The Mavs have the personnel to run a good three-guard lineup and move Luka Doncic to the three full time.
27. Kelly Oubre Jr. – Phoenix Suns
Inconsistent. That is the one word that you can say about Oubre. He has a ton of potential, but he’s never been able to put the mental game together to match his physical game.
26. OG Anunoby – Toronto Raptors
Poor Anunoby. The man who has been tasked in replacing Kawhi Leonard. Anunoby isn’t a bad player, but he’s not a top-level player at the position. I really like the kid though. He’s a ball of energy. I think he gets to double figures most nights in scoring this year and his defense should be decent.
25. De’Andre Hunter – Atlanta Hawks
I don’t quite know how to rank Hunter yet. He was a little up and down in the preseason (which rookies isn’t). This ultimately might be too low for him. The Hawks are for sure going to be a nightly watch on League Pass though.
24. Kyle Anderson – Memphis Grizzlies
This actually is probably too high for Anderson. He’s a solid defender and after five years his offensive game has never really developed as it should have. He has a ton of skill and potential, but I’m not sure if he’s going to reach it.
23. Glenn Robinson III – Golden State Warriors
This was projected to Alfonzo McKinnie, but he is now no longer with the team and I’m stuck in traffic at the time of this publishing.
22. Nicolas Batum – Charlotte Hornets
We’ve seen a steady decline in Batum over the last few years. He’s probably the best scoring threat outside of Rozier on the Hornets roster. Maybe?
21. Taurean Prince – Brooklyn Nets
Prince will hold down the fort until Durant returns. Again, another guy with a ton of potential and now that he’s got a good point guard in Kyrie he might be able to bring something to the table.
20. Jonathan Isaac – Orlando Magic
Points improved last year for Isaac, but his three-point shooting went down (he took more and therefore missed more) a couple points, but nothing to be worried about there. Isaac should take another jump up in the scoring and also start to become a little bit more of a lockdown defender.
19. Kevin Knox – New York Knicks
Knox should a lot of promise as a rookie, but it’s the Knicks and well. God knows what is going to happen next there. He’ll probably be traded for Gallinari, who will then sign with Denver in July.
18. Tony Snell – Detroit Pistons
As long as Snell keeps this starting job he should average double figures for the Pistons. He showed flashes of good defense last year, hopefully Casey can get a little bit more out of him this year.
17. Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves
I probably should have put Wiggins at #30 to appease the internet basketball community. He can be a good scorer, but he doesn’t care at all about playing defense. He needs to get the mental portion of his game figured out and soon.
16. Otto Porter – Chicago Bulls
I’ve been a fan of Porter since his Georgetown days. Year after year he continues to improve and get better. He should have a career year with the Bulls this year.
15. Brandon Ingram – New Orleans Pelicans
Will Ingram finally live up to being worthy of the #2 pick in the draft in 2016. He’s another person with a ton of potential, but for some reason or another hasn’t put it all together. With Zion being out for a few weeks he’s going to be able to work on his chemistry with Jrue Holiday and hopefully become a solid second option for Nola this year.
14. Rodney Hood – Portland Trail Blazers
I think we get a big season from Hood. After a slow start in Portland (and his career), we should see a big jump in his scoring and in his rebounding this coming season. As the year goes along he’s going to get better and better with Dame and CJ.
13. Will Barton – Denver Nuggets
Barton is this high because of the potential he has. He’s often hurt, but when he plays he’s good. The bad thing here is both Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. are breathing down his neck for PT. If he gets hurt and misses an extended amount of time he’s probably will not get his starting gig back.
12. Cedi Osman – Cleveland Cavaliers
We should see another jump from Osman this coming season. It’s hard not to cheer for this kid.
11. Harrison Barnes – Sacramento Kings
Barnes might have found a home in Sacramento. He’s never lived up to the hype he had coming out of UNC (unfounded if you ask me) and has been ostracized by each fan base that he’s played for. I think he’s finally in a comfortable situation and we should see him post nearly 20 points per game this coming season.
10. Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets
The dude gets buckets. Not sure how many chances he’ll get with both Westbrook and Harden dominating the ball on most possessions, but when he gets the chance he’ll let it fly and knock down threes.
9. Joe Ingles – Utah Jazz
Ingles is one of the better defenders at the position and gets in the head of opponents really well. Look how he destroyed Playoff P two years ago for verification. We could see an uptick in scoring from Joe this year, but his value is guarding the toughest wings in the league.
8. Gordon Hayward – Boston Celtics
Hayward is this high because I think he’s going to have a big bounce back year without Kyrie. He’s going to mesh a lot better with Kemba and play well with both Tatum and Brown. I predict he’ll lead the Celtics in scoring this coming season and play some kinda okay defense.
7. T.J. Warren – Indiana Pacers
Warren is going to get lots of buckets in Indiana this year. While Oladipo is out he’s going to be the main scoring threat for the Pacers. He had some scary good moments in the preseason and I think that will carry over to the regular season. It’ll be interesting to see how he meshes with Oladipo when he returns.
6. Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
Middleton got paid and I think he’s going to play up to that contract. He should be an All-Star going forward. Middleton should average over 20 points a game this year and play pretty good defense on the perimeter. Giannis will make his job easier in the scoring department.
5. DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs
It seemed like he had a hard time adjusting to life in San Antonio last year. He still put up numbers, but they were much quieter than they were in Toronto. I watched quite a lot of Spurs games last year and he seemed to disappear for long stretches of time and Pop pulled him in weird moments when you think he’d be on the floor to close out a contest. I think we’ll see him have a big bounce back.
4. Tobias Harris – Philadelphia 76ers
He should be the second scorer for the Sixers this season. With Embiid and Horford holding down the paint he won’t have to worry about battling for too many rebounds and focus more on his defense and scoring.
3. Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat
Probably the second-best two way player in all of the league. After having to share the workload in Minnesota and Philly last year, Butler now has his own team. He’ll be the Heat’s only real scoring option to start the season.
2. LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
Man, there has been no better for so long. For the first time ever LeBron looked mortal and the Lakers missed the playoffs because of it. He had to carry a lot last season with some inconsistent teammates. Outside of Anthony Davis things won’t change much, but for the first time ever we could see LeBron embrace a second fiddle status behind Davis.
1. Kawhi Leonard – Los Angeles Clippers
He’s the best two-way player in all of the league. He should be an MVP candidate, but the load management will keep him from being a serious contender.