NBA: Top 10 players of 2017
We wrap up our look back at 2017 with the best 10 players in the NBA across the entire calendar year.
From unicorns to kings and anything in-between, basketball fans were treated to a special year in 2017. But, were the best 10 players in the NBA? Let’s find out.
10. DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans
It was a whirlwind year for DeMarcus Cousins, starting the calendar year with the Sacramento Kings before being traded straight after the All-Star game to the New Orleans Pelicans. In his first full season with New Orleans, Cousins averages 25.9 points per game, 12.1 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.5 blocks. Although Cousins struggled to play coherently with fellow Kentucky alumni Anthony Davis, it now seems that Boogie is down to groove in the Big Easy.
9. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Remember when Knicks fans cried foul when the New York ball club selected the relatively unknown 7’3″ Latvian power forward? But what has become of Porzingis is a superstar that has taken the NBA by storm. Porzingis has shown gradual improvement but this season the Latvian has excelled to another level, averaging career highs in points per game, 3-point percentage and blocks. With Carmelo Anthony now at the Oklahoma City Thunder, Porzingis is the man to electrify Madison Square Garden.
8. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard is arguably one of the best shut-down defenders in the NBA but it has been his ability to score which has helped elevate his game to an elite level. Prior to being struck down by injury, Leonard was having a career year, averaging 25.5 points per game. The improvement has been gradual offensively from Leonard but “the claw” has become the focal point of the Spurs’ attack since the retirement of Tim Duncan. Leonard may have played just the five games this season, but he is still worthy of his place inside our top 10.
7. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The development of Giannis Antetokounmpo has been colossal and the Bucks have risen to relevancy behind the Greek Freak. Antetokounmpo has a unique skill set and, in a matter of a couple of effortless strides, the 23-year-old can go from the three-point line to bucket. In 2017, Antetokounmpo had a career year in points per game, field goal percentage, rebounds and steals. With the Greek Freak almost certain to be an All-Star once again in 2018, can he put his Bucks into play-off contention and himself in the MVP race?
6. Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
This may cause a stir having Steph Curry at number six as he is a player who has revolutionized basketball. Because of Curry, point guards need to have an excellent handle, the ability to finish at the rim and consistently shoot well from beyond the arc. This season, Curry is averaging 26.3 points per game, 5.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists. But he is averaging his worst 3-point percentage in his career with the native of Akron only shooting 38.1% from downtown. Curry would most defiantly be higher on the list if he wasn’t playing on a team with three more All-Stars.
5. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
After losing the NBA Finals to the star-studded Golden State Warriors, Kyrie Irving decided it was time to leave Cleveland and LeBron James behind and build his own legacy in Boston. Irving wanted to call a team his own after playing second fiddle for most of his NBA career, and the move has worked out for the wily point guard, who has been excellent as the Celtics sit atop in the East. Irving is averaging 24.8 points per game with the Celtics, an improvement from his 21.9 career average, and is shooting at 48.9 percent. As his numbers have risen, so too has his status as one of the league’s best.
4. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant finally won an illusive NBA title even if it destroyed his credibility in the process. The 2017 calendar year was a dominant one for Durant, with the former number two pick winning the Finals MVP as the Warriors beat the Cavs 4-1. The good news for Warriors fans is that he’s carried that form into the current season. Durant has improved immensely on the defensive end as he is averaging a career high in blocks with 2.3 per game. Only Myles Turner from the Indiana Pacers averages more blocks this season. Like Curry, Durant could be higher on this list if he wasn’t with the Warriors.
3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
With Durant leaving for the Golden State Warriors, questions were asked whether Russell Westbrook could fill the void left by the former MVP of the league. Westbrook secured himself his first MVP after becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson in the 1961/62 season to average a triple double (Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists last season). Despite the additions of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to the Thunder, Westbrook continues to flirt with a triple-double average this season.
2. James Harden, Houston Rockets
James Harden was unlucky for the second time in his career to miss out on a league MVP but he will once again be in contention for the NBA’s best in 2018. Harden has continued to play well as he once again leads the NBA in points scored at 32.3 points per game this season. Even with the addition of Chris Paul to the Houston lineup, Harden continues to wheel and deal as he is second in the league in assists per game with 9.1. At season’s end, could James Harden win his first MVP?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Long live the King. LeBron James maintains his rightful place as the NBA’s best. Year after year, James continues to produce, and 2017 was no different. Opponents beware: there are no signs of the 32-year-old small forward slowing down from. So far this season, LeBron is averaging 27.8 points at 55.9%, 8.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists. These are astounding numbers for someone many tipped was due to start showing his age in 2017. James continues to wow the masses and, should he keep this up, could well go down in history as the best we’ve ever seen.
Do you agree with our top 10? Who should be in or out? Let us know what your top 10 is in the comments section below.