20 Kristaps Porzingis–New York–PF/C (+4): After Carmelo Anthony was traded, Kristaps Porzingis became the face of the Knicks’ franchise. He made a big jump last year as he averaged 23 points per game and 2.5 blocks per game. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in February and is not expected to return until December. If he recovers, the 23-year-old Porzingis could become a top 10 player.
19 Klay Thompson–Golden State–SG (+3): One of the two splash brothers, Klay Thompson is arguably the best shooter in basketball. He shot 49% from the floor and was tied for 4th in three-point percentage at 44%. Klay is also a fantastic defender and usually gets overlooked there. Expect him (and the Warriors) to have another amazing season.
18 DeMar DeRozan–San Antonio–SG/SF (-3): For the first time of his career, DeMar DeRozan is not a Toronto Raptor. Despite his incredible past 3 seasons, DeRozan has been a disappoint in each of those playoffs. He’s now going to be playing for Greg Popovich and hopefully Pop can get through to DeRozan’s mental block on the biggest stage.
17 Paul George–Oklahoma City–SF/SG (-1): Paul George had an impressive 1st year with the Thunder and shocked everyone by reigning with them in the off-season. Now with Carmelo Anthony out of OKC, George will have even more space on the floor to operate.
16 John Wall–Washington–PG (-2): 2018 was not a good year for John Wall and the Wizards. Wall himself missed half of the season due to injury and the Wizards fell to the 8th seed and were knocked out in the first round. The Wizards have a lot of talent on their team and Wall needs to become more of a leader for the Wizards to become true contenders.
15 Jimmy Butler–Minnesota–SF/SG (+3): Where ever he ends up, Jimmy Butler is a franchise player. Butler is one of the best two-way players in basketball as he was named to his 4th All-Star team and the All-Defensive 2nd Team last season. The issue for Butler going forward is not a question of talent, its a question of attitude as he’s forced his way out of two cities now.
14 Nikola Jokic–Denver–C (+11): Probably the most underrated star in basketball, Nikola Jokic is an absolute stud. At the age of 23, Jokic is a great low post scorer, a great rebounder, a great passer, and a great 3 point shooter. The man honestly doesn’t have a weakness on offense. He’s not the best defender in the world but he’s also not the worse. Denver has a very bright future and it starts with “The Joker”.
13 Chris Paul–Houston–PG (+4): Chris Paul is one of the greatest point guards of all-time and had one of his best seasons last year. He helped bring the Rockets to the West Finals and had them on the brink of knocking off the Warriors. But Paul got hurt in Game 5 and the Rockets lost Games 6 and 7. Considering he’s entering his 14th season, it’s hard to imagine Paul keeping up his incredible play.
12 Damian Lillard–Portland–PG (-2): Lillard’s last 3 years has been nothing short of spectacular. He made the All-NBA 1st team last season in which he averaged 27 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 7 assists. But he and the Blazers were major disappointments in the playoffs as they were swept out. The Blazers do have a young team and their success circles around Lillard.
11 Karl-Anthony Towns–Minnesota–C (-3): In my opinion, Towns is one of the top 5 talents currently in the game. Last year alone; he averaged 21 points, 12 rebounds, shot 55% from the floor, 42% from 3, and 86% from the line. He also has not missed a game in the three seasons he’s played. However, Towns had a very disappointing postseason as he only averaged 15 points a game. With Jimmy Butler gone, Towns needs to become a leader for the Wolves now more than ever.
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Steve Santoro (SVS_1993)