Countdown: Best Active Player to Wear Each Jersey Number (16-20)
The numbers 16 through 20 surprisingly does not produce the best players. Being still somewhat of a lower number, I expected great players to be wearing these numbers. The players are still pretty solid, but nobody will blow you away. Without wasting any time, let’s do it.
#16: James Johnson
James Johnson plays for the Miami Heat who just lost in the first-round last postseason to the 76ers. James Johnson provides solid defense and decent scoring for Miami. Johnson is a smallball forward in the backend of his career. Last season, Johnson’s averages were 10.8ppg, 4.9rpg, 3.8apg. Miami is in a weird place in the NBA, they’re too good to tank, but not good enough to be considered championship contenders. They need to either trade away their stars like Dragic and Whiteside to fully go into tank mode, or they should find ways to acquire a player or two that’ll put them over the hump into contention. Without any moves, I predict Miami will finish as a 5-8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Honorable Mentions: Pau Gasol (10.1ppg, 8rpg, 3.1apg) and Paul Zipser (4ppg, 2.4rpg, 0.9apg)
#17: Dennis Schroder
For the past few seasons, Dennis Schroder was running the show in Atlanta. During his time of running the show, the team around him has sucked. Luckily, Schroder was traded this offseason to the Oklahoma City Thunder. A team that could certainly use what Schroder has to offer. Last season, his averages were 19.4ppg, 3.1rpg, and 6.2apg. It’s very likely that Schroder would be the first man off the bench running the second unit while Westbrook rests. If all goes well, the Thunder should fall somewhere between a 4-6 seed in the Western Conference. The team will be better than they were last season.
Honorable Mentions: Jonas Valanciunas (12.7ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.1apg) and JJ Redick (17.1ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.0apg)
#18: Marco Belinelli
The number 18 is way worse than I figured it would be. The main reason for that is only 3 people wore that number last season. Marco Belinelli happened to be the best player rocking the number. He was a great bench piece for the Sixers last season and will be repping San Antonio this upcoming season. I’d imagine he’d play a lot behind Demar Derozan and Rudy Gay being a top option off the bench. Last season he averaged 13.6ppg, 1.8rpg, and 1.6apg. His three-point shooting is his best asset and will really bother second unit defenses. The Spurs will be a better team than last season with the addition of Demar Derozan and should look to make noise in the playoffs. Having Belinelli adds depth to the team in a scoring friendly way.
Honorable Mentions: Omri Casspi (5.7ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.0apg) and Miles Plumlee (4.3ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.8apg)
#19: Georgios Papagiannis
Um well, he’s the only person to wear this jersey last season. He played 1 game for 4 minutes for Portland. He got 2 points and a rebound in those 4 minutes. The number does suck so I get it.
Honorable Mentions: None
#20: Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward missed all but 5 minutes of last season. However, he is still the best player rocking this jersey. Once he’s back to full health, he’ll be a forced to be reckoned with in Boston. 2 seasons ago, his averages were 21.9ppg, 5.4rpg, and 3.5apg. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Celtics are going to be way too good next season. They have depth at every position and are super athletic. I fully expect them to get the 1 or 2 seed in the east and compete in the Eastern Conference Finals at the very least.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Jackson (13.1ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.5apg) and John Collins (10.5ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.3apg)
Stay tuned with this countdown next week for an action-packed edition with numbers 21-25. Next week we have a potential GOAT and someone who people say is his heir apparent.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)