Countdown: Best Active Player to Wear Each Jersey Number (21-25)

We’re in for a treat with this edition of the NBA jersey number countdown. No matter who you think the GOAT is, it is agreed on that the GOAT wore the number 23. Both Michael Jordan and Lebron James exhibit(ed) their talent with that number. Most of the players wearing number 23 from here on out will be wearing it in honor and admiration of the 2 GOATs. Outside of that number, this chunk of numbers offers great young talent. Let’s get into it.

#21: Joel Embiid

This should be a shock to nobody. Joel Embiid came out and played a full season last year and blew everybody away. Embiid started his career by missing his first two seasons and then playing only 31 games in his third year after being drafted. Last season he played over 60 games and showed everybody what’s up. He averaged 22.9ppg, 11rpg, and almost 2 blocks a game. That statline granted Embiid to be elected to his first All Star Game. As for Philly, man are they on the up and coming in the NBA. Last year, Philly finished 3rd in the Eastern Conference and got smoked by the Boston Celtics in the second round losing in 5 games. For this upcoming season, I project the Sixers to get the 3rd seed again and if they’re lucky get further in the playoffs.

Honorable Mentions: Hassan Whiteside (14ppg, 11.4rpg, 1apg) and Thaddeus Young (11.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.9apg)

#22: Khris Middleton

Khris Middleton and the Bucks shocked everybody last season when they took the Boston Celtics to 7 games in the first round of the playoffs. Believe it or not, Middleton had the biggest impact on the Bucks success in that series. Giannis is clearly the better player, but Middleton was not missing any of his shots from three. He shot 61% from three for Christ’s sake. As a Celtics fan, I dreaded any instant the ball was in Middleton’s hands behind the arc. As for last season, his averages were 20.1ppg, 5.2rpg, and 4apg. He was practically second in command behind the Greek Freak and that led to some great success for them. As for the Bucks, people really aren’t considering them when talking about the best Eastern Conference teams. I believe they will finish 4th in the East, but I could see them falling between 4-6. In the playoffs, they will prove to be an annoying team to beat once again.

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Wiggins (17.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 2apg) and Otto Porter JR. (14.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 2apg)

#23: Lebron James

Lebron’s the GOAT in my opinion. He dragged the god-awful Cavs all the way to the finals this year. To top that, he’s been in the last 8 NBA Finals. Impressive shit. With the Cavs last season, Lebron averaged 27.5ppg, 8.6rpg, and 9.1apg. However, Lebron made a career altering move this offseason by going over to the Lakers. This move to LA will surely have Bron in even more of the spotlight than usual. The Lakers have been shitty for too many years now and it’s all on Lebron to carry them through the playoffs. I think the Lakers improve mightily simply by adding James, but outside of him they’re still young and inexperienced. I picture LAL making the playoffs and getting somewhere around a 6 seed. I’m excited to see the magic Lebron touch take place in LA.

Honorable Mentions: Anthony Davis (28.1ppg, 11.1rpg, 2.3apg) and Jimmy Butler (22.2ppg, 5.3rpg, 4.9apg)

#24: Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen was a rookie last season who was overlooked simply because he was playing for a garbage team in Chicago. Markkanen reminds me of Porzingis in many ways. Both tall and lanky white stretch fours who can knock down some threes. In his rookie season, he averaged 15.2ppg, 7.5rpg, and 1.2apg. The Bulls are currently going through a rebuilding process of their own acquiring young players for the future. Once this team figures it all out, Markkanen is going to be a key piece to it all. Next season, I expect the Bulls to be out of the playoffs, but more competitive than the season they just had. This team is probably just 2 or 3 years behind where Boston and Philly are at. Nonetheless, I’m most excited to watch Markkanen’s growth coming into next season.

Honorable Mentions: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (13.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.5apg) and Buddy Hield (13.5ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.9apg)

#25: Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons is coming off winning Rookie of the Year and will only positively progress from here on out. Simmons playmaking ability is what could make him one of the greatest to ever do what he does. There is a ton of concern with his shot, but he’ll be able to steadily improve that through his career. Last year, he averaged 15.8ppg, 8.1rpg, and 8.2apg. The dude’s a 6’10” point guard, making him nearly unguardable. With him at point and Embiid holding down the paint, this team is looking to make incredible strides next season. I previously mentioned that I believe they will get the 3rd seed, but also have an even better record than last season. They won’t go down so easily in the playoffs this time, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them upset Toronto or Boston in a series.

Honorable Mentions: Austin Rivers (15.1ppg, 2.4rpg, 4apg) and Reggie Bullock (11.3ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.5apg)

Stay tuned next week for numbers 26 through 30.

Brandon Black ()

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