Countdown: Best Active Player to Wear Each Jersey Number (31-35)
We roll on with our countdown. Last week was rough regarding the names on the list. We got lucky having Steph Curry slide in there. Without him, there would have been almost no point in doing that edition. Thankfully, this time we have some unreal talents to put on display. Without crying too much about last week, let’s begin.
#31: John Henson
Okay, I know I was bragging about how good this edition is, so how could I possibly begin with John Henson? Don’t worry, it gets better after this. Henson isn’t a terrible player at least. For the Bucks last season, he averaged 8.8ppg, 6.8rpg, and 1.5apg in 26 minutes a game. Relatively productive for a big man off the bench. The Milwaukee Bucks will be fine next season, but I will dive more into them later in this countdown. The guy wearing 34 for the Bucks might have a lot to say about it.
Honorable Mentions: Terrence Ross (8.7ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.6apg) and Jarrett Allen (8.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 0.7apg)
#32: Karl-Anthony Towns
The former number 1 pick has proven to certainly be the real deal. Towns otherwise known as KAT was awarded All-NBA 3rd team last season. In Minnesota, KAT is playing way too many minutes, but coming through strong. Last season, his averages were 21.3ppg, 12.3 rpg, and 2.4apg. Towns had a bit of a choke series in the playoffs, but there is no denying his more than impressive capabilities. Minnesota is in a very strange state currently with the drama surrounding Jimmy Butler. There are rumors of him getting traded and if he does it could really affect this TWolves team. If the team remains as is, they should be a middle of the pack Western Conference playoff team. KAT could grow into an MVP candidate in the coming years at his pace.
Honorable Mentions: Kris Dunn (13.4ppg, 4.3rpg, 6.0apg) and Jeff Green (10.8ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.3apg)
#33: Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol has the unfortunate fact of being on a god-awful Memphis Grizzlies team. Last season, after getting coach Fizdale fired, I lost a ton of respect for Gasol. Nonetheless, Gasol’s talent is undeniable. Last season, he averaged 17.2ppg, 8.1rpg, and 4.2apg. Beyond Gasol and Mike Conley, the Grizzlies are hopeless. They just drafted big man Jaren Jackson Jr. who could pop one day, but he’ll need some time to get comfortable in the NBA. My expectation is for the Grizzlies to be a bottom 2 or 3 team in the Western Conference.
Honorable Mentions: Robert Covington (12.6ppg, 5.4rpg, 2.0apg) and Myles Turner (12.7ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.3apg)
#34: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The 2K cover athlete comes in as the best player to wear the number 34. Giannis is just so freaking good. After James Harden, the Greek Freak is my favorite player in this league. For the first half of last year, he was almost the clear favorite to be the MVP. Giannis’ averages last season were 26.9ppg, 10rpg, and 4.8apg. The Bucks, however, fell into the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoffs and lost in 7 games to the Boston Celtics. The young Bucks should only be getting better next season as they all progress. The addition of Brook Lopez, albeit seeming small, will have a large impact on the team’s success. I have them either 4th or 5th in the Eastern Conference next season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of my favorites to get the MVP next season. If his shot becomes decent, it’s game over. I’m incredibly excited to see the progression of the Greek Freak.
Honorable Mentions: Tobias Harris (18.6ppg, 5.5rpg, 2.4apg) and Devin Harris (8.4ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.1apg)
#35: Kevin Durant
Durant may be the biggest snake in the league, but he’s also without question a top 3 player this league has to offer. Ever since joining the Golden State Warriors, there has been endless success for Durant. The success is not a shock, but still very impressive. After this past NBA Finals, KD can now feel accomplished with having 2 Finals MVP awards. Last season, Durant averaged 26.4ppg, 6.8rpg, and 5.4apg. Considering the star power Golden State has to offer, that is incredibly impressive. Until he retires, Kevin Durant will be in contention to be the MVP. The Warriors this upcoming season should have a cakewalk to the Finals again. The Rockets to apply some pressure, but with the addition of Demarcus Cousins, the Warriors will be in the NBA Finals again.
Honorable Mentions: Trevor Booker (6.6ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.3apg) and Dragan Bender (6.5ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.6apg)
Next week we’ll go through numbers 36-40. With numbers being less and less common, this countdown is almost finished with. We’ll soon be going through 10 numbers at a time and disregard any numbers that aren’t worn. Stay tuned.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)