Countdown: Best Active Player to Wear Each Jersey Number (36-99)
Last week we were blessed with what will probably be the final great edition of the countdown. This week is bit of a snooze, so I’ll preface it with that. There isn’t a ton of great players left from here to the end. With that being said, I made a compromise. I am going to choose a select group of guys with numbers from 36-99 in todays edition. The only condition is this, they must be somewhat of a solid player.
#36: Marcus Smart
If you’ve watched any Celtics games ever, you are aware of how vital Marcus Smart is to everything that goes on there. His defensive scrappiness is his claim to fame. His first play back from injury in the playoffs he dives on a ball for a steal and revs the crowd up. This past offseason the Celtics reupped Smart for 4 more seasons. It was in question whether or not they should, and it was definitely a smart choice for them to do so. His averages last season were 10.2ppg, 3.5rpg, and 4.8apg. Boston will be fully loaded next season and secure a top 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The bench is going to consist of Smart, Rozier, Morris, Baynes, Theis, and Ojeleye. Marcus Morris came up with the name BWA “Bench With Attitude”. This team is going to make the NBA Finals and boy do I think they have a real shot.
#40: Harrison Barnes
Barnes was a very crucial piece to the 73-9 Golden State Warriors season. After that 2015-16 NBA season, the Warriors replaced Barnes and many others with Kevin Durant. Harrison Barnes took his talents to Dallas to join a not so great team in the Mavericks. In his first two seasons there, he has without question been their best player. Last season, Barnes averaged 18.9ppg, 6.1rpg, and 2.0apg. The Mavs have the chance to improve quite a bit this season with the additions of DeAndre Jordan and Luka Doncic. Wouldn’t be too shocked with a sneaky 7th or 8th seed from Dallas in the Western Conference.
#42: Al Horford
Al Horford may be the elder on the Celtics, but he’s also their rock. Horford hit the most game-winners for Boston last season. He missed only 10 games and was able to run the point with most effectiveness when Kyrie was out with injury. Last year, Horford blew away everyone with averages of 12.9ppg, 7.4rpg, and 4.7apg. The 5 time All-Star is entering his 12th season. This upcoming season could be his most important. The Celtics have high hopes to be in the NBA Finals and win it. Boston will need a healthy season from everyone in their deep rotation to get there.
#45: Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell should have won rookie of the year last season. Ben Simmons missed his rookie campaign and should not have had the ability to get the honor. Mitchell was the Jazz’s leading scorer and posted averages of 20.5ppg, 3.7rpg, and 3.7apg. The rook helped lead the Jazz to the 5th seed in the Western Conference. Utah even made it to the second round and managed to pick up a win against the Rockets before losing in 5 games. Next season, the team should only be getting better with Mitchell progressing into his second NBA season.
#99: Jae Crowder
Jae Crowder rocks the epic number of 99. I’m not sure why nobody else in the league wears such an iconic number on their back. Nonetheless, Crowder has been wearing 99 ever since he was traded to the Boston Celtics in the 2014-2015 season. He doesn’t ever put up gawdy numbers, but he is known for his stout defensive abilities. Last season, Crowder averaged 9.7ppg, 3.4rpg, and 1.2apg. Like I had just mentioned with Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz should only be getting better with another year under their belts together. A sneaky team to push Golden State to 7.
Thank you to all who have been reading each edition of this jersey countdown. The NBA season is right around the corner so tremendous content in that regard will be coming out.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)