Hardwired for Sports

2016-2017 Top Players: 90-81

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In Part II of our countdown, we see four big men, a knockdown shooter, several important wings, and our first rookie. Will Simmons be the only rookie on our list? We’ll see. As we continue to move down on our list, we are getting ever close to the start of the 2016-2017 NBA season. And after such a wild offseason, this year should be a fun one throughout.Without any more introduction, here are our top players from 90-81.

This list will be released 10 players at a time every 5 days.

| 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1 |

90. C Boban Marjanovic, Detroit Pistons

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 27 SAS 9.4 .603 .603 .763 3.6 0.4 0.2 0.4 0.5 1.0 5.5

With his move to Detroit, Boban joins a post-minded offense. Due to the jammed front-court in San Antonio, Boban did not put up monster per game numbers, though his stats per 100 possessions are ridiculous. Marjanovic showed he was capable of being a monster on the boards with his massive 7’3″ frame. Assuming he can take full advantage of second chance opportunities, he could be a pivotal part of Detroit becoming a contender in the East. He should serve as an excellent back-up to All-Star Andre Drummond of the Pistons. -Zach.

89. SF Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (Rookie)

Season School MP FG% 3P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 LSU 34.9 .560 .333 .670 11.8 4.8 2.0 0.8 3.4 2.8 19.2

One of the most highly touted college prospects in the last few years, Ben Simmons enters the NBA on one of the worst rosters around. The Sixers were absolutely dreadful last season, and they have a logjam of bigs that just never ends. Still, I think Simmons will have a great rookie year. Much like Michael Carter-Williams in 2013, Simmons should get endless opportunities and a ton of minutes to put up big numbers, even without winning lots of games. -Lukas.

88. SG Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 28 SAS 26.1 .376 .332 .480 .739 3.8 1.8 1.0 0.8 0.9 1.8 7.2

The veteran sharpshooter out of North Carolina already has an NBA championship, along with a NCAA Championship to his name, a feat only accomplished by three other players in NBA history (James Worthy and Michael Jordan). Since being drafted in the second round, Green has proven to be a strong two-guard who plays tough defense and is a threat to score from anywhere on the court. Entering the second year of his four-year contract, Green figures to be a predominant part of the San Antonio offense for the upcoming campaign. Already second all-time for most three’s made in franchise history, Green was a staple in the team’s 2013 title run and is looking for another ring. -Mike.

87. SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 22 CHO 29.3 .541 .429 .566 .690 6.4 1.3 0.4 0.4 1.1 1.3 12.7

*Only played in 7 games

Entering his 5th season in the league, Kidd-Gilchrist is surrounded by questions about his health. He got off to a respectable start last season until he was injured and forced to miss the rest of the season. However, if he can stay healthy, he will certainly be a major player for Charlotte this season. He has never been defined as an offensive player, but he has improved a lot since entering the league. He will never be the go-to scorer, but he should be good for 10-15 ppg. And that is all the Hornets will need from home, especially with the way he plays on defense. MKG is one of the premier defenders in the league and can shut down almost any player around.  Look for him to be an important role player on Charlotte this year if he can stay healthy. -Evan.

86. PF Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 27 BRK 33.0 .514 .233 .523 .518 .644 9.0 1.8 1.5 0.5 1.9 2.5 15.1

Now a member of the Indiana Pacers, Young will be looking for a chance to be a key player on an emerging squad in the East. Both Young and Jeff Teague are new additions to Indiana and with Paul George on the wing, they should be some great opportunities for Young to have a primary role in the offense. I see the 6’8″ power forward as a perfect match for Larry Bird’s small-ball offense. It will be interesting to see how Young and Myles Turner fit together, but if they can generate some chemistry, they could push the Pacers into a top spot in the East. -Adam.

85. SF Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 29 SAC 34.0 .463 .344 .500 .780 6.5 1.7 1.4 0.7 2.0 2.6 17.2

A very popular trade item for the Kings, Gay continues to be a high-volume scorer every season. In fact, he has not had a single season where he has averaged less than 17.2 ppg since his rookie season. And although his point production decreased from 21.1 to 17.2 this past year, he had a more efficient shooting season, as his field goal percentage jumped from 45.5% to 46.3%. He also finished the year with a career high in rebounds per game, so, at 29 years of age, Gay is not exactly slowing down. Still, he isn’t too happy with the Kings and the Kings aren’t too happy with him, so it will be interesting to see what team Rudy finished the season with. -Lukas.

84. C Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 27 NYK 27.1 .539 .000 .539 .795 7.3 1.4 0.2 1.6 1.6 2.2 10.3

The Windy City welcomed 7’0″ center Robin Lopez with open arms after a trade with the Knicks this offseason. Entering his 9th year in the league, the Bulls will be Lopez’s fifth franchise, and he will look to settle into Chicago where he will get a chance to play alongside an All-Star-filled lineup. Chicago will need Lopez to be a high energy guy who puts up almost 10/10 on a nightly basis. If Chicago wants to bring down the LeBron and the Cavs, they will need Lopez to be a big-time performer. -Adam.

83. C Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 23 TOR 22.0 .542 .000 .542 .628 8.0 0.4 0.2 1.6 0.9 2.7 5.5

Bismack has steadily improved every year since being drafted 7th overall back in 2011, but he took his biggest leap this past year. At 24-years-old, Biyombo is a major difference maker defensively to go along with his steady rebounding prowess. His offensive game leaves a lot to desire, and although he’s still young, he doesn’t figure to be first or second offensive option at any point in his career. Now with the Magic, Biyombo is going to hope that his strong playoff performance for Toronto carries down to Disney World, as he will compete with multiple other bigs for playing time in the crowded Orlando front-court. Still, the Magic are betting big that Biyombo’s playoff success wasn’t a fluke. -Mike. 

82. PG Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 22 ATL 20.3 .421 .322 .471 .791 2.6 4.4 0.9 0.1 2.3 1.7 11.0

For the first time in Schroder’s career, he should be the starter for the Hawks. Plus, he still only 22-years-old, so he is far from reaching his peak in Atlanta. His numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but his per-36 minute stats of 19.5/4.5/7.8 are very respectable. With solid offensive options around him in Bazemore, Korver, Millsap, and Howard, Schroder should be able to handle a distributor’s role with a decent dash of scoring. -Lukas.

81. C Dwight Howard, Atlanta Hawks

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 30 HOU 32.1 .620 .000 .620 .489 11.8 1.4 1.0 1.6 2.3 3.1 13.7

Although he is on a new team, everyone knows who Dwight Howard is. He is entering his 13th season and is still powerful presence in the post. Although not the same player he used to be, Howard has a lot of tools on the inside that are valuable to any team. With the Hawks, he is hoping for a new start, as he never found his niche in Houston and caused some chemistry issues on the team.  Despite this, he was still an important player on the court and will stay that way for this season. -Evan.

Stay tuned for numbers 80-71 on September 17th.

Photos courtesy of USA Today, Hoops Habit, Fansided, Forbes, The Majors Detroit, Bleacher Report, GQ, and NBA.com. All statistics are via Basketball-Reference.
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