Hardwired for Sports

2016-2017 Top Players: 70-61

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Following the heartbreaking news of Khris Middleton being ruled out for most of this season, here is the next installment of our Top 100 Players for 2016-2017. For a reminder, we are just about a week away from the start of training camps. As the Bucks have already seen, there will be lots of injuries and other complications that teams will have to deal with. With that being said, rosters are far from set and there should be plenty of moves and even some potential trades (Rudy Gay anyone? Greg Monroe anyone) prior to the season starting.

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 |

70. SG Will Barton, Denver Nuggets

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 25 DEN SG 28.7 .432 .345 .489 .806 5.8 2.5 0.9 0.5 1.7 1.8 14.4

The Denver Nuggets shooting guard has always had loads of talent. Back in 2010, Barton was the #6 ranked high school kid in the nation – and he’s just starting to put it all together. Barton is only 25 years old and in his first season with considerable minutes, he looked very good. In fact, he looks capable of putting up even better numbers from the field in the coming seasons if he keeps improving. The former-second rounder has to compete for playing time with a number of young guards, but if plays as well as he did last year, there should be plenty of touches going his way. -Mike.

69. PG Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 33 SAS PG 27.5 .493 .415 .512 .760 2.4 5.3 0.8 0.2 1.8 1.6 11.9

Although not the player he once was, Tony Parker still operates as the brains and primary ball handler of the Spurs’ deadly offense. As he continues to age, he is seen less driving to the rack and getting buckets, but still orchestrates the Spurs’ ball movement. On the defensive side, Parker acts as a pest to other PGs, although sometimes having trouble with more explosive players like Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard. Probably the most extensive qualities he adds to the Spurs are his ability to not turn the ball over (1.8 TOV last season), leadership, and veteran presence. Parker recently claimed he wants to play for the Spurs through 2021, and if true, he will most likely receive the Tim Duncan treatment from Gregg Popovich, receiving fewer minutes, while still being expected to be extremely efficient. -Aaron.

68. C Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 23 OKC C 21.0 .576 .476 .583 .797 8.1 0.4 0.3 0.4 1.4 2.0 12.7

Kanter has shown immense potential throughout his career, especially on offense. The fact that he has consistently had double-digit production while splitting duties with Steven Adams is a testament to his ability to make the most out of the time he has on the floor. With the absence of Durant and the attention Westbrook will no doubt receive, we can expect to see his production on the offensive end improve even more in this upcoming season. While Oklahoma City has plenty of questions entering this season, expect to see Kanter to continue to show his offensive prowess. -Zach.

67. SG Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 23 ORL SF 32.5 .462 .400 .546 .836 2.8 2.7 1.2 0.0 1.7 2.7 15.4

Surprisingly regarded as one of the most underrated guards in the NBA, Fournier is a great player for the Orlando Magic. There are a lot of questions surrounding the rotation for Orlando, but one thing is clear: Evan Fournier is the man. This last season was the first year that he has truly been healthy and starting, and it showed in his production. He shot a very respectable 40% from three as well as achieving 5.7 win shares for the Magic, who struggled to a 35-47 record. You can expect his production to remain similar to last year, and if his efficiency improves, that would be a great thing for Orlando. -Lukas.

66. PG Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 27 HOU PG 28.7 .434 .400 .539 .682 3.5 3.4 1.3 0.4 1.3 3.3 9.9

The Rockets starting point guard will be put into a fast pace, “get as many shots up as possible” based offense led by coach Mike D’Antoni. Since Beverley plays at an already fast pace, the new offense will only cater towards his quickness and speed. With the addition of Ryan Anderson, the Rockets will be able to stretch the floor even more, which will create plenty of chances for Beverly to score in the paint or kick it out for an assist. With the Rockets’ lack of depth at the point guard and style of play, Beverly will have to be the glue that holds everything together if the Rockets hope to go above .500 in the ultra completive Western Conference. -Adam.

65. C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 20 DEN C 21.7 .512 .333 .535 .811 7.0 2.4 1.0 0.6 1.3 2.6 10.0

The Denver Nuggets ended up with a complete steal getting Jokic in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft.  He put up decent numbers his rookie year, but that is not the reason he is so high on this list.  His upside is tremendous, a big man who can knock down threes, post up, and pick apart a defense with his incredible passing is hard to come by.  He makes up for his relative lack of athleticism with a high basketball IQ and is poised to have a breakout year.  He already showed how dangerous he can be in the Olympics when he nearly led Serbia to an upset win over Team USA while dropping 25 points.  Although he is usually overshadowed by the other European star in his draft class, keep an eye out for Jokic as he continues to evolve into a star. -Evan.

64. PG Goran Dragic, Miami Heat

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 29 MIA PG 32.8 .477 .312 .513 .727 3.8 5.8 1.0 0.2 2.6 2.6 14.1

Dragic’s scoring numbers dropped last year, as he was overall a worse shooter than he had been in past years. Nonetheless, his assist numbers increased, and we can give him a pass due to it being his first full year in the Miami system. With the departure of Wade and the uncertainty of Bosh, Dragic will be forced to shoulder more of the load this year alongside Hassan Whiteside. Let’s hope the 30-year-old can lead this young team on his own. If not, it might be a long year in South Beach. -Mike.

63. PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 37 DAL PF 31.5 .448 .368 .504 .893 6.5 1.8 0.7 0.7 1.1 2.1 18.3

Many people are probably very surprised to see Dirk this low on the list, a testament to his notoriety as one of the best Big Men in NBA history.  To give you an idea of just how long Dirk has been playing at a high level, keep in mind that when he was drafted in 1998, he was drafted for Dallas by the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Robert “Tractor” Taylor.  Tractor Taylor is no longer alive, and Dirk is still averaging 18 points a game.  That is an absolutely ridiculous amount of time to be playing at a high level.  His numbers are slowly declining with age which is to be expected, but he is not done yet.  Look for him to continue to knock down his famously awkward jump-shots and put up solid numbers this season.  Enjoy this spectacle while you still can because the end of his career could be near. -Evan.

62. C Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 23 TOR C 26.0 .565 .565 .761 9.1 0.7 0.4 1.3 1.4 2.6 12.8

As the Toronto Raptors have risen to be a top team in the NBA, big names like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have occupied the attention of the media and analysts. But the Raptors newfound success would be nonexistent without center Jonas Valanciunas. His 7’0″ 255 lb frame has enabled him to average nearly a double-double throughout his career. Through his consistency on both the offensive and defensive end, the Raptors may be one of the few teams who still have a credible shot at taking down Golden State and Cleveland. -Zach.

61. PF Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets

Season Age Tm Pos MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 26 DEN PF 25.3 .558 .500 .558 .613 8.7 1.2 0.5 0.9 1.4 2.5 12.5

Ever since coming into the league, Kenneth Faried has been very productive. He has been a consistent scorer and rebounder as well as being a tremendous energy player. The problem with Manimal, however, is that he hasn’t really improved. He averaged 10.2 ppg and 7.7 rbg as a rookie, and there has been little to no increase in either of those in the last four years. Plus, he is a starter that is limited to under 30 minutes per game. Although he is quite effective in those minutes, he needs to take on a bigger and more substantial role for the young Denver squad. -Lukas.

Stay tuned for numbers 60-51 on September 27th.

Photos courtesy of Slam Online, Bleacher Report, Clutch Points, Orlando Sentinel, Space City Scoop, Denver Post, Grantland (RIP), Hoops Habit, The Star, and NBA.com. All statistics are via Basketball-Reference.
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