With training camps starting, here is a look at our fifth installment to our NBA Top 100 list for 2016-2017. We will continue to move down this list as we get closer to the regular season, so watch out for more articles. For updates on this project or other articles of ours, check out our Twitter and Instagram (newly created, go follow!). This list will be released 10 players at a time every 5 days.
60. C Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Vucevic is an outstanding scorer and rebounder for the Magic, but there are a few things holding him back on this list. First, he is not a great defender and therefore poses a little threat to opposing big man. Also, the logjam of big men in Orlando could limit his minutes and points. With so much talent in that frontcourt, something has to give, and I think that could definitely effect the production of Vucevic this season. Orlando still has lots of moves to make to push for playoff relevance, but Nikola has to be a huge part of that movement. -Lukas.
59. C Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Adams might not be the best offensive player in the league, but he is certainly near the top on the other side of the ball. Despite a timeshare with Enes Kanter at the OKC center position, Adams has experienced quite a bit of success in his young career. Pairing him with Westbrook’s ability to cycle the ball across the floor, Adams could see an increase in point production around the paint as well as his talents as a rim protector. Watch out for the eccentric center to have another nice season. -Lukas.
58. PF Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
The 7’3 Latvian dubbed “Porzingod” by the Knicks’ faithful was drafted fourth overall to be the new face of the franchise. After one season, it appears that Porzingis has what it takes to succeed on the sports biggest stage. It’s actually kind of scary how good Porzingis could be. The kid has apparently added layers of muscle this summer in order to improve his biggest weakness of strength. He has a sweet shot that is impossible to defend due to his height and length. He moves so fluidly for a man with his size. Defenders can’t just guard the three as he can blow right by. Watch out for the Porzingisaurus, as he might very well be rising up this list in the coming years. -Mike.
57. PG Jeff Teague, Indiana Pacers
Entering his 8th year in the league, Teague has probably reached the peak of his career. He is an explosive point guard that is more than capable of attacking the basket as well as knock down the open three. This combination makes him deadly on the offensive side of the ball, and a nightmare for opposing defenses to guard. He is also a great distributor and hustles to make plays on defense, making an all-around important player to his team. Look for Teague to milk the remaining years of his prime and continue to be one of the elite point guards in the NBA, especially with his new situation in Indiana. -Evan.
56. PF Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
A lot of people might say that Jabari is far too high on this list, but he definitely deserves it. Last season, Parker came back strong from his ACL injury and averaged 14.1 points per game. With this being said, Jabari is only 21-years-old and he will certainly see an increase in his production across the board. Khris Middleton being out for the season creates a large scoring hole that Parker will certainly look to fill. Alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo (later to come in this list), the Bucks will have a nice 1-2 punch going into the regular season. Even without Middleton, this team might be able to sneak into playoff contention. -Lukas.
55. SF Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
In a team with more stars than The Expendables, Andre Iguodala may be the subtlest defensive stars in the league. With his seemingly perfect fit in Golden State’s roster, it’s hard to imagine a decline in Iguodala’s play on this stacked team. His decade-long career will contribute greatly to the success of this relatively young, but extremely talented team. With an excess of offensive weapons, we can expect Iguodala’s veteran leadership to be vital, especially on the defensive end of the court. -Zach.
54. SG Brandon Knight, Phoenix Suns
It seems like it was just yesterday that Brandon Knight was leading Kentucky to a Final Four while driving his own draft stock higher and higher game by game. However, since being drafted 8th overall, Knight has been already played for 3 teams in 6 years. Although Knight has not been able to find a steady home in the NBA, he has been able to stay productive. Knight did miss 30 games last season, but while on the court he averaged 19.6 points, 5.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. If he can stay healthy for the 16-17 season, I see Knight, Devin Booker, and Eric Bledsoe being a strong backcourt in the West. -Adam.
53. PG Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons
After being traded from OKC to Detroit, Reggie Jackson really picked up his point production. Since being traded, his usage percentage jumped to 29.1% while his scoring is nearly 19 points per contest. His assist numbers are also quite reasonable, and that should only increase. The Pistons did a great job adding two stretch-4s to the roster in Henry Ellenson and Jon Leuer this offseason and they should pair up nicely with Andre Drummond while also becoming great passing options for Jackson. The Pistons are rising, and it’s time to take note. -Lukas.
52. C Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Although he may not be the flashiest big man in the league, the 24-year-old Frenchman still gets the job done. He uses his 7’1 frame very effectively, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where he is a constant shot-blocking threat. In fact, his presence down low defensively is one of the main reasons he is this high on the list. Whenever there is a guy like him in the post, any opposing offense thinks twice before attacking the basket, making him a crucial asset. His offense has gotten better and he is slowly becoming more and more of a presence on that side of the ball for the Jazz. -Evan.
51. SF Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics
The former second round draft pick out of THE Marquette University is mostly known a lockdown defender, but is also a capable scorer. Crowder has a massive frame of 6’6″ and 235 lbs, making him an immovable object for his size. He can guard three positions and has been a great fit in Brad Stevens’ system. A full-time starter for Boston last year, Crowder is still on the right side of 30 and should have many meaningful years left in the tank. Averaging 14 ppg last year, Crowder should only improve on those numbers this coming season. -Mike.
Stay tuned for numbers 50-41 on October 2nd.