The NBA season is fast approaching and we’re itching to see who takes the next step in their production next season! Moving forward with our Top 50, we’ll look at what lands each player in our Top 100 by looking at the Positive aspects for the upcoming season, as well as the Negative aspects that keep them from climbing higher on the list.
For more on our introduction, including honorable mentions, click the 100-81 link below!
50) Tobias Harris | 6-8 – F – Philadelphia 76ers
Positive | Harris had one the best seasons ever as a third option player last season. He averaged 19.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and a career-high 3.5 APG while shooting 39.4% from distance. Expect Harris’s role to increase even further should Simmons be traded before next season is over.
Negative | Simmons has declared that he will not be attending training camp with the 76ers, but should that holdout not last, the drama and controversy surrounding this team could reflect negatively on everyone involved, including Tobias. Plus, he would remain the 3rd option should Simmons start the season in Philly.
49) Klay Thompson | 6-6 – G – Golden State Warriors
Positive | The career 42% 3-point shooter has never relied on his athleticism to score, but rather a relentless attack of off-ball movement and spot-up triples. Scoring 60 points on only 11 dribbles is a feat we will likely never see again, but we hope to see Klay return to similar confidence levels once he returns.
Negative | After missing two consecutive seasons, Thompson looks poised to return to the hardwood sometime during the 2021-22 season. However, two seasons is a long time. We have no idea yet which version of Thompson we’ll see in Golden State, making him a difficult player to rank.
48) Jrue Holiday | 6-3 – G – Milwaukee Bucks
Positive | Holiday returns to Milwaukee after averaging 17.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.6 SPG on his way to a ring last season, and not to mention an Olympic Gold Medal earned in Tokyo this summer. His confidence as the starting point guard for the defending champs could propel him into another career year.
Negative | The 31-year-old point guard is entering his 13th season in the league. Clearly, he’s still got something left in the tank after last season’s championship run, but he’s also the clear 3rd option on his team and potentially reaching the backend of his prime. This will limit his overall production slightly, much like we saw last year when he averaged his lowest PPG since 2016.
47) Michael Porter Jr | 6-10 – F – Denver Nuggets
Positive | In roughly 31 minutes per game last season, Porter averaged 19 points and 7 rebounds per game on 44.5% shooting from distance. His unusual height for his position makes Porter a lethal scorer and has even drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant.
Negative | Porter still has several steps to take before he’s on Durant’s level, but he’s also got plenty of time to get there. The issue lies in his opportunity. Denver is a deep, well-rounded team that boasts several other forwards capable of earning rotation minutes including Bol Bol, Jeff Green, JaMychal Green, Will Barton, and Aaron Gordon. This isn’t to say Porter isn’t the best of these players, just that his minutes could be limited and not yet afford him to climb higher on this list.
46) Cade Cunningham | 6-8 – G – Detroit Pistons
Positive | The 6-8, 19-year-old, #1 overall pick can handle the ball, shoot from distance, make plays for others, rebound, defend, and basically everything else you’d want from a prototypical basketball player. Now, with the reigns to an NBA team, we’re all about to find out just how good Cunningham can be.
Negative | The NBA team Cunningham has the reigns to finished dead last in the East last season. They have a few quality pieces like Jerami Grant, but they’re not likely to be a playoff contender overnight, even with the addition of Cunningham.
45) CJ McCollum | 6-3 – G – Portland Trailblazers
Positive | McCollum set a new career-high scoring average last season and was on pace to do much more before a season-derailing injury in mid-January. Through 47 games, McCollum had six 30-point games, including a 44-point outburst on Dec 26th.
Negative | The Blazers have been given plenty of opportunities to win with Lillard and McCollum side-by-side, and it just hasn’t worked. Rumors point towards Lillard being traded, but don’t rule out a McCollum trade to start the retooling of the roster. Uncertainty amongst the roster and their position is never a positive for any player.
44) Christian Wood | 6-10 – F/C – Houston Rockets
Positive | During his first season with Houston, Wood averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds, and just over one block per game across 41 games played. This 26-year-old big man can shoot from distance, finish at the rim, rebound, and defend.
Negative | The Rockets struggled mightily last season, albeit in large part due to injury. Wood will have an opportunity to lead this team from a production standpoint, but he’s also a candidate to be shipped out to a contender midseason for more draft picks in Houston’s favor.
43) John Collins | 6-9 – F – Atlanta Hawks
Positive | Collins burst onto the scene in 2019-20 with a surprising 21.6 PPG and 10.1 RPG. Both of those numbers dropped slightly last season, but he still put up 17.6 PPG and 7.4 RPG on a legitimate playoff team.
Negative | Ironically enough, the only negative aspect surrounding Collins is how good his team is. The Hawks have added veteran depth and plenty of youth around Trae Young, causing basically everyone’s individual production to drop. Collins has a case to be much higher on this list if it were purely talent-based.
42) Kyle Lowry | 6-0 – G – Miami Heat
Positive | In one of the biggest moves of the offseason, the Miami Heat created a new big three with a trade for Kyle Lowry. The former Finals MVP is entering the twilight of his career, but still averaged 17 points and over 7 assists for the fifth time in the last four seasons. Lowry will likely have the lightest load on his shoulders that he’s had in years, but he’s still an All-Star caliber point guard on a contending team.
Negative | Lowry is used to being the primary ball-handler, even in his lone season playing alongside Kawhi Leonard. Playing alongside other facilitators like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will allow Lowry to take a backseat, thus decreasing his overall production.
41) Fred VanVleet | 6-1 – G – Toronto Raptors
Positive | Once an NBA Champion in 2019, VanVleet is officially being handed the reigns to this team next season. The departure of Kyle Lowry opens up a tremendous opportunity for a ball-dominant guard like VanVleet. His minutes, scoring, and assists will all likely increase this season from the 36.5, 19.6, and 6.3 respective averages last season.
Negative | The Raptors look to be headed towards a rebuild. Siakam was not the All-Star player they needed him to be last season, and their true leader in Lowry left this offseason. VanVleet should help keep this team competitive, but the lack of established talent around him and the potential for future trades limits what his overall production could look like.
Main image credit: