To repeat my previous statement from the first installment in this series, there are a lot of good players in the NBA. Nobody’s list of the top players in the league is ever correct, as it is nearly to compare some of the league’s best talent to each other and put one over the other ten times out of ten. The NBA is more versatile and unique than it has ever been today, and that trend is very notable when looking at the top players in the league.
Top 25 Players In The NBA – #20-16
20. Pascal Siakam
Once the Toronto Raptors secured their first NBA championship in 2019, and when Kawhi Leonard subsequently left after one season for Los Angeles, many assumed Toronto would fall back in line with the middle tier of the East. However, that would not be the case. Toronto was among the top teams in the league, despite losing arguably the best two-way player of his generation in Leonard. This is thanks in large part to Pascal Siakam.
The 2019 Kia Most Improved Player recipient put up a case for the award again in 2020, putting forth an All-Star caliber season with career highs across the board. With extremely large shoes to fill, Siakam stepped up and showed out, becoming the franchise’s clear superstar of the future. Despite struggling in this year’s playoffs, do not let that deter you from what has been an extremely impressive year for Siakam, and expect an even stronger campaign come 2021.
19. Russell Westbrook
NBA Twitter loves to have its fun, and perhaps no one is at a greater expense of that enjoyment than Russell Westbrook. The former league MVP is still among the top point guards in the NBA, despite not getting the same level of respect he once received back in Oklahoma City. Perhaps this is due to playing second fiddle to James Harden in Houston.
Despite this, Russ is a nightly triple-double threat. He is still extremely explosive and still has one gear to his game: “GO”. Westbrook was not able to continue his three-year run consecutive seasons averaging a triple-double, but he still managed to make the All-NBA Third Team. Many questions surround Westbrook’s future in Houston, and as he is now on the wrong side of 30 years old, many wonder what his future holds and if he will be able to win the big one before his window closes.
18. Paul George
Transitioning to a former teammate of Russell Westbrook’s, it is safe to say that Paul George had a season to forget in 2019-20. George finished the 2019 season as a final MVP candidate, but fell short, and when he teamed with the reigning Finals MVP at the time in Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles, the Clippers became an immediate championship favorite. That wasn’t the case.
The team was rarely at full strength throughout the season, as there were many load management nights for The Claw and PG13, and with the rest of the core obtaining its fair share of bumps and bruises. Come playoff time in the bubble, the team’s disappointment continued, as Playoff P struggled the entire postseason and it inevitably cost them. This team became one of the NBA’s biggest what-ifs had they just found the ability to click with one another.
Now, as teams start to look ahead of next season, whenever that may be, it may just be the restart that Paul George needs, especially with the direction the Clippers went with Doc Rivers, who was held under a greater microscope by the media than the team would have liked. With Rivers out and Tyronn Lue in, it may just be the right move to allow Leonard, George, and company to play to their strengths instead of the coach’s scheme.
17. Chris Paul
Chris Paul‘s game aged like a fine wine in his age-35 season. After a rough stretch of seasons in Los Angeles and Houston, CP3 once again played like the two-way floor general that earned him the respect around the league that he has today. He was given a roster that was not meant to be competitive but to begin the start of a long rebuild in Oklahoma City. However, his presence created a playoff atmosphere in OKC, despite not being a contender on paper.
It is clear that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the future of the franchise, and that the Thunder and Paul are on different timelines. Wherever Paul ends up next season, be it in Oklahoma City or elsewhere, it will make that organization instantly better and likely a playoff contender. Paul should be in pursuit of championships at this point in his career, and with the amount of contending teams with an eye on his this offseason, do not be surprised to see the future Hall of Famer moved to another city.
16. Klay Thompson
I’ll begin my case by stating that there is no one player in the NBA more enjoyable to watch than Klay Thompson when he is firing on all cylinders. The NBA and the Golden State Warriors missed the All-Star sharpshooter this year as he sat out the entire campaign along with Stephen Curry, as he rehabbed from his Torn ACL injury. While many consider Thompson to be merely one-dimensional, that could not be further from the truth.
Thompson is one of the best two-way guards in the league. He will hit a three-pointer in your face before you can get a blink off, and then he will play lock up defense on your favorite player on the other end. Once an NBA fan, not even a Warriors fan, watching Klay Thompson remind the league just how dangerous he is once again as he lights it up from beyond the arc each and every night is going to be a joy to watch.
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