Guys, the playoffs are here. The 2016 NBA Playoffs are here, and they look great. So many stars and one of them is just 16 wins away from basketball immortality. With that being said, so many of the league’s best will step out onto the court Saturday and Sunday with the hopes of surprising people across the league.
Here we rank the best 15 of those stars.
Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Andre Drummond, Klay Thompson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap
15. Kyle Lowry, TOR
Lowry proved that his all-star selection last year was no fluke. He came back this year as an even better scorer (21.4 PPG), long-range shooter (39%), and with quicker hands (2.1). He and DeRozan have created a top-3 backcourt in the NBA and have no intentions of slowing down.
14. Blake Griffin, LAC
After missing many of the Clippers game with injuries, Griffin is back and fully healthy for the playoffs. Blake’s offensive evolution has opened up doors that the Clippers didn’t have a few years ago. With his improved post game and refined jump shot, Griffin is no longer just a dunk machine.
13. Kemba Walker, CHA
It’s a shame, but Walker hasn’t had any playoff success since his magical run with the Huskies in 2011. Kemba finished with a career-high in points per game with 20.9 and led the Hornets to a record of 48-34, inducing a four-way tie for the third seed.
12. Paul George, IND
After compound fracturing his leg no too long along, PG-13 came back and put up a career- high in points (23.1), and threes made (210), and tied his career-high in assists (4.1) and steals (1.9). Simply amazing.
11. Isaiah Thomas, BOS
People say that the Celtics did everything this year without a superstar, even though Isaiah Thomas is a superstar. He’s the only player in NBA history to average more than 22 points and six rebounds per game and be 5’9 or shorter. After getting swept by the Cavaliers last year, Thomas and Celtics get to treat fans to a highly entertaining matchup against the Hawks.
10. DeMar DeRozan, TOR
After harnessing powers from the Six God, DeRozan had a career-best year. He appeared in his second all-star game, averaged 23.5 points per game, and almost led the Raptors to the number one overall seed in the conference. While the road to the Final will most likely run through Cleveland, DeRozan and his Raptors provide fierce competition.
9. Damian Lillard, POR
After a disastrous off-season and being snubbed from the all-star team, Lillard practically willed the Trail Blazers into the playoffs. His 25.1 points per game average is sixth in the league, and his 229 made threes illustrate his lethality from outside the arc. The duel between him and Paul in the first round is must-see TV.
8. Chris Paul, LAC
There hasn’t been a set of rankings put out in a long time where Chris Paul wasn’t considered the top PG. Make no mistake about it, CP3 is still elite and collected his third-straight year with 19+ points (19.5) and 10+ assists (10.0) per game.
7. James Harden, HOU
The league leader in field goal attempts is going to do all in his power to steal a game or two from the Warriors in the opening round. It’s known league-wide that Harden’s going to go out and get anywhere from 25-30 points a night; what gets lost in his buckets his somewhat underrated passing ability. Harden averaged a career-high 7.5 assists this year, sixth in the league.
6. Draymond Green, GSW
Ah, Draymond. The ultimate problem-causer for opposing coaches. He’s 6’7, but can out quick your center and physically overpower your guards. Along with being a dog on defense, Green’s offense has come so far and his ability to facilitate the team opens up tons of doors for everyone else.
5. Russell Westbrook, OKC
Kevin Durant’s wingman (or sidekick, whichever you prefer) most certainly put together a case for being the best all-around player in the league after banging out 18 triple-doubles. However, for the Thunder to have success in this year’s postseason, Westbrook’s decision making is critical, and he cannot get sloppy in the fourth quarter.
4. Kevin Durant, OKC
Somehow, someway, Russell Westbrook’s historic triple-double run overshadowed another year of Durant’s sheer offensive dominance. Durant averaged 28.2 points and a career-high 8.2 rebounds while Westbrook was busy stuffing the stat sheet.
3. Kawhi Leonard, SAS
While not the best all-around player on the list (though a case could be made), Leonard is the unquestioned best defensive player on this list. That needs to say something. After all, defense and rebounding wins championships, doesn’t it?
2. LeBron James, CLE
This is the first time in a long time since LeBron wasn’t the best player on the planet. I’m sure it’s eating at him, as he averaged more than 28 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists during his last five regular season games.
1. Stephen Curry, GSW
No shock here.
If you haven’t, check out our predictions for each first round matchup here.