Oh, y'all thought I was washed?! I'm at the Toyota Center 🚀
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) September 18, 2018
As the hype builds for a new season, we will be counting down the NBA’s 50 best players for 2018-19.
Rankings are based on projected performance during the 2018-19 campaign. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Entering his third season in the League, it’s easy to forget that Brandon Ingram just turned 21 this month. Capable of doing a bit of everything on the court, including run the point at times, Ingram is poised for another big leap.
There’s no dancing around the fact that Carmelo Anthony had the worst statistical season of his career last year. But the veteran forward is still a bucket. If Houston is to seriously contend for a title, Melo needs to be very effective in his role.
He may come off the bench to make room for King James, but Kyle Kuzma will still play an integral role for the Lakers this season. The First Team All-Rookie selection will continue to be a major source of buckets during his sophomore campaign.
The personification of a walking bucket, Lou Williams is coming off the best season of his career. Rewarded with a three-year, $24 million extension, Lou has found a home in L.A.
After backing out of a verbal agreement with Dallas three years ago, DeAndre Jordan will finally be donning a Mavs jersey. The 30-year-old is still one of the best rebounders and pick-and-roll bigs in the game.
Fresh off signing an $80 million deal with Orlando, Aaron Gordon will be counted on to lead the rebuilding Magic. A versatile, two-way player, AG has the tools to become an All-Star this season.
One of the game’s most underrated wings, Khris Middleton has returned to full strength after tearing his hamstring two years ago. An-efficient scorer from everywhere on the court, Middleton really does it all with little fanfare.
Less than four years ago, Clint Capela was spending extended stints in the G League. This summer, he agreed to a $90 million deal. Capela should remain one of the League’s elite bigs for years to come.
One of the most skilled players in the League, not just at his position, Marc Gasol endured perhaps the most challenging season of his career last year. Will he ask for a change of scenery as he enters the final chapter of his career?
With both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out in the playoffs, Jaylen Brown averaged 18.0 ppg as the Celtics came just a game short of reaching the Finals. An excellent slasher capable of spacing the floor and locking down on defense, Brown is an integral part of Boston’s future.
Entering his age-33 season, Kyle Lowry no longer attacks the basket like he did during his early years in the League. But he’ll fit-in perfectly alongside Kawhi Leonard as a dangerous No. 2 scoring option and primary facilitator.
Mike Conley managed to appear in just 12 games last season as he opted to undergo left heel surgery. Now fully healthy, the 30-year-old should be able to bounce back to near-All-Star form in 2018-19.
Nearly a year removed from his gruesome left leg injury, Gordon Hayward is fully healed and has no restrictions. It’ll take time to get back his rhythm, but seeing Hayward back on the court will be a welcome sight.
Overlooked no more. Jrue Holiday took over in the playoffs vs Portland, helping to shut down the Blazers’ vaunted backcourt while scoring 27.8 ppg. Silent but very deadly, Holiday can go toe-to-toe with any guard in the League.
Boston leaned heavily on Al Horford to be their fulcrum last season, and he did not disappoint. Seemingly always making the right play, Horford is a rare big who can pass, defend and shoot the three.
Incredibly, Andre Drummond has averaged over 13 boards for five straight seasons. He even shot over 60 percent from the free-throw line last season. Now, he even has the green light to shoot threes. Look out.
The track record for players returning from ruptured Achilles tendons is not great, but DeMarcus Cousins is young enough and skilled enough to be dominant once he returns this season.
Fresh off signing a $120 million extension this summer, Kevin Love is poised to have another strong season as the leader of the Cavs.
The Hornets’ all-time leading scorer, Kemba Walker could solidify his case for greatest to don a Buzz City uniform this year. Will he remain in Charlotte beyond this season? That still remains to be seen.
Injuries have undoubtedly taken a toll on his athleticism, but Blake Griffin is far from finished. Coming off his first fully healthy offseason in years, the 29-year-old will be Detroit’s go-to player this season.
Several knee issues limited Rudy Gobert to just 56 games last season, but he still came away with the DPOY. That’s how valuable Gobert is on the defensive end for the Jazz.
A star in the making, Jayson Tatum gained invaluable experience on the big stage last season. He averaged 18.5 ppg in the playoffs and got more assertive as the stakes got higher. There’s no ceiling for the 20-year-old.
It’s unclear when—or if—Kristaps Porzingis will play this season. When healthy, KP boasts a combination of size, agility and skill that makes him virtually unguardable.
After demanding a trade and reconciling with Gregg Popovich, LaMarcus Aldridge single-handedly willed the Spurs to the Playoffs last season. Even at age 33, Aldridge is still one of the most dominant big men in the game.
Bradley Beal isn’t just one of the most efficient shooters in the game, he’s one of the deadliest scorers. In December, the All-Star went off for a career-high 51 points.
As one half of the lethal backcourt out in Portland, CJ McCollum will continue to give defenses trouble with his knockdown shooting, crafty handles and polished footwork. The Blazers will need CJ to step up if they want to make a bigger splash come playoff time. We assure you, Jennifer, he’s trying.
He drops dimes like a point guard, rains threes like a shooting guard and battles in the paint like a center. There is nothing Nikola Jokic can’t do. Just peep the numbers from last season: 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.
Year one was special (20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game). Year two is about to be even better. As the young leader of a dangerous Utah Jazz squad, Donovan Mitchell is poised to show out.
Draymond Green is the epitome of the modern “big man” – athletic, versatile and a contributor on both ends of the court. And if he gets under your skin, good. That’s the goal.
Devin Booker is a certified bucket. Entering his fourth season alongside 2018 No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, Book is primed for another big leap. See the shots that I took…
The reigning Most Improved Player of the Year, Victor Oladipo put the League on notice last season, averaging career highs across the board. When he balls out again in 2018-19, it won’t be a surprise.
One of the world’s best shooters and perimeter defenders. A walking heat check who once scored 37 points in a quarter and 60 points in 29 minutes. And Klay Thompson is also just the coolest MFer in the NBA. We rest our case.
Year 2? Year 3? Doesn’t matter what you call it, Ben Simmons is going to be a problem. The young point guard is running the show out in Philly. And it should be a good one.
New city, new squad, same DeMar DeRozan. You better believe that buckets are on their way to the AT&T Center. DeMar is fresh off one of the best seasons of his career and shows no signs of slowing down.
The Wizards will go as John Wall goes – and the All-Star point guard should be in for a big season. With center Dwight Howard now in the fold, rest assured there are a lot of lobs coming.
As of this writing, Jimmy Butler is still in Minnesota – although there’s a strong sense that will change soon. Wherever he ends up, the do-it-all wing will continue to be one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
If he hadn’t injured his hamstring in last year’s Western Conference Finals, Houston very well could have upset the Warriors. Now Chris Paul is back and hungry as ever. Y’all are in trouble.
After signing a new, super-max contract, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns is ready to get to work. The big man is a walking double-double capable of taking over at any moment.
When Paul George re-signed with the Thunder this summer, he said there was unfinished business to attend to. We are very much looking forward to seeing how he handles that business.
No more workout videos. You know what time it is. Damian Lillard has proven to be one of the best go-to scorers in the NBA. The Blazers will once again follow his lead.
He said it multiple times throughout the summer. Big man Joel Embiid feels like this will be an MVP season for him. We don’t doubt it. We’ve all learned to trust The Process.
Heading into a new season, superstar Kyrie Irving says he feels completely healthy and is ready to retake the driver seat on an absurdly talented Celtics squad. That’s scary.
In case you forgot, Kawhi Leonard is a two-time All-Star, two-time DPOY and the 2014 Finals MVP. He will remind you just how good he is soon, only now in a Raptors uniform.
For two consecutive seasons, Russell Westbrook has averaged a TRIPLE-DOUBLE. It seems absurd to believe he could do it again. But as The Brodie always asks, why not?!
He’s merely 23-years-old and Giannis Antetokounmpo is unstoppable. Any improvement from last season will almost certainly put The Greek Freak in the MVP conversation. And there’s no cause to expect otherwise.
When he’s healthy and out on the floor, there’s simply no slowing down Stephen Curry. Can’t wait to see exactly what the Chef cooks up this season, but you can bank on a plethora of threes, crossovers and dimes.
The reigning MVP is perhaps the best overall playmaker in the NBA. Houston is still a threat to Golden State’s supremacy – and James Harden is the major reason why.
When DeMarcus Cousins went down last season, Anthony Davis took his game to an otherworldly level. We anticipate more of those video game numbers this year.
During last year’s Finals, Kevin Durant once again reminded the world how dominant he can be. You can hate all you want, but you can’t deny the greatness. We are watching one of the best pure scorers of all time.
It is Year 16 and there is no question that The King still reigns. LeBron James’ first season out in Los Angeles is about to be a movie. So grab your popcorn.