#5. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
Team Rank: No.1 in Scoring (24.8 ppg), No.1 in Assists (6.6), No.1 in Steals (1.4)
I haven’t witnessed a sighting of the so called ‘Big-Three’ since their 2014 photo shoot, Kyrie Irving has been in and out of the lineup while Kevin Love continues to look more and more like an average player on a team that doesn’t suit him. While it is true that the Cavs have the best record in the East, it would not be possible without LeBron James (arguably the only proven player on the team). While LeBron has been heralded as one of the greatest players of All-time, this season hasn’t been as spectacular for him. His 3-point shot selection has been questionable at best (.272 3p%) , however, that should not overshadow the fact that the Cavs will clinch the No.1 spot in the East. Lets be honest here. Without LeBron James, the Cavaliers would stink like horse sh*t, and he will remain a top-5 MVP candidate. I think we all can agree that LeBron will carry this team to the finals, unfortunately, I don’t think they have the talent to win it all.
#4. Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
Team Rank: No.1 in Scoring (20.2 ppg), No.1 in Steals (1.8)
I don’t think people quite understand the elite status of Kawhi Leonard— we’re talking superstar status. He’s clearly the best player in a Spurs uniform, but what surprises me the most, is how his quiet demeanor pails in comparison to his offensive and defensive tenacity. My mother used to say “watch out for the quiet people, because they’re the ones who inflict the most damage”, and Leonard’s exactly the type of player you need to be mindful of, because he has decimated the opposition in an emotionless state. He feels no pain, he only distributes it. Leonard can put the nail in the coffin or drop the dagger on any given night, and he easily frustrates opponents with his stifling defensive efforts. Leonard is another player who’s having a career year in scoring (20 ppg), and ranks among the top-15 in the league in steals (1.8 stl). The Spurs have a firm grip in the standings with the second best record in the Western Conference, but in the end will it be enough?
#3. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
Team Rank: No.2 in Scoring (21 ppg), No.1 in Assists ( 6.4), No.1 in Steals (2.1)
The off-season has been good to Kyle Lowry, and I must admit that I am a fan of the lean and chiseled version whose appearance caught many off-guard before the 2015-16 season began. Lowry now hopes to lead his team beyond their continued disappointment of exiting the early round of the NBA Playoffs, but something feels different this year. I see a more mature and focused Raptors squad which could ultimately claw their way to the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. The profoundly talented backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have lead their team to the No.2 spot in the East, not far behind the No.1 ranked Cleveland Cavaliers. As talented as Lowry and DeRozan are, I think most fans would agree that Lowry is the most important player for the Raptors — his 21 ppg, and 5.0 rpg are career high numbers, and he continues to distribute the ball at a high capacity (6.4 assists per game). Overall, Lowry has been one of the most efficient and consistent points guards in the league and when its all said and done, 2016 could be the season where the Raptors reach the top of the mountain in the east.
#2. Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
Team Rank: No.2 in Scoring (24 ppg), No.1 in Assists (10.2), No.1 in Steals (2.1)
If you ever wanted to stare offensive terror in the eyes, then look no further than Russell Westbrook. If I we’re to compare him to anything, it would be something that delivers utter chaos such as a train derailment or an earthquake because he produces maximum carnage. Westbrook has been so amazing this season that Kevin Durant seems more like the sidekick. Overall, Westbrook is one of my most favorite point guards because he just oozes with basketball emotion, anger, and intensity, but he channels that energy into what can only be described as electricity on the court. His erratic shooting still rears its ugly head, however, his 10.2 assist per game (league and career best) is more than enough to add his name into the MVP discussions. I’m at a point where I could honestly say that this season Russell Westbrook has proven to be the best player in a Thunder uniform, and quite arguably a top-5 player in the league. The Thunder will only go as far as Westbrook is willing to fight for, and if the rest of the team can match his level, they might go further than expected.
#1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
Team Rank: No.1 in Scoring (30 ppg), No.2 in Assists (6.6), No.1 in Steals (2.1)
Stephen Curry makes shooting the ball looks so easy you would think a caveman could do it, but what people don’t get a glimpse of, is how hard he works during practice to perfect both his shooting stroke and his ball handling. You often hear people compare his shooting to a video game exhibition, but honestly, even a video game fails in comparison when it boils down to matching his pinpoint accuracy (.508 field goal percentage) from virtually anywhere on the court. Curry continues to amaze, and on 2/27/2016 versus the OKC Thunder, he broke a personal record and tied the NBA record for the most 3-pointers in a single game (12 3-point field goals). Curry, an NBA champion, 3-time All-star, and 3-point champ has essentially done it all, and this season he and the Warriors are taking a shot at NBA history if they manage to surpass the ’96 Bulls 72-10 winning record.