Predicting Who Will Be the Best Player on Each NBA Team in the 2011-2012 Season
Each team in NBA history has had a player who excelled whenever he stepped on to the court, and that player could easily produce for their team and prove why they deserve to be in the NBA.
We have seen players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, etc, come and go, and in their respective playing days, they were the best player on their team.
New times are coming, and teams are either beginning to realise who their star player is, or if they have that star player already, how that player can help them.
Here is a list of who I think will be the best player on each team this upcoming 66-game season.
Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson
The Atlanta Hawks are one of those teams that look very good on paper and produce well during the season, but when it comes to the playoffs, they cannot seem to produce well.
Joe Johnson was signed to a massive contract by the Hawks last offseason, and based on his productivity in years past, his production seemed to have dropped a little last season.
Despite all the pressure on him to produce well, Johnson will most probably go back to his former 20-plus points per game self, and with the trade rumors surrounding Josh Smith, this Atlanta Hawks team might get better, or worse.
Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce has been associated with the Boston Celtics his entire career, and what a career it has been. In the early 2000's, the Boston Celtics were easily one of the worst teams in the NBA, but as time went by, 2008 free agency showed up, and the Celtics were given Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
Pierce was the leader of the team that won a championship against the rival Lakers, and Pierce has been the leader of the Celtics franchise for almost a decade now.
Despite his age, he still has the leadership qualities many teams lack, and he will continue to produce his stats from last season, but will see only a small decrease in the important categories.
Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker
The Charlotte Bobcats have never been a team that contended for a championship or had a true leader not named Gerald Wallace. They seem to have been lost ever since they joined the NBA back in 2004.
With the 2011 NBA Draft, the Bobcats were able to steal Kemba Walker at the ninth overall pick. Walker has the leadership skill that led his UConn Huskies to the NCAA Championship, and there is no denial that he will try to change things in Charlotte around.
Walker will have a tough rookie season, with all the reporters constantly bagging on him if he does not do well in a game for example, but despite this big chip on his shoulder, Walker is capable of changing things around in Charlotte for the better.
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose
Was there any argument as to who would be here?
Derrick Rose, who was the league's MVP last season, will not only do the same that he did last year in terms of carrying his team to the playoffs and his leadership skill, but Rose will improve on what he accomplished last season.
Rose is one of the best scoring point guards in the league, and if the Bulls can get a solid wingman to add to the backcourt with Rose, then do not be surprised to see Rose and the Bulls in the NBA Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving
Poor Kyrie Irving. This young man will face a lot of pressure coming in as the first overall pick, not because he is expected to be the face of the franchise for Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving was drafted as a Chris Paul-like player, who is a tremendous passer and can shoot the ball. Irving proved he can play on both sides of the court in college, and he will probably transition this game to the NBA.
The Cavaliers are nowhere close to contending for the playoffs now, but if Irving plays like he did in college, then the Cavaliers will have a great point guard and leader for the future
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Just like the Chicago Bulls slide, it was kind of obvious who would go here.
Dirk has been the face of the entire Mavericks franchise. He has played his entire career in Dallas, and just recently led the Mavericks to the Finals, beating out LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
He is one of the greatest shooters in NBA history and has one of the hardest jumpers to stop. On sports science, it was proven that someone with the hops of Derrick Rose and the height of Yao Ming would not be able to block Dirk's patented one-legged fadeaway.
Dirk is getting older, but his numbers will stay in the same area, and his leadership might lead the Mavericks to a repeat.
Dirk and the Mavs will have a hard job defending the title, but they are up to the challenge.
Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson
Ty Lawson is the future of the Denver Nuggets. Last season, after Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony were traded away to the New York Knicks, Ty Lawson exploded and showed everyone his true potential.
There were nights where he was inconsistent, but whenever Lawson was on his game, he was a force to be reckoned with. Lawson shows us he could score and pass, and as he gets older and much more mature, he will be able to become a better point guard and help the Nuggets get back to championship contention.
Lawson has a bright future ahead of him, and with the depth of that Nuggets roster, he has a lot of players to distribute the ball to and pile up assists.
Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight
The Pistons have fallen hard since their championship and playoff years. Their former All-Star players have all started to play worse then before, but the team has gone into rebuilding mode and added some vital parts to their roster.
Last season, they drafted Greg Monroe, a big man with promise to be a great center in the near future, but in this year's draft, they picked Brandon Knight, one of the most all-around players from the draft.
Knight is a SG in a PG body, but has adapted to the role of a point guard well. He is a good defender and very good on offense. He can shoot the ball and drive to the basket with ease.
If the Pistons can make some smart moves in the net couple of years, they can go back to their former days, but this time, with Brandon Knight as their point guard and star player.
Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry has solidified his reputation as a great shooter and a good point guard in the NBA. He has shined ever since his rookie season and will continue to improve as the years go by.
Curry is one of the best overall shooters in the league. He can knock it down from almost anywhere and is one of the most consistent players in the NBA. He averaged an astounding 21.7 PPG while shooting with a 55 percent Field Goal percentage.
Curry has a bright future ahead of him and could easily be the next Ray Allen in terms of shooting
Houston Rockets: Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin is known as one of the best scorers in the league, and he has lived up to that name. Easily one of the biggest draft steals of all time, Martin was traded to the Rockets from Sacramento.
Martin is still young, and if he wants to be a leader for this Yao Ming-less Houston Rockets team, he needs to step up and be the voice for this team.
Martin needs to be a little more consistent, though, and should be able to increase his assist and rebounding totals this season.
Houston is a young team with a new face of the franchise, and Kevin Martin is going to be a big part of that new face.
Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger
Danny Granger is one of the most underrated players in the league. He has proven to be a gifted scorer and a heck of a player.
The Indiana Pacers do not have a leader yet, and Danny Granger needs to step up big time. He has proven he can lead a team at times, but he has to establish himself as a true leader for the young Pacers.
Granger has a better supporting cast this time around, and despite his productivity dropping in recent years, it is Granger's bounce-back season this year.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin really made a name for himself this past season. He had arguably one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history.
Griffin is easily one of the best rebounders in the league despite only playing one season. He averaged about 12 rebounds per game and averaged a wonderful 22.5 PPG. Despite these amazing stats, Blake Griffin still needs some improvement in his game.
He needs to add a post game with some post moves and also add a little more defense to his game. For someone who can jump like he is on the moon, Griffin should average at least two blocks per game.
Also, with the Clippers owner stating that everyone on the Clippers is trade-able other than Griffin, it is clear that the Clippers want to keep Griffin for a bright future.
Even with the Chris Paul trade going through, Blake Griffin is the future of this team and the best player on the team.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players to don the purple and gold and one of the greatest players to step foot on a basketball court.
He has shown year after year his wonderful leadership skills and his all-around game. As Kobe reaches his twilight years, his productivity is bound to drop, but with the way he has played his entire career, there is no doubt that Kobe will prove doubters wrong again this season.
Kobe Bryant is one of the best pure scorers who does not depend solely on athleticism and merely on a simple jumpshot, which Bryant has mastered.
His team is getting old, but even with the trade rumors surrounding the Lakers and Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, Kobe will be the leader of this Lakers team until he retires, and the reason why he can win his sixth NBA Championship
Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay
Despite the fantastic showing that Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph had in the playoffs, Rudy Gay is the leader of this team and will be the best player on it.
Ever since joining the league, Gay has been improving every season, and it could be his time to drop 20-plus PPG this season, as he has been borderline on 20 for the past two seasons.
Gay is a very underrated player and has a great all-around game. Offensively, he is very clutch and has increased his consistency every season. He is a good shooter and a great slasher.
On defense, he is a very good perimeter defender and great with his hands. He averaged more than one steal and block per game this past season, and his numbers might go even higher as he reaches his prime.
Miami Heat: LeBron James
This is a very tough choice between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but in the end, LeBron is the better player. Wade is without a doubt the leader of this team, but as an overall player, LeBron is better.
James is easily the most all-around player the NBA has seen in a long time, being able to produce exceptionally well on both the offensive and defensive side of the court.
His scoring, rebounding and field goal percentages are outstanding, and his perimeter defense is the same. His post game is something he has improved over the lockout, and he should be able to put up around 30 points per gane if he tries.
LeBron has the ability to average a triple-double this season, and if he does, it will be the first time since Oscar Robertson that someone has accomplished a feat so large.
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings was not able to ride the same success that he gained during his rookie season during his sophomore season.
Jennings' scoring totals have stayed primarily the same, but the problem with Jennings is consistency. Jennings shot for 39 percent this past season and 32 percent from behind the arc. These are not shooting percentages that you should be seeing from someone labeled as a scorer.
On the other hand, Jennings is more mature and must realise that his team is as important, and with this mentality, Jennings can be a dominant point guard in the NBA.
He has a great knack for scoring, and if he can make passing and team play more important, he will improve vastly.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love
Kevin Love won the Most Improved Player award last season, and he greatly deserved it. He improved almost every aspect of his game, and although it did not help his team at the moment, he is a vital part to a successful future in Minnesota.
Love proved to everyone in the league that he is capable of averaging a double-double on a nightly basis and being a huge threat on both the boards and on the scoring sheet.
Love is somewhat of a one-dimensional player, though. His defense and post game needs a little work, and if he is able to improve on this part of the game, he can be a very dominant force in the NBA, even though he already is one.
New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams
Deron Williams is the best point guard in the league right now, and that is a very bold statement.
As a member of the New Jersey Nets, Williams averaged 13 assists per game as well as 15 points. The problem with this was his consistency, as he only shot a putrid 35 percent.
Despite his bad offensive numbers, it is obvious that Williams was still adjusting to the team, and with his first (somewhat) full season in a Nets uniform, Williams will have a bounce-back year, and will solidify his argument as the best pure point guard in this league.
New Orleans Hornets: Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon was the main piece going back to New Orleans as part of the Chris Paul trade. In his three seasons in the NBA, Gordon became a better scorer and player.
His leadership role increased, and he is most probably going to be the cornerstone of this new Hornets franchise. In his last season with the Clippers, Gordon made a case as to why he could win the most improved player award, but lost to Kevin Love.
This next season, Gordon will be playing to prove his true potential, and as a player who has not reached his prime yet, Gordon still has a very high ceiling for him to build upon, and for a rebuilding Hornets team to build around.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He has the ability to score from almost anywhere, whether it be from beyond the arch or in the paint, and Melo has showed everyone that he is almost unstoppable on offense.
He has also proved that he is capable of being a top rebounder for the small forward position, LeBron James being one of the only players to average more boards.
The problem people connect Anthony with is his defense. The thing about Anthony's defense is that he defends star players much more seriously and focused, compared to someone such as Hedo Turkoglu.
Anthony is still one of the best players in the NBA, and with a much better team in New York, Melo is going to take this team back to the promised land, with the help of Amare Staudemire and Tyson Chandler.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is the cornerstone of this franchise, and he has proved to be so many positive things in a short, four-year NBA career.
One thing that is very obvious is Durant's ability to score. Much like Carmelo Anthony, Durant can score from almost anywhere on the court, and with ease. Despite being the main focus for every team's defense, Durant was still able to drop 28 points per game.
His rebounding numbers have also gone up, and he is playing very well on the defensive side of the ball. Durant is a player who can be league MVP one day, and like many players on this list, has a very high ceiling to improve and be a better player.
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard, just like Chris Paul, has had trade rumors swirling around his name for a while. The case with Dwight Howard is that Orlando is not keen on trading him despite Dwight giving them teams he would like to be traded to.
Howard is the most dominant big man and the best center in the NBA for a good three seasons, and there is no doubt that he will continue his amazing play. Howard is one of the league's top rebounders and shot blockers, and many opponents fear facing him.
Howard might make his case for an MVP season this year, and with all the developing of his game he has done throughout his career, it will all pay off this season.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday
The 76ers are team that know how to develop a point guard into a really good player; just ask Allen Iverson. Jrue Holiday was a draft steal at the 16th pick and has played well for the team.
Jrue Holiday greatly increased his numbers last season, proving that he is going to be one of the bright faces of the franchise, along with Evan Turner, moving forward.
Holiday nearly doubled all his numbers from his rookie season, and who is to say that he cannot add on to them? As a more mature and experienced player, Holiday will have a great season this year.
Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash
As old as Steve Nash is, he is still the best player on the Suns, and the team has to realise that they are not the same from three to four years ago.
Nash is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, and despite his age, continues to pile up assists season after season.
His scoring numbers have been the same for the past three seasons, and Steve Nash is still one of the best shooters in the league.
Nash is a future Hall of Famer and is still going to put up numbers like he has for the twilight of his career until he retires.
Portland Trailblazers: Lamarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is the most skilled power forward in the game right now, and it is as simple as that.
Portland is one of those teams that are in the shadows, yet are able to put up great seasons that people unfortunately do not know about. That is one reason why Aldridge was the biggest snub from the All-Star Game.
Aldridge has the post moves, the jump shot and the defense, which is why he is better than Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki. Aldridge has great skill, and it is about time that he is noticed by the fans of the NBA.
Aldridge is a bright star that will lead Portland to continuous playoff success for a good amount of seasons.
Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans got into a sophomore slump last season, as his numbers decreased a little from his rookie season in terms of shooting percentage and scoring.
With Jimmer Fredette being traded to the Kings on draft day, Tyreke will be able to play his natural shooting guard position and will be able to produce like he did in his rookie season.
The Kings are an up-and-coming team in this league, and Evans is going to be the main piece towards building a team like the Kings had back in the early 2000's.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker
The Spurs are an aging team that are soon going to be entering rebuild mode. Tony Parker is aging as well, but he is younger than the likes of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobilli.
Parker has been a very consistent player throughout his career, and his numbers went up last season compared to his numbers from the 2009-2010.
Parker is not going to put up amazing numbers, but is still going to be the best player on the Spurs roster.
Toronto Raptors: Demar DeRozan
DeRozan vastly improved in his sophomore season compared to his rookie season. With a bigger role in Toronto after Chris Bosh left, DeRozan played and exceeded his expectations.
DeRozan is a great slasher, and offensively is very good, but one aspect of his game needs much improvement: his jumpshot. DeRozan has worked on his jumper over the summer, but if he really wants to be an All-Star, he needs to shoot better than nine percent from behind the arc.
Also, with the new addition of Dwayne Casey as the new head coach, DeRozan will become a better defender. He was good with his hands, but needs to improve on the perimeter on both offense and defense.
If he can work out those problems and average some more rebounds (he should be averaging more with his vertical), he can be a great player in the next couple of seasons.
Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson
Jefferson is a center who, much like Lamarcus Aldridge, is very underrated. Jefferson averaged a near double-double this season and is great on the defensive end as well, averaging close to two blocks per game.
He is not the piece that Utah will need to build around, but he will be a solid contributor to the team for as long as he is still on it.
Jefferson is a great player, and he might have the ability to increase his scoring average back to 20 points per game with Deron Williams not being the main scorer in Utah. Al is poised for a great season.
Washington Wizards: John Wall
John Wall is one of the best young players in the NBA. His amazing rookie season was shadowed by Blake Griffin's rookie year, but nonetheless, Wall is still amazing.
Wall was able to dish out nine assists per game on a very depleted Washington Wizards roster. He now has an alley-oop capable player in Jan Vesely and a developing center in Javale McGee.
He has been working on his jumper, and his drive-in game is nearly unstoppable.
Wall is going to be more mature and experienced and will be able to possibly average a double-double in points and assists, as well as a good amount of steals.
He still needs to add to his jumper a little, but in a couple years, John Wall can become the best point guard in the NBA.