Without question, the most exciting part of basketball is the scoring. It’s what we all pay to see; the result of some of the best athletes in the world fine-tuning and honing their craft, spending countless hours in a gym just to put a ball through a hoop.
The art of scoring in basketball is a very diverse affair. There are quite a few ways of doing it; from plain old jump-shooting to driving to the rim, to post scoring, to alley oops, these are just a few examples.
The best players in the NBA are always at the top when it comes to scoring. They are the guys their teams trust to get them the points needed to win games. They are the stars of the show.
The NBA’s scoring title is one of the most sought after awards every season. The guy who wins it is known as the one that opposing defenses found hardest to deal with. He’s the one with all the swagger, the knowledge that he’s the baddest man on the court and that nobody can stop him.
Every year the scoring title is hotly contested, and next year should be no different. Here are my five guys who are the most likely to be in contention for this coveted crown.
5. Kemba Walker (Underdog) – Charlotte Hornets
Next year I predict it to be the year Kemba Walker comes out as a true superstar in this league. He’s in the perfect situation to have an amazing year. He will be 27 which is the year players often have their best season, he’s coming off a year where he averaged 23 points a game and shot 40% from three, he’s now got Dwight Howard to run pick and rolls with and Charlotte will be in contention for one of the higher playoff spots in a weakened Eastern Conference.
Kemba has shown that from the start of his career he is willing to put in whatever work is necessary to reach the next level. In his first year, he had to deal with his team having the worst regular season in NBA history. He’s had to deal with the vast number of point guards being considered better than him. He’s proven that he can be a star in this league with his All-Star selection last year.
The motivation for him and his new look team will have this year should be the catalyst that propels Walker, that makes him to shoot with even more confidence and drive with even more tenacity than before. I expect another All-Star selection and for his scoring to skyrocket this year as he propels his team to the playoffs just on sheer will alone.
4. Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
According to the Basketball Reference, there have been 5 players who have averaged more than 22 points a game whilst 20 or younger. 3 of these guys have won scoring titles, one is Kyrie Irving and the other is Devin Booker.
The Suns did not do very well last year going 24-58 but one of their few highlights was the production of Devin Booker. People are starting to compare him to Kobe Bryant and it’s easy to understand why that is.
Booker scores in a huge variety of ways much like The Black Mamba did. He’s athletic, he’s strong, he can drive and finish at the rim, he can shoot the three and he’s got a good midrange game as well. He’s really good at taking and making the difficult shots which made Kobe the most unguardable player in the NBA for such a long time. The fadeaways, the step backs and the spin jump shots all take a huge amount of practice to get right and Booker is right on the money.
Devin also has a scorer’s attitude and just because he’s not having a good night doesn’t mean that he’ll be scared to take shots he knows he can make. He dropped 70 points last season, the most since Kobe’s 81 point game and the ways things are going 81 and more might well be in Booker’s reach.
3. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
On one hand, I want LeBron to go absolutely berserk this year, on the other I want him to rest up for the playoffs. It’s very hard choice to make; who wouldn’t want LeBron to tear it up like we know he could and he’d have extra motivation to what with the whole Kyrie Irving situation.
The Cavs signed Derrick Rose which adds a decent replacement to the point guard spot, now all LeBron needs is get a good return on the Irving trade. Sending Kyrie to go play in Miami for Hassan Whiteside and some other pieces would work very nicely as the combination of Love and Whiteside would make a formidable duo in itself and adding LeBron and all the shooters Cleveland has would give LBJ all the tools he needed to go on another historic MVP run.
2. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Every guy in the top four of last year’s scoring race has now got a new All-Star teammate to share the ball with. Russ has Paul George, Harden has CP3, Isaiah Thomas has Gordon Hayward and Anthony Davis has DeMarcus Cousins.
With all these new additions it’s very likely that we’ll see a drop off in their production next year as they look to accommodate their new teammates. This gives other great scorers in the league the chance to swoop in and claim the scoring title for themselves.
Damian Lillard is a prime example.
For two years in a row now Lillard has been snubbed from the All-Star team despite averaging despite averaging 26 points a game in that span. Lillard isn’t one to be put down with an insult like this, in fact I think he feels he needs to win the scoring title just to prove to everyone that he is one of the best in the NBA. Like Kemba, Lillard will be 27 next year, right in his prime and he looks set to put the world on notice this season.
1. Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors
First things first: Kevin Durant is the greatest scorer in NBA history.
The dude is 6 foot 9/10 with a wingspan of 7 foot 5. He has a great handle, he shoots nearly 40% from the three point line, he hits nearly 90% of his free throws, he’s athletic and he can finish at the rim.
In the Finals last year he averaged 35.2 points a game shooting 55.6% from the field, 47.4% from three and 92.7% from the line…all whilst being guarded by LeBron James.
Now that KD has won his first ring the amount of pressure off his shoulders is immense. It was the same when LeBron won his first title; the season after was his best ever and I expect the same with Durant.
The Warriors are the overwhelming favorites to go back to back and with Durant able to just play the way he plays there’s no doubt he can add a fifth scoring title to his astounding resume.