This regular season has seen several stars fall down with terrible injuries, such as Gordon Hayward, Kristaps Porzingis or DeMarcus Cousins, but that has also left the door wide open for other young men to shine and prove their worth.
Over the course of the whole season, we’ve seen some youngsters prove themselves on a nightly basis, demonstrating that they were more than ready to make an impact and that they’re going to be among the league’s leaders for a very, very long time.
Today, we’re set to pay our respects to those young men that balled lights out through the entire season, letting you know about the top 10 players that have proven to be the real deal all year long.
Honorable Mention: Kris Dunn, Jaylen Brown, Enes Kanter
10. Donovan Mitchell
The Jazz’ standout rookie is already looking like one of the biggest steals in the history of the Draft, and it’s making it quite difficult for us to pick our Rookie of the Year, already breaking LeBron’s record for most 20 point games during their first NBA season.
Mitchell has been on a tear all year long and hasn’t slowed down a single beat, leading the Jazz offense all the way to the postseason in one of the most impressive winning streaks in franchise history, and he’s already getting a lot of praise from veterans like Chris Paul, posting rookie averages of 20.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 threes per game.
9. Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons is one of the most impressive rookies this game has ever seen, with every single one of his milestones being compared with players of the likes of LeBron James, Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson, already surpassing Allen Iverson for more assists as a rookie and recording 11 triple-doubles.
Simmons has already tailed over 1000 points, 500 boards and 500 dimes and is just so freakingly talented with the rock on his hands, proving his top-notch playmaking ability as a point forward. Also, he’s already a very dominant scorer despite his total lack of jump shot and stroke from beyond the arc, averaging 15.8 points, 8 boards, 8.2 dimes, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game on 54% shooting.
8. Clint Capela
Clint Capela quietly surged as the top-notch big man this season, becoming a huge offensive factor as James Harden’s favorite target, setting picks, scoring off the pick and roll or flying high with lobs and dunks, and we can already be sure that he’s going to get paid a lot of dough next season.
Also, Capela has been a huge monster in the defensive end of the floor as well, allowing the Rockets to run the floor and spread the offense with 4 shooters around him while locking down the paint. If you ask us, he’s looking like a much better version of DeAndre Jordan, posting season averages of 13.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks on almost 65% from the floor.
7. Lou Williams
Lou Williams has always been considered to be a great offensive contributor off the bench, but this season he proved that he was one of the most gifted scorers in the world while leading the Los Angeles Clippers throughout most of the season and several injuries.
As a matter of fact, his name was even called out every time people discussed possible All-Star selections, and even though he’s not a kid anymore and is unlikely to ever make it, he proved that he’s unguardable and put season averages of 22.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.3 steals and 1.1 steals per game.
6. TJ Warren
The Phoenix Suns were a major train wreck all season long, but we can still say a lot of good things out of some ballers, one of them being TJ Warren, who’s been able to make a great impact on the defensive end while also surging as a steady offensive contributor.
Warren gained a lot of muscle during the offseason and it truly paid off, as he’s been able to gain and maintain position against bigger players all season long and score at will despite not being much of a shooter, averaging 19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1 steal in almost 50% from the floor.
5. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard was on a mission all year long, trying to prove his haters that he still had what it takes to dominate both ends of the glass after being pretty much kicked in the butt by the Atlanta Hawks, recording several breathtaking performances like his 32 points, 30 rebound game against the Nets.
Howard didn’t get much help from a mediocre Charlotte Hornets support cast and was unable to lead the franchise to another postseason run, but he still proved that he can contribute and become a dominant presence down low with his averages of 16.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
4. Julius Randle
Julius Randle was clearly upset about his name constantly being among the players likely to be traded by the Los Angeles Lakers, but instead of complaining, he just put a lot of hard work at both ends of the hardwood in order to prove his value, either to coach Walton or that any other team willing to take a gamble of him.
Randle pretty much outhustled and outworked every big man he faced throughout the season, and is looking like he’s going to flourish as a major bully ball power forward of the likes of Zach Randolph, so expect him to get paid big time next season following his averages of 16.3 points, 8 boards, 2.4 assists and 0.6 blocks per game on 56% from the floor.
3. Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma was this draft’s another major steal, and he’s looking like Lamar Odom’s second coming with a bit more upside for the Los Angeles Lakers due to his ability to play at both forward spots and even below the rim despite not being much of a rim protector.
Kuzma’s a great offensive player already and a streaky shooter from beyond the arc, while his chemistry with Lonzo Ball is pretty clear on and off the court. Averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds, he was one of the early candidates to take home the Rookie of the Year award, and only got better as the season went by.
2. Dario Saric
There were a lot of doubts regarding Dario Saric’s ability to embrace his new lesser role with the Philadelphia 76ers, as he was obviously going to have way less touches on offense upon JJ Redick, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz making it to the team and Joel Embiid coming back from injury.
Needless to say, Saric proved all of his detractors wrong this season, not only embracing his role on the court but also proving how productive and consistent he could be even with limited touches. Throughout his sophomore season, the European standout averaged 14.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 0.7 steals per game.
1. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo made sure to prove all of his doubters wrong now that he’s finally on a good team whose offense flows through him, bringing a lot of joy to heartbroken Pacers fans that were left without any kind of playoff hopes following the Paul George trade.
Oladipo finally made it to an All-Star Game and should be a lock to win the Most Improved Player of the year this season, posting averages of 23.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 three-pointers and the Steal Title after racking up 2.3 steals per game, proving that he can be an extremely dominant scorer, set his teammates up and impact the game in both ends of the hardwood.