DAR Sports: NBA Players To Watch In The 2016-2017 Season

By @TrueGodImmortal

We are just about a week away from the regular season starting for the NBA and this is the most exciting time of the year. As the NFL continues to shine, we are now welcoming back the NBA, the greatest sport on earth (yeah, I said it). As the season begins, everyone is watching closely to see who is a MVP front runner, who will falter, who will aggressively attempt to lead their team, and who might be the most injury prone (sad to say). Today, we give a list of the players you should keep your eyes open for the most this upcoming season and why. Let's get into it.

*Mike Conley

-After a deal worth 153 million, all eyes will certainly be on the Grizzlies, but more so on the guard who many have their doubts about. Conley isn't a top tier guard in the league, he's more so middle of the road if we are being honest, so the eyes will be watching to see if he steps up and truly improves on his all around game. If so, the Grizzlies could be a serious contender for the title for once.

*Patrick McCaw

-Don't expect a big year from McCaw. He's definitely going to help the Warriors preserve their leads and assist with keeping them efficient, but the rookie shouldn't be expected to have huge production regularly on a team with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. However, keep an eye out for his production in a smaller role to get a glimpse of what he has to offer going forward. He will average about 12 or 13 minutes a game this season, but watch his production there in that limited time. He could prove to be viable for the Warriors on their road back to the Finals.

*Carmelo Anthony

-If there's anyone to keep an eye on this year, it's Melo. He's gotten more attention this off season than usual, mostly due to his Olympic work and leading the USA team to a gold medal, while highlighting the fact that he doesn't have a championship or Finals appearance. Now, with Derrick Rose, Noah, Jennings, Lee, Porzingis, and more players to work with, do the Knicks stand a chance at the playoffs and a possible run at the title? I'd say yes to the playoffs but no to being a serious contender to the title. That's standard for Melo his entire career. It's a good chance that he goes all out to prove his doubters wrong. It might be time for Melo to have his best season yet. Can he pull it off?

*Derrick Rose

-He is included here because of Melo and the Knicks. With a case against him likely bothering his mental, and a seemingly newfound motivation in a new home, will Rose sink or swim with the Knicks? I don't expect MVP Rose, but I expect his production to be similar to how it was last year as the Bulls just missed the playoffs. I predict Rose will finish the season with about 16.0 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 3.4 RPG, which are very respectable numbers.

*Kyrie Irving

-The hero of Game 7 in the NBA Finals. I'm a bit worried about Kyrie going forward, but I think he's due for a breakout regular season at some point. I'm just not 100% sure it is this season. He will be the bigger focus of the team on the floor during the regular season because they want to limit LeBron's playing time and I believe Bron is helping to groom him to take the reigns in Cleveland when he declines more as the years progress or retires sooner than we think. Will Kyrie step up this year and perform as great as he did in the Finals? He likely will for various spurts on the year, but I can't see Kyrie maintaining such a high level of play all season long. Hopefully I'm wrong.

*Karl-Anthony Towns

-The Rookie Of The Year and rightfully so last season. KAT is truly on the way to becoming the most dominant big man in the league and I truly hope he remains healthy because this season could very well be special for him. If he continues to improve on his efficiency and post game, I could see him making the All NBA Second or Third Team this year without question, maybe even a spot on the First Team. I also hope that he is able to push his team, the Timberwolves, into the playoffs this season. Time will tell.

*Dwyane Wade 

-Well, much like his best friend, LeBron James, Wade came home. Now, we haven't fully seen the impact of what coming home really means, or if he will step up and become a leader for the Bulls, but I suspect Wade might have one of his best seasons in years. He was great for the Heat last year, leading them to the playoffs and nearly to the Conference Finals, but he had very little help and no Chris Bosh to push them beyond the Raptors. In many ways, he has that help and then some in Jimmy Butler and if you want to consider him help, Rajon Rondo. Rondo is a question mark for sure, but with Butler playing the 3 and adjusting his game after the Olympics, we could see a new tandem in Chicago. I predict Wade will have his best season shooting percentage wise, in a long time or possibly his best ever. Sounds far fetched I'm sure, but I'm confident in the ability of Wade to regain some, if not most of his prime form with a new team.

*Damian Lillard

-My dark horse candidate for MVP. Dame and the Blazers have a fighting chance this year for the 2nd or 3rd seed in the West.... considering the aging Spurs, the Durant-less Thunder and the closing window for the Clippers. If the Blazers can truly be effective and work their way to a 2nd or 3rd seed led by Dame, who is poised to have the best year of his career this season, he could very well be a top tier contender for MVP and a possible contender to win the scoring title (along with Russ and Harden). I'm anxious to see how Dame does this year.

*Paul George 

-Another potential dark horse candidate for MVP. The Pacers could legit challenge the Cavs for the first seed if they work well under Nate McMillan and remain healthy. I see Paul having one of his best seasons thus far, leading the Pacers to a possible 2nd or 3rd seed and competing for the scoring title as well throughout the year. Conventional wisdom would say the Pacers won't dethrone the Cavs for the no. 1 spot, but I'd love to see it happen. Paul could very well step up and push the Pacers to the next level, or he could keep them in the middle of the East, much like last season. It is make or break time.

*DeAndre Jordan

-After a nice experience with the Olympic team, many wonder what is to come from DeAndre and how he can continue to improve to become a better big man in the league. Perhaps he could improve on his ability to score at will. Or get more aggressive defensively. His improvement will be a heavy factor into the Clippers chances of winning or getting to the Conference Finals.

*Klay Thompson 

-This is the most interesting player this season on the Warriors. Not Curry. Not Draymond. Not even Durant. But Klay. Why? Well we know Curry and Durant will get the most shots and most production offensively, but Klay continues to get better everyday. So, does he work harder to drive the lane and attack the post more? Or settle for the likely open three pointers he will get this year as defenses scramble to cover Durant and Curry? How his production changes this season is the most intriguing part of the Warriors because we know Draymond has no issue taking a smaller role and that Durant and Curry will be the stars, so where does that leave Klay? The Splash Brothers have become the Splash Trio.... or has Klay been replaced as Splash Brother No. 2 by Durant? Time will tell.

*Andre Drummond

-One of the more efficient big men on the boards and defensively, he got a nice sized contract this off season and if he stays healthy, he will keep the Pistons in contention for the playoffs this season and hopefully they can get beyond the first round. I don't expect Andre to grow into a huge scorer or an amazing offensive player, but I do expect improvements all around from him.

*Kawhi Leonard 

-The defensive juggernaut known as Kawhi is a top tier front runner for MVP, and he's in the process of getting to his peak as a player. The mechanics of this game come naturally to Kawhi, yet he isn't seen in the same category like Steph, KD, Russ, and LeBron by many. I think Kawhi leads the Spurs to the 2nd or 3rd best record in the league and has a career year, likely averaging his highest PPG ever and APG this season. Keep your eye out for Kawhi and his sure to be big season.

*Buddy Hield

-The lack of some of the bigger players needed for the Pelicans like Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans for likely extended periods this season will lead me to award the Rookie of The Year honor to Buddy Hield in terms of prediction. I think Buddy has potential to be a big star and while I know there are other rookies who seem more promising to an extent, I think he will show up and play harder to make up for the absence of some vital players for the Pelicans. Keep your eyes on Buddy.

*Anthony Davis 

-The biggest thing to watch for this year for AD? His health. If he can remain healthy, I hope he returns to form and remains consistent. He should have a big year, but I can't see the Pelicans going to the playoffs or even contending for one of the final spots in the playoffs. I just can't imagine the Pelicans being the competitive team this year, but AD should be on fire this year again.

*James Harden 

-The Rockets looked great this preseason. Something tells me this won't travel over to the regular season for the team, but all signs point to Harden being the most productive guy offensively and likely winning the scoring title this year. Harden isn't one of my favorite players and I have a little bit of annoyance with how he manages to end up at the free throw line so often and his flopping, but the game is the game. I suspect Harden can lead the Rockets to a 6th or 7th seed with some of the good additions to the team during the off season. Don't expect Harden to be the MVP this season, but in the unlikely event that the Rockets make it to the 2nd or 3rd seed.... Harden would be my pick. He's going to likely score around 29 or 30 points per game on average, and this could be his greatest season offensively thus far. I just don't know if all that scoring will equal a lot of wins for his team... just like last season, where they barely made the playoffs.

*DeMar Derozan 

-After the big contract, I think he's due for a huge season. I could consider Toronto's backcourt the best in the East and with that being said, DeMar has to be ready to step up and remain consistent not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs. The Raptors have a solid guard in DeMar, but this season should see him even better, once again utilizing the experience he has from the Olympic team to improve elements of his game. It should be a good year for him and the Raptors.

*D'Angelo Russell

-I know. I know. The Lakers aren't going to be competitive for some time. However, expect the snitc... errr... 2nd year player to continue to show he has ice in his veins. He's dazzled during summer league and preseason and with him working to improve his game, he might very well become the star of this Lakers team going forward. I'm keeping an eye on him more so than rookie Brandon Ingram, who I predict will struggle greatly this season. I think D'Angelo will step up to the plate and become the leader of the team. At least he should.

*John Wall  

-Bradley Beal got paid, but I'm more interested to see how Wall works in the new system with Scott Brooks as coach. He's a great point guard and a solid player, but he has yet to reach the potential I believe he has and it doesn't seem like this season will be the one he does either. I hope for his sake and the Wizards' sake he can figure it out and have an amazing season.

*Giannis Antetokounmpo

-The Bucks might have something special in him. However, he's playing for the Bucks so while the highlights will be fun to watch, don't expect to see him in the playoffs showcasing his skills this year. I predict a true breakout season for him and career highs all around this year, but he's young and still growing as a player. He's got plenty of time to continue to evolve, but I really think he will showcase a large amount of his potential this season. It should be fun to watch.

*Jimmy Butler 

-Will Butler take the reign as the face of the Bulls? Will he struggle in his new role as leader? Will the strong willed Wade and Rondo work with him to make the Bulls a viable playoff team? If all goes well, Butler could have the Bulls as a true contender for the playoffs. If all goes wrong, the Bulls will be a disaster and Butler will be largely to blame for not stepping up to take control.

*DeMarcus Cousins 

-Boogie is in a weird place. He isn't really in the conversation for the best player in the league, but he is offensively dominant and hard to stop. However, he's unhappy on Sacramento for the most part and I don't see them making the playoffs but Boogie could very well be in the running to be a scoring champion. This is what makes him an asset to a team who could compete. He's a good scorer and solid player, he just needs a better team. Any chance Boogie gets traded before the season is over? Unlikely, but maybe that would change his fortune playoff wise.

*Russell Westbrook

-My pick for MVP on this season IF he can will his team to the 3rd seed in the West. Westbrook will be competing with Harden for the scoring title and I suspect Westbrook will have his best overall season statistically as far as PPG, RPG, and probably SPG, but he will also be higher in turnovers and lower in shot percentage. The erratic play of Westbrook is sometimes ignored because of his passion and aggression, but in reality, he tends to have his moments where he takes his team out the game. And there is no Durant to bring them back in it. If Russ can keep his turnovers to a minimum and turn those amazing stats he will have into wins, expect him to be a true contender for MVP this season. The Thunder have a point to prove and Russell will be the leader for them from here on out.

*Stephen Curry

-I am of the belief that Curry is still the 2nd best player in the league. Health issues aside, Curry is really unstoppable offensively and while most people felt as if the league figured out how to stop him, they haven't. Attribute that more to his injuries than his ability. Curry is not only the greatest shooter ever, but he's also someone who can score at will, and an underrated defender. No, he isn't the best defensive player, but his defense has improved over time and I suspect it will continue. I don't think the two time back to back MVP will actually win again, but that's only due to Durant signing with the Warriors, which will cut down on his offensive production only slightly. Now, to be fair, Steph could still be in the running for MVP, and he could still end up as a top scorer in the league, even with Durant there. He will get more open looks from three, and more opportunity to score as defenders will focus on Durant just as much if not more. Could Steph outdo his record breaking season last year? Probably not, but he could come close this year... even with Durant there.

*Kevin Durant

-The biggest free agent move since LeBron left Cleveland has the entire world on edge about what could come for the Warriors. Does Durant make the Warriors better? Of course. He's still a top 3 player in the league and guess what? His teammate is also a top 3 player in the league and the 2 time MVP. A 4 time scoring champion and a MVP coming to a team that just went 73-9 is almost unfair. Will the Warriors outdo last season with Durant? Probably not, but they definitely have to be the favorite to win the West easily, and if Durant has the year I expect him to and stays healthy, we could see him also in the MVP running and one of the top 5-6 scorers in the NBA like usual. The intrigue is seeing what Durant adds to the Warriors and how much his contributions help them win a championship. All eyes on Golden State and Durant.

*LeBron James

-The best player in the league cemented himself as top 5 all time with the big win over the Warriors in the Finals. Now, what to expect from him? Another title? Another MVP? Another Finals appearance? My gut tells me Bron doesn't win a title this year or a MVP, but he is likely to make the Finals again. I don't expect him to contend for the MVP or scoring title this year, but it is possible. Bron doesn't seem to really worry much about the regular season and coasts by, which is still super productive and probably better than 94% of the league. Bron will have all eyes on him and the pressure of repeating as champion. That's enough to make you follow everything the Cavs and Bron does.

This season is shaping up to be the most intriguing in years, maybe decades. All eyes will be glued to the TV in a week when the season starts.



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