Who Was Best in 2019 NBA Playoffs?
With the new NBA season in full swing, teams, players, fans, and pundits will all be looking for at least some indication of how they can better make their mark on this season. Basketball is a game about team over individual, but, as any Golden State Warriors fan will tell you, some start power comes in handy when it comes to winning championships.
With the 2020 NBA playoffs looming and 2019 being a season filled with big names, the pundits are already making their predictions about who will be the NBA's MVP this year. To get some idea who the front runners are, we’ll be looking back at last year’s playoffs and picking out the real star power.
While he might not have the star power of Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic has been a mainstay for the Denver Nuggets and is surely one of the reasons that Denver managed to make that second-place spot while being almost crippled by injury woes.
The big Serb has served up just under 20 points per game to become one of the most consistent true shooting centers in the NBA and ranks third in points generated from scoring, assists and screen assists, just behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden.
The problem with being Goliath is everyone wants to talk about who the next David will be. The Golden State Warriors’ current dominance means that people are more focused on Kevin Durant’s beef with Draymond Green and his scuffles with the media, than on his 25 points per game coupled with a true shooting percentage of above 62.
This is the fifth time that Durant has cleared 25 points per game for a season and, to put that in context, it’s a better average than Stephen Curry and LeBron James combined.
Caption: James Harden’s ridiculous stretches during the 2018-2019 season kept the Houston Rockets in the game and earned him his place on the list of best NBA players
The fact that Stephen Curry is an excellent player has become somewhat axiomatic. In fact, even though he averaged more than 27 points per game during the 2018-2019 season with almost machine-like efficiency, his amazing abilities have now become somewhat run of the mill.
That’s not to say that he has become an average player, far from it. He maintained a 68.6 true shooting percentage through 2018-2019 and apparently achieved that without the use of contacts to correct his vision. It's just that if you are a consistently excellent part of a consistently excellent team, people start to expect the amazing rather than be amazed by it.
Unlike Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, James Harden has had to be the brightest star in the Houston Rockets in order to keep them relevant. In the wake of Chris Paul's absence, Harden became a one-man band and yet still owns the second-highest usage rate in NBA history.
Harden very much deserves his place in the limelight, especially when you consider that more than 60 percent of his shots were taken with a defender less than 4 feet from him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo earns his spot as one of the best players in the NBA because he represents possibly the most versatile defender in the game right now. Only a quick check of the stats shows you that his name crops up in the 80th percentile and above for so many different play types that it almost seems like some kind of error.
In his current form, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes anywhere close to matching him and, in the current game, Draymond Green represents perhaps his only challenger. When you add in that the fact that Antetokounmpo has scored over a third of his three attempts in the last 30 games and it becomes pretty clear that he is unique in the game right now.