Listing the top 50 NBA players is a hard job. The beginning of the list is much easier than figuring out the end. As we argued with knives and pitchforks in a group chat we have finally (mostly) agreed on a final list of the top players going into the 2017-2018 NBA season. We will go from 50-1 and invite everyone to join in the discussion and debate. First, we will begin with our toughest omissions from the Society 50.
The 24-year-old big man averaged a double-double for Detroit last year with 13.6 points and 13.8 rebounds to go along with 1.1 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. His 49 double-doubles were 8th most in the league. He was more effective earlier in his career as a devastating pick and roll option back when he was an all-star in 2015. After unsuccessfully trying to mold Drummond into a more traditional back to the basket big, we will see what Stan Van Gundy plans to do going forward.
The first round pick in 2008, George Hill will continue his career in a Sacramento Kings uniform after being with the Spurs and Pacers for his first 8 years. Last year was his only year in Utah, where he averaged a career high 16.9 ppg on 40% shooting from 3 proving that he was a better offensive player than most people had thought. Hill is also an underrated defender. According to NBA.com Utah’s defensive rating was a 101.0 with him on the court and 103.8 with him off of it. De’Aaron Fox will have a great veteran mentor to follow as the Kings look to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season.
According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, the 33-year-old vet graded as the 8th best small forward in the NBA last season. Golden State made a monumental move in re-signing him as he is efficient and effective in just about every area you can think of besides the foul line. He is incredibly efficient offensively and finished in a 4-way tie for top offensive rating for players logging at least 1500 minutes this season. His defensive prowess is well noted, and bench veterans are a key ingredient to any championship recipe. After flirting in free agency, we will see Iggy continue to play meaningful championship basketball in a Warriors uniform for the next 3 years.
The future Hall of Famer crossed the 30,000 point mark and landed at number 6 all time in scoring by season’s end. He is also headed into a tie with Kobe Bryant for longest tenure with one team at 20. Though hampered by injury and physical decline Dirk Nowitzki still posted 11 games with 20+ points and contributed 6.5 boards per game last year. At this stage in his career, he is arguably more valuable off the court as he continues to take team friendly contracts that allow the Mavericks to pursue free agents and keep key players. There is no denying that Dirk still has the offensive ability, but his defensive is just too big of a liability at this point for us to consider him a viable option in our top 50 list.
After his poor finals performance in Golden State, many expected Harrison Barnes to continue to be an under-performing disappointment with the Dallas Mavericks. However, Barnes proved to be a key cog in their franchise sparking an 11-5 run playing the power forward position after the injury to Dirk Nowitzki. He averaged 19.2 points per game and will be a big part of a fun young core alongside Dennis Smith Jr. and Nerlens Noel going forward. Keep in mind that he’s only 25 and has plenty of room to continue to develop. At this point, Barnes is on the outside looking in on our list, but he should make his way into the top 50 in no time at all.
Iso Joe had a bit of a resurgence last year, especially in the playoffs. His minutes were monitored during the season and he spent a lot of time at the 4 position after spending the majority of his career at small forward. He will play a larger role in spots this season as Utah looks to make up for the absence of Gordon Hayward. He proved in the playoffs that he can still be among the league’s best clutch performers and like Andre Iguodala will continue to provide quality veteran leadership off of the bench. If Joe Johnson proves that his playoff production was not just a blast from the past and he plays as well during the regular season this year, we’ll see his name on this list once again.