The new season of the US basketball championship has just begun. And already online newspapers are full of news, forecasts, hopes and unfortunately also shocks. Every week, alongside the results, there is in fact the news of some serious injury. But the stories are many, often related to the fates and exploits of the strongest NBA players .
The star-striped championship, on the other hand, is fascinating for a thousand reasons, but also for the great complexity of the roster of the various teams. By now, not only Americans are playing, but also Canadians, Italians, Australians, Spaniards, French, Slovenians, Serbs, and even Argentines. Often also with excellent results.
This is why the market and the regular season games are so important: we discover the new names that will keep us company in the playoffs and in the years to come, we try to understand if the old glories will keep up if the Boston Celtics have the possibility of return to winning and the Los Angeles Lakers to be competitive.
Especially if – and it is the question of recent years – someone will be able to subvert the forecasts, and blow the title to the Golden State Warriors . And then, of course, there are also a thousand other reasons to be interested in those names and surnames: the fantabasket (in the Dunkest version and not only), betting, cheering and so on.
Let’s find out the strongest NBA players
Each year, on the other hand, the NBA stimulates this interest in various ways. At the end of the season, for example, the title of MVP is awarded , that is, of the best player of the year. In addition, the All-Star Weekend is played in February, a three-day event in which the best players in the league perform dunks, three-point shots and other tests.
All this allows fans to admire their favorite champions but also to discuss which one is the strongest. Debates of this type are the halls of every sport, but often a little inconclusive, because everyone remains of their own opinion and hardly leaves the favorite champion for someone else’s.
But when we are not talking about a single player, but about all the best in the league , and when we do it involving many people, perhaps we manage to be a little more objective.
For this reason we have decided to dedicate one of our “social polls” to the NBA players who are taking part in the new season. And we asked you which is the best, or better, which are the five strongest.
Thousands of people participated in the survey and 7,950 votes were collected. We seem to be able to say, therefore, that the result we have achieved is quite representative of the mood of the fans, at least of the Italian one. So here are the five players that our fans believe are the strongest this year.
1. LeBron James
There is nothing to do: the years go by, but he is always the king, LeBron James. In our survey he underwent the boarding of some young levers whom we will talk about shortly, but he managed the crash, and he finished at the absolute top position with 36.43% of the votes in the final.
An excellent result, which by the way was constant during all the various stages of the qualifying round. In the first group, confronting rivals such as Gordon Hayward and Damian Lillard, he even got 72% of the preferences.
In the semifinal, he literally eliminated Kawhi Leonard , the San Antonio Spurs ace, who against him did not go beyond 20% of the preferences (while LeBron reached 66%).
A career that is still far from sunset
Born in Akron, Ohio at the end of 1984, James is now well past 30 years of age. But this, rather than weakening it, seems to have made it stronger. The ace of the Cleveland Cavaliers has in fact learned to dose their forces and to distribute them optimally during the season.
So in recent years he has come to play the finals with the Golden State Warriors almost on par, despite the fact that his team was deemed inferior each time. And in 2016 he even won the ring , the third of his career and the first for Cleveland, accomplishing an epic feat.
This year his team seems less competitive than last season, mainly because of the farewell of Kyrie Irving, who was considered the team’s number 2 star. Instead, several champions have arrived – from Isaiah Thomas to navigated Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose – but it will still be up to James to drag the team.
However, the fans still believe he is able to bring the franchise to the final, after having succeeded 7 times in a row (and 8 overall). For his part, James also has excellent statistics: he has already become the best scorer in the history of the NBA playoffs, and is also well placed in the assists and rebounds rankings.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
In second place we find the absolute surprise of our survey. We expected, in fact, that Giannis Antetokounmpo , the rising star of NBA basketball, could overcome the first elimination round, but never that he would reach the final and even go close to undermining the first place of LeBron James.
And so it was. The Greek immediately won his first group, beating, albeit slightly, the current outgoing MVP of the league, Russell Westbrook (and wiping out the likes of Chris Paul). Then, in the semifinal, he lined up Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and in the final he collected 30% of the votes .
A Greek in the States
Giannis, as he is informally called by all those who cannot pronounce his difficult surname, was born in Athens in 1994. After only one season in the Greek A2, in 2013 he was fifteenth overall choice at the NBA Draft, being chosen by the Milwaukee Bucks .
Already in his second year in the NBA he started to get noticed, while in the third he started putting some triple doubles on the scoresheet. On the other hand, his tremendously atypical physique allows him to play in multiple roles. 2 and 11 meters tall, he has a rare agility in such a tall athlete, and so he does not disdain to play even as a guard or playmaker.
These out-of-average qualities began to emerge more and more decisively in the second half of last season. He ended the year by entering the top-20 of the players for points, for rebounds, for assists, for steals and for blocks. He also won the league’s most improved player award .
And the new season, on the other hand, started in the best way, with Antetokounmpo able to conquer the front pages of newspapers thanks to a series of excellent performances. Maybe it’s too early to say if the Greek player can really be one of the best players of the season, but he certainly seems to be the most promising one .
3. Stephen Curry
Two very different playmakers arrived in third and fourth place in the ranking, but they share the fact that they won the MVP title of the regular season of the last two seasons. We are talking about Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Curry actually struggled perhaps more than necessary to reach the bottom step of the podium . All this despite the fact that in the quarterfinals, for example, he easily got rid of his opponents, from Paul George down.
Of course, in the group there was also the promise Kristaps Porzingis and the surprise of last year Isaiah Thomas , but the fans seem not to have given too much confidence to the small play that has recently passed from Boston to Cleveland.
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In the semifinal then Curry collided with Westbrook (in addition to James Harden, annoying third uncomfortable). And in that case it was the Oklahoma play that prevailed, with a 38.96% of the votes against 33.65% of the equal role of Golden State. But he took revenge in the final.
Will it still be decisive?
Stephen Curry was also born as LeBron James in Akron, Ohio, but in 1988. Son of former Charlotte Hornets player Dell Curry, he joined the NBA in 2009, chosen by the Golden State Warriors.
For the bay team he has already played almost 600 regular-season games, growing from season to season and above all improving his shooting percentages. With the arrival of Steve Kerr on the bench, he has in fact become the most visible player in the league and certainly the most spectacular 3-point scorer.
This allowed him to win two NBA titles (in addition to a third final, lost against the Cavaliers of LeBron) and as many MVP titles of the regular season , in 2015 and 2016.
Last year his team won the title, but Curry’s contribution was less decisive than in the two previous seasons, due to the arrival of another star, Kevin Durant , whom we will also find in fifth place on our list. .
If up to two years ago, in short, Curry would have perhaps triumphed in our survey, now we wonder if his immense talent will still be decisive , or if his contribution will become only one among that of the many champions on the Warriors roster. For now, and for our readers, it is however in third place on the list.
4. Russell Westbrook
In fourth place, as anticipated, we find Russell Westbrook, the MVP in charge . Many of you think he has the credentials to try to repeat the success of last year, but many others believe that he has in front of him – in addition to the usual LeBron and Curry – also the young Antetokoummpo.
In the final, the ace of the Oklahoma City Thunder obtained 11.5% of the preferences , partly disappointing compared to what he seemed able to gather in the semifinal of the survey. There he had passed Curry as said, and therefore presented himself as James’ main challenger.
It has already been seen that Giannis Antetokoummpo had entered the hearts of the fans more . In the initial group Westbrook – which started in a certain sense from “seed” – had in fact been surpassed by the young Greek. By suggesting that, at least among the fans, times had changed.
The first years in the league
Westbrook was born in the Los Angeles area in 1988, and attended a couple of years of college there (at UCLA). He joined the NBA in 2008, being selected as the fourth absolute choice by the Seattle Supersonics , who immediately moved to Oklahoma City and changed their name to Thunder.
His talent first stood out in 2012, so much so that the following year – together with teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden – he dragged the team to the final with the Miami Heat of LeBron James, however, clearly lost.
The young age of the trio seemed to play in favor of a future success of the Thunder, but something actually broke shortly after. For example, Harden, who married the Houston Rockets, left earlier .
Then, during the playoffs, a disastrous fall by Patrick Beverley while the game was stopped caused Westbrook to break his meniscus and close early a season that seemed destined to see him go all the way again.
Durant’s farewell and rebirth
The last big chance the Westbrook and Durant Thunders had in 2016 when they reached the Conference final against the Golden State Warriors and moved forward on 3-1. The opponents, however, managed almost miraculously to reassemble and eliminate the Thunder.
From there the story has changed. Durant, as we will see, went right to the Warriors, looking for better luck, and in 2016/17 Westbrook found himself alone to support the weight of the “shack”. But he did it very well, writing an extraordinary page in the annals of the game.
Last season, in fact, the playmaker even scored a triple double on average (31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists), equaling the feat of Oscar Robertson, however made more than fifty years earlier, in a completely different basketball.
In that same year he also set the record for the highest number of seasonal double triples , putting 42 on the scoresheet. In practice, he dominated more than half of the regular season games. For this he earned the title of MVP. This year, with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony at his side, will he be able to repeat himself?
5. Kevin Durant
In fifth and last place of our five we find Kevin Durant, who managed to prevail over various players who have touched the access to the final, such as Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Kyrie Irving .
The wing of the Golden State Warriors played last season at very high levels, and was certainly a decisive element in the victory of the title by Steve Kerr’s team. Compared to the previous year it brought more solidity in the games that count, as well as in the final with the Cavs.
In the early stages of our survey, Durant got rid of John Wall and Jimmy Butler, although in the second part he had to submit to the overwhelming power of Antetokounmpo. In the final, then, he closed with 6.17% of the preferences .
Kevin Durant was born in Washington in 1988. He joined the NBA in 2007, being chosen in second place by the Seattle Supersonics. Then came the move to Oklahoma City, the pairing with Russell Westbrook and all the successes – both achieved and missed – that we just talked about.
In the summer of 2016, Durant became an unresticted free agent . That is, he had the opportunity to choose which team to join, whether to the Thunder or elsewhere. After speaking with several companies, he opted for the Warriors, causing a lot of criticism as that team had already dominated the championship for two years.
However, the season on the bay has been truly commendable, with Durant recording the best shooting rates of his already brilliant career. And in the playoffs his team almost made the coat, beating the Portland Trail Blazers, the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs 4-0.
Only in the final with the Cavaliers did the boys of Kerr give up a game, closing anyway with a dry 4-1. And for Durant the title of deserved MVP of the finals has also arrived .
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