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Every season, there is always a debate about who are the top players in the league. The mistake most make is referring to last season as a reference, which is a futile exercise. This is also not a lifetime achievement award, meaning you do not get credit for past great seasons. The list should be fluid each season. Some names remain on this list but others emerge as well. Here is my top ten players for the first half of the 2019-20 season (no particular order).
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
Stat line: 25.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 10.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 49.1 fg%, 34.6 3pt fg%, 69.4 ft%
James is defying Father Time with his play so far. His passing and court vision is on full display to the tune of nearly 11 assists per game. His play is taken for granted because we’ve consistently seen this from him since year one (yawn). The only thing he hasn’t done is sell popcorn & drinks in the stands. Stay tuned!
Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers)
Stat line: 26.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.9 steals, 46.5 fg%, 37.1 3 pt fg%, 89.0 ft%
Leonard is having his finest all around season in his home coming. He is thriving playing next to Paul George and his new teammates, which isn’t a surprise. His game can assimilate to any style. The Klaw’s defense has been outstanding as well. He has put in the necessary work to improve his weaknesses every season.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Stat line: 37.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.7 steals, 44.6 fg%, 37.3 3pt fg%, 86.0 ft%
Harden is scoring at a mind-numbing pace and on a historic level. He’s leading the league in scoring by a wide margin. On top of that, he’s still rebounding and assisting as well. He puts on a show every night. Say what you will that it’s the system but we haven’t seen this type of scoring binge since Michael Jordan.
Anthony Davis (LA Lakers)
Stat line: 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.6 blocks, 50.4 fg%, 29.7 3pt fg%, 85.9 ft%
Davis is enjoying a fine season now that he’s healthy. Seems like new life was injected in him when he was finally traded from New Orleans. For AD, he’s now playing with LeBron James on a championship contender and everything is good. The Brow is also displaying his defensive prowess, being second in the league in blocked shots.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Stat line: 30.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 55.2 fg%, 32.4 3pt fg%, 61.5 ft%
Antetokounmpo has elevated his game from last year’s MVP season. That’s amazing in itself. It says a lot about his absurd work ethic and hunger to be the best. It’s even scarier to think he has more room to really improve and work on some weaknesses. The Greek Freak is having such a good offensive season, you forget his defense is the strongest aspect of his game.
Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
Stat line: 29.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 44.2 fg%, 36.9 3pt fg%, 84.5 ft%
Young has put the league on notice and silenced his critics with his stellar play. In only his second season, he is not only showing his talent but also an I.Q. that is beyond his years. He’s top five in scoring and assists in the league. The fact that he still can get better is great news for Atlanta. The Hawks definitely have a franchise type player to build around.
Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)
Stat line: 24.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 45.7 fg%, 39.1 3pt fg%, 81.1 ft%
Siakam has taken the torch left by Kawhi Leonard and ignited his level of play. Going from most improved player to All Star is nothing to scoff at. Siakam’s path to this point has been a long one but his perseverance has aided him in this journey. His offense is catching up to his defense, which has been the strength of his game since day one.
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Stat line: 28.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 46.6 fg%, 31.7 3pt fg%, 78.6 ft%
Doncic has put his name in elite status with his savvy play. His numbers have been eye popping along with the triple doubles. The talent was there but his rebounding and court vision have been a revelation. He plays at his own pace and is never rushed. The comparison to Larry Bird is legit and not a reach. He already has a signature move with his deadly step back jump shot.
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Stat line: 27.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 43.9 fg%, 30.9 3pt fg%, 83.3 ft%
Beal is in the midst of his best season as a pro. A lot of things are wrong with the franchise he plays for but he chose to stick with them and sign a long term deal. He’s paying it off with his solid play. Career highs in points and assists are the proof. Always known as just a shooter, he’s showing he’s more than that (especially his passing ability).
Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
Stat line: 25.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 48.0 fg%, 40.6 3pt fg%, 86.0 ft%
Ingram has taken full advantage of being out of LeBron James’ shadow. Having the freedom and green light has done wonders for his game. Ironically, this is what the Lakers thought he could be. His scoring ability was evident but he’s also rebounding and dishing. He’ll need to continue to work on getting stronger but his game is speaking volumes.