So with the All-Star Voting out for the NBA, I figured I’d make a list of the 30 best players on their respective teams. Saturday, I listed the 15-best of the Eastern Conference teams at the link provided by clicking right here. With Sunday providing my day off, this Monday morning you get the best of the Western Conference teams right now! Prepare to disagree.
C Zaza Pachulia – I’m writing my restraining order from the state of Texas with this one, but I have good reason for not picking the team’s leading scorer, Dirk Nowitzki. Let it be known I have a huge respect for Dirk, staying loyal to his team and not eating the cap number like the Lakers are, which is why the Mavericks are in fair playoff contention. His assist numbers, however, I wish could be higher, being the seasoned veteran he is, and on a team averaging middle of the pack in assists already. I give the slight edge to Zaza Pachulia who is averaging the double-double and has appeared in 43 of the 45 games, a couple more than Dirk. When Pachulia has gotten his 20 double-doubles, the team is 12-8, including a huge win over the Warriors. I wouldn’t criticize anyone who puts Nowitzki at one, however.
PF Kenneth Faried – I vote the Mammoth for Denver, in a close-one with Danilo Gallinari, the second time already on this article I’ve nodded away from the leading scorer. Faried is third on his team with 12.5 PPG, but leads his team in rebounds with 8.9 RPG, as well as blocks with 1.1 of those per game. I love the presence of Kenneth Faried and he has to be accounted for at all times by the opposing team.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
PG Stephen Curry – As a matter of fact, I might change this to Brandon Rush…. After a terrible joke, I’ll give it to the frontrunner, in my mind, for the Most Valuable Player award. Curry, once a player down in Davidson, has earned the respect of a whole nation and an entire professional sports league. Curry is averaging an incredible 30.1 points a game, and he leads the team with two steals a game. Not to mention he has 6.6 APG and 5.4 RPG averages as well. Curry, on a team well-assembled by the front office, is the clear-cut best player on the defending NBA champions… And yes, if you disagree, you are in the wrong.
C Dwight Howard – I can’t bring myself to give this nomination to James Harden, a one-way player who leads his team in scoring. I’ll instead give it to the second-best on the team scoring, Mr. Dwight Howard. Howard plays both ends of the floor, leading his team in blocks with 1.6, as well as a team-high in rebounds, a 12.1 average, and he’s putting in 14.4 points a game as well. Howard’s stayed relatively healthy, playing in 37 of the 45 Rocket games this season. And I’d go out on a limb that if Dwight Howard got the same amount of shots James Harden gets, the man shooting 61.2% from the floor would be pressing Harden for that Houston scoring title.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
PG Chris Paul – Now this could be a three-headed race, but DeAndre Jordan’s free throws took him out of it completely, despite being impressive with his rebounding and blocking, as well as averaging a double-double. So in a narrow matchup between Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, I’d give the edge to veteran Chris Paul. He’s close to averaging a double-double with 18.5 PPG and 9.7 APG, which is what any point guard would dream of on a loaded team with talent. I won’t fail to mention Paul’s 2.1 steal average as a team-best, but he’s been more reliable than Griffin, appearing in 38 of the 43 games, with Blake only 30. I’d say Paul is a huge reason why the Clippers are at a 28-16 mark right now.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
PF Julius Randle – Now unlike everybody else, I won’t put Kobe Bryant’s name down here in the name of respect, but I would if it was “Worst Player” honors. Julius Randle is the future of this team, and his name is the only one to come up as “safe” in regards to trade rumors. The Lakers think Randle can turn into a star, which was my second-favorite player in the 2014 Draft of freshmen aside from Jabari Parker. Julius Randle only has a 26.6 minutes per game average coming back from a broken leg, and he’s not getting starts even! He’s the team leader in rebounds with 9.6 a game, and he’s contributing points (10.5 PPG). A big thing, is he’s not turning the ball over! This is technically his rookie year, if you ask me, because his season ended opening night. He’s impressed me for a Davis-eyed rookie, and the Lakers might be right on what they have.
C Marc Gasol – This is an obvious choice for me, despite the talent on the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol leads the team in points (16.7 PPG), second on the team in rebounds (7.2 RPG), tied second on the team in assists (3.8 APG), the team leader in blocks (1.3 BPG), and not to mention he’s exhausted the team-most 35 minutes each game. This is a center with incredible scoring abilities and even better conditioning. I won’t even mention the horrific hypothetical situation for Grizzly fans if Gasol actually left the organization. I won’t be that mean!
C Karl-Antony Towns – Many would probably place Andrew Wiggins in this spot, and with his upside and team-lead in points per game, I wouldn’t call it completely wrong. I’m more impressed with Towns, who leads his team in rebounds a game with 9.7, as well as averaging 1.8 blocks per contest. Towns trails Wiggins by 5 points per game average, but also with five minutes less playing time (Towns averages 29.3 MPG and 15.8 PPG). Towns is my favorite of the two and this is only the beginning for the young man.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
PF Anthony Davis – One of those easy ones. Many regard Anthony Davis as the next best thing, and they might be right. He’s only 22 years old guys! He leads his team in points (23.3 PPG), rebounds (10.3 RPG), and blocks (2.5 BPG)… And the thing is, nobody can even come close to touching him in either of those stats. Anthony Davis is asked to put in the most minutes on a bad team with 35 a night, and I feel sorry for Davis (no relation) for being on such a pathetic team. The team’s currently 16-27 and has a very slim chance of actually making it into the postseason this year. They need to assemble a team around Anthony Davis, or else he’ll bolt just like LeBron did from Cleveland… And unlike LeBron, I don’t think Anthony Davis would be stupid enough to come back to New Orleans.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
PG Russell Westbrook – Now let me begin by saying, many would probably put Kevin Durant in this spot, and I’m okay with that. I’ll give the nod to Russell Westbrook who led the team in assists with 9.8 APG, steals with 2.5 SPG, and he’s played in all 45 games this season for the Thunder, which Durant can’t say. Russell Westbrook’s 23.9 PPG average does trail Durant’s average by about two-and-a-half, but I’d give the nod to Westbrook. Remember, if we took last year into account, Westbrook kept the team in playoff contention and played at a MVP level when Kevin Durant was nursing his foot. If I’m building my team though, I’ll take Westbrook over Durant, but I wouldn’t mock anyone who thought otherwise.
PG Eric Bledsoe – If I was biased, I’d want to give this to Brandon Knight for being the more reliable point guard, playing in nearly a dozen more games and putting in more minutes when asked, but I’ll give this to Bledsoe because his stats are all better than Knight’s. 20.4 PPG to 19.7 PPG of Knight’s, 4.0 RPG to 3.7 RPG, 6.1 APG to 5.1 APG, 2.0 SPG to 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG to 0.3 BPG, 45.3% shooting for Bledsoe compared to 42.4% shooting for Knight. Sorry Knight, but it’s Bledsoe’s team.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
PG Damian Lillard – How this team is 20-26 and not 2-44 after blowing the team up, leaving Lillard all by his lonesome, is beyond me! Lillard’s got a team-high 24.6 PPG, a team-high 6.9 APG, as well as putting in 36 minutes a game, which is sure to be unrelenting on the body. Could you imagine if this team still had players such as Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge? This team would be a serious contender in the West, but nope.
C DeMarcus Cousins – Before I dive in the stats explaining why I put him in rather than Rajon Rondo or Rudy Gay, I’d like to applaud Cousins for his improvement. It seems as if he’s finally matured and taking over things in Sacramento, who is surprisingly in the hunt for a playoff spot this spring. So in addition, Cousins has team-high averages in points (26.7 PPG), rebounds (11.4 RPG), and blocks (1.3 BPG). Not to mention, he’s reliable at the free throw line! He shoots 75% from the free throw line, allowing him to be on the court at the end of games, because teams aren’t playing “Hack-a-Cousins” like they do to the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan or Rockets’ Dwight Howard. I’m sure people will be on board for Cousins here after hearing his free-throw percentage.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
SF Kawhi Leonard – Many regard this man as a MVP candidate up there with Stephen Curry, which I don’t personally believe he comes away with the reward, but just being mentioned in that conversation is a huge round of applause in of itself. Leonard leads the 38-6 Spurs with 20 points per game, as well as the team leader in steals, nearly two a game. On a team with LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and an incredible squad of role players, it’s also a big compliment to be the best player on the Spurs squad. Leonard is only 24 years old and is committed to spending his career with the San Antonio organization, which is a smart career move. Kawhi Leonard, nicknamed “The Klaw”, won’t likely fade away in time, so enjoy it when he’s not locking down your team’s best player.
SF Gordon Hayward – This pick should be more difficult, but Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors have hardly played, while Hayward’s been in every game. Gordon Hayward leads the team in points with 19.8, as well as in assists with 3.6, which we should note the Jazz have spent a ton of first-rounders trying to find an elite point guard. Hayward does a little bit of everything, and does so with the most minutes on the Jazz team. Who knew this white kid from a little school called Butler, would be a NBA team’s best player? Not me! But I thank him for missing that half-court shot.
So these are 15 players noted as the best on their respective teams in the Western Conference. One of the great things about this article is nobody will agree 100% with what I have to say, so I get the privilege of hearing differing opinions and various ways of thinking through articles like these. Please take the time to say what you’d correct in the comment section down below!
And if you haven’t read the Eastern Conference article, I suggest to go back to the top where it was linked to you. Enjoy that as well!