An Introductory Note from Jack Martin, aka The Flow
I couldn't be more excited as Burbs Entertainment enters our second season covering the NBA. For over eight months, my good friend Ralph James (The Fro) and I have put our fandom, which is intrinsic to our core happiness, out to the world across 50-plus podcasts and a myriad of articles and tweets.
Last Friday, we sat in the back of Ralph's living room and opened up a Google Doc, promptly titled "one hunnid". A D'Angelo Russell poster and recently broken "water pipe" watched over us and provided guidance as we organized (what we believe to be) the 100 best players in the NBA heading into the 2019-20 season.
With that being said, we present to you our list. It will be updated throughout the season and, as always, fan feedback is encouraged. We want this to be an interactive list, and while we may not incorporate all of your thoughts due to our intellectual superiority (jk, kinda), "The Fro and The Flow" is the pod of the people.
1. LeBron James
Martin: Hate on him all you want, LeBron is still the best player in the league. His debut season with the Lakers led to heightened turmoil and no postseason, but Bron averaged 27/8/8 during a year in which he was largely considered to be on cruise control. Entering Year 17, LeBron is clearly hungry for success, and with Anthony Davis as his sidekick, he's going to remind everyone why he's the best in the league (and ever).
Ralph: We know that LeBron isn't the popular pick as the best player in the world right now given Giannis's historical MVP run last season, and Kawhi's MJ-esque playoff performance, but when a basketball analyst considers all of the strengths and weaknesses of a player's game; LeBron has the most strengths and the least amount of weaknesses. He's been the best basketball player in the world for nearly a decade and a half, and we fully anticipate him to continue his reign as the GOAT this season while he plays alongside the best teammate he's ever had in Anthony Davis.
2. Kevin Durant
Ralph: Even though KD probably won't see the court this season, he's still towards the top of our list because of how much he impacts the landscape of basketball. The league has never seen anybody like him, and probably won't ever again. So we're paying our respects to the Most High (or the Most Lanky, whichever term you prefer) by putting him at #2 on our list, a spot that he's beyond familiar with and very vocal about despising.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Martin: It can definitely be argued that Kawhi should be in this spot, but Giannis is the reigning league MVP, so he gets the nod. The Greek Freak is still learning how to improve his game and if that jumper starts to fall, it'll be devastating for opponents. As LeBron and KD start to reach the end of their primes, Giannis will easily take over as the best in the league.
4. Kawhi Leonard
5. James Harden
Ralph: It's my firm belief that James Harden will lead the league in points per game once again this season. I don't think there's a single person I enjoy watching isolate a helpless defender more than James Harden. And now that he's added a one-footed three-pointer to his arsenal, my drooling over him is only going to be multiplied.
6. Anthony Davis
Ralph: Anthony Davis is the most talented 7-footer in the league not named Kevin Durant. His jumper: pure. His post-game: lethal. His defensive ability: one-of-a-kind. His handle: smooth. If he can be the MVP caliber player that the Lakers and the rest of the league are anticipating him to be, then LA will be more than satisfied at the end of the year with the deal they made to acquire him this past offseason.
7. Stephen Curry
Ralph: My long-time hatred for Stephen Curry has come to a bittersweet end. It's bitter because there isn't a player in the league now that I can wholeheartedly hate on for his childish antics while his team is blowing the opponent out by 30. And it's sweet because now I can enjoy Steph for what he is; the greatest shooter in the history of the game, and a joy to watch handle the rock.
8. Joel Embiid
9. Paul George
10. Damian Lillard
11. Nikola Jokic
Ralph: The Chunky Serbian Larry Bird is going to be tossing no-look dimes and touch passes all season long in the Mile High City.
12. Kyrie Irving
Ralph: I've said it before and I'll say it again: Get your cameras ready, cause Kyrie is going to put on a Hoopmixtape caliber performance this season with KD on the sideline. He has the best handle in the league, and is widely regarded as one of the best players ever when it comes to finishing around the rim in a versatile fashion. I can't way to see how Brooklyn deploys him and utilizes his other-worldly abilities, and I truly hope that things don't go as poorly in New York as they did in Boston for the basketball purist that is Uncle Drew.
13. Rudy Gobert
14. Russell Westbrook
15. Karl Anthony-Towns
Martin: KAT is underrated. He's 23 and coming off a season in which he averaged 24.4 points and 12.4 boards on 51.8/40.0/83.6 shooting splits. Minnesota isn't the best basketball environment to contend, but who knows, maybe he can lead them to a successful season. KAT's defense has also improved; he'll be top-10 by year's end. Did I mention he's only 23?
16. Klay Thompson
17. Jimmy Butler
18. Bradley Beal
Ralph: I pray that Bradley Beal can be traded away to some team that has a chance at playing for the title. Him being stuck in the purgatory that is the Washington Wizards franchise is an abysmal use of his talent, and he deserves better. I know it may take a John Wall add-on for him to be traded anywhere, but how cool would it be if he were traded to the Nuggets and they became the favorite in the West? Or even to the Lakers, for a Kuzma as the centerpiece package?
19. Blake Griffin
20. Donovan Mitchell
Martin: I was in the "Donovan for ROY" camp and I haven't looked back. Mitchell didn't make the All-Star team last year and might not have made the jump some were expecting him to, but he still led the Utah Jazz to the fifth-seed in the West despite being their only true go-to scorer. The offseason addition of Mike Conley will allow Mitchell to play off-ball a lot more, in turn increasing his scoring output and efficiency.
21. Ben Simmons
Martin: If Simmons starts hitting threes when he needs to, the Sixers will probably win the Finals.
22. Devin Booker
23. Luka Doncic
24. Kemba Walker
25. C.J. McCollum
26. D’Angelo Russel
27. De’Aaron Fox
28. Victor Oladipo
29. Zach LaVine
Martin: Look, I know this seems like a high ranking. Hear me out: Zach LaVine is going to be in contention for the scoring title and be an All-Star doing it. You'd never know he tore his ACL watching him and with a competent Bulls team around him, this is going to be the year he breaks out.
30. Kristaps Porzingis
Ralph: The Latvian Gangbanger is going to be dripping threes all the way from Austin, Texas, and swatting shots into the lap of Mark Cuban during his time in Dallas. He'll be a blast to watch alongside one of the premiere young playmakers in the league in Luka Doncic.
31. Jrue Holiday
32. Nikola Vucevic
33. DeMar DeRozan
34. Jamal Murray
35. Chris Paul
Ralph: I'm a firm believer in Chris Paul, and refuse to believe that his status as a top five point guard in the NBA is coming to an end. I think that he can will the Thunder to a playoff spot with his genius basketball IQ, and his tenacity for winning games.