My Top 20 NBA Franchise Players: Part 1
As the NBA Draft approaches, I wanted to take a look at who would be valued highest in a hypothetical NBA re-draft. This is not a player power ranking for 2016. This is looking at who has the most projected value to be a franchise player for years to come. Current skill, age, future potential and fit into the modern NBA were the major factors considered for these rankings.
This will be a four-part series, with five players being revealed each day leading up to the draft. Here goes nothing.
20. Chris Paul
Since Paul entered the league in 2005, he has been the poster boy for the point guard position. He has the 6th highest all-time Player Efficiency Rating (PER) with a staggering 25.68; that’s over a full point ahead of Magic Johnson's career PER of 24.11. Despite his great individual success, he has never gotten past the second round of the playoffs. The teams he has been on have never been the favorites out of the stacked Western Conference, but there is still more to be desired. He will be 32 when he starts his 12th season this year, and if he hasn’t led a team to a championship yet, I don’t see it happening.
19. Andre Drummond
Drummond has seen steady improvement over his four seasons in the NBA thus far. His points per game and rebounds per game have both increased in each year he has been in the league, culminating with an All-Star Game appearance in 2016. Even though the center is a dying art in the modern NBA, he continues to be a valuable asset with his dominate rebounding ability. He led the NBA this season with 14.8 rebounds per game, and that included 4.9 offensive rebounds per game. A large reason he is not higher on this list is his abysmal free-throw shooting. He shot 35.5 percent from the line last season, making him a liability in crunch time. He has clear flaws, but he’ll be 23 to start next season, giving him plenty of time to continue to progress.
18. DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins has been a perfect example of how a bad organization can derail a talented player’s career. The Kings haven’t found any success after the reign of Webber, Stojakovic and Bibby from the early 2000s. In 2011, they found Cousins, who has put up good numbers since he’s been in the league He just came off his best season, finishing 4th in points per game with 26.9. He is the best post-up scorer in the NBA, and he has consistently added range to his game. He may be a bit of a head case, but a change of scenery may help with that. At 26, he still has the potential to experience postseason success.
17. John Wall
Next on the list is Cousins’ college teammate Wall. Much like Cousins, Wall has been plagued by lack of help around him, especially since Bradley Beal can’t stay healthy. That hasn’t stopped Wall from being a productive player thus far. He’s averaged a double-double with points and assists in the past two seasons, and last year, he added good perimeter defense getting him 1.9 steals per game. He has consistently become a better outside shooter, he shot 35 percent from deep last season, but he still needs to improve on that to become a more complete offensive threat. His explosiveness, court vision and sound defense make him a great player to build a franchise around.
16. Andrew Wiggins
Rounding out part one of this list is the first overall selection of the 2014 NBA Draft. Wiggins was seen as a high-ceiling prospect who might struggle in his first couple seasons. That hasn’t been the case, as he won the Rookie of the Year last season and he followed that up with a successful sophomore season, posting 20.7 points per game. He adds solid perimeter defense with his quick feet and elite athleticism. The two glaring faults in his game are his lack of rebounding, and poor three point shooting. He’s averaged only 4.1 rebounds per game and has shot 30 percent from deep over his first two seasons. If he can become a threat to score from the outside, he has a chance to contend for scoring titles for the next decade or so. At only 21, the best is yet to come for Wiggins.