Five biggest show-stoppers in the NBA this season
The NBA is no stranger to show-stoppers. A galaxy of basketball stars has entertained throngs of people since the league was conceived.
Glitz and glamour have always been a part of NBA. But, above everything else, talent and skill take the driving seat.
Here is a look at the five biggest show-stoppers in NBA this season.
It’s not surprising to see Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid included on such a list. When he is on his game and playing his best it truly is a pleasure to watch him do his thing.
He can dazzle in the post, deliver thundering dunks, and step out to the perimeter and knock down shots. In addition, his passing has improved and he can surprise with a pretty find.
He can also dominate the glass and control the game defensively, not only using his size but also making some eye-opening plays for a player his size. Add all of that to his infectious personality, and the big man can be must-see TV.
Embiid has shown growth from last year’s All-NBA season, improving in almost every statistical category.
When you take a quick look at this year’s stats, it is really quite amazing to think that he started playing basketball less than a decade ago. To this date, his year-to-year improvement has almost been linear, which is a scary thought for the rest of the NBA.
At 24 years old, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best offensive players on a top-five NBA offense. He's the best defensive player on the No. 1 defense.
As the catalyst of an incredible basketball system, Giannis has led the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
And there's just something especially satisfying about an unassisted driving dunk. It's such a dramatic display of dominance. It's why in many of his best highlights, Giannis looks like a man among boys.
Giannis is the best defender on the team and arguably the most versatile defender in the league. He can protect the hoop. He can guard on the perimeter.
He is a nightmare in transition. His ridiculous mix of size, athleticism and length essentially enables the Bucks to have an extra big man on the floor at all times without getting slower.
Houston Rockets' James Harden can initiate the offense, set up his own drive, and bait an overeager defender into contact.
He has mastered using delayed acceleration to leave his opponents in the dust, and once he gets going downhill he can decelerate faster than anyone.
Combine that with his ball-handling wizardry and it’s no wonder James Harden has flummoxed the rest of the league. Defenders resort to desperation reaches or trying to be overly physical.
Good thing he is also one of the pioneers in the art of exaggerating contact, landing on the feet of defenders, the rip-through move, and any other forms of tomfoolery that lull officials into blowing their whistles.
Many other stars would have faltered amidst a barrage of injuries like the Rockets had in the first half of the season. Harden is not like other stars, however. He put the team on his back to help the team from a rocky start.
It also helps that he weighs around 220 pounds and has a 6-foot-11 wingspan. 'The Beard' is a show-stopper in every sense.
When the Los Angeles Lakers traded their lot of prospects for Anthony Davis, the NBA had a new scare. James was armored once again with a superstar teammate, much like Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love of years past.
Davis is a different type of star, but he’s just as good as any of them; and maybe even better.
On Tuesday night, Davis carried the Lakers and made history a few times over. He became the first NBA player since the shot clock era to score 40 points with 20 rebounds in 30 minutes of playing time.
Davis is no ordinary James teammate. He’s a whole other alien.
What makes Davis so special isn’t merely his near-7’ height or unbelievable wingspan. It’s his ability to possess both those traits while also staying so mobile.
Davis can take the ball up himself and create his own scoring opportunities. He doesn’t have incredible handles, but Davis is a capable dribbler. His size is really the difference-maker.
One move and two steps later, he can be from the three-point arc to the rim. The Brow is his own star.
If one were to nitpick on Kawhi Leonard, it would be that for all his singular greatness as a defender and a scorer, he lagged behind as a playmaker relative to other all-world level talents.
Over the first eight seasons of his career, Leonard never averaged more than 3.5 assists per game, nor did he register an assist percentage better than 19.
Leonard almost single-handedly delivered Toronto Raptors their first ever NBA title in 2019.
Through his first five games for the Los Angeles Clippers, Leonard is not only passing more than he ever has, but they’re resulting in points more often.
But even if the counting stats do take a dip once the sample size grows, that Leonard can orchestrate an offence the way he has, puts him in new airspace - one that makes him one of the NBA’s best, most complete players.
Cover image credits: Clutch Points