Which NBA superhuman holds the crown as the league's most entertaining player?
Sports arguments turn friends into enemies and enemies into people you no longer have any respect for. Basketball is the best sport to debate about because in today's day and age NBA players are some of the most famous people in the planet, and NBA personalities have become such an overwhelming part of the culture that fans have become attached to the personality as much as the athlete. This personal aspect makes basketball debates extra fun and extra damaging to friendships.
So my friends and I recently had a heated debate over Instagram group chat: Who's the more entertaining basketball player, Kyrie Irving or James Harden?
Though they are both top-five guards, each player brings a distinct style with their own special set of moves, so which player is more entertaining is obviously up to one's subjective judgement. That didn't stop us from making objective claims such as, "Kyrie has the nicest handles in the league," "Harden doesn't play defence" (okay, that one's hard to dispute), "I don't wanna watch Kyrie and Horford run a well-executed pick-and-roll," and "Harden has a sexy beard and his step-back three is just as sexy, god dammit!"
Though I was unable to convince my friends that Harden is, in fact, the more entertaining player, I was able to convince myself that writing about the five most entertaining NBA players would be a fun way to take my mind off 2017 things (specifically, Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital). So here goes: the top five most entertaining NBA players right now, based on my subjective viewing habits and personal preference.
#5. PG Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Curry is the best shooter of all time. So there's that.
There's also the fact that three point shots are more exciting than normal jumpers because of the extra time it takes to go through the basket along with the fact that they are worth more. So watching Curry hit threes at a career .435 percent clip sometimes seems impossible, and watching him do it in the most clutch situations on route to two NBA Championships sometimes makes my eyes bleed. Add the fact that he's an elite finisher and passer and was an underwhelming Davidson prospect taken 7th overall with fairly low expectations, Curry's story seems even more unbelievable. But here he is.
#4. C DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans
DeMarcus Cousins is one the most dominant big man in the game. After spending the first six and a half years of his NBA tenure with the sucky Sacramento Kings, he's finally paired up with a second all-star in Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Together the two big men are wrecking havoc on the league, scoring +3.3 points per 100 possessions together the only way two men bordering 7-feet know how to: with pull-up threes and 4-5 lobs, of course.
Cousins was already one of the most entertaining players in the league, but playing alongside David has helped the big man surge to new heights. This season Cousins is averaging 26/12/5 while shooting 47.1 percent from the field, leading the Pelicans to a 15-14 record despite Davis missing time due to injury and the supporting cast resembling the 2002 Raptors.
Cousins's dominance this season has turned New Orleans into his team. The Pelicans currently sit in a playoff spot and Cousins is doing everything in his power to appear in the first playoff series of his career. I can't wait to see playoff Boogie.
#3. PF LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA and had he not been doing this for the past 15 years, he'd be the most entertaining too (unfortunately, things become a little less exciting after 15 years).
At the age of 32, in his 15th season in the league, James has somehow gotten even better averaging a 28/8/9 on 57.8 field goal percentage and 41.1 percent from three leading his less than impressive supporting cast to a 21-8 record.
His combination of size, speed, and athleticism makes James entertaining, but his basketball IQ pushes him over the edge. Some of the passes he makes are unfathomable for most NBA players, as are some of his chase-down blocks and finishes at the rim. Not to mention his ability to go off for 50 points on any given night.
James has also single handedly prevented the Golden State Warriors from completely dominating the past few years, giving relevancy to the NBA Finals (as a Raptors fan I can confidently say I would rather watch LeBron and the Cavs compete with the Warriors every year than see the Raptors get dominated by Curry and Co.).
To sum up my feelings about James, this guy:
#2. PG/SG James Harden, Houston Rockets
James Harden in Mike D'antoni's offence is like a hot chicken wing dipped in a dill sauce: it works really well. Harden's Houston Rockets are currently the best team in the NBA with an 22-4 record, which is largely thanks to Harden's impressive play. After being snubbed of the MVP award last season, Harden is making the most of a second chance leading the league with 31.7 points per game to go along with 5 rebounds and 9 assists, while shooting 40.5 percent on 11 three-point attempts per game. Harden is on pace to have a historically great offensive season, but what makes him so entertaining is not his astounding point totals, or his beard (though we'll get to that later); It's the way he caries himself on the court.
With the swagger of an Asap Rocky music video, Harden never looks lost on the court. When he needs buckets, he can get them in a myriad of ways including his coveted step-back three, which often loses defenders before the shot even goes up.
When he's ready to take a break from getting buckets and wants to impress his beard-adoring groupies in other ways, Harden becomes one of the most lethal passers in the game, making between-the-legs bounce passes and no-look dimes look easy.
Most importantly, Harden has the best beard in the league and is one of the game's most lethal finishers.
In the regular season at least.
#1. SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Antetokounmpo tops this list for a number of reasons, one of them being that I recently came across this wonderful interview from his draft night:
Another reason being that Antetokounmpo is rightly known as the Greek Freak, and with his 7-foot-3 inch wingspan and 12-inch hands he is so freakishly long that he can make it from the three point line to the bucket in two freakishly smooth and gracious steps.
People always say, "If he ever develops a jump shot, he's going to be elite." But Antetokounmpo already is elite, scoring 29.9 points per game on 54.6 percent shooting while averaging 10.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season, all career-highs. Not to mention him coming for LeBron's throne as the king of chase-down blocks.
If he ever develops a jump shot, Antetokounmpo's going to be the best player in the league. He's already the most entertaining.
Joel Embiid: You can read my feelings on "The Process" here.
Kyrie Irving: His dribbling and finishes at the rim are ridiculous, but I just don't really like the Celtics.
Russell Westbrook: Had I done this list a year ago, Russ would have topped it. Unfortunately, this season's Thunder are hard to watch.
John Wall: He's been injured for a large chunk of the season and Beal has stolen the limelight, but come playoff time Wall is a must-watch.
Nikola Jokic: The best passing big man in the game.
OG Anunoby: Easily the best rookie of all time. Leave me alone.
All stats from basketball-reference.com current as of Friday, December 15th.