The Best of the Rest (In Alphabetical Order)
Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver – Both players were All-Stars in 2014-2015, but some of that certainly had to do with team success. Teague has ascended into the conversation and as a top-10 point guard and Korver is the second-best shooter on the planet. Not a bad combination.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert – Irving carries this duo, but Shumpert isn’t quite good enough to make up the difference. Personally, I’m likely lower on Kyrie than most pundits, but at worst, he is an elite offensive player and Shumpert proved his worth down the stretch of last season.
Phoenix Suns – Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe – Knight and Bledsoe are almost interchangeable, and while neither is a “star”, both are solidly above-average. It will be interesting to see how they coexist in the long-term, but Phoenix could have something with their versatility and quickness.
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan – What Kyle Lowry are we getting? There was a stretch when Lowry was operating as a fringe top-5 point guard in the league, but he struggled badly in the second half of last season, and injuries have always been a concern. DeRozan is an intriguing wing that could continue to grow.
Washington Wizards – John Wall and Bradley Beal – This is the “shocker” in that Wall and Beal are usually near the top of everyone’s list and Washington’s duo was prominently involved in last year’s controversy. For me, this is about Beal falling a bit short of the way he is perceived. At the age of 22, he is a very intriguing prospect, but Beal has never posted even a league-average PER (14.3 is his career best) while struggling to crack 52% in true shooting and averaging just 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per 36 minutes. Wall is actually underrated by many folks (he is an elite point guard), but they couldn’t crack the top five (although they would be sixth) in the present, even if the upside is huge with Beal.
Next: 5. Houston Rockets