2017 NBA Five Percenters: BIG MEN
I usually separate the centers from the forwards, but in today's NBA, there are not too many centers that are worth mentioning as top-five material. I don't want to dilute the term "Five Percenter" by including some players that may not be worthy. So to keep the content rich - and the debates going - I decided to include both power forwards and centers into one big group. This should be interesting.
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans - 75 games, 28 points, 12 boards, 2.2 blocks, 50% FG
2. Boogie Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans - 72 games, 27 points, 11 boards, 45% FG, 36% 3PT
3. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers - 60 games, 19 points, 11 boards, 42% FG, 37% 3PT
4. Karl Anthony-Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves - 82 games, 25 points, 12.3 boards, 54% FG
5. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors - 76 games, 10 points, 8 boards, 7 dimes, 2 steals, 1.4 Blocks
For the first time in his career, Anthony Davis played 70+ games. Davis has been fighting injuries every year in his career but still managed to be considered the best big man in the league. He set new career highs in points, rebounds, and total minutes played. Davis can play either the power forward or center spot, and with Boogie Cousins playing beside him, he'll most likely play power forward. Davis is a player that everyone thinks can be the best big man ever when it's all said and done. We haven't seen a big man that can score the basketball as fluent as AD in a long time. Since 2015, he has ten games with 40+ points and 10+ rebounds, most by any player on this list. The only thing we haven't been able to judge Davis on is winning. The Pelicans have only made the playoffs once in his five seasons. It's time for Davis to take the Pelicans to the next level.
The Kings basically gave Boogie Cousins away last season. Cousins is playing in his home-state but it's no telling he will stay there, as he is expected to be a free agent next summer. For now, Cousins help make up one of the best frontcourts this era of basketball ever seen. Not often do you see the best two scoring big men on the same team? Since 2014, Cousins and Davis have been first and second on the league's top scoring list for big men. Since Boogie is the heavier of the two, he will more than likely play center this season, which is his natural position. Don't be surprised to see these two doing some give-n-go action on the perimeter, or even shooting threes. Whether or not Boogie stays, it will be fun to watch these two BIGS score the basketball.
Kevin Love doesn't get the respect he deserves. Chris Bosh went through the same thing when he played with LeBron, sacrificing his production and talents for the sake of the team. That is the role Love has been playing in Cleveland. We all remember Love's days in Minnesota when he had 54 consecutive double-doubles in 2011. Or his 26 & 12 seasons before being traded to the Cavs. Now Love is a "stretch 4" that has to wait for his opportunities. It will be interesting to see how he fits with Isaiah Thomas at point guard, and if that will bump him up to being the second option. Last season was his best season since coming to Cleveland, averaging more than 10 rebounds for the first time since 2013. It would be refreshing to see Love be able to get back in the paint but for now, he has to sit on that perimeter.
Karl-Anthony Towns is the youngest Five-Percenter this season, only 21-years old (turns 22 November 15th). Towns has 164 starts, never missing a game, and increased his rookie season average by seven points. Like Antetokoumpo, Towns has no ceiling and could eventually end up being the best player in the Association. He led all centers and power forwards in double-doubles with 62, also leading in centers in scoring. He is the only big man on this list that is listed as a center, and if you look at the numbers, he is head above shoulders over the rest of the centers in the league. The Timberwolves have a great unit this season, and if Towns can once again increase his numbers, they will be a top-four seed in the west.
Draymond Green numbers don't show how important he is. On a starting five that include the best scorers in the league, Green plays cleanup man. He does the dirty work and makes sure the unit stays cohesive. And since he has been in the starting lineup, the Warriors have been the best team in basketball. Some like to say that he can't be a #1 on another team but he doesn't have to be, that's not what he is there for. Any time a player can have the impact he has on games while only averaging 10 points, you have to respect it. Ben Wallace never averaged more than 10 points during the Pistons run in the mid-2000s, but he made it four All-Stars games and the Pistons went to two NBA Finals, knocking off the mighty Kobe and Shaq in one. Pay homage to the cleanup guys.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers - Blake will be without Chris Paul, who you can say helped elevate his game. Let's see what he can do being the primary everything for the Clippers.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies - Gasol had his best scoring season last year, averaging 19 points a night. The Grizzlies are going to need another big season from the Big Spaniard if they want to make it out of the west.
Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat - Whiteside got paid the big bucks and didn't disappoint. He set new career highs in points and rebounds, while almost getting the Heat back into the postseason.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks - Millsap was voted to his fourth All-Star game, setting a new career in points but his rebounds and shooting percentage took a hit.