The game of basketball has been changing since 1949 when the NBA was created and is continuing to evolve. The offensive playstyle today compared to how the game was played in the 1990s is completely different due to the growing use of the three-point shot. The incorporation of this shot has led players like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard to create insane plays that have gone down in history. The offensive aspect has grown tremendously in the past few years, which makes it harder to decipher who the best offensive player is.
In this past season alone 23 players averaged at least 24 PPG (Points per game), which was an all-time high for the NBA. However, scoring is not the only part of the game that becomes the deciding factor in figuring out the best offensive players. Passing, shooting, and the impact a player has becomes a big role in deciphering the best offensive players. With all this in mind, here are my picks for the top 5 offensive players in the NBA:
1) Kevin Durant (29.3 PPG, 6.1 APG, TS% = 66.6%)
Kevin Durant has undoubtedly left a mark on the NBA for being an offensive monster for the past decade. This past NBA season demonstrated what a scoring machine he is, showcasing his fantastic shooting and great leadership. His incredible play during the regular season was elevated during the playoffs, arguably the best player in the playoffs. Durant also delivered some of the best playoff games in NBA history, most of which were against a great defensive team, the Milwaukee Bucks. Although KD fell short this year, there is a certainty that he is nowhere near regressing.
2) Steph Curry (33.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, TS% = 65.5%)
The man himself needs no introduction as he is the greatest shooter of all time. Steph Curry certainly deserves to have a spot on this list. Curry’s MVP level season will go down in history as he was scoring champ once again. Steph delivered an incredible season with his great scoring, shooting, and passing abilities. Steph’s leadership had a huge impact on the Warrior’s offense because they were practically nothing without him. Although Steph played great this season, he fell short of making the playoffs as the Warriors lost to the Lakers and the Grizzlies in the play-in tournament. But make no mistake, as Steph will be back with a vengeance next season.
3) Nikola Jokic (27.5 PPG, 8.7 APG, TS% = 64%)
This 2020-21 MVP did not win the award for his defense, but for his ridiculous offense. Jokic winning MVP allows for the opportunity of big men to be able to rule the league once again. Jokic continued to elevate his game this season and was recognized as one of the best all-around offensive players during the regular season and during the playoffs. Jokic was all over the court as he would get a rebound, throw an amazing pass, and shoot his classic fade-away shot—all in one play. Jokic’s impact on the Nuggets was tremendous as they made the third seed in a tough conference. Jokic managed to do this without the assistance of Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who suffered an injury during the regular season.
4) James Harden (24.6 PPG, 10.8 APG, TS% = 61.8%)
Some people question James Harden on whether he would continue to be the same player on the Nets as he was in previous years with the Rockets. The answer to that question is no… he can be even better. The part of James Harden’s game that gets the spotlight most often is his scoring abilities, as for years he has broken scoring records. However, the one aspect of Harden’s game that gets overlooked is his passing abilities, and he was one of the leaders in the regular season and the playoffs. Although injuries hindered Harden’s full potential this season, he still has the capability to be a top-three offensive player once again.
5) Damian Lillard (28.8 PPG, 7.5 APG, TS% = 62.3%)
This clutch god never needs to prove himself, since we all know what happens during Dame Time. Known for his ridiculous highlight reels consisting of deep threes, Damian Lillard continues to amaze us all. His scoring abilities in the final minutes of games are unmatched by any other player in the NBA. Dame did not disappoint as he put on a show this entire year with his shooting, scoring, and passing abilities. He has continued to elevate the Trail Blazers but unfortunately, he fell short once again as he lost during the first round of the playoffs. This could potentially mean the end of Lillard in Portland, but he certainly will not disappoint us no matter what team he plays for.
Honorable Mentions: Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lebron James
The direction the NBA is heading towards is quite fascinating, with all these new styles of offense that are coming to the game. Basketball is always evolving and certainly isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Nikola Jokic, James Harden, Damian Lillard, as well as plenty of other talented players are the reason that the NBA is so enjoyable to watch. These players also prove that the way offense is played in the NBA will only continue to grow.
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