Anderson (7.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.7 APG) is deliberate in virtually everything he does, whether it’s pushing the ball in transition, executing a frame-by-frame Eurostep, or acclimating to life in the NBA. His abrasive personality might be tough to handle — Timberwolves fans are aggressively nodding in agreement — but "Jimmy Buckets" is a competitor at heart and not afraid of the big moment.

You make do. The memory of Minnesota Love isn’t just five years old, but a relic of a different time altogether. His leadership and effort on a nightly basis left something to be desired, yet he still landed on an All-NBA Team. Come summertime, does he re-sign in New Orleans on a max deal? A full, uncomplicated recovery can’t always be taken on faith.

If Wall can make meaningful strides as an inclusive and empowering leader both on and off the court, the Wizards are far more likely to reach their playoff ceiling.

But as he prepares to lead a new team of prospects and misfits in a fame-obsessed metropolis, it’s clear that time hasn’t yet come. (Batum 11.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.5 APG) may be regarded as a scorer, but last season he barely scraped into double digits while posting an Evan Turnerian true shooting percentage (52.1%). Andre Roberson is similarly unidirectional, albeit on the opposite track; the only time a defense even pays attention to Roberson’s movement is when he’s headed toward the rim. The result is often so impressive—and so improbable—that you forget that the peril was of Dragić’s own making. Here’s a more compelling hypothetical: How far could Lillard and McCollum go together if GM Neil Olshey ever gave them a league-average supporting cast? His immense basketball intelligence, extraordinary skill, unprecedented longevity as an elite player, and capacity for raising his game in the postseason and in late-game moments demand it. Anderson’s biggest weakness—poor outside shooting—is a critical one, but he has developed workarounds: He has a strong understanding of team spacing, he stays active off the ball, he moves hard into passes to launch unexpected attacks on the paint, he sprays drive-and-kick passes to all corners and he has a quirky and well-honed array of turnarounds, floaters and runners. His passing and vision—hailed as elite by pre-draft analysts—lived up to the hype. At 19, he was drafted outside the lottery and spent his rookie season looking lost. But attaching a defender to deny Porter shots will still serve his intended purpose, making life that much easier on the creators around him. But to be fair, it doesn’t have to. Covington (12.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG) warps around the court like a podcast played at double speed, he relishes contact like a middle linebacker, and he shadows scorers feint-for-feint like a professional dancer. No playoff team would use Vucevic (16.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.4 APG) in this way, but the Magic—even after five straight years in the lottery—are short on viable alternatives. Same for the Cavaliers, who had even less of a chance given their weaker perimeter personnel. Sure, Durant on the Warriors is unfair. But regaining his footing in that conversation requires more than just flashing his incredible athleticism, maintaining his improved three-point percentage, and recommitting himself on the defensive end. Going forward, Rozier is an obvious trade chip: He’s equipped to become a full-time starter because he’s trustworthy with the ball, he’s improved his three-point shot, he’s tenacious on defense, and he’s gotten a good taste of the limelight.

With a new superstar playmaking partner, shooters on all sides, and an excellent lob finisher in the middle, Harden had everything he needed to carve up defenses with his ultra-efficient diet of threes, free throws and lay-ups. Love is not a primary scorer for a playoff-caliber team. — RM. They’d want someone who’s easy to play with, like a pass-first wing player who also happens to be one of the best three-point shooters in the league. What keeps him buoyant is his playmaking. From an impact perspective, Horford is only a few degrees removed from Draymond Green. Gibson has made a career of it. — BG. Age may have restricted how and when Gasol can be of help, but coaches tend to find a place for those who understand the symphony of the game. He is a star built for these times—both fully capable of taking a team over the top and fully aware of how much help it takes to win. 1? But he hit a familiar hard ceiling in the playoffs, outmatched and, at times, embarrassed by Houston’s premier backcourt. Nine members of our Staff were involved in these particular rankings. The latest was a bone intrusion in his left heel, addressed through surgery back in January. All sorts of lineups make sense when George can defend the best player across three positions. There is an immutable baseline value for a career 42 % three-point shooter who can hold his own defensively. 1 pick to become the player and teammate everyone has hoped for, but he remains a worthy option as a starting center. —BG. What’s more, he was strong enough on the boards that New Orleans was able to play its preferred smaller lineups, even in the playoffs. As the season progressed, his signature pick-and-pop game was supplemented by fake-and-drive action that allowed him to use his length to finish in one-on-one scenarios. Just a standard 23.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds on 48.7 percent shooting (40.1 percent on 3-pointers). Seeking a value play to make up for the Chandler Parsons debacle, Memphis poached Anderson with a four-year, $37 million contract in July. Kyrie Irving might be a better and more exciting ball-handler than Lillard, but he’s had consistent health problems and likely wouldn’t fare much better when surrounded by lineups with two or three holes. Regardless of what happened behind closed doors or on the training table, Leonard is solely responsible for months of poor communication, for his ill-fated “Spur for life” press conference, and for the distracting “Uncle Dennis” chatter.