Each NBA franchise has several exceptional talented basketball players in their respective locker rooms. However, one stands above the rest as the best player on each team. For some teams like the Bucks, Nets, and Lakers, there are at least two, potentially three, superstars that stand out from the rest.
Only one player can stand supreme as the true face of the franchise. With that said, here is the best player for each NBA franchise.
Atlanta Hawks - Trae Young
In his first All-Star appearance, Young averaged 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game. Per 100 possessions, that translated to 30.2 points. What is holding Young back are his turnovers. Per 36 minutes, Young averaged 4.9 turnovers for a 17% rate of the time. Young doesn’t have to do everything this year because the Hawks brought in plenty of role players. However, Young showed glimpses of becoming Atlanta’s version of Russell Westbrook and that has to excite the state of Georgia.
Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum
Tatum finished last season with a line of 23.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.4 steals are solid. This likely isn’t even his ceiling as he is just 22 years old. However, we often forget because Tatum came into the league producing right away. . At 6-foot-8 and 204 pounds, there are concerns that Tatum is fragile. However, even with his physique, he is a great rebounder. He can shoot from outside the arc (40.3%) but does better when the ball is distributed to him. With Year 4 set to begin this year, this will be Tatum’s year to separate himself as the true alpha on the team.
Brooklyn Nets - Kevin Durant
Kyrie Irving had a chance to prove himself as an alpha, but he fizzled out in Boston. Until there is any reason to believe otherwise, this is KD’s team. If Durant didn’t get hurt in the NBA Finals in 2019, the Nets might have been a contender last season, but he had to sit out the whole season to heal from an Achilles injury. Durant is a former four-time scoring champion. Some might have forgotten that in his last season with the Warriors, Durant averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, shot 88.5% from the free-throw line, and 52.1% from the field.
Charlotte Hornets - Devonte’ Graham
Just because the Hornets gave Gordon Hayward $100 million doesn’t mean he is the best player just yet. Hayward has a lot to prove until he gets “top dog” honors. Graham is still the point guard on the depth chart for good reason. In his rookie season, Graham averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists. Graham has a solid all-around game. Graham is a solid passer, distributor, and can hit a three-point shot (37.3%). While LaMelo is a great addition to the team, Graham showed he is way too integral to sit on the bench.
Chicago Bulls - Zach LaVine
Last year, LaVine finished with a career-high 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. Per 100 possessions, his stats grew to 35.3 points per game. As a pure scorer, LaVine is one of the best and the heart of the Bulls offense. Without LaVine, it would be tough to tell how many points the team would score. While LaVine shows signs of being a high-flying potential guard in the NBA, he is limited as a defender and rebounder. He’s not yet a knockdown shooter from outside, and his 38% shooting from three-point range is suspect given the volume of shots he takes. In the end, LaVine was snubbed from the All-Star Game last year and could push for an invite this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Kevin Love
Love is the last remaining core piece of the championship years. Even at the age of 32, he is the team’s best player on paper. He is one of the best corner three-point shooters in the league. He converts on 45.3% of corner threes when attempted. Love’s best hope is to get traded out of Cleveland and contend somewhere else, but it will be hard to find a team that takes on his contract.
Dallas Mavericks - Luka Doncic
At 6-foot-8 and 218 pounds, he can do just about anything on the floor. After averaging near triple-double numbers with 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists, Doncic made the All-NBA First-Team. With another year of experience under his belt, Doncic could push for MVP. If Doncic can limit his turnovers, which averaged 4.3 last year, he will be unstoppable.
Denver Nuggets - Nikola Jokic
The Nuggets have intriguing options with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. on the rise. However, consistency proves that Jokic is not only the best center in the league but also the team’s best player. He’s an elite shooter standing at 7-foot-0 and 250 pounds. “The Joker” assisted on 35% of the team’s offensive plays last season. Combine that with his 19.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals, this could be one of the best centers we have ever seen.
Detroit Pistons - Blake Griffin
It’s hard to reward someone that has played over 33 games in a season just one time over the last four seasons. However, when Griffen is healthy, he averages close to 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. The Pistons have a rough-looking roster and if Griffin doesn’t play, the team could be a contender for the No. 1 overall pick in 2021.
Golden State Warriors - Stephen Curry
Even if Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were healthy, this is Curry’s team. Despite playing five games last season Curry gets the nod given how poor the Warriors played in his absence. In Curry’s last full season, he shot from three-point range 60% of the time and made 43% of those shots. That also includes a +13.2 rating when Curry takes the floor, which is nearly double of what Damien Lillard or James Harden has. Even without Thompson and Green, the Warriors are a playoff team if Curry is on the floor.
Houston Rockets - James Harden
Harden’s stock keeps dropping with his off the court antics. However, if we see through the fog, we will remember that Harden is a top-10 player in the league. Harden led the league in scoring with 34.3 points per game. He finished with the second-best player efficiency rating (29.11). He led the league in free throws attempted per game (11.8), was fourth in field games made (9.9), and seventh in assists (7.5). Having a healthy John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins could boast this Rockets team as a contender only if Harden believes in this team.
Indiana Pacers - Domantas Sabonis
His 50 double-doubles out of 62 games last season ranked third in the league only to Hassan Whiteside and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Sabonis had a career season averaging 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds on route to his first All-Star appearance. His rebounding mark ranked fourth overall. For a near 7-footer, Sabonis is quite nimble in the paint and has proven that he can hit from three-point range. While there are concerns about Victor Oladipo’s health coming back, we know what we can expect with Sabonis.
Los Angeles Clippers - Kawhi Leonard
Paul George would be a No. 1 on any other roster, but in the end, “Playoff P” has failed to live up to expectations in recent years, while Leonard is a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Leonard is one of the most complete players on Earth. He is an All-NBA Defensive Team candidate every year. Last season, Leonard averaged a career-high 27.1 points and 4.9 assists. Then, he converts 88% of his free throws. He could go down as legendary if he leads the Clippers to their first NBA title and his third NBA title with his third NBA team.
Los Angeles Lakers - LeBron James
There is a solid argument out there for someone that believes that Anthony Davis is the best player on this team. However, Davis put up similar numbers last season as he did in New Orleans. The fact of the matter is that Jrue Holiday is no LeBron James. LeBron makes his teammates better, leads the league in assists, and can score over 25.0 points per night. LeBron is the perfect complement to Davis and sets him up to play at a higher level.
Memphis Grizzlies - Ja Morant
It only took one season for Morant to become the face of Memphis. Morant won NBA Rookie of the Year last season and showed glimpses of becoming the next John Wall in the NBA. At 6-foot-3, 175-pounds, Morant does whatever he wants with the ball. It could be inside the lane, outside the arc, or making a tough angled pass to one of his teammates. Morant simply makes Memphis’ players better. He assisted on 35% of the offensive plays last season as a rookie. Who does that?
Miami Heat - Jimmy Butler
While Bam Adebayo is an All-Star caliber player, Butler brings more to the table. Butler is the bonafide leader of this Heat crew with his strong leadership, two-way abilities, and hard work. The advanced analytics say it all. When the Timberwolves made the playoffs, the team was +8.8 when Butler was on the court. Last year, Butler translated for 6.3 offensive shares, while the Heat was +5.8 when he played. He is one of the toughest players in the league that doesn’t get rattled by pressure. He braces for the big moments and should keep the Heat relevant as long as he is there.
Milwaukee Bucks - Giannis Antetokounmpo
How would you have reacted if you saw Khris Middleton’s name up here? Middleton is a two-time All-Star, but this is Giannis’ team, especially after signing a super-max contract. Last year, Giannis was fifth in the league in scoring (29.5), second in rebounds (13.6), first in double-doubles (56), and first in performance efficiency rating (31.94). The Bucks were +15.8 when Giannis was on the floor. There is nobody that can stop a 6-foot-11, 242-pound big man. Giannis will be in contention to win his third straight MVP, which has only been done by Larry Bird from 1984 to 1986.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns
Eventually, Towns needs to show he can lead a franchise because, without Jimmy Butler, the T-Wolves have proven nothing. He is slowly turning into the Minnesota version of Kevin Love. For now, his numbers are simply better than the rest of the roster. Towns averaged 26.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and shot 50.8% from the field. He passes well for a big, averaging 4.4 assists. Defensively, he showed great promise as a shot-blocker after averaging 1.2 blocks.
New Orleans Pelicans - Brandon Ingram
This could be a short-lived stay for Ingram because Zion Williamson is back and fully healthy. However, Williamson has a small sample size, so we have to lean towards the player that played a full season last year. Ingram is the reigning Most Improved Player of the Year winner after averaging 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and shot 39.1% from the three-point range. Zion’s numbers when he played were impressive. He just has to stay healthy, and this spot will open up quickly.
New York Knicks - RJ Barrett
It’s pretty tough being a Knicks fan these days. There are no players on this roster that would make a top-100 ranking. However, Barrett shows the most promise on the team to be a potential star in the league. As a rookie, Barrett averaged 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 steals and shot over 40% from the field.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Now that the Thunder traded away Chris Paul, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, while Danillo Gallinari left via free agency, it leaves the 22-year old as the last remaining core piece of the team’s playoff run. Last year, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points and shot 47% from the field, including 36% from three-point range. His stats may not pop out that much this season because teams will be narrowing in on him, but from a talent perspective, he is the best player on the team.
Orlando Magic - Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic is coming off a season where he averaged 19.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. Vucevic has averaged a double-double in six of his eight seasons with the Magic. For a big man, he converts on 78% of his free throws, which is an impressive number for a center. He has a solid frame, standing at 7-foot-0 and 260 pounds. On title-contending teams, he would maybe be their second-best player, but make no mistake, Vucevic can contribute on offense and defense on any team.
Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid
Some fans probably battle between Embiid and Ben Simmons, but this is a pretty easy debate. Offensively, Embiid is a gifted offensive specimen. He averaged 23.0 points and 11.6 rebounds last season. In four consecutive seasons, Embiid has averaged over 36.0 points per 100 possessions. Not to mention, Embiid averaged 33.1% from the three-point range, which is higher than the 28.6% Simmons shot in limited opportunities. “The Process” is the main man in Philly.
Phoenix Suns - Devin Booker
Chris Paul makes the Suns better. Deandre Ayton makes the Suns better. In the end, the Suns will go as far as Devin Booker takes them. Booker averaged 26.6 points and 6.6 assists last season. Booker had his highest offensive rating (115) per 100 possessions in his career last year. He is truly an offensive genius with the ball, equating to 6.0 offensive win shares, and is used 30% of the time in the offense. If Booker can average close to 30.0 points per game next season, look to see Booker land some MVP votes.
Portland Trail Blazers - Damian Lillard
Lillard averaged 30.0 points per game last season, which included a 40.1% shooting clip from three-point range. On top of that, he threw in a career-high 8.0 assists. He is one of the best shooters from deep range and the numbers prove that. Lillard shot from three-point range exactly 50.0% of the time and cashed in 40.1%. Also, he led the league in offensive win shares with 10.9. It was the third straight season that Lillard accumulated at least 9.7 win shares in a season. He is integral to the Trail Blazers and should be respected from all parts of the court.
Sacramento Kings - De’Aaron Fox
Fox has never made an All-Star appearance in his career, but this could be his first year. In his third season, Fox averaged 21.1 points and 6.8 assists. Per 100 possessions, Fox averages a double-double for points and assists. The Kings are continuously a rebuilding project, but Fox will try and turn the team’s fortunes for the better in 2020-2021.
San Antonio Spurs - DeMar DeRozan
The all-time leader in points for the Toronto Raptors has plenty of games to offer the world of basketball. At just 31-years old, DeRozan gave the Spurs a line of 22.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. He has this ability to get opposing defenders in foul trouble, get to the line, and convert 84.5% of his free throws. The Spurs are going to be borderline playoff contenders if DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge stay healthy.
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry
Pascal Siakam is an easy choice, but when the Raptors are playing their best basketball, it has everything to do with Lowry playing his best basketball. Lowry is a great shooter. Last season, he had his best scoring output (25.9) per 100 possessions in four seasons. Occasionally, he is a streaky three-point shooter, while he is very clutch in the postseason. Lowry will be in the mix to make his seventh straight All-Star team this season, as well as the defensive floor general that helped the defense rank No. 1 in the league.
Utah Jazz - Donovan Mitchell
Rudy Gobert is one of the best defenders to ever play his position, but he’s not the reason why the Jazz stay in ball games. It has everything to do with Mitchell and his ability to score at any part of the court at any given time. In the playoffs, Mitchell showed glimpses of his greatness, which included outbursts of 57 and 51 points. This was all with Mitchell standing at just 24 years old.
Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal
Beal led the league in field goal attempts by taking 22.9 per game, while his 10.4 field goals made per game ranked third in all the NBA. The team acquired former MVP Russell Westbrook, but the Wizards will play better if Westbrook plays as the team’s No. 2 option. Westbrook is too erratic and has a terrible shooting percentage. When Beal was alone, he averaged 30.3 points in a season. At 27 years old, Beal has a higher ceiling than Westbrook.