1. James Harden – Houston Rockets: James Harden is coming off arguably the best season of his career. The 2016-17 season will serve as a way to challenge himself to see if he can top his 29 points, 7.5 assist, and 6.1 rebounds per game and 22 double-doubles. Despite not being the best defensive player, Harden is almost unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball. Harden at times get criticized on his defensive skills but one of the benefits of not playing defense is that you do not get as much contact as others. As a results, Harden was able to start in all 82 games last season. Now with Dwight Howard gone it leaves the star role solely into Harden’s hands.
2. DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan was one of the main reasons why The 6 was happy when they reached the eastern conference finals last season. During the regular season, DeRozan averaged 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4 assist per game. DeRozan focused this summer on fine-tuning his offense and improving on the defensive end. DeRozan along with the Raptors roster will have to remain focus to reach new heights this upcoming season.
3. Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler made a significant jump in the 2014-15 season by averaging over 20 points per game. His performance in the last two seasons has earned him spots on the All-Star roster and the honors of being on the All-Defensive team. His high level of play continued to last season and hopes it rolls over to the coming season as well. With the additions of top caliber players, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, Butler should match if not excel his two previous seasons. With new talent on the roster, the Bulls moved Butler to the small forward position, which is probably a more natural position for him. Butler and his new teammates should make the Bulls run to the playoffs a little more interesting.
4. Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors: Thompson, also known as one of the Splash Brothers, is one of the most efficient shooting guards in the league. He is one of the main reasons why the Warriors reached the Finals two consecutive years and broke so many records in the 2015-16 season. Thompson set a career high in points this past season while the Warriors were having a historic season. The bottom line is that Thompson is a great player to have on any team on and off the court. He doesn’t overstep his boundaries with the star players but is ready to step up when he needs to.
5. C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum has a big season ahead of him as he now has to live up to the $106 million contract that was signed over the summer. McCollum has become a star player in just playing three short seasons. He earned the most improved player in the league after jumping from 6.8 points in the 2014-15 season to 20.8 points per game last season. This young player has had much success playing alongside Damian Lillard. This duo should continue to improve throughout the upcoming season.
Honorable mentions: Dwyane Wade, Khris Middleton, J.J. Reddick, Avery Bradley, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Courtney Lee