In the previous blog, we tried to cover the probable who can cut for the 1st time in the Eastern Conference. We shall now discuss the stacked Western Conference where the players have leapfrogged the expectations of a lot of experts and we shall name the Top 5 of the lot.
5. Shai Gilgeous – Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder
Current Averages – Games Played – 17, Points Per Game – 20.1, Rebounds – 5.2, Assists – 4.6, Steals – 1.1
Shai has been a star in the making. Since his trade to the OKC Thunder from the LA Clippers, OKC’s front office has made him the face of the Thunder franchise. After the post-departure of Paul George and Russell Westbrook, Shai has made a leap which most of the pundits predicted to make. He saw his rise in the 2019-20 season where Chris Paul and Shai formed a duo and finished 6th Place in the stacked Western Conference where they had a 0.2% probability of making the Playoffs. He signed a $172 million max contract with the Thunder for 5 years showing OKC’s trust in him.
4. CJ McCollum – Portland Trailblazers
Current Averages – Games Played – 20, Points Per Game – 20.4, Assists – 4.4, Steals – 1.1
Robin to the Batman, CJ has always been the second fiddle to Damian Lillard and has been a player to be followed on. CJ has been clutch throughout his life and averages a career of 18.9 points per game. This season, Lillard has had an unusual start to the season where he has been on a slump under the new coach Chauncy Billups. CJ has taken over and has been a constant feature in closing out the games. Can we finally see CJ in an All-Star game? We shall see.
3. DeAndre Ayton – Phoenix Suns
Current Averages – Games Played – 14, Points Per Game – 15.4, Rebounds – 11.5, Steals – 0.9
Ayton as a player was questioned post his Rookie Year if he can live up to the hype of the No.1 pick in the Draft or will he be another draft bust for a No.1 Pick. But it all changed post-Chris Paul trade. He showed his game skills in his sophomore year forming a duo with Devin Booker, but CP3’s arrival changed the whole take on Ayton. With game-winners in the Playoffs to a 1st ever appearance in the NBA Finals, Ayton has been on a rise and has played outstanding in the current run for the Phoenix Suns who are on a 16-game winning streak.
2. Anthony Edwards – Minnesota Timberwolves
Current Averages – Games Played – 20, Points Per Game – 22.1, Rebounds – 6.6, Steals – 1.1
A daily highlight machine. Anthony Edwards has taken a leap of fortune in his sophomore year. Timberwolves sit at the 10th seed in the Western Conference where the trio of D’Angelo Russell, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Edwards has finally got an opportunity to play together and show how they can impact the league. With clutch and strong performances daily, former No.1 pick for the Wolves has not disappointed this season. With a growth spurt this season, Anthony Edwards has solidified himself as the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.
1. Ja Morant – Memphis Grizzlies
Current Averages – Games Played – 19, Points Per Game – 24.1, Assists – 6.8, Steals – 1.6
The leader of the Pack, Ja Morant is arguably the most deserving player to appear on the list. He should have had a break last season itself, but due to an already loaded Western Conference. This season he has been carrying the franchise on his back. Grizzlies comfortably sit on the 8th seed and Morant has been leading all the way.