With NBA season a little more than a month away, many people began to analyze and predict who will lead in certain statistical categories. For sure the battle for the rebound crown will come down to Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan. Will Rajon Rondo keep his assist crown? Or will someone like Chris Paul or John Wall take it from him? Hassan Whiteside is more than likely going to continue to be the best shot-blocker in the league. The most looked at statistical category is points. For the 2015-16 NBA season, Stephen Curry led everyone in scoring with an outstanding 30.1 PPG.
However, he is a lot less likely to lead this season. With the addition of Kevin Durant, Curry doesn't have to score as much. There should be a new player scoring a barrage of points night in and night out for their respective team. Kevin Durant has four scoring titles and is unlikely to win a fifth because of team he is on. The race for the scoring title this year is hopefully a lot more interesting now, and should hopefully draw more attention. The scoring title has been neglected and not as talked about the past few years.
Here are my predictions for the top 15 scorers in the NBA
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15 Klay Thompson
The first member of the Golden State Warrior on the list is one half of the Splash Brothers. Klay Thompson is a much better all-around player than Stephen Curry. Obviously, he is one of the best three-point shooters of all-time, but he can do much more than that. He is able to get a lot more shots inside the three-point line. For the 2015-16 season, Thompson finished top-15 in scoring. He averaged 22.1 PPG good enough for twelve in the NBA. If he were to ever eventually leave the Warriors, he can easily lead and carry a team to success. However, the Warriors team now with Kevin Durant should lead to Thompson averaging a little less points. That's not to say that Thompson will not contribute. The Warriors are perhaps the biggest threat in the NBA coming into this season and Thompson is one of the reason for that.
Projected PPG: 21.5
14 Kawhi Leonard
The best defender in the NBA improved his scoring dramatically this past season. Kawhi averaged his career high in points at 21.2 PPG this past season. He is one of the league's best two-way players as he has finally got the scoring touch consistently and he can shutdown almost every team's best player. Kawhi Leonard was a Most Valuable Player candidate this year, and finished second to Stephen Curry. Shockingly, Leonard received no first-place votes making Stephen Curry the first ever unanimous MVP in league history. Leonard and his Spurs once again will be competing for a championship as they always do, and it will be up to Kawhi to see if they can pull it off. Without Tim Duncan this season, the Spurs will rely heavily on Kawhi Leonard to produce some strong numbers on the offensive side of the ball.
Projected PPG: 22.0
13 Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is one of basketball's most consistent scorers of all-time. In his 13 year career, Anthony has never averaged less than 20 PPG. An accolade only accomplished by Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan. Yet people still seem to dislike this guy. He has only won the scoring title once in his career. That was in the 2012-13 season where he averaged 28.7 PPG. Much like LeBron, Carmelo is going to get a shot no matter what. It isn't always the best shot, but it is a shot nonetheless. He and his Knicks team this year will be much better, and he has players such as Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis on his team to take off the scoring load. Regardless of of people feel towards Carmelo Anthony, there is not denying this guy's ability on the court and this season, Anthony will continue to put up some solid numbers.
Projected PPG: 23.5
12 DeMar Derozan
DeMar Derozan has one of the NBA's most unique scoring games. Derozan is not a very good perimeter player, so he relies on slashing to the basket. His game is similar to Grant Hill. He and his point guard teammate Kyle Lowry led the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. For the 2015-16 NBA season, Derozan averaged a career high in points with 23.5 PPG. The Raptors have won their division three straight years, and have a shot at doing it again. However, they have hard work ahead of them with the Knicks and Celtics both making game-changing roster improvements. Derozan will have to step it up even more with the improved competition but with a Raptors team looking to once again take s run at the Finals, look for Derozan to help lead the charge for this team.
Projected PPG: 24.2
11 Anthony Davis
The "Brow"Anthony Davis is expected to lead the league in to the future in the next few years. Unfortunately, his first few seasons in the NBA have been riddled with injuries. Last season he missed the last fourteen games because of injury. However, he did have the highest scoring game last season with a remarkable 59 points and 20 rebounds. He finished seventh in scoring averaging 24.3 PPG. He and his New Orleans Pelicans are going to be fighting for playoff spot. He needs to carry them at a very high level. Without him, the Pelicans are going to be a very below average team. Davis will serve as the cornerstone of the Pelicans offensse and needs to remain healthy this coming season in order for New Orleans to stand a chance. In order for Davis and the Pelicans have a successful season, Davis must be an MVP candidate.
Projected PPG: 24.9
10 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving proved in the Finals that he is still up there as a member of the upper echelon of point guards. He absolutely destroyed Stephen Curry and helped lead Cleveland to their first championship. He missed some of last season because he was recovering from an injury he suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals. His numbers were down in the season as he never really caught any rhythm. He averaged the least amount of points since his rookie season with only 19.6 PPG. His numbers in the playoffs were much better. He averaged six points more and hit the championship winning shot over Stephen Curry. This proved that Irving was not hampered by his injury and can still be a top PG in the league. This season, Kyrie Irvin will be looking to regain his regular season form while coming off the success of his playoff performance.
Projected PPG: 25.1
9 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is now the "man" in Chicago. In the off-season Chicago dumped Derrick Rose in favoUr of Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo. Butler is not the best shooter, but does a great job of getting to the foul-line, and getting to the hoop. He averaged 20.9 PPG this season in only 67 games played. He made the All-Star team and played on Team USA this off-season. The Bulls' season is dependent on how far Jimmy Butler can carry them. He has to play above an All-Star level for them to make the playoffs. That team much like the Knicks have to stay healthy. Butler made his big improvement in the 2014-15 season and people began to question whose team it is moving forward? Now that Derrick Rose is gone, that question no longer exists. Jimmy Butler is the new Bull who will have to step-up his game in order for Chicago to find life in the playoffs.
Projected PPG: 25.8
8 Paul George
Paul George came back from his devastating leg injury in 2014 and came back looking better than he looked before. He led a sub-par Pacers team to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. George averaged a career-best 23.1 PPG last season. Tenth in scoring and proved to NBA fans that he would not be hampered by the injury. He was considered an MVP candidate by many, but slowed down later in the season. This season Paul George is expected to take over the league. The Pacers put an excellent team in place that will have Paul George excel both individually as well as the team. His scoring numbers should increase even more with the players they put around him. Paul George should not be overlooked as a potential MVP this coming season. Expect an increase in numbers as George looks to bounce back this season.
Projected PPG: 26.5
7 Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is the NBA's most underrated player. As a top-five PG, Damian Lillard did not make the All-Star team in the 2015-16 season. Lillard's numbers from this past season are staggering. He averaged a career best 25.1 PPG. He helped the Portland Trailblazers make it to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. After losing most of their players in the off-season, he and the Most Improved Player CJ McCollum led a team expected to stink to the playoffs. Lillard averaged 19 points or more since his rookie year which is also very impressive. It's a shame Damian Lillard doesn't get the respect he deserves in the NBA as he is a top-five point guard. Perhaps this season more eyes will be watching Damian Lillard as he attempts to lead the Trail Blazers on a deep playoff run this season.
Projected PPG: 27.2
6 Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry led the NBA in scoring for the 2015-16 NBA season. He has back-to-back MVP Awards including a unanimous one. He is one of the top-three three-point shooters of all time. He can go off for a barrage of three-pointers that can change the course of a game. He averaged 30.1 PPG this past season. He also achieved the 50-40-90 achievement, an achievement only accomplished by seven people, including his new teammate Kevin Durant. Because of his three-point shooting ability, it is a lot more easier for him to score points and that's why his position is rather high. His three-point shooting has led to him becoming one of the most difficult players to guard in the entire league as he is an absolute nightmare to defend. Curry may see a slight decrease in average this upcoming season but that doesn't mean his game will slow down in any way.
Projected PPG: 27.6
5 5. DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is one of basketball's most talented players. Cousins brings a throwback to the old NBA center who would back people down in the post and score. And although he does shoot threes, in the post is where he is the most dominant. Unfortunately, he has seen absolutely no success in the NBA, to no fault of his own. He averaged over 22 points his last three seasons. He reached his highest total this past season with an outstanding 26.9 PPG. Once again, Cousins is not expected to see any success with the Kings and this may be his last season with them. Cousins has stuck with the Kings even though they haven't had any success but I think he has reached his limit. While the Kings may struggle as a team this season, DeMarcus Cousins will continue to perform well on an individual level.
Projected PPG: 28.0
4 LeBron James
LeBron James is the most unstoppable player in basketball. No matter what you do to try to stop LeBron James, he will get a shot off or will get fouled. He has only led the league in scoring once. In the 2007-2008 season, James averaged 30.0 PPG which isn't his career best. He averaged 31.4 PPG in the 2005-2006 season, but did not win the award. He has not had to score as much since he has had a decent pair of teammates around him since 2010. His highest PPG since then is only 27.1. For the 2015-16 season, LeBron finished fifth in scoring, averaging 25.3 PPG. This upcoming season, LeBron is looking to keep his reign over the league, so I'd look for him to average a bit more. There is never a good reason to kepe LeBron James' name out of the scoring title conversation, as James can break out at any time.
Project PPG: 28.2
3 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has won the scoring title on four occasions in his career. Two of his scoring titles had him averaging over 30 PPG. But because of the team he is on now, Durant's numbers will go down. He should still be the leading scorer on the Warriors however. The Warriors offense seems a lot easier for Durant TO score. While on the Thunder, Durant had to work very hard to score. Many of Durant's possessions for the Thunder had Durant going one-on-one, and trying to isolate and score. The Warriors offense has the ball moving a lot more. This leads to more open shots from the perimeter. Most of Durant's offense comes from the perimeter and Durant should be dominating on the Warriors. Look for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to find Kevin Durant early and often this season as the Warriors look to avenge their loss in the NBA Finals to the Cavaliers.
Projected PPG: 29.0
2 James Harden
The Houston Rockets are one of the NBA's most questionable teams. Their season depends on the "Beard" James Harden. Harden has the ability to get to the basket, and it's almost a guarantee that he either scores or gets fouled. Harden's main problem is that he fails to get his teammates involved. Although he averages a high number of assists, his teammates fail to touch the ball for most possessions. Harden has been top-five in scoring every year he's been in Houston but has failed to ever win the scoring title. This upcoming season many would expect no different from James Harden as his game will continue to revolve around himself rather than the team. Once again he comes up short in winning the scoring title. His average however goes up from all the previous years.
Projected PPG: 30.1
1 Russell Westbrook
This man this season will be on a mission. After being betrayed by his former teammate Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook will be seeking to prove himself on the basketball court even more than he did before. Westbrook will now have to take on much more of the scoring load because of the departure of Kevin Durant. In addition to scoring, he will also be a triple-double machine. I would look for Russell Westbrook to average nine assists and eight rebounds in addition to winning the scoring title. Westbrook previously won the scoring title in the 2014-15 season even though he only played 67 games. That season he averaged 28.1 PPG. That season, he also played the majority of it without Kevin Durant. This season I expect the same plus some.
Projected PPG: 30.5
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