The NBA may just be at an all-time high in terms of the volume of talent that has resonated throughout the league over the past decade or so. From Kevin Durant, to Stephen Curry to LeBron James to Chris Paul. The list of world-class talent goes on and on, and we as NBA fans have been spoiled. Almost every time you turn on an NBA game, there are at least three or four key players to keep an eye on, as every team has a tremendous group of talented individuals. With the 2017 draft on the horizon, it is said to be arguably the most loaded draft class since 2003- a class that gave birth to the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and of course, Darko Milicic!
With a brand new season just around the corner, we have predicted the top three scorers for the 2016-17 NBA season- but we didn't stop there. In the name of good fun and basketball fandom, we have gone through the next five NBA seasons and taken a big wild guess as to who will be the top three NBA scorers in each respective year. Who will be filling the shoes of LeBron and Curry in five years time? Maybe nobody....maybe everybody. Every NBA season is nothing but a new chapter in the great book of basketball and anything can happen. So sit back, enjoy the fun, and remember, these are simply predictions with the intent to stimulate your basketball imagination.
15 2016-17 (Third): Kevin Durant
As we all know, Kevin Durant has found himself quite the comfortable new home for the 2016-17 NBA season. Golden State will be an absolute juggernaut if everything comes into fruition appropriately and Durant will play a key roll in every facet of the operation. That being said, we still believe that Stephen Curry will lead the Warriors in scoring once again, as his ability to knock down the three ball like no one we have ever seen before will simply allow him to put up more points on a consistent basis.
When Durant has been healthy, he has been the deadliest scoring assassin in basketball. Since 2010, Durant has finished in the top five in scoring every season except for 2014-15, when he played just 27 games. Durant won the NBA scoring title in four of those seasons, including three straight from 2010-2012. It will be exciting to see how things all come together for the Warriors, but for now this is our best guess.
14 2016-17 (Second): Stephen Curry
I guess we kind of gave this one away....but hey, if there were ever a time to make the absurd prediction that two teammates will finish in the top three league-wide in scoring, it has to be now, doesn't it? It really doesn't happen very often. In fact, it's insane how rarely two of the leagues top four or five players actually get to coexist in the same NBA lineup. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant took the top five by storm in the early 2000s. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James coexisted among the NBA's top five scorers back in 2011 for the Heat and Allen Iverson combined with Carmelo Anthony to crack the top five in scoring for the Nuggets in 2008.
The last two teammates that finished in the top five together were Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back in 2012. The last time two teammates finished in the top THREE together was all the way back in 1982, when Denver's Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe accomplished the feat, finishing first and second respectively.
13 2016-17 (First): Russell Westbrook
When Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each finished in the top five in scoring during that 2012 season, it was Durant who led the league and Westbrook who finished in fifth. When KD missed 55 games during the 2014-15 season however, Westbrook stepped up to the task and almost single-handedly lifted the Thunder into the playoffs, winning the NBA scoring title in the process.
This season, there is no doubt that Russell Westbrook carries the biggest chip on his shoulder. After watching Durant depart so passively and abruptly from OKC, we expect to see the most intense version of Russell Westbrook yet. It's no secret that Russ can hold a grudge- just ask Reggie Jackson or any player on the Golden State Warriors. He is one of the last guys you want to piss off and because of this, we expect him to explode and collect his second NBA scoring title.
12 2017-18 (Third): James Harden
It was just recently announced that the Rockets will test out James Harden as their primary point-guard for the 2016-17 season and thus, we left James out of the top three. In 2017-18 however, we expect to see one of the most prolific scorers of the decade hoop is way back into the top three in NBA scoring. Harden has finished among the top five in scoring every season dating back to 2013 and was the runner up in both 2015 and 2016. As great as Harden is, with so much talent currently in the league as well as up and coming, it will be tough for him to finish at the top.
Realistically, with Harden playing point- nothing should change. He has always been the primary ball handler for the Rockets and now must simply be sure to get his teammates involved on a consistent basis. After a slight adjustment, Harden will be back in the top three in NBA scoring in 2017-18.
11 2017-18 (Second): Karl-Anthony Towns
It is only a matter of time before we see Karl-Anthony Towns grow into one of the NBA's finest talents. We think that by as early as 2017-18, Towns could be among the NBA's top-five players and definitely a top-three scorer. Towns dazzled in his rookie season averaging an impressive 18.3 points per game and winning Rookie of the Year honors.
His combination of size and athleticism is matched by very few around the league and we simply cannot wait to see KAT thrive as one of the NBA's most elite. With Kevin Garnet announcing his retirement last week, Towns assured the Big Ticket that he would accept the torch and take the reigns from here. It is quite the responsibility to assume for the nineteen-year-old, but we are confident that he will find tremendous success in today's NBA.
10 2017-18 (First): Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry isn't going anywhere. Whether he is still in Golden State or not come 2017-18, Steph Curry will lead the league in scoring yet again. He has been one of the primary revolutionary forces of the modern NBA and thus, we don't foresee Curry slowing down for quite some time.
Again, his ability to shoot the basketball with such high efficiency from anywhere on the court, is essentially unmatched. If Steph can remain healthy, he should be able to maintain his ability to score the basketball. Curry entered one of the most prestigous statistical clubs in professional sports last season in the 50/40/90 club. This means that Curry was successful in shooting 50% or better from the field, 40% or better from three and 90% or better from the free-throw line. Steph became just the seventh man in history to accomplish the feat and we wouldn't be shocked to see him pull it off once again.
9 2018-2019 (Third): Ben Simmons
It will take a few seasons, but Ben Simmons will crack the top three in NBA scoring come 2018-19. Simmons is not exactly known as a scorer and in fact, is widely regarded as a very sub-standard shooter. Simmons excels with the combination of freak athletic ability, incredible vision, and his ability to get his teammates involved. Despite his LSU Tigers being unsuccessful in qualifying for last Springs NCAA March Madness tournament, Simmons was still to most, the unanimous number one pick in the draft. Without even showcasing his talents in the biggest basketball tournament on the planet, Simmons was still taken at number one overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
He has been paralleled to LeBron James in the way that he plays and in the way that he is expected to impact his team. Come 2018-19, we expect Simmons to have improved his shooting ability substantially and thus, will be able to score the basketball with more versatility and from both two and three point range.
8 2018-2019 (Second): Stephen Curry
Are you surprised? Well, you shouldn't be. Stephen Curry is one of those special talents that comes along every 15-20 years. That player that makes every home game seem like a Paul McCartney concert, where everyone in the building for two to three hours is completely mesmerized and infatuated by the single presence of another human being. Stephen Curry is that player, so don't expect him to go away anytime soon.
Not to mention, Curry will only be thirty-years-old come the 2018-19 season and will most likely only be finer with age. In fact, since 2011-2012, Curry has improved his points per game total in each and every season. Last year's (2016-16) 30.1 may seem out of reach and realistically probably is, but don't be shocked to see Curry flirt with the thirty point per game mark in seasons to come. I mean, if Jordan can average 37 a game and shoot just 18% from three, maybe there is potential for Curry to achieve even more incredible heights.
7 2018-2019 (First): Karl-Anthony Towns
After this, just his fourth season in the NBA, we believe Karl-Anthony Towns will be ready to take home the NBA scoring crown. Come three seasons from now, we expect the Minnesota Timber-Wolves to be a powerhouse in the Western conference and for Towns to be the alpha-dog of the NBA. He will have four seasons of experience, confidence, ability, and leadership under his belt.
There is no doubt in our minds that Towns is the real deal and will be one of the NBA's most elite for years to come. Unlike DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis- other big men with LARGE potential, Towns has been lucky enough to find himself in as perfect a scenario as you can ask for coming into the NBA. Towns will be taking the keys from KG, sharing the front seat with Tom Thibodeau and riding through Minnesota at full speed with the best young core of players league-wide singing victory songs in the back.
6 2019-2020 (Third): Kristaps Porzingis
Come 2019, Kristaps Porzingis will finally crack the top three in NBA scoring. By now, the ridiculous era of Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony will surely be through and Kristaps will be able to finally come into his ultimate form. Porzingis had an extremely impressive rookie season averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds ,and 1.9 blocks per game.
Porzingis stands at 7-3 and is an absolute basketball unicorn. He is able to combine his size, athleticism, and vision to be a revolutionary stretch-five in today's NBA. Players like Porzingis and Towns have set a new bench mark for the big man in today's game, and will only continue to learn how to dominate the league barring any major injuries. Imagine if guys like Shaq, Yao Ming, and Dwight Howard could shoot three's? If Porzingis can continue to improve his strength and physique, he could turn these imaginations into a reality. Scary thought!
5 2019-2020 (Second): Karl-Anthony Towns
Don't look at us! It's not our fault that Karl Anthony-Towns will be the next big thing in the NBA. The Timber Wolves will be an absolute juggernaut and Karl Anthony-Towns along with Andrew Wiggins and Kris Dunn will be the most deadly trio in the league. Again, Towns is the perfect prototype for contemporary NBA basketball and his versatility and raw skills as a big man, will take him to the top of the NBA echelon.
Don't worry though, we are running out of ways to explain how unbelievable Towns will be and so for 2020-2021 predictions, we will predict a minor injury for Towns and leave him off the list. We promise. Maybe. Barring any injuries however, it is incredible to think of what this young star could accomplish over the next couple of decades in the NBA.
4 2019-2020 (First): Ben Simmons
Come 2019-2020 (Simmons' fourth season) he will finally peak into a new level of development, establishing a consistent jump shot from both two and three point range and will be LeBron-like when taking the ball to the rack- unstoppable. It will be extremely exciting to follow Simons and his development from now until then.
Whether he is still on the Sixers, or has joined the likes of the Lakers or Celtics like every other big name in history (it seems like anyways), Simmons will be on top of the NBA scoring charts with an explosive 2019-2020 campaign. Who knows, maybe the next version of silly and incredibly annoying NBA stacking will include the likes of Simmons, Porzingis, and Towns taking their talents to the freshly resurrected Seattle SuperSonics of 2020!
3 2020-2021 (Third): Markelle Fultz
Who?! Remember now, this is 2020 we are talking about here, so I thought that it would be fun to throw in a name who has yet to even be drafted into the NBA. Markelle Fultz is expected to go in the top three in the 2017 NBA Draft and is expected to do big things with whomever is lucky enough to select him. If we are going to make some absurd predictions, we may as well include a dude who hasn't even played his final year of college yet, no?
Fultz is 6-5 point guard out of Washington with tremendous vision and an innate scoring touch. At just eighteen years of age, he is said to be one of the more mature players on the team both on and off the court. Expect big things from Markelle and keep this name in the back of your mind.
2 2020-2021: Ben Simmons
If the we get the Ben Simmons that we expect, there is no doubt that we should be seeing him at the top of many statistical lists going forward, including of course, scoring. This would be the third straight year that we predict Simmons to make an appearance in the top three and if his game develops at the rate it should, this is a very realistic expectation.
Nobody expects Simmons to be the leagues most dominant scorer, just as nobody necessarily believed in LeBron to be this either. Simmons and LeBron have been paralleled in many regards. From physical stature, to style of play, to the tremendous vision and ability to make teammates better. Simmons and LeBron hold on to the intangibles that make them more than just a scorer, but an all-around superstar.
1 2020-2021 (First): Andrew Wiggins
We will stick to our promises, okay? So come 2020-2021, the Timber Wolves are coming off of there first NB championship (why not) and Karl Anthony-Towns is battling a nagging calf sprain, forcing him to miss 25 games. Thus, Canadian basketball fans finally get to see the impossible happen, a Canadian winning the NBA's scoring title.
Wiggins will have grown into one of the most deadly scorers in the NBA by this time and with Towns battling an injury, he will be forced to put the team on his back 2015 Russell Westbrook style. We all know what Wiggins can do- his athleticism above the rim can be compared to guys like Julius Erving and Vince Carter. He is a poetic talent and it would be an incredible story to see him take home an NBA scoring title some day in the future.