NBA: Players to look out for in the 2021/22 season

November 28, 2021

The 2020/21 NBA season was filled with a lot of surprising twists and turns, with lowly-rated teams doing well and new superstars emerging. The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championships, but there were also other surprises, like the Phoenix Suns beating the LA Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and even the Atlanta Hawks making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

With a lot of young players emerging last season and teams focusing on building around them, there are a lot of players to look out for in this season’s NBA. With each team being around 20 games into this season, we have more of an understanding of who to expect to do well this season.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of 10 players to look out for this season.

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10. Anthony Edwards

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Anthony Edwards
An NBA 2020 draft first-round first pick, Anthony Edwards is into his second season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and is looking to push the team into their first playoff spot since 2018. The Timberwolves finished 14th last season in the Western Conference, only ahead of the Warriors. This year, they’ve got their big centre Karl Anthony-Towns back, and his partnership with Edwards and D’Angelo Russel looks to really benefit Edwards in his sophomore year in the NBA.

Edwards has averaged 24.1 points this season, which is higher than his previous season’s 20. He has also improved his field goal percentage to 42% and rebound to 6.3 per game, where he was at 4.9 last year.

With last year’s first-round and first draft pick looking to get in good flow and being surrounded by renowned NBA players, the Timberwolves are likely to have a good year.

9. Scottie Barnes

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Scottie Barnes
Pick 4 in Round 1 of NBA 2021 draft, Scottie Barnes has taken the league by storm at just the tender age of 19. The Raptors, who picked him up in Round 1, have been looking to find that spark since they’ve let a lot of their crucial title-winning players like Kahwi Leonard and most recently Kyle Lowry go.

Barnes, who was signed from the Florida State Seminoles, was very impressive in pre-season and has been one of the consistent starters for Raptors this year. In his 12 appearances this season thus far, he has averaged 16.2 points per game with a field goal percentage of 51.9%, which is one of the most impressive tallies amongst the rookies.

8. CJ McCollum

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - CJ Mccollum
CJ is a renowned NBA star guard, who has averaged around 20 points per game six seasons in a row now, but he still doesn’t get his much-deserved credit. To a lot of fans, he is considered the Portland Trail Blazers’ No. 2 behind Damien Lillard. To some extent that is true, but the franchise will only be able to reach further in Playoffs if CJ performs well.

The 2015-16 season’s most-improved player of the season was injured in last year’s Playoffs. This year, he has come back with a vengeance and has taken the baton from Lillard. McCollum this season has been at a career high of averaging 22 points per game, where before it was 18, and it will be his form that will make the difference regarding how far his team go into the playoffs.

7. Miles Bridges

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Miles Bridges
The 6’7”-small forward has come a long way from being the 12th pick in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Bridges really started getting into his rhythm last year once his franchise added Lamelo Ball to their roster.

This season, the star from Michigan has taken his game to new heights and is definitely in the conversation for the most-improved player. Bridges is now averaging 36 minutes per game, which is way more compared to his full career’s 27 minutes per game.

Miles Bridges, who is widely renowned for his scary dunks, has improved in all aspects of his game this year. His points per game have gone up from 11.5 to 21.5, his assists have gone from 1.8 to 3.5, and he has also improved his rebounding stats from 5.3 to 7.3. In a team with Hayward and Lamelo Ball, Miles has been the highest scoring individual and is one player that all defences should definitely be scared of this season.

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6. Lonzo Ball

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Lonzo Ball
The Bulls have been a revelation this season, having started off brilliantly in second position in the Eastern Conference. One of the main factors of their resurgence has been the signing of new players Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball and Demar Derozan.

Ball, in particular, is looking to rejuvenate his career. Coming from a basketballing family, Ball was a first-round second pick for the LA Lakers back in 2017. However, his career never kick-started there and he ended up moving to NOLA, where nothing positive happened for him either.

This season, Lonzo has turned into the player we had all been anticipating. The point guard is playing with more freedom, making defensive disruptions and shooting threes like his reputation holds. His three-point shooting percentage has increased by almost 10% from 35.9% to 44.4%. The new-look Bulls look to make a real charge towards their first Playoffs spot since 2017, and with Ball at his best, it looks very achievable.

5. Tyler Herro

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Tyler Herro
During the NBA Bubble season, Tyler Herro was the Miami Heat’s main reason to reach the Championship Finals. The first-round third pick of 2019 really put everyone on notice in the NBA in his rookie year.

Although his sophomore year wasn’t upto the hype, Herro is now reaching levels no one expected him to. Herro, who isn’t starting the majority of Miami’s games, is still coming on and acting as a creative goalscorer, doing all this in isolation. Both his field-goal and three-point percentage have gone up. Tyler has also increasingly improved his points per game this season, from averaging 15.2 to now getting 21.9 to prove all his haters wrong, and is easily a one-to-watch in this season’s NBA.

4. Ja Morant

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Ja Morrant
The 2019-20 Rookie of the Year is slowly making everyone believe he is one of the best point guards in the league. To a lot of the old-age basketball lovers, Ja Morant has a somewhat similar playing style to Derrick Rose and Allen Iverson. Apart from the three pointers, Morant shows a similar style of flair in driving to the basket and making layups. He also possesses great vision.

This season, the Grizzlies have gotten off to a decent start, and Morant, who wasn’t in the best of form last season, is showing good glimpses. His FG% has gone up by 3% from 46.7 to 49.3. His average points per game this season have been majorly impressive, improving from a 19.2 career average to 25.9 points this season.

Morant will look to take Memphis as far as possible in the Playoffs.

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3. DeMar DeRozan

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - DeMar Derozan
DeMar DeRozan to many is considered as the player who got traded from the Raptors and they instantly won the title. His time with the San Antonio Spurs didn’t go exactly as planned, and now he has joined an exciting project that is building at the Chicago Bulls, which could potentially take the 32-year-old to his first NBA ring.

DeRozan has also not joined Bulls as a sub-par player; he has been starting regularly and has been in career-best form. In his last game against the LA Lakers, DeRozan racked up 38 points and 6 assists, taking the Bulls to second in the Eastern Conference.

DeRozan is also averaging 26.9 points per game this season, which is significantly higher compared to his career average of 20.3. His field goal percentage has also gone up to 51%.

2. Luka Don?i?

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Luka Doncic
If you have seen the Dallas Mavericks play, then you have definitely tuned in to some “Luka Magic”. The Slovenian basketballer was the third pick in the first round of NBA Draft 2018. Since then, he has been awarded Rookie of the Year in 2019, and all Dallas fans look to him to build a dynasty similar to that of Dirk Nowitzki.

The ex-Real Madrid Baloncesto professional has a lot of pressure on behalf of the city, but he shines in it very well. He has single-handedly won them Playoff games and also carries the team as far as he can.

After his last season, Luka is tipped to be amongst one of the candidates for the MVP of the regular NBA season this time round, and he has started off in good fashion. He is averaging 25 points a game, which is 11th highest in the NBA, and also has 8 assists, which is the 7th highest in the NBA.

Luka will definitely take his team through to a solid Playoff run, and if fit, he will be in contention for being the MVP this season as well.

1. Stephen Curry

Best NBA players entering 2021-22 season - Stephen Curry
A lot of the players in this lift are relatively new and are yet to prove a point in the NBA. My number one pick, however, is none other than Steph Curry himself. The Chef seems to be cooking something after coming back from his injury that kept him out for the majority of last season, in which the Warriors finished last.

With Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala expected to return this season and Steph looking like an even better player, the Warriors will be hungry to get their first ring since 2018. Steph has been on fire since the start of the 21/22 NBA season; he is ranked 6th in the player efficiency index and is averaging 28.1 points and 6.2 assists per game.

Since the Warriors are now filled with solid role players, and Steph looking in form as he is dropping 50 points at least once in two weeks, I believe him to be the player to watch out for in this season’s NBA as he hunts down his fourth NBA ring.

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