With more than 40+ games into the 2021/22 NBA season, fans and analysts have got a good idea regarding who’s performing well this season. There have been a lot of surprises so far, and the COVID issues have given a lot of up-and-coming players their chance in the limelight.
Here, we take a look at the Top 10 NBA players to watch out for in 2022.
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10) Klay Thompson
One half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson has been missing from NBA action since 2019. He recently made his comeback, making his first appearance in more than 700 days against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 9, 2022.
Klay has been missing since the horrific cruciate ligament injury he suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 finals. In his first game back, he managed to get 17 points in only 20 minutes, showing what a top player he is.
The Warriors were already looking like strong contenders for the championship, and with Klay back in the squad and at full fitness, it only boosts their chances to win another NBA championship.
9) Desmond Bane
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently 3rd in the Western Conference and have been in superb touch, getting wins against both the Warriors and the Lakers in the recent past. Their star player Ja Morant has been in sublime touch, but the team’s success is also down to another player — Desmond Bane.
Bane was the 30th pick in the first-round NBA draft in 2020 for the Boston Celtics and was then traded to the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are the hottest team in the NBA right now and are on a 19-4 run, for which a lot of credit goes to Bane, who is only in his sophomore year.
Bane has been involved in all the games so far this season bar one and has put up stellar numbers. In 41 starts, he is averaging 17.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 42.8 percent from three.
If Bane maintains his strong production and takes the Grizzlies to the Playoffs, he will most certainly be a frontrunner for the 2021-22 Most Improved Player award.
8) Jarret Allen
The Cavs’ defensive pillar has consistently put up great defensive numbers and is very likely to be a part of the 1st NBA defensive team. Since being traded from the Brooklyn Nets, Allen has improved both offensively and defensively and is a key reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers are 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Jarret Allen has recorded 90 blocks consecutively since the past 3 seasons. He is 19th in double-doubles this season and is 9th with at least 20 points.
Through 31 games, Allen holds his career-best averages in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game, as well as field-goal percentage.
7) Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has been on the road to vengeance since losing the Finals to the Lakers in the 2020-21 season. Since joining the Miami Heat, Butler has improved his overall abilities on the court and plays the ring-leader role for the franchise.
With Kyle Lowry coming into the team and the Heat placed 3rd in the Eastern Conference, Butler and Co. have a great chance of being one of the top teams competing for the NBA Championship.
6) Jalen Green
Jalen Green was the third pick in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2021.
Besides his team, the Houston Rockets, being rock bottom in the Western Conference table, there’s a lot to come from the rookie in the coming years. Green has a very high upside which can be seen through his elite athleticism and his intriguing shooting and scoring abilities.
In his first season, Green has already shown he can knock down shots from all around the court. He has missed the majority of the season due to a hamstring injury early on, and even though it took him time to adjust to the league, Green looks to be on the right track to becoming a superstar.
So far this season, Green has been averaging 15.2 points per game and a 40.2% conversion rate in field goal percentage.
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5) Anfernee Simons
The 22-year-old point guard has been the Portland Trail Blazers’ star player, with the likes of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both missing through injury. Simons recently registered 23 points and a career-high 11 assists against the Brooklyn Nets.
This season, Simons is averaging 14.7 points and 7.6 assists per game in each of the games he has started. He was a first-round draft pick for Portland in 2018 and is finally showcasing his full potential.
Simons has taken full advantage of the key players’ unavailability and is really making a case for why he can prove to be a long-term asset for the Trail Blazers. Not only has he been the main scorer for the team, it’s his playmaking that has also come into the limelight.
A player, who earlier in his career was portrayed at best as a 6th man scorer, has really leveled up his game, and with his current production and improvement across all departments, Simons is quickly changing the perception of the NBA experts.
4) Andrew Wiggins
The Golden State Warriors are looking like a solid unit this year. With each player understanding his role and working around Steph Curry, the Warriors are considered as one of the favorites to win the NBA title.
One player who has been playing above and beyond his role this season is Andrew Wiggins. It is very evident that Wiggins has become much better defensively since his days with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Not only that, it is his offensive numbers that have been a revelation this season. Wiggins is at a career-high percentage of shooting from beyond the arc, with a 42.1 percentage from three-point range.
The former number 1 pick in the 2014 draft has really started improving elements of his game in his mid-20s, and if the Warriors are to make a deep Playoffs run, Wiggins’ form can be key in providing them that extra edge, and I, for one, only see him getting better as the season progresses.
3) Karl-Anthony Towns
The Minnesota Timberwolves look like a different team when they have a fully fit Karl-Anthony Towns available. The center, who missed the majority of last season, has been in great form in this one and has arguably been one of the most menacing centers in the league.
Towns this season has been a different beast and is at a career-high for points, averaging 24.6 points per game. The self-proclaimed ‘best big shooter’ is also averaging 42% from beyond the arc.
The 2015 Rookie of the Year is key if the Timberwolves are to make a Playoffs push. Towns has been missing for the past few weeks due to a wrist injury.
Towns this season has already shown glimpses of the heights he can reach when he single-handedly bullied the Lakers, and once he is back, I can only see him doing that to more teams and improving as the season goes on.
2) Lonzo Ball
The resurgence of Lonzo’s career since he joined the Chicago Bulls has been commendable, and he now looks like a rejuvenated player.
Lonzo Ball is currently at a career-high for points per game (13.1) and has also improved his 3-point percentage from 36.4% to 42.3%, which is the highest it’s ever been.
The Bulls are currently 2nd in the Eastern Conference, and as most of this is credited to Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo provides great balance and defensive solidity to this team.
It is Lonzo’s ability to make defensive steals that has really come to fruition this season. He has greatly improved his ball management and decision-making as well. Seeing himself as the third sword of the team helps take the pressure off Lonzo, as it means he needs less ball to make fast and accurate passes and find spaces for LaVine and DeRozan.
Lonzo looks to be in a zone where he’s only looking to improve, and he will play a huge part if the Bulls are to make a deep playoff run this season.
1) Ja Morant
Ja Morant has undoubtedly been one of the best point guards this season and is more or less confirmed to get his first All-Star appearance this season. The Grizzlies guard is at a career-high for points per game, field goal percentage, 3 point percentage, rebounds, and steals. His form has been essential in Memphis being 3rd in the Western Conference, and if he continues this form and his team end at a high seed, he also should be considered in with a shot for the regular season MVP award.