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15. OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 6.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.1 blocks, 46.8 percent shooting
OG Anunoby turned heads from the jump just by being available to open the season—and he hasn’t stopped since. He emerged as the perfect complementary piece for the Toronto Raptors in the starting lineup while Norman Powell recovered from a hip injury.
Anunoby tackles some of the toughest defensive assignments and has injected balance into an otherwise uneven starting five. He won’t ever be a wholly self-sufficient scorer, but when more than 90 percent of his shot attempts come inside three feet or from behind the three-point line, he doesn’t need to be.
14. Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks, 52.5 percent shooting
Kyle Anderson, believe it or not, is among the primary forces allowing the San Antonio Spurs to smoothly navigate Kawhi Leonard’s brush with injury bugs. He’s always showcased Boris Diaw- and Joe Ingles-like switchitude at the defensive end but never found his place on offense—until now.
Anderson mirrors some of DeMar DeRozan’s patience when dribbling through traffic and is a legitimate option to trigger some pick-and-rolls. Low-volume success from three helps keep defenses on their heels, but his improved finishing around the rim and splashy clip between 10 and 16 feet have given him jack-of-all-trades appeal.
13. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.6 blocks, 42.5 percent shooting
Andre Iguodala’s ice-cold jumper would be a real concern for the Golden State Warriors if they were any other team. But they’re not. They’re flush with star power that nullifies a cast of lackluster marksmen.
Besides, Iguodala’s value isn’t tied to his jumper. He’s still someone the Warriors can toss on the game’s premier wings when it matters, and his frigid shooting has not impaired his ability to anchor bench-heavy fireballs. Golden State obliterates opponents when he runs the show without Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant or Draymond Green.
12. Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, 43.0 percent shooting
Trevor Ariza’s outside accuracy has predictably climbed in the aftermath of the Houston Rockets’ offseason makeover. Otherwise, he’s largely the same player he’s always been—and nothing’s wrong with that.
Ariza struggles defensively when slotted against bigger players, but Luc Mbah a Moute (when healthy) and P.J. Tucker have limited the amount of time he sees versus more physical wings and fringe bigs. He remains a steadying defensive presence, even matched up with younger ball-handlers, and the Rockets have proven more unguardable than usual running him alongside two other wings.
11. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 46.2 percent shooting
Jaylen Brown’s three-point percentage has dipped in recent weeks, but he gets enough looks in the corners—from where he was effective even as a rookie—to suggest his ballooning clip will hold. Those post-ups the Boston Celtics pepper in for him are never pretty, but they can be useful, and he’s making strides as a finisher in transition and off the dribble.
Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum should thank Brown for making their lives easier at the defensive end. Both look more poised and engaged than projected—pleasant surprises made possible by Brown’s comfort switching up or down a position.