Darius Garland has been prodigiously efficient as Cleveland’s lead ball-handler and second-leading scorer. Cleveland, by record, was a top-4 team in the NBA this season. Garland looks the part of an elite offensive generator for the next decade and a many-time All-Star.
Not many players are better at slashing to the rim and attacking the defense downhill than Jaylen Brown. He’s a superb athlete and incredible shot-maker. And, he still has room to grow when it comes to creating for others. Even if he doesn’t take that next step, though, Brown is one of the best No. 2 options in the NBA and a true two-way star.
Tyrese Haliburton was second in assists per game in his first full season with Indy. He has improved drastically as a scorer and defender too. His efficient scoring profile and singular ability to elevate teammates should mean Haliburton is leading a contender sooner than later. Indiana has good pieces around him and Haliburton very much feels like the heir apparent to the “Point God” label.
Maybe the best defensive weapon in the NBA when push comes to shove. Bam can comfortably guard all five positions, he displays tremendous instincts as a rim protector, and we have strong evidence of his two-way skill set translating to the playoffs at the highest level. He has also progressed into a genuine offensive hub for Miami.
Trae Young has justifiably drawn a lot of criticism for his poor defense and the generally awful state of affairs in Atlanta. But, there just aren’t many players generating offense — individually and for teammates — at Young’s level. He’s a one-man points machine, blitzing drop coverage in the pick-and-roll or beating switches with his twitchy handles and dynamic shot-making.