With around 20 games left in the NBA season, things are starting to heat up. Some teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, while others are playing for a better spot in the draft lottery. Some of the big-name players are cranking things up in anticipation of a long playoff run. Let’s rank the players at this point in the season. If a player is injured, he will not be included in this week’s rankings. With that in mind, let’s get right to it so you can continue betting against their NBA odds.
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1. Nikola Jokic
Don’t look now, but the Denver Nuggets are climbing up the Western Conference standings. Much of that is due to the play of Jokic. The Nuggets were on an eight-game winning streak but have come back down to earth recently, losing their last two. Jokic has been playing at an elite level. He’s nearly averaging a triple-double this season, as he’s putting up 26 points, 11 boards, and nine assists per game. He can beat you on the inside or take you out on the perimeter and hit the three. Jokic is one of the smartest players in the game, and he knows what it takes to win. He may need to step his game up even more, as Jamal Murry left Denver’s last game with a knee injury.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
He is the greatest athlete in the game today. When he’s going to the basket, he’s nearly unstoppable. However, come playoff time, teams tend to force him to make perimeter shots, which is his biggest weakness. He has shot better this season, but he still needs work in that area. Even without being a great perimeter shooter, Antetokounmpo has put up some great numbers this season. He is averaging 28 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists per game. He is the main reason that the Bucks are one of the top contenders for the Eastern Conference crown.
3. Joel Embiid
Embiid is one of, if not the main, reason that the Philadelphia 76ers are sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings. The big man is one of the hardest players in the NBA to guard, as he possesses a rare combination of speed, strength, and agility that is rarely seen in a player his size. He is a nightmare for most post players to guard. On the season, he’s averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists per game. If he can stay healthy, he can lead the Sixers a long way. Embiid doesn’t get enough credit for his defense. When he’s fully engaged, he can switch on pick and rolls and guard players that are quicker than him.
4. Kawhi Leonard
Leonard could be the best two-way player in the league. Leonard has long been known as a defensive stopper, as he has shut down some of the league’s top scorers in previous playoff series. Leonard is also a very good offensive player. His Clippers are one of the top teams in the league, and it is due to his play. He has the ability to get to the rim, and he can also shoot it well from the perimeter.
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