By Seth Rivello
LeBron James has been known as “The King” or “King James” ever since he stepped onto the hardwood over 15 years ago. As much as Cavaliers fans and some NBA fanatics don’t want James to age, they have to cope with the fact he’s 32 years old. Though he’s still putting up MVP numbers those will eventually plummet, and that’s just sports. Once his reign of terror stops, who takes over?
A couple guys in Philadelphia have gotten a lot of hype and for a good reason. The 76ers finally struck gold when they played the waiting game with Joel Embiid who was struggling with injury for a couple years.
Trusting the process worked out as Embiid looks like an elite big man setting his own personal league highs this year. 20 points per game, 10 rebounds, a block and a half, with a steal isn’t a bad stat line for a center with occasional limited minutes. He shoots threes, can lead the team down the floor like a point guard and is a well-known personality on social media and on the floor.
If he keeps rising and LeBron is gone in five years, Embiid might be wearing the crown.
With the first overall pick in the 2016 draft Philadelphia selected Ben Simmons. Coming out of Louisiana State University, Simmons caught every comparison to LeBron. Simmons at 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds can play any position from center to point guard.
With a broken foot, he missed the 2016 NBA season, being silenced and talked over. Simmons stepped into 2017 with a lot to prove, and proving a lot he is. In all 13 games, he has scored in double-digits averaging 17 points per game, seven assists, nine rebounds and almost two steals. He is showing he’s an outside-the-box player, non-conventional and can be plugged in anywhere. He is my pick to be crowned “The Next King” with him being an almost spitting image of LeBron.
Milwaukee has a 6-foot-11, 220-pound point guard/forward named Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nicknamed “The Greek Freak” because of his huge stature and being born in Greece, he has really jumped onto the scene in the past three years. His steady rise in play, long arms and long name have gained him and the Milwaukee Bucks a ton of publicity.
Last season, Giannis won the Most Improved Player award and made the All-Star team. This year he’s looking for MVP as he’s putting up 31 points per game, 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. The last two months he’s been on fire, and he’s now waiting on newly acquired Eric Bledsoe to get in rhythm and Jabari Parker to get healthy. Antetokounmpo could be crowned sooner than later.
In 2015, an oblivious kid from Latvia got booed by New York Knicks fans during the draft. Little did Knicks fans know that this kid is what they would need to build around – a diamond in the rough. Kristaps Porzingis, 7-foot-3 and 240 pounds can pretty much do it all. With constant work, he’s turned into the Knicks best shooter, a good rebounder and dominant shot blocker. He was nicknamed “Unicorn” by Kevin Durant because a ball player like him has never been seen before. Porzingis is putting up the best numbers of his short three-year career, close to 30 points per game, a couple blocks and seven rebounds. He is a humble kid and a great competitor; he’s a dark horse for sure, but could eventually take the crown from James if he keeps producing at this high level.