Intriguing Players
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The Most Intriguing Player On Every Western Conference Team.

Every team has an intriguing player that has captivated their fanbase for a multitude of reasons. Whether it is a young player that was drafted and could raise the ceiling of a team if he pans out or a player brought in through trade that may have struggled in past situations, there is hope that the current team could be the one to unlock their potential. Maybe even a player that isn’t even really good but when he gets minutes the crowd and social media go crazy. These 15 names are players that are the most intriguing on their current teams in 2021 in the Western Conference for varying different reasons.

Dallas Mavericks- Kristaps Porzingis

2020-2021 Stat Line : 20.2 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game, 1.6 blocks per game, 35.9 3P%

Forward Kristaps Porzingis is one of the most intriguing players in the NBA when he is healthy he has the ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim at elite levels. The perfect player to complement Dallas Maverick’s superstar guard Luka Doncic. The problem is that Porzingis has never had a healthy season so far in his 6 seasons in the NBA, in fact, he hasn’t played in over 70 games since his rookie season. Three years ago, Porzingis tore his ACL in his left knee which kept him out the entire 2018-2019 season. More recently in game three of the Mavericks first-round playoff matchup versus the Los Angles Clippers, he finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds before suffering another injury, this time to his meniscus. The Mavericks may be headed for another first-round matchup versus the Clippers and hopefully, Porzingis will be a healthy participant.

Denver Nuggets – Bol Bol

2020-2021 Stat Line : 2.6 points per game, 0.8 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game

The Denver Nuggets have multiple intriguing young players that should have the fan base excited for the future. They also have an MVP candidate in big man Nikola Jokic, but hands down the most intriguing player on the roster has to be Bol Bol. The sophomore power forward has only logged 194 minutes across two seasons in the NBA but the highlights he produces have fans wanting much more. Who wouldn’t want to see a 7ft 2-inch big man that has the ability to block a shot, grab the rebound, dribble down the court like a guard and pull up from three in one possession? Everyone wants to see that. The Nuggets have a pretty crowded frontcourt with little room for a project like Bol Bol but if he is ever able to carve out a consistent role in the NBA it would be much see TV on a nightly basis.

Golden State Warriors- Stephen Curry

2020-2021 Stat Line : 29.7 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game , 6.0 assists per game, and 4.7 3PM

This is probably one of the easiest choices for the list and one of the only bright spots on the Golden State Warriors as they navigate through their disappointing 2020-2021 campaign. For one of the first times in Curry’s career, he is shouldering the entire offensive load of the team to keep them competitive which has led to some spectacular performances this season like his career-high 62 points against the Portland Trailblazers. Curry has already scored over 30 points twenty-one times this season and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Warrior’s offense is 11.4 points better when Steph is on the court and one of the worst in recent NBA history when he is off. Next seasons Warrior’s roster may look much different when they get a healthy Klay Thompson back and add some new players in free agency that complement Steph. But until then, it’s a one-man show in Golden State and there isn’t a better man for the job.

Houston Rockets- Kevin Porter Jr.

2020-2021 Stat Line : 15.5 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, 6.1 assist per game

The Houston Rockets have had a rough season featuring a 20 game losing streak and the loss of two stars, one in Russell Westbrook who had an unimpressive one-season stint with the team, and James Harden the franchise star in Houston for 8 seasons. They now look to the future with young players like forward Christian wood and guard Jae’Sean Tate being the new faces of Houston Rocket’s basketball. There is another player that has the potential to be a star in Houston and his name is Kevin Porter Jr. Kevin Porter Jr has had a rough beginning to his NBA career after being traded from his original team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, due to a locker room tantrum because his locker was moved. He found himself traded to the Houston Rockets soon after.

Porter Jr. Has all the talent in the world and he displayed that averaging 24.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 7.2 APG in the G-league bubble. But character issues that stem back to his college days may keep him from reaching his true potential in the NBA. Rafael Stone¬†hasn’t done much right during his time as a general manager but the low-risk move in trading for an intriguing player like Porter Jr. could pay off big if this is the team to keep him under control.

Los Angles Clippers- Paul George

2020-2021 Stat Line : 22.5 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, 5.4 assists per game

Forward Paul George is the most intriguing player on the Los Angles Clippers roster because you never know what to expect from him as his team gets deeper into the season. George always starts off the season blazing hot from three and playing lockdown defense but around midway through things start to change. He goes through cold streaks and picks up a nagging injury that impacts his playoff performances, so much so that he has picked up multiple nicknames in reference to his lackluster games when the lights shine brightest such as Pandemic P and Way-off P are two of the most popular.

He has a chance at redemption this season to make up for his awful performances last season that included maybe one of the worst three-point attempts in his career. Hopefully, he takes full advantage of that and puts the NBA and his doubters on notice that the clippers are a team to be feared in the west. If he is able to live up to his self-proclaimed nickname of Playoff P, the Clippers may find themselves having a real shot at an NBA championship. If not we will be getting another low light compilation and more excuses from Paul.

Los Angles Lakers- Talen Horton-Tucker

2020-2021 Stat Line : 8.4 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 2.3 assists per game

At the young age of 20, guard Talen Horton-Tucker finds himself as an NBA champion and a fan favorite for one of the biggest sports teams in the world. He is also playing with one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball in forward LeBron James. That’s not a bad position to be in for a player only two seasons into his NBA career. At 6ft 4 inches with a 7’1 wingspan, Horton-Tucker possesses all the necessary intangibles for the hype that has generated around him to produce some impressive results when he gets the chance to showcase his skills.

At times he finds himself buried in the Los Angles Lakers rotation as they contend for championships but with the recent injuries to LeBron James and forward Anthony Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker has been presented the opportunity to show that he is ready to make contributions on one of the best teams in the league. His last three games have all featured double-digit scoring, the most recent one being a 17 points and 6 assists game versus the Toronto Raptors. If he is able to keep it up when LeBron and AD come back, he may still find himself a key part of the rotation. THC is the most intriguing player on the roster because he could be a huge X factor for the Laker’s come playoff time.

Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant

2020-2021 Stat Line : 18.8 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, 7.4 assists per game

Not only is Ja Morant the most intriguing player on the Memphis Grizzlies, but he is also only one of the most popular young players in the NBA. Every time the reigning rookie of the year steps on the court there is a chance that he might posterize the opposing team’s center. Ja has the potential to lead the Grizzlies back to the playoffs and make them a competitive team in the Western Conference for years to come. Once forward Jaren Jackson Jr. returns to the court, don’t be shocked if the Grizzlies find a way to sneak up the standings and make some noise in the first round of the playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves- Anthony Edwards

2020-2021 Stat Line : 17.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game

Guard Anthony Edwards is currently the frontrunner for the rookie of the year award and giving the tortured fans of the perennial losers Minnesota Timberwolves that he may be the player that can turn things around. Edwards is talented in multiple things including rapping and he also told reporters that he had enough talent to go pro in the NFL if he chose to. It’s a good thing for the Timberwolves that he chose Basketball over everything and it has yielded amazing results already in his short career.

He had a dunk that may be a contender for the best dunk of the year and his play on the court has him in some very special company. Edwards has become the third-youngest player to reach 100 three-pointers and has the third-highest PPG in a month only behind NBA legend forwards Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. It’s only up from here for the Timberwolves rookie and hopefully, he can carry the team to relevancy.

New Orleans Pelicans- Zion Williamson

2020-2021 Stat Line : 26.3 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game

Forward Zion Williamson is the only correct answer here. As a rookie, he single-handedly turned one of the smallest markets in the NBA into one of the most popular. After Zion was drafted, the New Orleans Pelicans immediately sold out of all 12,000 season tickets they had available. Everyone was ready to see what Zion Williamson, one of the most hyped prospects in recent history would accomplish in the NBA, and he has yet to disappoint. His first career block is listed on Top Shot for over 200k, and it’s becoming difficult to ignore what he is doing on the court for the pelicans. He averages 1.1 points per possession, 2.2 putbacks per game, and 8.0 points in the paint dominating the game from the inside. While the Pelicans may be struggling to meet the expectations set for them, Zion is exceeding them, already being named an All-Star in his second season.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

2020-2021 Stat Line : 23.7 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game

It was a tough choice between guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and undrafted rookie center Moses Brown, who has taken the NBA by storm with his insane rebounding prowess. But Shai gets the nod due to the fact that he has had the privilege of playing big minutes for two playoff teams already in his career in the Los Angles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder while being mentored by one of the greatest floor generals of all time, guard Chris Paul. Those two reasons alone make Shai the most intriguing player on the Thunder’s roster because he has experienced valuable lessons and situations that have made his transition to being the franchise star seamless. Before his injury, he was the youngest of eight players to score 23 points per game with 5 assists on 60% true shooting. Shai continues to improve each season and there is no doubt that he is a future All-Star.

Phoenix Suns- Jalen Smith

2020-2021 Stat Line : 1.3 points per game, 1.0 rebounds per game, 0.1 assists per game

Yes, I could have picked from a lot of the young exciting players on the Phoenix Suns roster like guard Devin Booker or center Deandre Ayton. But center Jalen Smith, the suns rookie who they drafted with the 10th pick, is more intriguing for other reasons. The casual fan has no idea that he exists and that isn’t shocking since he has only played 73 minutes this season. Smith got off to a rough start contracting covid and injuring his ankle at the beginning of the season. But whenever he got the chance to play it was extremely unimpressive and after he was assigned to the G-league which is a rarity for lottery picks he looked like he didn’t belong on the court.

In six games in the G-League, he averaged 8.3 points per game and 4.7 rebounds on a putrid 38% from the field. So my question is will Jalen Smith turn it around and be the rim protector that the Suns need or go down as another failure in suns drafting history.

Portland Trailblazers – Anfernee Simons

2020-2021 Stat Line : 8.0 points per game , 2.3 rebounds per game, 1.4 assists per game

Guard Anfernee Simons is an intriguing player and also one of the youngest players on the Portland Trailblazers. He had the chance to make a large impact on the Blazers with guard C.J McCollum & center Jusuf Nurkic missing extended time this season. However, he did not take full advantage of the opportunity that had presented itself. Nevertheless, he remains intriguing because he is still only 21 in his third season and recently in the dunk contest showcased his athleticism which was out of this world. In Anfernee’s first career start he scored a career-high 37 as a rookie and since then inconsistency has plagued his young career. Still, there is plenty of untapped potential in him.

Sacramento Kings- De’Aaron Fox

2020-2021 Stat Line : 24.6 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 7.1 assists per game

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox entered the 2020-2021 NBA season to prove after one of his critics. Former ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan disrespectfully threw shots at him when comparing him to Ja Morant. Fox has shown this season that he is a one-of-a-kind player that can completely take over a game. His lighting fast speed and superb playmaking abilities are only two of the main qualities that make Fox a borderline All-Star. He signed a five-year, 163 million dollar extension to remain the face of the Kings Organization. He also has the Sacramento Kings positioned to do something that hasn’t done since 2006 which is making the playoffs. The Kings will go as far as Fox can take them and if they are able to string together a couple of wins they will find themselves in the Play-in Tournament.

San Antonio Spurs – Keldon Johnson

2020-2021 Stat Line : 13.1 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game

There is a chance that the San Antonio Spurs have the best young core in the NBA and forward Keldon Johnson is a big part of that. The second-year forward has made big progress since his rookie year and after the spurs buying out forward LaMarcus Aldridge his role will only start to increase more. Most recently he joined an elite company as one of only 38 players to register a 20 point 20 rebound game before his 22nd birthday. Some of the players on that list are Spurs legend Tim Duncan, Shaq, Luka Doncic, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh. While Keldon may not be a future MVP in the league like some of the names above, it’s still impressive for a player that young to have such a dominant performance.

Utah Jazz – Donovan Mitchell

2020-2021 Stat Line : 25.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, 5.4 assists per game

First, I want to give an honorable mention to guard Jordan Clarkson who is easily the front runner for the 6th man of the year award on one of the top teams. I was going to write about how he has completely revitalized his career in Utah until I watched guard Donovan Mitchell scored 41 points almost willing the Jazz to an overtime win versus the Phoenix Suns. Donovan Mitchell is hands down the most intriguing player on the Jazz. When the stakes of the game are high is when Mitchell star shines the brightest. In last year’s playoffs, he scored 57 points in game one which ranks third all-time, and has already scored over 30 fifteen times this season. When Donovan Mitchell is on national TV, greatness will follow soon after. He is the leading scorer on the team with the best record in the NBA and isn’t slowing down soon.