(t5!) NBA Player Power Rankings 2017 [#40 – #31]

#040: JR Smith

Earl Smith III
SG | 6′ 6″ | 225 lb
twitter: @TheRealJRSmith | instagram: @teamswish

Best Game
2016.12.13 vs. Memphis: 23 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 6-for-10 3’s

“Smith’s growth since joining the Cavaliers in a 2015 trade has altered his image — from talented but imprudent knucklehead to trusted, respected and reliable teammate who’s committed to defending rather than just chucking shots.”
 — Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today

J.R. Smith’s baby, Dakota, born five months premature, is doing well.
J.R. Smith seems awesome as video game character
J.R. Smith’s influence is spreading quick

#039: Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard
SF | 6′ 7″ | 230 lb
twitter: @kawhileonard | instagram: @kawhileonard

Best Game
2017.03.06 vs Houston: 39 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steals, 2 blocks, 12-for-18 field goals, 4-for-5 3’s, 11-for-11 free throws

“ When Tim Duncan retired in the offseason, Leonard became the face of the Spurs. It’s a monumental task to replace Duncan, perhaps the greatest player of his generation, but it clearly hasn’t phased the unflappable Leonard. If anything, it compelled him to raise his game on both ends of the floor. If he doesn’t end the season as the best player in the league, he still should be considered the most well-rounded one.”
 — Hunter Felt, The Guardian

Kawhi Leonard was dressed as Santa Claus
Kawhi Leonard is programmed to eat right
Kawhi Leonard is never disturbed

#038: Rajon Rondo

Rajon Pierre Rondo
PG | 6′ 1″ | 186 lb
twitter: @RajonRondo | instagram: @rajonrondo

Best Game
2017.14.18 at Boston (Gm 2 Rd 1 Eastern Conference Playoffs): 11 points, 9 rebounds, 14 assists, 5 steals

“ This was some vintage stuff for Rondo, who brought the lethal combination of energy, aggressiveness, and flashiness that he once used to torture opponents.”
 — Michael Brice-Saddler, SB Nation

Rajon Rondo talked about his first season with the Bulls
Rajon Rondo fined for doing whatever it takes to win
Rajon Rondo spoke out about the murder of Terence Crutcher

#037: D’Angelo Russell

D’Angelo Russell
PG | 6′ 5″ | 195 lb
twitter: @Dloading | instagram: @dloading | snapchat: dangelorussell

Best Game
2017.03.19 vs. Cleveland: 40 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 7-for-12 3’s

“Russell will get better. He’s bursting with Ph.D.-level point guard craft. He’ll zoom around a screen, slow down, put a guy on his rear like Chris Paul and scan the floor as every help defender wonders what the hell is coming next. He’ll finish more shots around the basket as he grows comfortable navigating NBA big men.”
 — Zach Lowe, ESPN

D’Angelo Russell crashed a live Tony Hawk Hot Ones interview
D’Angelo Russell high-fived himself
D’Angelo Russell goofed up the basketball

#036: PJ Tucker

Anthony Leon Tucker
SF | 6′ 6″ | 245 lb
instagram: @therealpjtucker17

Best Game
2017.03.21 vs. Chicago: 8 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2-for-4 3’s, clutch defense

“ Tucker won the city over as quick as a John Wall fast break, and this fan base that has a history of devoting love to the grinders of the game had another name to chant in celebration. I bought his jersey the very next week, and he remains my laptop background to this day.”
 — Mitch Robinson, Raptors HQ

P.J. Tucker instagrams Jonas Valanciunas farting on the plane
P.J. Tucker gave an awkward goodbye to his Phoenix Suns teammates
P.J. Tucker’s first appearance as a Raptor on Cabbie Presents

#035: James Johnson

James Patrick Johnson
SF/PF | 6′ 9″ | 250 lb

Best Game
2017.02.10 at Brooklyn: 26 points, 8 rebounds, 2assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks

“Johnson has been a jack-of-all-trades bright spot. He’s posting career highs in almost every category, and has drained a shocking — and unsustainable — 38 percent from deep after struggling to crack the 30 percent barrier over the rest of his career.

He can do a little of everything on offense, and the Heat have used him as a point forward — and even a point-center! — in bizarro inverted pick-and-rolls”
 — Zach Lowe, ESPN

James Johnson lost some weight
James Johnson spent Easter Sunday with the boss
James Johnson protected his teammate

#034: Mike Conley

Michael Alex Conley Jr.
PG | 6′ 1″ | 175 lb
twitter: @mconley11 | instagram: @mac11

Best Game
2017.04.22 vs. San Antonio (Gm 4 Rd 1 Western Conference Playoffs): 35 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 4-for-8 3’s

“Conley’s attitude toward the game changed in a major way this past season. It’s not that he wanted to do it either, but he had to. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are aging and with the league becoming scoring-dominant, Conley needed to put up numbers. Mike has always been one of the most unselfish players in the league. He’s been a guy who has always wanted to keep his teammates involved. It’s never been about him… Until now.”
 — Jerrod Smith, Beale Street Bears

Mike Conley was ready for this season
Mike Conley was magnanimous

Mike Conley rarely got noticed

#033: Jamal Murray

Jamal Murray
SG | 6′ 4″ | 207 lb
twitter: @BeMore27 | instagram: @jmglitxh27

Best Game
2017.04.07 vs. New Orleans: 30 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 
10-for-14 FG’s

“There’s an episode of Touched by an Angel (THAT I DID NOT WATCH OF MY OWN ACCORD) called ‘Nothing But Net.’ In it, a basketball star, Eric Zachariah “E.Z.” Mony — who looks sort of like Nick Van Exel, but that’s neither here nor there — attempts to point-shave and throw a basketball game. But, in an effort to teach Mony a lesson, God refuses to let him miss a shot. Eyes closed, from half court, over his head, off of one foot; every shot goes in, no matter how impossible.

Now, E.Z. Mony was a cantankerous old, and a gambling addict, and bald, and Jamal Murray was just over 7 months old when this episode of Touched by an Angel aired. But that’s exactly the kind of night the rookie Nuggets guard was having on Monday.”
 — Micah Peters, The Ringer

Jamal Murray’s draft day was featured in The Players’ Tribune
Jamal Murray’s Rising Stars banner featured Gary Harris

Jamal Murray was killing people at HORSE

#032: Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic
PG/SG | 6′ 3″ | 190 lb
twitter: @Goran_Dragic | instagram: @the_1_dragon

Best Game
2016.11.28 vs. Boston: 27 points, 2 rebounds, 17 assists, 1 steal

“To suggest that a player with the skill set and scoring ability of Dragic would somehow willingly take a back seat again after doing that repeatedly in Phoenix is absolutely ludicrous.”
 — Cory Sanning, All U Can Heat

Goran Dragic has a basketball camp
Goran Dragic screwed up his eye

Goran Dragic in Hot Seconds with Jax

#031: Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert
C | 7′ 1″ | 245 lb
twitter: @rudygobert27 | instagram: @rudygobert27

Best Game
2017.03.22 vs. New York: 35 points, 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 13-for-15 FG’s

“ Defense came easy. His skyscraper height (7’1”) and Mr. Fantastic-like reach (7’8 ½”, the longest wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine) make him impossible to shoot over. His bouncy feet make him hard to circumvent.”
 — Yaron Weitzman, Bleacher Report

Rudy Gobert was salty about not making the All-Star game
Rudy Gobert was into hair-oglyphs
Rudy Gobert was helping people high-five him

Continue to (t5!) NBA Player Power Rankings [3o to 21]

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