Mid Major Demons
For a lot of high school hoopers, the goal is to get a college offer. Look deeper into that pool of hoopers; you'll see that the majority are all aiming for Division 1 scholarships. Safe to say that not everyone can secure that D1 offer. For those who do secure that offer, it is only a select few that get to play for the blue-chip teams. In this instance, those blue-chip teams are the Dukes and Kentucky. The teams that constantly make the NCAA tournament, get a majority of the TV time, and attract all the high-ranked prospects.
Just below the high-ranked teams are the mid-major schools and teams. Mid-major. Just the word "mid" brings some sort of negative connotation. I've been a firm believer that if the talent and hard work are there, they will find you no matter what. Every so often players embodies that. The truth of the matter is, if you're good enough to make it, the scouts will find you.
The ones who leave their mid-majors and go on to have promising careers are always a reminder that work and talent always surpass the allure of the name-brand things. I call them 'Mid Major Demons." We got a lot of them in the league today. All players we watch dominate regularly. Stephen Curry first made a name for himself at Davidson. Damian Lillard came the way of Weber State, and his backcourt mate CJ McCollum was getting buckets at Lehigh University before the NBA. That's just a few names I'm listing off.
The league today is filled with players who have solidified themselves as all-time greats. A large number of them are mid-major products. Here are my top 5 mid-major demons in the NBA today.
5. Ja Morant
Ja Morant has been one of the more exciting and outstanding mid-major products in recent memory. Coming out of Murray State, Morant started his pro career with a bang. Having won the Rookie of the Year and leading the Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs the following year, it's safe to say his career is on an upward trajectory.
Through 18 games this season, Morant is averaging 25 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.7 steals. Aside from averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and steals, his efficiency on the court groups him with some of the league's elite. With shooting splits of 48% from the field and 35% from three Morant has been foreshadowing what we should expect from him in the future. At the age of 22, Morant is already one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA today.
Before his sophomore season at Murray State, not many people were familiar with Ja Morant or his style of play. Fast forward a couple years and not only is he the face of the Grizzlies franchise he's getting the recognition his talent warrants.
4. Damian Lillard
If you consistently watch NBA basketball then you should be aware of who Damian Lillard is and what he brings to the table. Being that he was recently named to the NBA's top 75 all-time list, Dame is no slouch and is without a question he will be in the hall of fame when it's all said and done. Despite all of this not many people are aware Damian Lillard spent four years at Weber State before the NBA world was made aware of his talents.
Although he's having a down season, I expect him to pick things up once he gets over this core injury he's been suffering with since the Olympics. Through 18 games, Dame is averaging 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists on a poor shooting split of 40% from the field and 30% from three. Despite his struggles, the Portland Trail Blazers find themselves as the team with the 6th best record in the Western Conference.
Dame is a certified bucket. It's no surprise that he finds himself on this list despite his early struggles. Dame is 10 years in and has already left his mark on the NBA and the franchise of the Portland Trail Blazers.
3. Paul George
Coming in at the third spot is Paul George of the LA Clippers. PG 13 is one of the league's best two-way players without a doubt. Coming out of the less known Fresno State, he has worked himself into relevance among the NBA news cycles. His great play and leadership in the absence of his co-star Kawhi Leonard (another mid-major demon) move him past the likes of Damian Lillard.
This season PG 13 is averaging 26 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.8 steals. Aside from the box score numbers, George's leadership has been a pleasant surprise. Through his stellar play and leadership, the Clippers sit at 5th in the Western Conference. He is much more comfortable in his role. The results are showing themselves on the court.
From being a potential draft prospect at Fresno State to becoming one of the league's premier players, Paul George should serve as inspiration for any mid-major players out there.
2. Kevin Durant
This one might be up for debate. Did Kevin Durant go to a mid-major? In my honest opinion, I think so. Texas has never been a powerhouse in the world of college basketball. KD spent a lone season with the Texas Longhorns. From there, his talent was immediately recognized.
KD is one of the greatest players of all time. The greatest scorer of all time and he's still producing the same thing 12 years into his career. This season KD is making a strong case for himself as MVP. With averages of 28 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 55% from the field and 40% from three. Watching KD today is nothing like it was before his dreaded Achilles tear. Nowadays KD is still getting to his spots but for some reason, it just looks easier for him, just watch down below.
Kevin Durant is one of those players whose game will age like fine wine. As expected, athleticism will wain, but KD's skillset is so deep that it's hard to notice the difference. Arguably the best player in the NBA today, KD is a mid-major demon.
1. Stephen Curry
The number one spot for this list was pretty predictable. I never heard of Davidson before Steph donned their red and white jersey. Steph Curry is one of the most important players in basketball history, forget just the NBA. The guy single-handedly changed the game of basketball.
This season he's starting right where he left off last season. Thanks to the MVP level play of Steph, the Golden State Warriors find themselves with the best record in the entire NBA. Aside from that, Steph is averaging 28 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.6 steals. Shooting 46% from the field and 41% from three on 13 attempts a game is just the cherry on top. The excitement that surrounds Steph Curry's game is always evident and as he continues to dominate, the game continues to change.
Steph Curry is the best player in the NBA this season point blank period. His road up until this point embodies the idea that "if you are good enough, they'll find you." Steph is the biggest mid-major demon. Shit, he changed the whole game of basketball, and he came from Davidson. Tell me I'm wrong.