3 of the Most Impactful NBA Players This Season

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Feb 26, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) battle for a loose ball in the fourth quarter at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Some NBA players are the backbone of their team. Without them, their team would also not be as successful as they are. Additionally, without these players, their teams would look completely different. So today, we’ll take a look at some of the most impactful NBA players in the league.

Rudy Gobert

May 3, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dunks the basketball during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Vivint Arena. Utah Jazz won 110-99. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gobert has been instrumental to the success of the Jazz this season, especially on the defensive end. He has been their defensive anchor and rim protector for the entire year. His impact on that end of the floor has been statistically astronomical this year. He has solidified himself as one of the best centers in the NBA.

Gobert’s stellar interior defense has almost single-handedly given the Jazz the third-best defensive rating in the NBA. Also, Gobert has far and away from the best defensive rating by a player this season, with 100.8. In comparison, the next best defensive rating is Ben Simmons, with 105.8. That’s a five-point differential, which shows how vital Gobert has been for Utah this season.

You can see Gobert’s impact in the stat sheet. He has the highest plus-minus of any player this season. There is a gap of +162 between him in the next player, which illustrates his absurd impact.

Not only does Gobert have a significant impact on defense, but he has a big offensive impact too. Gobert is genuinely one of the Jazz’s most essential pieces on offense. Gobert has the third-best offensive rating in the NBA right now. In addition, he is crucial for the Jazz both in the pick and roll and as a lob threat. The historic spacing of the Utah Jazz allows Gobert to get many easy buckets down low.

Although his defensive versatility is still somewhat of an issue, Gobert is essential on both ends of the floor. He anchors the third-best defense in the NBA and has helped them attain the best record in the league. Gobert is one of the most impactful NBA players this year.

Jimmy Butler

Apr 28, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) bring the ball upcourt during the fist half against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler has been another one of the most impactful NBA players. Like last year, Jimmy Butler has been huge for Miami during the 2021 season. He has been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reason they are a top-six playoff seed.

Jimmy Butler has been instrumental on both ends of the floor for the Heat this year. He leads the team in points, assists, steals, and both offensive and defensive ratings. Even more impressively, he has the highest total plus-minus despite having played only 50 games this year.

You can also see Butler’s impact when looking at the�Heat record with and without him.�With Butler, Miami has a record of 31-19, a winning percentage of 62%. This record would be good for the fourth seed in the East and just 1% off from the third seed. However, without Butler, the Heat record is 6-12 or a win percentage of 33.3%. This record would earn the Heat the 13th seed in the East.

We’ve seen this pattern throughout Jimmy Butler’s career. Nearly every franchise he’s been a part of has significantly benefited from his impact. The 76ers had one of their best chance of winning it all when Jimmy Butler was on their team. The Timberwolves’ only playoff appearance last decade was because of Butler. And last season, the Heat were able to make it to the finals because of Butler.

You cannot overstate Jimmy Butler’s importance. He is easily one of the most impactful NBA players in the league today.

Chris Paul

May 4, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) calls a play in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Paul has easily been one of the most impactful NBA players in recent history. The way he can make a franchise a contender simply with his leadership is just remarkable. Additionally, this season with Phoenix has been no different; Paul has been as instrumental as ever for the Suns this year.

Paul’s impact goes far beyond the stat sheet. The way he can control the offense and make all of his teammates better is remarkable. He can also lead and manage the pace of a team in a way very few players can.

To truly see how Paul has impacted the Suns this season, we must look at Phoenix’s performance last year. The Suns finished with a record of 34-39 and were 10th in the West last year. This is a winning percentage of 46.6%. Compared to this season, Phoenix is 48-20 and the second seed. They have a winning percentage of 72.5%.

Paul’s impact this year has even put him in some MVP talks, and rightfully so.

Like Butler, Paul has been an incredibly impactful player his entire career. He was able to take the Thunder to the fifth seed last season when they were given just a 0.2% chance by ESPN to make the playoffs. The Rockets were the closest they ever were to the finals when Paul was on their team in 2018. And both the Clippers and the Pelicans had their best regular-season records ever with Paul.

To conclude, all of these players are significant parts of their franchise this season. All of these players are looking to make waves in the postseason this year.

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