100. Zion Williamson – New Orleans Pelicans
Outside of perhaps LeBron James, never have we seen so much anticipation over a first-year player. Zion Williamson has long been known as a ridiculous dunker. However, he’s much more than that. New Orleans will look at him as both a defensive force as well as a versatile playmaker. Though he’s yet to play one minute of NBA action, he’s unquestionably a top-100 player (and will soon rise up this list).
99. Jeff Teague – Minnesota Timberwolves
Teague is a solid yet unspectacular point guard. He’s good enough to start for some teams, though is likely too good to be a reserve (though at this stage of his career he’s certainly trending in this direction). Teague hovered right around his career averages this past season.
98. P.J. Tucker – Houston Rockets
Tucker does all of the little things necessary in order to win at a high clip. He won’t score 20 points a game — nor will he look flashy on the court. However, the term ‘doing the dirty work’ is completely applicable to the hard-nosed forward out of Texas. He will continue to be a valuable piece despite entering his mid-30s.
97. Andre Iguodala – Memphis Grizzlies
Iguodala has had a very prolific career. Despite his numbers tailing off considerably, the former University of Arizona star still has value as a veteran presence. Golden State recently traded him to Memphis as means to open cap space. Iguodala likely will be bought out with the expectation that he’ll sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
96. Jerami Grant – Denver Nuggets
Grant had a sneaky-good year for the Thunder in 2019. The athletic wing can guard both forward spots, and can even fill in at the five when called upon. As Grant’s perimeter shooting continues to improve, we could be looking at one of the best two-way players in the NBA. He’ll be a great fit alongside the upstart Nuggets.
95. Fred VanVleet – Toronto Raptors
Outside of Kawhi Leonard, one can make the argument that VanVleet was the Raptors’ second-best player during their title run. The diminutive guard out of Wichita State plays the game with immense composure. VanVleet reads the floor well, and makes the right play the vast majority of the time. With Kyle Lowry and VanVleet both on expiring contracts, we could see a very robust market for VanVleet in one year’s time.
94. Evan Fournier – Orlando Magic
Fournier is a solid No. 4 starter on a fringe playoff team. He’s not spectacular in any one thing — though he is a capable offensive player. Orlando is surely hoping that his shooting numbers improve from a year ago. Fournier’s ability to spread the floor will open up things for the likes of Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon.
93. Wes Matthews – Milwaukee Bucks
Matthews recently inked a short-term deal with his hometown Milwaukee Bucks. With Tony Snell and Malcolm Brogdon out the door, Matthews was a nice get in order to replenish wing depth. Matthews is a prototype ‘3-and-d’ player. As such, expect him to have a big-time role for the title-contending Bucks this upcoming season.
92. Patrick Beverley – Los Angeles Clippers
The snarling pit bull out of Chicago is one of the most irritating defenders in the league. Aside from being athletic, physical and quick, Beverley relishes the opportunity to get in his opponents’ heads with trash talk. A big-time commodity on the free agent market, Beverley re-upped with the Clippers on a 3-year deal.
91. Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves
We like the idea of Wiggins more than the actual player. He’s blessed with all the physical ability in the world. However, it doesn’t appear as if he knows how to play the game of basketball. There’s something you can’t put your finger on as it pertains to Wiggins’ game. While there’s still plenty of time for him to turn it around, it appears as if Minnesota is trying to rid themselves of the enigmatic forward from Canada.
90. Marcus Morris – New York Knicks
The better of the two brothers, Marcus has the skill catered to today’s NBA. The hybrid forward can defend both threes and fours. Duly, Morris can stretch the floor — as well as create for himself off the bounce. The Knicks will benefit from adding Morris.
89. Goran Dragic – Miami Heat
Dragic has slowed down somewhat from his past form. He’s lost a step, and doesn’t appear to be an All-Star-level guard anymore. With that said, Dragic certainly isn’t chopped liver. He can still be a productive player when given the chance to play. It will be fascinating to see whether Miami looks to flip him for some cap space/other assets.
88. Jeremy Lamb – Indiana Pacers
Lamb is coming off his best season in which he registered in points (15.3 PPG), rebounds (5.5 APG), and steals (1.1). Indiana recognized this and inked the 26-year-old to a multi-year deal. Now in a very respectable culture, Lamb could take his game to another level.
87. T.J. Warren – Indiana Pacers
Similarly to Lamb, Warren is slated to join the Pacers after Indiana traded for the veteran wing. Warren doesn’t play a whole lot of defense, nor does he have the propensity to share the rock. With that said, he can absolutely fill it up from anywhere on the floor. Warren is the classic big wing bucket-getter.
86. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder
The rookie guard out of Kentucky (by way of Toronto) had a very encouraging rookie season. SGA already has proven to be an above-average defender. There’s an understated elegance with which Alexander operates. He never appears to be sped up when pressured. Duly, Alexander has proven to be efficient (.476 from the field, .367 from three) as a first-year player. As he gets physically stronger, expect SGA’s game to improve considerably as a second-year player.
85. Paul Millsap – Denver Nuggets
Millsap is as rock-solid as they come. The consummate professional, Denver’s core is buoyed by Millsap’s pedigree. He’s a guy who can guard multiple spots on the floor. Duly, Millsap rebounds at a high clip, and can score both inside and outside of the paint. He’ll return to Denver for another season with the hopes of breaking through for a potential Western Conference Finals appearance.
84. Spencer Dinwiddie – Brooklyn Nets
The Los Angeles native has proven to be a very versatile player. In college, Dinwiddie was more of a pure point guard. Most recently, he’s developed into more of a combo option. Dinwiddie can get hot in a hurry — an aspect Brooklyn loves about his game. He’s one of the best bench guards in the NBA.
83. Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers
Kuzma is a very skilled player. He possesses a bevy of moves — including floaters, flip shots, and runners. The Michigan native certainly has an old school feel to his game. While clearly offensively inclined, Kuzma needs some serious work on the defensive end of the floor. If he can shore up things defensively, Kuzma will skyrocket up this list.
82. Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic
It just feels as if Gordon should be better than he is. The bouncy athlete out of California is far too inconsistent relative to his talent level. He’s a guy who should be averaging a double-double in his sleep. Gordon will be helped by improving on his outside shot. However, he looks like a mild disappointment at this point.
81. Montrezl Harrell – Los Angeles Clippers
Harrell is the human form of a ball of energy. Despite being generously listed at 6-foot-8, Harrell simply outworks opponents with an engine akin to the most prolific sports car. Harrell carves out space for himself with brute strength, impressive leverage, and short-area quickness. He’s relentless on the boards, and it comes as no surprise to see him function as one of the NBA’s best bench players.
80. Jusuf Nurkic – Portland Trail Blazers
Save for a gruesome leg injury, Nurkic was on his way to his most productive season as pro. In fact, many believed that the Bosnian bruiser was indeed the second-best player on Portland’s team last season (with all due respect to C.J. McCollum). Hopefully, Nurkic can recover fully in order to maximize his potential as a productive big man.
79. Jaren Jackson Jr. – Memphis Grizzlies
If there’s such thing as a stretch-five, Jackson is it. The talented player out of Michigan State is tailor-made for this current era of basketball. He protects the rim at a high clip (1.4 BPG), and shoots a respectable .359 from three (standing at 6-foot-11). His game should only continue to blossom. From a ceiling standpoint, Jackson could turn out to be a bigger, better shooting version of Chris Bosh.
78. Terrence Ross – Orlando Magic
Ross exploded as one of the league’s best reserves this past season. The slashing wing set an NBA record for most threes in a single season without starting a contest. The Washington product is comfortable posting up on the perimeter — though he also has enough off the dribble to keep defenses honest. In a sense, he’s instant offense.
77. Harrison Barnes – Sacramento Kings
Barnes is a polarizing player. Much of the mystique surrounding Barnes revolves around ‘what he could be’ rather than his actual production level. Sacramento rewarded him with a handsome 4-year deal in the offseason. Now somewhat of a veteran with the Kings, Barnes much be able to help both De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield as a shot-creator and as a wing defender.
76. Marc Gasol – Toronto Raptors
Gasol is a player aging like a fine wine. His game was never predicated upon world-class athleticism. As such, many of his primary traits — play-making, defensive positioning, basketball I.Q. — have remained as Gasol hits his mid-30’s. At 34 years of age, Gasol is still a solid starting player in the NBA.
75. Danny Green – Los Angeles Lakers
Danny Green is a very attractive player in today’s NBA. He shoots threes at a high percentage, can guard both perimeter wing spots, and is a seasoned veteran with tons of experience. There’s a reason why many teams — before he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers — vied for his services.
74. Lonzo Ball – New Orleans Pelicans
Lonzo Ball is a polarizing player. On one hand, he’s woeful both from the free throw line and behind the arc. There seems to be a hesitance as it pertains to him driving the lane. However, Ball also has exquisite passing ability — as well as some of the best defensive metrics at his position. If he can learn how to shoot and be more confident, a good player will emerge.
73. Caris LeVert – Brooklyn Nets
LeVert is one of those guys dripping with upside. Though he appears to be a lengthy wing player, LeVert actually brings some point guard skills to the table. He can facilitate for teammates equally as well as hunting for his own shot. Without question, LeVert appears to be in Brookyn’s long-term plans.
72. Brandon Ingram – New Orleans Pelicans
We don’t really know what Ingram is at this point. Is he a jumbo shooting guard? A future four? A lithe wing with a lack of consistency? We do see appealing traits in his game — though Ingram needs to take another step in becoming a potential All-Star. Otherwise, he may be relegated to a sixth man status sooner than later.
71. Gordon Hayward – Boston Celtics
We’re hedging a bit on Hayward. When fully healthy, he’s a borderline top-25 player. However, he’s still not fully back from the gruesome leg injury suffered two years ago. This year will be a big one not only for the Butler product, but also for Boston. A healthy Hayward could be the difference between a first-round playoff exit and a team competing for a conference crown.
70. Domantas Sabonis – Indiana Pacers
Sabonis is slated to start this year for Indiana — and for good reason. He, like Harrell, was a very efficient player coming off the bench this past season. Sabonis rebounds with ferocity, finishes around the rim exceptionally well, and has underrated passing capabilities. It remains to be seen as to whether he can play heavy minutes alongside Myles Turner. However, we’re all for the experiment.
69. Otto Porter Jr. – Chicago Bulls
Porter is the quintessential 3-and-D wing in today’s NBA. He deserves credit for playing within himself. Rarely do you see Porter hunt for his own shot. Instead, he’s perfectly comfortable camping out on the three-point line — or slashing to the cup off the ball. The 25-year-old shot 40.6-percent from three last year.
68. Julius Randle – New York Knicks
Randle is a flawed player — though not one without some upside. He’s quite active on the floor, always looking to attack the lane. Randle’s energy level enables him to finish well in transition. He also is an above-average rebounder. However, his short wingspan — coupled with less-than-ideal height — makes him below-average both defensively and in terms of protecting the rim. He’ll get you production, though it’ll be in the ’empty numbers’ category. As such, he’s really a perfect fit for the Knicks (who just inked him to a 3-year deal).
67. J.J. Redick – New Orleans Pelicans
Despite being nearly 35 years of age, Redick has done a phenomenal job of staying in shape. He’s elongated his career to the point where Redick still remains one of the game’s best shooters. New Orleans recently inked him to a 2-year deal. He’ll join the squad with the hopes of providing the Pelicans with both spacing and veteran leadership.
66. Jarrett Allen – Brooklyn Nets
We aren’t sure what the arrival of DeAndre Jordan will mean for Allen and his future in Brooklyn. What we do know is that Allen is an exceptional rim-protector, a good rebounder, and someone that can hurt the opposition in transition. Even more impressive, Allen shoots a respectable 73.2-percent from the free throw line. At only 21 years old, Allen is one to watch for the future.
65. Bojan Bogdanovic – Utah Jazz
Utah’s addition of Bogdanovic is certainly a head-turner in the Western Conference. The jumbo wing slots in as the perfect stretch four alongside Rudy Gobert. Bogdanovic is a solid playmaker in his own right. Additionally, his ability to space the floor will open up driving lanes for both Mike Conley Jr. and Donovan Mitchell.
64. Hassan Whiteside – Portland Trail Blazers
After recently being traded to Portland, Hassan Whiteside suddenly has a new lease on life. He was desperately needing a change of scenery. Now in Portland with a rock-solid culture, it will be fascinating to see whether he can replicate his usual double-double status. Portland will need him — particularly with the future of Jusuf Nurkic up in the air.
63. Brook Lopez – Milwaukee Bucks
Lopez deserves considerable credit for evolving his game to fit the trends of the NBA. He went from a plodding scorer in the paint to a plodding rim-protector with the proclivity to launch threes. In essence, Lopez represents the prototype center everyone is looking for. Lopez’s ability to stretch the floor keeps driving lanes open. Duly, his paint-protecting skills makes Milwaukee an elite defensive team.
62. Buddy Hield – Sacramento Kings
The Bahamian shooting guard enjoyed a very good 2018-19 season for the Kings. Hield put up career-high numbers in PPG (20.7), field goal percentage (.458), RPG (5.) and APG (2.5). A 42.7-percent shooter from three, Hield is clearly in the running as one of the league’s most underrated players.
61. John Collins – Atlanta Hawks
Collins is a budding star. Many don’t get the chance to see him often — though that should change as Atlanta becomes one of most fun League Pass teams. The second-year player averaged 19.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG on 56-percent shooting from the field and 34.8-percent from three. Without question, the trajectory is there for Collins to develop into a multi-year All-Star.
60. Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets
Harris is an elite two-way player. He never shies away from the challenge of defending the opposition’s best player. The 24-year-old has insanely quick hands (which accounts for him averaging over a steal per game). As he battled injuries this past year, Harris will look to revert back to the 2017 season in which he averaged 17.5 PPG on .396 from three-point range.
59. Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets
The 11-year vet has averaged double-figures in every single year he’s played in the NBA. Gordon’s strong frame enables him to overpower smaller defenders when driving the lane. Duly, Gordon is a career .374 shooter from beyond the arc. At 30, he should still have a few good years left in the proverbial tank.
58. Jaylen Brown – Boston Celtics
As he enters year four of his career, the Celtics are hoping Brown can develop into an All-Star-level talent. We’ve seen glimpses of a potentially elite player. However, Brown has also been beset by inconsistency (something emblematic of most young players). With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford gone, Brown may be expected to pick up more of the load in 2019-20.
57. Josh Richardson – Philadelphia 76ers
Richardson’s world changed in a hurry during the free agency period. He went from being Miami’s best player to becoming Philadelphia’s fourth option. An excellent defender, Richardson will essentially be asked to camp out on the three-point line with the expectations of getting open looks. While not much of a shot creator, Richardson is above-average in most other categories.
56. Steven Adams – Oklahoma City Thunder
Adams is a total throwback player. There’s not another competitor in today’s NBA possessing his ability to unleash bone-crushing screens. The New Zealand native plays within himself — as he never looks for his own shot. He plays great positional defense, is a menace on the boards, and completely ups the ‘intimidation’ factor for the Thunder.
55. Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
Capela has lost a bit of luster over the past year. He was played off the floor during the playoffs over concerns with his ability to move laterally. Still, Capela is a rim-protector with double-double capabilities on any given night. There aren’t a lot of those guys left in the league today.
54. Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks
The diminutive guard out of Oklahoma had what many are calling a decent rookie campaign. He averaged 19.1 PPG — though Young did so on .418 from the field and .324 from three-point land. He did average 8.1 APG (a number ranking him among the league’s best). As it pertains to Young, his shot selection must improve. There’s reason to believe he will register better shooting numbers across the board as he matures.
53. Danilo Gallinari – Oklahoma City Thunder
Gallinari is a sneaky-good player. He doesn’t get a ton of recognition — primarily because he’s battled a multitude of injuries throughout his career. However, he really found his groove in Los Angeles this past year. He can play either forward spot, and is a true threat to score the basketball whenever possessing it. Gallinari averaged a career-high 19.8 PPG this past season. Will he top that number in Oklahoma?
52. Malcolm Brogdon – Indiana Pacers
Brogdon is one of the few players in the NBA that etched his name within the rarefied air of the 50-40-90 club. An efficient player, Brogdon is excellent at taking care of the ball. Duly, he hounds the opposition as an above-average on-ball defender. Indiana loved his game to the point where it gave him a contract worth approximately $85 million. The tag-team of Brogdon and Victor Oladipo is quite an attractive pairing.
51. Al Horford – Philadelphia 76ers
Horford is a winning basketball player. He’s played 12 years in the NBA, and has made the playoffs every single year. This will continue in 2019-20, as he inked a huge deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. Horford’s defensive pedigree, shooting ability, and high basketball I.Q. should help Philadelphia immensely.
50. DeMarcus Cousins – Los Angeles Lakers
On talent alone, a healthy Cousins is a fringe top-15 player. However, as he works his way back from a torn Achilles, the enigmatic big man has yet to resemble the player he once was. Cousins will look to regain his form with the Lakers next season.
49. Lou Williams – Los Angeles Clippers
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is a professional scorer. Williams shouldn’t be as good as he is. His slight frame is complemented by average athleticism and ordinary explosiveness. However, Williams gets to his spot on the floor whenever he wants. Few are able to match his nose for the basket. Despite being 32 years of age, the Georgia native is still an excellent player.
48. Myles Turner – Indiana Pacers
At only 23 years of age, Turner has the look of a future multi-year All-Star. His play on the court can sometimes be frustrating — especially since Turner is loaded with talent. The 6-foot-11 big man can both take players off the dribble, and also shoot a high percentage (.388 last year from three). Additionally, he averages more than two locks per contest. As is the case with many young players, Turner is sometimes hindered by inconsistency.
47. Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee Bucks
Though there are obvious warts in Bledsoe’s game (shaky perimeter shooting, questionable decision-making), he’s still a commodity in the league. Bledsoe can get to the cup with regularity, and is still a very good defensive player. His perimeter shooting must improve, however, if he’s to age well into his 30’s.
46. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
Lowry is who he is at this point. The chunky point guard isn’t a great shooter — nor is he overly good on the defensive end of the floor. With that said, Lowry is still tough as nails. He proved in the Finals that he’s still capable of putting up numbers when called upon.
45. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
Boston fans were ready to appoint Tatum as a potential MVP candidate after his rookie season. However, the St. Louis native crashed back down to Earth in a big way. Tatum settles far too often for long two-point jumpers. There’s also seemingly a reluctance to drive to the rim. The talent is there for him to be a perennial All-Star. With Kyrie Irving out of town, Tatum may be able to showcase his skills in a more efficient way.
44. John Wall – Washington Wizards
Out of respect for Wall’s game, we have him ranked inside the top 50. Truth be told, we have no idea how he’ll respond after suffering a torn Achilles. Washington is a complete mess at the moment, and is saddled with Wall’s bloated contract for four more years. We’re hoping he can yet again resemble the multi-time All-Star he once was.
43. Tobias Harris – Philadelphia 76ers
Tobias Harris is now the 180 million-dollar man. Philadelphia invested into Harris in a big way. As currently constituted, Harris will now be asked to be one of the team’s closers (particularly in crunch time). The versatile forward can score in a multitude of ways. It will be very fascinating to see how his game will evolve when now thrust into more of a prominent role.
42. C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers
McCollum can put the ball in the hoop. He’s one of the best bucket-getters in the league. He also can drop 30 on anyone in a moment’s notice. However, he is prone to the occasional stinker. Duly, his defensive ability is far from great. It’ll be interesting to see how his game develops as he approaches age 30.
41. Kristaps Porzingis – Dallas Mavericks
Porzingis is slated to be healthy this upcoming year. A player long on talent, he’ll be in a much more solidified situation in Dallas when compared to New York. Luka Doncic will make life easy for Porzingis — particularly when it comes to getting quality looks. Don’t be surprised if Porzingis averages a double-double this season.
40. Chris Paul – Oklahoma City Thunder
Chris Paul is coming off his worst season as a professional. While still a productive player, Paul is no longer the All-NBA player he once was. The number of nicks and injuries have certainly caught up to him. Paul’s explosiveness off the dribble has lessened, and his shooting percentages dropped sharply this past year. Now 34 years of age, Paul is verging on the ‘shell of himself’ status. Furthermore, it is unknown whether CP3 will stay with the Thunder or suit up for another team come October.
39. Zach LaVine – Chicago Bulls
LaVine is most certainly a gunner — though one with loads of talent. The former UCLA product dropped 23.7 PPG on a career-high .467 from the field. As LaVine continues to gain maturity, one could easily envision a scenario in which he averages north of 25 PPG. At the very worst, LaVine could become a fringe All-Star (though he needs continued development on the defensive end of the floor).
38. Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic
After making his first All-Star appearance, Vucevic was handsomely rewarded by Orlando with a multi-year deal. The big man out of Montenegro (by way of Belgium) is as skilled a post player as you will find in the NBA. While he’s not great on the defensive end, Vucevic is a near lock to register 20+ points and 10+ rebounds on a nightly basis.
37. DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs
DeRozan’s first season in San Antonio was quite successful. He shot 48.1-percent from the floor (his highest since his rookie year), and set career-highs in both rebounds (6.0) and assists (6.2). DeRozan still can’t shoot threes (.156 on 0.6 attempts per game). However, his newfound playmaking skills make him interesting.
36. Mike Conley Jr. – Utah Jazz
After a few rough years in Memphis, Conley is back with a contender. The Utah Jazz shrewdly acquired Conley with the idea to pair him alongside Donovan Mitchell. Conley’s savvy will enable Mitchell to play off the ball — a role in which he thrives. The veteran guard also offers a sorely needed second playmaker in the backcourt.
35. Andre Drummond – Detroit Pistons
Drummond does have his warts as player. He can’t stretch the floor in any major way. There are also issues as to whether he can play in crunch time (a career 44.8-percent free-throw shooter). With that said, Drummond is an elite rim runner, rebounder of the basketball, and shot blocker. He does hold value as an annual fringe All-Star candidate.
34. Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls
Chicago is in the middle of an extensive rebuild. Fortunately for those in the Windy City, Markannen is a great piece to grow around. The 7-footer from Finland can score in a myriad of ways. Markkanen has three-point range, but also immense skill around the basket. A true modern-day big, don’t be surprised if Markkanen makes multiple All-Star appearances down the line.
33. De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
Fox emerged last year as a legitimate point guard. He willed Sacramento to its best record in nearly a decade. Fast and decisive with the ball in his hands, Fox is always putting pressure on opposing defenses. Assuming his three-point shot can continue to improve, Fox looks like a core pillar in Sacramento’s future for years to come.
32. D’Angelo Russell – Golden State Warriors
Russell is coming off his best season as a professional. In Brooklyn, the former high draft pick was able to essentially run the team in all aspects. Russell played the role as the primary facilitator. Duly, he was tasked with being the primary shot-creator. Despite making the All-Star team, Brooklyn made him expendable (in its pursuit to get Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving). Russell now heads to Golden State — a team where he should thrive as a second option next to Steph Curry.
31. Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets
Murray broke out last year for Denver, averaging a career-high 18.2 PPG on .367 from three. More than anything, Murray played with a real sense of confidence. Along with Nikola Jokic, Denver is his team. He’ll need to get better on the defensive end. However, the upside is there for Murray to one day be an All-Star.
30. Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans
Quietly, Holiday still remains as one of the league’s most underrated players. Defensively, few rival him in terms of on-ball pressure and lateral quickness. Holiday can get his shot anytime he wants. Additionally, he’s a good teammate — and seemingly never forces the issue with the ball in his hands. The former UCLA product will be a great role model for the young crew now present in New Orleans.
29. Blake Griffin – Detroit Pistons
Pegged as an injury-riddled yet talented player, many eyebrows were raised over Detroit trading for Griffin and his pricey contract. In 2019, Griffin did his best to win the fan base over. He averaged a career-high 24.5 PPG on .462 from the field and .362 from three. Griffin’s efficiency numbers skyrocketed. It’s an aspect many in Detroit should be excited about considering Griffin is heading into his 30’s.
28. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
Green’s numbers will never replicate the impact he has on the floor. There are few possessing his anticipatory talents on defense. Green’s cerebral nature enables him to read and react at an exceptionally high level. With Klay Thompson expected to miss most of next season — as well as with Durant now in Brooklyn — Green’s scoring load likely will increase.
27. Pascal Siakam – Toronto Raptors
The departure of Kawhi Leonard now means that the Raptors’ franchise will be built around their budding star. Siakam showed immense improvement last season. He worked tirelessly in facilitating a diverse offensive game. Defensively, Siakam can guard multiple spots on the floor. Now expected to be the No. 1 option, it’ll be interesting to see whether Siakam can step up to the challenge adequately.
26. Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz
‘The Stifle Tower’ remains as the league’s premier shot-blocking force. When further factoring in Gobert’s walking double-double status, there are few players more significant to their teams than the Frenchman is to the Jazz. He’s the unquestioned anchor of the team — and likely is the most irreplaceable force.
25. Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers
Simmons is verging on the ‘most polarizing player in basketball’ discussion. 6-foot-10 point guards with the ability to rebound and defend don’t grow on trees. Simmons’ unique talents are somewhat hindered by his inability to shoot outside of five feet. In order for him to fully maximize his potential, Simmons has to develop some sort of perimeter shot.
24. Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Booker can fill it up as well as any young player in the league. He resembles a young Klay Thompson from the standpoint that Booker needs little to no space in order to get his shot off. His range, like Thompson’s, is also limitless. There are questions over his ability to involve teammates/take care of the ball. With that said, the addition of a true point guard (Ricky Rubio) should help in that regard considerably.
23. Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
Middleton’s status as one of the league’s best two-way players remains the same. Though his three-point numbers dipped a bit in 2019, Middleton’s ability to stretch the floor is a large reason why Giannis Antetokounmpo has room to operate in and around the paint. Milwaukee handsomely rewarded Middleton with a max deal earlier in July.
22. LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs
Despite heading into his mid-30’s, Aldridge is still a highly productive player. He’s a near-lock for 20-and-10 on a nightly basis. He contests shots at a high clip, and also is a very smart player. Despite diminishing athleticism, Aldridge remains a high-level athlete on a rather interesting Spurs’ team.
21. Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers
Oladipo was on the cusp of super-stardom before suffering a knee injury. Fortunately for the Pacers, Oladipo is only 27 years of age — and should be ready to come back from the injury with no complications. When fully healthy, Oladipo is as dynamic a player off the dribble as there is in the league. With Toronto falling off considerably, Indiana looks like a lock to finish within the top-four in the Eastern Conference.
20. Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors
Thompson’s future with Golden State will be wildly fascinating. For one, he’s just suffered the first serious injury of his career. Once back from the knee tear, Thompson will enter a situation with Russell rather than Durant. Will he be expected to hunt for his own shot at a higher clip? Maybe we’ll get to see some of Thompson’s off-the-dribble skills rather than him strictly camping out beyond the arc for uncontested threes.
19. Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
The second-year player out of Slovenia is certainly not your ordinary sophomore. Doncic made Dallas his team as a rookie last season. He wasn’t shy to take the big shot. Duly, Doncic demonstrated many of the skills (orchestrating, involving teammates) that had many excited about his initial arrival to the league. Without question, Dallas has a foundational piece with Doncic.
18. Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat
After a rather tumultuous 2019 season, Butler finally found his long-term home with the Miami Heat. He goes to a franchise with both stability and respect. In the process, Butler will be the unquestioned top dog with the Heat. He’s still a guy who can provide a team with 20+ PPG and all league-level defense.
17. Kemba Walker – Boston Celtics
After a lengthy career in Charlotte, Walker walked away from a ton of money in order to sign with the Boston Celtics. From a fit standpoint, Walker perfectly slots in to the void left by Kyrie Irving. His personality appears to be more in line with Isaiah Thomas rather than Irving. As such, the Celtics are hoping for Walker to give them a Thomas-like impact (back when Thomas was an MVP candidate a few short years ago).
16. Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards
Beal is essentially the last marooned superstar in the NBA. Washington figures to be absolutely horrible. Beal will be essentially by himself on a team full of unproven players. It will be fascinating to see whether the Wizards do indeed look to trade him for a considerable haul.
15. Russell Westbrook – Houston Rockets
With the Thunder going into rebuilding mode, it was only a matter of time before Westbrook found a new home. Many are quick to criticize Westbrook for questionable decision making and shot selection. However, he plays as hard as anyone in the NBA today. Duly, how many other players can average a triple-double? Westbrook will have a chance to compete in the West with the Rockets.
14. Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets
The Kyrie Irving experiment in Boston did not turn out overly well. The Celtics underachieved last year, and many are quick to point to Irving’s odd personality and lack of leadership as a culprit. Now in Brooklyn with Durant, Irving’s game should be enhanced in a situation more palatable to him personally.
13. Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
Utah has the ability be quite good this upcoming season. In order for Utah to potentially make the Finals, Mitchell needs to take the next step in becoming a superstar player. The guard out of Louisville has all the ingredients in order to do so. Fortunately for him, Mitchell will be playing with two playmakers (Conley Jr., Bogdanovic) helping him carry the load. As such, Mitchell’s efficiency should go up.
12. Paul George – Los Angeles Clippers
The NBA got flipped upside down during the first week of July, as Paul George was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Now paired with Leonard, George gets to operate as a legitimate No. 2 back in his hometown. In the process, the Clippers have become title contenders overnight. George’s skill set should pair perfectly with Leonard.
11. Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
In terms of pure skill, KAT may be the most talented big man in the league (though Anthony Davis may have something to say about that). For Towns to take the next step in his career, he must become more of a leader. Minnesota has the tools — even in the treacherous Western Conference — to make the playoffs. Towns is good enough to carry this group to postseason play.
10. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Dame is an unquestioned superstar. Aside from hitting clutch shot after clutch shot, Lillard is an exceptional leader. He willed Portland to the Conference Finals after a monster postseason. Though the West got inexplicably even deeper, Portland should be a playoff team this upcoming season based upon Lillard’s brilliance.
9. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets
With respect to Porzingis, Nikola Jokic should be considered the NBA’s version of ‘the unicorn.’ He’s not in shape — nor can one fit a credit card under his feet when he ‘leaps’ off the floor. Regardless, Jokic continues to prove why he’s a special player. Whether it be scoring, shooting, or passing the basketball, Jokic is elite. Like others listed on this list, Jokic now needs to step up and lead Denver to a Conference Final.
8. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid needs to get in better shape in order to potentially become the best player in the league. With nagging injuries surrounding his already lengthy injury past, Embiid can ill-afford to not be in peak physical condition heading into this year. If that can happen, Philadelphia looks like a heavy favorite to make the Finals (if not win it).
7. Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets
Durant is not the seventh-best basketball player in the world. However, we just don’t know what he’ll look like upon coming back from a torn Achilles (particularly since he’s north of 30 years old). The pairing of him and Irving is beyond exciting. If Durant comes back fully healthy a season from now, Brooklyn may be the best team in the East.
6. Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers
The pressure surrounding Davis has been ramped up exponentially from where it once was. Not only is Davis underneath the Los Angeles microscope, but he’s also playing in a city featuring Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James. On the flip side, never has Davis played with anyone close to James’ talent level. One could see Davis putting up numbers good enough for an MVP award.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
The reigning MVP took a big step up from the previous season. Antetokounmpo is highly aggressive when attacking the paint. He’s probably the only player capable of guarding all five spots on the floor. With Milwaukee slated to be one of the two favorites in the East, Antetokounmpo has no excuse for not leading his team to the Conference Final.
4. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
Now in his 30’s, it’ll be interesting to see how Curry approaches this year sans Durant and Thompson. One could see Curry exploding for a monster season. On the other hand, the Warriors will be cautious in not wanting Curry to overextend himself during the regular season. Still, he’s the greatest shooter in the history of the league.
3. James Harden – Houston Rockets
It’s undeniable to dismiss Harden and what he’s done in the last two seasons. There’s not a more potent one-on-one player in the game. Harden’s pump fakes, head fakes, dribbles, craftiness, and physical strength makes him nearly impossible to defend. With some worry over the Rockets’ current situation, Harden needs to grab the bull by the horns and right the ship accordingly. Being reunited with Westbrook should certainly help his cause.
2. LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
James averaged 27-8-8 as a 34-year-old last year. Though the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs, James should be relatively refreshed heading into this season. There’s also the aspect of being both motivated and energized by the offseason’s developments (landing Davis, losing Leonard to the Clippers). Above all else, the Lakers are now a title contender. This aspect alone should have James highly excited.
1. Kawhi Leonard – Los Angeles Clippers
In true Leonard form, the enigmatic superstar flipped the script by spurning both the Lakers and the Raptors in order to sign with the Clippers. In the process, the team — also featuring George, Williams, and Harrell — should be considered the favorite heading into next season. At this point, Leonard is the best player in all of basketball.