NBA's Top 100 Players for 2019-20: Ranking the Top 25
BOSTON — With the unprecedented amount of NBA big names changing teams in the offseason, the time was right to rank the league's Top 100 players. We've broken up our list into four parts.
Part 1 is players 100-75, which included Celtics players Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, while Isaiah Thomas and Dwight Howard headlined the bottom quarter of the list.
Part 2 is the 75-51 range, in which we got a glimpse of where Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier stood among the NBA's elite.
Part 3 is 50-26, with ex-Celtics big man Al Horford, current Celtic Jayson Tatum and Kyle Lowry of the defending champion Toronto Raptors in the mix.
What you won’t see on our list are rookies. Because as talented as Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Ja Morant may be, they have yet to play an actual regular-season NBA game.
Today we've arrived at the top of our list, which features plenty of players who have found new homes. Here are the Top 25:
25. Rudy Gobert, Utah
The blocked shots are always welcomed, but it is Gobert’s presence that makes him such a high impact performer for the Jazz defensively.
24. Devin Booker, Phoenix
As the seventh-leading scorer (26.6 points per game) last season, Booker is as lethal a shooter as you’ll find in the NBA. That shot-making has propelled him to be among the deadliest shooters out there, even though his team more nights than not are dead on arrival.
23. Kemba Walker, Boston
Named to the all-NBA Third Team last spring, Walker comes to Boston feeling good about himself, his game and his chances of deep postseason success which eluded him during his eight seasons in Charlotte. And the fact that he was named a co-captain on Team USA, speaks to his impact as a leader.
22. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia
A mid-range jumper away from being the best in the game, this glaring weakness won’t ever go away. But to Simmons’ credit, his ability to continue to impact the game off the dribble-drive along with getting others involved at a high level, will keep him on the short list of the game’s best players.
21. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City
The end is sooner rather than later for Chris Paul who despite his age (34) and history with injuries, still ranks among the better point guards in the NBA. He will be leading a Thunder team that, despite all their changes will still be a squad in the hunt for a playoff berth this season.
20. Klay Thompson, Golden State
There is no better all-around defender/sharpshooter in the NBA. than Klay Thompson. Despite being third and sometimes fourth when it comes to offensive options, Thompson does a great job of staying ready when the moment to step up presents itself.
19. Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Similar to Kevin Durant, his ranking might be higher if not for the anticipated slew of games he will miss to start the year while recovering from the injury.
18. Karl Anthony-Towns, Minnesota
With his skills, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a top-10 player in this league. But there are too many disappearing acts on his part, something that should not happen as often as it does with him and his amazing, inside-outside game.
17. Donovan Mitchell, Utah
A combo guard who will play more off the ball this year with the addition of Mike Conley Jr., Donovan Mitchell’s ability to continue taking his game to a higher level will go far in determining whether the Jazz will live up to the hype and be one of the last teams standing out West this season.
16. Bradley Beal, Washington
There were many eyes opened by the strong, all-around game Beal showed last season when he averaged a league-best 36.9 minutes per game. Building off of that is very doable. Increasing the Wizards’ win total? Not so much.
15. Draymond Green, Golden State
When you talk about NBA “glue guys,” no NBA player better fits that mold than Green. With Klay Thompson’s injury and Keivn Durant in Brooklyn, Green’s ability to make those around him better will be even more valuable this season.
14. Jimmy Butler, Miami
He comes in with the basketball fury of a Category 5 Hurricane, leaving franchises in not-so-great shape in his aftermath. But the Heat seem different than the others, mainly because Pat Riley in the front office and Erik Spoelstra on the sidelines.
13. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn
Celtics fans have little to no love for Kyrie Irving, but that doesn’t take away from him being one of the best in the NBA. His handles and ability to score off the dribble or drain shots from 3-point range, are among the reasons why he’s a perennial All-Star. But with a new team and no Kevin Durant for most or all of this season, will Irving learn from the mistakes made in Boston or is he destined to repeat them?
12. Damian Lillard, Portland
Year-in, year-out Lillard is on the outside looking in when discussions about the top players begin. And by season’s end, he’s once again right up there with the best of the best. We’re gonna skip past all that this year and start Lillard off right where he’ll likely be by season’s end — among the best of the best.
11. Nikola Jokic, Denver
Sooner or later, folks are going to have to start believing this kid can flat-out play. He is the NBA’s true point-center out there with his court vision and overall basketball savvy in getting his teammates involved. Look for Jokic to lead the Nuggets deep into the playoffs this season.
10. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn
The only reason Durant is this low, is because of the high odds that he won’t play this season while on the mend from a right Achilles injury. If not for the injury, the 32-year-old Durant is a top-three lock in the NBA. And while it’s unlikely he will play this season, the mere hint that there’s a chance he could suit up is reason enough to keep the perennial All-Star in the top 10.
9. Russell Westbrook, Houston
The only player who is legitimately a walking triple-double, this basketball reunion between him and James Harden will be as close as we’ll come to seeing video game-like numbers, in real time. Regardless of who Westbrook plays with, he’s still going to find ways to put up eye-popping numbers.
8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia
His size, strength and face-up game have been critical to him coming of age as arguably the best center in the NBA. And now that Al Horford is a teammate rather than a postseason nemesis, look for Embiid to have a top-5 MVP candidate kind of season.
7. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
This was the summer of the power couple in the NBA, and a case can be made for the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George union being the strongest of the lot. With or without Leonard, George’s ability to play at an elite level on both ends of the floor has made him a top-10 lock.
6. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Joining forces with LeBron James will certainly do wonders for Davis both on and off the court. But regardless of who he plays with, Davis is truly a special talent. That’s why the season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins, while a huge blow for the Lakers, won’t totally crush them because they have Davis who can be an impactful player as both a center and a power forward.
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State
The Warriors won’t be the same title-or-bust squad this season, not with Klay Thompson’s ACL injury and the defection of Kevin Durant to Brooklyn. That will put more of a spotlight on Curry, the two-time league MVP. Even with added attention, Curry will continue to put up big numbers and keep the Golden State Warriors in the mix as one of the more competitive squads in the NBA.
4. James Harden, Houston
No one gets buckets with the kind of consistency that Harden does. But what’s often lost in his game, is how he has consistently delivered points in down-to-the-wire games. Last season he averaged 4.9 points in the clutch which was tops among all players who appeared in at least 30 “clutch” games last season.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee
There are plenty of reasons why Giannis Antetokounmpo is among the best players in the NBA. But what separates him from many, is that the ceiling for the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo is dramatically higher than it is for just about any other player in the NBA. When it comes to Antetokounmpo, it’s a matter of when — not if — he will be the best player in the NBA.
2. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
There are those who believe 34-year-old LeBron James has lost a step, and they may be right. But when you’ve spent the bulk of your career if not all of it being two, three, four steps ahead of the pack, a slight dip doesn’t drop you far from having top-shelf status in the NBA. James is still an insanely talented player who is cemented himself as one of the all-time greats.
1. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
The ultimate matchup nightmare for all NBA teams, is Kawhi Leonard. At 6-foot-7, he’s strong enough to score on guys in the block as well as from the perimeter. He can rebound at a high level. And his defense? Pound-for-pound, there is no one better in the NBA at that end of the floor.