BOSTON -- The NBA offseason has become the soap opera that never seemed to run out of intriguing, on-the-edge-of-your-seat storylines.
But once the dust settles from a summer’s worth of drama, the real story is about which players are getting it done on a night-in, night-out basis.
With that in mind, we at NBC Sports Boston have come up with our Top 100 players heading into the 2019-2020 season.
A number of the top players have new homes this season, but you will still see most of them near the top of the rankings.
What you won’t see on the 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.
And with these kind of lists, there’s always a certain amount of educated guesswork going on. Why make that guesswork even more of a shot in the dark by including incoming rookies?
The rankings will take into account a number of factors, such as the traditional scoring, rebounding, assist-type stats but also guys who impact winning.
Like any rankings, it is far from an exact science.
And yes, there will be players ranked higher than some might buy into, while others are going to be snubbed because their fan base thinks they are a top-5 talent while others have them a peg or two - or 22 - lower.
And now, here’s the first part of our NBC Sports Boston Top 100 players heading into the 2019-2020 season.
100. Isaiah Thomas, Washington: Healthy for the first time in two years, Isaiah Thomas will get ample opportunities to jump-start his once-promising career with a Wizards team that will struggle to compete, let alone win games this season.
99. Dario Saric, Minnesota: A career 12.7 points per game scorer, his scoring around the post, rebounding and ability to stretch defenses will keep him on the floor for the Timberwolves.
98. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers: Future Hall of Famers should not be ranked this low, but we can all agree … Dwight Howard is a different kind of star in this league. An injury paved the way for the Lakers to go out and grab him, but he comes with a lot more questions than answers which is why adding him becomes a low-risk, high-reward alternative for Los Angeles relative to what their options are at this point.
97. DeMarcus Cousins, Los Angeles Lakers: The torn ACL injury suffered by DeMarcus Cousins means he will be out for most, if not all of this season. And when he returns, there’s no telling where he will be conditioning-wise or for that matter, how much time will it take for him to shake off the rust from yet another significant injury.
96. Marcus Morris, New York: He delivered in a contract year in Boston amid a lot of uncertainty as to what his role would be with the team. Now in New York, his scoring, leadership and ability to play all three frontcourt positions will be on display all season and position him for another solid payday when he hits the free agent market next summer.
95. Jusuf Nurkic, Portland: He gave Portland an inside presence of 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds last season. But they will have to wait until sometime around the All-star break before he returns from a leg injury suffered last season.
94. Marcus Smart, Boston: A first team all-NBA defender, Smart’s continued growth as a playmaker will ensure he remains a high impact performer for the Celtics this season.
93. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers: The offseason additions by the Lakers likely means a dip in terms of production for the third-year forward. Still, Kuzma is one of the best young wings at scoring, something he’ll have to continue to do but be more efficient about it.
92. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans: With a blood clot scare in the past now, Ingram hopes to continue to upward trajectory we saw him in which included a career-best 18.3 points per game last season.
91. Will Barton, Denver: Coming off an injury-riddled season which limited him to just 43 games, look for a bounce-back season from the 6-foot-6 wing this season.
90. Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers: Super-sub who averaged 16.5 points last season and shot better than 60 percent from the field for the fourth time in as many seasons.
89. Serge Ibaka, Toronto: Veteran big man who can fit into just about any lineup, starter or reserve, and be able to contribute.
88. John Wall, Washington: While it’s unlikely John Wall will play this season as he continues to recover from an Achilles injury, there’s still a chance that he might suit up. If so, what will his role be with the emergence of Bradley Beal? It’s a question Washington fans would love for this team to have to answer.
87. Thomas Bryant, Washington: Because the Wizards were so woeful to watch last season, the play of Thomas Bryant often went under the radar. He shot 61.6 percent from the field which ranked fourth in the NBA which included him connecting on a league-best 68.5 percent on two-point attempts.
86. Jaylen Brown, Boston: Every year he has shown noticeable growth as the season progressed. In a contract year, you have to believe it’ll be more of the same.
85. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento: Had a strong finish to the season, averaged at least 17 points and eight rebounds in the last three months (February, March and April) of the regular season.
84. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana: Starter? Key reserve? Not sure which is the better fit for him. Regardless, he’s a player with double-double potential every night.
83. Fred VanVleet, Toronto: The heir apparent to run the point in Toronto, VanVleet’s time might be sooner than later following a strong postseason run that helped lift the Raptors to the franchise’s first NBA title.
82. Evan Fournier, Orlando: Would love to see what he could do on a team with a legit rim-protector. Because he is all about getting buckets - scoring them for his team, while giving them up at the other end of the floor.
81. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis: He needs to do a better job rebounding the ball, but his scoring both around the rim and from the perimeter, will make him one to watch this season.
80. Reggie Jackson, Detroit: Assist numbers continue to dip, but shot a career-best 36.9 percent from 3-point range while starting all 82 games last season for the first time in his career.
79. Josh Richardson, Philadelphia: An emerging two-way talent, the Sixers adding Richardson may be one of the better sneaky-good moves made this offseason.
78. Patty Mills, San Antonio: That Australian upset of Team USA in an exhibition game was Patty Mills doing what he does well - get buckets quickly. The Spurs will need more of that instant offense he provides, this season.
77. Bam Adebayo, Miami: Does a really good job on defensive switches and his defense overall. Had a defensive rating of 104.1 last season which ranked 11th in the NBA.
76. Aaron Gordon, Orlando: Once the Magic realized the upside to Gordon playing more power forward than small forward, the high-flying wing finally took off and has delivered in a big way the last two seasons. Throw in his improved 3-point shooting (he made 34.9 percent last season) and you have a player on the rise.
Stay tuned for the next part of the Top 100 NBA Players, Nos. 75-51.
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