What’s better than ranking the top players in the NBA by position? Ranking them all together.
After receiving feedback on my positional top 50 lists, I’ve decided to create a top 100 players list using an updated formula. A reminder, these rankings are entirely statistical, and while I am publishing them, they are not entirely how I personally feel these players should be ranked. All of them are very good, and no matter where each player is ranked, there will be hurt feelings. I ranked 282 qualifying players.
As I noted, I am using an updated formula as a compilation of statistics and metrics to form a composite ranking for these players. The formula focuses on ranking by percentiles, so the best player in an individual category is in the “99th percentile” for that area. The pieces of the formula include the following:
- True Shooting percentage (TS%) - total points generated over total number of opportunities
- Total points
- Assist Points Created - Points created by way of a player’s assist
- Assist Rate (AST%) - percentage of team’s assists generated
- Rebound Rate (REB%) - percentage of team’s rebounds generated
- Steal Rate (STL%) - percentage of team’s steals generated
- Block Rate (BLK%) - percentage of team’s blocks generated
- Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM) - ESPN’s metric to estimate defensive contributions from a plus-minus perspective
- NBA.com’s Difference of Defensive Field Goal percentage and Average Field Goal percentage (DIFF) - The field goal percentage a player allows the opposition to maintain versus what should be maintained
- On-Off Net Rating (ON-OFF) - The difference between a team’s Net Rating while ON the court versus the team’s Net Rating when the player is OFF the court
- Team Net Rating (Team NET) - The points per 100 possessions a team performs above or below standard
- Minutes played during the season
- Minutes played per game
This list should provide a more accurate measurement of where players rank among their peers based on what they do on the floor, rather than the perception of what they do. Their responsibility to the team (USG%, AST%, REB%, minutes), their ability to make plays while they are on the floor (TS%, STL%, BLK%, DIFF), and their overall impact on the team itself (DRPM, ON-OFF, Team NET) are taken into account as much as possible.
Without further ado, here are the rankings, this time, in reverse order. Captions will be limited to 30 words or less about each player to keep the article short, starting with the list of qualifying Denver Nuggets not on the list and other honorable mentions:
Nuggets players not in the top 100:
259. Juancho Hernangomez - Hernangomez posted the third and fourth lowest minute qualifiers in this ranking. His defensive statistics and overall involvement were really bad, but Nuggets fans should remain excited about his scoring and overall fit.
234. Emmanuel Mudiay - Mudiay was the opposite. He posted high scorers in offensive involvement but wasn’t efficient in the slightest. There’s still hope for him, but it’s waning.
183. Kenneth Faried - Faried is a great test case for how valuable having one elite skill (rebounding) and one great skill (efficiency) can impact the game. Unfortunately, his defensive numbers were poor, and the Nuggets were 3.8 points per 100 possessions better with him OFF the floor.
165. Jamal Murray - When Murray was on the floor, the Nuggets were 2.8 points per 100 possessions better. His defensive scores were better than he gets credit for, and as long as he improves his percentages, he will climb this list.
132. Will Barton - Barton was fine last season. His defense worsened quite a bit though. Opponents shot 5.5% better against Barton this year, and while that was a common trend for the Nuggets, Barton was part of the problem. His offensive numbers were good, but nothing to write home about.
123. Jameer Nelson - Nelson was slightly better than Murray last year, but just slightly. His facilitation and upgraded efficiency were important, but for Denver to take the next step, they will need their starting point guard to be better than the 150th player in the NBA.
101. Gary Harris - Here’s everyone’s biggest shocker moment: Gary Harris is ranked juuuuuust outside of the top 100 because every single defensive metric says he is terrible. He’s bottom 25 in BLK%, DRPM and DIFF, and bottom 40 in REB%. Once that improves, he will shoot up this list, but it shouldn’t be surprising to see him here (for perspective, ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus ranked him 119th).
115. Kelly Olynyk - C - Miami Heat
114. Courtney Lee - SG - New York Knicks
113. Avery Bradley - SG - Detroit Pistons
112. Zaza Pachulia - C - Golden State Warriors
111. Julius Randle - PF - Los Angeles Lakers
110. Patty Mills - PG - San Antonio Spurs
109. Trevor Booker - PF - Brooklyn Nets
108. Nikola Mirotic - PF - free agent
107. Andre Roberson - SG - Oklahoma City Thunder
106. Andre Drummond - C - Detroit Pistons
105. Marcus Morris - PF - Boston Celtics
104. Ryan Anderson - PF - Houston Rockets
103. Derrick Rose - PG - Cleveland Cavaliers
102. Dwyane Wade - SG - Chicago Bulls
101. Gary Harris - SG - Denver Nuggets
There are some interesting names in this section. I won’t go over all of them, but I will talk about five. Avery Bradley is a good player, and his contributions will always be undervalued using this system. His defensive metrics don’t do him justice, but they also say that his defensive presence might be overstated.
Andre Drummond is the best rebounder in the NBA, but his On-Off Net Rating is the 7th worst among these 282 players. The only ones worse than him are two bench players on the Warriors, two bench players on the Clippers, D.J. Augustin, and Jahlil Okafor. That’s terrible company to keep. He’s also bottom 25 in defensive differential, which is an issue for a “rim protector” such as himself.
Ryan Anderson is similarly a one-dimensional player, and too often people overrate that single dimension. Anderson is possibly the best floor spacing power forward in the league, but he legitimately does nothing else, ranking in the 200s in five categories.
Derrick Rose was better than people give him credit for, but not good enough to crack this list. A point guard with a steal rate in the 200s is impossibly bad, and his DRPM reflected it. He wasn’t a strong enough creator to balance that out, and his efficiency was putrid.
Dwyane Wade scoffed at his 84 overall in NBA 2K18, but that truly overstates where he is right now. His effect on the Bulls was soooo bad last year. The Bulls were 4.5 points per 100 possessions worse when he was ON the floor versus when he was OFF. A TS% ranking 241st overall didn’t help matters.
Top 100 players
100. Wesley Matthews - SG - Dallas Mavericks
99. Darren Collison - PG - Indiana Pacers
98. J.J. Redick - SG - Los Angeles Clippers
97. Jonas Valanciunas - C - Toronto Raptors
96. Dennis Schroder - PG - Atlanta Hawks
95. Jabari Parker - PF - Milwaukee Bucks
94. Wilson Chandler - SF - Denver Nuggets
93. Rudy Gay - SF - San Antonio Spurs
92. Malcolm Brogdon - PG - Milwaukee Bucks
91. Marvin Williams - PF - Charlotte Hornets
Interesting group here, and it can be argued that some of the honorable mentions deserve to be above guys here. Matthews wasn’t particularly great at anything, but he did generate a solid number of points created through assists. Collison was a standard point guard who created a lot of points for others but mostly struggled defensively. J.J. Redick’s reputation is one of a better player, but every statistic pertaining to defense was in the 200s except steal rate, which was 191st. Jonas Valanciunas is a load to bear in the paint, but he struggled creating for others, and the Raptors were better with him OFF the floor. The Hawks were better with Dennis Schroder off the floor, which is an unfriendly surprise for a point guard. He was an excellent creator with the ball in his hands, but not good enough to outweigh poor defense.
Jabari Parker is a polarizing young player who would be much better as a small forward during the 2000s. The Bucks were 5.4 points better when he was OFF the floor though, which counts against him. Wilson Chandler makes his appearance at 94th due to versatility across the board. His low DRPM is based on a low steal rate and the Nuggets being bad, which may actually be unfair to him. Rudy Gay clocks in at 93, and it’s because of his defense. In his injury shortened season, the new bench forward for the Spurs placed top 70 in every defensive metric. Malcolm Brogdon was also very versatile, generating assists and steals while remaining relatively efficient. Marvin Williams returned to earth this past year, but he still does so many things not picked up in the box score, and it’s reflected in his ranking.
90. Aaron Gordon - PF - Orlando Magic
89. David Lee - PF - San Antonio Spurs
88. Joe Ingles - SF - Utah Jazz
87. Devin Booker - SG - Phoenix Suns
86. Evan Fournier - SG - Orlando Magic
85. Marcus Smart - PG - Boston Celtics
84. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - SF - Charlotte Hornets
83. JaMychal Green - PF - Memphis Grizzlies
82. Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
81. Lou Williams - SG - Los Angeles Clippers
This will be the group of potential-laden kids and the we-are-who-we-are veterans. Among the kids, the most high profile player is Devin Booker and Andrew Wiggins. Booker generates more points through his assists than credited; however, until he improve defensively, it’s hard to rank either him much higher since his offensive game is flawed. He MUST become more efficient. Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart are both defensive minded prospects looking to expand their offensive games, and while they don’t get the same amount of respect Booker and Wiggins get, they are just as valuable. The one who’s talked about the least is the one I’m most excited for: Clint Capela. He now has a year starting under his belt, and the Rockets just added Chris Paul. Capela may be the new leader in field goal percentage while improving defensively next season.
Among the we-are-who-we-are guys, David Lee is the most grizzled. He has carved out a bench role on the Spurs and brought them a needed lift defensively, something I thought I would never say about David Lee. Joe Ingles signed a contract in Utah hoping to play next to Gordon Hayward, but now he’s the starting 3 in Utah. We will see if his game translates to a larger role. Fournier has gotten better every year, and while he’s no first option offensively, make him the third or fourth option while surrounding him with defenders, and he would be well-thought-of again. Kidd-Gilchrist is likely never developing a jumper, so his value is capped at what he can provide defensively and as a rebounder. So far, he’s doing pretty well. Finally, JaMychal Green is one of the most undervalued players in the NBA. He will never be a great scorer, but as he continues to age, it wouldn’t surprise me if he rose to around 50th in the NBA.
80. Andrew Wiggins - SG - Minnesota Timberwolves
79. Pau Gasol - C - San Antonio Spurs
78. Tristan Thompson - C - Cleveland Cavaliers
77. Tim Hardaway Jr. - SG - New York Knicks
76. Harrison Barnes - SF - Dallas Mavericks
75. Tyler Johnson - SG - Miami Heat
74. Carmelo Anthony - SF - New York Knicks
73. Seth Curry - SG - Dallas Mavericks
72. Victor Oladipo - SG - Indiana Pacers
71. Serge Ibaka - PF - Toronto Raptors
There are a number of veterans in this group along with some undervalued starters, except Andrew Wiggins. Much like Booker, Wiggins is given way too much credit for a flawed offensive game. Until his defense or efficiency improve, it’s hard to see him rising up these rankings. Gasol has had a renaissance in his late career, and while he didn’t deserve his contract this summer, he’s not far off. Thompson has also made back his contract for the Cavs, but ranking him much higher would be a disservice. He plays with LeBron. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Harrison Barnes are similar players as they signed what are/were thought to be egregious contracts, but my guess is Hardaway Jr.’s will look less bad after this coming season. Barnes is still just a scorer, but he does it relatively well.
Tyler Johnson also signed a weird contract during the 2016 offseason, but his contributions off the bench have been steady in Miami. Melo comes in at 74, quite the fall from grace from the player he was four years ago. The Knicks were 2.6 points per 100 possessions better with Melo OFF the floor last year. Seth Curry came in really high in my SG rankings, and I stand by what I said. He is very good, and he will continue to be good next to Dennis Smith Jr. this year. The next two players, Oladipo and Ibaka, were traded for each other last offseason. Now both are with different teams. They are each meh at this stage in their careers, and it’s likely neither will live up to their contracts.
70. Ersan Ilyasova - PF - Atlanta Hawks
69. Eric Gordon - SG - Houston Rockets
68. Robert Covington - SF - Philadelphia 76ers
67. Ricky Rubio - PG - Utah Jazz
66. Maurice Harkless - SF - Portland Trail Blazers
65. Amir Johnson - PF/C - Philadelphia 76ers
64. Tobias Harris - SF/PF - Detroit Pistons
63. LaMarcus Aldridge - PF - San Antonio Spurs
62. Elfrid Payton - PG - Orlando Magic
61. Kristaps Porzingis - PF - New York Knicks
Shoutout to the most underrated player in the NBA: Ersan Ilyasova. He looks terrible, but every team he was on last year (three of them) combined to be 9.3 points per 100 possessions BETTER with him ON the floor. That’s 22nd in the NBA and absolutely insane. Combine that with solid point creation, rebounding, and defense, and he’s possibly one of the hidden gems on the trade market next season.
Eric Gordon is a more convention player to make the top 70. His creation off the bench was good, and teams struggled to score on him, surprisingly. Robert Covington is a player made for these rankings, with top ten figures in STL% and DRPM. Ricky Rubio ranked fifth in total points created through assists, and his defense remains a strong point. Mo Harkless deserves better than Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum pining away for an upgrade at small forward. The Blazers were 7.7 points better when he was ON the floor versus OFF the floor, and it has a lot to do with opposing players shooting exactly 5% worse against him from the field, the 10th best differential in the NBA.
Amir Johnson was an advanced stats wizard, and his impact was felt in the Celtics starting unit. Now, let’s see if he can repeat this performance coming off the bench for the Sizers. Tobias Harris had to (stupidly) come off the bench for the Pistons during parts of last season, and it made no sense. He was the best player on the team and it wasn’t close. LaMarcus Aldridge is still miscast as an All-Star power forward, but his efficiency and defensive impact dropped off after a solid first year in San Antonio. Elfrid Payton is another player who’s value is wrapped up in whether he can shoot, yet he created the 11th most points via assists and was a pesky defender. He’s a funhouse mirror version of Rubio. Porzingis wraps up this group of ten with some great defensive numbers. Something he can improve is his rebounding. He’s 7’3 and needs to be able to play center adequately in the future.
60. George Hill - PG - Sacramento Kings
59. Patrick Beverley - PG - Los Angeles Clippers
58. Greg Monroe - C - Milwaukee Bucks
57. Cody Zeller - C - Charlotte Hornets
56. Nikola Vucevic - PF/C - Orlando Magic
55. Mason Plumlee - C - Denver Nuggets
54. Thaddeus Young - PF - Indiana Pacers
53. Andre Iguodala - SF - Golden State Warriors
52. Markieff Morris - PF - Washington Wizards
51. DeMar DeRozan - SG - Toronto Raptors
This group is filled with veterans that have varying reputations around the league. George Hill and Patrick Beverley have expanded from defensive point guards to elite outside shooters. The group of centers in Greg Monroe, Cody Zeller, Nikola Vucevic, and Mason Plumlee were all there for various reasons. Above all though, they were centers that made their teams better in complementary roles. Plumlee had the worst Net ON-OFF ratings, but it hurts when he’s playing behind Jokic a lot of the time. He made up for it by finishing in the top 50 in REB%, BLK%, and surprisingly, points created through assists. At the center position, that is very rare.
Two other power forwards, Thaddeus Young and Markieff Morris, served as complementary pieces in the starting lineup. Both had success on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, and the latter goes beyond both of their reputations. Andre Iguodala was the super sub for Golden State, and he did it well. He had the 16th best TS% in the entire NBA, and he still does everything at least at an average level.
Finally, the crown jewel, DeMar DeRozan. As excellent of a manufacturer of points as he is, his defensive scores were almost all poor. He had the 246th ranked ON/OFF rating in the NBA at -5.0 points per 100 possessions. Part of that was because the bench in Toronto was solid, but part of it was the fact that his creation was replaceable. Terrence Ross and Norman Powell were both solid scorers off the bench in their own right, and if they had been starting instead of DeRozan, I bet the Raptors win 45 games instead of 51. There’s an art to being a volume scorer that DeRozan has mastered, but he needs to expand his game if he wants to rank much higher than this.
50. Eric Bledsoe - PG - Phoenix Suns
49. Trevor Ariza - SF - Houston Rockets
48. Goran Dragic - PG - Miami Heat
47. Gorgui Dieng - PF/C - Minnesota Timberwolves
46. Marcin Gortat - C - Washington Wizards
45. Nicolas Batum - SG/SF - Charlotte Hornets
44. Brook Lopez - C - Los Angeles Lakers
43. Steven Adams - C - Oklahoma City Thunder
42. Jrue Holiday - PG/SG? - New Orleans Pelicans
41. Dwight Howard - C - Atlanta Hawks
This group is really interesting, and it starts with two point guards undervalued around the league because of how strong the point guard position is: Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are studs. Both generate a ton of points and struggle a bit defensively, yet both can be pesky when they want on that end or go for 30 on the other any game. Ariza and Dieng are two of the best role players in the NBA. Ariza generates more points than one would think, while Dieng grades out as a borderline elite defender. Interestingly, both guys carry a lot of value in simply being on the floor for long periods of time at their level of effectiveness (Ariza played the 11th most minutes in the NBA, Dieng was 20th).
Marcin Gortat rode the wave of his fellow starters being really good, but he was also a borderline elite rebounder and efficient roll man for John Wall. Nic Batum had a down year, but he still created a ton of points for the Hornets, something that is rarely mentioned with Kemba Walker as the leader. Brook Lopez had one of the best scoring seasons from a center this past year. Steven Adams didn’t, but he helped make the Thunder better, with solid defensive metrics and On/Off numbers. Jrue Holiday was one of the best creators in the NBA last year and one of the best defenders. His efficiency sucked, and it’s not going to get better playing next to Rajon Rondo in all likelihood. Finally, Dwight Howard gets a load of crap, but he was still a fine center (spoiler: he ranks 10th in this countdown among Cs) and scored as one of the best defenders in the NBA. He also posted the 14th best TS%, which only helps his cause.
40. Danilo Gallinari - SF/PF - Los Angeles Clippers
39. Kevin Love - PF - Cleveland Cavaliers
38. Kyrie Irving - PG - Boston Celtics
37. Hassan Whiteside - C - Miami Heat
36. C.J. McCollum - SG - Portland Trail Blazers
35. Al Horford - C - Boston Celtics
34. James Johnson - PF - Miami Heat
33. Otto Porter - SF - Washington Wizards
32. Isaiah Thomas - PG - Cleveland Cavaliers
31. Jeff Teague - PG - Minnesota Timberwolves
This group starts to get into some All-Star types. Danilo Gallinari will go down as one of the most under-appreciated Nuggets in history due to the time period that he was on the team. He was a stud on offense and underrated throughout his career on defense. He’s similar to Kevin Love, who will now likely play a larger role running the bench units in Cleveland while being the third fiddle with the starters again. His former running mate, Kyrie Irving, comes in at 38. Sorry folks, I did everything I could to give Kyrie the ability to climb this list, but when you rank bottom 30 among 282 players in rebounding and two different defensive categories, it wears down your value. C.J. McCollum is similar, but he’s a slightly better defender than Irving and a slightly worse creator for others.
To be perfectly clear, Kyrie Irving isn’t the 38th best player in the NBA. He’s better than that, but not the top five player Skip Bayless claims he is.
Hassan Whiteside is in his sweet spot at 37. He’s not quite good enough to warrant being a top 25 player, but he’s close and will remain close for the next few years as an excellent rebounder and shot blocker. Al Horford will likely begin to fade soon, but his ability to create from the center position is third only to Marc Gasol and Nikola Jokic. His defense is massively underrated as well.
Two of my favorite NBA players, James Johnson and Otto Porter come in next. Johnson was a bench player last year, but he should have been sixth man of the year. The man put up a bench season for the ages, with no stat ranking below 119th out of 282. His defense was superb, and he was an awesome creator off the bench. Porter is another favorite because of how quietly great his game is. He generates a lot of steals defensively, and he posted the 12th best TS% in the NBA, which was 3rd among non-bigs behind Kevin Durant and Kyle Korver.
Finally, two point guards to finish things up: Isaiah Thomas posted one of the best scoring seasons of all-time when combining efficiency and usage, and he generated more assists than people remember, with the 14th highest points created through assists mark. Jeff Teague is the other guy, and he actually was sixth in the entire NBA using this metric. He also generated a lot of steals and should be another solid creator for the T’Wolves.
30. Klay Thompson - SG - Golden State Warriors
29. Damian Lillard - PG - Portland Trail Blazers
28. Paul Millsap - PF - Denver Nuggets
27. Bradley Beal - SG - Washington Wizards
26. Myles Turner - C - Indiana Pacers
25. Kemba Walker - PG - Charlotte Hornets
24. Jae Crowder - SF - Cleveland Cavaliers
23. Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies
22. Marc Gasol - C - Memphis Grizzlies
21. John Wall - PG - Washington Wizards
This is one of my favorite groups of ten. Four point guards spaced throughout with Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, Mike Conley, and John Wall all making it. Each guy is in the top 22 in assist points created, and while Mike Conley is last in that regard, he makes up for it with the best efficiency of the four. All four make their teams massively better, even though they each have weaknesses.
Two shooting guards and a small forward made it: Klay Thompson is at the bottom of the tier, and right where he should be. His lack of creation for others will always hurt him, but he’s underrated defensively and fills up the net from anywhere on the floor. Bradley Beal is the other guard, as he’s grown his game nicely and made it easy to see his impact offensively. The Wizards are 12.4 points per 100 possessions better with him ON the floor versus OFF it. Jae Crowder is the small forward, coming it as the 8th best small forward in the NBA. His defensive versatility is extremely valuable, and he shoots it well from the perimeter.
Paul Millsap is the only power forward, and he’s hear for good reason. He ranks in the top 80 in all but three categories and in the top 50 in four of them. With versatility is the name of his game, and while he possessed slightly below average efficiency for these 282 players, his ability to manufacture offensive and defensive stops is paramount to team success.
Finally, two centers wrap up the rankings. Myles Turner is extremely undervalued as a prospect. He projects as a rim protector and defensive machine in years to come, and if his efficiency continues to come along, he will be a top 20 player within a year. Marc Gasol is the other center, and he took a step forward this year as a creator on offense. He ranked 29th in total points scored and 32nd in total points created by assists. That combination was extremely impressive, and when matched with his defensive numbers, he deserves his placement.
20. Karl-Anthony Towns - PF/C - Minnesota Timberwolves
19. Draymond Green - PF - Golden State Warriors
18. Chris Paul - PG - Houston Rockets
17. DeAndre Jordan - C - Los Angeles Clippers
16. Gordon Hayward - SF - Boston Celtics
15. Paul George - SF - Oklahoma City Thunder
14. Blake Griffin - PF - Los Angeles Clippers
13. Nikola Jokic - C - Denver Nuggets
12. Kyle Lowry - PG - Toronto Raptors
11. Russell Westbrook - PG - Oklahoma City Thunder
This will definitely be the most divisive tier of them all. Don’t freak out about the two bookends in Towns and Westbrook. Just let me explain. Towns performed extremely well across the board offensively. He struggled defensively though, and it led to a pedestrian On/Off Net rating. Once he fixes those two things, he will be a top 10 player. Guaranteed. Westbrook was the best creator of offense in the NBA last year, but he genuinely struggled with two factors: average efficiency and subpar defensive numbers. Let me be clear, I do not think he’s the 11th best player in the NBA and more like 5, 6, or 7, but this is why he dropped.
As for the rest of the guys, Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic are on the list, but if I were doing a biased list, I would probably switch the two. Both players have notable struggles defensively, but unlike Towns, Jokic’s defensive metrics don’t penalize him as much. Jokic has an above average steal rate in the NBA while Towns has one of the worst. Jokic’s On/Off Net Rating of +11.0 per 100 possessions was 9th in the entire NBA. Towns? Only +0.5 per 100 possessions. These are the reasons why Jokic graded out better, but the point is, they are in the same tier and should be treated as such.
Three Clippers and former Clippers are here: Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin. Surprisingly, Griffin was the highest graded (take that efficiency hive haters) because of his versatility. He’s an elite creator for his position which grades well in this ranking, and his defense grades out better than he’s perceived. Paul and Jordan are the players thought of more highly in NBA circles, but they are more niche players that don’t make up the volume of Griffin.
The final four guys here are Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, and Kyle Lowry. Each of these guys are amazing in their own right, and they are all solid second players on a championship team. Draymond proved this the last few years, while Hayward and Lowry have been the best player on their teams (mostly) and have struggled to find success. George and Westbrook should be an insane combination this year, as both put up points and can create for others. It will be interesting to see if George does better as a second option.
10. DeMarcus Cousins - C - New Orleans Pelicans
9. Kawhi Leonard - SF - San Antonio Spurs
8. Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz
7. Stephen Curry - PG - Golden State Warriors
6. James Harden - SG - Houston Rockets
5. Jimmy Butler - SG/SF - Minnesota Timberwolves
4. Anthony Davis - PF - New Orleans Pelicans
3. Kevin Durant - SF - Golden State Warriors
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo - SF - Milwaukee Bucks
1. LeBron James - SF/PF - Cleveland Cavaliers
I do not think DeMarcus Cousins is a top 10 player. He should be lower. I do not think Kawhi Leonard should be 9th. He should be higher. That being said, the reason Cousins is ranked so highly is his lack of glaring weaknesses. Yes, his efficiency isn’t that low, but he ranks in the top 60 in points scored, points created through assists, assist rate, rebound rate, steal rate, block rate, and both minutes categories. He fills up the box score, and while it’s arguable if his individual dominance helps his team or not, that’s the reason this ranking has him so high. Kawhi is a different story. He struggles in some box score stats, and it’s enhanced due to the fact that his advanced metrics defensively don’t reach his reputation. To be clear, he’s a top 7 player in the NBA guaranteed, but because of the Spurs bench, his On/Off rating isn’t as stark as it should be.
Rudy Gobert comes in at 8, which is higher than most would like, but he was 3rd in TS%, 6th in REB%, 3rd in BLK%, 1st in DRPM, 8th in DIFF%, 12th in minutes, and 11th in On/Off Net rating. His impact is incredibly high, and it’s why I don’t think the Jazz will miss the playoffs this year. Come at me. Stephen Curry and James Harden are 7 and 6 respectively, which is the sweet spot for both guys I think. Both have their flaws, and both are amazing in spite of that.
Jimmy Butler comes in at 5, which is higher than his rep. Being a versatile wing is important on this list though, and his impact in all areas is palpable. There’s a reason he was 3rd in the entire NBA in RPM wins. The T’Wolves are gonna be really good. Anthony Davis is at 4, and he’s top 15 in seven categories. He isn’t going to be a great creator for others, but he can create for himself and make a major defensive impact. When he left the floor, the Pelicans were 10.4 points per 100 possessions worse for wear.
Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo were 3 and 2 respectively, and they will be vying for the title of best player in three years when LeBron slows down. 2 is higher than most have the Greek Freak, but he was top 50 in EVERYTHING minus net rating statistics. I don’t think he’s top 5 quite yet, but his impact everywhere is amazing and needs to be recognized. Durant is at 3 for obvious reasons. He’s Kevin Durant and proved as much in the Finals.
LeBron is the top dog still, and it’s not surprising. Do I need to go on?
Alright, that wraps up the player rankings for this year. I hope everyone enjoyed them at least somewhat so. I will do this next year if people want me to do it, but just know that this came out to over 5,000 words. The Nuggets will have other young players join the top 100 in the coming years. I am confident that Jokic will be joined by Harris next season and Jamal Murray the season after. The real question will be how high they go; that will determine whether this Nuggets team turns into a championship contender or not.
If you disagree with me or just want to talk about the rankings, make sure to leave a comment or engage with me on Twitter.
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