Top 100 NBA Players for the 2021-22 Season
As we change our calendars from September to October, it is time for sports fans across the country to shift at least some of their focus to the NBA. With tip off being October 19th, it is important that we as fans take a look at all the best players and evaluate who's the best before the season starts and changes everything. So, without further ado, here are Let's Talk Sports' Top 100 NBA Players for this upcoming NBA season. P.S. I'm not sorry for any controversy with my picks. Deal with it. Also, note that any players who are injured will be taken into account and evaluated based on how good they might be when they return.
The top ten features the staples such as Kevin Durant (left), Stephen Curry (center) and Lebron James (right), who have been appearing on the top of lists like these for almost a decade now. Although all of them might be over thirty, they have shown no significant signs of slowing down as they continue their careers.
Despite suffering one of the hardest injuries to come back from in the 2019-20 season, a torn achilles tendon, Durant came back strong in the 2020-21 season with around 27 points per game (ppg), seven rebounds per game (rpg) and six assists per game (apg). Fans can expect Durant to pick up right where he left off and to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a deep postseason run and possibly even a championship.
The same can be said for James, who is the oldest of any player in the top ten at 36 years of age. Despite this, James kept up a consistent 25 ppg, 8 rpg and 8apg pace that led an injury-plagued Lakers squad to the postseason (although they ultimately fell to the Suns). Although year 19 might see James regress a little bit, basketball's greatest prodigy will still be able to play at a very high level that only few can dream of.
However, the most likely to keep pace with their past self and possibly improve is Stephen Curry. This is due to his shooting-heavy game style, which not only matches the modern style of the game but also remains with age. While the athleticism that helps James and Durant will eventually fade, Curry's shooting touch, which most will agree is the best in NBA history, will not. So while the league leading 32 ppg that Curry put up last year might not be replicated in the 2021-22 season, his outstanding 42.1 three point percentage, and thus his overall skill, likely will.
1. Kevin Durant, SF1, Brooklyn Nets
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF1, Milwaukee Bucks
3. Stephen Curry, PG1, Golden State Warriors
4. Lebron James, SF2, Los Angeles Lakers
5. Luka Doncic, PG2, Dallas Mavericks
6. Nikola Jokic, C1, Denver Nuggets
7. Damian Lillard, PG3, Portland Trail Blazers
8. Kawhi Leonard, SF3, Los Angeles Clippers
9. James Harden, SG1, Brooklyn Nets
10. Joel Embiid, C2, Philadelphia 76ers
The Rest of the Elite(Players 11-25):
The players in this range are very different and can be at different stages in their career. While some are top ten players in the regression phase of their career, others like Bradley Beal (left), Jayson Tatum (center) and Devin Booker (right) are just one or two good seasons away from cracking the elite group.
Going back to the first category mentioned above, veteran players like Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul are all players on their decline that are still talented enough to be in the company of the league's elite. However, this doesn't mean their old, just past their peak. But, as said for the players in the top ten, many of these players will remain strong forces in the league for a number of years and still have a chance to re-crack the top ten.
Another type of player in this range is the young star who is on the rise. Athletes like Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Zion Williamson are all 25 or under, and have a lot of time to grow and hit their prime. Additionally, all three are in great situations where they are the star player on solid franchises. In five years, it is very likely that at least two, if not all three of them appear in the top ten, barring any injuries.
Speaking of injuries, Anthony Davis is a top talent in the NBA who has faced a slaw of minor injuries over the course of his career, including a groin injury in the playoffs last season. While he might already be good enough to fit inside the top ten right now, it would be an injustice to put him there without proof that he can still play at a high level consistently despite any injuries.
11. Anthony Davis, PF2, Los Angeles Lakers
12. Bradley Beal, SG2, Washington Wizards
13. Paul George, SF4, Los Angeles Clippers
14. Jayson Tatum, SF5, Boston Celtics
15. Jimmy Butler, SF6, Miami Heat
16. Kyrie Irving, PG4, Brooklyn Nets
17. Devin Booker, SG3, Phoenix Suns
18. Donovan Mitchell, SG4, Utah Jazz
19. Chris Paul, PG5, Phoenix Suns
20. Trae Young, PG6, Atlanta Hawks
21. Khris Middleton, SF7, Milwaukee Bucks
22. Karl-Anthony Towns, C3, Minnesota Timberwolves
23. Zion Williamson, PF3, New Orleans Pelicans
24. Bam Adebayo, C4, Miami Heat
25. Rudy Gobert, C5, Utah Jazz
Top Tier Second Options (Players 26-50):
Although some super teams like the Nets or Lakers might have "second options" in the higher tiers, those are just first options relegated due to their choice to play with another superstar. But here in ranks 26-50 lie the league's best true second (and even third) options.
Some of these elite second options include Jaylen Brown (left), CJ McCollum (center) and Klay Thompson (right). Of course the elephant in the room is that Thompson hasn't played in over two years. Yet, as noted with his teammate Stephen Curry earlier, his career three point percentage of 40.2% and elite defense makes him a lethal weapon on both sides of the ball without his athleticism or basketball IQ (which will have to recover after missing so much time).
In regards to Brown and McCollum, both have and will find themselves behind bigger stars. However, they both can go off for big scoring nights on any given game and have the ability to take control of their teams if need be. The two of them will also likely find themselves in the playoffs again, each being on above average teams that have been relatively stable over the last five years. So, viewers should keep a eye on these two during the season so they aren't surprised when they blow up in the playoffs.
Yet, some teams are exempt from having a stereotypical second option. Take the Chicago Bulls for example, who have three players (Lavine, Vucevic and DeRozan) in the pool of players below. All of them have had seasons averaging over 20 ppg and been the stars of franchises. But now they form an interesting squad full of dangerous weapons that can attack opponents in many ways.
26. Zach Lavine, SG5, Chicago Bulls
27. Jrue Holiday, SG6, Milwaukee Bucks
28. Jaylen Brown, SG7, Boston Celtics
29. Brandon Ingram, SF8, New Orleans Pelicans
30. Russell Westbrook, PG7, Los Angeles Lakers
31. Ben Simmons, PG8, Philadelphia 76ers
32. CJ McCollum, SG8, Portland Trail Blazers
33. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SG9, Oklahoma City Thunder
34. Klay Thompson, SG10, Golden State Warriors
35. Domantas Sabonis, PF4, Indiana Pacers
36. De'Aaron Fox, PG9, Sacramento Kings
37. Jamal Murray, PG10, Denver Nuggets
38. Julius Randle, PF5, New York Knicks
39. Ja Morant, PG11, Memphis Grizzlies
40. Nikola Vucevic, C6, Chicago Bulls
41. Kyle Lowry, PG12, Miami Heat
42. Demar DeRozan, SF9, Chicago Bulls
43. Tobias Harris, PF6, Philadelphia 76ers
44. Deandre Ayton, C7, Phoenix Suns
45. Draymond Green, PF7, Golden State Warriors
46. John Collins, PF8, Atlanta Hawks
47. Pascal Siakam, PF9, Toronto Raptors
48. Fred VanVleet, PG13, Toronto Raptors
49. Michael Porter Jr., SF10, Denver Nuggets
50. Marcus Smart, SG11, Boston Celtics
The Rest of the Best (Players 51-100):
There are many things one could talk about with this large pool of players, all of which are at different points in their careers, play different positions/roles on their team and have completely different stories.
However, one narrative that stands out is the height that many 2020-21 rookies rose to last season. After averaging 15.7, 19.3 and 13 ppg last season, LaMelo Ball (left), Anthony Edwards (center) and Tyrese Haliburton (right) are ready to leave their rookie titles behind and take the league by storm. Although none of them are currently on teams with high playoff hopes, they will have ample opportunities to prove themselves to the league that they are ready for the next step to stardom.
On the flip side, there are many veterans trying to prove that they belong, such as Mike Conley, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Rose. Although Conley has remained healthy for the majority of his career, Hayward and Rose suffered many injuries that set their star careers back and left them in the dust. However, both have evolved their games to fit their new skillset and are looking ready to make waves again.
One last player that must be noted in this part of the list is rookie Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons. Although rookies generally don't make this list, and I myself don't agree with putting them on there, Cunningham deserves it. His versatility as a 6'8" point guard makes Cunningham able to play numerous positions on offense, and guard the majority of the opponent's team on defense. While it may take some time for Cunningham to shift from college to the NBA, fans shouldn't worry about his potential. He will finish this season as a top 100 player, and possibly even higher than the ranking he is given here.
51. Mike Conley, PG14, Utah Jazz
52. LaMelo Ball, PG15, Charlotte Hornets
53. Clint Capela, C8, Atlanta Hawks
54. Christian Wood, C9, Houston Rockets
55. Malcolm Brogdon, SG12, Indiana Pacers
56. D'Angelo Russell, PG16, Minnesota Timberwolves
57. Jerami Grant, PF10, Detroit Pistons
58. Mikal Bridges, SF11, Phoenix Suns
59. OG Anunoby, SF12, Toronto Raptors
60. Myles Turner, C10, Indiana Pacers
61. Gordon Hayward, SF13, Charlotte Hornets
62. Spencer Dinwiddie, PG17, Washington Wizards
63. Kristaps Porzingis, PF11, Dallas Mavericks
64. Kemba Walker, PG18, New York Knicks
65. Lonzo Ball, PG19, Chicago Bulls
66. Colin Sexton, PG20, Cleveland Cavaliers
67. Aaron Gordon, PF12, Denver Nuggets
68. Anthony Edwards, SG13, Minnesota Timberwolves
69. Jaren Jackson Jr., C11, Memphis Grizzlies
70. Tyrese Haliburton, PG21, Sacramento Kings
71. Caris LeVert, SG14, Indiana Pacers
72. Andrew Wiggins, SF14, Golden State Warriors
73. Seth Curry, SG15, Philadelphia 76ers
74. Terry Rozier, PG22, Charlotte Hornets
75. Jarrett Allen, C12, Cleveland Cavaliers
76. Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG16, Atlanta Hawks
77. Buddy Hield, SG17, Sacramento Kings
78. Dillon Brooks, SF15, Memphis Grizzlies
79. Joe Harris, SF16, Brooklyn Nets
80. Joe Ingles, SF17, Utah Jazz
81. Dejounte Murray, PG23, San Antonio Spurs
82. Bojan Bogdanovic, SF18, Utah Jazz
83. Johnathan Isaac, PF13, Orlando Magic
84. Norman Powell, SF19, Portland Trail Blazers
85. Jordan Clarkson, SG18, Utah Jazz
86. Harrison Barnes, PF14, Sacramento Kings
87. Richaun Holmes, C13, Sacramento Kings
88. Tim Hardaway Jr., SG19, Dallas Mavericks
89. Kevin Huerter, SG20, Atlanta Hawks
90. RJ Barrett, SG21, New York Knicks
91. Robert Covington, PF15, Portland Trail Blazers
92. TJ Warren, SF20, Indiana Pacers
93. Brook Lopez, C14, Milwaukee Bucks
94. Evan Fournier, SG22, New York Knicks
95. Jusuf Nurkic, C15, Portland Trail Blazers
96. Derrick Rose, PG24, New York Knicks
97. Mitchell Robinson, C16, New York Knicks
98. Miles Bridges, PF16, Charlotte Hornets
99. Cade Cunningham, PG25, Detroit Pistons
100. Jonas Valanciunas, C17, New Orleans Pelicans
Breakdown of the Top 100: