A new NBA season is approaching, so it is right to start the debates.
The 2021-22 season is a milestone for the NBA, which is celebrating 75 years of existence, an achievement that will be marked with a list of the 75 best players to ever play the game. In a similar spirit, some members of the SN NBA staff embraced the debate to put together the rankings of the top 30 NBA players for the upcoming season.
It is important to note that this is entering the season, so players who are not expected to play on opening night (Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray and Klay Thompson) were excluded from the vote.
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The rankings were a collaborative effort, with a sliding scale of points received depending on where you ranked on our respective staff member’s lists. From there, the rankings were ordered from 1 to 30.
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time for a debate. To the rankings!
10. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Highest rank: 8
Lower range: 13
Davis missed half of a possible 72 regular-season games before returning before the 2021 NBA Playoffs, but in the first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns, he suffered a groin injury that severely limited his impact.
After a full offseason of rehab and recovery, Davis will look to bounce back to the form he displayed during the 2020 NBA restart, where he won the first NBA title of his career.
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9. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Highest rank: 9
Lower range: 10
It’s rare to see close consensus reached in basketball debates, but every voter rated Lillard at or around 10th.
Last season, Lillard averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds for Portland, which won the sixth seed in the West. In the playoffs, Lillard rose to the occasion, raising his averages to 34.3 points and 10.2 assists per game, including an all-time performance with 55 points and 10 assists in a Game 5 overtime loss. of their superstar’s heroics, the Blazers were eliminated in six games.
8. James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
Highest rank: 6
Lower range: 10
He may not have landed in our top five, but the 2017 league MVP is still one of the most dangerous players in the league.
After a trade earlier in the season sent him to Brooklyn, Harden quickly found his way, averaging 24.6 points, 10.9 assists and 8.5 rebounds in 36 regular-season games with the Nets. Unfortunately, Harden dealt with injuries throughout the regular season and the playoffs, sustaining a hamstring injury just seconds into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, impacting the entire trajectory of the season.
In 2021-22, Harden and the Nets have a year of playing together on their belts and have their eyes set on an NBA title.
7. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Highest rank: 4
Lower range: 9
Is Embiid the most dominant player in the league? Certainly some of our voters believe so.
Last season, the 27-year-old finished as a runner-up for the league’s MVP award after averaging 28.5 points per game, the best of his career, for a Sixers team that finished first in the East. This dominance continued in the Playoffs, where, despite breaking his meniscus in the first round, Embiid averaged 30.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the Sixers’ seven-game series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Now, with the appearance that his teammate Ben Simmons has ended up in Philadelphia, Embiid will have to improve it to keep his team among the elite of the East.
6. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Highest rank: 5
Lower range: 9
At this point, what can we even say about Doncic?
At age 22, he held a masterclass against one of the best defenders in the league, averaging 35.7 points, 10.3 assists and 7.9 rebounds in a hard-fought seven-game series with the LA Clippers. Dallas fell short, but Doncic made his presence felt.
He only added to their tradition with an epic performance to lead Slovenia to their first appearance in the men’s Olympic basketball tournament.
With a new head coach in Jason Kidd, the Mavericks will look to make a leap in the fourth year of the Doncic era. Based on what we’ve seen in recent years, a gift awaits you.
5. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Highest Rank: 3
Lower range: 8
From the 41st overall pick to MVP.
If there’s one thing we should take on Jokic’s path to stardom, it’s that you can’t put a limit on his greatness.
The MVP won his hardware with averages of 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists for a Nuggets team that reached the Western Conference Semifinals despite losing their second-best player to Murray. Don’t discount an MVP encore from the great man, as Denver will rely heavily on him until Murray returns to the lineup.
4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Highest rank: 3
Lower range: 5
Entering year 13 of his career, Curry is as good as ever.
Not only did the greatest marksman of all time win his second scoring title averaging 32.0 points per game, his career-high, last season, but he also earned a nearly third place in the MVP voting for Golden State. ready for the playoffs.
This season, Golden State has loaded up on talent by adding through the draft and free agency, but the most anticipated move will be Thompson’s return to the lineup, which should only make life easier for Curry. The easiest things for Curry? Sounds like a problem for the league.
3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Highest rank: 2
Lower range: 3
Don’t let the #WashedKing talk fool you, LeBron is still one of the top three talents in this league.
Even entering Year 19.
I’d say the gap between third and first isn’t that big, as James was a MVP favorite during the 2020-21 season before a sprained ankle derailed his season and that of the Lakers. Although he still seemed to be limping through the postseason, James led Los Angeles to beat Golden State in the Play-In Tournament before retiring in the first round against the Phoenix Suns, marking the first time he had been eliminated in the first. round. in his carrer.
If we’ve learned anything about James, it’s that those memories are still fresh in his mind, and with a new supporting cast in 2021-22, expect him to strive for the number one spot.
2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Highest rank: 1
Lower range: 3
There really is no wrong answer at this point.
Going into his 33-year season, Durant is at the top of his game, something he showed during the 2021 NBA Playoffs when he averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 40.2 percent. percent from 3 and 87.1 percent from the free throw line.
Durant came very close to having the shattered Nets overtake eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks, putting up virtuous performances as his 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist masterpiece in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and his 48-point win. explosion in Game 7 just a few nights later.
His accomplishments are even more astonishing when you factor in the fact that he missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season and a large part of the 2020-21 season. Building on the momentum of a historic postseason and a dominant performance at the Tokyo Olympics, it’s clear Durant’s focus is now shifting to winning his third NBA title.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Highest rank: 1
Lower range: 3
After scoring 50 points in a Game 6 win that secured him the title and delivering one Finals signature moment after another Finals signature moment, were you really looking forward to someone else?
Giannis outpointed Durant in a manner similar to how his Bucks outlasted the Nets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. From there, The Greek Freak delivered a postseason performance that will be talked about for years to come as one of the toughest and most dominant displays in the history of the game.
MORE: Giannis on the brink of all-time top 10 status
Oh yeah, he’s still 26 years old. There’s a lot more where that came from.
The final list
|1||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Milwaukee Bucks|
|2||Kevin Durant||Brooklyn networks|
|3||Lebron James||Los angeles lakers|
|4||Stephen Curry||warriors of the golden state|
|5||Nikola Jokic||Denver nuggets|
|6||Luka doncic||Dallas mavericks|
|7||Joel embiid||Philadelphia 76ers|
|8||James harden||Brooklyn networks|
|9||Damian Lillard||Portland Trail Blazers|
|10||Anthony Davis||Los angeles lakers|
|eleven||Jayson tatum||Boston Celts|
|12||Jimmy Butler||Miami Heat|
|13||Chris paul||Phoenix suns|
|14||Devin Booker||Phoenix suns|
|fifteen||Paul george||LA Clippers|
|sixteen||Kyrie irving||Brooklyn networks|
|17||Bring young||Atlanta Hawks|
|18||Donovan Mitchell||Utah Jazz|
|19||Zion Williamson||New Orleans Pelicans|
|twenty||Bam Adebayo||Miami Heat|
|twenty-one||Bradley Beal||Washington Wizards|
|22||Khris middleton||Milwaukee Bucks|
|2. 3||Rudy gobert||Utah Jazz|
|24||Russell westbrook||Los angeles lakers|
|25||Jaylen brown||Boston Celts|
|26||Karl-Anthony Cities||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|27||Jrue vacation||Milwaukee Bucks|
|28||ya morant||Memphis Grizzlies|
|29||Ben simmons||Philadelphia 76ers|
|30||Julius Randle||The New York Knicks|
Views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.