NBArank 2022: Ranking of the best players of 2022-23, 5 to 1

NBArank is back for its twelfth season as the best player in the league.

Where are the nominees for best player like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic? What about freshmen and young stars ready to jump into the top tier of NBA players?

For the final NBArank predictions, we asked our panel of experts to vote on pairs of players: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry vs. Ja Morant, Luca vs. Jason Tatum… the list goes on.

We asked “Which player will be better in 2022-23?” Voters had to anticipate what they expected of each player during the season.

We have already revealed the number of players. 100-26, number. 25-11 and a surprising number 10-6. Today, our rankings end with the top five stars in the league.

Note: ESPN’s NBArank panel, made up of more than 200 reporters, editors, producers, and analysts, was asked to rank players based on their expected contributions – quality and quantity – for the 2022-23 season only.

Golden State Warriors | PG

2021 NBA standings: 5

If the Finals MVP was a piece of hardware missing from Curry’s argument as one of the all-time greats, he’s now taken care of, leading the Steve Warriors to their fourth title in six years on their way to earning an elusive accolade. Sources told ESPN that, heading to training camp, Curry is looking up his fitness and preparing to pick up where he left off.

Why hasn’t the order changed?

Curry is in the same situation he was in at the start of last season. After averaging 25.5 points per game when shooting at 43.7%, Curry by no means had a super season—he was an early MVP contender—but an ankle injury kept him off the ground for the final month of the regular season. In his absence, his teammates stepped up and kept the Warriors afloat to secure the No. 3 Western seed. Perhaps this – combined with the rise of the MVP competitors below – is why he is in the same spot in our rankings.

One huge question for 2022-23

Can Steve and the Warriors do it again? Despite the strength of the All-Star core team and supporting cast, their title hopes rest primarily on Curry’s shoulders. As mentioned above, Curry is said to be ready to start this season as he finished last season. And despite growing talks about how old Curry is (he will turn 35 before the end of the regular season) and how big the window remains, his performance suggests he could continue to play at that level for the foreseeable future.

Why could he finish season 1

Based on Curry’s 2021-22 campaign, there is no apparent reason to believe he cannot finish this season as the number one player in the league. Barring an extended absence, Curry should be able to put together a solid and complete season that could see him win another championship and possibly more singles.

– Kendra Andrews

Philadelphia 76ers | c

2021 NBA standings: 7

Having finished second to Jokic in the MVP vote, Embiid is once again the favorite to claim the award as an anchor for what should be one of the best teams in the league.

Why did he go up three points

Embiid dominated last season, averaging 30.6 points per game to lead the league in scoring for the first time in his career – the first time he led the league’s center in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 and the first time the position averaged 30 points over Lowest per game in a full season since Moses Malone in 1981-82.

Embiid also averaged the few minutes for any player to win the scoring title with 33.8 per game, beating the 34.2 curry mark set in both 2016 and 2021. He has become a complete offensive player, capable of scoring at all levels. Easily all three, and it’s one of the most imposing edge protectors in the league.

One huge question for 2022-23

At this point in his career, the only question left for Embiid isn’t necessarily up to him: Can he make it through the post-season healthy?

To this point in his career, he’s had one dose of nasty injuries after another, including a broken face and a sprained thumb during the playoffs in Philadelphia in the spring. When Embiid is healthy and available, there may not be a more dominant player in the NBA today. Having played 68 games last season, Embiid is looking forward to a regular, healthy season this time around. If he does, the sky is the limit.

Why could he finish season 1

After years of having to make up for the shortcomings of a flawed roster around him, this season is the first time Embiid has surrounded a team built to improve him. for him strength point. It will only increase Embiid’s chances of claiming the elusive Player of the Year award and lead Philadelphia to the missing deep playoff of his résumé.

If these things happen, he can jump to the top of this list.

– Tim Bontemps

Dallas Mavericks | PG

2021 NBA standings: 4

Having spent off-season championship for the Slovenian national team, Doncic should report to training camp in game form for the first time in a few years. When conditioning isn’t a concern, Doncic is one of the most dominant forces in the NBA.

Why climbed one spot

At the age of 23, Doncic has proven beyond doubt that he is in the top tier of superstars, a perennial choice of all NBA and MVP nominees. He cemented that prestige last season, when he was the only Dallas All-Star team that went to the West Finals.

Despite a calf strain that kept him sidelined in his first three first-round games, Doncic led Dallas in points, rebounds and 10 assists during the playoffs — the most ever in the postseason, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

It is arguably the best offensive weapon in the NBA – a threat to winning goals and helping titles that outsmart defenses with a combination of strength, skill and intelligence. He’s also a ruthless competitor, as evidenced by his memorable in-game 7 demolition of the top-seeded Suns, when he single-handedly tied Phoenix’s first-half goal total.

One huge question for 2022-23

How far can Doncic lead a non-all-star team? Dallas’ roster was dealt a heavy blow when Jalen Bronson, the Muffs’ second-best player last season, withdrew to New York on free agency. The Mavis management is confident Bronson’s scoring void can be filled with the return of Tim Hardaway Jr. from injury and the arrival of Christian Wood by trade.

But in a league filled with superstar duos, Doncic carries as much of a burden as anyone else. Doncic has led the league in usage rate in the past two seasons, a trend that is likely to continue until 2022-23.

Why could he finish season 1

Doncic has finished fourth, sixth and fifth in the MVP voting in the past three seasons, respectively. This could be the season Doncic rises to the top of the votes, especially if he gets off to a strong start and gets Dallas fourth in the competitive West.

The Mavs 32-12 – at a 60-win pace – went with Doncic in uniform after returning from a three-week absence to heal his sprained ankle and work on conditioning.

– Tim McMahon

Denver Nuggets | c

2021 NBA standings: 6

Although Jokic averaged 31.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists, the Nuggets were no match for Golden State in the first round. But with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. expected to return this season, Denver is hoping to return to the competition, led by two-time MVP of the Tournament.

Why did he go up four points

How did Jokic follow the MVP season? He improved. Jokic became the 13th player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards and he did so in a historic campaign. He is the first player to average 25 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in a season and the first to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, tackles and field goal percentage.

Jokic beat Embiid for MVP by scoring the highest PER (32.8) in a single season in NBA history. Jokic amassed 19 triples – most of them from a position since Wilt Chamberlain – and led Denver to one more win than the previous season despite the absence of Murray and Porter Jr.

One huge question for 2022-23

The Nuggets are back complete again, but can Jokic and the new roster reclaim the form that helped Denver reach the West Finals in the 2020 Bubble? Murray missed the entire last season with a torn ACL, and Porter Jr. has been out since early November with back surgery.

The Nuggets welcome returns but have also made a few off-season changes, such as adding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown and trading Monte Morris to the Washington Wizards to clear playing time for rookie point guard Bones Hyland.

Why could he finish season 1

If he can create a historic season without Murray and Porter Jr., what can he do with them on the field? Djokic featured in two teams 191 times in follow-up last season, the most in the league. With a whole host of contributors around him, Jokic wouldn’t face the same kind of defensive attention.

While his scoring may go down, assists and other categories may increase this season. And if he can score three goals as the player of the year, then Djokic will achieve what only Larry Bird, Chamberlain and Bill Russell have accomplished – that sounds like a recipe for becoming the number one player in the league.

– Om Youngmisuk

Milwaukee Bucks | PF

2021 NBA standings: 2

With Antetokounmpo entering his 28-year-old season, his roster of awards already makes him one of the most capped winners in league history. So the question remains how he will add to that list. Can he win the NBA Third Player of the Year award? The Bucks will be among the favorites to win another NBA tournament, but can Antetokounmpo secure another Finals best player? Expectations are high every season, but Antetokounmpo usually finds a way to get past them.

Why climbed one spot

From the sheer consistency and reliable every-night domination of Antetokounmpo, his claim to the world’s best player status has only been bolstered in the past year. It can be argued that no player in the league can match his impact on both ends of the floor.

To follow up his first-man win in the Finals, he challenged Antetokounmpo for the scoring title, averaging 29.9 points (3rd in the NBA), while collecting 11.6 rebounds, and making 5.8 assists with 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Although Milwaukee were without their second-best player, Chris Middleton, during their second-round playoff series against Boston, the Bucks extended the series to seven games at the will of Antetokonmo, who averaged 31.7 points, 14.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists in the postseason. . .

One huge question for 2022-23

What new skill will Antetokounmpo bring to the table? After each holiday, Antetokounmpo appears with a new skill in his arsenal. Over the years, he’s refined his vision as a pass, improved the outside jump that keeps defenses guesswork and become more unstoppable in attacking paint and at the post. Is Antetokounmpo Possible to Get Better?

– Jamal Collier

NBArank 2022:No. 100-26 | No. 25-11 | Numbers 10-6 | No. 5-1

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