NBArank 2022 – Ranking of the best players for 2022-23, from 10 to 6

NBArank is back for its 12th season, counting down the best players in the league.

Where are MVP candidates such as: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Joki? What about rookies and young stars ready to take the leap to the next level of NBA players?

Where is LeBron Jameswho is entering its 20th season?

To get the final NBArank prediction, we asked our panel of experts to vote for player pairs: LeBron vs. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry against I Morantluka vs. Jayson Tatum …and the list goes on.

We asked, “Which player will be better in 2022-23?” Voters had to predict what to expect from each player during the season.

We’ve already announced players Nos. 100-26 and Nos. 25-11. Today our rankings continue in the top 10 superstars of the competition.

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

Phoenix Suns | SG

NBA Ranking 2021: no. 15

Just 25 years old and already a three-time All-Star and coming from an All-NBA roster, Booker and his silky attacking play should compete for top shooting guard status in the league for years to come.

Why he rose five places

Booker’s ascending year — an NBA Finals run, followed by an Olympic gold medal and leading Phoenix to the best 64 regular-season wins in the league — ended with a precipitous fall. The Suns were sent back unceremoniously from the second round of the playoffs, with Booker together shooting a combined 9-for-31 in Games 6 and 7 against Dallas.

But Booker’s 26.8 points per game last season ranked No. 12 in the league, further cementing his reputation as one of the game’s most lethal goalscorers. However, he will take the next step by leveraging those scoring skills in crunch time. Last season, in the first nine minutes of quarters, Booker shot 48.5% overall and 42.1% of 3. In the last three minutes of quarters? He shot 41.8% from the field and 31.8% from the depth.

A big question for 2022-23

The Suns have won a whopping 74.6% of their regular season matches over the past two seasons, but are defined as much by their flameouts as their success. Booker’s rise to All-Star status has been largely absent from the weight of expectations. He will have to win a lot in the playoffs to increase his place in the game.

The question is, in today’s NBA, where the pinnacle of superstardom is reserved for players who dominate on both sides, what room for growth is left for Booker? Offensively, he relies on finesse, angles and footwork to do his damage. Defensively, he is certainly known as an intoxicating player who can operate within team schedules. Can he become more powerful with his stops and his scores to move up the list of the game’s best?

— Dave McMenamin

Memphis Grizzlies | PG

NBA Ranking 2021: no. 31

Morant is arguably the NBA’s most entertaining player, a high-flying acrobat with a poise and confidence that creeps toward arrogance. He made the Grizzlies TV you must see.

Why he rose 22 places

Morant made the giant leap from promising franchise cornerstone to bona fide superstar last season. His score rose by more than eight points per game to 27.1, putting Morant in the top ranks of the assault weapons and earning him his first All-Star berth and the Award for Most Improved Player.

He is a pure point guard who, despite his six-foot frame, is a dominant interior scorer, as Morant has a breathtaking blend of explosiveness, finesse and fearlessness. He averaged 16.6 paint points last season and became the only guard to lead the league in that category in the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

A big question for 2022-23

How much better can Morant get? The 23-year-old has room for drastic improvements on the defensive side, where his slender frame makes him a target and he tends to lose focus.

Offensively he’s already a nightmare for opponents, but imagine how difficult Morant would be to defend if his 3-point shot (34.4% last season) continues to improve. If Morant can consistently charge guards to go under a screen, he may be impossible to comprehend.

— Tim MacMahon

Brooklyn nets | SF

NBA Ranking 2021: No. 1

No player held the NBA’s summer talk more than Durant, after asking, then withdraw, a trade request from Brooklyn. How he fits back into a Nets culture after asking to fire coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks is one of the most intriguing questions in the league.

Why he fell seven places

When Durant played, he was one of the best players in the world. The problem for the former MVP is that he couldn’t stay on the ground.

A knee injury cost him almost two months of games and for the second year in a row he had to miss much of the season. Durant has played in 90 of the possible 152 regular season games in the past two seasons. Durant, who turns 34 when the season turns, must prove he can stay healthy to make the Nets jump back into the eastern elite.

A big question for 2022-23

Health aside, the big question for the Nets is whether Durant will remain committed to the team. After a season of emotional ups and downs for the organization, Durant’s trade request and the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons make the Nets one of the most fascinating stories in the NBA. But what happens if and when the going gets tough? Will old frustrations resurface?

— Nick Friedell

Boston Celtics | SF

NBA Ranking 2021: no. 14

After making his first All-NBA appearance, winning the Eastern Conference Finals MVP, making his maiden trip to the NBA Finals and playing for a team expected to compete for the league’s best record, Tatum is ready to another jump in its sixth season.

Why he rose seven places

After making none of the three All-NBA teams in 2020-21 when the Celtics finished seventh in the East, Tatum was a creditable first-team member last season after leading Boston’s dramatic turnaround from under .500 in late January. to finish second in the East and advance to the final for the first time since 2010.

Meanwhile, Tatum set a career high of 26.9 points per game, continued to increase his 3-point attempt and remains one of the top two-way wing players in the league.

A big question for 2022-23

Tatum made some progress as a passer last season – something coach Ime Udoka has emphasized since his arrival last summer – but by continuing to improve that part of his game, he could move from a player in the back half of the top 10 to someone who is vying for first place on this list.

While his regular season assist totals remained essentially unchanged from year to year, they skyrocketed throughout the playoffs, including an average of seven per game during the finals. He will also try to come back from a disappointing showing in his series against the Golden State Warriorswhere he shot 30.8% from a 2-point range in six games.

— Tim Bontemps

Los Angeles Lakers | SF

NBA Ranking 2021: number 3

It’s season No. 20 for James, and there’s a lot at stake for the all-time great. He needs 1,323 points darken Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, but the success of the Lakers team — or lack thereof — will largely determine how the moment resonates.

Why he fell three places

For the second time in four seasons as a Laker, James missed the playoffs — after missing the postseason just twice in his first 15 years in the league. James’ average of 30.3 points per game was unprecedented for a 19-year veteran, but the 26 games he lost to various injuries and an ill-fitting squad around him made for one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the game. franchise.

James has already redefined the idea of ​​how long a player’s prime can last, so it would be foolish to write him off too quickly, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the Lakers are a negative net rating with James on the floor last season, which is reason enough to drop him out of the top five of the rankings regardless of his impressive offensive output.

A big question for 2022-23

In the middle of Dropped 42 points during a cameo appearance on LA’s famed Drew League in July, James told ESPN, “I’m 100 percent healthy.” That’s a solid starting point for James to get things back on track.

The question is, can James be lucky enough to stay healthy at the same time? Anthony Davis can, giving the Lakers a chance to repeat the success that led to a title in 2020? If James and Anthony can both play the majority of LA’s games, the Lakers will have a viable path back to the postseason, even with the challenges of working in Russell Westbrook and is coached by a new coach Darvin Ham.

— McMenamin

NBA Ranking 2022: Nos. 100-26 | Nos. 25-11 | Nos. 10-6 | Nos. 5-1 (next Friday).

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