Who Is The Best Basketball Player Now – The 2021-22 NBA season is coming to an end and we’re back with an updated edition of our top 30 player rankings ahead of the NBA Playoffs.
It’s been more than three months since The Sporting News last published a top 30 list, the latest issue coming out in the new calendar year. As you can imagine, some things have changed since then.
Who Is The Best Basketball Player Now
This time, we feature players out due to injury and for good reason. What if Kawhi Leonard returns for the playoffs and turns the tide in the Western Conference? How do season-ending injuries affect the position of players like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal around the league? Including everyone, regardless of their current status, provides a more complete view of the NBA as it is now.
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These rankings are a collaborative effort by TSN’s global NBA staff, with 11 writers and editors representing five different continents. Each voter ranked their top 30 players in the league, with a points scale associated with each position. Players were ranked in order of total points received.
Here are the top 10 presented with more context around their season along with the top and bottom finishes from our panel of voters. For those interested in seeing the full list of the top 30, you can click here to scroll down.
Harden rounds out the top 10 again, reaffirming his status as a top 10 talent in the NBA, regardless of position. Now a member of the Sixers, Harden’s title quest continues in Philly, where he’s averaging 22.0 points and 9.8 assists as he gets used to new teammates and a new system.
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Paul, who will turn 37 during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, is doing it all in his 17th NBA season. Despite missing time with an injury, CP3 is averaging a league-leading 14.9 points and 10.7 assists for a Suns team that has the league’s best scoring record by a mile.
After falling two wins short of that elusive NBA title, Paul and the Suns are poised for another deep run in 2022.
Look at Doncic’s season averages of 28.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists and you’d be hard-pressed to believe he’s had a rough start to the season. Doncic is at his peak and the Mavs have figured out a winning formula, which should only mean good things in the postseason.
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We haven’t seen Kawhi play since last June, but this time he drops seven. Do you know how good you have to be to win that much position without playing in almost a year?
LA hasn’t ruled out Leonard returning for postseason action, which would instantly make the Clippers one of the scariest bottom seeds in NBA history.
LeBron fell out of the top five this time, but sixth place for the league’s fourth-oldest player is impressive.
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In his 19th (!) season, James could take home the NBA scoring title as he is currently averaging a career-best 30.3 points per game, although it wasn’t enough for his Lakers team, who could miss the postseason entirely.
Team struggles aside, LeBron continues to defy logic, gravity and Father Time by playing at an All-NBA level ahead of his 20th NBA season.
As his shooting has cooled, so has the MVP talk about Curry, but that’s not enough to drop him into the top five.
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This is the part where I remind you that “cool” is relative for Curry, who is knocking down a league-leading 4.5 3s per contest on 38.0 percent this season.
An injury held Curry back in the regular season, but if he and a healthy Golden State team make the playoffs, the team could be poised for a deep run.
Embiid has been dominance personified this season, averaging a career-high 30.2 points per game, 11.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. In addition to his offensive dominance, Embiid continues to make a difference on the defensive end, where he anchors things for Philadelphia.
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With Harden by his side, Embiid is looking for an NBA title. The only duo in the top 10 on this list is clearly talented enough to pull it off.
Speaking of getting better, the reigning MVP took it to another level, building on an incredible MVP campaign in 2021.
Not only does Jokic have the stats with 26.8 points, 13.7 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game, but he’s also a darling in advanced stats, leading the league in several categories including Win Shares, BPM, PER and On/Off Margins.
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The most important stat is that the Nuggets, because of Jokic’s play, are 47-32 despite being without Jamal Murray all season and Michael Porter Jr playing just nine games.
Jokic makes it look easy for himself while also making life easier for his teammates. No wonder why it won first place.
After initially making the preseason list, Durant enters the No. 2 spot for the second straight time.
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Durant is much more than a scorer, but this season he continues to remind us that he can score the ball like no one else who has ever played the game. He’s had three 50-point games this season, including a career-high 55 against the Hawks on April 2.
That’s when we focus on the “much more than a scorer” part, as Durant is averaging a career-best 6.1 assists per game, showing his willingness to wear whatever hat the team needs at any given time on a certain night.
Giannis has claimed the throne in 2021 and will have a lot to take away from him.
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After a historic performance in the 2021 NBA Finals, Giannis entered a new plane where the basic expectation is extraordinary: it’s the ultimate compliment, but sometimes it causes the achievements to be overlooked. Could he do it again in 2022? Our voters think so as he finished with eight of the first 11 votes.
For a Bucks team with a shot at the top of the East, Giannis is averaging 30.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game, putting himself firmly in the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year discussions.
Performances against some of the guys that also fall in this top 10 and the numbers don’t recognize the game-winning block against Philly or the 3 that sent him into overtime against Brooklyn.
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Here’s a full breakdown of the top 30 along with previous rankings. In total, 39 different players received a top 30 vote. The nine players who also receive votes are listed below.
Also receiving votes: Darius Garland, Zion Williamson, Dejounte Murray, Pascal Siakam, Klay Thompson, Brandon Ingram, LaMelo Ball, Fred VanVleet, Jarrett Allen Two lines crossed to form an ‘X’. Specifies a way to close an interaction or dismiss a notification.
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The 2020-21 NBA season is nearly halfway over and we have three months of basketball to consider when analyzing the league’s best players.
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We got to this site before the season ended. While LeBron James remains at the top of our list, it’s hard to argue against the reigning Finals MVP and the league’s longest-tenured player, our order has shifted a bit, thanks to a few MVP-worthy seasons this year.
Where he is now: Tatum made “The Leap” in 2019-20. His progress in 2020-21 has not been as good, but he is also recovering from COVID-19. Few players have Tatum’s three-level scoring ability, and he has improved as a playmaker and defender. The list of players you’d take before Tatum when starting a franchise is short.
Where he is now: George had a poor performance on the NBA bubble, but has come out with a vengeance this season. He’s having the most efficient scoring season of his career while averaging as many assists per game and playing his usual solid defense. The Clippers destroyed opponents with George on the floor, outscoring them by 12 points per 100 possessions.
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Where he is now: Butler doesn’t always fit the profile of an elite player due to his lack of shooting and occasional lags in scoring. But only five other players this season are averaging 20-7-7 per game. Butler is averaging career highs in rebounding and assists all while playing his usual strong defense, and the Heat are 14-8 with him in the lineup. Let’s not forget that only a
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