NBArank 2022 – Ranking the best players for 2022-23, from 5 to 1 – ESPN

NBArank 2022 - Ranking the best players for 2022-23, from 5 to 1 - ESPN

NBArank returns for its 12th season of ranking the best players in the league.

Where are MVP candidates such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic? What about rookies and young stars ready to make the leap into the upper echelon of NBA players?

To get NBArank’s final prediction, we asked our panel of experts to vote on pairs of players: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry vs. i dyingLuke vs. Jayson Tatum … and the list goes on.

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

We have already revealed players No. 100-26, No. 25-11 and a surprising No. 10-6. Today, our rankings conclude with the league’s top five superstars.

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

Golden State Warriors | PG

2021 NBA Ranking: 5

If Finals MVP was the hardware missing from Curry’s argument as one of the all-time greats, that’s now taken care of, as Steph led the Warriors to their fourth title in six years en route to winning the elusive accolade. Sources told ESPN that, heading into training camp, Curry looks in shape and ready to pick up where he left off.

Why his ranking was unchanged

Curry is in the same position he was in at the beginning of last season. After averaging 25.5 points per game on 43.7% shooting, Curry has by no means had a subpar season — he was an early contender for MVP — but an ankle injury kept him off the floor for the last month of the regular season. In his absence, his teammates stepped up and kept the Warriors afloat to secure the West’s #3 seed. Maybe that — in addition to the rise of the MVP contenders below — is the reason he’s in the same place in our rankings.

One huge question for 2022-23

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

Why he was able to finish the season #1

Based on Curry’s 2021-22 campaign, there’s no obvious reason to believe he couldn’t finish this season as the No. 1-ranked player in the league. Barring an extended absence, Curry should be able to put together a strong, complete season that could see him win another championship and perhaps more individual hardware.

— Kendra Andrews

Philadelphia 76ers | C

2021 NBA Ranking: 7

After two straight narrow runner-up finishes behind Jokic in MVP voting, Embiid is once again a favorite to claim the award as the anchor of what should be one of the better teams in the league.

Why did he rise three spots

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 a center led the league in scoring since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 and the first time a center averaged at least 30 points per game across an entire season later Moses Malone in 1981-82.

Embiid also averaged the fewest minutes of any player to win the scoring title with 33.8 per game, breaking the 34.2 mark Curry set in both 2016 and 2021. He has become a complete player offensively, able to score on all three levels with ease, and is one of the league’s most impressive rim protectors.

One huge question for 2022-23

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

Up to this point in his career, he’s had one dose of bad injury luck after another, including a facial fracture and thumb sprain during Philadelphia’s playoff run in the spring. When Embiid is healthy and available, there may not be a more dominant player in the NBA today. After playing a career-high 68 games last season, Embiid is eyeing both a healthy regular season and playoffs this time around. If he does, the sky is the limit.

Why he was able to finish the 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 will be surrounded by a team built to optimize. his forces That will only increase Embiid’s chances of claiming that elusive MVP award and leading Philadelphia to the deep playoff run missing from his resume.

If those things happen, he could jump to the top of this list.

— Tim Bontemps

Dallas Mavericks | PG

2021 NBA Ranking: 4

After spending his offseason starring for the Slovenian national team, Doncic should report to training camp in game shape for the first time in a few years. When conditioning isn’t a concern, Doncic is one of the NBA’s most dominant forces.

Why did he rise one point

At 23 years old, Doncic has proven beyond doubt that he belongs in the highest tier of superstars, a perennial All-NBA selection and MVP candidate. He cemented that status last season, when he was the only All-Star on a Dallas team that went to the West finals.

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

He’s arguably the best offensive weapon in the NBA — a scoring threat and assists titles that tear apart defenses with a blend of power, skill and savvy. He’s also a ruthless competitor, as evidenced by his unforgettable Game 7 demolition of the top-seeded Suns, when he single-handedly matched Phoenix’s scoring total in the first half.

One huge question for 2022-23

How long can Doncic lead a team that doesn’t have another All-Star? Dallas’ roster took a significant hit when Jalen Brunson, the Mavs’ second-best player last season, boiled over for New York in free agency. Mavs management is confident Brunson’s scoring void can be filled with Tim Hardaway Jr.’s return from injury and Christian Woodthe arrival of by trade.

But in a league loaded with star duos, Doncic carries as big a burden as anyone. Doncic has led the league in usage over the past two seasons, a trend that will likely continue in 2022-23.

Why he could finish the season #1

Doncic finished fourth, sixth and fifth in MVP voting the past three seasons, respectively. This could be the season in which Doncic climbs to the top of the polls, especially if he gets off to a strong start and Dallas claims a top-four spot in the competitive West.

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

— Tim MacMahon

Denver Nuggets | C

2021 NBA Ranking: 6

Despite Jokic averaging 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 back this season, Denver hopes to be back in contention, led by their two-time reigning MVP.

Why did he rise four points

How did Jokic follow up with an MVP season? He got better. Jokic became just the 13th player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards and did so with 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, steals, blocks and field goal percentage.

Jokic beat out Embiid for MVP by recording the highest PER (32.8) in a season in NBA history. Jokic has collected 19 triple-doubles — the most by a center since then Wilt Chamberlain — and led Denver to one more win than the previous season despite missing Murray and Porter Jr.

One huge question for 2022-23

The Nuggets are whole again, but can Jokic and a new-look roster recapture the form that helped Denver reach the Western Conference finals in the 2020 bubble? Murray missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and Porter Jr. been out since early November due to back surgery.

The Nuggets welcome both back but also went through some changes in the offseason, namely adding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown and trading Mount Morris to the Washington Wizards to free up playing time for an emerging second-year point guard Bones Hyland.

Why he could finish the season #1

If he could put together a historic season without Murray and Porter Jr., what can he do with them back on the court? Jokic was double-teamed 191 times during post-ups last season, the most in the league. With a full complement of contributors around him, Jokic won’t face the same type of defensive attention.

While his scoring might be down, assists and other categories might be up this season. And if he can three-peat as MVP, Jokic would remove what only Larry Bird, Chamberlain and Bill Russell accomplished — that sounds like a recipe for becoming the number one player in the league.

— Ohm Youngmisuk

Milwaukee Bucks | PF

2021 NBA Ranking: 2

As Antetokounmpo enters his age-28 season, his list of accolades already makes him one of the most decorated winners in league history. So the question remains how he will add to that list. Can he win a third NBA MVP? The Bucks will be among the favorites to win another NBA championship, but can Antetokounmpo secure another Finals MVP? The expectations are high every season, but Antetokounmpo usually finds a way to exceed them.

Why did he rise one point

From Antetokounmpo’s sheer consistency and reliable control every night, his claim to status as the best player in the world has only grown stronger in the past year. Arguably no player in the league can match his impact on both ends of the floor.

To go on to win his first Finals MVP, Antetokounmpo challenged for the scoring title, averaging 29.9 points (third in the NBA), grabbing 11.6 rebounds, dishing out 5.8 assists with 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Even though Milwaukee was without its second best player, Chris Middletonduring their second-round playoff series against Boston, the Bucks extended the streak to seven games at the behest of Antetokounmpo, who averaged 31.7 points, 14.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists in the postseason.

One huge question for 2022-23

What new skill set will Antetokounmpo bring to the table? After each offseason, Antetokounmpo emerges with a new skill in his arsenal. Over the years, he’s refined his vision as a passer, improved as an outside jumper that keeps defenses guessing and has become more unstoppable attacking the paint and in the post. Is it possible for Antetokounmpo to get even better?

— Jamal Collier

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

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