Ranking the top 50 NBA players in 2021

Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
1 of 10
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Before the season, we ranked the top 50 players in the NBA. At the time, only two Sixers made the list — Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. A lot has changed since then, so it feels only right for a midseason update.

This is a general ranking of the NBA’s best players. It is not a ranking of best individual season, but it does, of course, take into account this season and the new information it provides. For example, Embiid was not an MVP candidate before the season. Now he is. Naturally, his spot on this list has changed.

So, without further ado…

LaMelo Ball. 50. player. 170. . PG. Charlotte Hornets

Top 50 NBA players: #50 — LaMelo Ball

Despite a potentially season-ending injury, LaMelo Ball has all but won Rookie of the Year, averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists on 45.1 percent shooting. He’s one of the rare teenagers who has truly impacted winning. He has, for long stretches, been the best player on a playoff team. Granted, the East is weak, but Ball’s playmaking chops and surprisingly strong scoring acumen have shined in Charlotte.

81. . PG. Toronto Raptors. Fred VanVleet. 49. player

Top 50 NBA players: #49 — Fred VanVleet

The Raptors, and consequently Fred VanVleet, have experienced what many would consider a down year. With the horizon unclear in Toronto, one of the few certainties is VanVleet. Struggles and all, the 27-year-old is still a prolific shooter and hard-nosed defender at the point of attack. He, next to Pascal Siakam, is the Raptors’ future. He’s averaging 19.8 points and 6.1 assists on 39.3 percent shooting.

48. player. 170. . SF. Charlotte Hornets. Gordon Hayward

Top 50 NBA players: #48 — Gordon Hayward

A bigger role has suited Gordon Hayward well in Charlotte, where he’s looking as close as ever to his pre-injury self. Hayward is averaging 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists for the playoff-seeking Hornets. His all-around skill set has opened up the Hornets’ dynamic offense, with a steady dose of 3s, drives, and set-ups fueling Hayward’s return to relevance.

47. player. 125. . PF. Atlanta Hawks. John Collins

Top 50 NBA players: #47 — John Collins

The Hawks will have to decide whether or not to pay John Collins this offseason. It’s an important decision, but the numbers work in Collins’ favor. He’s averaging 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds on 54.5 percent shooting as Trae Young’s favorite lob threat and secondary scorer. A tenacious rebounder, thrilling athlete, and increasingly diverse scorer, Collins should have a future in Atlanta.

93. . PF. Philadelphia 76ers. Tobias Harris. 46. player

Top 50 NBA players: #46 — Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris has vaulted upward on this list behind his best NBA season to date. He’s averaging 20.6 points and 7.3 rebounds on 52.0 percent shooting, becoming the true No. 2 scorer Philadelphia desperately needed next to Joel Embiid. While Harris isn’t without flaws, his growth as a decision-maker and defender has forced a reevaluation of his reputation.