Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 25. Jrue Holiday, Bucks
Jrue Holiday is the best guard defender in the NBA, period. When push comes to shove, when the rubber meets the road, there is no more desirable perimeter defender than Holiday. That alone puts him in this range, not to mention his efficient (if not always elite) production offensively. He’s a true floor general, with the patience and awareness to get the most out of teammates.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 24. Bam Adebayo, Heat
Bam Adebayo continues to evolve the conversation around elite interior defense. He’s one of the best interior defenders in the NBA because he isn’t stuck in the interior. Adebayo can devour even the best guards on switches (just ask Trae Young and James Harden). On offense, he continues to make massive strides. He can score in a variety of ways around the basket and he’s one of the best passing bigs in the game.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 23. Anthony Davis, Lakers
Anthony Davis’ stock has tumbled drastically in the years since LA’s notorious “Bubble” championship. Still, he has earned the benefit of the doubt. When healthy, Davis is a monstrous defender who can take over games with his rim protection. On offense, while the jumper needs to be ironed out, he’s a balletic post scorer and a great second option to LeBron James. It’s not really his fault the Lakers are incompetently run.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 22. Ja Morant, Grizzlies
Ja Morant made the leap to true stardom this season, and he deserves all the credit in the world for Memphis’ run to the No. 2 seed. That said, the Grizzlies did fine without him (20-5 record) and it’s fair to wonder if the sizzling spectacle of Morant’s play made some viewers paper over his more noticeable flaws. Morant still doesn’t shoot the cleanest 3-pointer, and he’s not very good on defense. If he can improve in those areas, then he has true MVP candidate potential.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 21. Khris Middleton, Bucks
Khris Middleton does not get the proper respect. His absence has been completely overlooked in the conversation around Milwaukee’s second-round exit, and I’m not sure how that’s the case. Middleton obviously takes a backseat to Giannis, but he’s one of the most precise and impressive pull-up shooters in basketball. His mid-range game is untouchable, while his prolific 3-point stroke and improvement as a passer has made him a perennial All-Star.