Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 20. Zach LaVine, Bulls
Injuries derailed Chicago’s postseason push, but there’s ample reason for optimism around that franchise — starting with Zach LaVine, who is at the front end of his prime and still getting better with each passing year. He’s a mesmerizing athlete, with the ability to float in midair and walk an invisible tightrope near the rim. When you consider his improvement as a playmaker off the drive, on top of his high-volume perimeter shooting, it’s hard not to peg LaVine near the top of the NBA guard hierarchy.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 18. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best offensive bigs of his generation. He might be the best 3-point shooting big of all-time. His diversity of skill on offense is entirely unique, with the athleticism to punish slower defenders off the dribble and the strength to use brute force at the rim. He has also made major strides defensively. Not many 7-footers can truly beat you in any way. Towns can.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 18. DeMar DeRozan, Bulls
DeMar DeRozan went from a borderline has-been in the minds of many to a viable MVP candidate overnight. Far too many people were comfortable writing off DeRozan’s production in San Antonio as empty stats on a middling team. He’s automatic from mid-range, with a shot-making package unlike anyone else’s in the league. No one is better at hitting the hard shots. He is also an improved 3-point shooter, a prolific assist man, and truly one of the last decade’s most consistent winning players. He’s been doing this for a while. It’s time we give him the credit he deserves.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 17. Zion Williamson, Pelicans
Before his injury, Zion Williamson looked like the future of the league. He has issues to iron out defensively (and, of course, he has to actually stay on the court), but Williamson’s offensive efficiency is hard to fathom. Despite having no outside shot, there’s simply no way for defenses to keep him away from the rim. He’s the most dominant interior scorer on the planet, using his completely singular strength and speed to slice through defenses like a hot knife through butter.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 16. Trae Young, Hawks
Trae Young led the Hawks to the conference finals in his third NBA season. He’s heading up the next generation of great NBA point guards, adding modern flair to the classic role of floor general. He led the NBA in total points and total assists this season, he’s one of the best pull-up shooters in recent memory, and he’s the most inventive passer in the Eastern Conference next to LaMelo Ball.