Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 15. Rudy Gobert, Jazz
It’s fair to question if Rudy Gobert is a top-15 star in the playoffs. But, he is most definitely a star in the playoffs, and he’s quite possibly one of the 10 best regular season players in the NBA in terms of year-to-year consistency. He’s the best defender of his generation and a true floor-raiser for whichever team he’s on. He spent all season cleaning up messes for one of the NBA’s worst perimeter defensive teams, and he’s not the zero-factor offensive player his more vociferous detractors make him out to be. He’s an excellent finisher at the rim for obvious reasons and a fruitful pick-and-roll partner for capable lead creators.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 14. Damian Lillard, Blazers
Here’s to hoping Damian Lillard’s core injury doesn’t eat away at him in the years to come. Lillard’s window of tip-top level stardom is closing, and the Blazers are further from a championship than ever before. That said, he’s still so dynamic off the dribble — so difficult to execute a game plan for — that it’s impossible to knock him too far down the list. Keep the faith.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 13. Devin Booker, Suns
Devin Booker continues to improve his all-around game. He has gone from defensive liability to a genuine plus defender. He has gone from empty-calories scorer to top-5 MVP candidate. His growth as a pull-up shooter and playmaker off the drive has helped make Phoenix the regular season juggernaut it currently is. If you erase Game 7 from your memory, he’s also one of the truly great big-stage, high-pressure performers we have.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 12. Paul George, Clippers
Injuries ate away at Paul George’s season, but the Clippers are ready for a swift return to contention next season with two all-around superstars at the helm. George is still not long removed from a top-3 finish in MVP voting, yet he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for one reason or another. Not many wings can create offense like George and play elite defense. One of the few who can is his primary teammate.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 11. Chris Paul, Suns
The Point God reigns still. He’s so freakin’ smart, so freakin’ creative, and so freakin’ good. The Suns have dominated teams for two seasons in a row now, and while neither ended with a championship, it’s impossible to ignore the greatness of CP3. He’s cold-blooded in big moments, he makes his teammates better in every facet of the game, and he continues to defiantly ignore Father Time.