Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 5. Joel Embiid, Sixers
Joel Embiid finished second in MVP voting for the second straight year and claimed his first NBA scoring title. He continues to bulldoze through the regular season with unfathomable force, using his gigantic frame and the skill set of a guard to torture unprepared and ill-equipped defenses. He gets better every season. Once he couldn’t see double teams coming, now he’s picking defenses apart with his passing. Each week seems to unveil a new trick, a new tool in the toolkit. If he can stay healthy and productive for an entire postseason, we will soon have to talk about Embiid as one of the true greats of his position.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 4. Kevin Durant, Nets
Kevin Durant was the consensus No. 1 in a lot of people’s minds when last season ended. The Nets have failed him on multiple levels since his arrival, but Durant remains the NBA’s most unique and unstoppable scorer. He has also improved greatly as a passer and a defender since his early days in OKC, and should Brooklyn build a real system around him, we might be reminded of how great he is next postseason.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 3. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
Nikola Jokic might be the best passer in basketball. He is also 6-foot-11, weighs in at 284 pounds, and could similarly be described as one of the best scorers in basketball. A lot of the Jokic discourse has boiled down to “assists!” and “people only like him because of advanced stats!” — but that’s not what makes Jokic great. Jokic is great because he makes the most out of his possessions. He’s more efficient than all the superstar scorers, he is focused as much on teammates’ success as he is on his own success, and he puts in tremendous effort on both sides of the ball. Jokic is an elite rebounder and a better post defender than he gets credit for. He’s not a fraudulent MVP.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 2. Luka Doncic, Mavericks
Luka Doncic is making the leap right before our eyes, from superstar to top-of-the-league superstar. He’s the sun around which the Mavs’ solar system revolves. He’s a one-man offense in the most extreme sense, hunting mismatches with the persistence of a metronome and generally beating the good defenders too. He has the patented step-back, the strength of a linebacker at the rim, and one of the best eyes for passing in the sport. He can beat your defense any which way, and he will continue to stuff stat sheets for the next decade-plus.
Ranking the top 100 NBA players — 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo has assumed the mantle of best NBA player. He’s a top-5 defender in the spot, a top-5 scorer in the sport, a top-5 rebounder in the sport, and one of the best playmaking 7-footers in the sport. He’s impossible to stop once he gets momentum going downhill, and now he’s even becoming more dangerous when he doesn’t have momentum going downhill. Giannis’ touch on floaters and and mid-range jumpers has improved drastically, and he’s even hitting more 3s. On defense, no player can cover the amount of ground Giannis can. He’s an elite roamer who plays don’t want to challenge in isolation. He’s the best of the best right now.