Projecting the top 125 NBA players for 2022-23 season

Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, ranking NBA players Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, ranking NBA players Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bulls. Alex Caruso. 75. player. 24. . G

Ranking NBA players — 75. Alex Caruso, Bulls

A healthy Alex Caruso is an absolute game-changer for Chicago. He’s the best defender on the team, and while it’s generally difficult to rely on a 6-foot-4 bench guard to anchor your defense, Caruso might just be good enough to do it. He’s no slouch on offense either. Caruso hits 3s, makes quick and snappy decisions with the ball, and has the athleticism to flourish on back-door cuts from time to time.

Lonzo Ball. 74. player. 24. . G. Chicago Bulls

Ranking NBA players — 74. Lonzo Ball, Bulls

Lonzo Ball has struggled to work his way back from a lingering knee injury, with his most recent setback casting doubt over his immediate future. All we know is that when Ball is healthy, he’s a winner. His 3-point volume and connective-tissue playmaking are the perfect complement to ball-dominant scorers like DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Ball is one of the smartest passers in the game, and he doesn’t need to dominate the ball (no pun intended) to make his presence felt. He’s also a stellar defender who, in tandem with Caruso, could help salvage an otherwise dreadful defensive roster.

73. player. 18. . F. Boston Celtics. Al Horford

Ranking NBA players — 73. Al Horford, Celtics

Al Horford gently reminded us of his greatness last season. After being (justifiably) written off for two years, he returned to Boston and a system that treats him well. He once again thrived as a playmaking hub on the elbow, elevating teammates with his passing and using his strength to exploit mismatches in the post. On defense, Horford can still guard all over the floor. He’s a winning player through and through.

72. player. 24. . C. Chicago Bulls. Nikola Vucevic

Ranking NBA players — 72. Nikola Vucevic, Bulls

Nikola Vucevic was a perennial All-Star candidate not long ago. He’s relegated to tertiary scoring duties in Chicago, but one should not discount the 7-footer’s profound impact on the game. He can stretch the floor to the 3-point line, or dominate the in post with strength and feather-soft touch. Vooch is also a terrific passer who seldom fails to locate teammates cutting backdoor or spotting up along the 3-point line. He’s also one of the game’s top rebounders.

38. . F. Orlando Magic. Franz Wagner. 71. player

Ranking NBA players — 71. Franz Wagner, Magic

Franz Wagner lit up the world in Eurobasket over the summer after a strong rookie campaign in Orlando. He feels primed for a big second-year leap as, potentially, the Magic’s best offensive player. Orlando should make a point to get Wagner more involved when the season starts — to see just how much of the scoring and playmaking burden he can handle. He’s a tremendous defensive prospect too.