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 /
15 of 25
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

27. . G. New York Knicks. R.J. Barrett. 55. player

Ranking NBA players — 55. R.J. Barrett, Knicks

R.J. Barrett’s performance after the All-Star break last season has to excite New York fans. He’s not Donovan Mitchell — not yet, at least — but the upside and star power is there. When it comes to strength and speed attacking downhill, Barrett is a rare beast. He has become reliable from 3-point range, and his playmaking took a huge step forward last season. He’s starting to put the pieces together.

93. . G. Philadelphia 76ers. Tyrese Maxey. 54. player

Ranking NBA players — 54. Tyrese Maxey, Sixers

Tyrese Maxey‘s blend of speed, finishing ability, and 3-point efficiency is unheard of. He’s extremely hard to defense as a result, and even harder to defend when he’s No. 3 on your list of priorities behind two superstar offensive talents. Maxey has to get better as a defender and playmaker, but he’s such a dynamic scoring threat already and nobody in the league works harder.

69. . G. New Orleans Pelicans. CJ McCollum. 53. player

Ranking NBA players — 53. CJ McCollum, Pelicans

The Pelicans have locked CJ McCollum up for the next four years. He will finish out his prime in New Orleans it seems. Last season, the Pelicans took off after McCollum’s arrival. He gave them another ball-handler next to Brandon Ingram who could consistently break down the defense and create offense, both for himself and for teammates. With Zion now joining the fold, life should be even easier for McCollum. The Pelicans are going to be murderous on offense. The question is, how does the defense look?

Boston Celtics. Marcus Smart. 52. player. 18. . G

Ranking NBA players — 52. Marcus Smart, Celtics

Fresh off becoming the first guard to win DPOY since Gary Payton, Marcus Smart and the Celtics are prohibitive frontrunners in the East. Whether he can repeat in the awards race or not, there’s no denying Smart’s ability to swing games with his defense. He can credibly guard all five positions — a singular disruptive force with the heart of a lion. Smart also seriously elevated the Celtics’ offense upon taking over as starting point guard last season. His ability to penetrate the defense and get others involved is essential to the Boston’s success.

Memphis Grizzlies. Jaren Jackson Jr.. 51. player. 211. . F

Ranking NBA players — 51. Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies

Jaren Jackson Jr. is on the shortlist of best rim protectors in the NBA. His per-minute defensive numbers are off the charts. If he can continue to refine his decision-making and cut down on needless fouls, Jackson will win a DPOY trophy before his prime is through. His whirlwind presence in the middle of Memphis’ defense, combined with deep 3-point range, makes him an invaluable second star on a genuine contender.