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 /
16 of 25
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

66. . F. Phoenix Suns. Mikal Bridges. 50. player

Ranking NBA players — 50. Mikal Bridges, Suns

Mikal Bridges has emerged as maybe the best wing defender in basketball. He can fight over screens and swallow up the point of attack, or he can play free safety and use his length to eviscerate passing lanes. He is a thorn in the side of every opposing offense. Beyond that, he’s the perfect complement to Phoenix’s star backcourt. Bridges hits a high volume of 3s, makes swift and decisive decisions with the ball, and is willing to do the little things necessary to win games.

49. player. 41. . G. Golden State Warriors. Klay Thompson

Ranking NBA players — 49. Klay Thompson, Warriors

Klay Thompson returned from consecutive knee injuries and two years of rehab to win a championship last season. He wasn’t quite in peak form, but Thompson’s gravity behind the 3-point line is undeniable. Another year removed from his injuries, he should only look more like his old self.

player. 81. . F. Toronto Raptors. Scottie Barnes. 48

Ranking NBA players — 48. Scottie Barnes, Raptors

Scottie Barnes nabbed Rookie of the Year after a remarkable all-around season for the competitive Raptors. He checked so many boxes: on offense, he could oscillate between post-up scorer, spot-up shooter, and backup point guard. On defense, very few players can credibly guard five positions. Barnes is one of them. There just aren’t many chinks in his armor. If he can expand his scoring repertoire even further, Barnes will enter the All-Star fray sooner than later.

player. 125. . G. Atlanta Hawks. Dejounte Murray. 47

Ranking NBA players — 47. Dejounte Murray, Hawks

Dejounte Murray will have to adjust his approach significantly as Trae Young’s partner in crime. He will need to spend more time moving without the basketball, cutting to the rim, and taking spot-up 3s. That said, a guard with Murray’s size, playmaking chops, and defensive aptitude will seldom struggle in the NBA. He is going to change the calculus of Atlanta’s defense, which is what held them back from contention last season. He will also afford Trae Young the chance to do more work off the ball, where he can weaponize his shooting gravity in new and exciting ways.

156. . F. Cleveland Cavaliers. Evan Mobley. 46. player

Ranking NBA players — 46. Evan Mobley, Cavaliers

Evan Mobley already ranks among the best defenders in the NBA. As a rookie, he provided Cleveland with absurd versatility on the defensive end. He spent time at the top of a zone. He spent time protecting the rim. He spent time banging in the post, and he spent time chasing guards around the perimeter. Mobley is the Cavs’ best wing defender at 7-foot. The offense isn’t too far behind either. If he can learn to channel his soft touch, spindly limbs, and exceptional mobility into a cohesive offensive skill set, the sky’s the limit.