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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Detroit Pistons. Cade Cunningham. 40. player. 64. . G

Ranking NBA players — 40. Cade Cunningham, Pistons

It took Cade Cunningham a few months to shake off injury rust and find his rhythm at the NBA level last season. Once he did, it was pretty much lights out for opponents. Cunningham has the size, shot-making talent, and playmaking eye necessary to be an absolute superstar one day. He might not reach that level in his second season, but he’s due for a considerable uptick in productivity.

. G. Charlotte Hornets. LaMelo Ball. 39. player. 170

Ranking NBA players — 39. LaMelo Ball, Hornets

The Hornets are stuck in basketball purgatory right now and I’m not sure they’ll break out any time soon. That’s not the fault of LaMelo Ball, however. He’s one of the most creative passers in the game. Not many players can balance flash and substance as delicately as Ball. He’s prime-time entertainment, but also a singular playmaking force who makes life immeasurably easier for teammates.

41. . F. Golden State Warriors. Draymond Green. 38. player

Ranking NBA players — 38. Draymond Green, Warriors

Draymond Green will go down as the greatest defender of his generation. He has lost a step or two since his prime, but the 32-year-old was still well on his way to a second DPOY trophy before getting hurt last season. His versatility and communication skills are unmatched. He’s the quarterback of a championship-level defense, and also the leading assist-getter for the NBA’s most potent offense.

G. Denver Nuggets. Jamal Murray. 37. player. 73.

Ranking NBA players — 37. Jamal Murray, Nuggets

Jamal Murray was starting to look a lot like the next superstar guard in the West before a torn ACL halted his plans. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what shape Murray will return in, but he’s a notorious hard-worker with all the skills necessary to return to form. He will anchor Denver’s deep guard rotation and provide a measure of relief for Nikola Jokic, who was burdened with running the show absent his two best co-stars last season.

156. . G. Cleveland Cavaliers. Darius Garland. 36. player

Ranking NBA players — 36. Darius Garland, Cavaliers

Darius Garland is now joined by Donovan Mitchell in what could be the East’s most potent backcourt. Garland’s growth as a pick-and-roll facilitator last season unlocked Jarrett Allen’s stardom and put Cleveland’s offense on the map. Before injuries got in the way, the Cavs looked like a potential top-four seed. Now they’ll be right back in that fray. Garland is a liability on defense, but he’s already an offensive wizard who — at 22 years old — will only get better.