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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet. 35. player. 81. . G. Toronto Raptors

Ranking NBA players — 35. Fred VanVleet, Raptors

The Raptors remain criminally underrated in the East, as does Toronto’s star point guard. Fred VanVleet is diminutive and unassuming, but he gets it done on both ends. He’s probably the best 6-foot-1 defender in the NBA — an absolute menace at the point of attack. On offense, he’s a deadly volume shooter with shifty handles and the ability to overpower even bigger defenders with his strength attacking the lane.

34. player. 18. . G. Boston Celtics. Jaylen Brown

Ranking NBA players — 34. Jaylen Brown, Celtics

Jaylen Brown and the Celtics are fresh off a Finals appearance. Many consider Boston the favorites in the East, and for good reason. Brown is one of the league’s best No. 2’s — an explosive athlete who can bury the defense with difficult and easy shots alike. Also a versatile defender and gradually improving playmaker, Brown checks a ton of boxes for a Celtics team built around Jayson Tatum’s budding superstardom.

33. player. 86. . G. Minnesota Timberwolves. Anthony Edwards

Ranking NBA players — 33. Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards looked like a superstar in the playoffs. While Minnesota ultimately fell to Memphis in the first round, it was the first of what promises to be many standout moments in Edwards’ burgeoning career. With every athletic tool at his disposal, the UGA product is ready to make the leap. A special scorer — with strength to plow through traffic at the rim and the footwork to leave his defender grasping at air on the perimeter — Edwards needs only become more involved as a playmaker and defender.

156. . G. Cleveland Cavaliers. Donovan Mitchell. 32. player

Ranking NBA players — 32. Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers

The Cavs made the summer’s biggest splash, swooping in and trading for Donovan Mitchell after weeks of speculation about his fit in New York. Mitchell should look right at home offensively, as he will benefit from splitting the ball-handling burden with a point guard as talented as Garland. He will also have two vertical threats at the rim, a floor-spacing big in Kevin Love, and some extra scoring support off the bench in the form of Caris LeVert. Defense is the big drawback with Mitchell (and Garland too), but Cleveland’s elite defensive frontcourt should offset those concerns.

31. player. 149. . G. Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Ranking NBA players — 31. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder

It would be easy to ignore Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s production because of his circumstances. OKC isn’t going to win any time soon, and there isn’t too much competition for touches on that roster. But SGA is not posting empty stats: he’s genuinely one of the most dominant individual scoring guards in the NBA. Very few players can create from scratch like Gilgeous-Alexander. His length, shiftiness, and touch are next level. He’s pretty much impossible to guard straight up.