Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

If you feel like the Denver Nuggets just won the NBA title a few weeks ago, you're not alone. The offseason has flown by amid Damian Lillard and James Harden trade rumors, and here we are within two weeks of the start of training camp for the 2023-24 campaign. 

In the meantime, it's time for CBS Sports' annual list of the league's top 100 players as we sit on the cusp of a new season. This is, to be clear, a futures post. These aren't based on past performances or career accomplishments. It's our staff's average ranking of the top 100 players in the NBA based on how we see them performing this upcoming season.

Some may think that any list that doesn't have LeBron James in the upper echelon just doesn't feel right. There certainly is a recent history of superstar athletes across the sports spectrum fending off Father Time, and our Bill Reiter writes on that very topic. But LeBron fell out of the top 10 for us. 

Once the season gets going, of course, there will be some players who will exceed expectations. LeBron may be one of them. Others will fall short. Looking back at our top 100 list from a year ago, there is major movement with a handful of players on this year's version -- notably a riser and a faller of at least 50 spots. Here, our Jasmyn Wimbish outlines the most extreme boosts and buckles from a year ago.

Other points to debate: Which team has the most selections? Are there any teams that don't have any players in the top 100? Rookies are eligible, and more than a couple made the cut. So let's get to it. As always, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.

Each of CBS Sports' eight NBA staff writers -- Brad Botkin, James Herbert, Jack Maloney, Sam Quinn, Bill Reiter, Ameer Tyree, Colin Ward-Henninger and Jasmyn Wimbish -- submitted individual lists of their top 100 players in the NBA for the upcoming 2023-24 season, and results were calculated by assigning a point value to each player's place on each writer's list. A player ranked No. 1 received 100 points, while a player ranked No. 100 received one point, and the cumulative point totals were used to determine the order for this year's edition of the CBS Sports NBA 100.

Grant Williams Dallas Mavericks PF
Last year's rank: 100. For the second consecutive year, Williams comes in at the last spot on our ranking, which is a testament to his consistency as a role player. He's proven on multiple occasions that he can hang with the best of them on defense, and his efficiency as a 3-point shooter makes him a valuable player to have on any roster. He found himself in and out of Boston's rotation in the playoffs last year. But he'll join a Mavericks team this season that severely lacks defensive toughness, so he'll get plenty of opportunity to show why he's been on our Top 100 for two straight years. -- Jasmyn Wimbish
Last year's rank: Not ranked. KCP was basically Cinderella in Denver, fitting in seamlessly and perfectly with the champions on both ends of the floor in his first season in Denver after coming over from Washington in a trade last summer.. The 3-and-D wing benefited from the playmaking of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, shooting a career-best 42% on over four 3-pointers per game. Caldwell-Pope landed in the 93rd percentile on catch-and-shoot jumpers, according to Synergy Sports, and made 46% of his "wide open" 3s, according to He's one of those players who would find success in virtually any system, but it's hard to imagine a better match for his skill set than the Nuggets. -- Colin Ward-Henninger
Bruce Brown Indiana Pacers SF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Bruce Brown treats the NBA to a new skill with each passing season. He arrived in Detroit as a strong defender, but once he got to Brooklyn, Steve Nash helped him become one of the league's best cutters and screeners as well. His Nets tenure ended with slow improvement in his 3-point shot that followed him to Denver, and then the Nuggets unleashed him as a de-facto backup point guard. Now, the Pacers are getting the fully-formed Brown, a role player with few definable weaknesses who adds new strengths with each passing season. Keep an eye on his assist numbers this season. Rick Carlisle loves empowering multiple playmakers, and Indiana's roster is built to play fast and unleash Brown in transition. Those point guard skills he showed off in Denver should pay off big time for the Pacers. -- Sam Quinn
Scoot Henderson Portland Trail Blazers PG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Damian Lillard's desire to leave Portland could have a major impact on how successful Scoot Henderson's rookie year will be. The No. 3 overall pick has already competed against pros for two years with the G League Ignite, and could step into a lead-guard role alongside Anfernee Simons if Lillard is moved. Henderson is a rare downhill athlete who can get to his spots with speed and precision. He'll have a chance to be one of the league's most productive young players as a starter. -- Ameer Tyree
Markelle Fultz Orlando Magic PG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Fultz continues to be one of the NBA's best stories. The former No. 1 overall pick has overcome injuries and well-documented early shooting struggles to resurrect his career in Orlando as a really good two-way player. Super strong with exquisite footwork, Fultz puts a ton of downhill pressure on defenses and can hurt you either as a scorer or passer once he's in or near the paint. He assisted on 29% of Orlando's buckets when he was on the floor last year (96th positional percentile, per Cleaning the Glass) and hit 47% of his mid-range shots. Defenders having to honor Fultz as a pull-up shooter allows him to attack the rim and finish with physicality, athleticism and craft. Kind of a herky-jerky player in a good way, Fultz's hesitation dribble is nasty and he really defends with force. One of the league's hidden gems. -- Brad Botkin
Bojan Bogdanovic Detroit Pistons SF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. The 34-year-old Bogdanovic averaged a career-high 21.6 points last season in Detroit, and, despite taking on a heavier offensive load, was more efficient than ever before. He's deadly spotting up (45.5% on catch-and-shoot 3s in 2022-23), but he's still getting his points in a variety of ways: isolation, pick-and-roll, post-ups, off movement. The Pistons must hope that they won't be so dependent on him next season, though. -- James Herbert
Robert Williams III Boston Celtics C
Last year's rank: 56. If Williams could stay on the floor, he would be much higher on this list. There are no questions about his ability. He's one of the league's premier shot-blockers, a force on the offensive glass and an incredibly efficient finisher around the basket. He's also only played 209 games in five seasons and has never played more than 22 consecutive games in his career. The good news for Williams and the Celtics is that he went through a normal summer and will be fully healthy for the start of the season. -- Jack Maloney
Williams fell considerably from where he was slotted in last season's top 100 but he remains one of the league's best rim protectors and rebounders.  Getty Images
Jordan Poole Washington Wizards SG
Last year's rank: 71. It would not be surprising if Poole winds up leading the league in scoring next season. After being traded from Golden State to the Wizards, Poole is now placed into a system that should center around his offensive talents, for better or worse. We've seen the highs of what Poole can do, which were a bright spot in Golden State's title run two seasons ago. But we've also seen the low points, where his supreme levels of confidence can sometimes manifest in the form of turnovers or ill-fated shot attempts. But unlike with the Warriors, Poole will have more free reign to play through some of those mistakes and showcase just how dangerous of a scorer he can be when the offense runs through him. -- Wimbish
Jabari Smith Houston Rockets PF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Smith went through the usual rookie struggles on a rudderless Houston squad to begin last season. But he began to figure things out toward the end of the year. He scored in double-figures in 19 of his final 20 games, averaging nearly 16 points and eight rebounds over that stretch on 47/37/78 shooting splits. That finish, plus a brief, dominant stint at Summer League, set the stage for what should be a much more efficient and productive 2023-24 season with the new-look Rockets. -- Ward-Henninger
Mike Conley Minnesota Timberwolves PG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Conley's game sure has aged well. His usage is way down from his prime years and he's not a stopper anymore. But heading into Year 17, you can still trust him to generate good offense, or simply get out of the way and space the floor. In 2022-23, he made 43.7% of his catch-and-shoot 3s and, after a midseason trade from Utah, got the Wolves organized. He's the 2023 version of the classic floor general, which means he won't hesitate to launch a transition 3 when open. -- Herbert
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Many modern bigs are expected to be able to stretch the floor with shooting, but Kessler has brought an old-school feel to the Utah Jazz as Rudy Gobert's replacement. He crashes the boards to create second-chance opportunities and is already one of the NBA's most prolific rim protectors after just one season. Kessler's offensive arsenal could use some upgrades, but he has the makings of a defensive linchpin. -- Tyree
Jalen Green Houston Rockets SG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Only eight players in NBA history have averaged at least 22 points during their age 20 or younger season. Jalen Green is among them. He is lightning-quick, an explosive leaper who can get to the rim with ease, already a high-level ball-handler and flashed some improved passing chops last season. He has also been derided as an inefficient chucker who doesn't play defense or help his team win. While it's unfair to hold him responsible for Houston's record, there are some real concerns about his efficiency and work (or lack thereof) on defense. Few players will be more interesting to watch this season than Green, who will be under the tutelage of new head coach Ime Udoka and playing alongside veterans for the first time in his career. -- Maloney
Immanuel Quickley New York Knicks PG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Quickley leveled up as a scorer (67% at the rim and 50% from floater range, per Cleaning the Glass; 42% on wide-open 3s) and as an on-ball defender last season, making a case for Sixth Man of the Year. He's a statistical darling, but it's not obvious whether or not he's an above-average starter stuck in a reserve role or an excellent change-of-pace guy playing the perfect role off the bench. Quickley averaged 21 points on 60.6% true shooting after the All-Star break, then virtually disappeared in the playoffs. -- Herbert
Kevin Huerter Sacramento Kings SG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Huerter was everything the Kings could have hoped for in his first season in Sacramento, averaging a career-high 15 points per game on 40% 3-point shooting. His off-ball movement and dribble hand-off work with Domantas Sabonis helped generate the best offensive rating in NBA history last season. Huerter continued to display underrated playmaking ability as well, averaging nearly three assists per game, and is adept at hitting pull-up jumpers and floaters when he's run off the 3-point line. -- Ward-Henninger
RJ Barrett New York Knicks SF
Last year's rank: 63. After a rough couple of games to start the 2023 playoffs, Barrett acquitted himself quite well over his final nine postseason games as New York pushed Miami to six in the second round. His shooting, which fell off last season, remains the fulcrum on which his peak potential swings. Physical on both ends and a 20-point scorer, Barrett qualifies as a solid player right now, but something less than an All-Star. The jury is still out on whether he can become more than that. -- Botkin
Barrett also dropped from his spot in last year's top 100 but remains one of the more intriguing young players in the league due to his potential. Getty Images
Alperen Sengun Houston Rockets C
Last year's rank: Not ranked. The Rockets have a lot to figure out still, but Sengun appears to be a valuable building block. The Turkish big man averaged a near double-double in his first season as a full-time starter, posting 14.8 points, nine rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He isn't the biggest or the most explosive, but he brings relentless effort and should get more credit as a passer. Sengun has grown to 6-foot-11 after entering the league at 6-foot-9, and could be in for his best year yet. -- Tyree
Herbert Jones New Orleans Pelicans SG
Last year's rank: 88. I believe Jones will outplay this ranking the same way he'll outplay the four-year, $53 million contract he signed this summer. This is an all-around stud defender who tied for the league lead with 82 stolen passes, and he can do more offensively than his numbers indicate. His 3-point shooting will improve and he'll eventually be making consistent plays off the dribble, which he has shown sporadic signs of already. -- Botkin
Jaden McDaniels Minnesota Timberwolves SF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. McDaniels was the only player in the NBA who cracked the top 75 in both blocks and steals last season. The Minnesota wing thrived as a high-effort defender who excelled at closing out on shooters, jumping passing lanes and pestering ballhandlers. His scoring average of 12.1 points per game wasn't spectacular, but he did convert 51.7 percent of his field goals and 39.4 percent of his 3-point attempts. McDaniels could make an All-Defensive team as early as next season. -- Tyree
Devin Vassell San Antonio Spurs SG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Vassell had a trial run as San Antonio's second option last season, and averaged a respectable 18.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game on strong shooting splits. However, his sample size was small, with a mere 38 games played because of injuries. He'll certainly have a smaller role in 2023-24 with Victor Wenbanyama in the fold, and Keldon Johnson isn't going anywhere. Vassell's diverse shot profile makes him a capable scorer while his length and anticipation give him the tools to be a strong defender. -- Tyree
Trey Murphy III New Orleans Pelicans SF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. If there was a silver lining to Zion Williamson's inconsistent availability last season, it was the opportunity it created for Trey Murphy III. In 65 starts in his second season, Murphy came 0.4 percentage points away from 50-40-90 shooting splits. There are only nine members of the 50-40-90 club in NBA history, and none of them have ever competed in the dunk contest. The basketball gods rarely grant nuclear athletes in 6-foot-9 bodies the ability to shoot like Stephen Curry. But as Murphy figures out how to meld his rare gifts, he has a chance to emerge as this season's breakout player. -- Quinn
Tobias Harris Philadelphia 76ers PF
Last year's rank: 69. Harris is the definition of a solid NBA starter. Nothing more, nothing less. An Eastern Conference Harrison Barnes. Problem is, he got that gigantic contract and we have all been judging him against it ever since. Harris can create his own offense, space the floor as a 3-point shooter, he's physical on both ends. He's just not an All-Star, which the contract -- which comes off Philly's books next summer -- suggests he should be. -- Botkin
Nicolas Claxton Brooklyn Nets C
Last year's rank: Not ranked. One of 2022-23's breakout players, Claxton was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate for the Nets. Few bigs are as comfortable switching onto the perimeter and, now that he's bulked up a bit, few can bully him on the interior anymore. Claxton's free-throw shooting (54.1%) still needs to improve, but his finishing (78% at the rim, per Cleaning the Glass) is otherworldly and he's crafty with dribble-handoffs and in the short roll. -- Herbert
Claxton is a newcomer to the top 100 and deservedly so after having a breakout season for the Nets.  Getty Images
Tyler Herro Miami Heat PG
Last year's rank: 76. Despite taking small hits in efficiency from his breakout 2021-22 campaign, Herro once again averaged over 20 points per game while shooting 38% from 3-point range. He also notched career highs in rebounds (5.4) and assists per game (4.2), while leading the league with a 93.4% free throw percentage. Herro's defensive shortcomings tend to rear their ugly head in the playoffs, but the Heat certainly missed his scoring and shot creation at various times throughout their Finals run. -- Ward-Henninger
Jerami Grant Portland Trail Blazers PF
Last year's rank: 67. Grant had an impressive 2022-23 season in Portland statistically, scoring 20.5 points per game on 60.6% true shooting, with a more appropriate usage rate than he had in Detroit. He might not be the disruptive defender he was earlier in his career, but his versatility on that end could still help a winning team, should he ever wind up on one again. Since he left Denver for a larger role after the 2019-20 season, his last few years make an interesting contrast to Aaron Gordon's. -- Herbert
Deandre Ayton Phoenix Suns C
Last year's rank: 58. The "Ayton problem" essentially boils down to the fact that he's a very good basketball player who is paid like a great one. He's going to put up a double-double most nights, he's a solid defender and he's fairly durable. There are also concerns about his effort and focus wavering and he doesn't create his own offense -- issues which would be easier to overlook if he wasn't making north of $30 million per year. But when you're a max player who doesn't produce on a max level, it's a problem in a salary-cap league. Both parties probably would have preferred to move on, but it's hard to see a trade happening at this point, so the Suns will have to hope new coach Frank Vogel can help Ayton reach another level. -- Maloney
Kyle Kuzma Washington Wizards PF
Last year's rank: 82. Kyle Kuzma has had a strange career arc. He set a career-high in scoring in his second season that remained untouched until his sixth year, but used the time in between to develop the rest of his game. That's the difference between the player Kuzma was when he first arrived in Los Angeles and the one he is now in Washington. When Kuzma averaged 18.7 points as a Laker in 2019, he brought little else to the table. When he scored 21.2 for the Wizards a season ago, he did so while also averaging a career-high in assists, maintaining solid defensive metrics and rebounding extremely well for his position. Kuzma is a jack-of-all-trades now, and if he ever makes his way back to a contender, he might actually get recognized for it. -- Quinn
Malcolm Brogdon Boston Celtics PG
Last year's rank: 62. Brogdon's first season with the Celtics was everything the team wanted, right up until he tore a tendon in his arm during the playoffs. He averaged 14.9 points on 48.4% shooting to help supplement the team's offense around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and chipped in with 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists en route to winning Sixth Man of the Year. He should be able to provide the same this season, though you have to wonder what sort of tension exists between him and the organization after the failed attempt to trade him to the Clippers earlier this summer. -- Maloney
Chris Paul Golden State Warriors PG
Last year's rank: 18. Paul put together his least efficient scoring season last year since he was a rookie. He's not going to dominate a game for 40 minutes anymore. The days of him getting whatever shots he wants for himself or a teammate are over. But he can still do it in stretches, and he's now playing with the two best shooters and off-ball movers in history in Golden State. He's going to have a lot of space to work in, which should make that snake dribble pull-up all the more effective. Keep an eye on Paul's chemistry with Jonathan Kuminga; that could end up being a money pick-and-roll combination for the Warriors. -- Botkin
Alex Caruso Chicago Bulls SG
Last year's rank: 77. The Chicago Bulls had four players earn eight figures last season. One of them, Lonzo Ball, didn't play. The other three, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, are notoriously negative defenders. So how did Chicago rank in the top five defensively a season ago? They employed Alex Caruso, the NBA's best per-minute perimeter defender. The word "perimeter" is doing a lot of work in that sentence, because as far as Billy Donovan is concerned, it basically means "anyone not named Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid." The Bulls have used Caruso on Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and everybody in between. He is an elite man-defender, helper, floor navigator and communicator. Plenty of players made this list by being great at one or two things on defense. Caruso is great at just about everything. -- Quinn
Jarrett Allen Cleveland Cavaliers C
Last year's rank: 54. After making his first All-Star team in 2022, Allen remained one of the game's premier rim protectors, post defenders, rebounders and finishers last season. And for a "traditional" big, he moves his feet extremely well when defending on the perimeter. He has fallen on this list, though, because of Cleveland's disappointing first-round series against the Knicks, in which Mitchell Robinson dominated the offensive glass. That wasn't all Allen's fault, but he did get pushed around a bit. -- Herbert
Allen slipped a bit on this year's top 100 list but remains one of the best up-and-coming big men in the league today.  Getty Images
CJ McCollum New Orleans Pelicans PG
Last year's rank: 39. Brought to New Orleans as an overqualified third offensive option, McCollum found himself taking the reins more often than not last season due to injuries to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. As a result, his efficiency dropped, though he was still one of just eight players to average at least 20 points while hitting over 39% on at least seven 3-point attempts per game. One of the best shot creators you'll find, McCollum's deft handle and pristine footwork lead to tremendous separation on his stepbacks and sidesteps, and he's equally capable of hitting catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. Being the Pelicans' primary playmaker also led to a career-high 5.7 assists per game for McCollum last season. -- Ward-Henninger
Michael Porter Jr. Denver Nuggets SF
Last year's rank: 64. Michael Porter Jr. was a single-digit scorer in the Finals, yet he still had a fairly strong series. That would have been an unthinkable development even a year ago, but Porter has sanded down the rougher edges of his game and grown into a relatively well-rounded player. He's no Scottie Pippen, but he competes on defense in the right matchups, rebounds very well and takes no bad shots. Could he put up better numbers on a worse team? Sure, but that's part of the appeal here. Porter is comfortable scoring as much or as little as Denver needs to win. There are plenty of higher-ranked players that can't say the same. -- Quinn
Chet Holmgren Oklahoma City Thunder C
Last year's rank: Not ranked. If you watched Holmgren in Summer League, you understand the hype around him. He's already an elite shot-blocker who can stretch the floor as a legitimate 3-point shooter. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being arguably the best driver in the league, Holmgren is going to feast on pick-and-pops and kick out jumpers. -- Botkin
Klay Thompson Golden State Warriors SG
Last year's rank: 49. Thompson was vocal about his displeasure with pundits comparing him to his pre-injury form, and he used that fuel to turn in a quietly impressive offensive effort in his first full season since returning from a torn ACL and ruptured Achilles tendon. First and foremost, he was able to stay on the court for 69 games, and his numbers basically returned to where they were before the injuries. Thompson became the only player besides Damian Lillard and fellow Splash Brother Steph Curry to average at least 20 points and four 3-pointers per game in a single season while shooting 40% from beyond the arc. Thompson's once-All-NBA-level defense has expectedly regressed and his shooting inside the arc has taken a dive, but he's still an elite 3-point shooter and dangerous offensive weapon. -- Ward-Henninger
Myles Turner Indiana Pacers C
Last year's rank: 70. Turner is known for his prolific shot-blocking but took a big step forward offensively last season. He tallied a career-high 18.0 points per game while shooting 54.8% from the field and 37.3% from deep. He's benefitted from the Pacers' lack of depth in the frontcourt, but Indiana hopes to get help from some new additions in 2023-24. -- Tyree
Jalen Williams Oklahoma City Thunder SF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Williams scored 27-plus points four times after the All-Star break, but the most encouraging part of his rookie season is how well he projects to fit alongside Oklahoma City's other young talent. A big, strong wing who can guard multiple positions, create for himself and play off the ball, he has the potential to be the type of star who makes other stars better. -- Herbert
After a strong rookie season, Williams seems poised to become a potential breakout star for a young and hungry Thunder roster.  Getty Images
Scottie Barnes Toronto Raptors SF
Last year's rank: 48. Barnes' sophomore season certainly wasn't "bad," but it was a good reminder that development is not always linear in the NBA. After a stellar Rookie of the Year campaign, Barnes plateaued, and even regressed in some areas, at least statistically. Still, he remains a highly versatile forward and one of the league's most interesting players. Fred VanVleet's departure and new head coach Darko Rajakovic's arrival should provide more opportunities for Barnes to act as a decision-maker and show off his passing ability. But in order for him to become a star, he's going to have to improve as a scorer; last season he shot 237-of-670 (35.4%) outside of the restricted area. -- Maloney
Austin Reaves Los Angeles Lakers SG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Kyle Kuzma, Dennis Schroder, D'Angelo Russell and even Russell Westbrook were all billed as possible third options next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, yet none of them have fit the bill quite as well as an undrafted free agent the Lakers originally signed to a two-way deal. For all of their ballyhooed deadline moves, their real midseason growth a season ago came when Reaves was able to absorb the touches Westbrook wasted and become an efficient 17-point scorer over the last two months of the season. His stellar run with Team USA this summer has shown the rest of the basketball world what Lakers fans already knew: Reaves is the ideal secondary ball-handler on a talented roster, and the Lakers are championship contenders again in large part due to his development. -- Quinn
Derrick White Boston Celtics SG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. If the Celtics had gone on to win the title last season, or had even just made it to the Finals, White would have been a Boston folk hero for his game-winning tip-in in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Alas, that wasn't to be, but White still established himself as a key part of this Boston core last season by becoming a reliable 3-point shooter and earning second-team All-Defense honors. After Marcus Smart's departure, White is going to take on even more responsibility in the Celtics backcourt as the starting point guard. In addition to his shooting and defense, the team will need him to become more of a playmaker and help organize the offense. -- Maloney
Josh Giddey Oklahoma City Thunder PG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Giddey has already become an important part of the Thunder's impressive young core. The Australian guard is one of the league's most creative passers and made a big leap as a scorer last year. Giddey's biggest weakness is his jump shot, but he converted 48.1% of his field goals last season after shooting under 42% from the field as a rookie. His outside shot is a work in progress, but his rebounding and playmaking on the break make him one of the NBA's best under-the-radar creators. -- Tyree
Tyrese Maxey Philadelphia 76ers PG
Last year's rank: Not ranked. A speed demon who has developed into a 43% 3-point shooter, Maxey has proven to be a dangerous third option on a championship-contending team. Can he handle more playmaking responsibility? Can he continue to improve as a point-of-attack defender? He doesn't turn 23 until November, so there's plenty of upside here, but at the moment Maxey must be ranked behind the pretty lengthy list of guards who don't have these question marks. -- Herbert
Julius Randle New York Knicks PF
Last year's rank: 74. We know that Randle can score efficiently at high volume on a jumper-heavy shot diet. We don't know if he can do it in consecutive seasons or in the playoffs. The glass-half-full perspective is that the Knicks' addition of Jalen Brunson opened things up for Randle last season in a sustainable way, only for an ankle injury to limit his effectiveness in the postseason. The glass-half-empty perspective is that Randle's game -- the ball-stopping, the tough 2s, the hot-and-cold 3-point shooting -- doesn't hold up against playoff defenses designed to make him uncomfortable. He earned his two All-Star appearances, but it's not an accident that there are non-stars ranked higher on this list. -- Herbert
Victor Wembanyama San Antonio Spurs C
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Ranking Wembanyama before his debut is an extraordinarily difficult task not because we haven't seen him play in the NBA yet, but because we've never seen anyone like him play in the NBA before. The basketball world has never seen a 7-foot-3 isolation scorer with 3-point range as both a shooter and a shot-blocker. The range of outcomes here is so wide that Wembanyama might be No. 1 on this list before long. His combination of physical tools and tangible skills is unparalleled in basketball history. The only question is how long it will take for him to figure out how to use them on the NBA stage. -- Quinn
Can he live up to the hype? That seems to be the biggest question surrounding Wembanyama as he enters the NBA as the physical tools are all there.  Getty Images
OG Anunoby Toronto Raptors SF
Last year's rank: 59. Anunoby consistently ranks well on these lists thanks to his status as one of the game's premier wing defenders. But for years, he has reportedly wanted more of an opportunity to handle the ball on offense. He might get his wish this season with Fred VanVleet gone and Pascal Siakam seemingly on the trade block. Can he take advantage of that chance? The numbers suggest it's unlikely. The Raptors scored just 0.831 points per possession on Anunoby pick-and-rolls, including passes, last season, according to Synergy Sports. That ranked him in just the 20th percentile league-wide, and he ranks in just the eighth percentile in terms of isolation efficiency by the same metric. This season will show us if Anunoby is just a 3-and-D player or something more. -- Quinn
Marcus Smart Memphis Grizzlies PG
Last year's rank: 45. Smart's departure from the Celtics after nearly a decade with the team that drafted him was perhaps the most shocking move of the entire offseason. While he may not have always been at his best (or healthiest) last season, he remains one of the NBA's premier perimeter defenders and hardest-working players, and has improved as a playmaker as his career has gone along. All of that will translate perfectly to a Grizzlies organization that has prided itself on "grit-and-grind" culture. Memphis will be looking to replace their best perimeter defender in Dillon Brooks and, for the first 25 games of the season, starting point guard Ja Morant. Smart is a tremendous fit for the Grizzlies both on and off the floor, and will help them contend in the West. -- Maloney
Rudy Gobert Minnesota Timberwolves C
Last year's rank: 29. Despite his numbers taking a step down pretty much across the board in his first season in Minnesota, Gobert continues to be a consistent defensive lynchpin in the middle. The unconventional pairing of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns didn't yield the results the Wolves were hoping for when they traded a boatload of first-round picks for him last summer—they made the playoffs out of the play-in and lost in five games in the first round to Denver. But they were excellent defensively, thanks in large part to Gobert's ability to patrol the paint. He's a lock for a double-double every single night, and has the height and leaping ability to be an imposing lob threat. The reason he's on this list, however, is that Gobert's presence alone pretty much gives you an above-average defense – a unique ability among NBA players. -- Ward-Henninger
Aaron Gordon Denver Nuggets PF
Last year's rank: 72. Given all the discussion about Gordon sacrificing when he was traded from Orlando to Denver, it might be surprising to learn that, on a per-possession basis, he scored more last season than ever before. He just did it on easier shots, as he didn't have many opportunities to cut into open space when he was with the Magic. It's true that the Nuggets took some responsibilities off of Gordon's plate, but they also put him in a system where his athleticism, passing and finishing ability would pop. Defensively, he was the champs' most important player, and the Finals served as a warning to those who underestimated him offensively. He bullied smaller players from the beginning of the series, and he dominated Game 4 by finding buckets at the rim and knocking down 3s with confidence. -- Herbert
Andrew Wiggins Golden State Warriors SF
Last year's rank: 43. Before missing the final chunk of last season to deal with a family issue, Wiggins was in the midst of the best all-around year of his career, putting up 17 points and five rebounds per game on a career-high 40% 3-point shooting. Building off of a tremendous 2022 title run, Wiggins continued to relish defending the opposition's best perimeter player on a nightly basis. The prototypical "3-and-D-plus" wing, Wiggins' athleticism and timing make him one of the best cutters in the game, and he can still get you a late-clock iso bucket when the offense breaks down. Though he may not be the alpha dog some expected when he was drafted first overall a decade ago, Wiggins has developed into one of the most valuable role players in the NBA. -- Ward-Henninger
Dejounte Murray Atlanta Hawks PG
Last year's rank: 41. One of the NBA's true mid-range maestros who is getting better from deep. Murray isn't an especially perfect fit with Trae Young, as he's not a natural off-ball shooter, but he's a 20-6-5 guy who can spearhead a defense and create his own offense as Young hopefully makes a more committed effort to off-ball movement. -- Botkin
Paolo Banchero Orlando Magic PF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Last season's No. 1 pick proved in his first year as a pro that his talent is eons ahead of his actual age. When you watch Banchero play, he just moves around the court with the knowledge of a seasoned veteran not a 20-year-old sophomore. He broke several league and Magic franchise records en route to being named Rookie of the Year, and he followed that up by becoming a standout player for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. Banchero is a 6-foot-10 forward with the handle of a guard, the strength of a big and the scoring capability to make him an All-Star in the very near future. He needs to work on his 3-point efficiency, but that was one of very few weaknesses he displayed last season. He's in line for another big year in Orlando, and between him and Franz Wagner, it's clear the Magic have a promising young tandem to build around going forward. -- Wimbish
The reigning Rookie of the Year just came off of a strong showing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup and will look to build on that performance during his sophomore season in Orlando.  Getty Images
Brook Lopez Milwaukee Bucks C
Last year's rank: 84. Lopez is coming off his best statistical season since he was still in Brooklyn back in 2017 -- 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game -- and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting. He played so well that it seemed a team may overpay to pry him away from the Bucks; in the end he returned to Milwaukee on a two-year deal. While it's clear that the 35-year-old still has plenty in the tank, the big question is how he'll fare under new head coach Adrian Griffin. The Bucks' defense under Mike Budenholzer was built around Lopez, with everything funneled toward him at the rim. How much of that will Griffin change? And how will Lopez adapt? -- Maloney
Kristaps Porzingis Boston Celtics C
Last year's rank: 86. You may have missed it, but Porzingis had a career year in Washington. He put up a career-high 23.2 points, while shooting just shy of 50% from the field and 38.5% from deep. Porzingis also played in 65 games, the most since his second year in the league, a significant thing to note given his injury history has always dampened his on-court brilliance. But now, for the fourth time in his career, Porzingis will be starting this season with a new team, and this time it'll come with undoubtedly the highest expectations he's ever faced. The Celtics are hoping that the 7-foot-3 Latvian can help get them back to the Finals, and in a new role surrounded by All-Star talent in Tatum and Brown, Porzingis will once again have to figure out what his role is. -- Wimbish
Fred VanVleet Houston Rockets PG
Last year's rank: 38. Fred VanVleet had a bit of a down year in 2023. After making his first All-Star team in 2022, his 3-point percentage dropped to a career-low 34.2% and he failed to garner even a single All-Defense vote. These are concerning trends for VanVleet as those skills are his calling cards as a player. VanVleet practically never scores inside of the arc, and though he had his best playmaking season last year, his shooting and defense generate the bulk of his value as one of the NBA's smallest starting guards. Is VanVleet slipping as he approaches his 30s? Or will a move to Houston -- with a group of teammates eager to create their own looks -- be just the change of pace he needs? -- Quinn
Franz Wagner Orlando Magic SG
Last year's rank: 97. The versatile German swingman is fresh off a successful sophomore campaign for the Magic in which he averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. Wagner hardly ever misses games and consistently brings effort as an on-ball scorer and slasher. His fluidity on defense makes him especially impressive, as he's mobile enough to stay with guards and bigs to make the jobs of players around him easier. Wagner has the potential to blossom into one of the NBA's best two-way wings in time. -- Tyree
Khris Middleton Milwaukee Bucks SF
Last year's rank: 23. Since his knee injury in the 2022 playoffs, Middleton has not been able to stay healthy. He needed wrist surgery prior to last season, then shortly after his return in December he sprained his ankle and hurt his other knee, all while dealing with blistering on the bottom of his feet. In the end, he managed to play just 33 games, and while there were flashes of his old self, he struggled to string those sorts of performances together. All of which leaves everyone wondering whether the old Middleton is gone for good. The Bucks had no option besides re-signing him and hoping for the best, and gave him a three-year, $102 million deal this summer. Few players in the league will sway their team's title chances as much as he will. -- Maloney
Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons SG
Last year's rank: 47. Cunningham became a forgotten man after a leg fracture brought an early end to his sophomore season. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick logged just 12 games with the Pistons before the injury, but was no slouch in that limited sample, with averages of 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. All three of those stats were improvements from his rookie season. Cunningham impressed as a member of the Select team ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup and will look to assert himself as one of the NBA's best young guards going into his third season. -- Tyree
DeMar DeRozan Chicago Bulls SF
Last year's rank: 33. After heroic efforts for most of the Bulls' 2021-22 season, DeRozan cooled off just a bit last year. His numbers were still solid, shooting over 50% from the floor for the second consecutive year, enough to earn him an All-Star spot. He regressed as a 3-point shooter, though he's always lived in the mid-range, where he was as dangerous as always. As he enters the final year of his deal before becoming a free agent, DeRozan could be playing with some extra motivation to secure another long-term deal, either in Chicago or elsewhere. -- Wimbish
Zach LaVine Chicago Bulls SG
Last year's rank: 26. Though the Bulls took a step back as a team last year, LaVine's production didn't fall off. He's still severely underrated as one of only nine players last season to average at least 24 points per game while shooting at least 48% from the field and 37% from 3-point range. He's one of the smoothest shooters in the NBA, capable of making you pay from deep, or driving right past you for an easy finish at the basket. And his mid-range game is just as dangerous. You could argue that he's a little low on this list, but perhaps that's a product of a lack of team success more than anything. However, when you put LaVine's individual offensive numbers up against some of the best guards in the league, he should be in that conversation. -- Wimbish
Desmond Bane Memphis Grizzlies SG
Last year's rank: 55. Bane put the NBA on notice in his third season by notching career highs in points (21.5), rebounds (5.0), and assists (4.4) per game. He was one of the league's best perimeter shooters, knocking down his triples at a 40.8 percent clip. Bane is more than a catch-and-shoot player. He demonstrated his ability to take defenders off the dribble and play make. With Ja Morant suspended for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season, Bane will get a chance to showcase even more of his skillset with the Grizzlies' best scorer out of the picture. -- Tyree
Lauri Markkanen Utah Jazz SF
Last year's rank: Not ranked. Markkanen finally broke through in his sixth season in the NBA and first within Utah, earning his first All-Star selection and winning Most Improved Player. It wasn't that Markkanen was exactly disappointing in his first five seasons after being drafted No. 7 overall in 2017, but it always felt like there was a ton of untapped potential just waiting to be exposed. Markkanen flourished last season in a system that played to his strengths as a floor-spacing big. With the Jazz in rebuild mode, it was a low-pressure environment that allowed Markkanen to expand his game and show off aspects that he didn't get to use as much in his previous stops with Chicago and Cleveland. He's not just a spot-up shooting big man. He can put the ball on the deck and drive to the rim, he also moves incredibly well without the ball. It's not every day you see a 7-footer flying around an off-ball screen and finishing with finesse at the rim, but Markkanen proved he's capable of that and more last season. -- Wimbish
Markkanen enjoyed a breakout season in his first year with the Jazz and, deservingly so, earned Most Improved Player honors as a result.  Getty Images
Evan Mobley Cleveland Cavaliers PF
Last year's rank: 40. Besides instant champions like Tim Duncan and Bill Russell, you'd be hard-pressed to find a big man who entered the NBA as polished defensively as Evan Mobley did in 2021. The do-it-all forward snuck the Cavaliers into the top five defensively as a rookie and then carried them to the No. 1 ranking in his second season. No other 21st-century big man has matched that feat so quickly, and no other 21-year-old big man has ever been named first-team All-Defense, either. Mobley still has room to improve, as his first-round bullying at the hands of the Knicks proved. But big men simply aren't this good at this young of an age. He is already perfectly capable of switching onto any perimeter player and even guarding elite wings for full games. Once he beefs up a bit, he'll have a chance to become one of the best defenders of his generation. -- Quinn
LaMelo Ball Charlotte Hornets PG
Last year's rank: 44. Ball's health issues were one of the many problems that plagued the Hornets last season. When he was healthy, he reached new highs in points (23.3) and assists (8.4) per game in his third NBA season, but only managed to suit up for 36 games. Ball undoubtedly has the talent to live up to the max extension he signed, but he's yet to play meaningful playoff basketball as his team's leader. He lacks discipline on the defensive end but makes up for his shortcomings by scoring, rebounding, and playmaking at such a high level. Ball simply has to stay on the court and contribute more to winning. -- Tyree
Bradley Beal Phoenix Suns SG
Last year's rank: 30. Beal has dropped off in both production and availability since his lone All-NBA season in 2020-21, but he's still a lethal creator who put up 23 points per game on 51/37/84 splits last season. Part of Beal's ranking on this list is the projection that both his level of investment and shot quality will dramatically improve alongside Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in Phoenix. On his new team, he will presumably be asked to do more playmaking as well, an area where he's shown promise throughout his career. Beal shot 46% on what the NBA deems "wide open" 3-pointers last season, and he should get a lot more of those looks as a member of the league's latest superteam. -- Ward-Henninger
Karl-Anthony Towns Minnesota Timberwolves PF
Last year's rank: 20. Two seasons ago, Towns proclaimed himself the best shooting big man to ever play the game. The numbers certainly back up his statement, and winning the 3-point contest at All-Star Weekend in 2022 certainly adds to his argument. But injuries and consistency have been a sticking point with Towns throughout his career, and last season was no different. Limited to just 29 games, Towns had his worst scoring season since he was a rookie (20.8 points per game), and while he managed to return for Minnesota's first-round playoff series against the Nuggets, it was clear he was still working his way into a rhythm. Still only 27 years old, Towns is among the best offensive bigs in the game, who has shown improvement on the defensive side of the ball. With his strong play for the Dominican Republic during the FIBA World Cup, we could be in store for a big bounce-back year for Towns. -- Wimbish
Darius Garland Cleveland Cavaliers PG
Last year's rank: 37. Garland got off to a slow start last season and fell short of making a second straight All-Star game last season following the arrival of Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland. However, he continued to showcase elite playmaking and efficient shotmaking while sharing the backcourt with a high-volume shooter. He nearly matched his 2021-22 scoring average with 21.6 points per game and shot a career-high 41.2% from beyond the arc. Whether he has enough room to grow with the Cavs' current personnel remains to be seen. Evan Mobley is looking to get more involved on offense and the Cavs added some much-needed wing scoring over the offseason. -- Tyree
Kyrie Irving Dallas Mavericks PG
Last year's rank: 31. There isn't a player on this list who can handle the basketball like Irving can. He's often mentioned among the best at that particular skill in NBA history, and for good reason. He has a resume that should make him a Hall of Famer when he decides to call it quits, but his on-court capabilities have often been overshadowed by what he says and does off the court. He forced a trade from the Brooklyn Nets last season, and after landing with the Dallas Mavericks, he signed a long-term contract this summer that should keep him tied to Doncic for the foreseeable future. On paper, Irving and Luka Doncic should be one of the most potent offensive duos in the game, but it remains to be seen if Irving can actually remain available over the course of an 82-game season without his own words and actions getting in the way. -- Wimbish
Irving remains one of the top guards in the NBA and has the chance to be part of a dynamic backcourt in Dallas alongside Luka Doncic.  Getty Images
Domantas Sabonis Sacramento Kings C
Last year's rank: 50. The Kings finished with the highest offensive rating in NBA history last season, and Sabonis was the hub that made it all work. His ability to dissect defenses with dribble hand-offs, back-door bounce passes, elbow jumpers and brutish post-ups turned Sacramento into must-watch programming. The 6-foot-11 center also led the league in rebounding, while joining Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and Nikola Jokic as the only players in league history to average at least 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists per game in a single season. -- Ward-Henninger
James Harden Philadelphia 76ers PG
Last year's rank: 21. Who knows where Harden is going to start, or end, this season, but whatever franchise is "lucky" enough to have him will be getting a 20-point scorer and last season's assist leader. Harden isn't the player he once was, but you're still talking about a guy who scored 40-plus points in two separate conference semifinal games last season. Unfortunately, he's also the guy who scored 21 combined points on 26% shooting in Games 6 and 7 as the Sixers were unable to close out a 3-2 series lead against Boston. -- Botkin
Brandon Ingram New Orleans Pelicans SF
Last year's rank: 27. A pure old-school scoring wing who leans heavily on the mid-range and gets himself to the line at a decent rate. Ingram shot 39% from deep last season and should look to increase that volume. He's a good passer and playmaker, but the defensive commitment isn't always there. We're still talking about one of just 10 guys (all of them stars) who averaged at least 24 points, five assists and five rebounds last season, and of those 10, only Kevin Durant shot better than Ingram from beyond the arc. He's a big-time player. -- Botkin
Pascal Siakam Toronto Raptors PF
Last year's rank: 24. Siakam was once again asked to carry a tremendous load for the Raptors, and put up career-high numbers in scoring (24.2 points per game) and assists (5.8), while leading the league in minutes (37.4) for the second consecutive season. He earned himself a second All-Star appearance and dragged the Raptors to a .500 record and a spot in the Play-In Tournament, but could do no more. As he enters a contract year, there will be plenty of speculation about his future and no shortage of teams testing the waters on a possible trade. He apparently doesn't mind all the hard work in Toronto, however, as reports indicate he prefers to stay with the Raptors. -- Maloney
Draymond Green Golden State Warriors PF
Last year's rank: 34. Though his 2022-23 season didn't start off on the brightest of notes, Green turned in another stellar year of defensive wizardry and playmaking acumen. It's hard to quantify what he brings to the Warriors, but Steve Kerr has said many times that he's absolutely vital to their success. That bears out in the numbers, as the Warriors' net rating improved by a team-best 12.2 points per 100 possessions last season with Green on the floor. His leadership, intensity, communication and skill make him one of the most uniquely valuable players in the league. -- Ward-Henninger
Mikal Bridges Brooklyn Nets SF
Last year's rank: 51. Bridges jumps 22 spots from last season's rankings, and for good reason. He turned into a star in Brooklyn following a mid-season trade from Phoenix. After he got to the Nets, he averaged 26 points over 27 games on 47-38-89 shooting splits before coming out of the postseason gate with 30 in Game 1 vs. Philadelphia. For my money, Bridges is a top-two perimeter defender along with Jrue Holiday, and he might not be No. 2. Bridges is a plus 3-point shooter who is effective both on and off the ball, making him a fit for any system. He's a no-doubt future All-Star, and perhaps All-NBA. -- Botkin
Jaren Jackson Jr. Memphis Grizzlies PF
Last year's rank: 46. One of the NBA's premier young stars, Jackson broke out on both ends of the floor last season. He led the league with three blocks per game and took home Defensive Player of the Year honors, all while averaging career highs in points (18.6), rebounds (6.8) and field goal percentage (50.6%). His 28.4 minutes per game were a talking point, and he still gets into too much foul trouble, but his impact is undeniable -- the Grizzlies' net rating improved over 10 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. The absolute prototype of a modern NBA defensive big, Jackson protects the rim, is capable of switching onto guards, and poses a menacing threat when closing out on 3-point shooters. -- Ward-Henninger
Jackson Jr. was named Defensive Player of the Year this past season after a strong showing for the Memphis Grizzlies and will look to build on that during the 2023-24 campaign.  Getty Images
Jalen Brunson New York Knicks PG
Last year's rank: 60. If there was any doubt that Brunson was deserving of his contract with the Knicks, all of that melted away with his performance last season. The stocky guard not only proved he could handle more responsibility and a bigger role, but that he should be the lead guard on a playoff team. But it's not just the crafty play, mid-range prowess and high IQ that has Brunson in the top 30 on our rankings. He proved to be the exact type of leader the Knicks needed at point guard. When he was on the floor, New York outscored opponents by 6.8 points per 100 possessions, which ranks in the 92nd percentile in the league. He took pressure off players like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, becoming the central playmaker on offense and setting guys up for easy looks. He's a low-mistake guard, with a turnover percentage of 8.7%, and he's just as dangerous scoring off the bounce as he is without the ball in his hands. -- Wimbish
Zion Williamson New Orleans Pelicans PF
Last year's rank: 17. On Dec. 7, the Pelicans defeated the Pistons to become the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. They followed that up with two quick wins over the Phoenix Suns. During this time, Williamson was getting serious MVP buzz. From that point on, he would play only eight more games the rest of the season. That's the dilemma that comes with ranking him. The NBA's best interior scorer would compete for those accolades every year if he could ever stay on the floor long enough to do so. This is the floor for a player with his gifts. The upside of having potentially the best player in the NBA is worth the reality that he may never stay healthy enough to see a postseason game. -- Quinn
Jrue Holiday Milwaukee Bucks PG
Last year's rank: 25. With Khris Middleton sidelined for long stretches of last season, the Bucks asked Holiday to pick up the slack on the offensive end, and he did just that, averaging 19.3 points and 7.4 assists – his highest numbers since 2019 and 2014, respectively – while also playing his usual elite defense on the perimeter. He was rewarded with his first All-Star appearance since 2013 and the third All-Defensive First-Team selection of his career. Long one of the league's most underrated players, Holiday is now properly respected. It is worth noting, though, that his shooting percentages took a precipitous drop in the playoffs (47.9% to 40.0%) for the third consecutive season. That's something to consider regarding the Bucks' title chances, especially if Middleton can't get back to his pre-injury self. -- Maloney
Jaylen Brown Boston Celtics SF
Last year's rank: 19. The 2022-23 regular season was the best of Jaylen Brown's career, as he averaged career-highs across the board, including 26.6 points per game on 49.1% shooting, and made second-team All-NBA. However, it was overshadowed by his showing in the 2023 Eastern Conference finals, which was one of the worst stretches of basketball he has ever played. That he earned the richest contract in NBA history just weeks after the Celtics crashed out of the playoffs as a result of his poor performance did not help his reputation. But for all the jokes about his left hand and problems dribbling, he remains one of the best wing scorers in the league and may be a bit underrated at this point. -- Maloney
Tyrese Haliburton Indiana Pacers PG
Last year's rank: 53. One player averaged at least 20 points and 10 assists per game on 40% 3-point shooting last year: Haliburton. He's already an All-Star and will likely be a perennial All-NBA candidate every healthy season moving forward. He's that good. Before Haliburton went down in mid-January with an injury, he had the Pacers as a top-six seed. I have a feeling this is a guy who will forever struggle to get the actual amount of superstar respect he deserves -- think Jalen Brunson type -- but we'll look up at the end of his career and find that his teams were always consistent winners and the players around him will have had some of the best years of their careers. -- Botkin
Anthony Edwards Minnesota Timberwolves SG
Last year's rank: 32. It wasn't especially surprising to hear Bruce Brown call the Timberwolves the hardest opponent Denver faced en route to their first championship. He had to spend most of that series guarding Anthony Edwards, who averaged 35 points in the final four games of that series, all decided by single digits. Edwards carried that momentum into a stellar run for Team USA, one of the NBA's great star-creation vehicles. Athletically gifted, increasingly reliable from deep, steadily improving as a playmaker and even committed to playing hard-nosed defense, Edwards was built in a lab to be a flawless NBA shooting guard. With a new max contract to his name, this will be the season Edwards ascends to the upper echelon of NBA stardom. -- Quinn
Trae Young Atlanta Hawks PG
Last year's rank: 14. After a honeymoon run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, the losing player bug, fairly or not, is starting to bite Young. He continues to put up gaudy stats for Hawks teams that have, in spite of legitimately talented rosters, fallen into play-in irrelevancy the past two years. Young has a case as the best passer in the league. He can create offense in his sleep. He is, and long has been, an overrated shooter, but his threat level and range is that of a marksman. If Young ever commits to moving without the ball, and just becomes a passable defender, he will be among the game's elite players. Right now, he's short of that level. -- Botkin
Bam Adebayo Miami Heat C
Last year's rank: 28. Jerry West recently called Adebayo one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and he might be right. Like the Heat as a whole, it's easy, for whatever reason, to overlook Adebayo as a star, but that's what he is when you add up all his contributions. He's among the best big-man passers in the league not named Nikola Jokic. He has elevated his scoring every season. And he resides in the top tier of the league's elite defenders. -- Botkin
De'Aaron Fox Sacramento Kings PG
Last year's rank: 57. Fox has been trending upward for years now and established himself as one of the league's premier closers last season. He led all players in clutch points (194) en route to the Kings' first playoff berth since 2006. Fox's playmaking has dropped off since partnering with Domantas Sabonis, but he shot a career-high 51.2% from the field in 2022-23. Fox could continue to climb the ranks of the NBA's most dynamic lead guards with another successful campaign. -- Tyree
Fox helped lead the Kings to their first playoff appearance since 2006 and won Clutch Player of the Year honors for his efforts.  Getty Images
Jamal Murray Denver Nuggets PG
Last year's rank: 35. You could argue that perhaps Murray should be higher on this list given his postseason performance that helped the Nuggets to a championship. His 522 points in the playoffs last season is the most scored in a single postseason by a player who has never been named an All-Star. He also combined with Nikola Jokic to become the first pair of teammates to total 1,000 points in a single postseason. While Jokic is at the heart of everything Denver does on offense, Murray is a dangerous No. 2 option who is capable of lighting you up for 40 points on any given night. -- Wimbish
Paul George Los Angeles Clippers SG
Last year's rank: 11. George is self-aware enough to know that, on a championship-caliber team, he's best suited to be the second option. And what an amazing second option he is. One of the best wing defenders of his generation, a knockdown shooter and a model for all the 6-foot-8-ish guys who start their careers as 3-and-D guys, George still has the ability to take over games as a scorer when he's healthy and his team needs it. Part of the promise of the Clippers is that George can do just about everything that Leonard can but is happy to defer and is a threat off the ball. Most star players either can't or won't do elite-role-player stuff like he does. -- Herbert
Donovan Mitchell Cleveland Cavaliers SG
Last year's rank: 16. In his first season with the Cavaliers, Mitchell had arguably the best year of his career, averaging personal highs in points (28.3 per game) and efficiency with 48/38/86 shooting splits. He was also amongst the best pick-and-roll ball handlers in the league, generating 1.13 points per possession, which ranked second to only Stephen Curry in the league (min. five possessions a game). His finishing rate around the rim (68%) puts him in the 82nd percentile, which is also the highest of his career, indicating that he had little trouble adjusting to the new atmosphere in Cleveland. The postseason was a disappointment for Mitchell and the Cavs, but with another full season to build chemistry, it wouldn't be crazy to see him put up even better numbers than last year. -- Wimbish
Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Clippers SF
Last year's rank: 8. Leonard opened the 2023 playoffs by torching the fully healthy Suns for 38 points with his co-star, Paul George, sidelined. Leonard was the best player on the floor, which wasn't particularly shocking because it was the case almost every time he'd taken the court for more than three months. In Leonard's last 35 games of the regular season, he averaged MVP-caliber numbers: 27.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 36.2 minutes per game, with a 27.1% usage rate and a 64.8% true shooting percentage. At the end of that game in Phoenix, though, he hurt his right knee, and an MRI after Game 2 (in which he managed 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists despite the injury) revealed he had torn his meniscus. There is no question that, even after coming back from a torn ACL, Leonard can reach heights greater than all but a select few superstars have risen to. The question is how high one can reasonably rank him compared to stars that don't come with the same durability concerns. -- Herbert
Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies PG
Last year's rank: 12. Morant is among the most electrifying players to watch in the league, and while his efficiency took a step back last season, his impact was still crucial to Memphis' success. He gets to the rim practically at will, ranking in the 93rd percentile among guards by using his quick first step and freakish athleticism to get by even the best defender. He's an absolute terror in transition, something that happens often with the Grizzlies ranking third in transition frequency. But it's not just his on-ball presence that makes him a headache to guard. If you're not careful, you might just be the next person to get posterized by Morant as he's cutting toward the rim to catch a lob pass. The All-Star guard will miss the first 25 games of the season due to a league suspension, but when he returns, he's sure to make an immediate impact on a Grizzlies team with championship aspirations. -- Wimbish
Anthony Davis Los Angeles Lakers C
Last year's rank: 16. The 2022-23 season was a fairly clean distillation of the Anthony Davis experience. He's going to miss 25 games or so over the course of a season, and he's only going to reach his incredible offensive potential in around half of the games he does play. But his defense? It's the best in the NBA and it's not all that close. Davis averaged over four blocks per game in a first-round demolition of Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. before forcing the defending champion Warriors to completely reconfigure their offense on the fly to try to force him out of the paint in the second round. It didn't work. Nothing except employing Nikola Jokic ever does. So long as the Lakers have Davis on the floor, they will have one of the NBA's best defenses. -- Quinn
LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers SF
Last year's rank: 7. It's hard to say what's more startling: that LeBron James is getting ranked outside of the top 10 for the first time since, probably, his rookie year, or that he could very easily reclaim a top-10 spot when we revisit these rankings in a year. Remember, James averaged a cool 33-8-7 during the 23-game period starting with Anthony Davis' mid-December injury and ending with an injury of his own in mid-February. When he was healthy last season, he was still the same force of nature he's been for two decades. The hobbled star that led the Lakers to the Western Conference finals last spring wasn't close to his best, and if his history is any indication, he'll prove that this season. -- Quinn
LeBron James finds himself ranked outside of the top 10 for the first time in years but there is no question that he is still one of the best the game has to offer at this stage of his career.  Getty Images
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Oklahoma City Thunder SG
Last year's rank: 36. Gilgeous-Alexander is the most prolific driver in the league, but he's not the head-down, bowling-ball type. He gets downhill because he keeps defenders off-balance -- they know he's comfortable going left or right, and they're worried about his pull-up, his stepback and his spin move. He gets to the line because opposing teams can't keep him out of the paint and he has impeccable footwork when he gets there. The Thunder once had a slithery guard with similar offensive strengths, but traded him before he made his first All-Star or All-NBA team. Gilgeous-Alexander, who earned both honors last season, isn't going anywhere. And in the same year that he bumped his scoring average up to 31.4 per game, he became a more committed individual defender. -- Herbert
Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers PG
Last year's rank: 13. So much for the whole "small point guards over 30" narrative. Lillard bounced back from an injury-plagued 2021-22 season to put up a career-high 32.2 points per game last year. He also became the only player in league history not named Steph Curry to shoot at least 37% on 11 or more 3-point attempts per game. While certainly considered a shoot-first point guard, Lillard used his gravity and drive-and-kick skills to average over seven assists per game for the fourth consecutive season. He was nearly a one-man offense for Portland, as the Blazers' efficiency jumped from 105.9 points per 100 possessions to an elite 119.5 when he was on the floor. -- Ward-Henninger
Jimmy Butler Miami Heat SF
Last year's rank: 15. After Butler tore through the playoffs in what has become his typical fashion, I promised myself I was going to rank him accordingly among the game's true greats come top-100 time. I ranked him 11th. My colleagues' votes bumped him to No. 9. I don't know why it's so hard to accept Butler as a top-tier superstar when he regularly makes mincemeat of such acclaimed players when it counts most, but then I heard Hoops Tonight host Jason Timph say Butler is this era's Paul Pierce, which is one of the best player comps I've ever heard, and now it all makes sense. Perhaps not absolutely elite in any one aspect of the game, in any one-game or one-series setting, Butler can, and often does, outplay the best players in the world. -- Botkin
Devin Booker Phoenix Suns SG
Last year's rank: 10. For the past decade of NBA history, the league's two best mid-range marksmen were Chris Paul and Kevin Durant. Perhaps not coincidentally, one is a former teammate of Devin Booker's and the other is his current co-star. Whether he picked up some of their picks by osmosis or not, Booker will soon claim their mid-range crown. Among the 20 players to attempt the most mid-range jumpers per game last season, only Durant topped Booker's 49.4% shooting mark, and then Booker took it to the next level in the postseason by hitting nearly 55% of his attempts. Booker's growth as a playmaker and defender will be critical as the Suns adjust to their new three-headed scoring monster, but make no mistake: Booker is here because when he needs to create a good look late in a game, there's pretty much nothing you can do to stop him. -- Quinn
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics PF
Last year's rank: 9. Last season, Tatum became the first player in Celtics franchise history to average 30 points per game for a whole season, and set an NBA record for most points in a Game 7 when he dropped 51 to beat the 76ers in the second round. He also made first-team All-NBA for the second year in a row. Consistency can still be an issue at times for the four-time All-Star, in particular with his 3-point shot, but few players can reach the heights he does when he's at his best. And while his scoring is always going to take top billing, his abilities in other areas are what make him a clear-cut top-10 player. He's one of the best defensive wings around, capable of guarding multiple positions and wreaking havoc off the ball, an elite rebounder for his position and has made real strides as a playmaker. -- Maloney
Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers C
Last year's rank: 6. Long considered one of the NBA's most dominant two-way players, Embiid got over the hump in 2022-23 by winning his first-ever MVP award after finishing right behind Nikola Jokic in back-to-back seasons. Embiid has caught flak for his durability since entering the league, but he's now eclipsed 65 games played in two straight seasons. Few players have the skill set to be one of the league's best pure scorers and rim protectors simultaneously like Embiid. Luka Doncic is the only player ranked above him who hasn't been the best player on a championship team. Embiid could climb higher on this list if the 76ers make a deeper playoff run where he dominates as the clear-cut leader. -- Tyree
Coming off of his first NBA MVP award, Embiid has established himself as one of the most dominant big men the league has to offer.  Getty Images
Kevin Durant Phoenix Suns PF
Last year's rank: 3. We'll spare you the "fine wine" metaphors and get straight to business: In his age-34 season, Durant averaged almost 30 points per game between Brooklyn and Phoenix while boasting a career-high .677 true shooting percentage -- the best of any NBA player with a usage rate of at least 30%. In his 39 games with the Nets, Durant was second in the NBA in efficiency as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and averaged the most points per possession as a spot up shooter of anyone in the league. The man is basically an unstoppable offensive force while simultaneously having a significant defensive impact. The two reasons he's not higher on this list are availability -- he hasn't played more than 55 games in any of the last three seasons -- and a slight downtick in efficiency over his last two playoff runs. Other than that, there's no reason to expect Durant to be anything less than a top-five player in 2023-24. -- Ward-Henninger
Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks PG
Last year's rank: 5. At just 24 years old, Doncic already has as many first-team All-NBA selections as Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and recent Hall of Fame inductee Dirk Nowitzki. And while the Mavericks missed the playoffs altogether last season, it wasn't due to a lack of effort from Doncic. Amidst roster turnover, the Slovenian guard once again carried the weight of Dallas' offense on his shoulders, averaging a career-high in points (32.4) and shooting the ball at a 49.6% clip, also the best of his career. With offseason improvements geared towards supplying Doncic with more help, we should get an even more efficient version of the All-Star guard who hopefully won't be asked to do it all again. -- Wimbish
Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors PG
Last year's rank: 2. You can still make a case that Curry is the best player in the league. I won't try to do it. Nikola Jokic has earned the mantle and deserves to not have it debated after what should've been a third straight MVP and an NBA title. But Curry remains at the height of his powers, and if you're sleeping on the Warriors, go take a look at the net rating of their starters last year. Best in the league. Not close. That remains disproportionately due to Curry's individual shooting prowess and dizzying off-ball movement. -- Botkin
Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks PF
Last year's rank: 1. The Greek Freak has lost his spot atop this list, but that can be attributed to Nikola Jokic's brilliance and an ill-timed injury rather than any fault of his own. Antetokounmpo averaged a career-high 31.1 points per game, and joined Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to average at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game on 50% shooting for an entire season. As a result, he both finished in the top five of the MVP voting and was a unanimous first-team All-NBA selection for the fifth consecutive season; no other player can say the same. Antetokounmpo remains the most physically dominant force in the league and a guaranteed 50-plus-win presence. His long-term future in Milwaukee may be in question after an interesting recent interview, but his status as one of the league's best players is not. -- Maloney
The reigning NBA Finals MVP led the Nuggets to their first-ever championship this past season and finds himself at the top of our list as a result.  Getty Images
Nikola Jokic Denver Nuggets C
Last year's rank: 4. If you run into any time-travelers from the 1980s, you can tell them that the NBA's best player is a cross between Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who makes one-legged, wrong-footed fadeaways. With his supporting cast finally healthy, Jokic followed up back-to-back MVP seasons with another historic one, in which he scored a bit less, assisted a bit more and led the Nuggets to their first championship. No superstar has ever scored as efficiently as Jokic did in 2022-23, but opposing teams were terrified of double-teaming him because he's the best passer in the game. He's also one of the best defensive rebounders in the game, and, while he's not the most intimidating rim protector, he held up in multiple coverages throughout the title run. Mere months ago, putting Jokic's name atop a list like this would have been divisive. Now he is undeniable. -- Herbert