Below, we look at the 50 best NBA players right now with the 2023-24 season just days away. Some youngsters make the list for the first time while all-time greats such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry show no signs of slowing down.
50. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Even after just one season, the reigning Rookie of the Year is one of the 50 best NBA players today. Banchero flashed star potential with Orlando throughout his initial season. That included scoring 20 points or more in 56% of his appearances. The forward also shot 47% from two-point range. The next step in his evolution will be hitting more from the perimeter (30% from three-point in 2022-23).
49. Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers
The No. 21 overall pick of Philadelphia back in 2020, Maxey has seen his game progress each season. The guard is coming off a 2022-23 campaign in which he averaged a career high 20.3 points on 43% shooting from three-point range. He could soon take over as the 76ers’ No. 2 option behind Joel Embiid depending on what happens with James Harden after his trade demand. Not bad for a 22-year-old.
Related: 2023-24 NBA power rankings
48. Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
This former No. 3 pick out of USC elevated his game to new heights as a sophomore. Primarily, Mobley’s excellence on defense stood out. It’s rare that a 21-year-old is a finalist for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. Mobley finished the 2022-23 campaign with a league-high 4.8 defensive win shares. He also added 16.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per outing.
47. Kristaps Porzingis, Boston Celtics
It appears that Porzingis is back to pre-injury form as the 7-foot-3 big man prepares for his debut season with the Boston Celtics after a blockbuster trade. This past season in Washington saw the Latvia product average a career high 23.2 points while adding 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 39% shooting from three-point range. He’ll never be a complete all-around player (struggles defensively), but Porzingis’ excellence on offense has him among the 50 best NBA players in 2023-24.
46. Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets
After being acquired from the Phoenix Suns in last February’s Kevin Durant blockbuster, Bridges proved himself to be among the best NBA players. The 27-year-old forward averaged 26.1 points and 4.5 rebounds on 48% shooting with Brooklyn. He certainly looks like a franchise cornerstone as evidenced by the Nets declining trade inquiries on the former top-10 pick this past summer.
45. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Green, 33, could have very well been a first-team All-NBA Defensive Team performer last season. The four-time champion posted a defensive win shares of 3.1. He was also much improved offensively, shooting 53% from the field while averaging 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists. It doesn’t seem as if Green has lost much at his relatively advanced age as evidenced by Golden State extending him back in July.
44. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
From injury-plagued to being one of the best NBA players today, Jackson Jr. turned in a brilliant 2022-23 season. He averaged a career-high 18.6 points to go with 6.8 rebounds and a league-best 3.0 blocks per game. In the process, Jackson Jr., made his first ever All-Star appearance while earning NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors. Not bad for a 24-year-old forward who is just now hitting his prime.
43. Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz
Since entering the Association as a first-round pick back in 2017, Markkanen has been a pretty darn good player. He earned All-Rookie honors out of the gate with the Chicago Bulls and put up a solid one season in Cleveland. However, Markkanen took his game to an entirely new level with the Jazz last season. The 26-year-old forward averaged 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 39% from three-point range after being acquired in the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster. That seems pretty good.
42. Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets
VanVleet struggled shooting the ball in 2022-23 (39% from the field). With that said, he still averaged north of 19 points and seven assists per game. VanVleet can run an offense, average 20 points consistently and is a darn good defender for someone his size (6-foot-1). The Houston Rockets added a cornerstone to go with their young team during NBA free agency. That’s for sure.
41. Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder
When Oklahoma City made this Aussie a top-six pick back in 2021, the ceiling seemed to be prime Ben Simmons. Boy, Giddey has proven those pre-draft analysts wrong. He’s now one of the best young players in the game. Giddey, 21, averaged 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists as a sophomore last season. He was also pretty darn good on the other end of the court, posting a defensive wins shares of 2.7 after struggling to an extent as a rookie the previous season.
Related: Updated NBA trade rumors
40. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
A 10-time All-Star, Harden opted into his contract with Philadelphia and promptly requested a trade. We’re not sure what’s going to happne on that front with a rift defining the relationship between Harden and his organization. Despite some regression, he still averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and a league-best 10.7 assists for Philly last season. Harden also shot a solid 39% from three-point range.
39. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Limited to 29 games in 2022-23 due to injury, Towns put up his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign back in 2015-16. That included shooting less than 50% from the field. Already a net-negative on defense, this is not a good sign. There has also been speculation that Towns could be dealt by the Timberwolves ahead of the NBA trade deadline. It’s something to keep an eye on.
38. C.J. McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans
McCollum really has improved his overall game since being a top-10 pick of the Portland Trail Blazers back in 2013. In fact, he’s taken on a dual role in the backcourt since New Orleans acquired the underrated guard midway through the 2021-22 season. McCollum is averaging 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists on 39% shooting from beyond the arc in parts of two seasons with the Pelicans. While he might never be an All-Star, the veteran continues to prove himself as a consistent performer.
37. Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics
Speaking of consistency, Holiday’s two-way ability over the past half-decade can’t go unnoticed when looking at the best NBA players. He’s a five-time All-Defensive Team performer and continues to show himself on the other end of the court. En route to earning his second All-Star appearance this past season, Holiday averaged 19.3 points to go with 5.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists. After a brief stop in the Pacific Northwest with the Blazers, Holiday was re-routed to the Boston Celtics where he teams up with other top-50 NBA players such as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis.
36. Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings
Defense was an issue for Sabonis leading up to the 2022-23 season with the All-Star boasting a defensive win shares of 1.8 in stops with the Indiana Pacers and Kings the previous year. Sabonis turned that around big time this past season, displaying the all-around game Sacramento had envisioned when it acquired him in the first place. He also averaged 19.1 points and a league-high 12.3 rebounds in helping Sacramento to its best season in a quarter century.
35. Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
Wiggins played in just 37 games last season due to a combination of injuries and personal matters. We’re not going to drop the three-and-D wing too much due to the circumstances surrounding his absence. What we do know is that Wiggins is among the best perimeter defenders in the game. He posted a 3.4 defensive win shares in helping Golden State to the title in 2021-22. It’s also not like Wiggins isn’t good offensively (47% shooting, 40% three-point) this past season.
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34. Dejounte Murray, Atlanta Hawks
Despite solid all-around play, Murray’s first season with Atlanta after a blockbuster trade from the San Antonio Spurs did not go according to plan. His fit with Trae Young was iffy at best. It led to speculation that the high-priced guard could be dealt during the summer before he inked a surprisng contract extension. Either way, he continues to perform at an All-Star level (20.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.5 SPG last season).
33. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Regardless of whether Siakam has fallen out of favor in Toronto and could be headed to another city, the two-time All-Star continues to perform at an elite all-around level. He shot 48% from the field last season, averaging 24.2 points to go with 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per outing. His combined 15.9 win shares over the past two seasons is nothing to sneeze at, either. We’re mostly intrigued to see if Siakam takes his act elsewhere with the underrated forward subjected to trade rumors on a never-ending basis.
32. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Before going down to injury roughly midway through the 2022-23 season, Ball was well on his way to becoming one of the best NBA players at his position. The youngster was averaging 23.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 8.4 assists on 38% shooting from distance. It also must be noted that Ball was one of the best perimeter defenders as a sophomore back in 2021-22. The hope here is that he can stay healthy. Charlotte is banking on it after handing Ball a rookie-level max contract this past summer.
31. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
There is little question that Morant is one of the best NBA players of his generation. Unfortunately, we can’t rank the former Rookie of the Year any higher with Morant set to miss the first 25 games of the 2022-23 season due to suspension. The suspenion comes after two incidents involving firearms this year alone.
30. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
The Sabonis-Haliburton trade is a classic example of a blockbuster working out for both sides. Since being acquired from Sacramento in February of 2022, Haliburton has morphed into a legit two-way threat. He’s coming off a career-best season in which the first-time All-Star averaged 20.7 points and 10.4 assists. Haliburton’s .570 effective shooting percentage was also among the tops for a guard in the Association. Indiana thinks so, too, after backing up the Brinks Truck for the guard this past summer.
29. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
After struggling in pretty much every aspect of his game as a rookie back in 2019-20, Garland has picked it up big time. In fact, the former lottery pick is averaging 21.5 points and 8.2 assists over the past two seasons. That span has seen him shoot 40% from the field with a 54% effective shooting rate. He might take a back seat to Donovan Mitchell, but the dude can absolutely ball.
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28. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
Speaking of balling, Ingram’s emergence as one of the best NBA players today has been eye-opening. People seem to forget that he wasn’t even the centerpiece that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers ahead of the 2019-20 season. Since then, Ingram has played at an All-NBA level during his four years with the Pelicans. This past season alone saw him average a career-best 24.7 points to go with 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 39% from distance.
27. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
Consistently good. That’s the best way to describe what we’ve seen from DeRozan during his 14-year career. The six-time All-Star has averaged north of 20 points in each of the past 10 seasons. He’s shooting a resounding 51% since the start of the 2019-20 campaign. If that’s not enough, DeRozan is coming off his best defensive performance of the wing’s career. The dude is aging like fine win. Whether it continues with the Bulls remains to be seen.
26. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
When the Timberwolves made LaVine a late lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, most viewed him as a project. The wing was seen as more of an athlete coming out of UCLA than anything else. About that? At 28 years old, LaVine has morphed into a tremendous all-around player. He’s averaging 25.5 points on 48% shooting since the start of the 2019-20 season. LaVine is also a career 38% three-point shooter while upping his game on defense in recent years. Will he continue to shine for Chicago or another team beyond the NBA trade deadline? That’s the biggest question right now.
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25. Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
There is a reason Brunson found himself as a second-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft despite leading Villanova to the national title. “Experts” just didn’t see upside in his game. Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong. Now 27 years old, Brunson has turned into one of the best NBA players today. His first season with the Knicks was a prime example of that (24.0 PPG, 6.2 APG, 49% shooting). The next step in his evolution will be to perform better on defense.
24. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Adebayo’s performance in the NBA Finals enables him to creep up our list of the best NBA players of 2023. The big man averaged a team-high 21.8 points to go with 12.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in the five-game series loss to Denver. This is just the continuation of a maturation process that has seen the 26-year-old center go from averaging 6.9 points as a rookie to being one of the top centers in the Association.
23. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Speaking of ascension to stardom, Edwards’ performance as a third-year player can’t be disregarded. The former No. 1 pick put up a career high 53% effective field goal mark while averaging 24.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He also shot 37% from three-point range and performed much better defensively than what we saw during his first two seasons in Minnesota. It led to Edwards receiving the bag from Minnesota during the summer.
22. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
Injuries have limited George to 87 games over the past two seasons. He’s also missed each of the Clippers’ past two playoff runs. At 33 years old, this can’t be a good sign moving forward. Even then, we’re talking about an eight-time All-Star who still performs well when actually on the court. In four seasons with the Clippers, George is averaging 23.2 points on 39% shooting from distance while still playing at a high level on defense. It’s now all about remaining healthy.
21. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
The first winner of the NBA Clutch Player of the Year award, Fox is one of the primary reasons Sacramento is coming off its best season in a quarter-century. He was absolutely brilliant, posting a 21.8 PER and 7.4 win shares. To put that into perspective, LeBron James boasted a split of 23.9 and 5.6 last season. This is a clear sign of just how good Fox was in 2022-23.
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20. Bradley Beal, Phoenix Suns
Now a member of the Phoenix Suns following a blockbuster trade from Washington, Beal will form a big three with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. This could very well be the latest iteration of a super team. While the fit might be questionable, we’re talking about a dude who is averaging 27.6 points on 47% shooting since the start of the 2019-20 season.
19. Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
Irving’s off-court issues aside, he remains one of the best NBA players today. Despite some team-wide struggles after being acquired by Dallas from the Nets, Irving played well. The eight-time All-Star averaged 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.3 steals on 51% shooting. His .586 effective field goal percentage was also through the roof. It led to a massive three-year contract extension during the offseason.
18. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Subject to trade rumors in recent months, Young’s status as a team leader had come into question. His rift with Nate McMillan also played a role in Atlanta firing the head coach during the 2022-23 season. However, things have died down to an extent on this front with the Hawks running it back. What we do know is that Young’s talent on offense is through the roof. Since the start of his sophomore campaign back in 2019-20, Young is averaging 27.4 points and 9.7 assists on 36% shooting from distance.
17. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
As with Paul George, injuries have impacted Leonard big time. The two-time NBA Finals MVP missed the entire 2021-22 season due to a torn ACL. He then sat out 30 games and the playoffs this past season with a torn meniscus. That is concerning for someone entering his Age-33 campaign. What we do know is that Leonard is among the best all-around players when he’s on the court. He’s earned five All-Star appearances, five All-NBA teams and is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
16. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
Mitchell took his game to a new level in his first season with Cleveland, leading the organization to its best performance since the LeBron James era. The four-time All-Star averaged a career-high 28.3 points to go with 4.4 assists on 48% shooting. He also nailed 39% from distance, displaying an all-around offensive game that made him a popular figure in Utah.
15. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
After some major criticism over his injury history, Davis put up a stellar performance in helping lead Los Angeles to the Western Conference Finals this past season. The eight-time All-Star averaged 22.6 points to go with a league-high 14.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks on 52% shooting during the playoffs. That’s prime AD as we remember him. And it led to a contract extension from the Lakers later this summer.
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14. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Playoff struggles this past season aside; Brown has turned into one of the better two-way wings in the game. He put up a career-best performance in 2022-23 (26.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.5 APG) on 49% shooting. Brown has also improved defensively each season he’s been in the league. It led to the All-NBA performer signing a super-max contract extension with Boston this past summer.
13. Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks
Lillard can score with the best of them. He averaged a career-high 32.2 points while boasting an effective shooting percentage of .564 in 2022-23. This included Dame dropping 71 points and 60 points in games during the 2022-23 season. He now teams up with one of the best NBA players with the Milwaukee Bucks to form an elite tandem after a blockbuster trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. It’ll be interesting to see how Dame takes to this role.
12. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Some will focus on Butler’s struggles during the Finals as a way to indicate he’s not one of the best NBA players today. This is about as foolish as it gets given that his presence helped lead a No. 8 seed to the championship round. Butler dropped 56 points in Round 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks. He also scored 42 in the closeout Game 5 win over the top seed. All said, Butler was brilliant throughout the postseason (26.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.8 SPG).
11. Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
It’s now apparent that Murray has returned 100% from the ACL injury that cost him the entire 2021-22 season. In fact, he could’ve earned NBA Finals MVP over Nikola Jokic. Murray averaged 21.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 10.0 assists on 45% shooting in the five-game series win over Miami. That’s elite-level stuff right there.
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10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
If OKC had performed better as a team last season, SGA would’ve been a legit NBA MVP candidate. Acquired from the Clippers in the blockbuster Paul George trade back in 2019, he’s turned into an elite all-around player. Not only did Gilgeous-Alexander average 31.4 points on 51% shooting last season, but he also posted a win shares of 11.4. To put that into perspective, said figure was better than Luka Doncic (10.2) and Stephen Curry (7.8).
9. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
There were points during the 2022-23 campaign that Booker was in a league of his own. That included dropping 58 points during a December game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He then averaged a league-best 33.7 points on 59% shooting in the playoffs. It seems that Booker has found a perfect fit in Kevin Durant despite Phoenix losing in the conference semifinals for the second consecutive season. The two complement one another big time. Add in the acquisition of Bradley Beal, and Booker should have more room to work with in 2023-24.
8. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
It’s crazy to think that James will turn 39 in December. He’s old enough to be the father of some of best NBA players today. You wouldn’t know it be watching one of the all-time GOATS play in 2022-23. King James still averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. Sure, his advanced age has led to regression shooting from the perimeter and on defense. But that’s to be expected. James simply continues to bend the space-time continuum and any sort of objective reality with his high level of play as the four-time champion nears 40. It is otherworldly.
7. Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns
Like some other stars on this list, age is catching up to Durant. Primarily, we’re talking about availability. The two-time NBA Finals MVP has played in a total of 137 games since the end of the 2018-19 season with Golden State. But when KD is on the court, he’s legitimately still an Easy Money Sniper. That included Durant averaging 29.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in the postseason for Phoenix. It’s insane to look at given that he only played eight regular-season games with the Suns after being acquired in a blockbuster trade from Brooklyn.
6. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Despite Boston losing in the Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum had his signature moment this past spring. The former Duke star dropped 51 points in a series-clinching Game 7 win over the hated Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semifinals. This was the icing on the cake in a season that saw the still-young 25-year-old Tatum average 30.1 points and 8.8 rebounds on 47% shooting. This will soon lead to Tatum receiving a $318 million extension from the Celtics. Yeah, he’s deserving of that Brinks Truck.
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Curry was our best NBA player heading into the 2022-23 season. While he didn’t do anything to give up that title, others ahead of him in this iteration just performed at a higher clip. Even then, the four-time NBA champion put up his third-best scoring season at 29.4 points per game. He also connected on a resounding 43% of his three-point attempt and boasted an effective field goal percentage of .614. Just crazy for a 35-year-old guard who is still playing like he’s in his prime. We’re intrigued to see how he looks with a new running mate in that of 12-time All-Star Chris Paul.
4. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Still only 24 years old, Doncic is off to the best five-year start for a player in modern NBA history. That’s not hyperbole. El Matador is averaging 27.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists throughout his career. This past season alone saw Doncic drop 50 or more points four times. That included a 60-point, 21-rebound triple-double against the New York Knicks last December. Forget about being one of the best NBA players right now, Doncic is well on his way to becoming an all-time great.
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3. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The reigning NBA MVP, Embiid was in a world by himself from a statistical standpoint in 2022-23. He led the league in scoring (33.1 PPG) for the second consecutive time. A total of 20% of his games resulted in 40 points or more. He scored 30 more or in 65% of his outings. Not since Wilt Chamberlain have we seen a big man as dominant as Embiid in that aspect of the game.
It also doesn’t hurt that Embiid posted a 3.9 defensive win shares while boasting an effective field goal mark of .587. Did we mention that he also hit on 55% of his shots while providing 4.2 assists per outing? Yeah, those were things last season.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
We have absolutely no idea how the NBA Playoffs would have turned out for Milwaukee if the Greek Freak was not battling injuries. What we do know is that the 28-year-old Antetokounmpo has been the single most dominant player in the NBA over the past half-dozen years. That span has seen Giannis average 28.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. This very same span has also included two NBA MVP awards, an NBA Finals MVP, 5 All-NBA Defensive Team appearances and an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s also just now entering his prime.
1. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (best NBA player)
A two-time NBA MVP and the reigning NBA Finals MVP, there is very little questioning Jokic’s status among his peers. Jokic averaged a near triple-double during the Nuggets’ path to the title (30.0 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 9.5 APG) while shooting 55% from the field and 46% from three-point range. This came after a regular season in which Jokic was two-tenths of an assist away from averaging a triple-double. His win shares total were also more than Stephen Curry and LeBron James combined. That’s simply wild.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.