After the widespread pandemic known as the Coronavirus cut the NBA season short, sports fans have been left without any sports to follow for the first time in recent memory. In lieu of this absence, we decided to take a look at the NBA Top 100 Players based on their stats from the 2019-20 season.
How Rankings are Determined
As always, everyone is entitled to their own opinions about who is more talented than who, and who deserves to be ranked where. We acknowledge this, and because of the impossible task of ranking raw talent, this list is based on a model fair to everyone that considers only objective stats from this season. This keeps players such as Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant from their usual place in the top 10 due to their lack of playing time this season. The weight each stat carries when determining the overall ranking was determined by NBA writers from Overtime Heroics. The weight assigned to each stat is the only subjective part of the list. For a full breakdown of which stats and metrics were included and how important we considered them, check out our calculation breakdown here. Enjoy the NBA Top 100!
NBA Top 100
10. Rudy Gobert
Undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises in this entire series, Rudy Gobert sneaks his way into the top ten of this NBA Top 100. Recently, Gobert has been well-known for his careless antics in starting the spread of COVID-19 among NBA players. However, before his antics caused him to go viral for the wrong reasons, Gobert put together one of the best defensive performances of the season. He finished top 6 in the league in five different stats including DRB (3rd), DWS (3rd), WS (4th), OWS (5th), and ORB (6th). His elite rim protection and rebounding had him firmly in the defensive player of the year conversation yet again. Not having to have the ball to be effective allows Rudy to be one of the most efficient players in the league in nearly every stat category.
9. Hassan Whiteside
Personally, this was the biggest surprise on the list for me. Whiteside had a resurgence in Portland, but I had no idea just how big of a resurgence until I dove a little deeper into the stats. Whiteside led the league in blocks with 3.1 per game. He finished 4th in both offensive and defensive rebounding. Whiteside also finished top 10 in win shares with 8.1. His most notable negative stats include personal fouls and low assist rate, both of which are to be expected from a defensive minded center. Whiteside’s lack of injuries and abundance of efficient play around the rim make him the most surprising addition to the Top 10 list.
8. Kawhi Leonard
Joining the newest super team in Los Angeles did little to hurt Kawhi’s standing in the league. He finishes in 8th place in our NBA Top 100 in large part due to his elite two way play. He finished 5th in steals at 1.8 per game as well as 9th in points at 26.9 per game. This includes an incredible stretch in which Kawhi scored 30 or more points in nine consecutive games played. His usage rate this season was the highest of his career, and his number of games missed caused him to slip out of our top 5. Kawhi has become infamous for “load managing” his knee. Although NBA officials determined his knee injury to be legit, Leonard caught a lot of criticism for missing so many games, and his absences hurt him more than anything else on our list.
7. Damian Lillard
With Stephen Curry and John Wall injured, Chris Paul aging, and Russell Westbrook taking a backseat to James Harden, the stage was set for Lillard to be the best point guard in the league this year. Little did we know that CP3 had no plans of regressing and a couple of young guys by the names of Trae Young and Luka Doncic would make a push for that title. Nevertheless, Lillard graded out as our highest ranked true point guard. Although guys like Doncic and LeBron James run most of their team’s offense, their size and combination of teammates that share the court with them keep them from being true point guards. Lillard’s top ranked OWS and 5th ranked PTS (28.9) and WS (9.6) land him firmly in our top 10. His lowest ranked stats include offensive and defensive rebounding rates.
6. Luka Doncic
The young Maverick proved his worth last year by winning rookie of the year, but Doncic has solidified his super star status with his stellar play this season. He made his first All Star appearance, and start. He finished top 10 in AST % (3rd), AST (4th), PTS (6th), BPM (6th), and PER (7th). Doncic’s across the board talent, consistency, and leadership have planted him firmly in the running for best player in the league in only his second season. The young European star averaged a very poor turnover rate this year, but with age and experience I don’t expect a healthy Doncic to fall any lower than his 6th place finish this season.
5. Nikola Jokic
Jokic gained some bad press when he seemingly started the season out of shape. His opening performances were underwhelming, so the general NBA fandom wrote him off early. However, the Nuggets’ big man found ways to impact every single game his team played this year. He did not miss any games, and found himself in the top 11 in OWS (5th), WS (7th), DWS (11th), and BPM (11th). While all of these are unconventional metrics, they are widely used measurements that can help paint the full picture of exactly how impactful a player can be. Jokic was a prime example of that this season. The lone All Star on his team, he had Denver sitting at third place in the West behind the two LA teams poised to make another playoff push. His unusually good passing and awkward scoring techniques land the 7’0 Serbian inside the top 5.
4. LeBron James
After finally getting his man with him in LA, LeBron took the reigns as the primary playmaker for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Starting alongside two guards in Avery Bradley and Danny Green, I still consider LeBron as a SF, but regardless of position, The King put up a career high in assists per game at 10.6, good for 1st in the league. His playmaking paired with contributions from new teammates such as Bradley, Green, Javale McGee, and Anthony Davis have vaulted the Lakers to first place in the West.
They were on pace for their first playoff appearance in seven years, and look poised for a deep championship push. Despite being in the top 5 NBA players yet again, it’s almost strange to see James fall as low as 4th. However, it’s hard to make an argument that any of the three players above him have a less deserving resume.
The counterpart to The King. Anthony Davis got his wish this offseason as he was finally traded from the New Orleans Pelicans to play alongside his longtime idol, LeBron James. His first season in the City of Angels did not disappoint. Davis finished top 3 in blocks per game, DWS, OWS, and total WS. He also finished 10th in scoring, 15th in steals, and had the 6th highest Player Efficiency Rating of anyone in the league. His elite efficiency and relentless tenacity around the rim on both ends of the court earns him the nod over his Lakers running mate, LeBron.
2. James Harden
The reigning MVP runner-up finds himself in second place yet again in this NBA Top 100. As a “Harden Hater” myself, it pains me to recognize just how great The Beard’s game is. He once again led the league in scoring at 34.4 points per game, and finished 1st in WS, 2nd in OWS, 3rd in BPM, and 4th in PER. His play style may not be aesthetically pleasing to some, but no one can argue it’s not effective. His ability to hit contested shots, drive effectively, and draw fouls at will is a combination unprecedented in the league. Combine his video game like scoring abilities with his 6th place finish in steals per game and 9th place finish in assists, and it’s a near-impossible task trying to find anyone that had a better season. Near-impossible, but not quite impossible.
The reigning MVP made his case once again as the best player in the league. His team had the best record in the entire league. He was the only player to finish in the top 2 in five of the stat categories used: DRB (1st), DWS (1st), WS (2nd), BPM (2nd), and PER (2nd). Not to mention a 3rd place finish in scoring with 29.6 per game. He also finished top 40 in assists and blocks per game. Despite having one of the highest usage rates in the league and a high turnover rate, his positives heavily outweigh any negatives on his resume. With his all-around ability, league leading statistics, and overall team success, it’s easy to understand why Giannis lands at #1 in our NBA Top 100.
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