It’s that time of year, and my top 100 NBA ranking is back for the 2020-21 season! Last year, I did this ranking over at Prime Time Sports Talk, but it comes to Overtime Heroics for 2020. The 2019 ranking next to every player’s name is my ranking from last year at Prime Time Sports Talk. The ESPN ranking is from their ranking of each player on their 2020 edition. This series will come in four parts: 100-71, 70-41, 40-11, and the top ten. Let’s get straight into part three with players ranked from 40-11!
*The only player who was kept off this list due to injury is Klay Thompson, who will likely miss all of 2020-21.
Check out the previous two rankings here:
40. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
2019: 77 | ESPN: 38
After a great rookie season with the Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander blossomed into a potential all-star last year with OKC. He was a perfect fit next to Chris Paul and was able to pick up a ton from Paul’s leadership. With the Thunder committing to the rebuild, SGA will have every opportunity to be OKC’s top option in 2020-21.
39. Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets
2019: 31 | ESPN: 46
Caris LeVert is someone who I have been extremely high on throughout his career, and in 2019-20 he put up career-highs across the board. LeVert is great on both ends of the floor and should fit in perfectly as the third star. I would say that LeVert is a possible all-star candidate this season, but he’ll likely get overshadowed by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
38. Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
2019: 28 | ESPN: 41
While his shooting numbers were down a tad, Kristaps Porzingis picked up right where he started from before he tore his ACL. Porzingis has a rare ability to shoot threes at his 7’3″ height while blocking shots on the defensive end. With Porzingis alongside Luka Doncic, the Mavericks could be contenders to win it all in the near future.
37. Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls
2019: 49 | ESPN: 56
Arguably ESPN’s worst ranking on their top 100 was dropping Zach Lavine down to 56. Yes, the Bulls haven’t been very good, but that’s not at all Lavine’s fault. At age 24, Lavine put up career numbers, averaging 25.5 ppg on 45.0% from the field and 38.0% from deep while swiping away 1.5 steals per game. With the Bulls in a rebuild, it will be interesting to see if Lavine gets moved this season.
36. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
2019: 29 | ESPN: 34
In a loaded Western Conference, De’Aaron Fox and the Kings tend to get overlooked. However, Fox had a great season in 2019-20, producing 21.1 ppg on 48.0% from the field to go along with 6.8 apg. Fox is one of the most athletic players in the NBA as he can get to the rim at will. However, until the Kings add some pieces, Fox won’t get much attention in Sacramento.
35. Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
The supremely underrated two-way guard, Jrue Holiday, heads to Milwaukee, seemingly fitting in well next to Giannis. A one-time all-star back in 2012-13, Holiday has always flown under the radar. However, he’s an elite defender, can shoot the ball, and score at a high clip as well. He’s an upgrade over Eric Bledsoe and will play a key role in trying to take Milwaukee back to the Finals.
34. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
2019: 68 | ESPN: 32
Arguably, Jaylen Brown should have made the all-star game last season but was passed up for teammates Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. At age 23, Brown had a breakout season, putting up 20.3 ppg on 48.1% from the field and 38.1% from deep. His defense is inconsistent at times, but he could be in line for his first all-star nod this season if he can improve on that end of the floor.
33. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
2019: 59 | ESPN: 37
Marcus Smart is far-and-away the most underrated player in the NBA. His play won’t jump out on a stat sheet, but his grittiness and hustle make an enormous impact for Boston. Smart isn’t afraid of drawing contact and is arguably the best player in the NBA at drawing charges. Smart has significantly improved on offense as well. Once an abysmal shooter, he put up 12.2 ppg last year with an upgraded jump shot. Jaylen Brown may be seen as the Celtics’ second “star,” but Marcus Smart is their second most valuable player.
32. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
2019: 52 | ESPN: 19
ESPN jumped the gun by putting Zion Williamson at 19, but it’s clear that he is the real deal. In 24 games as a rookie, Zion averaged 22.5 ppg and 6.3 rpg on a ridiculous 58.3% from the field while only playing 27.8 minutes per contest. Now that he’s off his minutes restriction, there’s no reason why Williamson can’t be an all-star this season, if healthy.
31. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
2019: 84 | ESPN: 31
The second pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Ja Morant had a great rookie year en route to winning Rookie of the Year. Coming into the year with low expectations, Memphis almost made the playoffs but lost in the play-in game in the bubble. That success was due in large part to Morant, who averaged 17.8 ppg and 7.3 apg last season. Memphis has a bright future, and Morant is going to be their cornerstone piece.
30. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
2019: 55 | ESPN: 29
After breaking out during the second half of his rookie year, Trae Young put it all together last season. While the team underperformed, Young had a great year, averaging 29.6 ppg and 9.3 apg. Defensively, however, Young is one of the worst players in the NBA at his position. With his horrendous career DBPM of -2.6, Young needs to improve on that end of the floor if he’s going to take the next step forward.
29. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
2019: 60 | ESPN: 28
A change of scenery was exactly what Brandon Ingram needed last year as he earned his first all-star nod. As the focal point of New Orleans’ offense, Ingram averaged 23.8 ppg on 46.3% from the field and 39.1% from three. With Zion Williamson back, Ingram’s numbers may dip a bit, but he will still play a pivotal role in bringing the Pelicans back to the playoffs.
28. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
2019: 61 | ESPN: 50
Another player who ESPN ranked too low, Domantas Sabonis had a great year last season as he earned his first all-star nod. Sabonis doesn’t get enough credit around the league. He’s excellent on both ends of the floor and was the main reason why the Pacers earned the fifth seed in the East last year. If he can continue to play at a high level, there’s no reason to believe that Sabonis can’t make another all-star team this season.
27. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
2019: 21 | ESPN: 24
After earning MIP in 2018-19, Pascal Siakam had a strong regular season before struggling in the bubble. Siakam got exposed at times by Boston, but he’s still a tremendous two-way player as he earned his first all-star appearance last season. At age 26, he should only continue to improve and play a crucial role in getting Toronto back to the Finals.
26. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
2019: 45 | ESPN: 30
Someone who I’ve been critical of in the past, Kyle Lowry showed his worth last season in the playoffs. With Kawhi gone and Siakam struggling, Lowry stepped up and almost took Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals. Lowry has a ton of grit and is one of the best in the league at drawing charges. Now at age 34, Lowry should still have a few years left in his prime.
25. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
2019: 16 | ESPN: 23
Despite missing nearly half of the Timberwolves’ games due to injury, Karl-Anthony Towns had another great season in 2019-20. Without much help around him, Towns put up 26.5 ppg and 10.8 rpg, while making improvements defensively. With D’Angelo Russell now in for Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio returning to Minnesota, the Timberwolves are a sleeper team to make the playoffs in the West.
24. Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
2019: 38 | ESPN: 21
For the second straight season, Jamal Murray was able to elevate his game to an elite level in the playoffs. Murray was ultra-impressive in all three series as Denver overcame two 3-1 series deficits. He can create his own shot from anywhere on the floor and is nearly unstoppable when he heats up. If he can perform the way he did in the playoffs, Murray could be in line to earn his first all-star nod this season.
23. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
2019: 18 | ESPN: 22
With John Wall out of the picture, Bradley Beal became the Wizards’ only reliable scoring option last season. With a 34.4% usage rate, Beal averaged a ridiculous 30.5 ppg on 45.5% from the field and 84.2% from three. However, he had a horrendous campaign on the other end of the floor as arguably one of the NBA’s worst defenders. Though he was once an above-average defender, Beal recorded an abysmal -2.4 DBPM last year.
22. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
2019: 39 | ESPN: 35
Look at Jayson Tatum’s numbers from last season. Now, look at Khris Middleton’s numbers from last season. They’re about the same, with Tatum only marginally better. My point is not to knock down Tatum but rather to prove the point Middleton is supremely underrated. He does everything well on both ends of the floor and is an excellent fit on the perimeter next to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
21. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
2019: 11 | ESPN: 25
Despite only playing in 20 games, Kyrie Irving had a great first season in Brooklyn, putting up 27.4 ppg and 6.4 apg. Despite criticisms about his questionable leadership skills and personality, Irving still has a ton of talent. With Kevin Durant back, the Nets are a top contender to make the NBA Finals, and Kyrie will play a vital part in getting them there.
20. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
2019: 34 | ESPN: 17
After earning his first all-star nod in the regular season, Booker took his game to another level in the bubble and almost carried Phoenix to the playoffs. While there have been reports that Booker may want out of Phoenix, this is easily the most talented Suns’ roster since the days of Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. Booker has established himself as a bona fide star, and he should continue to play at a high level.
19. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
2019: 12 | ESPN: 26
After getting snubbed in back-to-back seasons, Rudy Gobert finally earned his first all-star nod in 2019-20. The defensive stalwart continues to play at an extremely high level, headlined by a ridiculous career DBPM of 2.2. He still hasn’t added much to his game on offense, but his elite defense alone is enough to earn himself a spot in the top 20.
18. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell has continued to improve every year of his career as he earned his first all-star nod last season. Mitchell is great off the dribble and can score at all three levels at an effective rate. If he can tighten up his defense and increase his volume as a scorer, Mitchell has the opportunity to be in the top ten at some point in his career.
2019: 20 | ESPN: 18
17. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
2019: 7 | ESPN: 20
One of the more disappointing players last season, Paul George looked horrendous in the playoffs, contributing to the Clippers’ collapse in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. However, he’s still only one full season removed from being a top-three MVP candidate. As a ball-dominant guard, he should fit in well next to Kawhi Leonard. However, that failed to materialize at any point last season. It will be interesting to see if George regains his old form this season.
16. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
2019: 51 | ESPN: 11
Jayson Tatum made me eat my words and took the league by storm during the second half of last season. Tatum has officially established himself as the cornerstone piece for the Celtics for years to come. During his age 21 season, Tatum put up career numbers across the board and averaged 26.6 ppg after the all-star break. It’s crazy to think how good Tatum already is at his young age of 22.
15. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
2019: 15 | ESPN: 16
Everyone knows about Ben Simmons’ inability to shoot jumpers. However, he’s at the top of the league in almost every other aspect of his game. Simmons was a legitimate DPOY candidate last year before getting injured as he led the league in steals per game. It’s been said a million times, but for Simmons to crack the top ten, he needs to improve as a shooter. He has made only two three-pointers in three NBA seasons.
14. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns
2019: 30 | ESPN: 15
Chris Paul shut down the narrative that he was past his prime last year as he carried a young Thunder squad almost to the second round of the playoffs. At age 35, Paul still has arguably the highest basketball IQ in the NBA, which is why he is ranked so high on this list. Now in Phoenix, CP3 is hoping to bring the Suns back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
13. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
2019: 14 | ESPN: 12
Boy, do the 76ers regret letting this guy walk. In his first year with Miami, Jimmy Butler helped lead a young Heat roster to game six of the NBA Finals. Jimmy’s intangibles and relentlessness are what make him such a great player. While his three-point numbers dropped, Butler is great in late-game situations and can play at an elite level on both ends of the floor.
12. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
2019: 8 | ESPN: 14
Despite a relatively disappointing season, Joel Embiid still ranks 12th on my list. Embiid is dominant in the post and improved his three-point shot last year as well. He can clearly co-exist with Ben Simmons, but it did not work well having him play next to Al Horford. Bringing in Seth Curry will help a lot in the two-man game as well, reminiscent of when the team had JJ Redick.
11. Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
2019: NR | ESPN: 13
Bam Adebayo should have won Most Improved Player last year. He had a complete breakout season for the Heat. Bam can do everything at a high level besides shooting threes. His ability to anchor the paint for Miami’s defense allows Eric Spoelstra to run zone defense. While Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro will get all the attention, Adebayo is Miami’s best player. Not to mention, Bam had arguably the play of the year last season with his epic playoff block of Jayson Tatum.
Come back soon for the top ten!
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