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 four with the top ten players in the NBA!
*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:
10. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
2019: 10 | ESPN: 7
For the second straight season, Damian Lillard earns the number 10 spot on my “Top 100 NBA” rankings. During his age 29 season, Lillard continued to improve, averaging 30.0 ppg on 46.3% from the field and 40.1% from 3-point range. When Lillard starts to heat up, he arguably becomes the most unstoppable player in the league. In the bubble, Lillard elevated his game to a whole other level, helping lead Portland to the eighth seed in the West. Defensively, Lillard is league-average at best, but his scoring ability is enough to earn him a spot in the top ten. He led the NBA with a ridiculous 8.3 OBPM last year.
9. James Harden, Houston Rockets
2019: 4 | ESPN: 9
Trade rumors aside, James Harden remains the best pure scorer in the NBA, having averaged 34.4 ppg last season. For each of the past three years, Harden has won the scoring title, and he garners an extremely high usage for Houston. While he’s far from an elite defender, the notion that Harden doesn’t play defense is largely flawed. He had a career-best 1.6 DBPM last season. However, his performance in the playoffs has been shaky at times. He stepped up against the Thunder but struggled in Houston’s series against the Lakers. It will be interesting to see how Harden plays on a different team if he gets traded.
8. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
2019: 9 | ESPN: 10
After early-season struggles, Nikola Jokic took his game to the next level in the bubble, leading his team to the Western Conference Finals. Jokic has a skill set that fans have never seen before due to his elite passing ability. At his 7’0″ frame, Jokic is arguably the best passer in the NBA as he averaged 7.0 APG last season while recording 13 triple-doubles. Defensively, he’s one of the best in the league and notched a 2.0 DBPM last season. Heading into his age 25 season, The Joker should only continue to get better, and he’ll try to bring the Nuggets to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
7. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2019: 5 | ESPN: 8
Steph Curry broke his hand early on last year and only logged five games for the Warriors as a result. With Curry and Klay Thompson out, GSW went on to have the worst record in the NBA. Now back at full strength, Curry should return to form as the best pure shooter in the NBA. Besides last year, when he only played in five games, Curry has shot above 41.1% from deep in every year of his career. It’s going to be tough to get back to the Finals without Thompson. However, if the Warriors get back to the playoffs and Curry puts up big numbers, he should be a top MVP candidate in 2020-21.
6. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
2019: 17 | ESPN: 4
At age 20, Luka Doncic nearly averaged a triple-double, posting numbers of 28.8 ppg, 9.4 RPG, and 8.8 APG. The fact that Doncic is only 21 years old is absolute insanity. He will be an MVP candidate for several years to come and could possess the top spot on the top 100 at some point in the future. Defensively, he improved upon his rookie year as well, recording a 1.0 DBPM. His step-back buzzer-beater against the Clippers in the bubble was arguably the best play from last season. Having Luka and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks will be contenders for years to come as long as Doncic stays in Dallas.
5. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
2019: 3 | ESPN: 5
During his first season with the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard was largely disappointing as the team lost in the second round. Reports have come out stating that the team allowed Leonard to live in San Diego, causing him to show up late to practices. Regardless of his questionable leadership, Leonard put up big numbers, averaging 27.1 ppg on 47.0% from the field and 37.8% from three last season. Defensively, he remains one of the best in the NBA as he posted a 2.4 DBPM and swiped away 1.8 steals per game. It will be interesting to see how the team adjusts to coach Ty Lue this season.
4. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
2019: NR | ESPN: 6
After missing all of last year with a Torn Achilles, Kevin Durant finally returns this season with Brooklyn. At his 6’10” frame, KD has a skill set that has never been seen before, due to his ability to create shots and shoot from anywhere on the court. Defensively, he’s above league-average but has been inconsistent at times. It’s unclear how Durant will be able to perform, coming back from his injury. Historically, a torn Achilles has been one of the most damaging injuries in derailing players’ careers. Having teamed up with Kyrie Irving, expectations are incredibly high for Durant and the Nets heading into this season.
3. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
2019: 6 | ESPN: 2
Making a move to trade for Anthony Davis was an enormous success for the Lakers, who won the NBA Finals. Having added a decent three-point shot, Davis is a complete player, without much of a weakness. For the seventh straight year, AD averaged over 2.0 blocks a game while recording an elite 2.6 DBPM. Davis is the perfect player to put next to LeBron, as he can play off the ball, play through the post, and catch-and-shoot on the perimeter. With LeBron still having a few years left in the tank and AD signing a mass extension, the Lakers will be top contenders for the immediate future.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
2019: 1 | ESPN: 3
The top entry on last season’s “Top 100 NBA” rankings, Giannis Antetokounmpo, comes in at number three this season. Giannis had another great regular season, winning MVP and DPOY as the Bucks had the NBA’s best record. However, the Greek Freak struggled in the bubble, and Milwaukee was upset against Miami in the second round. Giannis’ weakness of not having a reliable jumper was exposed, as Miami forced him to shoot. Antetokounmpo is the most dominant player in the league when driving to the rim, but for the Bucks to have a shot at winning a championship, he needs to improve as a shooter.
Top 100 NBA
1. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
2019: 2 | ESPN: 1
The King is back! After Giannis earned the top spot last year, LeBron James has regained his throne after winning his fourth championship. Anthony Davis was the perfect player to complement his strengths as LeBron returned to form after a down year in 2018-19. Primarily playing point guard for the Lakers, James recorded 25.3 ppg, 7.8 RPG, and a league-leading 10.2 APG last season. James truly has no weakness in his game and remains the best player in the NBA as he heads into his age 36 seasons. Led by LeBron and Davis, the Lakers come into this season as the favorites to repeat as champions this season.
Golden State: 2
Los Angeles Clippers: 5
Los Angeles Lakers: 5
New Orleans: 6
New York: 1
Oklahoma City: 1
San Antonio: 3
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