Basketball

2022 Preseason Top 100 NBA Players: 100-81

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Another entertaining offseason has us already itching for more NBA basketball. The Bucks are looking to repeat, the Nets are looking to get healthy, the Lakers have reloaded with a brand new Big Three, and the rest of the NBA seems to be playing catchup.

After the usual player movement that comes with an NBA offseason, it’s intriguing to look ahead and predict who will perform better or worse in their new team settings, as well as who takes steps forward or backward with their existing teams. Young guns have the potential to climb fast while willy veterans have the potential to drop in the rankings. We’ll likely see both across the league this season.

Rankings

80-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Honorable Mentions

There are far more than 100 good players in the NBA. In fact, there are 150 NBA starters along if every team kept the same starting five all season. In other words, someone has to miss the cut. Just on the outside of our Top 100 for 2022:

Buddy Hield | Ricky Rubio | Joe Ingles | Mason Plumlee | Keldon Johnson | Brook Lopez | Robert Covington | Blake Griffin

100) Jonathan Isaac | 6-11 – F – Orlando Magic

Isaac missed the entire 2020-21 season with a torn ACL. The Magic still have not committed to a return date for Isaac, though he looks to be on track to return this season. The 24-year-old forward still has a lot of basketball to play, and he holds the potential to be one of the best defenders in the NBA when healthy.

99) Robert Williams | 6-8 – F/C – Boston Celtics

Though slightly undersized, Williams proved his worth as a rim-running center with the Celtics last season, averaging eight points, seven rebounds, and two blocks per game primarily off the bench. Al Horford and Enes Kanter join Williams in the Celtics’ backcourt, but neither possess the youth or potential that Williams does. If developed correctly, Williams could find himself climbing the ranks of NBA centers sooner rather than later.

98) Dillon Brooks | 6-7 – G/F – Memphis Grizzlies

Brooks is entering his 5th season after averaging a career-high in PPG (17.2), APG (2.3), and SPG (1.2) last season. Playing alongside a playmaker like Ja Morant helps anyone to feel more comfortable on the court, but growing up in the league alongside him opens up new ceilings for Brooks’ potential.

97) Bobby Portis | 6-10 – F/C – Milwaukee Bucks

The newest NBA champion was in the conversation for 6MOY Finalist last season after averaging 11.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game on 47% 3-point shooting in 66 games off the bench. Entering only his 7th season, Portis is still in the prime of his career and looks to contribute to the Bucks’ hopes for back-to-back titles.

96) Evan Mobley | 7-0 – F/C – Cleveland Cavaliers

In his lone season at USC, this 7-foot phenom put up a ridiculous 16.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 2.9 BPG on 62% FG shooting. Mobley has the length, skill set, and IQ to quickly become an elite player in this league, but we may not see it in year one. He likely needs to develop more muscle mass to play the center position, though he may be capable of playing PF alongside teammate Jarrett Allen thanks to his perimeter defense and outside shooting.

95) PJ Washington | 6-8 – F – Charlotte Hornets

The third-year Kentucky product has the size and tools to play both PF and C, but the upgrade of Mason Plumlee over Cody Zeller and the continued emergence of Miles Bridges has the potential to negatively impact Washington’s minutes at both positions. Washington had several good games last year, flashing his long-term potential, but he still averaged only 12.9 PPG and 6.5 RPG as the team’s starting PF. Still only 23 years old, we’re hoping to see a significant step in the right direction in 2022 for Washington.

94) Kelly Olynyk | 6-11 – F/C – Detroit Pistons

After he was shipped to Houston in the middle of last season, Olynyk quietly averaged 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and nearly 2 steals per game over the course of 27 games, all while shooting .545 – .392 – .844 from the field, 3-point arc, and FT line respectively. Olynyk has never been a flashy player during his time in the league, but he’s a near-perfect role player at the stretch 4/5 positions. He has a high basketball IQ, can shoot the rock, and doesn’t demand the ball in order to affect the game. Watch out for his increased role on a rebuilding Detroit squad.

93) OG Anunoby | 6-7 – F – Toronto Raptors

This defensive specialist is poised to have his biggest season yet in Toronto. The departure or Lowry leaves the door open for increased production from someone in Toronto. While it will likely be shared across the team, I expect to see Anunoby increase his shot attempts and overall aggressiveness on the offensive side of the ball. Combined with a career-high in steals each of the last four seasons and we might have a potential breakout candidate on our hands.

92) Derrick Rose | 6-2 – G – New York Knicks

During Rose’s resurgence in New York, the former MVP averaged nearly 15 PPG and over 4 APG across 35 games, primarily off the bench. Entering his 13th season in the league, Rose still projects to be a valuable asset for the new-look Knicks. However, they just brought in former All-Star Kemba Walker who is likely to soak up a lot of minutes at PG. Rose will still be among the best bench contributors in the league, but don’t be surprised to see the 33-year-old vet take another step back in production this year.

91) Aleksej Pokusevski | 7-0 – F – Oklahoma City Thunder

Remember when people thought Kristaps Porzingis was a unicorn for his unique height + shooting combination? Try adding point guard-like dribbling and vision to that mix and you get pretty close to what Pokusevski provides. This 20-year-old sophomore was the youngest player in the league last year and might just have the highest potential in his draft class. At 7-feet tall with a guard-like skill set, we’re looking at potential KD and Giannis comparisons somewhere down the line, though probably not this season).

90) Darius Garland | 6-1 – G – Cleveland Cavaliers

Coming off a big summer prepping Team USA for the Olympics with the USA Select Team, Garland enters his third season with a new summer of experience that few players get to have. He already averaged over 17 points and 6 assists last season while shooting nearly 40% from behind the arc, and now he has the full potential to break out into a top-tier point guard, especially if the Cavs find a trade partner to take Collin Sexton.

89) Bogdan Bogdanovic  | 6-6 – G – Atlanta Hawks

After finally getting out of Sacramento last season, Bogdanovic averaged a career-high 16.4 PPG for the Hawks. He’s among the elite shooters in the league, as is evident by his 43.8% 3-point shooting on over 7.5 attempts per game last season. In fact, he missed the exclusive 50-40-90 club by less than three field goal percentage points (47.3%). Playing on a team loaded with scoring options drops his overall value on lists such as this one, but make no mistake that Bogdanovic is a vital piece to this championship-contending team out East.

88) Thaddeus Young | 6-8 – F – San Antonio Spurs

Young has had an incredibly underrated career since he joined the league 14 seasons ago. After his initial campaign, the versatile forward has averaged double-digit points and at least five rebounds in each of the last 13 seasons (except in 2019-20 when he averaged 4.9 RPG). Entering his 33-year-old season, I expect more of the same from Young. The Spurs lost DeRozan and Aldridge over the last six months, leaving an absurd amount of production to absorb for the remaining roster.

87) Jusuf Nurkic | 6-11 – C – Portland Trailblazers

After a pair of injury-riddled seasons, Nurkic looks to have a bounce-back year after playing only 45 games in the last two seasons. During his last fully healthy season, the Bosnian big man averaged over 15 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting upwards of 50% from the field. Playing alongside a pair of elite guards like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum does nothing but improve his stock, but keep an eye out for a late-summer Lillard trade that could shake up this team’s dynamic, as well as the rest of the league.

86) Kyle Anderson | 6-9 – F – Memphis Grizzlies

Nicknamed “Slo-Mo” due to his slow-paced style of play, Anderson often gets overlooked due to his lack of highlight plays. However, this 28-year-old forward has been unbelievably consistent over the course of his 7-year career. He averaged a career-high 12.4 PPG last season in Memphis and is the perfect veteran presence for this up-and-coming Grizzlies squad. I expect him to continue to grow alongside Ja Morant and company, though his opportunities should drop this year with the return of a healthy Jaren Jackson Jr.

85) Jordan Clarkson | 6-4 – G – Utah Jazz

The reigning 6th Man of the Year has a great opportunity to repeat next season. The Jazz made a few underrated acquisitions in their frontcourt, but their guard rotation stayed relatively the same. In other words, Clarkson will be backing up both Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell as the primary scoring option off the bench. He put up a career-high 18.4 PPG last season on 34.7% shooting from behind the arc. It’s not unreasonable to expect a similar level of production in the 2021-22 season.

84) Chris Boucher | 6-9 – F/C – Toronto Raptors

Boucher is hard to predict because of the roster turnover in Toronto this offseason. Not only did he lose a 7+ APG point guard in Kyle Lowry, but the Raptors also added Precious Achiuwa and Scottie Barnes, both forwards capable of eating into Boucher’s minutes and opportunities. However, Boucher had a minor breakout season in 2020-21 with career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game. The potential to take another step forward is firmly in the cards for Boucher.

83) Harrison Barnes | 6-8 – F – Sacramento Kings

Barnes has been one of the most underrated players in the NBA for much of his career. After being traded away from Golden State, he’s averaged 17.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 2.0 APG with the Mavericks and Kings, including 16.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG during 2020-21. Transitioning more into a small-ball power forward role early in his career, Barnes is a fantastic second or third scoring option for a contending team. Now he just needs to find that team.

82) Marcus Smart | 6-3 – G – Boston Celtics

Smart put up career highs in both PPG (13.1) and APG (5.7) for the Celtics last season, though he only appeared in 48 games. Though on paper the Celtics downgraded at point guard from Kemba Walker to Dennis Schroder, I don’t expect this to affect Smart’s production much. His tenacious defense and leadership qualities make him a staple in most Celtic lineups, whether it’s at the point guard or shooting guard position. His efficiency hasn’t been good for basically his entire career (37.6% FG), but he can be a great 3-point shooter through stretches, raising his overall value to the team in important moments.

81) Norman Powell | 6-3 – G – Portland Trailblazers

After an other-worldly shooting performance to open last season in Toronto, Powell was shipped to Portland where he continued to play well despite seeing a slight drop off in terms of efficiency. After a full offseason with his new team, it’s very possible that Powell sees his percentages shoot back through the roof. He averaged 17 PPG on 36.1% 3P shooting through 27 games with Portland last year, and keep an eye out for an increased role should the Blazers find a blockbuster deal.

Stay tuned for the rest of our 2022 Preseason Top 100 coming soon!

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