Basketball

2022 Preseason Top 100 NBA Players: 80-61

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The NBA season is fast approaching and we’re itching to see who takes the next step in their production next season! For more on our introduction, including honorable mentions, click the 100-81 link below!

Rankings

100-81 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31

Top 100 NBA Players in 2022: 80-61

80) Dennis Schroder | 6-3 – G – Boston Celtics

After a productive year with the Lakers in which he averaged 15 points and 6 assists per game, Schroder was one of the more compelling stories of the offseason when he didn’t receive the massive contract he expected. Instead, the Lakers went a different direction by trading for Russell Westbrook, and everyone else locked up their point guards quickly. Instead, he accepted a single-digit contract with the Celtics, making him a candidate for steal of the off-season. I expect Schroder to thrive beside a defender like Smart and other scorers like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

79) D’Angelo Russell | 6-4 – G – Minnesota Timberwolves

Russell was an All-Star back in 2018-19 with Brooklyn but hasn’t had a fully healthy season since. Now with this young Wolves squad, Russell has an opportunity to be the on-court leader of an upstart team. If he’s able to stay healthy, Russell could absolutely exceed this preseason ranking, but the question marks that come with a growing team and an injury-riddled point guard make it hard to rank him at his full All-Star potential.

78) Miles Bridges | 6-6 – F – Charlotte Hornets

This fourth-year forward has improved on his game in each of his first three seasons. His explosive style of play leaves jaws on the floor, but it also makes it easy to overlook his improved scoring and efficiency early in his career. Shooting 40% across 66 games last season, Bridges may have been the difference between the Hornets losing their play-in game and making the playoffs had he not been in the Health and Safety protocols at the time. The Hornets are one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA, and Bridges is a major reason why.

77) RJ Barrett | 6-6 – G – New York Knicks

Barrett improved in almost every way from year one to year two in the NBA. His scoring, rebounding, assists, efficiency, and turnover rate all got better after his rookie season, leading us to believe Barrett could take another big step this season. Not to mention he’s now playing alongside a former All-Star point guard in Kemba Walker which could really open up his scoring options. My only concern is the number of shot attempts left for Barrett after Walker and Julius Randle take their fair share.

76) Kemba Walker | 6-0 – G – New York Knicks

After a couple of disappointing years in Boston, Walker heads over to Eastern Conference rival New York Knicks. Walker is still among the elite ball handlers and scorers in the NBA, though he shot only 42% from the field during 43 games with the Celtics last season. Joining a young and growing team might be exactly what Kemba needs to revive his once All-Star-caliber career. A leader at the point guard position is definitely something the Knicks were in search of this offseason. Don’t be surprised if this match allows both Walker and the Knicks to thrive next season.

75) Andrew Wiggins | 6-7 – F – Golden State Warriors

Wiggins never quite lived up the hype of being a #1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, however, he’s far from a bust. Career averages of 19.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 2.3 APG are enough to hold down a starting role in each of his first seven seasons. Though he was Golden State’s second-leading scorer last season, his opportunities will likely be diminished by the return of Klay Thompson from injury, a second-year James Wiseman looking to assert himself, and several key additions at both forward positions including two lottery picks, Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr, and Nemanja Bjelica.

74) John Wall | 6-3 – G – Houston Rockets

Wall has played in only 72 games over the last three NBA seasons. However, the games he did play proved he’s still got what it takes to compete at an elite level. He holds career averages of 19 & 9, points and assists respectively, including 20.6 PPG and 6.9 APG last season with Houston. If Wall can stay healthy, he’ll likely prove to be better than the 73rd in the league, but that’s a big “if” to overcome.

73) Richaun Holmes | 6-10 – F/C – Sacramento Kings

Holmes is often overlooked as one of the better young, athletic bigs in the NBA today. Unfortunately, I don’t expect that to change much this season due to the log jam starting to build in the Kings’ frontcourt. They still seem to be shopping Marvin Bagley to no avail, and they’ve acquired Alex Len and Tristan Thompson this offseason. Holmes is the best of all of these players, but they will still likely leach minutes away from Holmes. If the young forward can improve upon his 18.2% 3P shooting from last season, he has the potential to find more minutes at the PF position this season.

72) Mikal Bridges | 6-6 – F – Phoenix Suns

After an impressive playoff performance last season, Bridges will look to take yet another step forward this season. He proved himself to be one of the elite 3&D players in the NBA last season, shooting nearly 43% from distance while continuing his reputation of stellar perimeter defense. If Bridges can continue to round out his offensive repertoire, he’ll far surpass this ranking, but I find it difficult to predict he does so with Devin Booker and Chris Paul still soaking up most of the offensive production.

71) Tyrese Haliburton | 6-5 – G – Sacramento Kings

I expect a major step forward in year two for Haliburton after putting up 13 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal per game in his rookie season. He started 20 games and had eye-opening efficiency, especially for a 20-year-old rookie. The biggest concern for Haliburton’s development, other than the Kings’ general tendency to be a poorly run organization, is the arrival of rookie guard Davion Mitchell. The Summer League MVP will likely demand minutes as a rookie, taking minutes from one of the three existing Kings’ guards.

70) Jaren Jackson Jr. | 6-11 – F/C – Memphis Grizzlies

Hear me out, I don’t think JJJ is the 69th best player in the league based on talent alone. However, the talented young big man is coming off of an 11-game, injury-riddled season in which he shot sub-.300 from downtown and saw a major step back in his overall production and efficiency. Jackson has Top 25 potential during any season he’s fully healthy, but he has an uphill battle ahead of him to get back to that point after suffering such a lengthy injury this early in his career.

69) Jamal Murray | 6-3 – G – Denver Nuggets

This is a prime example of injury depleting a player’s stock. Murray is an elite guard in today’s NBA, but he’s not on pace to start the season healthy. In fact, we don’t know if missing the entire season is in the cards or not. Even if he comes back around January, he’ll likely be slowed down some from the time missed. Not to mention Nikola Jokic has figured out how good he is at basketball and demands a lot of attention and production offensively, even when (if) Murray returns.

68) Draymond Green | 6-6 – F – Golden State Warriors

Green played a crucial defensive role for Team USA on his way to a gold medal this summer. The undersized forward is still one of the elite defenders in the NBA, but he continues to regress offensively. Last season he averaged 7 PPG, his lowest since 2013-14, and saw his 3P% decrease for the fifth straight season to an abysmal 27%. His leadership, passing, and defense keep Green relevant, but he’ll likely take another step back offensively with the return of Klay Thompson.

67) Anthony Edwards | 6-4 – G – Minnesota Timberwolves

Edwards had an excellent rookie season, finishing only behind LaMelo Ball in Rookie of the Year voting. He averaged 19.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 2.9 APG. Edwards showed flashes of greatness mixed in with stretches of mediocrity, which is to be expected from any first-year player. If his efficiency and consistency continue to improve at a normal rate, Edwards could surpass this ranking by the end of the season.

66) Collin Sexton | 6-1 – G – Cleveland Cavaliers

Sexton has taken notable steps in each of the last two seasons, raising his scoring average to nearly 25 PPG last season. That type of talent doesn’t grow on trees. He’s a relatively efficient player for his position and playstyle, though he needs to improve his playmaking for others if he wants to last as a true point guard in this league. One factor that keeps Sexton outside the Top 50 is the uncertainty around his status in Cleveland. He may very well be on his way out if the Cavs find the right trade partner.

65) Jarrett Allen | 6-11 – C – Cleveland Cavaliers

Allen secured the bag this offseason, earning a $100 million, five-year contract to stay in Cleveland. This all but secures his position as the starting center and defensive anchor on this team. Rookie Evan Mobley joining the roster should do little to affect Allen’s minutes this season, as he’s already a proven player, and Mobley can potentially play PF. Allen has a near 1.5 BPG career average and has improved his scoring each and every season. Watch out for a break-out season from the 23-year-old big man.

64) Kristaps Porzingis | 7-3 – F/C – Dallas Mavericks

Despite a poor performance against the LA Clippers in last year’s playoffs, Porzingis is still one of the more intriguing players in the league. He’s averaged over 20 PPG in each of his last three healthy seasons and shot 37.6% from 3-point range in 2020-21. Rumors surfaced after Dallas’s playoff exit that he and teammate Luka Doncic didn’t get along, but nothing has come of these talks to this point, so we’re operating under the assumption that Porzingis will be playing alongside one of the best playmakers in the league again next season.

63) Mike Conley | 6-1 – G – Utah Jazz

Last season, Conley earned the first All-Star appearance of his career in what was his 14th NBA season. He led his team in assists while averaging 16.2 PPG and 1.4 SPG in the process. Conley will turn 34 this season so it’s not far-fetched to expect the natural regression that comes with age to start catching up with the veteran point guard soon. However, his workload can be well managed with Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and Joe Ingles all able to run the offense for stretches.

62) Kevin Porter Jr. | 6-4 – G – Houston Rockets

Porter found some success during his 26 games with Houston last season, averaging 16.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 3.8 RPG while shooting 42.5% from the field. The talent is evident with Porter, but there are a lot of question marks surrounding the unproven player, including what he’s able to produce next to a fully healthy John Wall and rookie sensation Jalen Green.

61) Terry Rozier | 6-1 – G – Charlotte Hornets

“Scary” Terry Rozier has seen a significant uptick in production ever since joining the Hornets back in 2019. He’s averaged 19.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game over the last two seasons, all while shooting just under 40% from behind the arc. LaMelo Ball entering the picture actually improved Rozier’s production, allowing him to play off-ball in more of a scoring role more often. Another year together with this young squad should do nothing but improve Rozier’s production and value.

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