This will be the final part of Driscoll’s series ranking the Top 100 players in the NBA for the 2023-24 season.
Keep in mind that these are based on projections and expectations for the entire season. So does track record matter? Absolutely. Does last year matter? It matters the most. This list is based on what the players have shown they can do during the previous three years and how much it will carry over to this upcoming year.
Here are the Top 10 players for the 2023-24 season. The cream of the crop. Let’s dive in.
Click here for a full archive of Driscoll’s Top 100.
10. Anthony Davis
Davis quietly had an awesome season for the Lakers last year. He averaged 26 points, 13 assists, and two blocks per game with a 27.8 PER that ranked fifth in the league. Davis’s defensive impact cannot be understated. No matter what you do—set screens, box him out—you can never take him out of a play. Davis would be my pick to win Defensive Player of the Year if he were able to play 65 games, which is the new minimum threshold for eligibility. He has not hit that benchmark since 2018 but likely would have in 2020 if that season was played in full. The Lakers’ ceiling will greatly depend on Davis’s health, but if he can manage to stay on the court, they may be the favorites to win the West.
Speaking of guys who struggle to play a lot of games, Kawhi Leonard comes in at No. 9. He only played 52 games last season but was debatably a top-five player in the league on a per-game basis. He had a slow start but stepped it up big time after Christmas. Since then, he averaged 26 points and seven rebounds per game, all while shooting 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from three. The Clippers have been a championship-or-bust team since Leonard and Paul George teamed up in the 2019-20 season and have been simply disappointing. Leonard will need to finally stay healthy if they want to make the NBA Finals this year.
8. LeBron James
It’s weird. For nearly two decades, James has been a top-five player, but he is not one anymore. Of course, he still has an argument. Last season, he averaged 29 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists per game. These are the top-five numbers, but his defense and inability to play more than 60 games the past few years move him down a few spots. Both L.A. teams have one thing in common: their two stars are good enough to win a championship but cannot stay healthy. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that James just refuses to age.
7. Joel Embiid
The 2023 MVP comes in at No. 7. He was excellent on both ends last season, averaging 33 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks per game with 66 percent True Shooting. However, you can’t trust him in the playoffs. “Oh, but he’s usually injured come playoff time.” Exactly! I simply cannot put someone in the top five if they collapse in the playoffs, whether it is their fault or not. The Sixers are in a tough spot sans Harden, but I fully expect Embiid to remain dominant.
6. Kevin Durant
People talk about how crazy James’s longevity is (which it is), but Durant’s longevity is almost as impressive. He finished second place in MVP voting in 2010 and today remains a top-10 player. In 47 games last year, he averaged 29 points, seven rebounds, and five assists per game on 56/40/92 shooting splits. Durant then played fantastic in the playoffs where he averaged 29 points, nine rebounds, and six assists per game with 48/33/92 shooting splits. This will be his first full season in Phoenix and it will be a completely different team than the one he played with last year. As long as the Suns have Durant and Devin Booker, they will be contenders.
5. Luka Doncic
Even though most people have Doncic in the top five or three, too many people have started to underrate him. Last season, he averaged 32 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists with 61 percent True Shooting. In my opinion, he is probably the third-best offensive player in the league. What holds him back is his defense. It is not that he is just a negative on defense, but he is even targeted at the end of games because of his weakness. In turn, this can tire him out on offense. The Mavericks took a risk by trading for Kyrie Irving, and they felt the need to re-sign him so they did not give up assets for nothing. Will he and Doncic do some damage now that they have had a full offseason together? We shall see.
4. Jayson Tatum
Go ahead, call me a homer. But think about it. What do you want in a franchise player? I’ll tell you what I want. I want a guy who has no off-the-court problems, goes out and plays every night, is great on both sides of the ball, and comes up big in the playoffs, especially late in the series. Tatum averages 76 games per 82, is elite on both ends of the floor, and averages 27 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in elimination games. Yes, he played awful in the NBA Finals and Game 7 against the Heat (people conveniently leave out the fact that he busted up his ankle on the first possession of the game), but every superstar has their shortcomings. There are simply not more than three players I want to build my team around more than Tatum.
The greatest 3-point shooter of all time comes in at 3. Despite the Warriors being a disappointment last year, Curry is the absolute last one to blame. He averaged 29 points, six rebounds, and six assists per game with 49/43/92 shooting splits. He took a slight dip in the playoffs when he averaged 30 points, five rebounds, and six assists with 46/36/85 shooting splits. The main reason his numbers took a hit was because the Lakers targeted him and his open teammates did not hit the shots they were expected to make. I’m expecting the Warriors to be better than they were last year, and Curry will be an MVP candidate.
The top two players in the league should be basic knowledge at this point. Antetokounmpo is probably the best two-way player in the league. A top-two defender and top-10 offensive player, he averaged 31 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists per game with 61 percent True Shooting last year. While he does not have a great jumper or too deep of a bag, he doesn’t need one. He is extremely dominant.
1. Nikola Jokic
The Finals MVP and two-time league MVP is the best player in the world. He just put together a playoff run that is on the same level as some of prime LeBron James‘s. In the playoffs, he averaged 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists per game with 63 percent True Shooting. He played pretty well in the Finals, too, with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists per game, plus a 67 percent True Shooting. “But he plays no defense!” First of all, his defense is far better than it used to be. Second, he is above and beyond the best offensive player in the league, so whatever weakness you think he may have on defense, it doesn’t even move the needle. Whether the Nuggets repeat or not, Jokic is the best player in the world.
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