This will be the ninth of a 10-part 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.
Without further ado, here are the Top 20-11 players for the 2023-24 season.
Click here for a full archive of Driscoll’s Top 100.
20. James Harden
When Harden is on the floor, he is an elite player. Last season, he averaged 21 points and 11 assists (NBA-best) per game with 44/39/87 shooting splits. This ranking was dependent on Harden finding a new home for the season, which he did. On Tuesday morning, Philadelphia flipped the star to the Clippers. You can read our full analysis here.
First look at James Harden in a Clippers uniform pic.twitter.com/yQUYTj8Mr1
— Kelli Johnson (@KelliJohnsonTV) November 2, 2023
19. Jaylen Brown
The guy who signed the richest contract in NBA history comes in at No. 19. Brown was named Second-Team All-NBA last year and absolutely deserved it. He averaged 27 points and seven rebounds per game with 58 percent True Shooting. Even though his assist numbers have always been pretty low, his overall playmaking ability has gotten better through the years. Also, even though Brown’s three-ball has fallen off a little bit, this appears to be something that he worked on all off-season. Furthermore, while he has struggled with his left hand for his entire career, this was never exploited as a weakness until last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. If he gets back to shooting in the high 30s from three, his handling improves a little bit, and he continues to have big playoff games, there is no reason for him to not eventually become a top-15 player.
18. Trae Young
Many people see Trae Young as one of the most overrated players in the league. I am someone who used to believe it, but I think his critiques have been over-corrected and now he’s almost underrated. Despite being putrid on defense, he is easily a top-10 offensive player in the league. Last season, he averaged 26 points and 10 assists per game. Young is not very efficient, but that is a direct result of him being the top offensive player on his team, which draws a lot of defenders his way. As a Celtics fan who has watched Young carve up their defense, there are not many guys you should want in a big game more than Young.
17. Anthony Edwards
The 22-year-old future superstar comes in at No. 17. Despite losing Karl-Anthony Towns for most of last season, Edwards was still fantastic all year long. He has the full package on offense, averaging 25 points, six rebounds, and four assists per game. He was also a very solid perimeter defender. As mentioned, he is only 22 years old and should have a full season of Towns and Rudy Gobert alongside him. The West is extremely talented, so it will be tough for the Wolves to make any noise, but do not be surprised if you see Edwards emerge as a top-10 player sooner rather than later.
— Anthony Edwards (@theantedwards_) November 2, 2023
16. Paul George
Speaking of guys with the whole package, George comes in at No. 16. People see him as “washed,” but nothing could be further from the truth. In 56 games played last year, he averaged 24 points, six rebounds, and five assists with 46/38/87 shooting splits. He also did this by playing elite perimeter defense and delivering very solid playmaking. He has been unlucky the past couple of seasons with injuries to himself and teammate Kawhi Leonard. If there is one season for the Clippers to go all the way, I think this will be the year. Is the two of them staying healthy too much to ask? Perhaps, but crazier things have happened.
Gildgeous-Alexander continues to prove plenty of people wrong. He made First Team All-NBA last year, and while many people think he should not have made it, he certainly earned his place. He averaged 31 points and six assists per game with 51/35/91 shooting splits. So why is Gildgeous-Alexander at No. 15, rather than within the top-10 like in ESPN’s ranking? Well, it’s simple: he has yet to play in a playoff game. Call it unfair all you want, but I need to see someone play in big games for a stretch of a few games before putting them in top-10 discussions.
14. Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell had a very under-appreciated 2022-23 season. He was the best player on the Cavaliers who had not made the playoffs since LeBron James left after 2018. He averaged 28 points (career-high) with 48/39/87 shooting splits. These are not overwhelming numbers, but his leadership changed the tone in the locker room. Even though he completely fell off in the playoffs last year, Mitchell does have a history of stepping it up come playoff time. I expect Cleveland’s young cast to only get better with experience, and Mitchell will play better in big games.
DONOVAN MITCHELL GAME WINNER 🔥 pic.twitter.com/RJjNi2CyNy
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 26, 2023
13. Devin Booker
This seems a little low, but it is simply a testament to how great the rest of the list is. To be certain, it is not an indictment of Booker’s abilities. Last season, he averaged 28 points and six assists with 49/35/86 shooting splits. Booker only improved in the playoffs where he averaged 34 (led the league) and seven assists with 59/50/87 shooting splits. His assists numbers should increase, and the Suns also hope Booker’s efficiency will improve since they now have two other elite scorers in Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. Will he adjust well to his new role? Time shall tell.
12. Damian Lillard
The man who had more headlines this offseason than his entire career comes in at No. 12. Lillard was finally traded to the Bucks after months of discussions and predictions of him joining the Heat. It is hard to put together a better duo than Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lillard given how much space the two of them will have. They could struggle in the defensive backcourt, but that is a trade-off you make 10 times out of 10. Lillard playing in just 87 games over the past two seasons is a concern, but the Bucks are gambling on the fact that their two superstars will be healthy come playoff time, which will be the only thing that matters at the end of the day.
11. Jimmy Butler
The guy who has been the best player on two of the last four Eastern Conference champions just misses the top 10. People see Butler as a guy who “doesn’t care about the regular season, only the playoffs,” but this is just blatantly false. Last season, he averaged 23 points, six rebounds, and five assists with a 27.6 PER. If you thought those numbers were good, don’t forget that he usually steps up his game even further in the playoffs. Butler may be disappointed that he was not able to team up with Lillard, but he will still be the No. 1 option on his team. The Heat have a very high ceiling and a very high floor; let’s see where they end up.
I am riding with Jimmy Butler until the wheels fall off pic.twitter.com/Eic0bW7Uwx
— HEAT NATION (@Zachppp) November 3, 2023
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