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Driscoll’s Top 100 NBA Players of the 2023-24 Season: 90-81

Austin Reaves, Lakers, NBA Top 100
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This will be the second of a 10-part series ranking the Top 100 players in the NBA for the 2023-24 season.

Keep in mind, these are projections for the upcoming 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 90-81 players for the 2023-24 season.

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90. Alex Caruso

The player who was once “a product of the Lakers and LeBron James” comes in at No. 90. Caruso had a phenomenal season at the defensive end last year, good enough to make the All-Defensive First Team. With this being said, even though he was great on the defensive end for the time he was on the floor, he is a slight negative on offense which forces him to play fewer minutes than most All-League defenders. Caruso has shown he can be a piece on a championship team, but there is not a lot there to show he can be a third or fourth option on a serious team.

89. Mitchell Robinson

Robinson is relatively underrated. He would more than likely be getting his flowers if he was able to stay on the court. When he is on the court, he is one of the better rebounders and rim defenders in the league. He is not too big of a scoring threat, which also moves him down a few spots, but he is still very efficient with his shot selection. The Knicks finally won a playoff series last year, and a lot of their success will depend on Robinson’s availability.

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88. Nic Claxton

Claxton had a surprisingly solid season for the Nets last year. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both getting injured and traded, his role expanded. Last season, he played nine more minutes per game than he did the season prior, and it was hands-down his career-high. He was both a super solid defender and rebounder for the Nets. Not only was he great on the defensive end, but he also improved offensively, scoring more points than ever while leading the league in field goal percentage. He is probably going to be the Robin to Mikal Bridges this year. I am not expecting anything from the Nets this year, but don’t be surprised if you see another step taken from Claxton this year.

87. Malcolm Brogdon

The 2023 Sixth Man of the Year comes in at No. 87. Brogdon’s playoff mishaps last year made people forget how awesome he was for the Celtics in the regular season. His per-game and counting stats took a hit due to him playing fewer minutes, but he set a career-high in Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Box Plus-Minus, and True Shooting Percentage, which are advanced stats that show players’ impacts during their time on the court rather than relying on the amount of minutes played. If he is not traded, Brogdon’s role will likely expand due to the Celtics trading away Marcus Smart. He has a lot to prove after a disappointing playoff, and he will be up for the challenge.

86. Keldon Johnson

Due to playing on one of the worst teams in the league, Johnson is pretty underrated. His scoring averages have gone up every year, and only entering his age-24 season, there is no reason to believe this won’t continue. Johnson is also one of the better slashers and finishers in the league for someone his size. He will likely take a backseat to his brand new teammate Victor Wembanyama, but give it a couple of years and this can be a solid duo that could win a couple of playoff series.

85. Herbert Jones

Jones was excellent in the second half of his rookie year, leading many to believe that he would jump his second year. Many even said he could win Defensive Player of the Year. However, although he was still strong on defense, he did not improve on offense and was a net negative according to Box Plus-Minus. Some people might disagree with the fact that the Pelicans are threats to make the Western Conference Finals this season. The possibility of this, though, will depend on two things. The first one is the health of Zion Williamson. The second is whether Jones improves on offense to become a solid two-way threat. This may seem like a lot of pressure for a third-year player, but this is what is going to have to happen.

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84. Walker Kessler

Kessler emerged after the Rudy Gobert trade and was not expecting anything from a player who was the 22nd pick in the draft. He established himself as one of the best rim defenders and rebounders in the game. Kessler averaged the fourth-most blocks per game in the league and also finished among the top 20 in both Defensive Box Plus-Minus and Defensive Rating. Even though this is tough to evaluate, he is also one of the best roll threats in the league. There are not many exciting things about the Jazz, but Kessler is one of them.

83. Steven Adams

Though many did not realize it until last year, Adams has been underrated for a couple of years now. He continues to be elite at defensive rebounding and is one of the best in the league at offensive rebounding. He is also an elite rim defender. After he got injured last season, you could tell the Grizzlies took a huge hit on defense because of it. They were 28-14 with him and 23-17 without him. Not only this, but they were 8.3 points better per 100 possessions with Adams on the court than off the court. The Grizzlies will need Adams to stay healthy.

82. Robert Williams

This would have been a little low last year, but injuries have held Williams back for a little bit. Williams had to get surgery last September, causing him to miss time in the beginning of the season, and he missed a lot of games after he came back, too. In fact, he only played 35 games throughout the whole regular season. When on the floor, Williams is an elite defender, rebounder, and finisher. The problem he has is that he cannot shoot anywhere outside the paint. If he were to develop a solid midrange, he could be an All-Star.

81. Austin Reaves

This might feel a little low, but I just need to see a little more from Reaves before I start putting him in top-50 discussions. In his short career so far, Reaves has been very impressive. He is a decent three-point shooter and puts forth a lot of effort on defense. Believe it or not, the Lakers were 8.7 points per 100 possessions better with Reaves on the floor than off. He was also extremely impressive in the playoffs, averaging 17 points per game on solid efficiency. He will more than likely be higher when I make this list again next year, but I just need to see a little bit more from him first.


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