Sports

NBArank 2022 – Ranking the best players for 2022-23, from 100 to 26


NBArank is back for its 12th season counting down the best players in the league.

Where are MVP candidates such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic? What about rookies and young stars ready to take the leap into the upper tier of NBA players?

Where is LeBron James, who is entering his 20th season?

To get the final NBArank prediction, we asked our expert panel to vote on pairs of players: LeBron vs. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry vs. Ja Morant, Luka vs. Jayson Tatum … and the list goes on.

We asked, “Which player will be better in 2022-23?” Voters had to predict what they expected from each player during the season.

Let’s kick things off with our rankings of players Nos. 100-26.

Note: ESPN’s NBArank panel, composed of over 200 reporters, editors, producers and analysts, were asked to rank players based on their predicted contributions — quality and quantity — for the 2022-23 season only.

Forecasting the East, West and NBA champs for 2022-23

Atlanta Hawks | SG

2021 NBArank: No. 67

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: With Dejounte Murray on board, Bogdanovic figures to come off the bench for Atlanta in a role he thrived in a season ago. In 27 starts, he averaged 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 29.4 minutes per game. In 36 games off the bench, he averaged 17 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 29.3 minutes per game with improvements in all shooting splits. A more concrete role could mean a jump.

— Andrew Lopez


Boston Celtics | PF

2021 NBArank: NR

Swing skill: Williams has steadily increased his 3-point shooting volume and percentage each season, topping out at 3.4 attempts per game and shooting 41.1% from behind the arc last season. Boston needs him to repeat those numbers, especially with newcomer Danilo Gallinari likely out for the season with a torn ACL.

— Tim Bontemps


New York Knicks | C

2021 NBArank: 93

One huge question for 2022-23: How much will Jalen Brunson‘s arrival help Robinson? One of the league’s premier lob finishers, Robinson didn’t enjoy great setup play last season. Enter Brunson, whose 61 passes leading to dunks last season were more than any New York starter completed, according to Second Spectrum tracking.

— Kevin Pelton


Cleveland Cavaliers | PF

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: When the Cavs were making NBA Finals trips an annual rite of passage, Love learned how to star in his role alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. He could prove to be ultra valuable for Cleveland’s current roster as the leader of the bench unit behind Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland & Co.

— Dave McMenamin


Brooklyn Nets | SG

2021 NBArank: No. 88

Swing skill: Curry can shoot the lights out and should be able to stretch the floor alongside Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons. After being acquired from the 76ers last season, Curry shot 46.8% from beyond the arc during 19 games with the Nets and is a career 43.9% shooter from distance. With Curry and Joe Harris in the fold playing alongside their three stars, the Nets’ offense has a chance to be explosive.

— Nick Friedell


Sacramento Kings | PF

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Murray trails only Orlando’s Paolo Banchero as the front-runners for Rookie of the Year honors and looks poised to make an immediate impact in the NBA after leading college basketball in scoring and winning MVP at summer league in Las Vegas. He’ll step right into an outsized role for the Kings and will play a huge part in whether Sacramento can make its first playoff appearance since 2006.

— Jonathan Givony


Memphis Grizzlies | PF

2021 NBArank: NR

Swing skill: Clarke, who has a 40.5-inch vertical and good hands, has emerged as one of the league’s most efficient and explosive pick-and-roll finishers. He averaged 1.41 points per possession as a roll man last season, ranking third out of 45 players with at least 100 opportunities.

— MacMahon


Minnesota Timberwolves | PG

2021 NBArank: 63

One game to watch: Nov. 30 vs. Grizzlies. A rematch of last season’s first-round series gives Minnesota a chance to show what its revamped roster can do. Russell averaged a career high in assists last season but still needs to prove he can be the lead guard in an offense including Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.

— Jamal Collier


Dallas Mavericks | C

2021 NBArank: No. 60

New face in a new place: Wood, who averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game over the past two seasons for the rebuilding Rockets, has an opportunity to prove that he can contribute to a winning team. The Mavs plan to feature Wood as a sixth man — a role that might not be easy for him to accept as he enters a contract year.

— MacMahon


Portland Trail Blazers | SG

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Simons finally got a chance to show what he can do last season, averaging a career-high 17.3 points as Damian Lillard missed 53 games and CJ McCollum and Norm Powell were traded away. Simons took off in January, averaging 23.1 points and 6.7 assists per game.

— Ohm Youngmisuk


Indiana Pacers | SG

2021 NBArank: 51

Swing skill: 3-point shooting. Hield shot a career-worst 36.2% from 3 in his 26 games after joining the Pacers last season, but he is still one of the league’s best threats from deep, shooting at least 39% for four consecutive seasons from 2017-18 to 2020-21. Teams around the league are certain to still be attracted to his shooting ability if Indiana wants to deal him.

— Collier


Utah Jazz | PG

2021 NBArank: 48

One huge question for 2022-23: As with every veteran on the Jazz roster, the big question about Conley is whether he will be traded. He could help a contender now as a steady playmaker who is also comfortable playing off the ball. But Conley turns 35 before the start of the season, and his $14.3 million partial guarantee for 2023-24 could make moving him difficult.

— MacMahon


Portland Trail Blazers | C

2021 NBArank: 74

One huge question for 2022-23: Can Nurkic stay healthy? He was shut down with a foot injury after 56 games last season, although the Blazers were more interested in the lottery than wins. Still, Nurkic has not played in more than 70 games since 2018-19, and Portland will need him to battle the bigs in the West such as Nikola Jokic and the tandem of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

— Youngmisuk


Boston Celtics | PG

2021 NBArank: 65

New face in a new place: After spending the past three seasons in Indiana, Brogdon came to the Celtics in exchange for a first-round pick and flotsam salary this offseason. Now, after being a starter with the Pacers, can he adapt to a bench role? Just as importantly, can he stay healthy after playing a combined 92 games the past two seasons? If both answers are yes, Boston could have this season’s Sixth Man of the Year.

— Bontemps


Washington Wizards | C

2021 NBArank: 50

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Quietly, Porzingis was terrific after joining the Wizards at the trade deadline, averaging 22.1 PPG with a true shooting percentage (.606) that would have been a career high. Porzingis did not play any of those 17 games with Bradley Beal, and how they fit will be worth watching.

— Pelton


Utah Jazz | PG

2021 NBArank: 90

Swing skill: Need instant offense for your bench? Call the Jazz about Clarkson, the 2020-21 Sixth Man of the Year. He arrived in Utah with a reputation as a reckless gunner, but he has refined his shot selection with the Jazz, firing away from 3-point range and attacking the basket, mostly steering clear of low-efficiency midrange looks.

— MacMahon


New Orleans Pelicans | C

2021 NBArank: 94

One huge question for 2022-23: How will Valanciunas’ game fit alongside Zion? Last season, Valanciunas tinkered around with a 3-point shot and was 57-of-158 (36.1%) for the season. With Williamson’s tendency to want to drive and get to the rim, will Valanciunas have to be outside more, or will the Pelicans just engulf every offensive rebound possible?

— Lopez


Denver Nuggets | PF

2021 NBArank: 69

One huge question for 2022-23: What is Gordon’s role? With the returns of Murray and Porter, and the addition of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gordon’s role is going to shift for the Nuggets, likely into a much smaller one. Gordon won’t need to score as much, and with the addition of KCP, he will no longer be the primary on-ball defender. Because of Gordon’s size, he still has the opportunity to be an impactful defensive player, but his night-to-night job will depend more on the matchup.

— Kendra Andrews


No. 82: Paolo Banchero

Orlando Magic | SF

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Banchero is Caesars Sportsbook’s overwhelming favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, and for good reason. He brings tremendous scoring instincts and the ability to shoulder a significant offensive load, and he will be asked to play a featured role for an Orlando team that struggled to score last season. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds with dynamic playmaking ability, he’ll be a mismatch at the NBA level from day one.

— Givony


Oklahoma City Thunder | SG

2021 NBArank: NR

One huge question for 2022-23: How big will his sophomore leap be? Giddey was the biggest snub off the NBA’s All-Rookie first team, likely largely due to missing the final six weeks of the season. Still only 19, the 6-foot-9 point guard looks primed to take another jump after leading all rookies in assists and finishing second in rebounding.

— Givony


Cleveland Cavaliers | SG

2021 NBArank: 80

One huge question for 2022-23: Is there space for him in Cleveland? By adding Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs suddenly have a loaded backcourt rotation, especially for guards who command the ball. It’s worth watching whether LeVert will continue to have a role on this team or the Cavs will look to move him.

— Collier


Atlanta Hawks | C

2021 NBArank: 55

Swing skill: Capela remains one of the best rebounders in the game. After leading the league in boards in 2020-21, Capela was fourth overall last season (11.9 rebounds per game) and second overall in rebounding percentage (23.5%). Capela is also one of the top lob threats in the NBA — Trae Young-to-Capela led the NBA in alley-oops last season.

— Lopez


Chicago Bulls | PG

2021 NBArank: 57

One huge question for 2022-23: How healthy will Ball be this season? Ball hasn’t appeared in a game since Jan. 14 and has experienced discomfort whenever he ramps up basketball activity this offseason. He is not expected to participate in the start of training camp, raising questions for when he might be ready to return to the floor at all.

— Collier


Memphis Grizzlies | SF

2021 NBArank: 78

One game to watch: Christmas Day at Golden State. His teammates refer to Brooks as “Dillon the Villain,” and that nickname applies as well in the Bay Area as anywhere, so circle this holiday road game against the Warriors. Brooks is determined to get what he considers long-overdue All-Defensive recognition, and making Stephen Curry‘s life difficult in a marquee matchup would certainly boost that pursuit.

— MacMahon


No. 76: Ben Simmons

Brooklyn Nets | PG

2021 NBArank: 28

One game to watch: Nov. 22 at Philadelphia. The buildup for this game has been growing for over a year. We got a taste of what was to come last March when Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn for a package centered around James Harden just before last season’s deadline, was at the center of loud boos and “F— Ben Simmons!” chants throughout the night while sitting on the bench with his new teammates. There will be a lot of emotions in the building between two teams that believe they can rise to the top of the East.

— Friedell


Toronto Raptors | SF

2021 NBArank: 72

Swing skill: Shot creation. Anunoby averaged a career-high 17.1 PPG last season but did so with below-average efficiency (.549 true shooting percentage). Anunoby shot 7% better than league average on shots with fewer than two seconds of touch time but 12.5% worse when he had the ball longer than that.

— Pelton


Sacramento Kings | SF

2021 NBArank: NR

One huge question for 2022-23: How will Barnes adjust to coach Mike Brown’s system? Barnes, who has started in every game he has played in during nine of his past 10 seasons, will be needed to provide veteran experience on a team that will rely on young stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and incorporate new pieces like Kevin Huerter and rookie Keegan Murray.

— Youngmisuk


Atlanta Hawks | PF

2021 NBArank: 54

Swing skill: Collins is one of the league’s premier posterizers who will dunk on anyone in his path — and it’s fun to watch. The man wore a shirt of himself dunking on Joel Embiid in the 2021 playoffs. He’s more than just a dunker, but man is it fun to watch him terrorize NBA rims.

— Lopez


Denver Nuggets | SF

2021 NBArank: 41

One huge question for 2022-23: Porter has yet to play a complete NBA campaign — missing long chunks, if not the entire season, due to injuries. Last season, he was sidelined with the third back surgery of his basketball career. So the question for Porter is twofold: What will he look like after missing another season? And, perhaps more importantly, can he stay healthy this time around as the Nuggets look to make noise in a loaded West?

— Andrews


New York Knicks | PF

2021 NBArank: 42

One huge question for 2022-23: Which version of Randle is going to show up: the All-NBA player two years ago, when the Knicks were a surprise top-four seed, or the face of a disappointing season that saw the Knicks miss the playoffs? The arrival of free agent guard Jalen Brunson should relieve some ballhandling pressure off Randle, but this is a critical season for him in Gotham.

— Bontemps


Boston Celtics | C

2021 NBArank: NR

One huge question for 2022-23: Can Horford keep turning back the clock? The Celtics’ veteran big man had a brilliant season upon returning to Boston — Horford has his best rebounding year since 2013-14 with the Hawks — but that same level of performance could be tough to duplicate as he enters his age-36 season. Expect the Celtics to be judicious with Horford’s minutes in an attempt to preserve him for another deep playoff run.

— Bontemps


Dallas Mavericks | PG

2021 NBArank: 68

One huge question for 2022-23: Was Dinwiddie’s 3-point shooting for Dallas fluky or for real? He’s a 32.2% career 3-point shooter who hit 40.4% after a midseason trade to the Mavericks. His ability to make defenses pay on decent long-range looks is especially important when Dinwiddie, who will replace Jalen Brunson in the starting lineup, plays alongside Luka Doncic.

— MacMahon


Memphis Grizzlies | SG

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: A strong argument can be made that Bane, the second-best player on a 56-win team last season, has already outplayed this ranking. Jrue Holiday was the only other guard in 2021-22 to average more than 18 points per game with a true shooting percentage higher than 56. Bane is a solid defender and elite 3-point shooter who has blossomed into a well-rounded scorer next to superstar Ja Morant.

— MacMahon


No. 67: Jalen Brunson

New York Knicks | PG

2021 NBArank: NR

One game to watch: Dec. 27 at Dallas. A tampering investigation was launched by the league into whether or not the Knicks crossed the line in getting Brunson, whose father, Rick, is now an assistant on Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff in New York. There will be an extra edge in the building as Brunson’s former team squares off against a player it tried to re-sign over the summer.

— Friedell


Indiana Pacers | C

2021 NBArank: 44

One huge question for 2022-23: Ready for another round of Myles Turner trade speculation? As Indiana continues to part with key pieces of its former core, Turner’s name will almost certainly continue to bounce around in trade rumors.

— Collier


Los Angeles Lakers | PG

2021 NBArank: 29

One huge question for 2022-23: Can he be a winning player alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis? And if not, can the Lakers find a trade partner to send him elsewhere, or will they simply let his contract come off the books next summer and hang on to those future draft picks? It is the fundamental question that will make or break L.A.’s season.

— McMenamin


Portland Trail Blazers | SF

2021 NBArank: 53

New face in a new place: While he might not get the 17.3 shots per game he averaged in 2020-21 with Detroit, Grant’s skill set makes him a valuable contributor for a playoff contender and someone who should have no problem fitting in alongside Lillard. He can hit open shots and gives Portland a long defender and experience in the frontcourt.

— Youngmisuk


New York Knicks | SG

2021 NBArank: NR

One huge question for 2022-23: Two years ago, Barrett shot 40.1% from 3-point range. In his other two NBA seasons, Barrett shot 32% and 34%. The difference between Barrett becoming a high-end wing player or a solid starter is where those 3-point shooting numbers shake out over the long term. After giving him a big-money extension this summer, the Knicks will be banking on the high-end outcome coming to fruition.

— Bontemps


Houston Rockets | SG

2021 NBArank: 96

Swing skill: Green has the potential to compete for scoring titles, as he displayed down the stretch of his rookie season. He averaged 28.1 points on .486/.427/.773 shooting splits in his last nine games of 2021-22, scoring 30-plus points in seven of the last eight, including a 41-point finale. He’s an explosive leaper who should be a better finisher after a summer in the weight room.

— MacMahon


Miami Heat | PG

2021 NBArank: NR

One huge question for 2022-23: How much of a distraction will a lack of an extension be? It remains to be seen whether or not Herro will be able to get a contract extension hammered out before the season, but if it doesn’t happen, how much will that linger over the organization? Herro said after last season that he would like to be in the starting lineup after capturing the Sixth Man award in 2021-22.

— Friedell


Miami Heat | PG

2021 NBArank: 43

One huge question for 2022-23: Will he be in better shape? Heat president Pat Riley made reference to Lowry’s conditioning after the season, and it remains to be seen if the 36-year-old will be able to play at the same level he did in Toronto. With two years and over $60 million remaining on Lowry’s contract, the Heat don’t have much choice other than to hope Lowry can turn it around after a lackluster first season in Miami.

— Friedell


Indiana Pacers | PG

2021 NBArank: 73

One game to watch: Nov. 30 at Sacramento. Haliburton returns to Sac-Town looking to remind the Kings of what they traded away in the Sabonis deal. Haliburton played his old team once after the trade last season, recording 13 points and 15 assists but shooting 4-for-14 in a 110-109 loss in March.

— Youngmisuk


Boston Celtics | C

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Although the Celtics reached the 2022 NBA Finals, Boston never quite looked the same after Williams injured his knee late in the regular season. If he can be healthy for the entire season, Williams will be a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and could skyrocket up these rankings.

— Bontemps


Chicago Bulls | C

2021 NBArank: 39

One huge question for 2022-23: Can Vucevic bounce back in a contract year? The Bulls thought they were pairing three All-Stars with DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic, but the big man had a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, shooting 31.4% from 3 and struggling on defense.

— Collier


Philadelphia 76ers | PF

2021 NBArank: 46

One huge question for 2022-23: Over the final two months of last season, Harris settled into a groove playing alongside midseason acquisition James Harden and arguably played the best basketball of his career. But on a team where he is now arguably the fourth scoring option, can he continue to handle that sort of role over the course of a full season? (Harris will also spend more time at small forward due to the arrival of PJ Tucker.)

— Bontemps


Golden State Warriors | SG

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Poole should make a strong campaign for Sixth Man of the Year. The hope is that Poole’s role as the Warriors’ sixth man will be more consistent (barring injuries), and that in itself will set Poole up for more success. He has shown the ability to grow his game each year in the league, and there’s no reason that should stop with the experience of a title run under his belt.

— Andrews


No. 54: De’Aaron Fox

Sacramento Kings | PG

2021 NBArank: 34

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Fox took a step back last season, seeing his scoring, assists, steals and shooting averages dip. He hasn’t played in more than 59 games in three straight seasons. If he can stay healthy, Fox is still one of the fastest players in the league, and a new coaching staff could provide him with a jolt to return to averaging 25.2 points and 7.2 assists like he did two seasons ago.

— Youngmisuk


Memphis Grizzlies | PF

2021 NBArank: 71

One huge question for 2022-23: How much will the stress fracture in his right foot impact Jackson’s season? After he underwent surgery in late June, the Grizzlies announced a recovery timetable of four to six months, so he will miss at least some of the regular season. It’s an unfortunate development for a player who has had lengthy injury absences in three of his four NBA seasons.

— MacMahon


Cleveland Cavaliers | C

2021 NBArank: 61

One huge question for 2022-23: If Allen was able to put up career-best numbers of 16.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in his first taste of playing alongside Evan Mobley, how much can he spike that production now that the connection between him and his fellow big man has had a chance to marinate?

— McMenamin


Phoenix Suns | C

2021 NBArank: 35

One game to watch: Feb. 7 at Brooklyn, a game that could have been vastly different following Kevin Durant’s summer trade request. Had Durant gotten his wish, Ayton could have been a Net for this showdown of championship hopefuls. Instead, Ayton reupped with the Suns and can veto any trade that involves him for a year.

— McMenamin


Denver Nuggets | PG

2021 NBArank: NR

One game to watch: Oct. 19 at Utah. Denver’s season opener will be the first time Jamal Murray has played an NBA game in about a year and a half after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. As with any player returning from a significant injury, it’s nearly impossible that this game will give a complete and accurate assessment of Murray’s recovery, but it will give the first look at him after a long journey and what coach Michael Malone called a “mental hurdle” that he struggled to overcome toward the end of last season.

— Andrews


Phoenix Suns | SF

2021 NBArank: 66

Swing skill: Bridges was one of three Suns players, along with Jae Crowder and Chris Paul, to rank in the top 25 in defensive real plus-minus last season. Coach Monty Williams often credited the 6-foot-6 Bridges as the key to Phoenix’s defensive success due to his ability to crowd ball handlers while also disrupting as a help defender.

— McMenamin


Oklahoma City Thunder | PG

2021 NBArank: 36

One huge question for 2022-23: How will another long rebuilding season impact Gilgeous-Alexander’s rising star? The Thunder have won a total of 46 games the past two seasons, and with Chet Holmgren sidelined for his rookie season, the Thunder appear headed toward another lottery. SGA has averaged 45.5 games the past two seasons. Can he stay healthy? And how will another year of rebuilding impact his growth?

— Youngmisuk


No. 47: Domantas Sabonis

Sacramento Kings | PF

2021 NBArank: 40

One game to watch: Feb. 3 at Indiana. The Kings visited the Pacers about six weeks after Sabonis was traded to Sacramento last season, but the star big man sat out with a bruised left knee. He’ll have to wait until 2023 for his Hoosier homecoming, when the Tyrese Haliburton swap will surely be reassessed.

— McMenamin


No. 46: Darius Garland

Cleveland Cavaliers | PG

2021 NBArank: 84

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Garland showed he can carry the load without Collin Sexton last season, averaging a career-high 21.7 points and 8.6 assists. With Donovan Mitchell in the fold, Garland should see plenty of open shots and could crack 40% from 3 for the season for the first time. With plenty of mouths to feed, Garland should rack up plenty of double-doubles and perhaps flirt with close to 10 assists per game.

— Youngmisuk


No. 45: CJ McCollum

New Orleans Pelicans | SG

2021 NBArank: 30

One game to watch: Nov. 10 vs. Portland. McCollum actually played the Blazers twice during his 26-game stint with New Orleans last season, but this is set to be the first matchup he’ll have to go against Damian Lillard. McCollum spent the first eight-plus seasons of his NBA career alongside Lillard. This is their first chance to go at each other in a real game.

— Lopez


Philadelphia 76ers | PG

2021 NBArank: NR

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Maxey entered last season as a huge question mark for the 76ers, thrust into the starting point guard role after being a bit player as a rookie. He ended the season as a foundational piece. If he can continue to improve his passing skills and repeat his massive shooting jump (going from 30% to 41% from 3-point range) in his third NBA season, he could leap even higher on this list.

— Bontemps


Golden State Warriors | PF

2021 NBArank: 37

Swing skill: Defense. It’s not at all shocking that Green will be the key to the Warriors’ defense. Before his back injury last season, Green was putting up a convincing Defensive Player of the Year campaign, and the Warriors need that from him again all season long. When he was on the court, Golden State had a 104.2 defensive rating — that number jumped to 112.0 when he was on the bench.

— Andrews


No. 42: Dejounte Murray

Atlanta Hawks | SG

2021 NBArank: 83

New face in a new place: Atlanta paid a pretty price to get Murray from San Antonio; now it’s time to see if he’s worth it. There are plenty of reasons to believe he will be, as Murray averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game last season. When Trae Young sits, Murray can run the show. When they share the court, he’ll still show how effective he can be.

— Lopez


Charlotte Hornets | PG

2021 NBArank: 47

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: At 21, Ball is poised to make the leap in his basketball progression this season. He has shown improvement in each of his first two years and will be counted on even more as coach Steve Clifford takes the reins again in Charlotte. Ball is a terrific passer and averaged 20.1 points, 7.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds in 75 games last season. And he has plenty of confidence to back up the growth in his game.

— Friedell


New Orleans Pelicans | PF

2021 NBArank: 23

One huge question for 2022-23: Health. It’s been over 500 days since we’ve seen Williamson play a competitive basketball game. He has made many efforts to improve his body since we last saw him, hiring a personal trainer and chef to help get him ready. Last time we saw him, Williamson averaged 27 points on 61.1% shooting. If he stays healthy, Williamson could easily be a top-20 player.

— Lopez


Toronto Raptors | SF

2021 NBArank: NR

One game to watch: Oct. 21 at Brooklyn. The Raptors might have been able to land Kevin Durant had they been willing to put last season’s Rookie of the Year in a trade package but elected not to, which tells you everything you need to know about what they think about his future. No other rookie played as big a role for a playoff team as Barnes did last season. Toronto doesn’t have to wait long to showcase its next star against the Nets.

— Givony


Toronto Raptors | PG

2021 NBArank: 56

One huge question for 2022-23: Are heavy minutes taking their toll? VanVleet’s 37.9 MPG put him a hair behind teammate Pascal Siakam for most in the NBA in 2021-22, and he has averaged more than 35 MPG each of the past three seasons. Over the second half, VanVleet missed 10 games due to either knee soreness or injury management.

— Pelton


Golden State Warriors | SG

2021 NBArank: 32

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: For the first time in three years, Thompson has a full summer of rest and recovery — not rehab — under his belt and will be eligible to play an entire season. This alone should set up Thompson for a more consistent season that could vault him back into the group of elite two-way players.

— Andrews


No. 36: Evan Mobley

Cleveland Cavaliers | C

2021 NBArank: NR

One huge question for 2022-23: What’s next after a standout debut? Mobley was already one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA as a rookie and should continue to blossom as his frame and ability to handle physicality evolves. The arrival of Donovan Mitchell and Mobley’s improvement should give Cleveland legit aspirations for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

— Givony


Detroit Pistons | PG

2021 NBArank: 76

Swing skill: Cunningham is a Swiss Army knife, capable of sliding between any of the backcourt positions at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan. He’s highly switchable and versatile defensively and able to play on or off the ball with his ability to handle, pass and shoot. The soon-to-be 21-year-old should make a jump in his sophomore season, especially from beyond the arc after shooting 31.4% as a rookie.

– Givony


Boston Celtics | PG

2021 NBArank: 49

Swing skill: Smart didn’t become the first guard to win Defensive Player of the Year since Gary Payton in 1996 by mistake. Smart has long been considered one of the best defensive guards in the NBA, and he was a huge part of Boston’s league-leading defense, including when it was a staggering 4.6 points per 100 possessions better than the rest of the NBA over the final two-and-a-half months of the regular season.

— Bontemps


No. 33: Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn Nets | PG

2021 NBArank: 20

One huge question for 2022-23: Will he be a fully committed member of the team? Irving is one of the most dynamic offensive guards the league has ever seen — but his ability to be a fully invested member of the team he is playing for continues to be in question. After missing most of last season for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine and missing parts of the 2020-21 season for various non-basketball reasons, Irving has to prove he can play at a high level night after night on the court and not be a distraction off it.

— Friedell


Golden State Warriors | SF

2021 NBArank: 77

One huge question for 2022-23: Can he follow up his breakthrough All-Star season? Wiggins had such a good start to last season that he earned his first All-Star selection, and as a starter no less. This season won’t necessarily be about making the All-Star team again, but rather how he will ensure he maintains that level of play for an entire season as the Warriors chase a repeat title.

— Andrews


Milwaukee Bucks | SF

2021 NBArank: 19

One game to watch: Christmas Day at Celtics. The Bucks will visit Boston for the first time since their season ended in Game 7 in the East semifinals last season. Milwaukee believes the result would have gone the other way if Middleton hadn’t suffered an MCL sprain during the opening round.

— Collier


No. 30: Pascal Siakam

Toronto Raptors | PF

2021 NBArank: 38

Swing skill: 3-point shooting. After making just 30% of his 3s during a frustrating 2020-21 campaign, Siakam bounced back to 34% last season, making the All-NBA third team for the second time in three years. Siakam reduced his dependence on the 3, attempting just 3.2 per game — his lowest mark since 2018-19.

— Pelton


New Orleans Pelicans | SF

2021 NBArank: 26

Swing skill: Ingram has become a true three-level scorer. His midrange game is one of the best in the league. He ranked third in midrange field goals per game last season, trailing only DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Durant. His 3-point percentage took a step back in 2021-22 (32.7% on 4.1 attempts per game) after taking a leap there over the two previous seasons (38.6% on 6.2 attempts per game), but his midrange makes help compensate for the drop.

— Lopez


No. 28: DeMar DeRozan

Chicago Bulls | SF

2021 NBArank: 45

Swing skill: En route to a career-high 27.9 points per game last season, DeRozan proved to be a true master of the midrange, becoming more efficient than ever from his favorite spots. He led the NBA in both midrange field goal makes (4.6) and attempts (9.8) while shooting 47% on those shots.

— Collier


Chicago Bulls | SG

2021 NBArank: 33

One huge question for 2022-23: How is LaVine’s left knee? After experiencing discomfort before the All-Star break, LaVine underwent nonsurgical treatment. Although still equally effective, LaVine missed 13 of the season’s final 43 games, then had arthroscopic knee surgery in May. If healthy, LaVine could be in line for a third consecutive All-Star appearance.

— Pelton


No. 26: Jrue Holiday

Milwaukee Bucks | PG

2021 NBArank: 22

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Holiday continues to be one of the most disruptive perimeter defenders in the league, and he also had a career-best 3-point shooting season (41% on about five attempts per game). When asked to shoot more frequently in the playoffs, his efficiency suffered, but if Holiday can overcome his offensive struggles in the playoffs, he could climb on this list.

— Collier

Next on NBArank 2022: Nos. 25-11 (coming Wednesday) | Nos. 10-6 (coming Thursday) | Nos. 5-1 (coming Friday).



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