Weekly Hodgepodge: The Top 30 NBA Players for 2022-2023
Plus, the handsomest NBA coaches
Screen Capture Of The Week
I was watching the Pistons-Thunder preseason game when this popped up:
Apparently, some website used an algorithm to decide which NBA head coaches were the handsomest, and it deemed JB Bickerstaff the most beautiful. Congratulations to JB, and a special congrats to new/old Hornets coach Steve Clifford, whose selection as second-most-handsome was, uh, a surprise.
Thought Of The Week
Rankings are silly, subjective exercises, yet we are drawn to them. Making sense of chaos, providing order to the abstract, is a natural human tendency, rendered all the more thrilling through its inherent impossibility.
In other words: it’s just freaking fun. Here is my official list of the top 30 players in the NBA on the cusp of the 2022-2023 season. My guiding principle: if the league started from scratch and the GMs drafted players one at a time FOR THIS SEASON ONLY, who would they take? So I’m not worried about future trajectories or contracts, and I don’t weigh injury history particularly heavily (although it is a factor). I believe in past regular-season performances as an accurate indicator of ability, but players who outperform in the playoffs get a boost, too.
Obviously, I created this list to attack YOUR favorite player, so let me know in the comments who I got wrong and how I personally offended you. Sorry in advance to Joel Embiid stans.
30. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Zach is a true three-level scorer, a bastion of consistency, and still one of the best dunkers in the game. He’s a superior offensive player with strong efficiency metrics, and he’d be higher if he could up his defensive game even a tiny bit. Hopefully, his knee is okay.
29. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Being the premier perimeter scorer on a title-winning team is an impressive accomplishment, and he’s a solid all-around player with few holes in his game.
28. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
Wiggly driver with the size and instincts to develop on defense. I’m dying to see him play real games that matter, but alas, we’ll have to wait at least one more year.
27. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
I’m as high on Edwards as anyone… or so I thought until ESPNRank had him 25th! He still needs to clean up his shot selection, but his defense improved dramatically last season, and he has more ability than anyone else on here to skyrocket up the rankings next year.
26. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers
A top-15 offensive player who could flourish in a new environment. Has the physical tools to be a reasonable defender, but he hasn’t shown much on that end yet.
25. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
A legitimate down-ballot MVP candidate last year, DeRozan is treated unjustly here. He’s a much-improved passer and a deadly midrange assassin. I can’t quite shake the idea he overperformed his talent a bit last year thanks to clutch shooting that might revert to the mean. I feel wrong about this.
24. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
Talent-wise, Kyrie should be much higher. But he’s proven time and again to be a locker-room cancer, and he’s as much of an injury risk as anyone here.
23. Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Fantastic wing defender and shooter (despite a down year) who needs a little more playmaking to crack the top tiers.
22. Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
I love Jrue, and to be honest, I thought I’d end up with him higher on this list. One of the absolute best guard defenders in the league, with the tenacity to guard bigger wings. Underrated perimeter shooter with occasionally, uh, exciting decision-making.
21. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
Still a pick-and-roll maestro, but he lacks the burst that made him an all-time scorer. Perhaps a healed hamstring will let him bounce back, but I think Houston Harden is dead and gone; instead, we have an elite pass-first point guard.