Here at HoopSocial, we thought it would be a fun exercise to rank the top 30 NBA players.
After some screaming, throwing of heavy objects, and curling up in a ball crying because nobody loves Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, I finally stepped away from the mirror to consult with my colleagues and compile our official list.
Without further ado, here are HoopSocial’s Top 30 NBA Players for the 2022-23 season.
30. Khris Middleton
The Bucks’ closer is an efficient three-level scorer who also plays solid defense. Despite some early chemistry issues with Giannis, they have become a perfect fit. Khris’ absence may have been the only thing holding the Bucks back from repeating as champions.
28 (tie): Rudy Gobert/Kyrie Irving
It’s hard to think of two players more unalike than Rudy and Kyrie (except in their shared disdain for community health during a pandemic). One is a spidery, haunting presence who may go down as a top-three defender of all time, while the other is smooth as flowing water, skipping around the court with the ball on a string. The Wolves hope Gobert can be even better than this ranking, while the Nets would be grateful if Kyrie plays at all.
27. Donovan Mitchell
All of the discourse around Mitchell’s atrocious defense is justifiable, but it may overshadow a player with top-10 offensive talent. We’re not far removed from Mitchell trading 50-point games with Jamal Murray in an epic playoff battle. His impact is expected to be felt after his recent move to Cleveland, which had their fans rushing to use their Ohio sports betting promos to bet on the Cavs to make a run.
26. Zach LaVine
One of the most divisive players on this list, LaVine is one of the premier scorers in the league. He’s deadly from all three levels, with a fantastic combination of length, athleticism, and skill. LaVine’s even improved (slightly) on the defensive end.
25. Brandon Ingram
Still just 24 years old, Ingram finally had a chance to shine in the playoff last season. Against a heavily favored Phoenix Suns squad that had decimated the league in the regular season, Ingram went off for 27 points, six rebounds, and six assists per game on 41% shooting from downtown. We’re excited to see how he can partner with Zion this coming year.
23 (tie): Pascal Siakam / James Harden
Siakam is one of the more underrated players in the league, as he’s now become a two-time All-NBA player (despite just one All-Star appearance) – an achievement that few non-superstars have ever achieved. He continues to improve offensively while remaining a terror in transition and a lockdown defender. Harden had a down year by his standards, and he will look to climb back up the ranking with a strong bounce-back season. He’s still a pick-and-roll artist, and he’s finally found an equal partner in Joel Embiid.
22. Jaylen Brown
Arguably Boston’s best player in the 2022 NBA Finals, Jaylen Brown is the ultimate second option – adept at creating his own shot, shooting off the catch, and guarding the other team’s best perimeter threat. Brown, at just 25 years old, still has plenty of room to improve further.
21. Zion Williamson
We’ve only seen one full-ish season from Zion, but what a year it was. He showcased his insanely efficient scoring abilities and flashed advanced handles and playmaking chops. His return in 2022-2023 will be one of the league’s biggest storylines.
20. Karl Anthony-Towns
As he claims, KAT may be the best shooting big man of all time. He can do it off the dribble, put someone into an early grave in the post, or hit a catch-and-shoot three. Now paired with Rudy Gobert, KAT is out to prove that size is back in style.
19. Chris Paul
While age is finally catching up to Paul’s counting stats, his ability to consistently deliver in the clutch was proven time and again throughout the regular season. An inability to stay healthy in the playoffs continues to vex the Point God, but we still think he’s one of the preeminent captains in the league.
18. DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan returned to the All-Star game last year for the first time since he left Toronto back in 2018. Despite turning 32 during the season, DeRozan had the best scoring year of his entire career with 27.9 points per game on 35% shooting from three, highlighted by back-to-back game-winners around the New Year.
17. Bam Adebayo
The Swiss Army Knife big man is the best switch defender in the game, as comfortable harassing Joel Embiid as locking down Trae Young. He’s shown a tantalizing offensive game, and we’d love to see him develop more aggression on offense to match his bulldog defense.
16. Anthony Davis
A down year and injuries have made people forget what a dominant two-way force Davis has become. When healthy, he’s one of the most impactful defenders in the league and a matchup nightmare on offense. This ranking is a little bit on faith that we’re going to see a bounce-back year for the Laker, who still hasn’t hit his fourth decade.
15. Damian Lillard
Like Davis, Lillard had a slow start and was injured for most of the 2021-2022 season. But with a new contract to keep him in Portland for the foreseeable future and an entire offseason to rest, Lillard is bound to come out blazing as the clock strikes “Lillard Time” once again.
14. Trae Young
Trae Young is often called the Rudy Gobert of offense: just having him guarantees competency for your team on that half of the court. A disappointing playoff performance against a brutal Heat defense shouldn’t overshadow a superb campaign that saw Young garner his first All-NBA team.
13. Devin Booker
Booker posted the best scoring year (26.8 ppg) and tied for the best long-ball percentage (38.3%) of his career for a team that had one of the best regular seasons in a decade. Like Young, a sour end to the playoffs should motivate the young gunner to get even better.
12. Paul George
A healthy Paul George has no weaknesses in his game. He can shoot (man, can he shoot), pass, rebound, and defend at high levels. He’s a shapeshifting chameleon, able to mold his game into the perfect complement to whomever he’s playing next to. We haven’t seen PG and Kawhi together much, but the Clippers enter next year as a paper favorite, and George is a massive reason why.
11. Ja Morant
The 22-year-old continues to amaze. No player (outside of perhaps Jokic) is as enjoyable to watch on a nightly basis as Morant defies physics to bring thunder down on hapless defenders. Despite being 6’3” and approximately the weight of my grandmother’s Pomeranian, Morant led the league in points in the paint. His infectious enthusiasm makes him a joy to watch, and he’s already knocking on the door of the top 10 entering his fourth season.
10. Kawhi Leonard
Like Zion, it’s been a while since we’ve seen what the Klaw can do. But at his peak, he was the Basketball Terminator – the best perimeter defender in the league with an uncanny ability to dribble to his spots and rise up for unstoppable midrange jumpers. Kawhi’s unique two-way mix and ability to create his own shot makes him a top-10 player even as he starts to show some signs of age.
9. Jimmy Butler
Butler’s stock continues to rise with one scintillating playoff performance after another. Content to take a backseat in the regular season, Butler turns it on when it matters most. It’s not always pretty, but Butler’s ability to muscle through opponents to the hoop for layups (or free throws) and still find cutting teammates is machine-like.
8. Jayson Tatum
One of the biggest risers on this list, Tatum proved last season that his best is as good as anyone’s. He dominated Kevin Durant in a head-to-head battle that woke many up to Tatum’s talent, and he carried the Celtics to within two wins of a championship. Entering his sixth year, Tatum is on a quest to prove that he’s Next.
7. LeBron James
The King will turn 38 this season, and he’s still a consensus top-10 player in the league. Marvel at him, folks, while he’s still here (although he shows no signs of leaving soon). LeBron continues to be a stats machine and needs just 1,325 points to pass Kareem for #1 on the all-time regular season scoring list. He’s only failed to hit that mark once in his career, when he missed half a season in 2020-2021.
6. Joel Embiid
The big man finished runner-up in the MVP race for a second time last season. His continued improvement on the offensive end always impresses. Embiid’s surrounded by arguably the best-fitting roster he’s ever had, and a deep playoff run would go a long way towards quieting his few remaining critics.
5. Steph Curry
I’ll be honest – I think this ranking criminally underrates the reigning Finals MVP. He’s completely changed how the game is played and even talked about – how often did you hear about “gravity” in basketball conversations before Curry came around? With a Finals MVP and having surmounted the throne yet again, Curry has no more blemishes on one of the best careers of all time. With a game that should age well, the only question left is how high he’ll climb.
4. Kevin Durant
The Slim Reaper has demanded a trade again, and the entire league waits to see where he goes. Whichever team he suits up for in 2022-2023 becomes an instant contender. Arguably the best offensive player of all time, there’s no place where Durant can’t slot in. He’s shown some health issues as he ages, but his on-court production remains as pristine as ever.
3. Luka Doncic
Luka finally had a playoff run, knocking off the favored Suns amidst a barrage of pinpoint-accurate passes and deep bombs. He’s known for his incredible passing, but underrated strength and a deadly step-back make him the most challenging cover in the league. Dallas as a team had a tumultuous offseason, but there’s no doubt that the future is bright when you have a young superduperstar like Doncic.
2. Nikola Jokic
A newborn baby, opening its eyes for the first time. A double rainbow. A Renaissance-era masterpiece. A Jokic pass to an utterly covered cutter for the world’s unlikeliest layup. These are things that provide equal measures of joy to those fortunate enough to witness them. The two-time MVP is an unstoppable offensive engine who showed drastic improvement on defense last season. After curbing his infantile temper issues following a scuffle with Markieff Morris, Jokic has become the unquestioned most aesthetically pleasing player in the game.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Eight writers and podcasters were surveyed for this poll. Eight people put Giannis in the number-one spot. He’s unafraid to fail but determined not to, relentless in a way we haven’t seen in a long time, and easily the most likable superstar in the league today. Despite being a two-time MVP, Giannis may have had the best season of his career last season, when he averaged career highs in points (29.9) and free throws attempted (11.4) while stifling opposing offenses as a help-side terror.
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to basketballpoetry.com to have articles like this delivered directly to your mailbox every Tuesday and Friday! Also, please follow me on Twitter @bballispoetry. Thanks!