Counting Down The Top 100 NBA Players For The 2018-19 Season

100. Dirk Nowitzki

The 40-year-old is at the very end of his illustrious career. While he struggles to move up and down the court, Nowitzki can still rain threes with the best of them. There may be others better than Nowitzki at this point. However, the longevity and success of his time in the NBA garners him a spot within the top-100.

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99. Luka Dončić

We’re projecting Dončić to be pretty good as a first-year NBA player. He certainly isn’t going to be overwhelmed by the level of play. Dončić has been a professional in Europe for multiple seasons. His skill level — coupled with his mental acuity on the court — should allow for him to make an impact from the jump for Dallas.

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98. Andre Iguodala

Iguodala remains as one of the league’s best glue guys. He’s also immensely integral to the success of Golden State. Iguodala will often defend the opposition’s best player during crunch time. ‘Iggy’ can be a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and can also spot up from behind the arc. In essence, he’s the ultimate winning basketball player.

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97. Darren Collison

After beginning his career as a backup point guard, Collison has developed into a serviceable NBA starter. The former UCLA star utilizes quickness and agility to get past defenders en route to the basket. He also is a very capable perimeter shooter. As he proved with the Pacers, Collison can surely offer productivity when called upon.

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96. Tyreke Evans

In need of a bucket? Call on Evans. The Pennsylvania native can score in a myriad of ways — whether that means driving the lane or pulling up with a silky jumper. Evans’ powerful frame makes him a bear to defend against. He’s the quintessential asset for any team in need of a score-first sixth man.

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95. Trevor Ariza

Despite being 33 years of age, Ariza is still a very well-respected player in today’s NBA. Ariza does all of the little things on the court — whether that means getting deflections in passing lanes, hitting timely threes, or diving to secure a loose ball. He’ll be terrific for the young Suns as a veteran mentor.

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94. Andrew Wiggins

Wiggins may seem low. However, his ranking is in direct correlation with his actual production versus expected production. He’s got all the tools in the world. Yet, Wiggins looks disinterested on the court half the time. He could be an elite wing defender — though that’s not been the case since entering the league. At this point, Wiggins appears to be a guy with empty stats and unfulfilled promise.

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93. Jusuf Nurkić

In a league where big men are becoming obsolete, Nurkić is one of the only remaining ones still left. He’s good for a double-double on a nightly basis. Nurkić can bang down low, and often carves out space for rebounding with his wide frame. With that said, his lack of lateral quickness makes him a real liability on the defensive end of the floor. Nurkić was often played off the floor due to his defensive inadequacies.

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92. Serge Ibaka

Ibaka is an average starter in today’s NBA. He never quite lived up to the lofty potential he once had. We know he’s not a No. 1 or No. 2 option (might not even be a No. 3). He’ll still flash shot-blocking ability, as well as the occasional 20-10 game. With that said, Ibaka is still woefully inconsistent as a player.

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91. Terry Rozier

‘Scary Terry’ popped during last season’s playoff run sans Kyrie Irving. The diminutive guard proved to be a ferocious competitor on both ends of the floor. He has roadrunner-like quickness, and can be a real irritant when pressing opposing guards. When given the keys to lead a team (whether in Boston or somewhere else), we may see a player ready to make a careening leap up this list numerically speaking.

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90. Malcolm Brogdon

While not flashy, Brogdon is the solidifying force all NBA teams would love to have. The former Virginia star plays with a maturity not seen in many young players. Brodgdon is smart, savvy, and reads the game exceptionally well from the lead guard spot. When pressed into a scoring role, he’s even proven to be an efficient threat. In essence, Brodgon is the perfect complement to a core of superstars.

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89. J.J. Redick

Redick still remains as one of the league’s best perimeter shooters. The former Duke Blue Devil is excellent at weaving his way through a myriad of screens before popping open with a lightning-quick release. Defensively, he’s not the black hole many portray him to be. Redick is more than capable if for anything else due to his effort on that end of the floor.

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88. Nikola Mirotić

Mirotić is a sneaky-good basketball player. Many want to pick his game apart — focusing primarily on his shortcomings as an athlete. Instead, we’ll speak about Mirotić’s ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor. He’s also decent at creating his own shot off the bounce. When paired with a dominant big man (Anthony Davis), Mirotić is highly productive.

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87. Dwight Howard

Despite changing teams on a near annual basis, Dwight Howard still holds some value around the league. He can rebound at an above-average clip for a player at his position. Duly, Howard can still somewhat protect the rim. His offensive game is primarily restricted to dunks and layups. Howard won’t be a focal point offensively anymore — though this might be a good thing considering his perpetual lack of skill in the painted area.

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86. Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdanovic is a highly underrated player. Though toiling away in the abyss that is Sacramento, Bogdanovic is multi-faceted in his game. He can post smaller players up, take bigger players off the bounce, and can also launch threes with nice effectiveness (39.2 percent). If he were on a better team, Bogdanovic would be more of a household name across the league.

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85. Dennis Smith Jr.

The explosive guard out of North Carolina State has those in Dallas abuzz with excitement. Smith Jr. ferociously attacks the rim as if it offended him in some fashion. As he continues to garner more experience, his feel for the game should improve. With a reliable jumper and a clean bill of health, Smith Jr. could turn into a Steve Francis-like talent. In other words, he’d be a very good player.

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84. Thaddeus Young

In the era of position-less basketball, Young fits right in. He can function adequately well as both a small forward and as a power forward. Truthfully, Young became one of Indiana’s most important players as it made a push towards the playoffs. He can manufacture offense when called upon. Duly, Young can hit the glass hard on either end of the floor.

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83. John Collins

Collins might be the best basketball player the casual fan has no idea about. A second-year player out of Wake Forest, Collins is already Atlanta’s best player. He has the overall skill-set to develop into a 20-10 guy sooner than later. Though his rebounding prowess/post game is quite impressive, Collins is versatile enough to also stretch the floor from the perimeter. He’s easily the most talented building block on the current Atlanta roster.

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82. T.J. Warren

T.J. Warren is a jumbo wing with elite scoring ability. It might be accurate to call Warren a ‘chucker’ — though he certainly can be potent when given the opportunity to operate in isolation situations. After averaging 19.6 PPG in 2017-18, the 25-year-old should be in line for yet another boost. The addition of DeAndre Ayton may give Warren more space to create for himself.

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81. Taurean Prince

Taurean Prince is far from a finished product. His shot is a work in process — as is his overall offensive game. With that said, he’s got the ability to be a lockdown wing defender. There are very few of these types of players currently competing in the NBA. He’s got above-average size for the position, and is truly a dynamic athlete. Assuming Prince improves upon his three-point percentage from last year (38.5 percent), we could be looking at one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league.

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80. Dejounte Murray

The spider-like guard out of Washington has many traits one would look for in a lead guard. For one, Murray is equipped with elite length. He’s also been blessed with terrific agility. Both aid in making him a very good defender. Secondly, Murray lets the game come to him. He doesn’t force anything. By playing in control, he’s been able to start chipping into his immense upside. As his offensive game continues to evolve, we could be one day looking at Murray as an all-league guard.

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79. Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball is a highly polarizing player. The theatrics of his dad certainly don’t help his perception around the league. However, advanced stats indicate a very productive player. Ball’s shot certainly must improve — along with his willingness to attack the paint. The arrival of LeBron James will help ease the pressure on Ball. He should be able to play even better as a result.

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78. Zach LaVine

From a talent standpoint, LaVine should be higher up the list. He’s a freak athlete, and has range beyond 25 feet. However, LaVine has been beset by inconsistency issues as well as a knee injury. It will be interesting to see how he responds with a much younger core in Chicago. LaVine will be counted upon to be a stabilizing force on the perimeter for the baby Bulls.

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77. Ricky Rubio

Starting NBA point guards normally have range extending beyond the three-point line. Rubio’s range may exist within 10 feet. Though he can’t really shoot, he impacts the game greatly in other facets. Rubio is the straw that stirs the drink for Utah. He is in charge of managing the pace and tempo. Additionally, Rubio has court vision very few in the league possess. He can also change a game with his defensive abilities. Simply put, Rubio is an above-average option at the point guard position.

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76. Reggie Jackson

Jackson remains as a talented player. Enigmatic for sure, Jackson has his group of loyalists. They hope he can eventually develop into a very good player. The jury is still out on that claim — though a healthy/motivated Jackson can be above-average. It will be fascinating to see how he’ll play with a full season featuring Blake Griffin.

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75. Jonas Valančiūnas

Valančiūnas has moments in which he looks like a force in the paint. Other times, he lumbers up and down the floor like an elderly person with back problems. Valančiūnas’ ceiling is capped based upon his inconsistent statistical outputs. He’s still the best big man on the Toronto Raptors’ roster. However, Valančiūnas is still limited all the same.

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74. Hassan Whiteside

Once a rising star in the league, Whiteside has fallen off considerably. The emergence of Bam Adebayo has cut into Whiteside’s minutes. In addition, a somewhat tenuous relationship between Whiteside and the coaching staff has the former Marshall product sitting during crunch time. As he approaches his 29th birthday, Whiteside could find himself on another team sooner than later.

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73. Evan Fournier

Fournier’s respective placement on this list is hindered by the lack of team success. He’s a player with the ability to get his own shot. Duly, Fournier is more athletic than given credit for. The French international has seen his scoring numbers increase every year since entering the NBA. As he approaches his 26th birthday, averaging 20 PPG is certainly feasible.

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72. Eric Bledsoe

While constantly bitten by the injury bug, one must respect Bledsoe’s ability to score the basketball. He’s averaged at least 17.0 PPG in each of the last five seasons — including a career high 21.1 in 2016-17. His field-goal percentage is also surprisingly good (44.9 percent) for a shoot-first guard. As Bledsoe hits the latter stages of his prime, one must wonder whether he can continue to be a starting guard in this league. He could be headed towards becoming a bench guy.

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71. Enes Kanter

Kanter’s time on the floor is limited by the fact that he struggles to move his feet. He’s also a horrifically bad shot blocker for a man roughly 7-feet tall (0.5 BPG throughout his career). However, Kanter can score/rebound the basketball quite well. For his career, Kanter’s per 36 would look like this: 19.2 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 53.9 percent from the field. He’s still a highly productive player when given the opportunity to play.

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70. Dario Šarić

The 6-foot-10 forward out of Croatia is the true epitome of versatility. He can guard either forward spot defensively. Though not exceptionally athletic, Šarić is both feisty and hard-nosed. He’s worked hard to become a respectable shooter from three-point range. Assuming he continues to develop at his current rate, Šarić has a real chance to become a lead player alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

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69. DeAndre Ayton

We’re projecting Ayton to be very good from the jump. The Arizona product is a plus athlete. He’s also highly skilled for a player of his age. Ayton has a plethora of very impressive post moves from which to pull from. At 7-foot-1, he can even shoot threes. Ayton should instantly be a double-double guy as a rookie. Don’t be surprised if he comes away with Rookie of the Year honors.

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68. Nikola Vučević

Vučević is part of the dying breed. Traditional back-to-the-basket centers don’t really exist much anymore. He’s a very skilled player in the paint, and has demonstrated consistently that he can be an above-average rebounder. Vučević needs to go to a better team in order to fully maximize his potential. He’s been languishing on a poor team for his entire career.

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67. Jeff Teague

Teague may be a lukewarm option in your fantasy league. But as an actual player, Teague can play. He’s not overly dynamic, and he won’t win you a ton of games. However, Teague has consistently put up roughly 15 PPG and 7 APG dating back to the 2011-12 season. He’s a consistent — if not unspectacular NBA-level starting point guard.

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66. Kyle Kuzma

As a rookie last season, Kuzma demonstrated a real proclivity for creating his own shot. The Utah product became one of the better isolating one-on-one scorers in the league based upon advanced metrics. Kuzma is unorthodox with his running one-handed push shots. It helps in keeping defenders off-balance. There’s a real chance Kuzma could average close to 20 PPG off the bench this upcoming season.

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65. Eric Gordon

Gordon has transitioned nicely from often-injured starter to arguably the best sixth man in the NBA. Built low to the ground like a jacked running back, Gordon’s powerful frame is quite a handful to deal with — particularly when he’s driving the lane. Gordon’s three-point prowess makes him a threat each time he’s camped around the perimeter. Duly, his strong frame helps when tasked with defending bigger players.

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64. Robert Covington

‘RoCo’ is a premier two-way player in today’s NBA. His value is immense considering the amount of high-level wings floating around the league. Covington has the defensive chops to guard nearly every single position on the floor (sans for a legitimate center). This sort of versatility makes him invaluable to Philadelphia and its drive for postseason success. Covington will only get better as his shooting continues to become more consistent.

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63. Will Barton

Will ‘The Thrill’ Barton is in an interesting spot. After starring as a sixth man, it appears as if Barton will now start for Denver alongside the likes of Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris Jr., and Nikola Jokić. Barton’s ability to score points in bunches will be something to watch for this year. He should be in line for an even bigger uptick in minutes played when compared to the rest of his career.

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62. Dennis Schröder

Even though Schröder now finds himself as a backup to Russell Westbrook, the dynamic guard can still be very dangerous on the court. Schröder has an uncanny way of getting to the rim anytime he wants. Duly, the German international can push the tempo quite well. It’s an aspect Thunder fans should be excited about. When the second unit is bogged down in search of offense, OKC will now look to Schröder as the fulcrum for offensive productivity.

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61. Josh Richardson

Richardson has come out of nowhere to arguably become Miami’s most indispensable player. A dogged defender, Richardson offers supreme effort on that end of the floor. He can defend both guard spots in addition to high-level wings. Offensively, Richardson has proven to be a dependable three-point shooter. The box score numbers won’t always tell the whole story as to how significant of an impact he may have had on a game.

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60. Julius Randle

The burly forward out of Kentucky resembles a freight train when pushing the ball in transition. Randle is good for committing at least two charges a game — but his relentlessness and non-stop motor also make him a terrific rebounder. The 6-foot-9 forward is now afforded the ability to play alongside the premier big man in the game (Anthony Davis). This should allow for Randle to not only get more open looks, but also flash his underrated ability as a passer.

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59. Harrison Barnes

At 26 years of age, Barnes is just about to enter his prime. Dallas is looking at Barnes as the focal point for the offense. After averaging 19.0 PPG in two-straight seasons, these numbers should only go up. The addition of Dončić should help Barnes’ efficiency as a scorer. Should he make strides on the defensive end, there’s no reason to think Barnes can’t be a premier two-way wing in today’s NBA.

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58. Jamal Murray

Call it a hunch, but we believe the 2018-19 season will be a breakout year for the Canadian point guard. Murray is entering his third year in the league. Without question, the team has been turned over to him. As someone willing to both orchestrate and play-make, Murray will be a tough cover this season. He can score both in the paint and from the perimeter. Expect Murray’s assist totals (2.7 for his career) to increase considerably this year.

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57. Joe Ingles

Ingles does the yeoman’s work better than any player in the league. Completely selfless, the Australian athlete is the ultimate team player. Ingles’ toughness can be a real deterrent for opposing wings. He’s got very good length, as well as a real understanding of how the game is played. Offensively, Ingles connected on an eye-popping 44 percent of his threes a season ago. If one could craft the perfect Utah Jazz player in a lab, Ingles would be it.

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56. Jaylen Brown

Brown’s numbers could take a tumble in 2018. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the fold, Brown likely will operate more as a 3-and-D player. He’s an absolutely fantastic athlete. Brown offers tremendous energy on the defensive end — an aspect surely appreciated by Brad Stevens. The former Cal Golden Bear could end up being the X-Factor this season in Boston’s search for yet another NBA title.

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55. Brandon Ingram

Like the aforementioned Jamal Murray, Ingram should take a large leap this season. There were moments in which he resembled the makings of a legitimate NBA star. Very few players possess Ingram’s exceptionally long frame. He became more confident play-making as last season wore on. This in turn helped with Ingram’s overall aggressiveness. The addition of LeBron — coupled with the expected development of Ball, Kuzma, and Josh Hart — should make Ingram’s life much easier.

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54. Otto Porter Jr.

Porter Jr. is an underrated commodity. He won’t hunt for his own shot, nor will he play outside of his comfort zone. Porter Jr. is the perfect player to spread the floor whilst also playing demonic wing defense. For his career, the Missouri native has shot 40.4 percent from three. With Bradley Beal and John Wall still in D.C., Porter Jr. will continue to receive open looks.

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53. Lou Williams

Williams is a pro’s pro in the best sense of the term. Everywhere Williams has gone, he’s been able to put up points in rather easy fashion. This past year with the Clippers, Williams went on a tear that nearly nabbed him an All-Star spot. As long as he can keep moving on the floor, expect Williams to pile up the points.

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52. Myles Turner

Turner had a bit of a disappointing year in 2018. With Domantas Sabonis proving to be a very good player, Turner must reestablish himself as one of the up-and-coming big men in the league. Turner has far too much talent and skill to be a merely average player. This upcoming season will be quite significant in terms of his longterm trajectory. Turner has the ability to be an annual All-Star — though he easily could fall into the ‘mediocre’ category.

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51. Goran Dragic

Dragic continues to be a productive lead guard. He plays the game with a bit of an unorthodox style. Being left-handed, Dragic is both crafty and tricky when dribbling the basketball. He can evade defenders with deft movements. All the while, Dragic is as competitive as they come from the point guard spot. As he continues to age, his game stays highly productive.

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50. Paul Millsap

Millsap has built his career upon being an underdog. Undersized and not possessing ideal size for the power forward position, Millsap hasn’t let anything be a deterrent to his game. Assuming he stays fully healthy this year, the Louisiana native should have a monster season alongside Nikola Jokić. For the first time in his career, Millsap won’t be the focal point of the opposing defense. He should benefit statistically as a result.

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49. Tobias Harris

Harris is perfect for today’s NBA. He can function quite effectively at either forward spot. With his frame, Harris is adept at punishing smaller defenders on the box. He’s also equipped with enough ball-handling skills to be a threat when taking players off the dribble. At only 26 years of age, Harris is just about ready to hit his prime. He should be a very important player for the Clippers going forward.

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48. Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen acquitted himself quite well as a first-year player. The Finnish international rebounded much better than people were projecting. We knew Markkanen had the requisite touch around the basket and from the perimeter. However, many were pleasantly surprised by his toughness in the paint. Markkanen appears to be a real player for the Chicago Bulls to build around for the future.

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47. DeAndre Jordan

Jordan is who he is. He’s not a player you can dump the ball into for a bucket. Jordan also resembles a brick layer when attempting to sink free throws. With all of that said, he’s still a premier rebounder/rim protector. There’s value in possessing an athletic big man with the ability to rim run. Jordan will be the beneficiary of Dončić’s passing prowess.

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46. Steven Adams

Adams is a goon in the best sense of the term. His sharp elbows, strong frame, and exceptionally long arms make him a perfect enforcer within the paint. Adams has developed a bit of a post game. He surprisingly has nice touch when given the opportunity to unleash a baby hook. However, aside from offensive rebounds, virtually all of Adams’ value comes on the defensive end of the floor.

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45. Gary Harris

At only 24 years of age, Harris has quite the future. The Michigan State product has improved every single year since entering the NBA in 2014. Harris is already one of the better defensive guards in the league. Offensively, he averaged 41 percent from three over the last two seasons. Harris also has demonstrated the ability to slash towards the rim with good effectiveness. In truth, Harris may be the most underrated player currently in the NBA.

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44. Aaron Gordon

Gordon is a player those in Orlando should be very excited about. Very rarely do you see a 6-foot-9 forward with guard skills and freakish athletic ability. Gordon has continued on a rising trajectory since being drafted four years ago. This past year, he averaged career highs in PPG (17.6), RPG (7.9), three-point field-goal percentage (.336), APG (2.3), SPG (1.0), and BPG (0.8). Gordon may be the only player on Orlando’s roster with All-Star potential.

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43. Marc Gasol

Despite getting a bit long in the tooth, the younger of the Gasol brothers still can be an effective player. With Mike Conley Jr. now coming back from injury, this could be the last time the Grizzlies are playoff contenders with the duo functioning as franchise cornerstones. Gasol is as clever as they come, and certainly can mitigate athletic limitations with impressive skill level and a fantastic brain for the game.

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42. Mike Conley Jr.

When healthy, Conley Jr. can be a real factor. The Indiana native plays the game with tremendous control. Conley Jr. facilitates the run of play quite well, as he never appears rushed. He can hound opposing guards on the defensive end, and also scoot by them en route to the cup. His ability to stay healthy will coincide with Memphis’ potential playoff hopes. If he’s out again for a large chunk of the season, the Grizzlies will be toast.

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41. Kristaps Porzingis

Porzingis has the ceiling of a top-10 NBA player. He is unicorn-like with a 7-foot-3 frame complemented by a feathery touch beyond the three-point line. More than anything, Porzingis’ emergence gave the city of New York some optimism for the first time in years. If he can rebound from his current knee injury, we’re looking at a transcendent talent. Porzingis is far too talented to be an average player.

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40. Khris Middleton

The 27-year-old South Carolina native has developed into a very good NBA player. Middleton has proven himself to be a very efficient scorer from everywhere on the floor. His 6-foot-8 frame allows for him to guard multiple positions. He’s averaged at least one steal per game since his second year in the league. Without question, he’s a perfect No. 3 option on a very good team.

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39. Jayson Tatum

Tatum was arguably the best first-year player in the 2017-18 season. Demonstrating a maturity far beyond his years, the St. Louis native played the game with immense composure. Tatum’s skill-set is undeniable — as there isn’t anything on the floor he can’t do. As Tatum continues to get stronger, the sky is truly the limit. We could be looking at the future face of the Boston Celtics franchise.

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38. C.J. McCollum

McCollum continues to be a guy who can get buckets. Playing alongside Damian Lillard, McCollum is adept at creating his own shot. If Portland struggles to make the playoffs this season, it could be a scenario in which McCollum gets traded elsewhere. We’d like to see him get the opportunity to run his own team. His play-making skills are often overshadowed/underutilized with Lillard dominating the ball for large stretches of time.

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37. Blake Griffin

We offer a caveat when it comes to Griffin. Despite the constant injuries, he’s still a very talented player. Detroit took a gamble by inheriting his gigantic contract last year. When next to Andre Drummond, Griffin did average a respectable 19.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 6.2 APG. He’s now entering the part of his career in which preservation is key. Drummond’s activity level in the post may enable Griffin to function as more of a playmaker — which in turn could elongate his career.

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36. Jrue Holiday

Rarely does a player breakout in his ninth NBA season. This happened for Holiday — as he was one of the better guards during the second half of last year’s season. Holiday is unquestionably an elite defender. During the playoffs, the former UCLA star dominated large stretches of games — and was a huge reason as to why New Orleans upset Portland in the first round. Holiday should be able to carry this momentum into the 2018-19 season.

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35. Kemba Walker

Walker unfortunately plays on a very mediocre team. His talents aren’t always appreciated by the casual basketball fan as a result. With trade rumors swirling around the New York native, this could be his last season with the Hornets. If Walker is placed on the trade black, he will be a hotly contested asset.

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34. Gordon Hayward

There are a lot of questions surrounding Hayward’s return to the Celtics. We don’t yet know how he’ll play alongside two other players (Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum) looking to take 17-to-20 shots per contest. Duly, there’s no telling how he’ll respond to last season’s gruesome injury. With Hayward’s feel for the game, he should still be able to produce. With that said, his numbers may take a dip this year when compared to the output he achieved whilst in Utah.

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33. Clint Capela

Capela is a simple basketball player. He plays within himself, and only is able to do a few things on the court. With that said, he does those things exceptionally well. Capela is one of the best in the league at running the floor for easy bucket opportunities. Duly, the Swiss international is a menace when it comes to protecting the rim. At only 24 years of age, one can see Capela developing even more of a post game in the upcoming years.

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32. Devin Booker

We like Booker as a scorer, though we aren’t yet sold on his longterm outlook as a No. 1 player. There’s not much of an effort to defend — nor is there a concerted plan to share the basketball. Booker is talented enough to drop 40 on any given night, though it might not lead to winning basketball. Fortunately for Phoenix, he’s only 21 years of age. Booker’s game should also be helped with the expected emergence of Ayton.

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31. Kevin Love

With LeBron now in Los Angeles, Love will be the featured player on the Cavs’ roster heading into this year. He’s been much better than given credit for — particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Love should see his numbers get a nice bump in this campaign. He will be the focal point on offense, and won’t have to worry about LeBron dominating the ball. At only 30 years old, Love can easily get back to the double-double status he once enjoyed in Minnesota.

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30. Andre Drummond

Drummond is just scratching the surface on how good he can be. He’s very similar to Capela — though Drummond is a far more impressive athlete. The 25-year-old averaged 15.0 PPG, 16.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG last season. Drummond gobbles up rebounds at a high clip, and even has the lateral quickness to bother smaller players on switches away from the paint. He looks like a lock to make the All-Star team every year in the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future.

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29. Bradley Beal

Beal has already established himself as a top-five shooting guard. A marksman from deep, Bradley has connected on over 39 percent of his attempts from three during his six-year career. Most recently, Beal has become more comfortable in using his strong frame to bully his way towards the basket. At this point, he appears to be more of a franchise-type player when compared to teammate John Wall.

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28. Kyle Lowry

As he approaches his 33rd birthday, Lowry won’t be ranked within the top-30 for much longer. Still, much respect must be given to the diminutive guard out of Villanova. He’s been integral to the success of Toronto over the past six seasons. Lowry has made four-straight All-Star appearances, and can still produce. It will be interesting to see how Lowry’s game develops in a secondary role. Though he was used to being the top dog in crunch time situations, this responsibility will now fall upon the shoulders of Kawhi Leonard.

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27. Al Horford

Horford is immensely valuable to what Boston wants to accomplish. He has an old man’s game — though it’s still wildly potent. Horford is excellent as both a stationary and help defender. He can shoot threes, post up on the block, exploit mid-range opportunities, and even play-make as a passing big. There’s truly a lot to like about his game.

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26. John Wall

Wall’s play has stagnated a bit. Many pegged him as one of — if not the most promising young point guard in the game. However, at this point, he may be lucky to find himself within the top-10. All of his numbers were down a season ago — including APG, PPG, SPG, and field-goal percentage. We’re hopeful Wall can have a bounce-back year in the nation’s capital. If not, the Wizards may be forced to break up the Wall-Beal tandem.

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25. DeMarcus Cousins

The jury is out on Cousins. He’s attempting to come back from the most treacherous injury a professional athlete can sustain. ‘Boogie’ did land in the most cushy spot possible — though there are questions as to how he’ll acclimate as a bit player rather than the main cog. Depending on how Cousins recovers, he could careen down/up this list in a hurry.

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24. DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan’s game doesn’t always translate to today’s NBA. He has a weird objection to shooting threes, and instead settles for mid-range jumpers. DeRozan is also a below-average defender for his position. Postseason struggles aside, he’s now gifted a fresh start with the most stable franchise in the NBA. There’s reason for optimism when it comes to DeRozan’s game evolving in a positive manner. Gregg Popovich is the perfect coach to extract every bit of upside out of the Los Angeles native.

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23. Rudy Gobert

The French big man is a large reason for why Utah is such a pain in the ass to play against. He stifles most shot attempts at the rim with an ungodly 7-foot-9 wingspan. Gobert has terrific timing when it comes to blocking shots. He can rebound exceptionally well, and has surprisingly great touch around the rim. As a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Gobert more than deserves recognition as a top-25 player in the NBA.

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22. LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge continues to be lethal with his skill around the basket. Though 33 years of age, Aldridge’s game has aged quite well due to his collective versatility. He can score in a variety of ways — whether that be from the perimeter or in the paint. His high basketball I.Q. also allows for him to mesh well in virtually any scheme. He once again should be a vital player in San Antonio’s quest for another ring.

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21. Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell took the NBA by storm last season as a rookie. After Utah got off to a very slow start, it was Mitchell igniting a crazy charge back into postseason contention. A supreme athlete, Mitchell can get to the basket anytime he wants. More than anything, he’s also demonstrated a willingness to take the big shot. His upside as an athlete is through the proverbial roof. Barring injury, Mitchell has the trajectory of a possible top-10 NBA player.

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20. Draymond Green

Green can’t shoot. He also picks up more technical fouls than Steve Kerr would like. However, he’s arguably the most significant player in terms of helping Golden State win three titles in four years. His defensive ability — both mentally and physically — is unparalleled in the game today. You may hate Green as an opposing fan, but you’ve still got to respect him nonetheless.

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19. Ben Simmons

Relative to his current ranking, we could see Simmons make the biggest leap up in the upcoming years. There’s no getting around how unique of player he is. At 6-foot-10, the Aussie is already one of the NBA’s most gifted passers. When factoring in Simmons’ ability to rebound the basketball, defend, and push tempo, he’s a superstar-in-the-making. The rest of the NBA should be praying that Simmons does not develop a reliable jumper. If that happens… look out.

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18. Klay Thompson

Thompson is totally fine with Green, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant garnering all of the press clippings. He’s a quiet individual, and it pairs perfectly with his understated game. People don’t realize just how good Thompson is as a player. He’s Golden State’s best on-ball defender, and is already one of the best perimeter shooters in league history. This could be his last season with the Bay Area juggernaut. Should he leave, one can be sure that Thompson will go somewhere (maybe the Lakers?) for more of a featured role.

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17. Karl-Anthony Towns

KAT is one of the most promising big men in the game. His advanced skill level has allowed for him to be a walking double-double. There are those wanting to see him show a bit more fire when it comes to his intensity level. Regardless, Towns is a premier talent in the paint. With Jimmy Butler’s impending free agent status hanging over the franchise, Towns could take control of the team in more of a leadership role — thus improving his longterm value even further.

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16. Victor Oladipo

Oladipo burst onto the scene perhaps more so than any other player a year ago. The former Indiana Hoosier was simply sensational in all aspects of the game. Oladipo improved his perimeter shot immensely — which then saw his driving game become that much more successful. Defensively, there are few possessing his combination of athleticism, quickness, and hand-eye coordination. Oladipo is the unquestioned leader of the Indiana Pacers. At only 26 years of age, he’s got the look of someone ready to become a real force in this league.

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15. Jimmy Butler

Butler is teetering on that level of perhaps being phased out of a top-20 standing. The four-time All-Star is still a dynamic player. He’s arguably Minnesota’s top defender, and he’s undoubtedly the Timberwolves’ best player in terms of creating for himself. As he approaches his 29th birthday, Butler figures to have a few more good years before seeing his play decline. He likely will be motivated to have a huge 2018-19 campaign with free agency looming next summer.

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14. Paul George

Now that PG13 is officially locked in with the Thunder, expect him to have an even better 2018-19 season. The 6-foot-9 wing is one of the most versatile players in basketball. George functions perfectly as Russell Westbrook’s second in command. Assuming Dennis Schröder can lighten Westbrook’s workload, George could be thrust into a more assertive role — particularly with the second unit. Teams around the league would salivate over a plus-defender with the ability to drop 30 on any given night.

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13. Damian Lillard

‘Dame’ was spectacular a season ago. Tangible growth occurred in terms of Lillard’s ability to lead his team. No one had Portland finishing in the upper-half of the Western Conference in 2017-18. However, Lillard’s phenomenal play led the Trail Blazers to a respectable win total. Currently in the prime of his career, Lillard can practically do whatever he wants on the floor. When engaged in one-on-one battles, Lillard’s craftiness shines. The front office needs to figure out a way to get Lillard more help. Otherwise, he could ultimately leave Portland for greener pastures.

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12. Nikola Jokić

It’s crazy to think Jokić is only 23 years of age. Over the course of his young career, he’s proven to be a total load in the post. Jokić has an unbelievable feel for the game. He can score with either hand, and can shoot from beyond the three-point line. Jokić is also supremely gifted as a passer. Sans Ben Simmons, there aren’t any other 6-foot-10 players averaging at least six assists per contest. It’s truly scary to think about how good he really can be. The next step in Jokić’s development will be leading the Nuggets to the playoffs this year.

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11. Kyrie Irving

Irving has a lot to prove this season. For one, can he return fully healthy from injury? Secondly, will he still be the ruthless scorer he once was? Third, will he be good enough for the Celtics to pony up a hefty contract extension? The answers to all of these questions will start to take shape within the first month of the season. If he’s back to the Irving we saw in the Finals a few years ago, those rocking white and green will be doing cartwheels in the streets of Southie.

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10. Joel Embiid

In terms of sheer talent, Embiid is an unquestioned top-five player on this list. You just don’t see players of his gigantic size possessing his skill-set. As has been the case for his entire career, the biggest question surrounding Embiid will be his ability — or inability — to stay healthy. Should be play a vast majority of the upcoming season, Embiid could develop into a sneaky MVP candidate. He’s already the best center in the Eastern Conference. With continued development, he may also become the best overall player in the East.

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9. Chris Paul

Paul is perilously close to falling out of the top-10 altogether. He’s still a fantastic player — particularly in terms of dominating the pace of play. His partnership with James Harden was brilliant on a number of fronts. However, he just can’t seem to stay healthy. As he approaches his 34th birthday, one has to wonder whether his body will continue to break down. Paul hasn’t played a full season since 2014-15, but when on the floor, he remains one of the league’s very best.

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8. Kawhi Leonard

Leonard has the talent to be higher on this list. However, we’ve got to see how he’ll come back and play this year. We weren’t quite sure what went wrong with his time in San Antonio. Sitting out an entire year is far from ideal. With that said, he’s entering a very comfortable situation. The Toronto fan base is as rabid as one will find in the NBA. Additionally, there’s a lot of talent to work with on his team. Leonard won’t be totally pressured to win the Raptors a ring as their lead guy. He could opt to re-sign with the club after the year — or head elsewhere (perhaps Los Angeles).

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7. Giannis Antetokounmpo

‘The Greek Freak’ is an ever-evolving player. Though he’s made tremendous strides in his game, Antetokounmpo still appears to be a bit raw. He is built like a Greek God (no pun intended), and can literally guard every single position on the floor. It just seems as if he should be dominating in a more authoritative manner when compared to his recent play. The hope is that new head coach Mike Budenholzer will help Antetokounmpo develop into more of a polished offensive player.

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6. Russell Westbrook

Westbrook often gets criticized for his ill-advised shot selection. He also endures some flak for not being a better on-ball defender. Those points are fair — though one must also acknowledge Westbrook’s unabated energy level with which he plays. There’s not another player in the NBA possessing Westbrook’s respective engine. The former UCLA Bruin is relentless in attacking the opposition in transition. He’s also a much better passer than people are willing to give him credit for. As long as he stays healthy, the frenetic Westbrook will be an elite player in this game.

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5. Stephen Curry

Curry is simply Curry. The quick release — coupled with the irrational confidence — makes him the best shooter of all-time. While Durant is phenomenal in his own right, it’s Curry who galvanizes the Warriors during jaw-dropping runs. He’s the one player able to ignite the crowd into a complete frenzy. It’s crazy to think Curry is already 30 years of age. Injuries will remain a concern — though there’s no denying his impact every single time he steps foot on the floor.

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4. Anthony Davis

As we all witnessed towards the end of last season, Davis is a complete monster. There’s not one player in the NBA capable of defending Davis at a half-decent level. The Chicago native can run through defenders, run around defenders, shoot over defenders, and can even sky over defenders. At only 25 years of age, Davis is easily the best bet to become the NBA’s next global superstar. Everything is currently setting up for Davis to one day enter the Hall of Fame. With rumblings about him potentially ending up in Chicago or Los Angeles, his story is certainly one to keep tabs on going forward.

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3. James Harden

Crafty and clever, Harden has truly developed into a dynamic player. His ability to yo-yo the basketball before exploding into the paint is highly impressive. Harden has limitless range on the court, as well as a vast understanding of spacing. He’s more than willing to share the basketball — particularly when in transition/off the dribble. The next step in his career would include slaying the behemoth that is the Golden State Warriors. After nearly completing the feat a year ago, one can be sure we’ll be seeing a highly motivated Harden in 2018-19.

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2. Kevin Durant

The 30-year-old has come full-circle in his career. Durant has been able to win multiple titles with the Warriors after failing to do so as the lead guy in Oklahoma City. His maturity level as a basketball player has grown, as has an outward nastiness on the court. It appears as if Durant’s intensity level on both ends of the floor has increased considerably (maybe it’s the Draymond Green effect?). This season will be fascinating on a number of fronts. Durant can leave as a free agent at season’s end. Should Golden State win another title, will Durant be comfortable with re-upping for a dynastic experience? Or, will he head to a major market (Los Angeles or New York) for a shot at revitalizing once-proud franchises? Only time will tell.

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1. LeBron James

Did you really expect anyone else to top the list? He’s left the bleak cold of Cleveland for the embracing weather of Los Angeles. In the process, he will be revitalized by the young talent (Ball, Kuzma, Ingram) surrounding him. This year may be viewed as one in which a culture is built. With tons of cap space available next summer, look for the Lakers to pair another superstar next to James. It will be bizarre to see him wearing purple and gold — though it will be absolutely captivating all the same.

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