The 2023-24 NBA rankings are in the books.
Our top ten revealed a tight race for the number one spot. 1 spot among seven-time All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and the reigning NBA Finals Champion and MVP Nikola Jokic As well as raised questions around LeBron James‘rank as he enters his 21st season in the NBA.
After the release of the top 100 players 2023-24 season, we asked a panel of NBA Insiders — all of whom were part of the expert NBARank panel — to break down questions about this year’s biggest surprise, Wembey’s potential rise and the race for the No. 1.
NBArank 2023: No. 100-51 | No. 50-11 | No. 10-1
1. Fill in the blanks: Giannis over Jokic for No. 1 ______.
Tim Bontemps: should be reversed. Antetokounmpo is a great player, but Jokic led Denver to a championship last year and in doing so answered all questions about his ability to win at the highest level. I’m a firm believer in his ability to carry into next season, and that’s why Jokic should have been the no. 1.
Bobby Marks: predictable. During the regular season, Antetokounmpo is the most complete player in the NBA. He is a former two-time MVP and was also named Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. My question is where does Antetokounmpo rank if the criteria is based solely on clutch time at the end of the game? Antetokounmpo will rank no. 1 vs. the likes of Jokic, name, Luka Doncic Or James?
Dave McMenamin: Breaking unwritten rules. The NBA’s honor code doesn’t have many inconsequential rules, but one of them is this: If you’re already considered one of the best players in the league, and your team climbs to the top of the mountain while you take home the Finals MVP, you’re awarded the absolute best player in the world the following season. get started Jokic is currently that friend.
Kevin Pelton: NBArank is inconsistent with history. Jokic earned the “Best Player” belt by performing at an MVP level during a deep playoff run after establishing himself as a superior regular-season player to Antetokounmpo over the last three years. Players’ preferences in the past Kawhi Leonard In 2019 and 2021, Durant carried that playoff streak to the NBA.
Kendra Andrews: That’s consistent with how Jokic is viewed. The Nuggets and Jokic have always struggled to earn respect and this is a continuation of that. Jokic won back-to-back MVPs, was named Finals MVP and led his team to an NBA championship. Antetokounmpo is incredible — and topped the league when he received all three honors — but right now, that title should go to Jokic.
2. Fact or Fiction: This is James’ final year in the top 10.
McMenamin: fiction As James has said time and time again, as long as his mind is sharp and dedicated to the sport, his body will follow and he will do the work necessary to stay at the top of the game. It’s hard to imagine a ranker purposefully selecting a healthy James out of their top 10.
Sign: fiction Call me naive, but it’s hard for me to see James falling out of the top 10 as long as he’s in the NBA. Yes, there are questions about his durability — he’s appeared in 45, 56 and 55 games over the past three seasons — and the three-spot drop suggests James isn’t the elite player he is. But if not Anthony Edwards (No. 13) Plays like an MVP candidate this season or James suffers a serious injury, it’s hard to see him out.
Bontemps: fact. It’s just a bet on Father Time. It’s wild we’re even debating whether James will still be in the top 10 this season as he enters his 22nd NBA season at age 39.
Pelton: More fiction than fact. My suspicion is that if we were to do these rankings as tiers, James would be on the same level as many players ahead of him and no one behind him. As a result, one more expected year of aging would likely leave James in the top 10 — though perhaps nowhere near the group of younger stars.
Andrews: fiction I have a hard time believing James won’t be considered a top 10 player for as long as he’s been playing. Even if he doesn’t necessarily play his best, his ranking will almost always be based somewhat on his overall reputation; That he’s one of the best players — if not the best The Greatest in league history.
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3. What would you change about our Top 100?
Andrews: I don’t think rookies should be included. In a year characterized by possibilities like never before Victor WembanyamaIt may sound strange to leave him and other highly-touted draft picks out, but until they compete with NBA talent in those games, how can we really judge where they stand?
Bontemps: Derrick White It has to be. A fearsome two-way guard who is one of the best defensive guards in the league, White should be in the top 100 comfortably. There’s a reason Boston White is so heavily invested.
McMenamin: A playoff series must be won to advance to the top eight. I’m not just making this rule to insult Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, he’ll be the victim if it’s implemented now. League means winning.
Sign: James Harden Fall from No. 11 to 43. Harden is a walking distraction for any team he’s for but still one of the NBA’s top 25 players. The guard is coming off a regular season in which he led the league in assists (he also had a career-best assist-to-turnover ratio), shot the second-highest 3-point percentage of his career and averaged at least 20 points for the 11th consecutive season.
Pelton: Aside from White and Giannis dropping Jokic, I would have flagged Jimmy Butler Little is that he’s performed like a top-three player in the playoffs since joining the Heat, making a pair of Finals appearances and a third trip to the conference finals, and his regular-season value is also underrated. To me, Butler belongs on the same level as KD and LeBron at this point.
4. How many seasons until Wembanyama is a top-10 player on this list?
Andrews: Three to five. It will be a combination of Spurs rising from the bottom of the conference and other players who are sure to be in the top 10 falling from these places.
Bontemps: four to five It will take some time for Wembanyama to adjust to the NBA, and the Spurs need to have a team around him that can maximize his skills. Once these things happen, he will be at the top of this list for a long time.
Sign: Five. Outside of James, the top 10 is dominated by players (for example, Antetokounmpo, Jokic, Embiid, Doncic) who are early in their careers. You could even make a case that Anthony Edwards or Devin BookerTwo players that Read on for the next 10Wembanyama will make a significant leap into the elite category before doing so.
McMenamin: Six or seven. It’s less about Wemby and more about the guys he has to leapfrog that are all in their prime and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Hey, maybe Jokic decides to hang it up sooner than expected to go with his horse full-time and a seat opens up for Wembey.
Pelton: Two to three years. I think the rest of the panel is being too conservative. Doncic took two years to go from being ranked fourth (No. 67) below Wembanyama entering his third season. There’s no guarantee Wembanyama will follow a similar path, but it tends to happen quickly for the NBA’s truly elite talents.
5. Which player outside the top 50 has the best chance to break into the top 25 next season?
Bontemps: Cade Cunningham. After missing virtually all of last season due to injury, Cunningham has been great this summer with Team USA’s Select Team and looks poised for a great season for the improved Pistons.
McMenamin: Zion Williamson. Yes, he missed 194 games over his first four seasons. But when he was on the court, he was extremely successful: 25.8 points on 60.5% shooting with 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. And he is still only 23 years old.
Andrews: Williamson. Before Wembey-mania, the biggest hype surrounding an incoming player was Williamson, and for good reason. His lack of availability has been a knock against him, but when he’s on the court, he dominates. If he is able to play most of the 2023-24 season, there’s no reason he can’t make this list.
Pelton: Franz Wagner. After averaging 18.6 ppg as a 21-year-old, Wagner jumped from the list to No. 1 a year ago. Now 52 is another year of Wagner’s improvement and more attention for the Magic to put him on top of an All-Star appearance if they can compete for a spot in the play-in tournament.
Sign: The obvious answer is Zion, but I’m going outside the box and selecting Wagner. I don’t read much into the preseason, but the Orlando forward had an efficient nine points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field in just 15 minutes Tuesday against New Orleans. The short sample was enough for the Pelicans forwards Larry Nance Jr. To comment that Wagner is a top three under-appreciated talent in the league. Wagner averaged 13.4 points and helped lead Germany to the gold medal at this summer’s FIBA World Cup, averaging a career-high 18.5 points last season and missing just four games in two years.
Bonus! Get your early picks for the top five for 2024-25.
Bontemps: Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Embiid, Jason Tatum, Doncic. The very top of this list usually doesn’t change a ton, and I don’t expect much next year. But I think Jokic can probably claim the top spot, and while I expect Boston to be in the Finals, I think Tatum will crack the top five for the first time.
Sign: With apologies to Embiid, I have the same top five outside of the current MVP. The final spot goes to Tatum. The forward earned back-to-back All-NBA first teams and finished fourth in MVP voting last season. Now its addition Junior HolidayDon’t be surprised if Tatum has a career year.
McMenamin: Tatum is the guy who steps in, though I have him take Doncic’s spot. The Celtics have a better shot at making a deep run than the Mavericks and, I can’t stress this enough, winning in this ranking is important.
Pelton: Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Tatum, Embiid and Doncic. The Celtics are my preseason title pick, and if that holds true, I think Tatum will easily climb not only into the top five, but possibly into the top three.
Andrews: Tatum, Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Curry are my top five for next season. I still can’t quite get myself to buy into the Mavs.