Top 20 NBAs player of 2023 and Why LeBron slips out of top 10
The released list of the top 100 players in CBS Sports is already available before of the 2022–23 NBA regular season. Based on who we thought would have the best season, we ranked them. In other words, it was a projection. We don't need to project anymore because the All-Star break is over. An updated list can be based on the evidence we currently have. That's what we did, but this time we only included the league's top 20 players. Furthermore, to be clear, this is not a rating of the 20!NBA players who, in our opinion as a staff, are the best overall. Instead, these are the 50 players who, in our opinion, have the best 2022–23 season thus far. As you browse, keep that distinction in mind.
1. Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (Preseason: 4)
Jokic has once again been the best offensive basketball player. Back-to-back MVP is taking fewer shots, scoring less points, and, somehow, outperforming himself with a more complete team surrounding him. It is astounding that he is averaging approximately 25 points per game given that he shoots over 70% from the field and is very nearly leading the league in assists. Every stat that can be combined into one tells the same picture, and Jokic's on/off statistics are ridiculous. But his game's beauty is equally as stunning as its science. He is both one of the greatest players to have ever lived and the model of efficiency.
2. The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (Preseason: 1)
Although Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have had a roller coaster of a season, both of them are ready to contend after the All-Star break. The only player in the league averaging at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists is Antetokounmpo, who is averaging a career-high 31.8 points per contest. Despite the fact that a heavier burden during Khris Middleton's two prolonged absences has reduced his efficiency, he has been just as effective as always. This season, he has already recorded three games with 50 or more points, and the Bucks are 35-12 when he plays compared to 6-5 when he doesn't. A microcosm of this campaign is the wrist injury he suffered last week, three days before Team Giannis defeated Team LeBron over All-Star weekend.
3. Luka Doncic, Mavericks (Preseason: 5)
After being criticized for being out of shape and starting the season out of shape the previous two seasons, Doncic flipped that narrative on its head. He had a strong start to the season, raising all of his averages and reaching a career-high efficiency rate of 50.5 percent from the field. Dallas' success depends more than ever on Doncic, as shown by the Mavericks' 3-7 record when the Slovenian guard is absent from the lineup. These three victories all occurred after Dallas acquired Kyrie Irving, an indication that perhaps Doncic will receive the crucial offensive support the Mavericks have been trying so hard to secure for him.
4. Jayson Tatum, Celtics (Preseason: 9)
Tatum reacted by taking another step after the NBA Finals' dismal loss, which he accepted much of the blame for. He continues to be a strong candidate for the MVP award because to his excellent two-way play, and the Celtics still have the best record in the league even if they haven't maintained the absurd pace they set in the first third of the season. Following his season-high 55-point performance, the All-Star Game MVP is expected to continue to push forward as he has all season. If he finishes the season with 30.6 points per game, which would be a career high and sixth in the league, he will have the greatest single-season scoring average in Celtics team history.
5. Joel Embiid, 76ers (Preseason: 6)
This season, Embiid has been nothing less than dominant. Having finished first in the league in scoring last year, Embiid is back at the top of his game this year with 33.1 points per game, just behind Luka Doncic's 33.3. Along with scoring points, he also contributes 10.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals a game while working hard defensively.
Embiid has the Sixers firmly entrenched in the Eastern Conference playoff race as a result. Additionally, he recently made headlines in Philadelphia by scoring 10,000 career points in the fewest games in the history of the team. And Embiid may be the favourite to win the MVP Award for a third time in a row if it weren't for Nikola Jokic.
6. Kevin Durant, Suns (Preseason: 3)
There's a reason the Suns were willing to make the Nets a Godfather offer for Durant even at 34; just having him on the club still makes them a legitimate contender. Durant is once again scoring close to 30 points per game this season while shooting a career-high 56 percent from the field. He is ageing as beautifully as a 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Durant is on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average at least 29 points per game with a true shooting percentage above.670 in the same season. Not to mention his much-improved defence, which contributed to Brooklyn's overachievement in that area before to his departure. The only reason KD is out for so long is due to an injury he is not higher on the list.
7. Stephen Curry, Warriors (Preseason: 2)
Curry is having another outstanding season, which we generally take for granted. He is averaging 29.5 points per game on splits of 49, 43, and 93 shots. And since he is actually shooting 49.5 percent from the field, his probability of posting another 50/40/90 season is increasing. So why isn't Curry competing for MVP? Due in large part to Curry's 20 games missed due to two prolonged injury absences—the second of which he is now experiencing—the Warriors are a.500 team.
8. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder (Preseason: 36)
SGA is currently running a successful campaign. The Thunder aren't a competitive club, so they aren't on national television or talked in the media as often as some other teams and stars are, which is the only reason he hasn't received more attention from coast to coast. He's putting up the highest stats of his career. Gilgeous-Alexander, though, is one of just five players in the whole league to average at least 30 points and five assists each game. As a result, he was selected for his first All-Star team and is a strong contender for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award. At the end of the season, he'll probably be named to an All-NBA squad for the first time.
9. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (Preseason: 13)
With 31.4 points per game and a career-high 64.8 true shooting percentage, Lillard is quietly having the finest or at least most productive season of his career. In terms of career highs, Lillard's 130.2 points per 100 shots attempted is only surpassed by Stephen Curry's 136.6 among point guards. It's still disappointing that the Blazers are unable to start winning games.
10. Ja Morant, Grizzlies (Preseason: 12)
This season, Morant has continued to move up the league's elite ranks. Morant has improved his game once more since winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award the previous season. While his scoring average has remained constant, he is consistently collecting more boards and dishing out more assists, which has helped the Grizzlies once again finish near the top of the Western Conference rankings. Additionally, Morant is one of the most exciting players in the entire Association because of his incredible athleticism and outrageous in-game dunks.
11. LeBron James, Lakers (Preseason: 7)
James is scoring more than he did in any of his four seasons with Miami, averaging 30 points per game. He is shooting 2-pointers at a rate of 59.6 percent, which is greater than any of his previous seven seasons in Cleveland. He is now averaging the fourth-fewest turnovers and fourth-most rebounds in his career. Here, you can uncover petty flaws to point out. James is having a very bad year. He spends a good deal of the game as an inactive defender. Near the rim, he is not quite as impregnable as he previously was. LeBron's death rumours, however, have been highly overblown.
12. Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers (Preseason: 22)
Given that Mitchell was playing on a new team with another star guard and ineffective spacing, some of us anticipated that there would be an adjustment time for him. Spida, however, had other plans. Not only has Mitchell scored more points per game than he ever did in Utah, but this is also without a doubt his most productive season to date. There aren't many 6-foot-1 men with Mitchell's finishing ability on the list. Additionally, he can penetrate defences that allow floaters and midrange jumpers to score and shoots long threes. He has also been a more active defender in Cleveland after acknowledging his prior subpar defence strategy.
About the only thing that has gone wrong for Brown this season was when Jayson Tatum, Boston's other All-Star, accidentally elbowed him, causing a facial fracture. With the exception of that terrible incident, the pair has worked well together for the league-leading Celtics all season. Brown is posting career-high numbers in scoring (26.5 points per game), field goal percentage (48.7 percent), and rebounding (7.0 per game), which was strong enough to earn him his second-ever All-Star berth. However, he has lost some of his touch from 3-point range. Because of his ability to work well with Tatum, he's one of the league's top second options, and the Celtics are once again title candidates.
14. Domantas Sabonis, Kings (Preseason: 50)
Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson, who is not Jokic, can currently compete with Sabonis. The two-time defending MVP's imposing shadow hides just how unique and exceptional a player Sabonis has developed into. Sabonis is doing that better than any other non-Jokic big man has in recent memory, and the difference between them isn't exactly wide. Centres aren't often capable of running offences as the primary playmaker, but Sabonis is doing that. Denver's top-ranked offence is producing goals.
15. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers (Preseason: 8)
Everything is coming together. the three pullups. the disputed 2s. a drives. The kicks-and-drives. disrupting both on and off the ball defence. Leonard now appears to be himself again after suffering an ACL tear at the worst possible time, spending the entire season on the sidelines, and experiencing a few false starts. He has been playing at an All-NBA level for the past six weeks. Compared to many of the players placed higher than him on this list, Leonard is significantly more accomplished and simply superior. But his squad has had to be patient with him because he's played a lot less than they have. The strategy appears to be working, as the Clippers have excelled on both sides of the game when Leonard has been on the court.
16. Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers (Preseason: 53)
Haliburton is a skilled manipulator on the floor despite being only 22 years old. He has a career-best efficiency as the Pacers' offensive catalyst, averaging 20 points and 10 assists on average. His maturity, vision, inventiveness, and shooting make him one of the league's top pick-and-roll players. Only Haliburton (39.6%), Donovan Mitchell (39.7%), and Stephen Curry (47.3%) are making more than 37 percent of their pull-up 3-point attempts per game among the eight players. It is no accident that Haliburton damaged his knee and elbow in mid-January, throwing off an unexpectedly successful Indiana season. The offence has crumbled when he leaves the pitch.
17. Anthony Davis, Lakers (Preseason: 16)
Davis might have been the last item you read about if you had voted on this list in December. Between Nov. 13 and Dec. 13, with the exception of a brief appearance against Cleveland, Davis averaged around 35 points and 16 rebounds per game while putting out a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year. He had an injury after that, missed more than a month, and has been scoring 22.5 points per game since his comeback. For the most part, Davis' recent seasons have gone this way. When he is at his best, he is much better than this grade, but he also only achieves that level so infrequently that it almost doesn't feel fair to give him this high of a score.
18. Pascal Siakam, Raptors (Preseason: 24)
Siakam can get where he wants if he has room to move. At times, that entails savagely charging the basket. Other times, it entails extending his tender touch outside the forbidden region or pulling up for a jumper. When defences decide to crowd him or double him, he finds the open guy because he keeps them off balance. In terms of scoring, passing, and getting to the foul line, this season has been Siakam's best. He is pushing for a third All-NBA nomination despite playing a tonne of minutes, guarding more opponents than most players, and all the strangeness surrounding the Raptors.
19. Jimmy Butler, Heat (Preseason: 10)
Butler is at his best in the postseason, but he has also been excellent during the regular season in his own understated ways. Even though his average of 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals per game wasn't enough to earn him an All-Star selection, he still ranks in the top 10 of the vast majority of catch-all advanced metrics.
20. James Harden, 76ers (Preseason: 21)
Despite not being selected as an All-Star this season, James Harden had a good argument. For Philadelphia, he has done a fantastic job of fusing his offensive and playmaking skills, and as a result he is one of just three players to average 20 points and 10 assists per game throughout the season. It's only him and Nikola Jokic—the front-runner for season MVP—after adding five rebounds. So, that ought to provide you with some insight on Harden's level of productivity. Whether Harden had any gas left in the tank going into the season was a subject of debate. He does, and it's been a lot of fun.