zssoc7htydnpplsvdmom scaled

Atlanta Hawks' guard Trae Young reacts during the NBA pre-season basketball match between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, on October 8, 2022. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

15. Paul George

Highest Ranking: 11

Lowest Ranking: 24

Paul George, 32, may be past his prime, but he’s still an elite NBA talent on both ends of the floor. He’ll begin the season as the Clippers’ starting shooting guard, with his 6’8″ frame giving him a big size advantage over most opponents. Head coach Tyronn Lue noted he could use George at point guard at times this season as well, giving him some additional playmaking opportunities.

It’s fair to question George’s durability and his dip in shooting last season (35.4 percent from three, the lowest since his rookie year). But there’s nothing he can’t do at a high level when healthy.

On our overall top 100 list, George is the highest-ranked No. 2 option in the NBA.

—Swartz


14. Damian Lillard

Highest Ranking: 10

Lowest Ranking: 24

After a down year (physically and statistically) in 2021-22, Damian Lillard seems poised to return to his old form. According to the Rose Garden Report’s Sean HighkinPortland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said Dame’s “zero-to-sixty burst” is back.

When right, few players are as consistent and dangerous offensively as Lillard. He presents the threat of deep pull-up threes like Trae while still being able to slice through defenses and punish the rim.

—Bailey


13. Devin Booker

Highest Ranking: 6

Lowest Ranking: 31

Devin Booker just finished fourth on the MVP ballot, and yet, it still feels like his stardom is being somewhat repressed.

Finishing 13th is no insult, to be clear. It’s accurate. This league is deep. But there remains a tendency to stash him behind Chris Paul’s shadow, or to diminish his impact on the basis of circumstances beyond his control (i.e. The Suns weren’t good until CP3’s arrival).

Not enough appreciation is shown for the bankability of Booker’s scoring. There is a reason the Suns unraveled in the second round of the playoffs when the Mavericks reformatted their entire defense to harass him. Among 278 players to clear at least 30 touches per game last season, he placed first in points per touch. And he ranked fourth in this same category for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

There is also an underappreciation for the passes he throws once he gets downhill. The Suns would do well to give him more floor-general reps in the half court—particularly given the state of this year’s bench.

—Favale


12. Trae Young

Highest Ranking: 9

Lowest Ranking: 26

Trae Young is an offensive powerhouse. He’s going to generate most of his team’s offense as a scorer (28.4 points per game last season), shooter (38.2 percent from three) and playmaker (9.7 assists per night). But Young is not a high-impact defender with his slight build.

Recognizing the talent they have in Young, the Atlanta Hawks have worked to pair the 24-year-old guard with long, athletic defenders. The addition of Dejounte Murray, one of the better backcourt defenders in the league, should help balance Young’s limitations.

Murray also gives Atlanta another capable primary playmaker, which should prevent teams from sending nonstop traps to get the ball out of Young’s hands.

—Pincus


11. Jimmy Butler

Highest Ranking: 9

Lowest Ranking: 18

Age and mileage are beginning to catch up with Jimmy Butler, but when you need a player to step up in a big moment, few players do so better than him.

The 33-year-old is coming off a strong playoff run (27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.1 steals, 50.6 percent shooting) and is going to have to play a major role once again for the Heat to remain at the top of the East.

Still able to lock in defensively at a high level, Butler could easily end up as a top-10 player in the NBA even in Year 12.

—Swartz



Source link