Friday, January 27 2023

Ranking the top 10 NBA players right now originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NBA is full of superstar players who can take over a game. Need proof? FanDuel recently revealed its list of the top 10 NBA players right now … and the reigning two-time MVP didn’t make the top two.

Let’s see who made the list and what makes these players so successful.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo reached the NBA mountaintop in 2021 by winning a championship and Finals MVP award.

He wasn’t able to repeat in 2022 with Milwaukee after Khris Middleton suffered a knee injury at the beginning of the playoffs. But after averaging 33.9 points, 14.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists in a seven-game series against the Celtics, Antetokounmpo reminded us that he’s the league’s alpha right now.

2. Kevin Durant

Durant had a claim as the best player in the world at the end of the 2021 season after going toe-to-toe with Giannis while James Harden and Kyrie Irving were hurt.

Antetokounmpo has overtaken him now, however. Durant missed a bulk of 2021-22 with an injury and then the Nets flamed out in the first round following a turbulent regular season. Maybe with his new team, Durant will be able to reclaim his status as the best player in the world.

3. Nikola Jokic

Jokic raised his game in 2021-22 to win a second straight MVP award, this time playing almost all of the regular season without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

As Denver gets healthier, Jokic might not get the same MVP buzz, but he’ll certainly have a chance to move up this list as he tries to lead the Nuggets to a title.

4. Stephen Curry

You might have thought he was done, but Curry can still be the best player on a championship team. He secured his first Finals MVP award after carving up the best defense in basketball for six-straight games.

Curry is not done terrorizing opposing defenses with his legendary shooting stroke, and it’s hard to see when he’ll slow down at this point.

5. LeBron James

It’s weird to see LeBron James this far down an NBA player ranking, but the two years since his championship inside the NBA bubble have not been kind to him.

Injuries have sidelined him for long stretches in both of the last two seasons, the Lakers were bounced from the first round in 2021 and then missed the playoffs altogether in 2022. James is still an elite force. He averaged 30 points per game in 2022. He just hasn’t had as big an impact on the game for two-straight seasons now. We’ll see if 2022-23 brings a renaissance.

6. Joel Embiid

There’s an argument that Embiid should’ve been MVP the last two seasons. It’s hard to argue that given his production, but unfortunately Nikola Jokic still exists.

Can he finally get over the MVP hump in 2022-23? Will Embiid be healthy enough in the playoffs to take his team past the second round? Regardless of how those questions are answered, Embiid is a top-five player in basketball.

7. Luka Doncic

After two years of losing to Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, Luka Doncic made it out of the first round of the playoffs and helped the Mavs beat the No. 1-seeded Suns to reach the Western Conference Finals.

With a player like Doncic on your side, you’ll have a chance to win any game against any opponent.

8. Jayson Tatum

Tatum took a major step forward in 2022, leading the Celtics past Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler to get the Celtics into the Finals for the first time in 12 years.

As he sits on the outside of the top five looking in, Tatum will need to get back to the Finals and perhaps win a championship to climb to the top of this list.

9. Jimmy Butler

He might not get the attention other superstars on this list get, but Butler has been incredible since joining the Heat.

Butler’s made the Finals once and made two Eastern Conference Finals in three seasons with Miami. Every step of the way, he’s been their best player and has elevated his game in the biggest moments. Just look at Game 6 and 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals or his 40-point triple-double against the Lakers in the Finals.

10. Devin Booker

Booker is probably the best shooting guard in the NBA now after helping the Suns to the Finals in 2021 and earning first-team All-NBA honors in 2022.

The next step is winning it all. If Booker can become the best player on a championship team, he’ll find himself in the top-five conversation.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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