The Washington Post’s Top 100 list projects the premier NBA talents for the 2023-24 season. The rankings, compiled by national NBA writer Ben Golliver, are meant to assess each player’s relative value without regard to his specific role or teammates.
Among the factors considered: last year’s performance, current health status, injury history, age, consistency, contributions to winning, ability to make teammates better, off-court concerns and postseason performance. Each player’s traditional per-game statistics, advanced metrics and offensive and defensive impact were included in the assessment. Salary, expected earning power and projected growth or decline beyond the 2023-24 season were not considered.
All rookies, including this year’s No. 1 draft pick, Victor Wembanyama, were excluded, as was Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft who remains a rookie after missing last season because of injury. Players who are sidelined to open the season — such as Ja Morant, Draymond Green and Trey Murphy III — have had their rankings adjusted to account for their absences. Stats shown are from the 2022-23 season, and the smaller boxes indicate changes from last season’s rankings.
Rankings were set Oct. 17. Ages are as of Oct. 24, opening night.
PG, Minnesota Timberwolves
While this will probably be Conley’s last season on this Top 100 list, the aging floor general can still run the pick and roll and reliably knock down an open three-pointer.
The Clippers ranked third in bench scoring last season thanks to Powell, who deftly creates his own offense regardless of who he is playing with or against.
An offseason trade from Atlanta to Utah should increase the athletic forward’s involvement after his usage rate plunged to a career low in his sixth season.
While Robinson grades out as one of the league’s top defensive centers, modern big men who can’t stretch the floor or make plays for their teammates can only be so valuable.
Washington’s new starting point guard paid his dues as an organized and disciplined backup, posting stellar assist-to-turnover ratios during four-year stints with both Minnesota and Memphis.
With competent teammates now in the fold, the 2021 No. 2 pick must prove his scoring gifts can translate into winning basketball after two seasons spent piling up empty numbers.
Hield’s masterful outside shooting and negligent defense make him a one-trick pony who will surely get up plenty of shots during his contract year.
Golden State’s “Fifth Beatle” would be a clean fit on virtually any team because he protects the paint, cleans the glass and sets solid screens without lodging a single complaint.
After becoming the only rookie starter in the 2023 playoffs, the mature stretch forward should expand his offensive portfolio in Year 2.
SF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Easy to overlook in a crowded frontcourt, the man they call “Seatbelt” uses his length, athleticism and motor to strap up a wide range of offensive threats.
Portis’s lunch-pail ethos and bug-eyed intensity play well in Milwaukee, where Giannis Antetokounmpo needs all the bench help he can get.
The crown jewel of San Antonio’s pre-Wembanyama rebuild posted team highs in scoring and usage last season, but he should shift naturally into a secondary offensive role.
He is a savvy defensive anchor who continues to be a difference-maker deep into his post-prime years, but his effectiveness dipped when his outside shot deserted him in the 2023 playoffs.
While Barnes missed his shot at glory in a first-round loss to the Warriors, the no-nonsense veteran was a model of dependability while playing all 82 games last season.
Russell’s career trajectory has flatlined and his earning power has dropped significantly because he hasn’t shown sufficient improvement as a rim threat or on-ball defender.
The veteran forward is capable of scoring more than he showed last season, when his usage rate dropped to a career low to accommodate Philadelphia’s bigger names.
PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Brogdon’s one year in Boston was the best and worst of times; he won sixth man of the year but flamed out in the playoffs with an elbow injury.
Denver’s energetic X-factor parlayed a clutch title run into a two-year, $45 million contract with Indiana that will pay him more in 2023-24 than he earned in his first five seasons combined.
The sixth man of the year runner-up’s energetic and elusive style helped endear him to Knicks fans and Coach Tom Thibodeau alike.
SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Whether Simons can continue his promising growth as a playmaker will determine whether he enters his prime as a garden-variety backcourt scorer or a true offensive fulcrum.
Television broadcasters will spend the next decade marveling at how the Jazz acquired an excellent shot-blocking and rebounding center as a throw-in to the Rudy Gobert trade.
Johnson is on trend as a stretch four who shot 40 percent from three last season, posting career highs across the board in his first year as a full-time starter.
PF, Portland Trail Blazers
While Grant’s decision to leave Denver in 2020 led to spikes in his stats and earning power, he has logged thousands of pointless minutes for also-rans over the past three seasons.
Giving the streaky Poole a permanently green light in Washington could be a scary sight for friends and foes alike, but that’s exactly how he likes it.
Forced to pick his spots while watching Chicago’s ball-dominant wings lead a subpar attack, the two-time all-star saw his usage rate plummet to its lowest level in a decade.
Kuzma made the most of a tough transition in Washington, landing a $102 million contract thanks to his well-rounded, but unspectacular, game and his willingness to endure a rebuild.
An advanced stats darling and ace shot-blocker, Claxton’s real-world value is diminished by his narrow scoring profile and atrocious free throw shooting.
A polished scorer who stabilized the Pelicans’ attack during injuries to their stars, McCollum didn’t have enough juice to deliver a playoff appearance.
White quietly turned in 51/46/91 shooting splits during the 2023 playoffs, a significant step forward that made it easier for Celtics management to pursue a revamped backcourt rotation.
While Turner is a good enough defensive center to inspire five years of trade rumors, he is not great enough to convince anyone to actually deal for him.
Trey Murphy III
Murphy’s hopes of blossoming into a well-rounded, high-impact wing in the Mikal Bridges mold were delayed by meniscus surgery that is expected to sideline him until at least mid-November.
SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
The 12th pick in the 2022 draft hit the ground running on both ends in Oklahoma City, finishing second in rookie of the year voting and ranking second in his class in win shares.
After missing Miami’s Finals run with a hand injury, Herro is in line for the most significant offensive role of his career given the offseason departures around him.
As Celtics fans cry green tears over the loss of their favorite son, Smart is poised to channel Tony Allen’s Grit-and-Grind sensibilities with the Grizzlies.
PG, Golden State Warriors
Though Paul joined John Stockton and Jason Kidd among the most productive 37-year-old point guards in league history, he was nevertheless exposed as a liability on both ends in the playoffs.
The 7-foot-3 Latvian center must answer lingering questions from his Dallas tenure: Can he find happiness in an auxiliary offensive role and hold up defensively in the playoffs?
Michael Porter Jr.
Labeled as a gunner since his days as an elite high school prospect, Porter deserves credit for sacrificing shots and touches during Denver’s title run.
Most modern centers struggle to remain productive starters once they reach their mid-30s, but Lopez has held on thanks to his smooth outside stroke and hulking defensive presence.
Anunoby had more turnovers than assists last season, an unwelcome result for a trade-rumor regular who covets more than a “three-and-D” role.
SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Unpredictability can be a gift or a curse in basketball, but Giddey’s free-wheeling style and extraordinary vision produce a never-ending cascade of pleasant surprises.
High-efficiency paint scoring and high-volume rebounding helped Allen rank eighth leaguewide in win shares last season, but his limited range contributed to Cleveland’s cramped offensive spacing in the playoffs.
The 2023 rookie of the year’s next step after a strong FIBA World Cup for USA Basketball: Extend his shooting range so he can become a more efficient lead scorer.
SF, Golden State Warriors
Thompson’s scoring average and three-point percentage remain similar to his prime production, but his defensive intensity and quickness have clearly diminished since his knee and Achilles’ injuries.
Barnes got hit hard by the sophomore slump; he shot less efficiently, collected fewer rebounds and committed more turnovers compared with his 2022 rookie of the year campaign.
Elite outside shooting and a healthy understanding of the team concept help Maxey stand out among the NBA’s wave of young bucket-getters.
C, Portland Trail Blazers
“The guy Phoenix drafted over Luka Doncic” will get a much-needed fresh start with the Trail Blazers, but his weak trade value reflected long-standing concerns about his commitment and impact on winning.
Fresh off an impressive summer with USA Basketball, the ascendant Reaves earned a full-time starting spot as a do-everything guard who doesn’t need to dominate the ball.
Wagner is the perfect litmus test to determine whether someone knows ball, because his understated but high-impact contributions are easily overlooked in off-the-radar Orlando.
The undrafted guard was right to chase a payday after taking the Raptors as far as they could go, but don’t expect him to instantly transform the fledgling Rockets.
No player needs a big bounce back more than the uber-talented 2021 No. 1 pick, who missed the final five months of last season because of a shin injury.
C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Age-related slippage, unresolved lineup fit issues and a regrettable teammate-on-teammate punch turned Gobert’s first Timberwolves season into a nightmare.
Gordon’s patience through six-plus meaningless seasons in Orlando paid off with a championship run in Denver that relied heavily on his selfless contributions.
Theoretical Zion’s jaw-dropping potential continues to lose ground on Actual Zion, who has appeared in only 114 regular season games and zero playoff games since he was the No. 1 pick in 2019.
Rinse and repeat for DeRozan, who has averaged 20-plus points per game for 10 straight seasons but hasn’t played in the second round of the playoffs since leaving Toronto in 2018.
Randle regained his all-star footing only to collapse in the playoffs, advancing concerns that he is destined to be a productive 82-game player but not a 16-game standout.
PF, Golden State Warriors
Green didn’t live up to his sterling playoff reputation with so-so showings against the Kings and Lakers, and this season is off to an ominous start because of an ankle injury.
The Hawks’ bet on Murray as a secondary scorer and perimeter stopper didn’t pay immediate dividends; they took a step back in wins and net rating last season.
After an injury-plagued third season, Ball can start making good on his new $260 million contract extension by injecting some fun into Charlotte’s 30th-ranked offense and displaying better defensive habits.
LaVine’s meaty scoring profile makes him look incredible on paper, but his solo game doesn’t always translate to elite team offense and his defensive foibles undercut his overall impact.
Damian Lillard’s arrival turns Middleton into a third scorer, a downshift that could be ideal for a two-way wing with nagging injury issues.
SF, Golden State Warriors
Golden State’s shakiness during Wiggins’s extended personal absence last season made it clear he has become the team’s second-most reliable player after Stephen Curry.
Mobley led the NBA in defensive real plus-minus, a metric that seeks to measure defensive impact, but his vanilla offensive game didn’t show much improvement.
Irving’s dazzling ball skills shouldn’t excuse the facts that he blew up a title contender in Brooklyn with his off-court distractions and he was powerless to stop Dallas’s late-season tank.
After he struck an excellent balance with Donovan Mitchell during the regular season, Garland’s small stature and heavy reliance on the three-pointer proved problematic during his first playoff trip.
C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Towns has plateaued as a second-tier star because he lacks the length and agility to be an elite defender and has averaged only 47 games over the past four years.
As both a lethal deep shooter and a ball-hounding defender, Bane brings dependable two-way impact that was obscured by Ja Morant’s gun-related suspensions.
The heady Brunson thrived after stepping out of Luka Doncic’s shadow, averaging career highs in points and assists while leading New York to its first playoff series victory in a decade.
Inconsistent scoring contributions during the past two postseasons made Holiday expendable in the Damian Lillard trade, but his pesky perimeter defense sets him up to be the perfect Marcus Smart replacement.
Years of losing seasons and trade rumors in Washington culminated in an offseason move to Phoenix, where Beal must shake off recent injury issues and reestablish himself as a playoff game changer.
Though the oft-injured forward can put together months when he scores at an all-NBA level, Ingram isn’t committed enough defensively or aggressive enough going to the rim to be transcendent.
Harden’s prima donna persona scared off summer suitors even though he led the league in assists and ranked 10th in wins above replacement last season.
The biggest snub from last year’s Top 100 list enjoyed an unexpected all-star breakthrough after a trade from Cleveland made him Utah’s No. 1 scoring option.
Young was the only player to average 25-plus points and 10-plus assists last season, but he can’t crack the NBA’s upper echelon because he remains an imprudent shooter and a defensive turnstile.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
The reigning defensive player of the year is a bouncy shot blocker who should get a chance to showcase his developing offensive game during Ja Morant’s early-season suspension.
Injuries have limited the prolific podcaster to just 47 games per season since his 2019 arrival in Los Angeles, booting him from the ranks of trustworthy franchise players.
SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
The breakout star of USA Basketball’s FIBA World Cup run is a tantalizing and self-assured scorer who still has plenty of work to do on his decision-making and defensive focus.
Morant’s reputation as a high-IQ point guard took a major hit when his off-court high jinks led to a 25-game gun suspension that will sideline him until at least December.
Bridges has a great chance to make his first all-star team, but the Nets need to target a superstar so he can get back to life as the perfect sidekick.
The workhorse behind the NBA’s most efficient offense led the league with 61 double-doubles, 10 more than his nearest competitor.
Brown’s $300 million extension is a testament to his productivity and physicality, but it will only increase the intense scrutiny surrounding his poor decision-making in recent postseasons.
One of only three players to average 20 points and 10 assists per game last season, Haliburton is the rare modern lead guard who prefers to be a distributor rather than a scorer.
Fox captained the NBA’s most efficient offense, earned his first all-star nod and snapped Sacramento’s 16-year playoff drought last season, yet the quicksilver point guard is just getting started.
Siakam has proved he can be a stat-stuffing alpha dog for the middling Raptors, but his prime years would be better spent in a Scottie Pippen-like role for a contender.
A second straight underwhelming postseason took some of the shine off Mitchell’s thrilling all-NBA campaign and prompted speculation that Cleveland might not be an ideal long-term home.
Murray’s cautious return from a 2021 ACL tear laid the groundwork for a sensational postseason in which he averaged 26.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists to claim his first ring.
A perennial defensive player of the year candidate whose strength, quickness and versatility have made him a prototype for modern big men who must protect the rim and defend in space.
Leonard’s Finals MVP form might be gone for good; he held up for just two playoff games last season even though the Clippers had taken great care to manage his body.
The only player left in Phoenix from its 2021 Finals roster is an effortless scorer, but his orchestration skills will determine whether the Suns will reach their sky-high offensive potential.
PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
The crafty point guard rode a breakout fifth season to an all-NBA first-team selection, raising hopes that he will soon lead the young Thunder back to playoff relevance.
The offseason’s biggest mover should supercharge Milwaukee’s middling attack after captaining top-five offenses in Portland four times between 2014 and 2021.
Embiid’s long-sought MVP validation was undercut in predictable fashion when he injured his knee and played timidly in clutch situations during another postseason collapse.
The “all gas, no brakes” approach of Butler’s youth has been replaced by a savvier process that sacrifices regular season production so he can max out in the playoffs.
The NBA’s all-time leading scorer posted a 23.9 player efficiency rating last season that was unprecedented for a 38-year-old, but he couldn’t reach sixth gear when he needed to in the playoffs.
Though he missed another All-Star Game because of injury, Davis’s dominant playoff showing against the Warriors conjured fond memories of his incredible play throughout the Lakers’ 2020 title run.
It’s hard to nitpick 29.1 points per game on 56/40/92 shooting splits, but Durant’s minor injuries never end and his command over playoff games has slipped noticeably since 2021.
For Doncic to reach the Top 100’s summit, his emotional intelligence and composure must rise to the same level as his elite talent and productivity.
Tatum’s dependable health, high-level scoring and growing playoff résumé propelled him to new heights on this Top 100 list, months after he finished fourth in 2023 MVP voting.
PG, Golden State Warriors
Though Golden State’s title defense ended prematurely, Curry’s 50-point outburst against the Kings in the first round was a convincing reminder that the four-time champion is aging like fine wine.
Though Antetokounmpo triggered critics with his thoughts on “failure,” his meteoric rise from anonymous Greek teen to basketball colossus is one of the NBA’s greatest success stories.
The brilliant Jokic seized the crown as basketball’s preeminent talent during a sparkling title run in which he outdueled A-list superstars and punished elite big men.
Photographs and images used in photo illustrations by The Washington Post, AP, Getty Images, USA Today Sports.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/interactive/2023/nba-top-100-players-2024/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage Analysis | Who’s the best player in the NBA right now? We ranked the top 100.