ESPN has released its full NBArank list for the 2022-23 season, and to say that it's a tad contentious would be an understatement. There are two glaring absences in the Top 5 and they come in the form of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets. It goes without saying that LeBron and KD fans are not going to be happy about this one.
The Top 5 consist of Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo — in that particular order, with the Milwaukee Bucks star moving one step up the ranking to be the projected best player in the entire NBA. Or at least according to ESPN's standards.
To be fair, there's no denying that that Top 5 list is a very formidable one. You would be hard-pressed to remove any one of those players from the Top 5. Nevertheless, this still doesn't take away from the fact that both LeBron James and Kevin Durant were left out.
For his part, LeBron fell to No. 6 this year. From being the third-best player in the league last season, the Lakers talisman fell three spots in this coming season's NBArank iteration. According to ESPN, James' overall impact on the Lakers is what dragged him down:
It's impossible to ignore that the Lakers had a negative net rating with James on the floor last season, which is reason enough to drop him out of the top five in the rankings no matter his impressive offensive output.
Durant, on the other hand, took a major hit this year, falling all the way to No. 8. Last season, he was at the No. 1 spot. ESPN has a straightforward explanation as to why this is the case:
When Durant played, he was one of the best players on the planet. The problem for the former MVP is that he couldn't stay on the floor.
I'm pretty sure that both LeBron and KD will soon find out about this list — if they haven't already. I am also certain that both men will use this as motivation to try and prove their naysayers wrong. Again.