Who is the best player in the NBA?
This is a question basketball fans debate every single year, and it's one that often has no right answer. MVP candidates such as Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and LeBron James are obviously amongst the best of the best, but one player cannot win his team a championship. Getting to and winning the NBA Finals is a team effort, which is why the 100th-best player in the league can hold nearly as much importance as the top player.
Across the league, the talent gap from team to team has closed dramatically, so the 2023-24 season could be the most competitive we have seen in a while. There are so many impactful and skillful basketball players across all 30 teams, which makes it difficult to narrow things down to only 100 players.
However, that is exactly what we have done here at ClutchPoints!
The 2023-24 NBA season will officially begin in about a month on Oct. 24, per the league's official schedule release, and we will be revealing our Top 100 rankings in groups of 10 players weekly. These rankings take into account the season each player is coming off of, their role on their team, what we have been accustomed to seeing from them and much more, so of course, this list is simply a matter of opinion.
*NOTE: Rookies such as Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Chet Holmgren were not included in these rankings, as they have yet to play in a regular-season game.
In case you missed any of the previous Top 100 player rankings, be sure to check them out with the links below:
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 100-91
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 90-81
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 80-71
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 70-61
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 60-51
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 50-41
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 30-21
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 20-11
- NBA Top 100 rankings: 10-1
This week, we are taking a look at the 10 players who find themselves ranked 50th through 41st in the NBA. Let's dive right into things, as this week's list features two sets of teammates making their way into the Top 50.
40. Mikal Bridges – SG/SF – Brooklyn Nets
2022-23 NBA season stats (Suns/Nets): 20.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 46.8 FG%, 38.2 3P%
With the Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges was never going to be a star. He was never given an opportunity to be the primary option since he was buried behind Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Well, Bridges has been a star since joining the Brooklyn Nets and enters the 2023-24 season as the face of the franchise. In 27 games with the Nets last season, Bridges looked like one of the best offensive weapons in the league and helped create a new energy in Brooklyn since the departures of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
As good of a scorer as he has proven to be, Bridges is equally as important on the defensive end of the floor due to his versatility and quickness. One of the top perimeter defenders in the league, Bridges has shown glimpses of the overall potential he possesses as the featured man in Brooklyn. Heading into the new season, he is undoubtedly one of the players to watch in regards to possibly making his first All-Star appearance.
39. Tyrese Haliburton – PG – Indiana Pacers
2022-23 NBA season stats: 20.7 points, 10.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 49.0 FG%, 40.0 3P%
Very few true point guards remain in the league today, as many teams utilize combo guards and versatile athletes at this position. Well, the Indiana Pacers have a true point guard in Tyrese Haliburton, this generation's Chris Paul in the sense that he makes everyone around him so much better. Haliburton has a knack for finding open teammates and there is no pass on the court he can't make.
The experience of playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer has made Haliburton a more well-rounded player. Not to mention, he can hold his own defensively, oftentimes getting his hand on the ball while disrupting passing lanes. Haliburton is “The Guy” in Indiana right now and should continue to be surrounded by reliable, capable shooting threats. The All-Star guard is going to get his and make sure his teammates are involved as well, which is why the Pacers are not far off from getting back to the playoffs.
38. Jrue Holiday – PG/SG – Boston Celtics
2022-23 NBA season stats: 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 47.9 FG%, 38.4 3P%
(NOTE: Jrue Holiday was traded to from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Portland Trail Blazers and then traded to the Boston Celtics)
Arguably the best defensive guard in the entire league, Jrue Holiday now finds himself back on the trade block after being included in this offseason's blockbuster trade for Damian Lillard. No matter where he has played, Holiday has been the perfect complimentary star due to his two-way play and ability to play off the ball offensively. He was instrumental in Milwaukee's title push during the 2020-21 season and Holiday could wind up being the final piece in a team's championship puzzle yet again. Just because he is not a yearly All-Star does not mean Holiday isn't a star in this league.
Holiday is truly as elite as they come defensively and has shot 39.5 percent from three-point range since the start of the 2020-21 season. While his playoff performance has been a bit of a roller coaster in recent years, the 33-year-old Holiday is still one of the most underrated basketball players on this planet. Every team could use a player like him in their lineup, which is why several playoff contenders are already pursuing him ahead of training camp. It will be interesting to see where Holiday winds up.
37. Zach LaVine – SG/SF – Chicago Bulls
2022-23 NBA season stats: 24.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 48.5 FG%, 37.5 3P%
Zach LaVine is one of those players we know is really talented and can help a playoff contending team win games, but there is really no clear picture as to what his future looks like. The Chicago Bulls are rapidly approaching a crossroads and have a rebuild on the horizon. This could result in LaVine being shipped elsewhere during the 2023-24 season.
In terms of his talent, LaVine can score at will. The Bulls star has grown as a three-point threat and can be really difficult for opponents to stop when he gets a full head of steam running toward the rim. The Bulls are lucky to have a player like this, but it really seems like they are undervaluing his production. Maybe a change of scenery wouldn't be such a bad thing for LaVine, especially since frustrations are mounting in Chicago.
36. Bradley Beal – PG/SG – Phoenix Suns
2022-23 NBA season stats (Wizards): 23.2 points, 5.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 50.6 FG%, 36.5 3P%
Traded from the Washington Wizards to the Phoenix Suns this offseason, Bradley Beal finally gets to embark on a journey with a real playoff and championship threat. Alongside Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, Beal has helped form the newest Big 3 in the NBA. Even though they have not played a game together, the Suns are already viewed by many as favorites to win the 2024 NBA Finals.
Beal's time with the Wizards is finally over after 11 seasons, and he is now going to step into a new role as the Suns' point guard and third scoring option. There is no doubt that the 30-year-old guard can get back to being the elite-level scorer he was a few years ago when he recorded back-to-back seasons averaging at least 30 points per game. Whether or not he can play alongside other superstars is the key question this season. If Beal thrives in his new role and can remain healthy, Phoenix will be one of the final teams standing in the postseason.
35. Julius Randle – PF – New York Knicks
2022-23 NBA season stats: 25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 45.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%
When you play for the New York Knicks, or any New York sports organization for that matter, expectations are always so high that they are virtually unobtainable. Even when Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs, some people were left wondering why he didn't hit 63. Well, in the basketball world, high expectations in The City That Never Sleeps fall on Julius Randle, the only current All-Star on the Knicks' roster.
All the hate and backlash Randle receives is extremely unnecessary, especially since he is one of the main reasons why the Knickerbockers are in a position to potentially become a top team in the Eastern Conference. Randle is coming off another terrific season in New York and is a really tough player to guard because of his stature. In terms of strength, very few players are able to stand tall against Randle in the paint, and he can be an absolute bruiser on the glass. Maybe his shot selection needs to change slightly, but there are very few forwards in this league better than the one the Knicks have leading their team.
34. Lauri Markkanen – SF/PF – Utah Jazz
2022-23 NBA season stats: 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 49.9 FG%, 39.1 3P%
The 2022-23 season proved to be a breakout year for several players, but Lauri Markkanen was the one who ended up with the Most Improved Player Award. Going from a role player with the Cleveland Cavaliers to being the face of the Utah Jazz following an offseason in which they traded Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, Markkanen's story is just getting started. The former seventh overall pick finished 12th in the league in scoring and his 200 made threes ranked 20th overall. In fact, Markkanen was the only player listed at 6'10” or taller to make at least 200 threes.
Listed at 7'0″, many would tend to believe he is a center, but Utah's new star is a forward and can play out on the wing. Markkanen rebounds like a big man and shoots like a guard, which is why he is so hard to stop when he gets the ball out on the perimeter. There's really no way to guard this guy, who is only getting better at 26 years old. It would not come as a shock if Markkanen leads the Jazz back to the playoffs this upcoming year.
33. Jalen Brunson – PG – New York Knicks
2022-23 NBA season stats: 24.0 points, 6.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 49.1 FG%, 41.6 3P%
Another breakout performer during the 2022-23 season, Jalen Brunson turned out to be the perfect addition for the Knicks last offseason. There has been a lot of talk about New York needing to target a star and bring in a superstar to lead their franchise, but Randle and Brunson turned out to be one of the better offensive duos in the league last season. No matter what statistic you look at, Brunson probably recorded a career high in it with the Knicks.
Compared to always having to play off the ball alongside Luka Doncic, Brunson was able to step out of the shadow and become the primary ball handler in New York. This is the role in which he thrived in at Villanova and, once again, Brunson has found success as the lead guard for his team. He may be smaller than most guards in the league, but the Knicks' breakout star doesn't back down to anyone. When the Knicks needed a basket last year, Brunson delivered. He's clutch, he's fearless, and he's the exact leader this team needed at the point guard position.
32. Bam Adebayo – C – Miami Heat
2022-23 NBA season stats: 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 54.0 FG%
Outside shooting is not a part of Bam Adebayo's repertoire, but he can do just about everything else. The Miami Heat big man has been instrumental to his team's success and is a big reason why they ended up in the NBA Finals this past season. Adebayo is a terrific defensive big man and separates himself from elite rim protectors in the sense that he can step out on the perimeter and guard smaller, quicker opponents as well.
Bam has a high understanding for seeing plays develop on either side of the floor as they are happening, which is why the Heat love him so much. Acting as a point center at times because of his ability to make plays for others, Adebayo continues to be Jimmy Butler's right-hand man in Miami. This season, it will be interesting to see how the 26-year-old takes that next step in his career. We know what he can do defensively, so now it is time for Bam to step up and become more assertive in the paint and low post on offense.
31. Karl-Anthony Towns – PF/C – Minnesota Timberwolves
2022-23 NBA season stats (29 games): 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 49.5 FG%, 36.6 3P%
Karl-Anthony Towns is a center basically any team in this league can build around. Injuries have impacted his ability to be available for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that should not take away from the type of talent Towns is. He's a terrific shooter and has shown the ability to adjust his role alongside another star like Anthony Edwards. Towns is still the leader of the T-Wolves and can be the difference in them not only making the playoffs, but winning in the playoffs as well.
It is still yet to be seen how he fits in alongside Rudy Gobert, though, especially since Towns only played in 29 games this past year. Gobert makes up for the defensive lapses Towns has at times, which is why this big-man frontcourt still has a lot of potential in Minnesota. As far as productivity goes, the former first overall pick is still one of the better scoring big men in the league. If he is on the court, the Timberwolves are in a good position to begin growing.