Top 10 Best Basketball Players in NBA In 2022/2023
|Top 10 Best Players in NBA In 2022/2023|
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America. The league is composed of 30 teams (29 in the United States and 1 in Canada) and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. It is the premier men's professional basketball league in the world.
The league was founded in New York City on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). It changed its name to the National Basketball Association on August 3, 1949, after merging with the competing National Basketball League (NBL). The NBA's regular season runs from October to April, with each team playing 82 games. The league's playoff tournament extends into June. As of 2020, NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.
Take a look at the 10 best players in NBA in 2022/2023.
List of top 10 NBA’s Best Basketball Players in 2022/2023
1. Nikola Jokic
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
3. Joel Embiid
4. Kevin Durant
5. Stephen Curry
6. LeBron James
7. Luka Doncic
8. Ja Morant
9. DeMar DeRozan
10. Chris Paul
Who are the Best Basketball Players in NBA in 2022/2023?
1. Nikola Jokic
|Photo: USA Today|
Team: Nuggets (39-26) | Position: Point Big | 2021: 1
25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 0.8 blocks, 61.8 eFG%, 9.6 net rating, 58 GP
Nikola Jokić (born February 19, 1995) is a Serbian professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) who plays the center position. The four-time NBA All-Star has been named to the All-NBA Team on three occasions (including two first-team selections), and won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for the 2020–21 NBA season. He also represents the Serbian national team.
Nicknamed "the Joker", Jokić was selected by the Nuggets in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft. He was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2016. In the 2018–19 NBA season, while leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference Semifinals, he received his first All-Star and All-NBA First Team selections. In the following season, he once again received All-Star and All-NBA honors, while leading his team to the Western Conference Finals. Jokić ranks among the top 10 on the all-time list of the NBA players with the most triple-doubles, where he is the leading European player, and he holds the record for fastest triple-double (achieved in 14 minutes and 33 seconds). He also won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Jokić was born in Sombor, Serbia. He grew up in a cramped two-bedroom apartment that housed him and his two brothers, both parents and grandmother. His father was an agricultural engineer. Jokić developed a love of basketball early in his life playing with his two older brothers, who were a decade older. Strahinja, the oldest brother, played basketball in Europe and Nemanja, the second oldest, played college basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy. The brothers are friends with former NBA player Darko Miličić. Jokić also loved horse racing as a child and competed as an amateur, a passion he still holds today.
Standing 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m) and weighing 284 pounds (129 kg), Jokić plays exclusively at the center position. Through the 2020–21 season, Jokić's career averages are 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game.
Jokić is considered by many to be the greatest passing big man in NBA history. As a playmaker, Jokić uses his size and vision to set up his teammates for scores, often through a variety of no looks and unique deliveries. His techniques, in particular his one-handed passes, have drawn comparisons to those of a water polo player. Playing at a slow and deliberate pace, Jokić often pauses upon receiving the ball to survey the floor for defensive mistakes and potential openings.
In addition to his playmaking ability, Jokić is also a versatile scorer, capable of effectively finishing in the paint as well as hitting jump shots from midrange and the three-point arc. During his MVP season, Jokić shot .566 from the field and .388 from 3-point range. His signature move, the "Sombor Shuffle" (coined by Nuggets play-by-play announcer Chris Marlowe after Jokić's hometown of Sombor), involves jumping off his right foot before launching a high-arching fadeaway. Jokić developed the move during his recovery from an ankle injury in 2017. The unorthodox move is difficult to contest and has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki's one-legged fadeaway.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
|Photo: USA Today|
Team: Bucks (41-25) | Position: Big | 2021: 7
29.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, 57.8 eFG%, 9.0 net rating, 55 GP
Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo ( December 6, 1994) is a Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Antetokounmpo's nationality, in addition to his size, speed and ball-handling skills have earned him the nickname "Greek Freak".
Born and raised in Athens to Nigerian immigrants, Antetokounmpo began playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens. In 2011, he began playing for the club's senior team before entering the 2013 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks. In 2016–17 he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He received the Most Improved Player award in 2017. Antetokounmpo has received six All-Star selections, including being selected as an All-Star captain in 2019 and 2020, as he led the Eastern Conference in voting in these two years.
One of basketball's most decorated players, Antetokounmpo won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 2019 and 2020, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win two MVPs before turning 26. Along with his MVP award, he was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, becoming only the third player after Michael Jordan (1988) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) to win both awards in the same season. In 2021, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to their first NBA championship since 1971 and was named Finals MVP. The same year, he was selected on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Standing 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m) tall and weighing 242 pounds (110 kg), Antetokounmpo is officially listed as a forward and sometimes described as a point forward, but has been deployed across all five positions. Highly athletic and versatile, Antetokounmpo is often recognized as one of the best all-around players in the NBA, and many analysts have declared him "positionless" and as embodying the future of the league. As of July 2021, Antetokounmpo's regular season career averages are 20.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.
By the 2016–17 season, Antetokounmpo had established himself as one of the league's most devastating slashers and transition scorers. His rare combination of size and speed frequently enables him to cross half a court in a single dribble and blowing past multiple defenders. A 2017 analysis conducted by Stats SportVU at the behest of FiveThirtyEight showed that Antetokounmpo was able to cover slightly more than 15 feet off a single dribble when driving to the basket, 5 feet further than the average player in the league. In addition, Antetokounmpo has developed his own version of the Euro step, described by Jordan Brenner of ESPN.com as "the final phase of the move's evolution", which allows him to directly attack the rim from the three-point arc in a move that "renders the area between the top of the key and the basket all but undefendable".
However, Antetokounmpo has been criticised for his lack of a reliable jump shot, having shot above 31% from three-point range just once in his career. Antetokounmpo's jumper has been exploited by other teams. Most famously, the Toronto Raptors built a 'wall' of lengthy, adept defenders to neutralise Antetokounmpo's paint dominance in their 2019 Conference Finals victory. As a result, Antetokounmpo increased his jump-shooting output, averaging a career-high 4.4 three-point goals attempted and 1.4 made per game in 2019–20.
Antetokounmpo has also received attention for his playmaking skills. Despite not being the primary ball handler of the Bucks, he has largely orchestrated the team's offense. During the 2019–20 season, Antetokounmpo was responsible (through assisting and personally scoring) for 57.8% of the points the Bucks scored while he was on the floor, one of the highest rates in the league. He averaged nearly 6 assists per game during both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons.
Antetokounmpo is also recognized as an elite defensive player, capable of guarding all five positions but more often deployed in a "free safety" role that allows him to roam the paint and discourage attacks on the rim. He is also a proficient shot-blocker and has developed a reputation for blocking opponents in transition (the chase-down block). With Antetokounmpo in this role, the Bucks have flourished into one of the league's best defensive teams, leading the NBA in defensive rating in 2018–19 and 2019–20. For his defensive efforts, Antetokounmpo won the 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and he has become a perennial NBA All-Defensive honoree.
3. Joel Embiid
|Photo: The Philadelphia Inquirer|
Team: 76ers (40-24) | Position: Big | 2021: 3
29.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 blocks, 52.6 eFG%, 8.1 net rating, 52 GP
Joel Hans Embiid is a Cameroon-born basketball player, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Embiid has been a part of two All-Star games. Before being drafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, he played college basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks for a span of one year. He is the third player to be selected and also the highest paid selected player from his native country, Cameroon. During his time with the Kansas Jayhawks, he was among the 30 finalists nominated for the Naismith College Player of the Year. He made his debut for the 76ers quite late due to his foot and knee injuries. In his debut season, he was named to be a part of the NBA All-Rookie First Team even though he had played only 31 games for his team. Embiid has been nicknamed ‘The Process’. He was chosen in the preliminary team to play for Cameroon at the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket in the Republic of Congo, but he did not compete in it.
Joel Embiid declared for the 2014 NBA Draft on April 9, 2014. He was selected for the third overall pick by Philadelphia 76ers six days after his declaration.
He signed a rookie contract with the 76ers on August 26, 2014. Owing to an injury, he missed the 2014-15 season. Further, as his recuperation process failed to meet expectations and that he had to undergo another surgery, he missed out on the 2015-16 season as well.
Embiid made his first appearance for the 76ers on October 4, 2016, against Boston Celtics in the first preseason game. His team won the game 92–89, in which he made four rebounds, two blocks, and six points.
He made his debut for the 76ers in the regular NBA season on October 26, 2016, against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although his team lost the match 103–97, Embiid made two blocks, seven rebounds, and 20 points.
The 76ers announced on February 11, 2017, that Embiid has suffered an injury on his left knee. However, the team said surgery will not be needed. Later, it was revealed that the earlier injury was serious and that he would miss out on the rest of the 2016–17 season.
In the next season, Joel Embiid signed a five-year deal with the 76ers on October 10, 2017, in a $148-million rookie scale maximum contract extension. As per the contract, he could earn an additional $30 million if he made the All-NBA first, second, the third team, or was named MVP in 2017–18.
He debuted in the playoffs on April 19, 2018, against Miami Heats. The game ended with the 76ers beating Miami Heats 128–108, with Embiid scoring 23 points. He had missed the first two playoffs due to an injury on his left eye.
In the 2018–19 season, he scored 19 rebounds and 30 points against Milwaukee Bucks, making him the team’s first to achieve these stats since Charles Barkley’s score in November 1991. Philadelphia 76ers, however, lost the game 123–108.
He is one of the seven players to have 200 blocks, 1,000 rebounds, and 2,000 points in their first 100 games. Other players to achieve this feat include Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Ralph Sampson, among others.
Apart from Wilt Chamberlain, he is the only other person from the Philadelphia 76ers to have multiple triple-doubles in one season.
Joel Embiid was named in the preliminary team to play in the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket in the Republic of Congo in February 2017. He, however, did not play in the tournament.
Awards & Achievements
Joel Embiid was named in the World Team for the 2017 Rising Stars Challenge on January 25, 2017.
He has made the All-NBA Second Team twice, in 2018 and 2019. He also made it to the All-Defensive Second Team for the same years.
He was also in the All-Rookie 1st Team for 2017.
He was a starter in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, making him the first player from Philadelphia to do so since the 2009–10 season when Allen Iverson was named a starter.
4. Kevin Durant
Team: Nets (33-33) | Position: Big | 2021: 5
29.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.9 blocks, 56.6 eFG%, 4.1 net rating, 39 GP
Kevin Wayne Durant is a professional American basketball player who currently plays for the ‘Brooklyn Nets of the ‘National Basketball Association.’ Durant has won many awards, including two ‘Finals MVP Awards’ and two Olympic gold medals. Born in Washington DC in the United States, Durant was enthusiastic about basketball from his childhood. During his teenage years, he used to travel around the country for basketball tournaments along with his father. He was also quite active in playing basketball in the schools he studied. After he entered the ‘University of Texas,’ his brilliant skills in the sport earned him the ‘Oscar Robertson’ award and the ‘Adolph F Rupp’ awards, making him the first person to earn both honors as a freshman. Because of his incredible talent, he became eligible for the ‘NBA’ draft after just one year of playing in college. As a professional basketball player, Durant’s biggest achievement came at the 2012 Olympics where he not only set the record for total points scored in an Olympic basketball tournament, but also helped the national team earn a gold medal. He rejoined the team for the 2016 Olympics, where the team earned a gold medal once again. Playing for the ‘Golden State Warriors,’ he won ‘NBA Championship’ two times in a row.
Kevin Wayne Durant began his early career by playing ‘Amateur Athletic Union’ basketball for several teams in the Maryland area. During this time, he was introduced to future ‘NBA’ players, Michael Beasley, Greivis Vásquez, and Ty Lawson.
He studied at the ‘National Christian Academy’ and at the ‘Oak Hill Academy.’ In both schools, he was quite active in basketball. He later transferred to ‘Montrose Christian School’ for his senior year. By this time, he had grown six feet and seven inches tall.
Later, for further education, he joined the ‘University of Texas,’ where during the first year itself, he won the ‘Oscar Robertson’ and the ‘Adolf F Rupp’ awards for his brilliant performance. Because of his exceptional basketball skills, he was considered eligible for the ‘NBA’ draft after just one year of playing at college.
He was selected by the ‘Seattle SuperSonics’ at the 2007 ‘NBA’ draft and began his professional career. He recorded 18 points, five rebounds, and three steals in his first game against the ‘Denver Nuggets.’ The first match-winning shot of his career was made in a match against the ‘Atlanta Hawks,’ which took place on 16 November. His brilliant performance earned him the title ‘NBA Rookie of the Year.’
In the next season, his team relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma and became the ‘Oklahoma City Thunders.’ By the end of the year, Durant had raised his scoring average by five points as compared to the previous season. He was also considered for the ‘Most Improved Player Award,’ though he eventually came third.
He was selected for the 2010 ‘FIBA World Championship.’ He played brilliantly at the tournament, leading USA to the ‘World Championship’ trophy.
After a couple of years, Durant was selected for the 2012 Olympics, where he not only set the record for total points covered in an Olympic basketball tournament, but also helped his team earn a gold medal. He again played for the national team in the 2016 Olympics, where he helped the team win a gold medal once again. He was also named the 2016 ‘co-USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year,’ along with Carmelo Anthony.
In July 2016, he signed a $54 million contract with the ‘Golden State Warriors’ for two years. Interestingly, his move was received negatively by public and the ‘NBA’ analysts.
Durant lost his debut match with the ‘Warriors’ against the ‘San Antonio Spurs’ on October 2016. He made a roaring come back, scoring a career high six block shots against the ‘Minnesota Timberwolves.’ He also created history by finishing with five blocks, five assists, ten rebounds, and 25 points in a single game.
After suffering an injury, Durant returned to the 2016-17 season and played in the team’s third consecutive ‘NBA’ final where the ‘Warriors’ played against the defending champions ‘Cleveland Cavaliers.’ He helped his team win the championship by becoming his team’s top-scorer, averaging 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists while shooting 55.5 percent from the field, 92.7 percent from the free throw line, and 47.4 percent from the three-point range. For his brilliant performance, he was named ‘NBA Finals MVP.’
The next season was even more successful for the champion as the ‘Warriors’ reached the ‘NBA’ finals against the ‘Cavaliers’ at the ‘Western Conference’ finals and clinched their second consecutive win with Durant scoring a career-high 43 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists. He also won his second consecutive ‘Finals MVP’ award that season.
In the 2018-19 season, the ‘Warriors’ faced many losses against the ‘Los Angeles Clippers.’ Durant suffered injuries on his lower right calf while playing against ‘Toronto’ in Game 5 of the 2019 finals. Eventually, the ‘Warriors’ lost the finals in Game 6 and their chance at a three-peat.
Durant officially signed with ‘Brooklyn Nets’ on 7 July 2019, in a sign-and-trade deal.
5. Stephen Curry
Team: Warriors (44-22) | Position: Guard | 2021: 4
25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 54.8 eFG%, 10.4 net rating, 59 GP
Stephen Curry is an American professional basketball player who represents the ‘Golden State Warriors’ in ‘NBA.’ The first child of Dell Curry, who is considered one of the best 3-point shooters in ‘NBA’ history, Stephen has been named the greatest shooter by many players as well as analysts. He has won the 'NBA Most Valuable Player Award' twice in a row, including one unanimous win, a first in ‘NBA’ history. He led the ‘Warriors’ to their first championship in four decades, and also helped his team break the record for the most wins in an ‘NBA’ season. He earned the ‘Southern Conference Player of the Year’ title twice by setting an all-time scoring record for both ‘Davidson’ and the ‘Southern Conference.’ He also set the ‘NCAA’ record for most three-pointers made in a season during his second year in college. Renowned for his shooting skills, he holds the ‘NBA’ record for most three-pointers made in a regular season, a record that he himself broke twice. He and his teammate, Klay Thompson, are known by the nickname ‘Splash Brothers’ for their record-breaking combined three-pointers in a season.
Stephen Curry left ‘Davidson College’ without completing his senior year to play in the ‘NBA.’ He was chosen by the ‘Golden State Warriors’ as the seventh overall pick in the 2009 ‘NBA’ draft.
Showcasing his shooting skill right from the beginning, he scored a record 166 three-pointers as a rookie in the league history. However, repeated injuries and the fact that he played for a weak team kept him out of the limelight during the next two seasons.
During the 2012-13 season, he recovered fully from his ankle sprain. Subsequently, he and his teammate Klay Thompson earned the nickname ‘The Splash Brothers’ for their record combined three-pointers in a season. During the season, Stephen alone scored 272 three-pointers to set an ‘NBA’ record.
During the next season, he made his first ‘All-Star’ appearance in February 2014 for the ‘West’ and was later selected to his first ‘All-NBA Team.’ He also became the leading three-pointer scorer for the ‘Warriors,’ surpassing Jason Richardson.
During the 2014-15 season, he broke his own league record for maximum three-pointers made in a season by achieving 286 three-pointers. In 2015, he helped the ‘Warriors’ win their first championship since 1975 and was named the ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the year by ‘NBA.’
In the next season, he helped his team win 24 consecutive matches, which culminated in 73 total wins, an all-time ‘NBA’ record. Despite suffering an injury, Curry led the ‘Warriors’ to their second straight ‘NBA Finals,’ but even his record of 27 three-pointers in a final match failed to save the game for the team.
He continued to break a number of records during the 2015-16 season, including his own record to take the new maximum three-pointers tally to 402. He also became the first player in ‘NBA’ history to be selected as the ‘Most Valuable Player’ unanimously.
Curry broke numerous three-point ‘NBA’ records in the 2016–17 season and surpassed 300 three-pointers for the second time in ‘NBA’ history, finishing with 324 three-pointers. His team clinched a playoff berth by February 25, 2017, becoming the fastest team to do so in ‘NBA’ history.
Stephen made his debut with the United States National Basketball team at the 2007 ‘FIBA Under-19 World Championship,’ where he helped the team clinch a silver medal. Later, he helped his team win a Gold medal as part of the senior squad in 2010. His team remained undefeated in 2014 ‘FIBA Basketball World’ Cup as well.
Curry led the ‘Golden State Warriors’ onto their third championship in four seasons in the 2018 ‘NBA’ finals.
6. LeBron James
Team: Lakers (28-36) | Position: LeBron | 2021: 2
29.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 58.7 eFG%, -1.6 net rating, 46 GP
LeBron James is an American professional basketball player. He had a difficult childhood but showed tremendous talent early in his life. As a freshman at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, he was pivotal in leading his team to two consecutive Division III State Championships. He began attracting national attention for his basketball skills and was equally good at football in which he garnered All-state honors. He was taken as the number one overall pick in the NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He became the youngest person in NBA history to score 40 points in a game and became the youngest person to win the Rookie of the Year award. He was universally praised for his versatility, as he was used as a point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. His highlight-reel dunks and no-look passes thrilled his fans. In his third season, he led the Cavaliers to the playoffs. In his fifth season, he nearly single-handedly led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, only to be swept in four games by the San Antonio Spurs. LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. In 2021, he became the first NBA active player to gather $1 billion in earnings.
LeBron James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft. He was eventually named Rookie of the Year, finishing with averages of 20.9 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game.
At 19, LeBron became the youngest member of the USA basketball squad sent to the Olympics in 2004, but he spent most of his time on the bench.
He made NBA history again in 2005, when he became the youngest player to score more than 50 points in one game. He was selected for the NBA All-Star game for the first time.
With averages of 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, he became the youngest player in NBA history to be named to an All-NBA Team, which he achieved in the 2004–05 season.
In 2006, he helped his team beat the Wizards in the first round of Playoffs. Against the Pistons in the semifinals, even his average of 26.6 could not secure his team a victory.
After the 2006 Playoffs, LeBron James and the Cavaliers negotiated a three-year, $60 million contract extension with a player option of seeking a new contract as an unrestricted free agent.
The Cavaliers proved to be stronger competitors in 2007, reaching the NBA finals and beating Detroit to win the Eastern Conference. But they lost in the finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
During the 2007-08 season, the Cavaliers improved their standing in the Eastern Conference. The team made it to the semifinals, where they were defeated by the Boston Celtics in seven games.
The year 2008 was a stellar one for him as he outperformed rival players like Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson by scoring an average of 30 points per game, the highest average in the NBA regular season.
In 2008, he traveled to Beijing with the likes of Bryant, Jason Kidd, and Dwyane Wade as part of the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team and brought home the gold after defeating Spain in the finals.
Shortly after becoming a free agent in 2010, he announced that he would be joining the Miami Heat for the upcoming season. He finished second in the league, scoring 26.7 points per game.
LeBron James competed at his third Olympic Games in 2012, in London, along with teammates Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Kobe Bryant, and the team brought home the second consecutive Olympic gold.
At the end of the 2012-13 season, against the San Antonio Spurs, Miami transformed a seemingly impossible championship win into reality, winning their second consecutive national title with a 3-4 victory.
In 2014, LeBron James opted out of his contract with Miami Heat and signed with Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2014–15 season, Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the NBA finals and in the process, James became the first player since the 1960s to play in five consecutive NBA finals.
His 2015–16 season was marred by controversies, which also included the midseason firing of Cavaliers' coach David Blatt. In spite of all this, LeBron James performed admirably and became the third player to record a triple-double in an NBA Finals Game.
LeBron's stint with Cleveland Cavaliers ended in 2018 and thereafter, he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In February 2019, James became the fifth NBA player to reach 32,000 points. On March 6, 2019, in a game against Denver Nuggets, he surpassed Michael Jordan to become the fourth-highest scorer on the NBA list.
7. Luka Doncic
|Photo: USA Today|
Team: Mavericks (40-25) | Position: Wing | 2021: 10
28.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 0.5 blocks, 51.5 eFG%, 3.4 net rating, 49 GP
Luka Dončić (born February 28, 1999) is a Slovenian professional basketball player for the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also represents the Slovenian national team.
Born in Ljubljana, Dončić shone as a youth player for Union Olimpija before joining the youth academy of Real Madrid. He debuted for their senior team in 2015, at age 16, becoming the youngest in club history. Two years later, he led Madrid to the 2018 EuroLeague title, winning the EuroLeague MVP as well as the Final Four MVP. Dončić was also named the ACB Most Valuable Player and won back-to-back EuroLeague Rising Star and ACB Best Young Player awards. He was selected to the EuroLeague 2010–20 All-Decade Team.
In 2018, Dončić declared for the NBA draft, joining the Dallas Mavericks.[note 1] He was selected unanimously to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and won Rookie of the Year for the 2018–19 season. In his sophomore season, he was selected to his first NBA All-Star game and named to the All-NBA First Team. He is the Mavericks' franchise leader in career triple-doubles.
A Slovenian international, Dončić made his senior debut for Slovenia in 2016 at only 17 years of age; he would later help his country win its first EuroBasket title in 2017 while also being named to the All-Tournament Team.
Dončić has frequently been described as a "position-less guard" with attributes of a point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. Standing 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and weighing 230 pounds (104.3 kg), he has been praised for his exceptional size and strength for the guard position. Dallas Mavericks executive Donnie Nelson lauded his "point forward ability" and sports website The Ringer labeled him a "legitimate point guard with the size of a small-ball power forward."
Since his early years with Real Madrid, Dončić was tabbed as one of Europe's premier talents, with Spanish newspaper Marca giving him the nickname "El Niño Maravilla" (The Wonder Boy). Entering the 2018 NBA draft, he was widely seen as one of the best and most accomplished European prospects of his generation. Slam magazine considered Dončić the "best international prospect ever," and sports website SB Nation called him "most accomplished NBA prospect in decades." An anonymous NBA veteran scouting executive said that his game was "leap years above anyone" in his draft class.
Dončić is versatile on the offensive end, displaying proficiency in shooting three-pointers, mid-range jump shots, floaters, and shots in the post. His basketball IQ, intangibles, and skills have been considered his primary assets, and he is seen as an elite facilitator, especially on the pick and roll. NBA and EuroLeague coach Ettore Messina called him "phenomenal, especially mentally" for his age. His lack of lateral quickness to stay in front of most NBA point guards and wings has been labeled one of his main flaws. Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle refuted some of the worries regarding Dončić's athleticism, stating that "for a 19-year-old, he's got a really unusual combination of size, speed, and deceptive quickness." By his second year, Luka's ability to accelerate off a pick and blow by defenders to get to the basket is seen as one of his strengths. Given the false characterisation of his abilities and his subsequent success in the NBA, some speculate that prejudiced stereotyping might have had a role in his negative pre-draft evaluation.
Before his draft, basketball journalist and scout Austin Green compared Dončić to NBA players Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson. Dončić compared himself to Ben Simmons due to his versatility. In his second season, LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers, when asked about Dončić, stated that "there's a lot of people in him." He likened Dončić’s stepback 3-pointers to James Harden, his passing ability to Larry Bird, and his court vision to LeBron James. NBA analyst, Kendrick Perkins, called him "baby LeBron" due to his overall skill and dominance on the court.
In December 2019, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called Dončić's playing style "Magic Johnson-like" because "he sees the floor in that same way." In August 2020, head coach Rick Carlisle compared Dončić’s playmaking and court vision to Larry Bird and Jason Kidd. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo called Dončić "one of the most talented guys I've ever played against." During his first career playoff game versus the LA Clippers, TV analyst and former point guard Mark Jackson, reiterated his view of Dončić, calling him "an absolute combination of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird."
8. Ja Morant
|Photo: Getty Images|
Team: Grizzlies (45-22) | Position: Guard | 2021: NR
27.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.4 blocks, 53.4 eFG%, 4.2 net rating, 53 GP
Temetrius Jamel "Ja" Morant (born August 10, 1999) is an American professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Murray State Racers, where he was a consensus first-team All-American as a sophomore in 2019. He was selected by the Grizzlies with the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft and named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020. Morant was named to his first NBA All Star Game in 2022 as a starter.
Morant was only lightly recruited by NCAA Division I programs and unranked by recruiting services, despite having been named All-Region Most Valuable Player three times and earning All-State honors at Crestwood High School in Sumter, South Carolina. Nevertheless, he made an immediate impact at Murray State University, earning first-team all-conference honors in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) as a freshman. He had a breakout sophomore season; it saw him win OVC Player of the Year as well as lead the NCAA in assists. Also as a sophomore, Morant became the first player in NCAA history to average 20-plus points and 10-plus assists per game for a single season.
Memphis Grizzlies (2019–present)
2019–20 season: Rookie of the Year
Morant was drafted second overall during the 2019 NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. On July 2, 2019, he signed a two-year contract worth $17,897,040 with the Grizzlies. On October 23, 2019, Morant made his NBA debut, starting in a 101–120 loss to the Miami Heat with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. On November 13, he recorded his first career double-double with 23 points and 11 assists, and hit a game winning layup in a 117–115 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. On February 9, 2020, he recorded his first career triple-double in a 106–99 win over the Washington Wizards. In the 2019–20 season, Morant led all rookies in assists with an average of 7.1 assists per game, as well as total points scored, with 1,138 (17.8 points per game). At the end of the season, he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year and earned the NBA All-Rookie First Team honor.
2020–21 season: First playoff appearance
On December 23, 2020, Morant recorded a career-high 44 points, alongside nine assists, two rebounds, and two steals in a 131–119 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
On May 21, 2021, in the newly implemented Play-In Tournament, with the eighth and final playoff spot on the line, Morant recorded 35 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists to lead Memphis to a 117–112 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors, securing the Grizzlies’ first postseason berth in four seasons. Two days later, he made his NBA playoff debut, scoring 26 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists to help lead the Grizzlies to a 112–109 upset victory in Game 1 over the top-seeded Utah Jazz. Morant followed that up with 47 points and 7 assists in Game 2, but Memphis fell short, 141–129. The Grizzlies were eliminated, losing the series in five games.
2021–22 season: First All-Star selection
On October 20, 2021, in the Grizzlies' season opener, Morant recorded 37 points and six assists in a 132–121 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. On October 24, he scored 40 points while dishing out 10 assists in a 121–118 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. On December 29, Morant put up a season-high 41 points, behind a career-high six made three-pointers, to lead Memphis to a 104–99 victory over the Lakers. On January 4, 2022, he led all scorers with 36 points, alongside 8 assists and 6 rebounds, in a 118–104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. On January 21, 2022, Morant had 38 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in a 122–118 win against the Denver Nuggets. On January 26, 2022, Morant tied his season-high 41 points, alongside 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in a 118–110 win against the San Antonio Spurs. On January 27, Morant was selected to his first All-Star Game as a West Starter. The next day, Morant logged his fourth career triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 119–109 win over the Utah Jazz. On February 16, Morant tied his career-high with 44 points, including a career high 20 points in the first quarter, grabbed 5 rebounds and delivered 11 assists in a 123–119 loss against the Portland Trail Blazers. On February 26, Morant scored a then career-high 46 points in a 116–110 win over the Chicago Bulls. The total was the record for most points in a game by a Grizzlies player, breaking Mike Miller's record set in February 2007. On February 28, Morant bested this total, scoring a career-high 52 points, on an efficient 22-of-30 shooting, including 4-4 from beyond the arc, in a 118–105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
9. DeMar DeRozan
Team: Bulls (39-26) | Position: Wing | 2021: NR
28.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 52.6 eFG%, 3.5 net rating, 61 GP
DeMar Darnell DeRozan is an American professional basketball player, who is presently the ‘Shooting Guard’ for the ‘San Antonio Spurs’ in the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA). He practiced basketball with his father since his childhood and was a known young talent during his school years. He was ranked as a top college recruit in his senior year, when he won the ‘McDonald’s High School All-American’ and was named ‘Pac-10 Tournament MVP.’ He chose the ‘University of Southern California’ and played for the ‘USC Trojans.’ Later he gave up his 3 years of eligibility at the ‘USC’ to enter the ‘NBA Draft 2009.’ He was chosen ninth overall by the ‘Toronto Raptors.’ He was a member of the US national team during the ‘2014 World Cup’ and the 2016 Olympics. DeRozan was named four times to the ‘NBA All-Star Team’ and twice he was a member of ‘All-NBA Team.’ He played with the ‘Toronto Raptors’ for nine seasons, after which he was traded to the ‘San Antonio Spurs’ in 2018.
DeRozan chose to give up his 3 years of eligibility at the USC and in April, 2009, he decided to enter the ‘2009 NBA Draft.’ He was selected 9th overall by the ‘Toronto Raptors’ in June 2009. His decision to choose professional career was partly because of his mother’s health, as he wished to take better care of her.
In 2010 and 2011, he was selected for ‘Sprite Slam Dunk ‘competition, but he did not achieve the top place. In 2014, his scores reached a high at 40 points against ‘Dallas Mavericks.’ He was selected for ‘2014 NBA All-Star Game’ as a reserve guard for ‘Eastern Conference All-Star Team.’ In March 2014, he helped the ‘Toronto Raptors’ win over ‘Boston Celtics’ and seal a playoff berth.
In the 2013-2014 season the ‘Toronto Raptors,’ assisted by DeRozan, achieved third seed in ‘Eastern Conference’ with a 48-34 record. During the playoffs, he became the first ‘Raptors’ to score 30 points in each of back-to-back playoff games.
During the 2014-2015 season, he suffered a torn left adductor longus tendon, in November 2014, and could return to the game only in January 2015. He kept scoring career high points and in April he was named the ‘Eastern Conference Player of the Month.’
During the 2015-2016 season, he was named the ‘Eastern Conference Player of the Week’ in December 2015, and in January 2016, he was chosen for ‘2016 NBA All-Star Game’ as the ‘Eastern conference All-Star’ reserve. In February he recorded his 233rd career win, surpassing previous records to become the ‘winningest’ player in the ‘Toronto Raptors’ history.
In July 2016, he renewed his contract with the ‘Raptors.’ In November 2016, he became the first NBA player (since Michael Jordan) to score 30-points or more in nine out of season’s first 11 games. In December 2016, he broke ‘Toronto Raptor’s’ previous records to become their career scoring leader with total of 10, 290 points. In January 2017, he was named a starter on the ‘Eastern Conference All-Star Team’ for the ‘2017 NBA All-Star Team.’ He missed the next 7 games due to a sprained ankle.
DeRozan completed the 2016-2017 season with a career high 2,020 points and became second player in the team’s history to score more than 2,000 points in a single season. He helped the team reach number 3 seed in the ‘Eastern Conference.’ He was a part of the playoff games of that season and was named for the first time in his career in the ‘All-NBA Third Team.’
In January 2018, he set a franchise record by scoring 52 points in a single game. For the second successive season, in January 2018, he was named as an ‘NBA All-Star’ starter, which became his fourth overall selection to the game. In February 2018, he was chosen the ‘Eastern Conference Player’ for January month. He scored for his team in the playoff series and was selected to the ‘All-NBA Second Team.’
After playing 9 seasons for the ‘Toronto Raptors,’ he and another player, Jakob Pöltl, were traded in July 2018 to ‘San Antonio Spurs’ in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
DeRozan played for the US national team that won a gold medal in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
10. Chris Paul
|Photo: Getty Images|
Team: Suns (52-13) | Position: Guard | 2021: 12
14.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 53.2 eFG%, 10.5 net rating, 58 GP
Chris Paul is a popular American basketball player who currently plays for the ‘Oklahoma City Thunder’ of the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA). Paul, who began his professional career playing for the ‘New Orleans Hornets,’ has also played for the United States men’s basketball team. He helped his national team win two gold medals at the Olympics. Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Paul was a sports enthusiast from his childhood. Although initially he was more interested in football, he later became passionate about basketball. Needless to say, he was a brilliant player in high school. He attended the ‘Wake Forest University’ for two years where he achieved excellence in college basketball and helped ‘Demon Deacons’ achieve the number one ranking for the first time. Soon, he was drafted into the NBA by ‘New Orleans Hornets.’ He played for the team for a total of six seasons, after which he joined the ‘Los Angeles Clippers.’ He then went on to serve as the president of the ‘National Basketball Players Association,’ a labor union which represents all NBA players. Despite being one of the most successful and highly paid basketball players, Paul is very humble and has stated that he is grateful to God for all his achievements.
Before joining the ‘Wake Forest University,’ which has a rich history in basketball, Chris Paul unfortunately lost his grandfather who was killed during a robbery in his home. Soon after, he was recruited by the ‘Demon Deacons’ of ‘Wake Forest,’ where he was a team leader from his very first game.
Because of his brilliant skills, he soon earned honors, such as ‘Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.’ He successfully broke five freshman records for assists, steals, free throws, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage. He was also named the nation’s best player by several reputed publications.
In 2005, he made himself available for the NBA draft after his sophomore season. He was picked by the ‘New Orleans Hornets’ in the first round. During his first year with ‘Hornets,’ the team won a total of 38 games. His amazing skills as well as dedication earned him the ‘NBA Rookie of the Year’ award.
Paul was selected for the US national team for the 2006 ‘FIBA World Championship’ which was to be held in Japan. He helped his team finish the tournament with a bronze medal. He again represented the national team in the 2008 Olympics which was held in Beijing. He displayed a fantastic performance, and helped his team win a gold medal.
He played well for the ‘Hornets’ for a total of six seasons. In 2011, before the start of the 2011-12 season, a deal was orchestrated between the ‘New Orleans Hornets’ and the ‘Los Angeles Clippers’ that saw Paul going to the ‘Los Angeles Clippers.’
After Paul’s transfer to the ‘Los Angeles Clippers,’ the team’s performance improved to an extent. He finished his first year with the team with an average of 19.8 points, 9.1 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. His performance during the season was appreciated.
He once again represented the US national team at the 2012 Olympics in London. He averaged 8.2 points, along with 5.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, helping his team win another gold medal.
He also performed brilliantly during the 2013 All-Star game, where he earned his first ‘NBA All-star Game Most Valuable Player Award.’ Despite enduring several injuries, his performance never dropped while playing for the ‘Clippers.’ After playing six seasons with the ‘Clippers,’ he was traded to the ‘Houston Rockets’ in June 2017. He played for the ‘Houston Rockets’ till 2019.
On July 16, 2019, the 'Rockets' traded Paul in exchange for Russell Westbrook to the 'Oklahoma City Thunder.' He made his debut for the 'Thunder' on October 23, 2019. On December 16, he achieved a near triple-double while helping his team to a win over the 'Chicago Bulls.'
Awards & Achievements
In 2004, Chris Paul was declared the ‘USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.’
He won the ‘NBA Rookie of the Year Award’ in 2006. The same year, he was also named to the ‘NBA All-Rookie First Team.’
Helping his national team win Olympic golds in 2008 and 2012 is considered his most significant achievement. He also helped his national team win a bronze medal at the ‘FIBA World Championship’ in 2006.
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