NBA 2020-21: Ranking the Top 10 Players entering the new season

NBA 2020-21: The new NBA season tipped-off and we saw the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and many more. Let’s look at the list of the top 10 players entering the new NBA season.

The last time we did this was after the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned champions of the 2019-20 season.

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Here are some notable players who just missed the cut:

  • Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards
  • Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
  • Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
  • Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
  • Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
  • Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
  • De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
  • DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
  • D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves

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10. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Highest rank: 8

Lowest rank: 10

Lillard put the NBA on notice in the season restart, carrying the Blazers to the playoffs with averages of 37.6 points and 9.6 assists on .497/.436/.888 shooting splits over their eight seeding games, earning him Bubble MVP.

With a better supporting cast this season, Lillard could work his way into the MVP discussion if the Blazers sneak their way into the top four of the Western Conference this season.

9. James Harden, Houston Rockets

Highest rank: 7

Lowest rank: 10

Arguably the best offensive player in the NBA, Harden has led the league in scoring in three consecutive seasons, peaking in 2018-19 with 36.1 points per game.

Say what you want about his postseason history, but the Rockets have made the playoffs eight straight seasons with Harden at the helm, giving them the longest active streak in the NBA.

8. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Highest rank: 7

Lowest rank: 10

The way Jokic ended last season sure made everyone forget how he started it. He took his game to another level in the playoffs yet again, leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals with 24.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game.

Is there any question as to who the best center in the league is anymore?

7. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Highest rank: 6

Lowest rank: 11

A six-time All-Star, three-time champion, two-time MVP, and one-time scoring champion … Curry’s resume speaks for itself.

The question with him is health. After missing all but five games last season with a broken hand, Golden State’s hope of returning to the playoffs this season in a crowded Western Conference hinges on Curry staying on the court.

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6. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Highest rank: 6

Lowest rank: 11

In his sophomore season, Doncic posted 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. According to Stathead, only two players in NBA history have ever posted those numbers before.

Doncic followed that up by breaking a number of records in his first taste of postseason basketball.

He’s only 21, but Doncic is well on his way towards being an all-time great.

5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Highest rank: 4

Lowest rank: 5

The last time we saw Durant, he was arguably the best player in the NBA. Even if he’s 90 percent of the player he was prior to tearing his Achilles, he’ll likely be worthy of this spot.

You have to take everything that happens in the preseason with a grain of salt, but Durant’s debut with the Nets sure was promising.

4. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers

Highest rank: 2

Lowest rank: 5

Coming off of one of the greatest individual postseason runs in NBA history, we had Leonard as the best player in the league heading into the 2019-20 season.

He put together a career year with the Clippers in averaging 27.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.9 rebounds per game, but it all came crumbling down in the playoffs, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the second round.

That might’ve cost Leonard a few spots on this list, but he’s still arguably the best two-way player in the league.

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3. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Highest rank: 2

Lowest rank: 4

Davis didn’t disappoint in his first playoff run with the Lakers. The biggest surprise? His jump shot. After making 34.9 percent of his field-goal attempts from midrange during the regular season, Davis shot 49.6 percent from that distance in the playoffs. Davis also improved his 3-point percentage, from 33.0 percent in the regular season to 38.3 percent in the playoffs.

If that’s a sign of what’s to come … uh oh.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Highest rank: 1

Lowest rank: 3

Not only did Antetokounmpo win his second MVP award last season, but he also became the third player in NBA history to be named the league’s MVP and DPOY in the same season, joining two legends in Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Regular season Giannis is arguably the best player in the league, but it’s hard to see him taking the top spot until he has more success in the playoffs.

1. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Highest rank: 1

Lowest rank: 4

We didn’t have James as the No. 1 player in the league entering the 2019-20 season

Although, he proved us and everyone else who doubted him in any way, shape, or form wrong last season in leading the Lakers to the championship with averages of 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game in the Finals.

James enters his age 36 season ranked ninth all-time in regular-season minutes and first all-time in postseason minutes. Father Time should’ve caught up to him at this point, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.