Say it with me: Kyle. Now, the NBA is heading back to arenas and while fans really won't be in attendance as the games start, the greatest athletes in the world will be on full display. Owner of a higher PER last season than Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, and Ben Simmons—players ranked ahead of him on our 2020 rankings—Sabonis has made himself into an extremely well-rounded baller who is an elite rebounder and a very good defender. We can’t forget that Durant is probably the most unguardable basketball player ever to walk this earth, and arguably the closest a player has been in recent years from knocking LeBron off his throne as the best player in the NBA. The EuroLeague is the basketball version of soccer's Champions League, with the top European clubs qualifying each year. It should be all systems go for Griffin, only 31, this upcoming season. And if all is well in that appendage you know he’s good for an easy 20, 7, and 5 every game. Fox deserves some shine entering his fourth season in the league out of Kentucky, since he’s become a dynamic scorer (21.1 PPG last season) and a very good distributor (6.8 APG last season) who is an absolute blur in transition. In the not too distant future, it might be rewarded with the ultimate honor. 2 spot from last year and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s playoff struggles didn’t convince us to elevate him to that No. Admittedly, Chamberlain played at a time when post players were significantly smaller and basketball wasn’t drawing the types of athletic marvels we see today, but the man was so incredibly dominant that he deserves a spot in the top five regardless of context. LeBron James just does things that shouldn’t be humanly possible. He can do that. With all that being said, people seem to ignore that prior to Kyrie’s injury last year he was averaging the best numbers of his career: 27.4 points per game, 6.5 assists per game, and 5.2 rebounds per game is absurd. It’s the injuries that make us bury Griffin this far down on our list, otherwise the Pistons forward has perennial All-NBA talent—don’t forget he’s been on one of the three All-NBA teams five times in 10 seasons. He not only averaged over 25 PPG for the 16th straight season, but he posted a career-high 10.2 APG. He wasn’t healthy or in shape, he didn’t have a training camp or preseason to get ready for the season mentally and physically, and he was on a minutes-restriction throughout his time on the court. But O’Neal wasn’t just pure physicality—he was surprisingly graceful for such a massive man and he had a deft touch with his close-range jump shots. But let’s not gloss over what we saw from Middleton down in the bubble. Last year’s Heat team has proven to his former teams that it wasn’t him, it was them. Majority of this list But if you honestly believe he’s not one of the best young shooting guards in the game, you’re higher than the Rocky Mountains. I’m a Zach LaVine believer. Last season he stretched the floor more than he has in the past and probably should’ve won the Defensive Player of the Year (Giannis did not need both, let’s be real). By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Yeah, there are limitations in Gobert’s game and if he was anywhere near elite we wouldn’t hear his name in trade rumors. The 6’9” Johnson (making him the NBA’s tallest point guard) not only posted the best assists-per-game mark in league history (11.2) but had a tremendous all-around game, as well. The scariest part about Ingram is the fact that he just turned 23 in September. 2 spot. But both the players and owners can opt out of the collective bargaining agreement by December 2016, which could cause a … From the moment he... Shaquille O'Neal. The 50 Greatest Players in National Basketball Association History (also referred to as NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team or NBA's Top 50) were chosen in 1996 to honor the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Basketball Association (NBA). But five seasons following the Nuggets making him the 41st (!?!?!) It looks like the No. The defense is already there for the young fella and he’ll surely win a Defensive Player of the Year award before it’s all said and done. Moreover, his rivalry with Magic Johnson—who, spoiler alert, you’ll see a bit later in this list—during the 1980s launched basketball into an unprecedented level of national popularity that the sport has never fallen from. That might surprise you, but take a look at his Hall of Fame probability on Basketball-Reference. Just think about how much talent is in the league right now. Absolutely. Whatever.) The 30.5 points he poured in per game last season was second in the league behind scoring champ James Harden and he’s clearly the present and future of the Wizards organization. One of the most ebullient personalities to ever play in the NBA, Johnson’s charm was a major factor in the massive increase in the league’s popularity during the 1980s. The Suns shooting guard made his first All-Star team last season and it should be the first of many selections because few can light it up like him. But in his rookie year, Russell completely changed the franchise’s course and established the Celtics as the winningest team in the NBA. Everyone assumed that LeBron James had lost a step after the Lakers missed the playoffs in 2019. Most famous player ever? In fact, they were downright wrong. He was amazing, but he had a lot of help, at least more than the last guy on this list. Not unlike LeBron James or Shaquille O'Neal, guarding him is a … Will he have to demand a trade to get a ring? This year, he has a roster to compete, so those numbers will be under a magnifying glass every night. Bottom line: Holiday’s one of the more reliable and versatile two guards in the NBA. That pesky knee that will keep him out of Boston’s lineup until January is one of them. Our bad. Most impressively, after he signed the new deal, Mitchell pledged to donate $12 million to the Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, the same school he attended from third to ninth grade. At only 25, LaVine’s ceiling is high, even with his injury history, and he’s improved on the defensive side of the ball as well. (Or 20. The four highest all-time NBA single-season scoring averages all belong to Chamberlain…in his first four professional seasons. Underrated. That’s what’s so scary about the Greek Freak who became the 11th individual in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards this past season, and just the third player in league history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same campaign, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon in that ultra-exclusive club. If that turns out to be the case, then Wall absolutely deserves to be ranked as one of the 50 best players in the league because his ability to score and distribute at the point guard position has always been next level. LeBron has no signs of slowing down and remains the best player in the world. Maybe that stigma someday goes away. Knock him for leadership shortfalls and other ancillary behaviors that caused a serious rift in the Clippers locker room last season if you’d like, but he remains one of the best two-way wing players in the game, and it’s not debatable. Lowry. When you throw the corny narratives out the window and focus on just the game of basketball, Kyrie Irving is a top 15 player in the NBA without a doubt. We respect you, DeMar. I bet you in a few years we’re calling the Grizzlies’ point guard one of the best pound-for-pound players in the league, because at 6’3” and roughly 175 pounds, he is tiny by NBA standards. One of the most exciting offensive players in basketball, Trae Young ranks fourth league-wide in scoring this season at 29.4 points per game and second in assists at 9.3 nightly. The sky appears to be the limit. That doesn’t mean he’s the best or most valuable but when it comes to pure skill, it’s hard to find someone who has every single box checked on offense. The 10 Greatest Basketball Players of All Time Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The failures in the postseason will continue to haunt Harden until he breaks through, but he’s been a First Team All-NBA selection the past six seasons and I think he deserves more credit for his defense. So, yeah, Magic Johnson—neat guy. Kind of like former pound-for-pound champ Allen Iverson used to. NEW YORK — The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced … The official website of FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, and the governing body of Basketball. Whether or not you believe Bradley Beal deserved All-NBA status last season after a brilliant 2019-20 campaign might depend on your loyalties. What we do know, though, is that Butler will come to play each and every night, and he’ll do what needs to be done on both sides of the floor. Yet Morant already packs a massive offensive punch after his Rookie of the Year campaign last season that saw him put up 17.8 PPG and 7.3 APG. The past seven seasons he’s averaged at least 20 a night, and let’s not forget he’s a four-time All-Star and twice has earned All-NBA status (second and third team). From LeBron James, entering his age 36 season, still doing it at the highest level to the new batch of stars like Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson showing their greatness on a nightly basis, the league has never featured more talent. 3 LeBron James LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. I understand the arguments against Shaq being even a top-10 player. Nor should it distract you from the fact Gobert’s continues to be as one of the best defensive bigs in the NBA (two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time member of the All-Defensive squad). The 2020 basketball recruiting class is a deep, strong group. At number 1 in this list of best basketball players of 2020, we have LeBron James. It’s time for Britannica—OK, one editor at Britannica—to jump into the perpetually unresolved “greatest ever in [insert sport here]” fray. But just because the Klaw couldn’t carry his (reportedly dysfunctional) team to the Western Conference finals doesn’t diminish the individual brilliance of Leonard. He’s actually become a pretty good disruptor, but superstars are always judged on championships and right now that’s really the only thing missing on Harden’s resume. If he didn’t prove he was the second best point guard behind Steph Curry after sending OKC home the way he did in 2019, then he proved it after absolutely losing his mind in the Bubble (he averaged 37.1 PPG during the Restart!) This year Young has a playoff-caliber roster alongside him. We’re not technically a sports website, but this editor (hi!) Yes, Green’s game was elevated while playing alongside generational talent during the Warriors run to five-straight NBA Finals. Before the player sustained an injury, he was leading LA Lakers to the third-best record in the West. Butler’s leadership has been an underrated quality of his for quite some time now. Davis now joins a long lineage of Laker bigs to win a ring and he’s still only 27 years old with a game that’s still evolving. The Suns only used Ayton as the pick-and-roll man 18.3 percent of the time he touched the ball last season and that should be way higher. Remember, Antetokounmpo just finished his age 25 season—the same age Jordan was when he won MVP and DPOY in the same season. It’s just Embiid’s health and conditioning that forever holds him back from tip-toeing into truly elite status, and why he can’t justify putting the Sixers big ahead of AD and the Greek Freak. A six-time All-Star who has made five All-NBA Teams and four All-Defensive squads, Paul’s averaged 20.0 PPG during his 10-year career and owns a defensive pedigree few small forwards in the NBA can match. Yeah, missing two years in the prime of your career isn’t ideal and we’ll continue to hold our breath watching the 30-year-old in his return from a torn Achilles. 1 pick in the 2018 draft is going to live up to the hype. While his iso-heavy game may drive basketball purists bonkers, it’s still impressive to watch the Beard launch and connect at a comically high clip that’s earned him the past three scoring titles and 2018 MVP honors. Five seasons in a row, McCollum has averaged at least 20.8 PPG while shooting well above league average from beyond the arc (39.8 percent to be precise). It's clear someone is going to have to take the crown from him. The journey to get to this NBA season has been anything but ordinary. Towns is almost a 40 percent shooter from three for his career, has never averaged less than 18.3 PPG in a season, has been pretty durable (until last season), and owns a higher career offensive rating (an estimation of the points produced by player per 100 possessions) than his fellow Kentucky alum Anthony Davis. This year Dame is going to have to suit up and slay some more dragons, so that the Blazers can even have a shot at the crown. His 22.2 PPG last season was the 18th best mark in the league and three times he’s finished seventh in the league in field goals made. If he’s healthy, he’s a problem and he’s someone if you do not double, can hurt you repeatedly one-on-one. And for the first time in the list's history, there's a new No. Who are the 10 best players in the Eastern Conference without Kawhi, KD and John Wall? Ben Simmons continues to be one of the most polarizing players in the NBA. Easily among the most gifted offensive bigs in the NBA, Towns has the resume to back it up: the 25-year-old Wolves center is a two-time All-Star, was All-NBA Third Team in 2018, and the 2016 Rookie of the Year. And he's still only 21-years-old. Duncan defined one of basketball's most successful franchises for almost 20 years. He’s bigger than a good portion of the players in the NFL and yet he still moves as gracefully as the most nimble guards in basketball. LeBron Raymone James was born on December 30, 1984, and is a well-known American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. He might not be as athletically gifted as the two 7-footers we have ranked ahead of him, but when Embiid is healthy, what is there not to love about his game or his endearing personality? That dollar amount probably caught some people by surprise because VanVleet isn’t an All-Star, but he ain’t that far away if he keeps progressing like he has through his first four seasons in the league. In an NBA where draft assets are often an organization’s most valuable commodity, the obvious answer is no since Holiday isn’t a superstar. Famously, he played center in place of the injured Abdul-Jabbar in the title-clinching game six of the 1980 NBA finals as a 20-year-old rookie. But he didn’t earn his place on this list though some sort of vague, ethereal “winningness.” Russell was one of the fiercest defenders of all time and he redefined the value of blocking shots, in addition to averaging an incredible 22.5 rebounds per game over his career. He’s not the flashiest but he gets the job done. It’s been an incredible come-up for VanVleet, who bet on himself after going undrafted out of Wichita State. With a weak draft class and lack of major international talent (e.g., the next Luka Doncic), our list consists of all NBA and WNBA players. Ultimately, D’Angelo Russell took that All-Star spot but when healthy, LeVert Caris was arguably the best player on that team and he showed it in the playoffs that year. Not only did LeBron James go out and win his fourth NBA title, but he played at an MVP level the entire season while essentially playing point guard for the Lakers. Bryant played his entire span of a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Once he gets that three-point shot to about 35 percent, it’s going to be curtains for the rest of the L. We all know the Lakers will continue to build around him once LeBron finally retires, so until then, all we can do is watch them dominate and count Larry O’Briens. Johnston was able to rack up more than 10,000 points and nearly 6,000 rebounds in his brief tenure, averaging 19.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Yes, the NBA consisted of just 8 to 14 teams during this period, so capturing championships was a statistically easier feat for a single franchise, but even that fact doesn’t minimize Russell’s historic accomplishments. That's just bananas. Seems pretty safe to say that he's going to keep rising up this list for years to come. He’s 6’2” with elite shooting ability from the midrange and three-point line, he has the best handles in the league and is one of the best finishers at the rim, and to put the cherry on top, he has an elite postgame for a guard. He's already one of the best players in the NBA and the sky appears to be the limit for his ceiling. And that’s why the Clippers recently gave George a massive extension that will earn him a guaranteed $226 million over the next five seasons. Plus, he owns a dynamic offensive repertoire that nobody can really stop and he’s a very good defender (two All-Defensive Team selections). That’s absurd. While he doesn’t do defense, there are maybe a handful of guys his size (6’11”) around the league that score at an elite level like he does. Say what you want about him off the court, but Kyrie is a hooper. LeBron James has earned his fourth NBA championship and fourth Finals MVP, closing the gap on the ring total of all-time great Michael Jordan. We gave the nod to Booker this year because he’s been doing it longer than the other two and his regular-season numbers last season (26.6 PPG, 6.5 APG, 20.6 PER) were just a little bit more impressive. Plus, he was hilarious in Airplane! Paul will get it. The one who probably has the best argument is his teammate Kevin Durant. James used to play high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Lakers. The leading scorer in National Basketball Association (NBA) history is just the 10th-best player ever? Playoff P can be his own worst enemy sometimes—especially when he played the blame game despite his own poor performance that helped doom Clippers in the Western Conference semis. Kyle Lowry is underrated. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been named the 2019-20 NBA MVP. and fought Bruce Lee in Game of Death, so his cool quotient is easily the highest of anyone on this list. It’s easy to underestimate what Wall brings to the table since we haven’t seen him in an NBA game, no lie, in two years. and just cashed in big time because he’s made himself into one of the better combo guards. At 24 years old, the Kentucky product is an elite scorer whose effective field goal percentage (.544) was higher than James Harden’s, Anthony Davis’s, and Luka Dončić’s last season.