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15. Paul George
High score: 11
Lowest ranking: 24
Paul George, 32, may be past his prime, but he’s still an elite NBA talent on both sides of the floor. He will start the season as the Clippers’ novice shooting guard, with his 6’8″ frame giving him a huge advantage over most opponents. Head coach Tyronn Lue noted that he could use George as a point guard sometimes this season also, giving him some extra playing opportunities.
It’s fair to question George’s durability and his dip in shooting last season (35.4 percent from three, the lowest since his rookie year). But there’s nothing he can’t do at a high level when he’s healthy.
On our overall top 100 list, George is the top ranked No. 2 option in the NBA.
14. Damian Lillard
High score: 10
Lowest ranking: 24
After a bad year (physically and statistically) in 2021-22, Damian Lillard looks poised to return to his old form. According to the Rose Garden Reports Sean HighkinPortland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said Dame’s “zero-to-sixty burst” is back.
If all goes well, few players are as consistent and dangerous offensively as Lillard. He presents the threat of deep pull-up threes like Trae while still being able to cut through defenses and punish the edge.
13. Devin Booker
High score: 6
Lowest ranking: 31
Devin Booker just finished fourth on the MVP voting, and yet it still feels like his stardom is being somewhat suppressed.
Finishing 13th is not an insult, to be clear. It’s accurate. This competition is deep. But there remains a tendency to hide him behind Chris Paul’s shadow, or diminish his influence based on circumstances beyond his control (ie The Suns weren’t good until the arrival of CP3).
Insufficient appreciation is shown for the affordability of Booker’s score. There’s a reason the Suns unraveled in the second round of the playoffs when the Mavericks reshaped their entire defense to harass him. Of the 278 players who won at least 30 touches per game last season, he finished first in points per touch. And he was fourth in the same category for 2019-20 and 2020-21.
There is also an underestimation for the passes he throws once he goes downhill. The Suns would do well to give him more general representatives in half the court, especially given the bank’s condition this year.
12. Trae Young
High score: 9
Lowest ranking: 26
Trae Young is an offensive powerhouse. He will generate the bulk of his team’s attack as a goalscorer (28.4 points per game last season), shooter (38.2 percent of three) and playmaker (9.7 assists per night). But Young is not a strong defender with his slender build.
Recognizing the talent they have in Young, the Atlanta Hawks have worked to pair the 24-year-old guard with tall, athletic defenders. The addition of Dejounte Murray, one of the better backcourt defenders in the league, should help balance Young’s limitations.
Murray also gives Atlanta another capable primary playmaker, who must stop teams from sending non-stop traps to get the ball out of Young’s hands.
11. Jimmy Butler
High score: 9
Lowest ranking: 18
Age and mileage are starting to catch up with Jimmy Butler, but when you need a player to step up in a big moment, few players do it better than him.
The 33-year-old is coming off a strong playoff run (27.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.1 steals, 50.6 percent shooting) and will once again need to play a key role if the Heat is to take on. remain the top of the East.
Butler can still hold his own defensively at a high level and could easily become a top 10 player in the NBA even in Year 12.
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