We're inching closer to the start of the 2021-22 NBA season, and that means it's time for CBS Sports' annual ranking of the Top 100 NBA players. Player movement around the league this summer shifted some of the talent balance in the NBA, but unlike last season all 30 teams have at least one player represented in the list.
The New York Knicks managed to go from having zero players on this list a year ago to now being one of just six teams to have five players in our Top 100. Other teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers, lost some depth after some offseason moves, while squads like the Sacramento Kings, who have four players on the list, and the Indiana Pacers (five) are hoping that collection of talent translates to team success this season.
This breakdown isn't the sole determiner of a team's success, but it's a good indicator of how talent is distributed around the league from our perspective. So just because the Knicks have five players on this list and the Lakers only have three doesn't mean that New York is bound for a championship, but it is pretty eye-opening to see.
CBS Sports HQ Newsletter
Your Ultimate Guide to Every Day in Sports
We bring sports news that matters to your inbox, to help you stay informed and get a winning edge.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Team with six players in the Top 100
|Top 100 players: Damian Lillard (11), CJ McCollum (39), Robert Covington (78), Norman Powell (82), Larry Nance Jr. (91), Jusuf Nurkic (93) |
Despite all the trade rumors that surrounded the Trail Blazers this summer, between Lillard growing weary of Portland's lack of success and McCollum being the center of a potential trade for Ben Simmons, this list shows that the Blazers have the biggest collection of talent in the league. However, lacking talent has never been an issue for the Blazers, but rather turning that talent into postseason success. With the addition of a dynamic big man in Nance, perhaps this is the season that Portland makes a deeper run in the playoffs.
Teams with five players in the Top 100
|Top 100 players: Joel Embiid (8), Ben Simmons (30), Tobias Harris (57), Seth Curry (70), Danny Green (88) |
Here's the one team on this list dealing with the loudest trade rumors. Simmons has yet to report to Sixers training camp in an effort to force a trade. But until that happens, Philadelphia still has a great deal of depth, which is why this team finished as the No. 1 seed in the East a season ago. A potential Simmons trade will impact how the Sixers ultimately fare this season, and if he sits out the entire year, then it'll just give Embiid more of an opportunity to win MVP.
|Top 100 players: Julius Randle (44), Kemba Walker (60), Evan Fournier (94), Derrick Rose (97), R.J. Barrett (100) |
After making the postseason for the first time since 2013, the Knicks spent the offseason making -- surprisingly -- smart moves to improve their squad for another playoff run. The addition of Fournier was considered questionable at first, considering the amount of money he'll be paid, but then came the shocking signing of Walker after he was traded and bought out of his contract. New York struggled to generate offense in the playoffs outside of Randle, and with Fournier and Walker in tow it will assure that all of the offensive workload won't fall on Randle's shoulders.
|Top 100 players: Chris Paul (19), Devin Booker (21), DeAndre Ayton (51), Mikal Bridges (59), Jae Crowder (96) |
It's only right for the Suns to be recognized as having some of the most talent in the league after making a run to the NBA Finals last season. Paul not only had another rejuvenated career, but he elevated the play of Booker and Ayton, which helped changed the narrative around them. Add on the two-way capabilities of Bridges and Crowder's 3-and-D talents, and Phoenix is returning as a legitimate title contender entering the 2021-22 season.
|Top 100 players: Trae Young (18), John Collins (50), Bogdan Bogdanovic (61), Clint Capela (65), Kevin Huerter (95) |
You could argue that Young should be higher on this list given his remarkable performance in the playoffs last season, which helped get the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals. But the low ranking will surely only fuel the Hawks and Young more to prove that last season was no fluke. Securing Collins to a new deal and giving Young his rookie max extension ensured that Atlanta will be potential title contenders for seasons to come.
|Top 100 players: Donovan Mitchell (20), Rudy Gobert (24), Mike Conley (45), Bojan Bogdanovic (72), Joe Ingles (80) |
Utah fell short of expectations after finishing with the No. 1 seed in the West last season, but the Jazz will be returning all of their core pieces after re-signing Conley to a new deal, so they should still be considered fringe title contenders. After getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs by a Clippers team that was without Kawhi Leonard, Utah will be motivated this season to make it even further in the postseason.
|Top 100 players: Domantas Sabonis (36), Malcolm Brogdon (55), Myles Turner (58), Caris LeVert (85), TJ Warren (99) |
Indiana has consistently had four or five players ranked in our Top 100 the past couple years and yet that collection of talent hasn't equated to much on-court success. That's entirely due to injuries wreaking havoc on the Pacers in each of the last two seasons, and it appears this season will be no different to start out with Warren and LeVert both dealing with injuries. But by bringing in Rick Carlisle to be their new coach, the Pacers should be a team that will be able to roll with the punches well, as Carlisle has a reputation for being one of the best coaches at making adjustments and making the most of the players at his disposal.
Teams with four players in the Top 100
|Top 100 players: Stephen Curry (4), Draymond Green (29), Klay Thompson (35), Andrew Wiggins (83) |
The Warriors will enter the season without Thompson, who is expected to return around Christmas, but even with him still sidelined, Golden State has a formidable team. Curry is coming off a season where he was putting up MVP numbers, Green showed just how important he is on both ends of the floor and Wiggins excelled in his role in Thompson's absence. After missing the playoffs in the past two seasons, the Warriors could return there again, and if Thompson is even 85 percent of who he was, then they'll be a scary team.
|Top 100 players: Kevin Durant (1), James Harden (7), Kyrie Irving (17). Joe Harris (73) |
Health was the biggest issue for the Nets last season, but when all these players are fully healthy Brooklyn is considered the team to beat. On top of having the No. 1 player on our Top 100 list in Durant, Brooklyn is the only team in the league to have three players inside our Top 20. Despite all the off-court controversies that surround this team, when Durant, Harden and Irving are all on the floor together this is an extremely difficult team to beat. Add in the shooting abilities of Harris and it's easy to see why the Nets are considered one of, if not the best team in the league.
|Top 100 players: Giannis Antetokounmpo (3), Khris Middleton (23), Jrue Holiday (27), Brook Lopez (77) |
The reigning champions have all the usual suspects on our Top 100 list, highlighted by Antetokounmpo, who you could argue should be No. 1 considering his career-defining NBA Finals performance last season. With most of their core intact entering the season, Milwaukee will have a good shot at defending its crown, and after tasting what winning a championship feels like, this team will surely be eager to get back there again.
|Top 100 players: Zach LaVine (28), Nikola Vucevic (47), DeMar DeRozan (48), Lonzo Ball (66) |
The Bulls enter the season as one of the toughest teams to pin down, because on paper they have the talent of a team that could at least advance past the first round of the playoffs, but when you're trying to imagine how all the pieces fit together it can start to get tricky. LaVine enters a contract year after becoming an All-Star and he'll have a better supporting cast around him to finally get to the postseason. The additions of DeRozan and Ball ensure that Chicago has more scoring depth and a true point guard to orchestrate the offense, but with so many players who need the ball in their hands to succeed, this plan could end up falling short of expectations.
|Top 100 players: Jimmy Butler (15), Bam Adebayo (26), Kyle Lowry (34), Duncan Robinson (75) |
Miami got the player it's been eyeing in Lowry, and will once again be considered among the East's elite after a first-round playoff exit last season. The upgrade at point guard from Kendrick Nunn to Lowry will do wonders for a Heat team that has the depth in players like Robinson and Tyler Herro and the star power in Butler and Adebayo to be a championship-contending team.
|Top 100 players: Nikola Jokic (6), Jamal Murray (37), Michael Porter Jr. (46), Aaron Gordon (69) Jokic is coming off an MVP season, but the Nuggets will be without Murray after he tore his ACL in April. With Murray, in addition to Porter, the Nuggets were one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the league, and the trade to bring in Gordon improved Denver on the defensive end. The loss of Murray will be a significant blow for the Nuggets, and while there isn't a timetable for his return, if he manages to come back this season then Denver could be a sleeper team in the playoffs.|
|Top 100 players: De'Aaron Fox (33), Tyrese Haliburton (63), Richaun Holmes (87), Harrison Barnes (89) |
The Kings have been in perpetual rebuild mode, but after hitting on the draft selection of Haliburton, the natural progression of Fox and Holmes and the veteran leadership of Barnes, Sacramento could finally break its 16-year playoff drought if it manages to get to the play-in tournament. At the very least, Sacramento can relish in the fact that the duo of Haliburton and Fox could be the backcourt for years to come for the Kings, and that should be exciting in itself.
Teams with three players in the Top 100
|Top 100 players: LeBron James (2), Anthony Davis (10), Russell Westbrook (38) |
A season ago, the Lakers boasted five players on the Top 100. Yet after a trade that landed them Westbrook in exchange for Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, as well as the departure of Dennis Schroder, L.A.'s talent pool has shrunk. The Lakers responded by adding several veterans in Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo among others, but with an aging roster there are obvious questions surrounding how deep this team will go in the playoffs. With two top 10 players on the roster in James and Davis, you certainly can't write this team off, but the Lakers will be an intriguing team to watch.
|Top 100 players: Jayson Tatum (12), Jaylen Brown (25), Marcus Smart (49) |
With Walker now in New York, and a new head coach in Boston, the Celtics will see if the trio of Tatum, Brown and Smart can go far in the playoffs. Last season, both Brown and Tatum elevated their games to a new level to show that on any given night one of them can be the best player on this team. Smart will now be the full-time starting point guard, and Boston will hope that after a couple seasons of questionable fits between Irving and Walker, there won't be any of those problems this time around.
|Top 100 players: Kawhi Leonard (9), Paul George (13), Marcus Morris (98) |
Leonard could possibly make a return this season after tearing his ACL in the playoffs last season, and at full strength he would likely be higher on our list. But his injury dropped him a few spots, and with him sidelined it will be up to George to keep this team afloat in a deep Western Conference. George exorcised some of his playoff demons last season in Leonard's absence, and he'll be able to show that he's still among the league's elite as the No. 1 option on the Clippers. Some depth was lost after the departures of Patrick Beverley, injuries to Serge Ibaka and trading Lou Williams, but Morris is still a reliable defender and contributor on offense when needed, and although they didn't crack our Top 100 list, Nicolas Batum and Reggie Jackson are still valuable contributors for L.A.
|Top 100 players: Zion Williamson (14), Brandon Ingram (40), Jonas Valanciunas (92) |
The Pelicans may not be as exciting as they were a couple of seasons ago when Holiday and Ball were still on this team, but Williamson showed last season that he's the real deal. New Orleans doesn't have a great track record of surrounding its star players with enough talent to keep them playing there, but the duo of Williamson and Ingram is a solid start for the Pelicans. The addition of Valanciunas gives Williamson a better-suited frontcourt mate than Steven Adams last season, as he's a double-double machine capable of stretching the floor.
|Top 100 players: Fred VanVleet (41), Pascal Siakam (42), OG Anunoby (53) |
An era ended in Toronto with the departure of Lowry, and now the Raptors will focus on building around Siakam and VanVleet. Don't let last season's lack of team success fool you; Siakam and VanVleet were still incredibly productive despite not getting as much attention as they did two seasons ago. Both players proved they were capable of averaging 20-plus points a game, and Anunoby showed he can be a reliable third option.
|Top 100 players: Gordon Hayward (43), LaMelo Ball (52), Terry Rozier (79) |
The Hornets became one of the most exciting teams to watch last season in large part due to Ball's Rookie of the Year campaign. Making the play-in tournament was a necessary step forward in Charlotte's development, and with the return of Hayward this season the Hornets could make a push for the postseason. Between Ball running point, Hayward being the reliable scorer and Rozier being another playmaker in the lineup, the Hornets have a versatile team capable of scoring on just about any team in the league.
|Top 100 players: Luka Doncic (5), Kristaps Porzingis (71), Tim Hardaway Jr. (90) Doncic's stellar play last season vaulted him to the top five of the list, but if there was ever a better example of the talent disparity on the Mavericks, our Top 100 certainly shows that. Porzingis' lackluster playoff performance last season dropped him far in the rankings, and a bounce-back season could certainly change things, but the expectations around Dallas compared to the lack of overall talent on the team shows something is still amiss here. However, the addition of Hardaway on this list shows some improvement from a talent perspective.|
|Top 100 players: Karl-Anthony Towns (22), Anthony Edwards (62), D'Angelo Russell (84) |
Despite injuries over the years, Towns still remains one of the league's best young stars, capable of single-handedly dismantling a defense. The inclusion of Edwards shows just how promising of a player he is and if he can improve on his efficiency he'll only climb higher on this list over the years. Russell, for all the critiques, is still a dynamic point guard, and if he and Towns can stay healthy the Wolves will finally get to see how well those two work together.
|Top 100 players: Ja Morant (32), Jaren Jackson Jr. (64), Dillon Brooks (67) |
Morant and the Grizzlies surprised everyone when they made the playoffs after a play-in win over the Warriors, and the long-awaited return of Jackson reminded everyone just how talented the young center is. Brooks became an absolute pest on defense, on top of putting up career numbers on offense. That trio, in addition to guys in Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman, gives the Grizzlies one of the best young cores in the league.
Teams with two players in the Top 100
|Top 100 players: Jerami Grant (56), Cade Cunningham (74) |
After betting on himself by leaving the Nuggets in free agency for the Pistons, Grant turned some heads last season and averaged over 20 points a game. His production was a bright spot amongst all the losing for a rebuilding, young Detroit team, and after all that losing they were gifted the No. 1 pick, which ended up being Cunningham. Although Cunningham hasn't played a single game yet, his spot on this list echoes the potential he has and what should be an exciting rookie year for him.
|Top 100 players: Bradley Beal (16), Spencer Dinwiddie (68) |
There was some major overhaul in D.C. from the coaching staff down to the construction of the roster, and it landed the Wizards more depth after trading Westbrook and gave them the opportunity to sign Dinwiddie in free agency. All eyes will be on Beal's happiness with the Wizards as they try to make the postseason again, as he could opt out of the final year of his deal next summer and potentially leave for somewhere else. Until then, the Wizards have a solid backcourt in Beal and Dinwiddie, which should keep them competitive this season.
Teams with one player in the Top 100
|Top 100 players: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31) |
Though his season was cut short, Gilgeous-Alexander put up ridiculous numbers in the 35 games he did play. As the Thunder slowly work through a rebuild, Gilgeous-Alexander's continual development is a sign that OKC has its franchise star. The two sides agreed to a five-year rookie max extension this summer which will keep him in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future. Now it's up to the team to adequately build around him.
|Top 100 players: Christian Wood (54) |
With the Harden era over, Houston now shifts its focus to its group of young players centered around Wood. It could be argued that Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, should be on this list as Cunningham is for the Pistons, but the exclusion of him will only lead to him proving everyone wrong. Houston may be in a rebuild right now, but the slew of young, talented players on the roster will make it an intriguing team to watch this season.
|Top 100 players: Dejounte Murray (81) |
With DeRozan no longer on the team, the Spurs have fully embraced the youth movement and of that crop of young players, Murray is the best. Without DeRozan to rely upon for scoring, we could see another uptick in production from Murray as San Antonio goes through its rebuild.
|Top 100 players: Collin Sexton (76) |
Sexton may be the next young player in the league slapped with the "empty stats" label as the Cavaliers slowly inch toward relevance. He averaged a career-high 24.3 points a season ago, but it didn't translate to team success. But we've seen this story play out hundreds of times in the league, and last season showed that as these young stars get better supporting casts around them, those labels quickly fall away. Just ask Booker and Young.
|Top 100 players: Jonathan Isaac (86) |
Isaac hasn't played since the Orlando bubble after tearing his ACL, but at age 22 there's still upside to the 6-11 center, which is why he landed on our list. Entering Year 5 of his career, he's had just one fully healthy season in which he played 75 games, and during the 2019-20 season, he showed promise as a big man who showed flashes of being able to knock down 3s. If he manages to stay healthy this season, he should take another step in his development.