The 2020-21 NBA season is upon us, and with that comes CBS Sports' annual Top 100 ranking of NBA players. While there wasn't as much movement this offseason as we've seen in the past through free agency, there were a handful of big profile trades that tweaked the landscape of the league.
Some teams, like the Phoenix Suns, managed to swing a trade for All-Star point guard Chris Paul which puts them in immediate contention for a playoff spot, and gave them two players ranked in the top 20 of our annual list. While others, like the Philadelphia 76ers used a handful of trades to improve a roster that, on paper, was already considered among the best in the league, and become one of seven teams that boasts five players from the Top 100.
One surprising takeaway from the team breakdown of the Top 100, is the lack of players that the Nuggets have representing them. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are there, but other than that, none of their role players made the cut. It also doesn't help that Jerami Grant left for the Pistons in free agency, giving them one less player here, but a guy like Will Barton, who averaged 15 points a night last season, or Michael Porter Jr., who showed in the NBA bubble that he's one of a handful of promising young players coming up in this league didn't make the list.
This breakdown isn't the sole determiner of a team's success, but for a team like the Pacers, who have five players on this list, it's a positive sign to see as a franchise that is trying to get over the hump of losing in the first round of the postseason the last five years.
Team with five players in the Top 100
|Top 100 Players: LeBron James (1), Anthony Davis (5), Marc Gasol (81), Dennis Schroder (82), Montrezl Harrell (83) |
On top of having the No. 1 player on our Top 100 Players list in LeBron James, who proved that he is still undeniably the best player in this league, the Lakers added three players to the roster who will give them far more depth than they had a season ago. Gasol gives the Lakers a versatile big who has incredible court vision and presents a brick wall on defense, while Harrell and Schroder just finished first and second for Sixth Man of the Year. All three of those players fill needs that L.A. had entering the offseason, and position them to repeat as champions.
|Top 100 Players: Kawhi Leonard (2), Paul George (15), Serge Ibaka (74), Lou Williams (90), Patrick Beverley (92) |
Despite a disappointing second-round playoff exit last season, and a few key players leaving in free agency, the Clippers still return one of the very best rosters in the league. Entering a pivotal year with both Leonard and George having player options after this season, the Clippers project to be one of the top three teams in the West, and added veteran big man Ibaka to give them more length against a towering team like the Lakers. With a new coach in charge, the Clippers are hoping they can turn the page on a disastrous ending to last season, and establish a championship culture on the court and in the locker room.
|Top 100 Players: Kevin Durant (7), Kyrie Irving (23), Caris LeVert (54), Spencer Dinwiddie (69), Joe Harris (71) |
Perhaps the most enticing team entering this season, we'll finally get a chance to see Durant and Irving on the court together. When healthy, Durant is a top-three player in this league, and is still unguardable with his size and skillset. Not to be diminished, Irving is one of the very best shot creators at his peak, and with the added depth of LeVert, Dinwiddie and newly re-signed Harris, Brooklyn has a solid roster to challenge for the top spot in the East.
|Top 100 Players: Jimmy Butler (13), Bam Adebayo (18), Goran Dragic (64) Tyler Herro (72), Duncan Robinson (75) |
Fresh off a trip to the NBA Finals, the Heat are no longer an underrated team. Adebayo had a standout season, displaying his versatility on both ends of the floor, while Butler cemented himself as a top-15 player in this league. Herro and Robinson were surprising diamonds in the rough for Pat Riley and the Heat, and Dragic ended up becoming the most productive player in the postseason for Miami before he went down with an injury. The Heat are no longer a secret team to keep an eye on, and having five players in the top 100 is evidence of that.
|Top 100 Players: Joel Embiid (12), Ben Simmons (20), Tobias Harris (61), Seth Curry (86), Danny Green (97) |
Having one of the best offseasons this season, the Sixers added shooters in Curry and Green, and project to be a formidable opponent in the East. With Simmons back healthy, and a new coach in Doc Rivers, Philadelphia will run it back with its All-Star duo to see if this pairing can work before thoughts of retooling are taken seriously. Another positive for Philly, it was able to unload Al Horford's contract, who ended up not being a good fit for the Sixers.
|Top 100 Players: Donovan Mitchell (21), Rudy Gobert (29), Mike Conley (49), Bojan Bogdanovic (62), Joe Ingles (79) |
Don't let the first round playoff exit fool you, the Jazz are a deep team and will be entering this season fully healthy now that Bogdanovic has recovered from wrist surgery he underwent in May. Mitchell elevated his game to another level in the NBA bubble, drawing even more comparisons to the way Dwyane Wade played early in his career. Gobert proved to be absolutely essential in Utah's matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, and while Conley's fit was a roller coaster last season, he still provides the Jazz with a proven primary ballhandler who can give you 15 points a game.
|Top 100 Players: Malcolm Brogdon (41), Domantas Sabonis (44), T.J. Warren (59), Myles Turner (63), Victor Oladipo (70) |
It might be surprising to see the Pacers here lumped in with these other teams who for the most part are championship contenders, but Indiana has so many guys on its roster who any team in the league would love to have. Warren had a standout performance in the bubble, averaging 31 points during the Pacers seeding games, and Brogdon established himself as someone who could get an All-Star nod this season with his versatility on offense, and lockdown defense on the other end. Oladipo is the lowest-ranked player on this team, and that's only because of the quad tear that he's still trying to work back from.
Teams with four players in the Top 100
|Top 100 Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo (3), Khris Middleton (28), Jrue Holiday (34), Brook Lopez (68) |
The Bucks traded three first-round picks, George Hill and Eric Bledsoe to get Jrue Holiday's two-way services, in an effort to build a championship roster around Giannis. We'll see how well that move pays off for Milwaukee because it did sacrifice some depth to get him, but there's no denying that Holiday adds tremendous value to this team. The Bucks will return one of the best defensive teams in the league, with a two-time MVP in Giannis, and players in Middleton and Lopez who fit perfectly in coach Mike Budenholzer's system.
|Top 100 Players: Jayson Tatum (11), Jaylen Brown (31), Kemba Walker (33), Marcus Smart (43) |
Tatum became an All-Star last season, and the undisputed best player on the Celtics with his performance during the regular season and during the playoffs. Although Hayward is gone, it will give someone like Brown even more opportunity to shine and show that he is just as deserving of that All-Star status as Tatum and Walker. Smart continues to be the defensive stalwart for this team, and another player who will benefit from Hayward's absence.
|Top 100 Players: Pascal Siakam (26), Kyle Lowry (27), Fred VanVleet (40), OG Anunoby (67) |
After winning a championship two seasons ago, many thought that Toronto would falter without Leonard. But the Raptors showed that they were far more than just one player, with Siakam blossoming into the go-to guy on this team, and VanVleet becoming a full-time starter and someone who can easily get you 18 points a night and two steals on the other end. Lowry still operated at an All-Star level, using his veteran status to become the undisputed leader of this team who can direct the offense and put his teammates in the right position to succeed, and be an absolute pest on defense.
|Top 100 Players: Damian Lillard (9), CJ McCollum (37), Jusuf Nurkic (50), Robert Covington (53) |
After years of being underrated, Lillard finally took his rightful place as one of the top-10 players in the league. Aside from Stephen Curry, Lillard is perhaps the only other player in the league who needs to be picked up right when he crosses halfcourt, otherwise he'll sink a 35-footer in your face. The Blazers have plenty of firepower on offense, with McCollum and Nurkic, and then went out and got another 3-ball threat in Covington who instantly becomes the best defender on Portland's team. Injuries made last season incredibly tough for the Blazers, but now they will enter this season with four proven players in this league and a real shot at a high seed in the postseason.
|Top 100 Players: Devin Booker (16), Chris Paul (19), DeAndre Ayton (57), Mikal Bridges (89) |
The Suns became the bubble darlings after Booker and Ayton led Phoenix to a perfect 8-0 showing down in Orlando, and it inspired a ton of confidence in Monty Williams and this team's future. Then, the Suns went out and made a blockbuster trade to land perennial All-Star and future Hall of Famer in Paul to provide a veteran presence this team has been sorely lacking. After being discarded to Oklahoma City last year, Paul proved that he is still one of the very best point guards in the league, and led that upstart team to a playoff berth. Paul is easily the best player Booker and Ayton have ever played with, and he will elevate each of their games to new levels.
|Top 100 Players: Trae Young (25), Bogdan Bogdanovic (55), Danilo Gallinari (56), John Collins (60) |
Atlanta was busy in the offseason trying to build a competent roster around All-Star guard Trae Young, and it succeeded. The Hawks brought in versatile guard Bogdanovic to man the backcourt with Young, and veteran forward Gallinari who can score from essentially anywhere. Then there's Collins, who despite a 25-game suspension a season ago, is still a valuable young player who can rebound and be an ideal pick-and-roll partner for Young. The Hawks want to get back to the playoffs, and the moves they made this offseason proved that.
|Top 100 Players: DeMar DeRozan (51), LaMarcus Aldridge (52), Derrick White (91), Dejounte Murray (100) |
Even though San Antonio's playoff streak came to an end, the Spurs still have several players on this team that are worthy of being in the top 100. DeRozan had the most efficient season of his career, shooting 53.1 percent from the field, and averaging 22.1 points per game. Aldridge embraced the 3-ball like never before, taking a career-high three attempts per game, and knocking them down at a 38.9 percent clip. White and Murray are the two young guns on this team, with both being in their mid-20s, and offer plenty of upside for a Spurs team that for the first time in two decades is on the outside looking in on the playoff picture,
Teams with three players in the Top 100
|Top 100 Players: Luka Doncic (6), Kristaps Porzingis (30), Josh Richardson (87) |
Doncic's sophomore season and awe-inspiring performance in the NBA bubble earned him countless honors, including being in the top 10 on our list. His effortless approach to the game, makes him a joy to watch, but the many ways he can hurt you on offense is ever-growing. Porzingis competed in his first full season since a torn ACL in 2018, and although he ended the season on an injury, when he was healthy he looked like an All-Star. The Mavericks improved defensively by trading for Richardson, whose energy and fight on that side of the ball will make Dallas a better defensive team.
|Top 100 Players: James Harden (8), Christian Wood (66) P.J. Tucker (78) |
Despite all the turmoil that exists within the Rockets organization right now, their roster is still one that can make the postseason, with Harden at the center. Houston snatched Wood in free agency, whose performance in Detroit made him an intriguing player to watch entering the season. Tucker once again proved to be invaluable for Houston, being asked to play multiple positions, especially after the Rockets bought fully into small ball and used Tucker as their starting center. There still may be some changes on the horizon for the Rockets, but after a whirlwind offseason this team still has several notable players around Harden.
|Top 100 Players: Ja Morant (39), Jaren Jackson Jr. (47), Brandon Clarke (93) |
Memphis has become an exciting, young team centered around Morant's dazzling play that earned him Rookie of the Year honors a season ago. His athleticism and flashy handles have made him must-watch television early on in his career, and he'll have two other key players back healthy entering this season. Despite a season cut short due to injury, Jackson improved upon his rookie campaign in most statistical categories across the board. He still needs to cut down on fouls, but he's a 6-11 big who can score inside and has range that stretches out to the 3-point line. Clarke became one of the surprise rookies from last season, foreshadowing a career that could result in many Sixth Man of the Year awards if he isn't elevated to a starting role.
|Top 100 Players: Bradley Beal (14), Russell Westbrook (35), Davis Bertans (80) |
In a surprising turn of events, the Wizards flipped John Wall for Westbrook to solidify their plan of building around their franchise centerpiece in Beal. Last season, Beal earned that status after having the best year of his career, putting up 30.5 points a game, averaging a career-high in assists per game (6.1) while remaining efficient from essentially everywhere on the floor. In Wall's absence over the last two seasons, Beal took on the role as the primary source of offense, and he excelled at doing so last season. Bertans, who the Wizards re-signed in the offseason, enters the season as one of the best spot-up shooters in the game, and standing at 6-10, can play multiple positions. Westbrook will be the most intriguing player to watch in this situation, as he joins a team that is structured more like his days in Oklahoma City, where he became a star.
|Top 100 Players: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (45), Al Horford (85), George Hill (99) |
There's been a lot of turnover in Oklahoma City, and after shipping off both Chris Paul and Steven Adams in exchange for a wealth of draft picks and players, Gilgeous-Alexander will take center stage on this roster. OKC got back a few proven veterans in Horford and Hill through its many trades this offseason, ensuring that even as this team enters a new era with primarily young players, there will still be that veteran leadership in the locker room.
|Top 100 Players: Blake Griffin (73), Jerami Grant (88), Derrick Rose (98) |
Many may have forgotten about Griffin's talents given his injury history the past few years, and the fact that he plays for the Pistons, a team that has had minimal success in the past decade. However, Griffin has been known to bounce back from every injury he's gone through and this should be no different. He's still one of the most athletically gifted players in this league, who has developed a solid game outside of just catching lobs which gained him popularity with the Clippers. His mid-range game remains elite, and his defense is still reliable. Joining him this season in Detroit will be Grant, who joined the Pistons through free agency, and whose two-way capabilities will be a positive addition to a team that is looking to get back to the postseason. Then there's Rose, who has rewritten his career numerous times and remains a player who can get you points on a consistent basis.
|Top 100 Players: Zion Williamson (24), Brandon Ingram (32), JJ Redick (84) |
A season ago, the Pelicans boasted the most players on the top 100 list with six, but as expectations have been tempered, this is a more realistic reading of this team's talents. Williamson's injury-riddled rookie season gave us small glimpses of the dominant player he can become, Ingram won Most Improved Player of the Year and earned an All-Star nod, while Redick remains a reliable 3-point threat in the league.
|Top 100 Players: Karl-Anthony Towns (17), D'Angelo Russell (58), Ricky Rubio (94) |
This season we'll get to see the real possibilities of a KAT and D-Lo pairing, as the Wolves try to position themselves as a playoff contender in the deep-as-ever Western Conference. Towns remains one of the most promising young players in this league with his versatility on offense, and with Russell, he'll have an exciting -- and close friend -- point guard to carry the offensive load in a way that Wiggins never really could in Minnesota. Rubio will be returning to the team that drafted him back in 2011 and will provide a veteran presence on a team that has had leadership issues in the past.
Teams with two players in the Top 100
|Top 100 Players: Nikola Jokic (10), Jamal Murray (22) |
Fresh off a conference finals appearance, it's a bit surprising that there aren't more representatives for the Nuggets on this list, but only 100 players can make it and names like Will Barton and Gary Harris didn't make the cut. Denver will likely prove us wrong on this assessment, because as evidenced from their surprising run through the West, this team is much more than just Jokic and Murray. However, it's those two who make this team a championship contender. Jokic showed to everyone just why he should be in the MVP conversation for years to come, and Murray had several breakout moments in the postseason, where he single-handily won a handful of games for the Nuggets in their playoff run.
|Top 100 Players: Stephen Curry (4), Draymond Green (36) |
After a year in which the Warriors were ravaged with injuries, Golden State again enters the season without a key piece in Klay Thompson, who will miss the entirety of the season again, this time with a torn Achilles tendon. Still, though, Curry will be returning after missing a majority of last season with a broken hand and should pick up right where he left off two years ago. Green has become central to what the Warriors do on both ends of the floor, and with Curry back in the lineup, as well as the additions of Wiggins and Kelly Oubre, Golden State should contend for a playoff spot.
|Top 100 Players: Gordon Hayward (42), Devonte' Graham (95) |
The Hornets were the lone team a season ago that didn't have a single player in the Top 100, now they find themselves with two on this year's list. A sign-and-trade brought the versatile Hayward to Charlotte, who will be in a role similar to his Utah days, where he'll have the ball in his hands more and not be relegated to a spot-up shooter role. Graham, who spent most of his rookie campaign in the G League, burst onto the scene last season as a dynamic point guard who can play both on and off the ball, can knock down 3s and get his teammates good looks.
|Top 100 Players: Zach LaVine (46), Otto Porter Jr. (96) |
LaVine proved he is one of the best pure scorers in the league last year, despite not being able to use the entirety of his skillset. Now, though, he'll have a new head coach in Billy Donovan who has gone on record as saying that he'll encourage LaVine and the rest of the Bulls players to shoot mid-range shots if their good looks. LaVine will also have a healthy Otto Porter Jr., who hasn't played a full season since 2018 due to injuries. When he's healthy, though, Porter is an ideal 3-and-D player to plug in alongside LaVine in the starting lineup.
|Top 100 Players: Nikola Vucevic (48), Aaron Gordon (65) |
After earning All-Star honors two years ago, Vucevic had a slight downtick in production, but still averaged a double-double for the playoff-bound Magic team last season. He's a versatile big man who has range that stretches out to the 3-point line, and can be the primary source of offense for Orlando. Gordon, who dealt with his fair share of injuries last season, is still viewed as a player who hasn't quite reached his full potential. He can get you 15 points a night, and he's been improving his jump shot enough that he has given Orlando the confidence to allow him to shoot around four 3-point shots a game. But entering his seventh year in the league, there still seems to be more there to his game that hasn't been unlocked.
|Top 100 Players: De'Aaron Fox (38), Buddy Hield (76) |
Despite the dysfunction that exists within the Kings organization, they still have quality talent on the roster, with Fox blossoming into a player who could one day reach All-Star status in this league. He's arguably the fastest player in the NBA, and he uses his lightning fast speed and quickness to carve up defenses on his way to the basket. Hield has turned into one of the top 3-point marksmen in today's game, and his commitment to defense elevates Sacramento as a whole.
One player included in the Top 100
|Top 100 Players: Kevin Love (77) |
As long as Love is in a Cavaliers jersey, they will have a representative on the top 100. He's still a walking double-double, and despite the injuries he's dealt with over the years, he manages to bounce back every time. He may be a trade candidate this season or next, given that Cleveland isn't built to contend for the postseason, and the fact that he can be a valuable addition to a contending team.
The only team without a player in the Top 100
|New York enters this season without a single representative on the top 100 list, and that shouldn't be surprising. For a team that won just 21 games a season ago, and traded its most productive scorer in Marcus Morris at last season's trade deadline, there aren't many players on this roster who you'd consider to make the cut. Julius Randle was the lone representative for the Knicks last season, but he didn't make the final ranking this year. It isn't all doom and gloom, though, because for the first time in awhile New York actually had a solid offseason that was done with the future in mind. The Knicks didn't hand out any awful contracts or trade for someone owed a bunch of money. They kept their books clean for the most part, and are focusing on building from within with new head coach Tom Thibodeau and young prospects in RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Mitchell Robinson.|