Some teams have more talent than others, but everyone has someone. How do we rank every team’s best player for the 2019-20 NBA season?
The NBA is a league filled with talented players. From top to bottom, some of the greatest athletes in the world ply their trade in the National Basketball Association. While there are exceptions playing across the world, the best men’s basketball players play on one of the league’s 30 franchises.
While some might wish the league’s talent was evenly distributed, the reality is that those players are spread unevenly across the 30 teams. The summer’s volcanic reshuffling of rosters means that many stars have paired up to create or bolster contenders, while other teams were left on the outside without.
Each team balances that reality differently. Some will see a less-talented player step into the primary role on his team, playing over his head to fill the void. Other teams settle into a more egalitarian reality, with players sharing the load on offense and defense. Regardless evaluating a team begins by evaluating its talent, and every team has a “best player” no matter his role.
Last year I did this same exercise examining the best player on each franchise. Some of those evaluations look spot-on now, others less so, but what is most fascinating is how the landscape has changed. Of the 30 player-team pairings from last year’s list only 14 remain on this year’s list.
Thirteen of those players have changed teams, with just three of those 13 the top player on their team this season. Players such as Tobias Harris, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley and Anthony Davis are now the second or third option on their new team (is Harris fifth?). Players such as Buddy Hield or Aaron Gordon saw teammates pass them by.
Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler are all their team’s top option, with Butler having changed teams twice since a year ago. Which players from this year’s list will see their circumstances change a year from now? Could aging veterans such as LeBron James or Chris Paul be passed by?
Perhaps teams starved for talent will upgrade next offseason. The Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls would love for their top prospects to make the leap this season, as Luka Doncic and De’Aaron Fox did to spring onto this year’s list.
The goal here is to pick each team’s best player for the entire year, regular season and playoffs (if applicable for that team). That means Kevin Durant is not in contention for the Brooklyn Nets, and players currently injured (Victor Oladipo) or who frequently battle injuries (Chris Paul) will be accordingly downgraded.
We start at the bottom with a team that saw its one premier talent leave this offseason. We will end with a former MVP who should be a candidate for the award again this year — but perhaps not the one that just came to your mind. Here are this author’s humble rankings of the best players on every NBA team.