NBA
June 22, 2020
BY Jay Sanin

The 10 Best NBA Players in 2020, Ranked

The NBA is loaded with more talent than ever before, with players from small schools and other countries joining players from top-tier programs to form the deepest assembly of talent the world has ever seen. But only 10 of those elite players can be listed as the best in the National Basketball Association, as these superstars are must-watch attractions whenever they take the court.

But who is our top-ranked player in 2020? 

LeBron James, who's arguably the greatest NBA player ever, but he's not currently the best player in the league now that he's older and other players in their prime have emerged to take his spot. 

Here's our ranking of the best players in the league right now. 

10. Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard is often overlooked during the regular season, as Portland is not one of the league’s glamor franchises. But Lillard is one of the most ruthless players in the NBA, and his ability to sink big shots on big stages makes him someone that any fan would want on their team.

Lillard was a top-five scorer in the NBA during the 2019-2020 season before it was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. And with legendary buzzer-beating shots in the postseason against the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder on his resume, Lillard has shown that he is more than just a volume scorer. He's someone who can carry teams to victory.

9. Russell Westbrook

There are only a few players in the NBA who are capable of impacting games in every conceivable way, and Russell Westbrook is one of those guys. The triple-double machine has been plying his trade in Houston as a member of the Rockets where he has averaged 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game despite being second fiddle to James Harden on his own team.

Westbrook is the NBA’s equivalent to the Tazmanian Devil, as his frantic style of play sees him get up and down the court to score, rebound and distribute the ball faster than most players could dream of moving.

Westbrook would be higher on this list if not for his inconsistent perimeter shooting, as he sometimes shoots his teams out of games with poor performances from beyond the arc.

8. Steph Curry

Steph Curry has changed the way that the game of basketball is played in the modern era. The best shooter in the history of the league, Curry has made 43.5% of his three-point attempts for his career. Despite struggling with injuries early in his career, Curry is still the most dangerous player in the league from long range, and has led his Golden State Warriors to multiple championships — and a spot on our top five greatest NBA teams ever. 

Curry is more than just a three-point shooter, too, as he is a gifted ball-handler and is in charge of initiating the movement-heavy offense that has made the Warriors a dynasty in the NBA.

The only player to win a league MVP award unanimously in league history, Curry might go down as one of the best players to ever play the game by the time his career is over.

7. Luka Doncic

When Luka Doncic was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, the team was in bleak shape. They were set to lose franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki to retirement and didn’t have much talent in place to replace his production. But Doncic has morphed the Mavericks into a playoff contender, with his Swiss army knife-like skillset making the Mavericks one of the pleasant surprises in the NBA this season.

Doncic is in the top 20 in scoring, rebounds and assists this season, with his ability to bend defenses to his will being uncommon in today’s game. Thanks to his 6-foot-7 size, Doncic either has to be guarded by smaller guards or slower forwards, which allows him to create separation with his jump shot with ease.

If the Mavericks can put some quality talent around him going forward, they could be back to contending with a European import as their leader again, as they were during the Nowitzki era.

6. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has sat out the entire season due to an injury that he suffered during last season’s NBA Finals. The fact that he still makes the list of the top players in the NBA right now speaks to just how great he is when he is able to be on the court. Durant is virtually unguardable, with his seven-foot frame and deadly jump shot making him a once-in-a-generation scoring talent.

The only thing holding Durant back from being even higher on this list is the fact that we simply do not know if he will return to his old form when he comes back from injury next season. There have not been any examples of players coming back from an Achilles injury and returning to a level like that of Durant. But if there is a player capable of doing it, it could just be one with the considerable talent of the Brooklyn Nets sniper.

5. Anthony Davis

When Anthony Davis joined the Lakers, it was expected that he would benefit from playing with LeBron James. And Davis has certainly reaped the rewards of playing with James, as Davis has enjoyed a stellar first season in LA. Davis has been impactful for the Lakers on both sides of the court, averaging 26.7 points per game on 51.1% shooting. And with 2.4 blocks per game, his paint protection has helped the Lakers close in on the top seed in a loaded Western Conference.

While he was with the New Orleans Pelicans, Davis had to carry his teams due to a lack of high-level talent around him. His adjustment to being the second-best player on his team behind LeBron James has been admirable, as the two stars have complemented one another very well.

With some time off before the stretch run of the season, Davis has been rewarded for his sacrifices by being put in a position to win his first title. 

4. LeBron James

Just ahead of Davis is his running mate in Los Angeles, LeBron James. In his first season with a real supporting cast with the Lakeshow, James has prioritized team chemistry this season. James leads the league in assists and has worked to make everyone around him better and more confident as he hunts for a title with his third team.

Perhaps the most interesting component to James’ status as a top-four player in the league right now is the chance of him playing at an even higher level when the NBA season resumes.

After so many games and NBA Finals appearances in his career, James having a chance to get a rest in the middle of the season like this could propel him to a stronger finish than he has had in a long time. And with a championship sure to bolster his legacy even further, James could work his way up this list with a strong conclusion to the year.

3. Kawhi Leonard

The reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard has proven that he can do anything a team needs him to do to win a championship. His run through the 2019 postseason was nothing short of legendary, from his iconic series-winning shot against the Sixers to outdueling the Giannis-led Bucks and Curry-led Warriors in back-to-back series to bring the first-ever Finals trophy to Canada.

Kawhi has sat out for a good chunk of the season, citing load management concerns, but he's been elite whenever he's been on the court. Leonard has averaged 26.9 points per game, shooting 46.8% on the year. With a lengthy delay likely to help him shake off any nagging injury concerns, he should be in peak physical condition for a potential dream matchup with LeBron and the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

2. James Harden

James Harden is averaging 34.4 points per game this season, which is all you need to know to justify his inclusion in the top-two of this list. Harden is the most lethal scorer in the NBA right now, with his array of step-back maneuvers and his ability to get to the free-throw line at will making him an impossible defensive assignment for even the best defenders in the NBA today.

Harden has experienced some struggles in the postseason in the past, and the Rockets’ decision to play a small-ball lineup might prevent him from getting to the Finals this year. But, as long as the ball is in James Harden’s hands, opposing defenses will always have to worry about him putting points on the board.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning NBA MVP, and is a heavy favorite to claim the award once again this season. As a result, it only makes sense that the Greek Freak is considered to be the best player in the NBA right now. Giannis is averaging an insane 29.7 points per game and 13.7 rebounds per game, both of which are good for third in the NBA to this point in the season.

Antetokounmpo is able to get to the basket whenever he wants, with his 6-foot-11 frame which, along with his speed, allows him to get to his spots faster than opposing defenders.

This will be the second straight year that Giannis has led the Bucks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and Antetokounmpo has established himself as the heir apparent to LeBron James’ throne as the league’s top player.

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