In the third installment of this five-part blog series, we start counting down the top 15 players in the NBA. As this series continues to go deeper, we start to shift from league All-Stars to the cream of the crop of the NBA. While these next five players rank outside the top ten in the league, they are superstars in and of themselves. The level of talent across the league has never been more plentiful. Naturally, the names on this list back that up.
Click here to see players #25-21.
Click here to see players #20-16.
Top 25 Players In The NBA – #15-11
15. Joel Embiid
The Philadelphia 76ers organization has some work cut out for them this offseason. But aside from the backstage drama this year, Joel Embiid was exceptional once again for Philly last year. While having to share the floor with Al Horford this year, limiting his game to around the rim while playing alongside another big, Embiid continued his dominance throughout the year.
This season was a disaster for the Sixers, but Embiid did not suffer much from the team’s drop off. He was left off of all three All-NBA teams but was selected as an All-Star starter. Once again, Embiid endured his fair share of injuries that he seems to go through each year. That is expected of Embiid at this point. But, when he is on the floor, his physical presence makes him one of the most unguardable bodies in the league.
14. Karl-Anthony Towns
Few players in the NBA are denied the type of recognition they deserve than Karl-Anthony Towns. Due to playing for a small-market organization like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Towns’ talent is not nearly as commercialized as other big men in larger markets. Despite not getting the All-Star call this season, it was well-warranted as he missed out on a large portion of the shortened season as he only suited up for 35 games this year. Despite this, Towns logged a career-high in scoring at 26.5 PPG and assists at 4.4 a night.
While he did miss time this year, Towns has been historically durable during his young NBA run. He missed a total of five games prior to this year since debuting in 2015, and he’s played at a superstar level his entire career. While he still has room for improvement on the defensive end of the ball, Towns’ offense might make him the best offensive big in the league. It’s a shame that Towns does not get the respect he has earned because of the team he plays for, but his talent does not go unrecognized on this list.
13. Kyrie Irving
He is, the most interesting man in the world. Interesting is certainly a word to describe Kyrie Irving. This upcoming season is going to be extremely interesting for the Brooklyn Nets, who went in the unconventional route by hiring first-year head coach Steve Nash to lead the star-studded Nets squad. This move could prove disastrous for a team with a player like Irving. Who, as we have seen, is historically known for stirring the pot behind the scenes.
While one of the biggest storylines will be Kevin Durant returning to the floor and debuting for Brooklyn, questions have to surround Irving and his ability to stay healthy. While Durant is returning from injury, so is Irving. He is bound to get his share of bumps and bruises along the way. When he is on the floor for long periods of time, he is a top-three point guard in the league, but he has never been one to say no to a load management night and obtain a shoulder strain one night and a thigh contusion another.
If all goes right, Brooklyn will emerge as a favorite from the Eastern Conference come playoff time. But, a whole lot needs to go right in order for any sort of plan to come to fruition.
12. Nikola Jokic
This season, Nikola Jokic set himself apart from the rest of the centers in the league as the top center in the association. He is one of the most unique talents to ever step foot on an NBA court. A seven-footer with guard intangibles and court vision that is as good as we have ever seen. “The Joker” is a human highlight reel, despite not entirely looking the part.
Jokic and the Denver Nuggets enjoyed a lengthy playoff run that put the entire league on notice that Denver is a contender and meant to be taken seriously. He established himself as a franchise superstar capable of leading a contending team in the playoffs. The West is going to be even more loaded next season. Jokic’s progression should allow the Nuggets to keep pace with the stacked conference.
11. Jayson Tatum
I wanted nothing more than to squeeze Jayson Tatum into the top-ten, but I couldn’t for the life of me make a case over the other candidates. It’s as I’ve been saying, there are a lot of good players in the NBA. In just three NBA seasons, Tatum has quickly grown from young prospect to franchise superstar. He’s had to mature quicker than any prospect from his draft class and insert himself into a championship-contending environment like the Boston Celtics and play a pivotal role in their pursuit.
We may have never seen a midseason leap from an NBA player quite like the one Tatum delivered once the calendar turned the new year. The February Player of the Month went on a streak that saw the Celtics knock off the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Utah Jazz, just to name a few. Tatum led the Celtics into a deep playoff run that saw them fall just short. Albeit, it was due to concerns beyond his capabilities.
At 22, Tatum is still on a rookie deal and is due for a massive extension from the Celtics this offseason. The Celtics get one more year of house money on Tatum’s contract. After that money kicks in, Tatum will really turn it up to another volume. In the meantime, the Celtics are back to their winning environment, and with Tatum and Jaylen Brown at the forefront of that movement, the future couldn’t be much more bright in Boston.
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