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Top 20 best NBA players of the 2021-22 season

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Top 20 best NBA players of the 2021-22 season

Now that the regular season has come to an end, it is time to rank the top 20 NBA players for the 2021-22 season. 
For the basis of this ranking, I have considered offensive and defensive statistics, skill, minutes played, efficiency on the court and everything the players have done both on and off the ball. 
All rankings are irrespective of whether a team have qualified for the Playoffs or not; these are based on the players’ performances during the regular 2021-22 season.

Also Read – Top 10 Richest NBA Teams

20. Chris Paul 

Nationality: American
Team: Phoenix Suns
Position: Point Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 14.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 10.8 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Top 20 best NBA players of the 2021-22 season - Chris Paul

Even with fewer scoring stats this season, Chris Paul will finish the season with the highest assists per game. The way he has changed the culture of the Phoenix Suns and has made them a strong contender in the West is commendable. The reason he is known as the “Point God” is because whatever he does for his team helps them win and reach the levels they want to attain. 
The future Hall of Famer hopes to end his career on a good note in the coming years, but whatever he has done with the Phoenix Suns will forever be remembered. Paul has also developed the players around him and has shown the league how much greater experience is than talent.

19. Rudy Gobert

Nationality: French
Team: Utah Jazz
Position: Centre
2021-22 Season Statistics: 15.6 PPG, 14.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.1 BPG

Top 20 best NBA players of the 2021-22 season - Rudy Gobert

The “French Rejection” is a defensive beast with the highest blocks per game in the league. Rudy uses his length and size with his high basketball IQ perfectly, which makes the Utah Jazz feel like a contender in the West. Rudy’s dominance on all the defensive plays gives his team more opportunities to score. As his coach Quin Snyder explained, “Because of the way that Rudy impacts the game, it’s not as visible to people that are watching the ball. When you watch the game, a lot of times you’re watching the ball.” 
Gobert has continued to be the obvious choice for the Defensive Team of the Year while averaging 2.1 BPG (highest this season) and also making the most Free Throws for the team, proving that he knows how to take advantage of a weak defence and conquer the paint in his way.

18. Jordan Poole

Nationality: American
Team: Golden State Warriors
Position: Shooting Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 18.5 PPG, 4.0 APG, 92.5 FG%, 2.8 3PG

18. Jordan Poole

Poole has been one of the top reasons for the Warriors’ good run this season. His passing and off-the-ball movement have improved tremendously and he’s making some exceptional plays for his team. He’s leading the league in FG% this season, showing how composed his shooting has been.
Jordan ‘Kid Splash’ Poole is already trying to keep up with the ‘Splash Brothers’. He’s putting up numbers like never before and is maintaining his name in the top three scorers in every offensive phase for the team this season. As he’s learning from the best shooters, his movements to get open for uncontested shooting plays have also improved. He could become one of the best shooters in the league in the coming years.

17. Jaylen Brown

Nationality: American
Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Small Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 23.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG

17. Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown’s recent development from a guard to a forward has elevated his scoring, playmaking, and defensive attributes to the next level. He is one of the most improved players in the NBA in recent times. One of the biggest defensive help and scoring machines for the Boston side has made the Celtics the team with the most point differential in the league this season.
Brown’s elite scoring techniques and constant energetic plays have made him an All-Star; his key strength is his penetration through the opposition defence. He has made one of the best duos in the league with his fellow forward, Jason Tatum, making the Boston Celtics one of the strongest contenders for the Championship this season.

16. Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT)

Nationality: Dominican-American
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
Position: Centre
2021-22 Season Statistics: 24.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.1 BPG

16. Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT)

The Minnesota Timberwolves always look different when they have KAT on the court. A centre with guard skills who can run the floor and still take rebounds and make plays from the paint is not something we see in every generation. The big man became the first centre in the NBA to win the 3-pointer contest in February 2022.
KAT has the most FG% in the franchise and has averaged 24.6 PPG, making him the top scorer in Minnesota this season. Starting all the matches he has played this season shows the impact he can have on the team, which he couldn’t manifest in his last season because it was full of injury.

15. Zach LaVine

Nationality: American
Team: Chicago Bulls  
Position: Small Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 24.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG

15. Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine has been the driving force for the Chicago Bulls this season with the help of the new signings. With a blasting start to the season, the Bulls became one of the favourites in the Eastern Conference. The two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (2015 and 2016) has a textbook stylish gameplay with one of the best shooting stances in the world.
‘Flight 8’ averaged 24.4 PPG in the regular season and was effective on both sides of the court. He is hoping to recover soon after his knee surgery to help his team fight back next season and bring the vintage Bulls reputation back again.

14. Ja Morant

Nationality: American
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Position: Point Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 27.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.4 BPG

14. Ja Morant

Ja Morant is the backbone of the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s arguably the most athletic player in the league right now. His stylish, flashy and burst plays show his confidence and scoring ability, justifying him making it to All-Stars so early in his career and winning the “The Most Improved Player” award this season.
The Rookie of the Year (2019-20) is always in the spotlight when he’s on the court. The Grizzlies guard knows his strength and how to use it. Ja is having his best season so far with a career-high 27.4 PPG, keeping Memphis at the #2 seed in the West at the end of the season.

13. DeMar DeRozan

Nationality: American
Team: Chicago Bulls
Position: Power Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 27.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG

13. DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan has played his best season yet. He’s lethal from mid-range; his clutch performance gave the Bulls a burst start to the season to remember. The five-time All-Star has averaged 27.9 PPG and 4.9 APG, showing how effective he’s offensively for the Chicago Bulls. 
‘Deebo’ is leading his team in PPG, FG and mid-range 2P this season and has made multiple clutch shots for the crucial wins. He knows how to use his strength on defensive plays and still uses his pace and tempo for transition plays. He’s no doubt a top contender for the All-NBA team.

12. Trae Young

Nationality: American
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Position: Point Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 28.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 9.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG

12. Trae Young

Trae Young is one of the most hated players in the league since he annoyed a few big fanbases in the NBA during the 2020-21 Playoffs. But still, without a doubt, his stats are out of this world. He has been the most threatening offensive master for the Hawks, with his excellent playmaking and finishing ability.
‘Ice Trae’ was the highest scorer in the 2021-22 regular season of the NBA. Trae, despite being a diminutive guard and an inefficient defender, is regarded highly because of his signature floater, ‘beyond the arc’ ability, 1-on-1 handling creativity, and incredible mid-range shooting. The last-minute trade by the Atlanta Hawks has proven to be worth every penny since his arrival and is one of the brightest prospects in the NBA.

11. Bam Adebayo

Nationality: American
Team: Miami Heat
Position: Centre
2021-22 Season Statistics: 19.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.8 BPG

11. Bam Adebayo

Despite being one of the shortest centres in league history, Bam is still a tremendous force for the Heat and maintains his place in the top-three scorers for the franchise this season. As one of the top contenders for the DPOY, Bam has been Miami’s wall with 0.8 BPG, averaging 10.1 RPG.
Bam is a very smart player: he can pass, rebound, shoot, and score around the rim. He’s an asset to Erik Spoelstra’s side, making them championship contenders. 

10. Jason Tatum

Nationality: American
Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Power Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 26.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

10. Jason Tatum

Jason Tatum is the centrepiece of the Celtics offence. Since his rookie year, Tatum is known for his use of strength and physique against the defenders. His offensive game has taken leaps and so has his playmaking, which means he could become one of the best all-around players in the league in years to come.
‘Taco Jay’ has helped his side fight back after a poor start to the season. Making their way into the Playoffs, Boston are quite dependent on Tatum to perform consistently and keep up the 26.9 PPG, 8 RPG and one of the best isolated defences leading up to the final. 

9. Devin Booker

Nationality: American
Team: Phoenix Suns
Position: Shooting Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 26.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Devin Booker is having the best season of his career this year in terms of scoring. He’s averaging 26.8 PPG and still has his playmaking game up to the mark. Booker is cooking around the rim and beyond the arc and is becoming a superstar right before our eyes.
Booker is turning out to be one of the most unstoppable players in the league, someone who can score from anywhere on the court and is a threat as soon as he crosses the half-line. He is one of the reasons for the Suns’ success in the recent season. Without a doubt, he will have an exciting career in the NBA.

8. Luka Dončić

Nationality: Slovenian
Team: Dallas Mavericks 
Position: Point Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 28.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Luka Dončić has the most unique style of play for a guard in the NBA. He’s slow-paced, but he knows how to use his tempo to his advantage. His jolly nature and smooth ‘Luka Magic’ gameplay make him a fan-favourite. The 2018-19 Rookie of the Year has been performing since his first day in the league and is always compared with the franchise superstar, Dirk Nowitzki.
The Don of Dallas is putting up insane numbers in scoring (28.4 PPG) and playmaking (8.7 APG). Even after being called a defensive liability for the Mavericks, Dončić still has 9.1 RPG. The three-time All-Star has the talent of being a superstar in the league and a forever asset for his team.

7. Jimmy Butler

Nationality: American
Team: Miami Heat
Position: Small Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 21.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Since his first season with the Miami Heat, Butler’s game has been noticed by the spectators. Despite his bad locker-room reputation, his leadership is very noticeable. The way he energises the team with his words and actions shows what a player can do off the ball for his team. Recipient of the 2014-15 season’s “The Most Improved Player” accolade, Butler is known for his consistent hard work on the court.
‘Jimmy G. Buckets’ doesn’t lead his team in any aspect of scoring but is still their highest scorer with 21.4 PPG this season because of his versatile and simple gameplay. He’s lethal when isolated by a defender. His tenacious hunger for the championship makes the Heat the No. 1 seed in the East and one of the favourites to win it all this season.

6. Kevin Durant (KD)

Nationality: American
Team: Brooklyn Nets
Position: Power Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 29.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 6.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG

Kevin Durant is the most unstoppable scorer in the league when he’s healthy. He has his sweet spots: he can make mid-range shooting look so easy with his high-rise release, which is powered by his unreal 7’4’’ wingspan. He has been putting achievements in his portfolio since his Rookie days, but because of his constant injuries, he still hasn’t stood on the very top after leaving the Golden State Warriors.
KD has the potential of leading any team to the finals, and with the new changes to the Nets roster, the synergy still needs to be developed, which might make them even more ferocious next season. KD’s 29.9 PPG, 6.4 APG and several other good defensive stats that have been maintained over the years still make him a good contender for the championship.

5. LeBron James

Nationality: American
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Position: Small Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 30.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.1 BPG

LeBron James is the biggest name in the NBA right now, without a doubt. Even at 37 years of age, he is dominating the league. The Lakers’ bad performance hasn’t stopped him from proving himself as the G.O.A.T. again this season. His signature textbook gameplay is still effective, according to critics.
‘The King’ averaged 30.3 PPG in his career’s 19th season with 8.2 RPG. His ridiculous number of notable honours, and the fact that the eighteen-time All-Star is still among the big names, tells us why he’ll be wearing the NBA crown forever.

4. Stephen Curry

Nationality: American
Team: Golden State Warriors
Position: Point Guard
2021-22 Season Statistics: 25.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Stephen Curry is inarguably the best shooter the NBA has ever seen. His constant record-breaking performances have made him a shooting legend. Curry has gone on to change the dynamics of the game with his shooting dominance, and this trend will probably continue for the next ten years.
‘Chef Curry’ averaged 25.5 PPG and proved that he could keep the Golden State Warriors among the greats even without KD and Klay. The return of the other half of Splash Brothers also helped Curry on the road to the Playoffs. He is the only unanimous MVP in NBA history, and no one has ever questioned him because he is that good. Given the form he is in, Curry could be a strong contender for becoming the Finals MVP.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Nationality: Greek
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Position: Power Forward
2021-22 Season Statistics: 29.9 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.4 BPG

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis has that old-school playing style, where he uses his strength to ease his momentum and tempo to just rip the defence and score however he wants. Because of his experience as a guard and his height advantage, he can drive through the defence, make creative plays and know how to use his ridiculous 7’3’’ wingspan, making him the biggest threat in the paint. 
‘The Greek Freak’ averaged 29.9 PPG with one of the highest rebounds in the league, still helping his team at both ends. His defensive IQ and strength make him unavoidable to his opposition. He is on the All-NBA, All-Star, and Defensive teams of the year, and has won DPOY, MVP, Finals MVP and plenty of other honours, proving that, if the hustle is right, even an old-school can rule in this era.

2. Joel Embiid

Nationality: Cameroonian
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
Position: Centre
2021-22 Season Statistics: 30.6 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.5 BPG

Joel doesn’t like wasting possessions; if he can’t score, he’ll find the most accurate pass, which is clear from his stats. He is averaging 30.6 PPG, the highest in the league, and his 4.2 APG also shows his offensive contribution.
‘The Process’ doesn’t let his offensive interest affect his team’s defensive side. He is getting steals, making blocks and doing everything he can to be known as a dominant centre forever, which is looking dicey because of no rings. The five-time All-Star still needs his teammates to perform better, because he has the capability of taking the 76ers to the finals.

1. Nikola Jokić

Nationality: Serbian
Team: Denver Nuggets
Position: Centre
2021-22 Season Statistics: 27.1 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 7.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.9 BPG

Top 20 best NBA players of the 2021-22 season - 1. Nikola Jokić

‘The Joker’ is arguably one of the best centres that the league has ever seen in NBA history. His gameplay might not look stylish or flashy to a fan, but whatever he does on the court turns into gold for his injury-ridden team. 
After the injury to Denver’s starting guard Jamal Murray, Jokić has carried his team in every aspect. He is averaging more than any player on his team in points, rebounds and steals and is averaging more than most other players in the league, thus being awarded the MVP for the second time.

Abbreviations:

NBA – National Basketball Association
PPG – Points Per game
RPG – Rebounds per game
APG – Assists per game
SPG – Steals per game 
BPG – Blocks per game
FG% – Field Goal Percentage
3PG – 3-Point per game
DPOY – Defensive Player of the year
MVP – Most Valuable Player

My eagerness, interest and inclination towards sports has continuously been forging and fortifying my personality as a writer. My sincerity to it is strengthened by the strong foundations of my musical attribute.

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