There are roughly a million ways to rank and order players in today’s analytically inclined NBA where stats and information can overwhelm those of us who don’t have a degree in quantum physics. Seriously, pick just about any stat or specific skill—like offensive rating, win shares, +/-, or shooting percentage on corner threes—and we can neatly order the 500-plus players who will be on an NBA roster this season into a coherent hierarchy.
But when wading into a topic as arbitrary, and often inflammatory, as who are the NBA’s 50 best players, you often reach a state of chaos before ever approaching any sort of consensus. Which, honestly, is the way it should be when the rankings rely largely on the eye test mixed in with a few other factors.
While it’s kind of an absurd proposition, of course, to accurately and definitively order basketball’s best players, it’s what we love to do. And we have the chutzpah to tell you that we do it better than anybody else out there. So we’re back, before the start of what we hope is a truly normal basketball season after two straight weird ones, to offer up our annual NBA player rankings.
Exhaustively argued and astutely ordered, our readers know ranking the top 50 players in the NBA is a tradition here at Complex Sports. But before wading into this year’s version, you should know that we’ve anointed someone new as basketball’s best. Spoiler alert: the reign of LeBron James as the NBA’s unquestioned No. 1 baller has ended. While LeBron stans and Lakers fans may protest, we expect the majority of readers will not have any issues with our new No. 1. Nor will they have any issues with our top 5. Or probably the top 10. The controversies and complaints start once we get into the teens and we’re prepared to never hear the end of it for placing the forever polarizing Draymond Green on our list yet again.
We think you’ll agree with how the majority of our rankings shook out, knowing, of course, that this exercise will forever be rooted in imperfect science. You’ll probably raise a few eyebrows or possibly even curse our name as you scroll through. We get it. We respect it. Just read the reasons why we moved Khris Middleton way up and left a few familiar names from previous seasons off before roasting us on Twitter, please.