Best NBA Players 2020: Ranking the Top 10
Recently, Sports Illustrated released their “Top 100 NBA Players for the 2020 Season” list like they do every year. The HoopLifeTV staff decided that we wanted to create our own list, but focus in on just the top ten 10 best NBA players of the 2020 season.
The criteria for this list of the best NBA players of the 2020 season was simple: our top ten list is a ranking of who we believe will have the best season. To avoid confusion, we did not count votes towards injured players that will not step foot on the court in the 2020 season, like Kevin Durant for example.
The voting for this list was also very straight forward. Each staff member that contributed to this submitted their list, in order, of their top ten best players for the 2020 season. The first overall player would receive 10 points, their second player would receive 9 points, their third player would receive 8 points, and the trend would continue downward, giving their tenth overall player 1 point. After everyone submitted their votes, the numbers were tallied up to give us this list. If a player received any votes within a voter’s top three best NBA Players, it will be noted.
Best NBA Players 2020: Ranking the Top 10
Honorable Mentions Not Voted into the Top 10 List of the Best NBA Players
10. Damian Lillard (30 Points)
Dame D.O.L.L.A. is not to be disrespected. Last season, Damian Lillard averaged 25.8 points, 6.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. Although having accolades such as being the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year and a four-time All-Star, Lillard can sometimes be forgotten about all the way in Portland, where he has played for the Portland Trailblazers since being drafted by them with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Damian Lillard is one of the few NBA stars left in the league that truly knows what loyalty is, as he has said on numerous occasions that he will never leave Portland.
“I’m not willing to sell myself out for (championships)”@Dame_Lillard on why he hasn’t left Portland.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) February 19, 2019
Lillard is absolutely ruthless on the court. He is the definition of a clutch player, as seen in the buzzer-beater shot that sent the Oklahoma City Thunder home in the 2019 Playoffs. Lillard is able to shoot the ball from deep, having the third most made three-point shots behind Stephen Curry and James Harden last season. With a team-first mentality and a desire to win, nothing will slow down Lillard this coming season.
9. Joel Embiid (34 Points)
This Cameroonian big man will make anyone regret going up against him in the paint. Not only will he make the play, but he will also embarrass the other player on social media or in post-game interviews with his cocky smack-talk. In the 2018-19 season, Embiid put up 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. Embiid is an absolute beast down low, capable of finishing any shots and getting any rebounds. Not many players in the league stand a chance down low against Embiid.
With the Philadelphia 76ers acquisition of former Celtics fan-favorite Al Horford, Embiid will have the chance to play with another great post player. This will only make Embiid a stronger player in general, learning from an NBA veteran in Horford. This 7-foot giant just knows how to get in the opponents head, making them think twice about driving in against him. At only 25 years old, Embiid is nowhere near his prime yet, and will only get better this year. Having Joel Embiid as a top ten player in this list was a no-brainer.
8. Paul George (50 Points – 1 Second Place Vote)
Paul George made the world stop spinning when it was announced back in July that he would be on his way to the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The six-time All-Star joined the Clippers at nearly the same time that Kawhi Leonard announced that he would be choosing to leave the NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors, to join the Clippers and form a super team. This not only broke the hearts of Raptors and Lakers fans but also broke the internet in the late-night, early morning hours. With Paul George now with a team-first guy in Leonard, he is set for one of his best seasons yet.
In the 2018-19 season, PG13 averaged 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. Although George finished third in MVP voting last season, an offseason surgery on “both a torn labrum in his right shoulder and a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder” scares people from giving him a higher rating. If George, a four-time All-Defensive player, can overcome his injuries, he is going to have one of his best seasons yet, playing alongside the 2019 MVP, Kawhi Leonard. He has overcome some horrible injuries (WARNING- Graphic!) in the past, so we believe he will be able to push through.
7. Nikola Jokić (60 Points – 1 First Place Vote)
Nikola Jokić is coming off of a career-best season where he averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Jokić is one of those players that can do a little bit of everything. He shot the ball at 51.1 percent and could stretch the floor if need be and hit the occasional three-ball (83 made last season). Jokić is also one of the best passing bigs that the NBA has ever seen.
The Serbian native also showed his doubters that he has the ability to play great defense, where he led the second-seeded Denver Nuggets on a playoff run that almost landed them in the Western Conference Finals. In the playoffs, he averaged the most points (25.1), rebounds (13.0), and assists (8.4) per game than any other player in the league. With a continuing trend of Jokić improving his stats, there is no question the second-round pick will only get better. Jokić’s biggest competition is Joel Embiid, but considering Embiid’s injury history, Jokić is clearly the better pick.
6. Anthony Davis (79 Points – 1 First Place Vote, 2 Second Place Votes, 1 Third Place Vote)
In yet another offseason move, Anthony Davis forced himself out of the New Orleans Pelicans and was sent to join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Only playing in 56 games in his final season with the Pelicans, Davis averaged 25.9 points, 12 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game. These stats, along with shooting 51.7 percent from the field, was enough to secure his sixth consecutive All-Star claim.
The first selection in the 2012 NBA Draft is possibly one of the best two-way players in the league, and now he has the chance to play alongside arguably the best of all time in LeBron. Prior to LeBron, the only All-Stars that Davis has ever played with were Jrue Holiday and DeMarcus Cousins. With the 2019-20 season being a contract year for Davis, he is going to have to put on a show in L.A. to secure another max contract, which always tends to make players play better. If LeBron and AD can click early on, look for the Showtime Lakers to make a deep run in the playoffs.
5. Stephen Curry (90 Points – 2 Third Place Votes)
Stephen Curry is one of the few stars in the NBA that did not change rosters this offseason, unlike former teammate Kevin Durant. Curry, known for his precision accuracy from deep, is a weapon the court. The second Curry crosses the halfcourt line, a defender needs to be up in his face, otherwise, he will hit a deep three. Last season, Curry averaged 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
With the departure of Durant and Klay Thompson‘s injury, Curry’s usage rate will go through the roof giving him the chance to up his stats even more. The Golden State Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Russell, who has consistently been credited for more assists every season, is a guy who will be able to find Curry for open shots. The year prior to KD joining the Warriors, Curry had his best season in scoring, rebounds, and steals. Look for Curry to have career-high numbers this season.
4. James Harden (92 Points – 1 Second Place Vote, 1 Third Place Vote)
The 2019 MVP Runner-Up James Harden is set for an explosive 2020 season. The former 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft averaged a career-high 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, 6.6 rebounds, and 2 steals per game last season. Harden also had one of his best seasons in scoring efficiency, shooting the ball at 44.2 percent and 36.8 percent from deep. Last season saw a jump in Harden’s three-point game, making a career-high 4.8 three-pointers per game, up from 3.7 in the 2017-18 season. He also led the league in usage rates. Harden has been working hard this offseason, and it looks like he has added some great moves to his arsenal.
Because of offseason roster changes, Harden will be pairing up with his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook. While it will be a concern to see if the two will be able to share the ball, there is no doubt that the two have chemistry as the became friends at the age of eleven. With Harden’s ability to hit the stepback three and also being one of the best isolation players in the league, he is an offensive beast.
3. LeBron James (116 Points – 3 First Place Votes, 3 Second Place Votes, 4 Third Place Votes)
Arguably the greatest player of all time, LeBron James needs no introduction. In his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, James was only able to play in 55 games due to injuries. In those 55 games, he did not disappoint, averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Although the Lakers did not live up to their high expectations, LeBron was still able to be one of the top players in the league, all while battling injuries.
The 34-year-old, 15-time All-Star, is defying father time. While most athletes see a decline in performance with age, James has been able to keep up the intensity and perform at an extremely high level. Because of this, we have no doubt he will still be a top-three player in the league for the 2020 season. With the addition of big man Anthony Davis, LeBron could really have one of the best seasons of his career. The four-time MVP and three-time NBA Champion has not played with a player of Davis’ caliber since his time on the Miami Heat, where he won back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013 with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The King will be on a mission to reclaim his crown this season.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (129 Points – 4 First Place Votes, 3 Second Place Votes, 4 Third Place Votes)
Although Giannis disappointed many in the FIBA World Cup, have no doubt that he will be better than ever come time for the NBA season tip-off. Antetokounmpo’s biggest weakness is in his three-point shot, where he hit only 25.6 percent of his three’s last season. If he can bump those numbers up even a little, and continue to be the strong and athletic player we know he can be, he will once again be a contender for MVP and be considered one of the best NBA players of the 2020 season.
1. Kawhi Leonard (147 Points – 8 First Place Votes, 6 Second Place Votes, 2 Third Place Votes)
WHAT IT DO BAY-BEE! Our staff has voted Kawhi Leonard to be the best out of all of the NBA players for the 2020 NBA season. Coming off of an NBA Championship season, Kawhi Leonard decided to stun the NBA world and sign with the Los Angeles Clippers to create a superteam with Paul George. The two-time Finals MVP averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game in his solo season with the Toronto Raptors. Leonard only played in 60 games that season due to “load management,” which was something he decided to do. The three-time All-Star has proven himself to be a cornerstone of any NBA team by helping the Raptors become champions for the first time in franchise history. Leonard is also one of the best two-way players in the league, proven by his five-time selection to the All-Defensive team.
Leonard also proved to be one of the most clutch players in the NBA after what he did to the 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals, where he hit the series-winning, buzzer-beater three in game seven. The 2020 season is Leonard’s for the taking. With a roster that was basically built with him in mind, there are really no limits to what “The Claw” can accomplish. It would not come to a surprise to see Leonard bring another team, the Clippers, to win their first franchise championship. If that is done, Leonard should become part of the “G.O.A.T.” debate alongside Michael Jordan and LeBron James. It came to no surprise that Leonard finished first in our top ten list of the best NBA players for the 2020 season.