The NBA has tremendous talent across the league this season. With a slew of young stars ready to take the NBA by storm in the coming years, the league is in a very good place. As we approach the halfway line of the NBA season, it is time to rank the best players in the league.
By ranking the top five players per position right now, we can identify which players are currently the faces of the NBA and which players are destined to take over in a short time. Here are the 5 best players per position right now.
Top 5 Best Point Guards
1. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is the best point guard in the NBA right now. He has managed to usurp Stephen Curry thanks to his dominant play on offense. The Golden State Warriors look at the risk of missing the playoffs while Portland is almost guaranteed a playoff berth this season.
Lillard (30.1 PPG) is doing work from the perimeter, nailing 37.8% of threes, and also draining game-winners as he does best. Lillard’s game-winner at the All-Star Game signaled he wants to be recognized as the best point guard in the world.
2. Stephen Curry
While Lillard is playing like a better point guard this season, Curry is the greater all-time point guard. Curry single-handedly changed the NBA to what it is today, and his 3 NBA titles are another reflection of that. Curry certainly won’t mind giving this season up to Lillard.
Curry is draining 40.8% of his threes and with 29.0 PPG he is the 4th best scorer in the league. Curry leading the Warriors to the playoffs without Klay Thompson would be very impressive, and he is second best at the point right now.
3. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving, despite his strange off-court behavior, is a great player. Destined for the Hall of Fame, Irving is the best ball handler we have ever seen since he can create any shot he wants and he is one of the best players in the Eastern Conference this season.
Kyrie Irving could be on his way to winning his second NBA title this season since he is playing with 2 other superstar players. Irving is still holding his own, dominating the offensive end with a 28.1 PPG average and he is the 3rd best point guard right now.
4. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is yet again one of the most underrated stars in the NBA. Paul is the undisputed leader of the Phoenix Suns, and he has led them to the second-best record in the Western Conference this season. Paul has greatly improved young stars in Phoenix such as Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, so he should be in the MVP conversation.
Chris Paul gets overlooked thanks to his miniature size and below-the-rim play, but he is one of the best leaders in NBA history. Chris Paul is easily a top-5 point guard yet again this season.
5. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic is unsurprisingly a name on this list. Doncic hasn’t been at his apex this season, compared to last year, but he is still a franchise player and superstar on the offensive end. Doncic means everything to the Dallas Mavericks, and they will go as far as Luka carries them.
If Luka can gain traction in the West and get Dallas a solid playoff seeding, he might enter the MVP conversation. But for now, he sits behind 4 other All-Star point guards as the best in his position despite his 28.6 PPG and 9.1 APG averages.
Top 5 Best Shooting Guards
1. James Harden
James Harden is the best shooting guard in the NBA and it isn’t close. Harden was traded to Brooklyn earlier this season, and even when playing with two other superstars, he is standing out with his playmaking and scoring. Harden is single-handedly the most unstoppable guard in the NBA right now.
The Beard is once again putting up legendary numbers (25.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 11.2 APG) and he currently ranks first in assists per game. Harden might be the most important player for the Nets because no player in the league can handle the ball and get an assist or bucket every time down the floor like him.
2. Bradley Beal
After James Harden, there is no question that Bradley Beal is the most dominant scorer at the shooting guard position. Beal is posting 31.8 PPG this season and is carrying the lowly Washington Wizards all season long. Without Beal, Washington would have been the biggest laughing stock in the NBA.
Beal is an offensive machine who can score inside and outside, and no player comes close to his scoring outside of James Harden. Beal is an All-NBA Team performer this season and he will earn his spot at the end of the year.
3. Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell doesn’t get enough credit for what he brings to the Utah Jazz, and even receives unfair criticism. Mitchell is a tremendous athlete and scorer who is slowly developing into a strong leader, and the only thing remains to be seen if he can get it done in the postseason this year.
Mitchell is extremely explosive on offense and is a load to handle when he attacks the rim. Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are one of the best duos in the NBA right now, and the attacking talents of Mitchell is the main reason why.
4. Devin Booker
Devin Booker is one of the best scorers in the NBA right now. His offensive production is the main reason Phoenix holds the second seed in the Western Conference, and he has greatly benefited from playing with Hall of Famer Chris Paul.
Devin Booker is averaging 25.1 PPG this season, nailing shots from everywhere on the court. Booker’s shot creation has improved tremendously over the years and he has reached a point to where he cannot be defended by one player.
5. Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine is no longer just a dunker, as he has added a consistent sniper to his arsenal. LaVine is draining 43.7% of his threes, and averaging a career-high 28.1 PPG. LaVine gets it done from the perimeter and also by attacking the rim, making him a top-five shooting guard in the world.
LaVine is developing into a superstar and he probably needs to be on another team for his talents to reach another level. But for now, LaVine sits at 5th place in the NBA.
Top 5 Best Small Forwards
1. LeBron James
LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA, even at 36 years of age. LeBron was also one of the top contenders for the MVP Award before he just went out with an unfortunate injury that will keep him out indefinitely. That doesn’t take away from what LeBron has been doing this season.
The King is still putting up MVP numbers (25.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 7.9 APG) and once he returns healthy to the court, he should make the Los Angeles Lakers the favorites in the Western Conference. For now, LeBron is still the king of the NBA and there is no debate.
2. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is the second-best small forward in the NBA. Leonard’s 2-way dominance makes him a major factor in the Los Angeles Clippers’ title chances this season, and we are only 2 years removed from Leonard winning an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors.
Leonard is averaging 25.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 1.8 SPG for Los Angeles this season. The Claw has not even hit full throttle just yet, and he will be hungry to prove that he can be the king of the NBA once again by winning an NBA title with the kid Angeles Clippers.
3. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler’s return from injury could not have come at a better time for the Miami Heat. The Heat have been terribly inconsistent all season long without their leader and even looked like a lottery team at times. But Butler is back, and he wants to make the NBA Finals again.
While it’s unlikely considering how Brooklyn has a superteam and the Bucks continue to get better, Butler will fight until the end. Butler’s 2-way play is key for Miami winning at the highest level, and even if he doesn’t win the chip this year, he will be a top-3 small forward in the world.
4. Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum has developed into one of the game’s best scorers. He is averaging 24.8 PPG this season and has begun taking over games the same way Kobe Bryant used to back in the day. Tatum is a young lion who will soon be one of the faces of the NBA thanks to his leadership and incredible skills.
Tatum is still behind the top-3 small forwards in the NBA right now, mainly due to his developing all-around game. LeBron is a better playmaker and smarter player, Kawhi is a much better defensive player, and Butler plays both ends at a superstar level. Tatum isn’t quite there yet, but he will get there in due time.
5. Brandon Ingram
A young superstar in the making, Brandon Ingram is growing into his own as a top-5 small forward in the NBA. Ingram is a franchise star for the New Orleans Pelicans alongside Zion Williamson, and he has shown flashes of brilliance already in his young career.
Ingram has a ways to go to catch up to the likes of Tatum and Butler, but he might get there in due time. For now, Ingram is a top-5 small forward by averaging 24.2 PPG and 5.1 RPG this season.
Top 5 Best Power Forwards
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak, no matter if he doesn’t have a consistent jumper yet, is a top-5 player in the NBA. The 2-time reigning MVP is a monster on both ends of the floor, and he is by far the best foreign star in the league right now.
Giannis is once again putting up MVP numbers by averaging 28.6 PPG, 11.6 RPG, and 6.4 APG for the Milwaukee Bucks. Once Giannis develops his jumper, it’s game over for the league because he is already unstoppable as the best power forward in the NBA.
2. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is one of the game’s greatest ever players, considering his skill set as an unstoppable scorer. Durant is a 4-time scoring champion and 11-time All-Star who has won everything there is to win in professional basketball. In fact, he could be on his way to his 3rd NBA ring this season.
Durant has missed quite a few games this season due to injuries and also COVID protocol, and he is not in his prime anymore. That takes him down a notch behind The Greek Freak, although that may change by the time the playoffs come.
3. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is the most talented big man in the game right now, alongside Nikola Jokic. Davis has every skill in the bag and does not have a weakness besides his consistent injury history. When healthy, Davis is a top-5 player in the world without a doubt and he showed it last year by helping the Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA title.
Davis is averaging 22.5 PPG and 8.4 RPG this season for the Lakers, and he might be out for the foreseeable future. Once the playoffs come, we will again witness what Anthony Davis can do at the highest level.
4. Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson made his first All-Star Team this season in only his second professional season. Williamson is averaging 25.7 PPG and 7.0 RPG this season for the Pelicans, who have not performed as well as many thought they would.
Still, Zion is a special talent and one of the best young players in the world. Once Williamson gets his jumper from decent to great, we might be looking at one of the best players in the NBA.
5. Julius Randle
It is so great to see Julius Randle reach his potential when he was just a raw powerhouse with the Lakers many years ago. Randle is an athletic forward who has developed his ball-handling and jump shot to the point of All-Star status.
Randle is averaging 23.3 PPG and 10.9 RPG this season and is the best player for a New York Knicks team that could be making the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.
Top 5 Best Centers
1. Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic is the best all-around center in the NBA, and that’s hard to argue when looking at his numbers. Jokic is a triple-double machine at 7-feet tall, meaning he is completely unstoppable on both a physical and mental level.
Nikola Jokic, along with Joel Embiid, is the front-runner for the MVP Award this season. But Jokic has Denver sitting 5th in the Western Conference so far, giving him the slight edge in the MVP Race and also as the best center in the world.
2. Joel Embiid
Big man Joel Embiid is finally dominating the game as he should be. Embiid is taking over both ends of the court, defending the rim and also carrying the 76ers offense all season long. Doc Rivers has Embiid playing like an MVP, and a top-2 center in the world.
Joel Embiid is currently averaging 29.9 PPG and 11.5 RPG while carrying Philly to the best record in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid has had his best season so far in 2021, and he might be challenging Jokic as the MVP favorite all season long.
3. Rudy Gobert
Rudy Gobert received a ton of criticism for receiving a max contract because many felt that he wasn’t offensively impactful enough to warrant that kind of money. But Gobert has proved his worth by being one of the two best players on the best team in the NBA.
Gobert is averaging 14.4 PPG, 13.4 RPG, and 3.0 BPG this season, and his defensive dominance has been there since the first game of the year. Gobert is proficient at cleaning up misses, running the floor for easy looks, and dominating the defensive end.
4. Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo has fallen a bit under the radar since Miami have not been as great as they were last season. The Heat are currently 7th in the Eastern Conference and after they landed Victor Oladipo, we can expect they will improve their record and become one of the best teams in the East.
Bam Adebayo is a top-5 center in the NBA, and despite being undersized, can dominate both ends of the floor. Bam is exceptionally talented with his scoring and has excellent passing and rebounding ability. Bam may not have made an All-Star Team this season, but he certainly is an All-Star talent.
5. Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic was the best player on the Orlando Magic, and he is one of the best stat-sheet stuffing bigs in NBA history. Vucevic is also a hot commodity across the NBA because his rebounding and scoring at the center position rank among the best in the league.
Vucevic is averaging 24.6 PPG and 11.8 RPG and after the trade, everyone is expecting to see the Chicago Bulls in the NBA playoffs this season.