Over time, NBA players and their jersey numbers become iconic and entrenched in NBA history. The number 23 is synonymous with Michael Jordan. The numbers 24 and 8 are synonymous with Kobe Bryant. Number 32 is Magic Johnson, Number 34 is Shaq and Hakeem, and so on and so forth. The jerseys that iconic NBA players have worn along with the numbers embroidered onto them are almost as legendary as the players themselves. Heck, I even wore the number 20 when I was younger to honor my favorite player, Gary Payton.
Instead of focusing on the most iconic NBA jersey numbers of all time, we have decided to honor the best player at each number so far during the 2022-23 season. Less than 20 games into the season and we have already seen some masterful performances and breakout seasons from unexpected sources. The baton is starting to be passed from the generation of LeBron and Curry to the likes of Giannis, Luka, and Tatum. There are 53 different numbers currently being used throughout the league, and we intend to honor the best player at each number on our list below.
These are the best NBA players by each jersey number for the 2022-23 season.
No. 00 - Jordan Clarkson
Kicking off our list with the No. 00 jersey is Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz. Clarkson is one of the players leading the charge for the surprisingly surging Jazz. Headed into the season, the Jazz had traded away their franchise’s two key pieces, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Expected to tank and aim for top draft prospect Victor Wembanyama, the Jazz have gotten off to a shocking 11-6 start and sit at the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. A big part of it has been the production coming from Jordan Clarkson.
Just 2 seasons removed from being named the 2020-21 Sixth Man of the Year, Clarkson has been in the starting lineup for all 17 games in Utah this season. He has responded by averaging 18.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 4.6 APG. His rebounding and assist numbers would be career-highs if the season ended today. His abilities as a playmaker and explosive scorer have been on full display so far this season, much to the delight of a fanbase that saw the season going in a completely different direction.
Honorable Mentions: Bennedict Mathurin, Jonathan Kuminga
No. 0 - Jayson Tatum
Headed into the 2022-23 season, there were an array of questions facing the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics. They had just lost their Coach Ime Udoka to a year-long suspension and the anchor of their interior defense, Robert Williams. The Celtics have thrown all the drama to the side and come out as the most potent offense in basketball, with Jayson Tatum leading the way as an Ealy MVP candidate.
Currently, Jayson Tatum is averaging the 7th most points in the NBA at 30.3 PPG. The Celtics have the best record in the NBA at 13-3, and Tatum is scoring with the best efficiency of his career since 2018. Tatum is also currently tied for 2nd in the NBA with 4.5 APG and 9th in PER at 25.77. In 6 out of 16 games so far this season, Tatum has recorded at least 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Honorable Mentions: Damian Lillard, Tyrese Maxey, Tyrese Haliburton
No. 1 - Devin Booker
The No. 1 jersey is loaded with talent throughout the NBA. It could have been LaMelo Ball, but he has only played in a total of 3 games so far in 2022-23 as he continues to struggle with injury. James Harden has also been sidelined with an injury, which is a shame, considering how hot of a start he got off to this year. Zion Williamson, Anthony Edwards, and Anfernee Simons are two other candidates that have cases to be selected for the best player to don the No. 1.
Instead, our choice goes to someone who has a case as the very best shooting guard in basketball, Devin Booker. Currently, Booker is leading the 9-6 Phoenix Suns with 28.1 PPG as they once again compete for the top spot in the West. Booker has tapped into his playmaking skills much more this season as well, averaging 6.1 APG on the year. Coming off of his first All-NBA First Team in 2021-22, it seems Booker is set to lead the Suns into the postseason for a third straight season.
Honorable Mentions: James Harden, LaMelo Ball, Zion Williamson, Anthony Edwards
No. 2 - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
When it comes down to the No. 2 jersey, it is best to remember that we are basing it strictly on the 2022-23 season. Kawhi Leonard has unfortunately struggled with knee injuries again and has missed 13 games already. Cade Cunningham has also been great this season but was just lost for at least 12 weeks with a broken tibia and fibula. There has only been one player who stands above the rest, donning the No. 2.
That player is Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Even though the Thunder sit at just 7-9 on the season, Gilgeous-Alexander has been playing MVP-level basketball. In 15 games, he is averaging 31.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, and 1.4 BPG. He is shooting the ball better from everywhere on the floor, better than he has at any point in his career. Gilgeous-Alexander is currently shooting 53.4% overall and 40.9% from three. He has focused more on attacking the basket and creating much easier shots for himself. If the Thunder can win more games, expect Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s name to still be in the MVP conversation at the season’s end.
Honorable Mentions: Kawhi Leonard, Cade Cunningham
No. 3 - Chris Paul
The first really tough decision of this list comes early, choosing our selection with the No. 3 jersey. Anthony Davis is having a resurgent season of sorts averaging 25.3 PPG and 11.5 RPG, but his team is struggling at just 4-10 on the year. Bradley Beal has also had a very nice start to his 2022-23 season with 22.4 PPG and 5.9 APG for the surprising Wizards. Other players with cases for this selection include Keldon Johnson, OG Anunoby, and Jordan Poole.
We have to admit that there may have been some historical bias with our selection, but we decided to go with the “Point God,” Chris Paul. Even though he has only played 10 contests for the Suns so far this season, Paul still has the same old impact he has had for most of his career. His 9.4 APG ranks 2nd in the league currently, proving that at 38 years old, he is still one of the best playmakers in the NBA. Paul has the Suns at 9-6 on the season, which is good for 4th in the Western Conference.
Honorable Mentions: Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, OG Anunoby
No. 4 - Evan Mobley
With the No.4 jersey, there are a few young players making their way up the list, but none are better than the player we have selected. The reigning Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes, has struggled out of the gate to begin the 2022-23 season, but the Raptors do seem on a good course as the season unfolds. Jalen Suggs and Steven Adams are 2 other players who deserve mention when it comes to No. 4 jersey wearers as well.
Our choice today is one of the interior anchors of the most exciting team in the Eastern Conference. Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers has been instrumental to their early season success on both sides of the ball. He has taken a slight offensive leap as far as getting his shot off and creating for himself as well. He is currently averaging 15.5 PPG and 8.2 PPG on a ridiculous 56.8% shooting percentage. After an 8-game winning streak in their first 9 games, the Cavaliers have slipped a bit in the standings but expect Mobley and company to be competing come playoff time.
Honorable Mentions: Scottie Barnes, Jalen Suggs, Steven Adams
No. 5 - De’Aaron Fox
The No. 5 jersey is one of the lesser-stacked jersey numbers in the NBA today. The most exciting rookie in the game Paolo Banchero has had a nice start to his career for the Magic but has missed extended time with an injury. Dejounte Murray is having an incredible season with the Hawks as well, averaging 21.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 7.6 APG, and 2.0 SPG for the 9-6 Atlanta Hawks. These 2 players certainly present a compelling case, but our choice takes the cake.
De’Aaron Fox has been an electric and speedy basketball player his entire career so far. For the first time since the 2000s, Kings fans have a reason to believe that their team can contend for a playoff spot. Fox is currently averaging 24.8 PPG and 6.4 APG for the Kings, who stand at 8-6 on the season and are just 1.5 games back of first in the West. Fox could possibly earn his first All-Star appearance this year, but guard play has been elite, so he could miss out once again.
Honorable Mentions: Dejounte Murray, Paolo Banchero
No. 6 - LeBron James
There are just 14 players in the NBA who currently wear the No. 6. Once these players decide to change their number or retire, the No. 6 will never be worn again in honor of the late Bill Russell. Of the players who currently wear the number, there are only 3 who deserve mention here. Kristaps Porzingis has enjoyed a nice start to the season with the Wizards as fans hold their breath and await inevitable missed time from the big man. Alex Caruso of the Bulls has been one of the better role players in the NBA over the last few seasons as well.
Our choice for the best player to wear No. 6 has been the case ever since he decided to put the number on 13 seasons ago. Regardless of the Lakers’ misfortunes so far in 2022-23 and the subtle hints that Father Time is catching up to LeBron, he is still one of the elite players in the NBA so far. James is currently chasing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record but is nursing a groin injury that has kept him out the past week. In 10 games in 2022-23, James is averaging 24.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 6.9 APG. No other player that is wearing No. 6 can lay claim to those numbers.
Honorable Mentions: Kristaps Porzingis, Alex Caruso
No. 7 - Kevin Durant
For the 2022-23 season, there are 17 players currently wearing that number. Only 2 of those players come into consideration for the best No. 7 in the league. The first of those 2 is our runner-up for this jersey number, Jaylen Brown. Over the last few seasons, and especially on the Celtics’ 2022 Finals run, Jaylen Brown has proved his worth. He has shown there are nights he can be the clear No. 1 guy for Boston, and there are times he has helped the team win by taking a back seat to his teammates. Brown has been tremendous once again in 2022-23, but not quite as good as the best No. 7.
The last few months have been filled with drama, trade requests, firings, and losing basketball games for the Brooklyn Nets. Their one shining star has been Kevin Durant, who is once again doing all he can to keep the season afloat for Brooklyn. Durant has been spectacular, averaging 30.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 5.2 APG. He is once again shooting a high volume of shots at an incredible efficiency, shooting 52.9% overall and 34.7% from three. The Nets currently stand at 7-9 on the season but seem to be a much-improved team over the last couple of weeks.
Honorable Mention: Jaylen Brown
No. 8 - Zach LaVine
Of the 18 players to wear the No. 8 for the 2022-23 season, only our selection can be considered among the Top 50 players in basketball at this time. Dennis Smith Jr. is having a redemption season with the Hornets and deserves mention before we talk about LaVine. He is averaging 10.2 PPG and 6.2 APG in 13 games for Charlotte so far after years of not being given a shot.
The Chicago Bulls are having a slow start to the 2022-23 season after a run to the playoffs in 2021-22. They have battled injuries and a lack of depth to a disappointing 6-10 start. The same can be said for Zach LaVine, who is performing at a level lesser than we are used to from him. He is still averaging 20.7 PPG and 4.0 APG but is nowhere near the All-Star level he has been at the past 2 seasons. LaVine and the Bulls can turn it around, but they have to get to work quickly in a very competitive Eastern Conference.
Honorable Mention: Dennis Smith Jr.
No. 9 - Jerami Grant
The No. 9 jersey is worn by 15 players currently in the NBA, and a few have a case to be our pick. Nikola Vucevic is among the league leaders in rebounds so far this season but has shrunk for the Bulls in big moments over the past few games. RJ Barrett has had one of the more disappointing starts to the season of any player in the NBA, but we all know the talent is there, and the slump is coming to an end.
Our selection for the No. 9 jersey is one of the most underrated pickups of this past offseason. Jerami Grant is a large reason why the Portland Trail Blazers sit atop the Western Conference standings at 10-5. While star Damian Lillard missed a few games to start the year, Grant has been one of the guys who has stepped up big-time in his absence. In 14 games this season, Grant is averaging 20.1 PPG and 4.9 RPG and is shooting 48.2% from the field. Portland is one of the more pleasant surprises to start the year, and Grant has been extremely fun to watch.
Honorable Mention: Nikola Vucevic, RJ Barrett
No. 10 - Darius Garland
With no lies told, Bol Bol has a legitimate case to be the selection for the No. 10. Bol Bol has made a case for the NBA’s Most Improved Player so far in 2022-23, averaging 12.8 PPG and 8.0 RPG. All jokes aside, Domantas Sabonis is another player we could have chosen as the best player to wear No. 10. Sabonis, alongside De’Aaron Fox, has the Kings in a pretty good position to start the year. However, our selection for the No. 10 jersey has been on another level.
Darius Garland has missed 6 games so far in the 2022-23 season due to an inadvertent eye poke early on. Despite the injury, Garland has averaged 23.6 PPG and 7.8 APG on the season, and the Cavaliers sit at 9-6. In 2 out of his last 3 games, Garland has exploded for a 51- point performance against the Timberwolves and 41 points against the Magic. Garland seems to have found his rhythm once again, and the Cavaliers could be looking at a special season.
Honorable Mentions: Domantas Sabonis, Bol Bol
No. 11 - Trae Young
The No. 11 jersey is worn by some of the better players in the NBA this season. Despite his suspension this season by the Nets, Kyrie Irving had been one of the team’s most consistent players next to Kevin Durant. Irving was once again scoring at will and setting up his teammates for success regularly. DeMar DeRozan has also been pretty good this season as the Bulls limp to a 6-10 start. Also, with the No. 11, Jalen Brunson has gotten off to a spectacular start in his new home with the New York Knicks.
One player that dons the No. 11 has stood out above the rest, and it has been that way for a few seasons now. Trae Young is coming off a 2021-22 campaign that saw him lead the NBA in total points and total assists. Young has picked up right where he left off, averaging 26.9 PPG and 9.3 APG through 14 contests this season. Young has the Hawks looking as good or even better than the 2021 seasons that saw them make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Whether this Hawks team can repeat that success again remains to be seen, but Trae Young will be at the center of it.
Honorable Mentions: Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Jalen Brunson
No. 12 - Ja Morant
There are currently 15 players that wear No. 12 in the NBA but only one who has a case to be considered a Top 10 or even Top 5 player right now. The No. 12 is worn by guys like Tobias Harris, who has done a decent job in Philadelphia so far in 2022-23. De’Andre Hunter has also been terrific for the Atlanta Hawks so far this season and has become a reliable option for them after a few injury-filled seasons.
The best player that wears No. 12 right now by far, however, is Ja Morant. Over the past 2 seasons, Morant has been one of the best players in basketball. He attacks the rim with zero fear and is among the best guards in the NBA at scoring in the paint. In 2022-23, Morant has Memphis once again as a formidable threat in the West and is averaging 28.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 7.1 APG. Morant has once again faced the critics who called for a drop-off in performance and proved them wrong.
Honorable Mentions: Tobias Harris, De’Andre Hunter
No. 13 - Paul George
The No. 13 is worn, but just 13 players in the NBA in 2022-23, and a few of them coil dethrone Paul George for the top spot in the near future. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the anchor of Memphis’ defense and forming a polished offensive game over the past 2 seasons. He led the NBA in blocks in 2021-22 but started the year injured and has appeared in just 2 games so far in 2022-23. Bam Adebayo is another player who could have been chosen here. Adebayo has been one of the most versatile defensive players in basketball over the last 2 seasons and still is able to produce 19.1 PPG on the other end.
Over the past decade, no player who has worn the No. 13 has been better on both ends of the court than Paul George. He is among the NBA’s best shot-creators and pure three-level scorers. George is once again showing that in 2022-23 with 23.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 1.6 SPG. The Clippers have struggled a bit out of the gate in 2022-23 when many had them as preseason title contenders. If anyone can right the ship, it is Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. At 10-7, there is still plenty of time to maneuver through the standings.
Honorable Mentions: Bam Adebayo, Jaren Jackson Jr.
No. 14 - Brandon Ingram
Just 11 players for the 2022-23 season have taken the court with the No. 11 on their backs. The NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Tyler Herro, is one of them as he enjoys his 4th season down in Miami with the Heat. Herro is currently averaging 19.6 PPG and 6.4 RPG for the Heat as they try and get back to the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond in 2022-23. The player we have chosen to represent the No. 14 has been slightly better over the past 2 months.
Brandon Ingram’s breakout began in 202 with his first All-Star selection. Since that time, Ingram has been a consistent 20.0 PPG scorer and a major contributor to the Pelicans’ success. Ingram has missed 4 out of 16 games this season for New Orleans. At just 25 years old, Ingram has averaged 21.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.5 APG for the 9-7 Pelicans. There are high hopes for New Orleans with Ingram as one of their core players, along with Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Herro
No. 15 - Nikola Jokic
Believe it or not, the No. 9 jersey is worn by just 9 players in 2022-23. Only 1 player deserves the title of the best to wear it, and that is the back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokic. Other than Jokic, only 2 players are worth mentioning for the No. 15. Clint Capela has been one of the best rebounders in basketball since arriving in Atlanta to play with the Hawks. In 2022-23, Capela is right back toward the top of that list with 11.8 RPG. Davion Mitchell has also been one of the better young players with the Sacramento Kings over the last 2 years, and his swarming defense has earned him the nickname “Off Night.”
There can only be one chosen to represent the No. 15, and that has to be Nikola Jokic. Coming off back-to-back MVP seasons, Jokic and the Nuggets have had a load of expectations placed on their shoulders. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have returned healthy once again, and with their return comes relief for Jokic, who has carried the team for 2 seasons. In 2022-23, the Nuggets sit at 9-6 through 15 games, and Jokic is leading the way with 20.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 8.9 APG.
Honorable Mentions: Clint Capela, Davion Mitchell
No. 16 - Caleb Martin
Just 6 NBA players are suiting up for the 2022-23 season wearing the No. 16. To be truthful, the number sixteen hasn’t been that well represented in 2022-23. The most recognized names are James Johnson, who is in the final stages of his long career, Cedi Osman, who is coming off the bench for the Cavaliers, and Caleb Martin, who is the Miami Heat’s starting small forward. The rest is rounded out by guys who have gotten less than 5 minutes of playing time so far this season.
Caleb Martin has had the best production out of everyone that has worn the No. 16 so far this season. He is currently averaging 9.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.0 APG. He has started 15 out of 16 games for Miami, who are struggling out of the gate to begin 2022-23. Martin has cracked the starting lineup one year after appearing in 60 games for Miami, 48 of which came off the bench. Don’t be surprised if you see the Heat make a major move before the trade deadline and Martin’s name involved in those talks.
Honorable Mentions: Cedi Osman, James Johnson
No. 17 - Jonas Valanciunas
Just 10 players have chosen the No. 17 to wear for the 2022-23 NBA season. Of those 10 players, a few have begun to make their mark in the league and for their respective teams. Rookie Shaedon Sharpe has made a nice impression on Portland and their fans, coming off the bench for one of the best teams in the West to start the season. Onyeka Okongwu has been a nice piece for the Atlanta Hawks as well off the bench, as has P.J. Tucker for the 76ers.
Our choice today has become one of the most underrated players in the league who puts up big numbers in big spots. Jonas Valanciunas has added many new facets to his games over the years, but none have been better than the way he crashes the boards on both ends of the court. After getting off to a hot start in 2022-23, Valanciunas has slowed in production a bit, but I expect that to turn around quickly. He is currently averaging 13.4 PPG and 9.1 RPG for the 9-7 Pelicans.
Honorable Mentions: Shaedon Sharpe, P.J. Tucker, Onyeka Okongwu
No. 18 - Yuta Watanabe
Of all the jersey numbers that are represented in the NBA for 2022-23, the No. 18 has the slimmest competition for its best player. With just 6 players donning the number and none of them being among the NBA’s Top 100 players, there was a tough choice to be made. This decision truly came down to who is playing the best this season while wearing the number.
There has been no better No. 18 in 2022-23 than Yuta Watanabe. For the struggling Nets, there have been few bright spots as a new season of turmoil unfolds. One of the brightest spots for Brooklyn has been the play off the bench from Yuta Watanabe. Somehow, Watanabe has added an outside game to his arsenal and currently leads the NBA with a 55.6% shooting percentage from 3-point range. He is averaging 7.5 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 15 games off the bench for the Nets.
Honorable Mention: Shake Milton
No. 19 - Raul Neto
If you thought the choices for the No. 18 were slim, buckle up your seatbelts for No. 19. Just 3 players in the 222-23 season are wearing No. 19, and they aren’t exactly All-Stars. Chima Moneke has appeared in just 2 games so far for the Kings in 2022-23 and has received just 8 total minutes of playing time. In his 2nd year, Marko Simonovic has played in just 1 game for the Bulls with 2.0 minutes of playing time.
As for our selection, he isn’t exactly tearing up the court for extended periods of time, either. After 2 seasons with the Wizards, Raul Neto has found himself with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Neto has appeared in 9 games off the bench for Cleveland so far. He is averaging 3.2 PPG and 1.4 APG in those 9 games and has seen the floor for just 10.7 minutes on average. Neto doesn’t seem to have a long-term fit with the Cavaliers, and I can expect him to be on another team by the season’s end.
Honorable Mentions: Chima Moneke, Marko Simonovic
No. 20 - John Collins
No. 20 is represented in 2022-23 by 10 different players. Of these 10 players, only one has been an All-Star in their career, but all are far from that form currently. Gordon Hayward currently has better numbers than the selection we have made today in John Collins. Hayward is averaging 16.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 4.4 APG. Unfortunately for him, he has missed 5 games already, and the Hornets are one of the worst teams in basketball at 4-10.
John Collins, on the other hand, has been a heavily impactful player for the Atlanta Hawks so far in 2022-23. The stat sheet won’t jump out at you, but the intangibles he has vastly improved upon are shining through. Collins has started all 16 games for the Hawks, who currently sit at 10-6 and 3rd in the Eastern Conference. In 16 games, Collins is averaging 12.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 1.3 BPG.
Honorable Mention: Gordon Hayward
No. 21 - Joel Embiid
There are 14 players who currently wear the No. 21 in the NBA, and none have been better than Joel Embiid. Embiid, over the past 2 seasons, has been one of the very best players in basketball, and it has spilled over into 2022-23 as well. The only player who can even be mentioned in the same breath as Embiid with the No. 21 is Jrue Holiday. Even then, it almost feels wrong to put those 2 together, considering all the ways that Embiid has and can take over games.
Embiid is coming off one of the best performances of his career on November 13th vs. the Jazz. Embiid recorded 59 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and 7 blocks in a big win. For the season, Embiid is once again averaging over 30.0 PPG one year after winning the scoring title. After finishing 2nd the last 2 seasons in the MVP race, Embiid seems like a man on a mission to claim what should be his. Can it possibly end in a championship this time?
Honorable Mention: Jrue Holiday
No. 22 - Jimmy Butler
The No. 22 contains a solid list of players that made our selection a difficult one. Jimmy Butler has been far and away the best No. 22 in the league for quite some time now, but to start the 2022-23 season has been a different story. Desmond Bane of the Memphis Grizzlies has been off to a red-hot start and is soon to take on a bigger role with the injury to Ja Morant. Deandre Ayton has also been great for the Phoenix Suns despite an offseason filled with uncertainty for the 4th year big man.
Those players have been great for their respective teams, but only one is a Top 15 player in the NBA right now, and that’s Jimmy Butler. The Heat have gotten off to a rocky 7-9 start to the season, but Butler has been his usual impactful self. Butler is currently averaging over 20.0 PPG for the 3rd season in a row and had added 6.6 RPG and 6.1 APG. His defense gets underestimated at times, but is not something that should be taken for granted. His heart and the intensity he plays the game with are nearly unmatched in today's NBA. For that, Jimmy Butler is our pick for the best player to wear No. 22.
Honorable Mentions: Desmond Bane, Deandre Ayton
No. 23 - Lauri Markkanen
Has there been a more exciting or surprising storyline than Lauri Markkanen and the Utah Jazz so far during the 2022-23 season? The answer is a resounding no. The No. 23 is such an iconic number due to the likes of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Currently, only 14 players are weathering the number, and a few do deserve some recognition. Fred VanVleet is one of the better point guards in basketball but has struggled with injury early in the season. Draymond Green probably would have been our selection last season at this time, but both he and the Warriors are underperforming.
Then there is Markkanen. His jump to a breakout season started this summer when he played for his home country Finland in the FIBA World Championships. Markkanen carried that success over to the beginning of the season, and Jazz fans are elated. Currently, Markkanen is averaging 22.3 PPG and 8.4 RPG on 54.4% shooting from the field. The Jazz own the best record in the Western Conference through 18 games at 12-6. For a team that was thought to be tanking this season, Markkanen may have put those thoughts to rest early on in the season.
Honorable Mentions: Fred VanVleet, Draymond Green
No. 24 - Buddy Hield
The No. 24 is also an iconic jersey number throughout NBA history but mainly because of one man named Kobe Bryant. In 2022-23, there are 12 NBA players wearing No. 24, and only a few deserve some mention here. Dillon Brooks has returned healthy to the Memphis Grizzlies this season and is providing a spark on defense while averaging over 15.0 PPG. Other role players like Devin Vassell and Cam Thomas have also enjoyed great starts to 2022-23 but fall just shy of our selection, Buddy Hield.
Since being traded to the Pacers last season, it seems that Buddy Hield has tapped into an entirely new part of his game. He has been much better off of the dribble and creating his own opportunities. Of course, the 3-point shooting is still there, as well as Hield is shooting 40.3% from beyond the arc on 4.0 attempts so far in 2022-23. He is averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG for the Pacers, who surprisingly have a 9-6 record and sit at 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Honorable Mentions: Dillon Brooks, Cam Thomas
No. 25 - Mikal Bridges
For the No. 25, there are 17 players who don the number on the back of their jerseys and a few that sit in the same tier as far as player rankings go for the 2022-23 season so far. For this selection, it all comes down to what you value, and with Mikal Bridges, it is clear that we value a lot. Jakob Poeltl of the Spurs certainly has a case to be made here but has tapered off in production as of late. I would like to also give recognition to Chris Boucher, who has been brilliant off the bench in Toronto to begin the year.
Our selection for the No. 25 goes to the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2021-22, Mikal Bridges. The NBA’s iron man has missed no games for the Suns since coming into the NBA and has provided everything that has been asked of him and more. With his length and speed, Bridges has become a nightmare for some of the NBA’s top scorers over the first 15 games of the year on defense. He has also been a solid option on offense, averaging 15.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG with a true shooting of 65.0%.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Boucher, Jakob Poeltl