The NBA is stacked with talent right now and the future of the league is in great hands. With a slew of young stars ready to take the NBA by storm in the coming years, it is clear which stars are having the most impact right now and which stars will own the league in the future.
By ranking the top ten players in the world 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. Some of these superstars are competing in the playoffs while others are at home preparing for a new year. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best players in the NBA right now.
Season Statistics: 26.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.7 BPG
In terms of watchability, Kyrie Irving might be the best in the league. The superstar point guard is having another terrific season for the Brooklyn Nets, although he is currently unavailable in the playoffs right now thanks to injury.
Irving is unstoppable with the ball in his hands and his shot creation is a big factor of why the Nets held the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Kyrie just misses the top ten list of best NBA players but at his position, he is clearly in the top five.
10. Luka Doncic
Season Statistics: 27.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG
The Slovenian superstar is easily a top-10 player in the league, with a chance to be in the top-5 next year. Doncic is improving every year and his impact on the Dallas Mavericks makes him an MVP contender. Luka does it all on the court offensively although his defensive impact needs some work.
Doncic shot 47.9% from the field this year, 35.0% from three, and 73.0% from the free-throw line. While his shooting numbers are not on par with his peers, Doncic has to take a lot of shots for the Mavericks and that hurts his shooting percentages. But going forward, as his team improves, Doncic will have greater efficiency.
It's also important to remember Luka is only 22 years old. He has carried Dallas to the playoffs the past two seasons and has a ton of expectations on him already. If Luka can improve his defense, and especially his free throw shooting, he should become the face of the NBA because his impact is extraordinary.
9. Joel Embiid
Season Statistics: 28.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.4 BPG
The Cameroonian center is easily a top-3 big man in the NBA. He guided the Philadelphia 76ers to the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, despite competing against the Bucks and Nets. That is why Embiid was in the MVP race all season long. Averaging 28.5 PPG and 10.6 RPG, Embiid is reaching his potential.
The only issue with Embiid is his ability to stay healthy because it seems every season he deals with missed time. Embiid only played 51 games this season and does not have a season where he played over 64 games. But when he's on the court, he is extremely dominant.
Joel Embiid has Philadelphia competing for a chance at the Eastern Conference Finals this season, so clearly, he is a superstar of the highest order. The fact that Embiid is the only 9th in the league just shows the amount of talent in the NBA right now.
8. Damian Lillard
Season Statistics: 28.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 7.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Damian Lillard will likely dominate the offseason this summer. The Portland Trail Blazers suffered a shocking first-round exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets who were without Jamal Murray. Lillard will therefore expect roster changes to place him in a position to succeed, or he could be looking elsewhere.
But on the court, Damian Lillard is a superstar and a top-2 point guard in the NBA. He averaged 28.8 PPG on 39.1% from three. In terms of shot-making and deep range, Lillard is only behind Stephen Curry in the NBA right now. The only thing missing for Lillard is a chance to compete for an NBA Finals berth at age 31.
Damian Lillard seems to be getting better every year despite the lack of postseason success in Portland. The point guard dropped 34.3 PPG in the playoffs, and his big game intangibles make him a top-10 player with ease. If he can somehow get back to the Western Conference Finals, Lillard may climb the ranks.
7. Nikola Jokic
Season Statistics: 26.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 8.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG
The 2021 MVP is currently the 7th best player in the NBA right now. Jokic makes the game look so easy because of his passing and shooting ability, and he truly has no weakness on the floor. Jokic doesn't have to leap off the floor much because his physical strength and skills are incomparable to any center right now.
Jokic is also the best passing big man we have ever seen. The big man effectively runs the entire offense in Denver, and without his offensive capabilities, the Nuggets struggle to get through games. As shown in the playoffs, Denver goes as far as Jokic carries them.
The Serbian big man needs to make a Western Conference Finals very soon, or else his MVP days are going to waste. Denver has the talent to succeed and Jokic has proven he can compete with the best player in the NBA. All that remains is for the Nuggets to get Jamal Murray back healthy and cut out dead weight in the roster.
6. James Harden
Season Statistics: 24.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 10.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG
James Harden is a former MVP who would be in the conversation again if it wasn't for his backseat role behind Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Throughout periods of this season, Harden was playing like the best player in the world but he won't win the award by playing with 2 other superstars. But still, on talent alone, Harden just misses the top-5.
Harden is injured right now but he was still able to help Kevin Durant take a Game 5 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. The Beard is the best isolation guard in the world, and he shows it every night with his scoring and passing ability. James Harden doesn't need much space to operate because he creates anything he wants on offense.
James Harden had a shot at winning the NBA championship this year for the first time in his career, and he truly needs to shine in the postseason to prove he is truly one of the greats. So far this postseason, Harden is averaging 20.6 PPG and 8.7 APG for the Nets. His numbers are down but he should get them up as he fully heals from his hamstring injury.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Season Statistics: 28.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG
The Greek Freak is a top-5 player in the world, there is no question about that. 2 straight MVPs and a Defensive Player of the Year Award on his resume over the last 2 seasons is enough to place him 5th. Giannis had another great season this year averaging a double-double and playing dominant defense for the Bucks.
What remains to be seen is if Giannis can take a jump with his shooting from the field. He shot 56.9% from the field which is exceptional, but only 30.3% from three and 68.5% from the free-throw line. Those numbers have dipped to 51.5%, 17.1%, and 52.5% in the playoffs. Clearly, that isn't good enough for a 2-time MVP.
But Giannis is a machine who is single-handedly capable of carrying the Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals every year. They are unlucky to have drawn the Brooklyn Nets in the second round this year, but the future is bright for Milwaukee if they can continue to improve the roster. If Giannis can at least be average from three and the free-throw line, we might be looking at the best player in the league.
4. Stephen Curry
Season Statistics: 32.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Nobody expected Stephen Curry to go off like he did this season. The Warriors were in trouble without Klay Thompson all year, but Curry gave the team life. He averaged 32.0 PPG on 48.2% from the field and 42.1% from three, incredible numbers for a player who has to take almost all the shots for his team.
Curry was so great that he finished top-10 in MVP voting despite not making the playoffs. No player in the NBA, including Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, can shoot like the 2-time MVP. Curry will continue to be a top-5 player in the game because his offense is simply incredible to watch every night.
If the Golden State Warriors get Klay Thompson back to full health next year, Curry can prove his worth as an MVP once again. We missed Curry lighting up the playoffs this season but it won't be long before we see that again. As things stand, Stephen Curry is the best point guard in the NBA by far and a top-4 star in the world.
3. Kawhi Leonard
Season Statistics: 24.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Kawhi Leonard receives a ton of criticism for his willingness to take time off and even his inconsistency in the playoffs at times, but he is without a doubt a top-3 talent in the world. Kawhi had a strong regular season shooting 51.2% from the field, 39.8% from three, and 88.5% from the free-throw line.
He is averaging 30.4 PPG on 57.3% shooting in the playoffs, 39.3% from three, and 88.0% from the free-throw line. Leonard has been one of the best players in the postseason all year and he has single-handedly led the Clippers through multiple 0-2 deficits in the past 2 rounds. Kawhi is simply a superstar of the highest order on both ends of the floor.
Right now, Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely after suffering an ACL injury.
He has a player option this summer, and he will probably stay and sign a long-term contract with the Los Angeles Clippers.
2. LeBron James
Season Statistics: 25.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG
LeBron has been the best player in the world for so that long it seems strange not to have him at number 1. But The King has been surpassed this season, mainly because of his age. LeBron has a ridiculous amount of mileage on his legs after 18 seasons, and it clearly showed in the playoffs.
James also missed 27 games this season, but still, put up his usual numbers as the star for the Lakers. Without Davis on the court for most of the year, the Lakers fell to the 7th seed. But James still showed flashes of being the best player in the world when he got his extended rest.
LeBron will likely not be the best player in the world going forward unless somehow he can continue to channel his Benjamin Button syndrome. That doesn't take away from his legacy because, in terms of career achievements, LeBron is by far number 1 in the world.
1. Kevin Durant
Season Statistics: 26.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG
As far as things stand right now, Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA. With LeBron out of the playoffs and every other superstar dealing with inconsistencies, Durant is playing the best basketball of his life. For the Nets, Durant is having a monster playoffs following a dominant regular season.
Durant is averaging a career-high 33.1 PPG this season, which includes a ridiculous 49-point performance in Game 5 against the Bucks. Durant played all 48 minutes that game and grabbed 17 rebounds while dishing 10 assists. In a nutshell, Durant had the best game of his career. But beyond that game, no player impacts the game like Kevin Durant right now.
Just like Kawhi Leonard did in 2019, Kevin Durant is taking the throne of the NBA. LeBron James looked old during the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard has had multiple bad games in the playoffs, and Stephen Curry couldn't even make the postseason. Durant hasn't had a single bad game so far, and winning the NBA championship will further solidify his case as the best player in the NBA.