Making the top 50 players in the league means that you have All-Star caliber talent. Keep in mind that about only 30 players participate in the All-Star Game, while that number could stretch to 50 if you count those participating in the Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest. For these players, we will see their names in consideration for playing in the big game in February.
Assuming that these players stay healthy, they should make a bid towards making major contributions to their teams. From young to veteran, these players were good enough to catch our eye last season. We should expect similar results in 2021-2022. These players are in the top 50 to No. 31 players for the upcoming season.
We have already ranked the top 100 players between No. 100 and No. 51. These players are in the top 50 to No. 31 players for the upcoming season.
50. Myles Turner
Before Turner was out with injuries, he was the leader in the league in blocks with 3.4. Since Turner played just 47 games last season, he did not qualify for the season leader. Had he did, he would have been the best overall rim protector in the league. Turner also contributed 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds, but his overall value comes from his defensive presence.
At 25 years old, Turner is entering his prime seasons. The best comparison to Turner is another former All-Star Pacers rim protector in Roy Hibbert. In his heyday, Hibbert once averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks. Turner is already better than that, longer, and more athletic. That was during Hibbert’s prime years, so we should expect to see something even greater.
49. Nikola Vucevic
In 44 games, Vucevic was an All-Star center with the Magic. He averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and shot 40.6% from three-point range. He is one of the better passers in the NBA but has a deep stroke from outside. When traded to the Chicago Bulls, his points dropped to 21.5 and his outside shooting dipped to 38.8%.
Vucevic was a product of a midseason acquisition trying to fit in. Give Vucevic one full offseason to prove his worth. Not to mention the addition of Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan to the team. We could see Vucevic’s overall stats decline this year, but the Bulls will be better.
48. Christian Wood
Had Wood not played for the Houston Rockets, he would have received more love during the All-Star Game voting. Instead, his 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 51.4% field goal percentage were overlooked. However, he was not overlooked by us as Wood could have been a contender for Most Improved Player if he played more than 41 games in the season.
The Rockets are going to be bad again, but Wood could still be in the conversation for MIP. Wood may not get any All-Star votes again for his team situation. With that said, he is the best overall player on the team right now and a solid player to build around at the age of 26.
47. Jerami Grant
Speaking of Most Improved Players, Grant was another product of being overlooked because of the team he played for. The Detroit Pistons were so bad last year that they were rewarded with the No. 1 overall pick. During the team’s dismal season, Grant was a shining star when he averaged 22.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks.
Grant played 54 games, which also hurt his stock for Most Improved Player. Grant will be a highly targeted trade chip this year. Grant has two years left on his deal at a very decent price for the production. The Pistons rebuild might get even better once a team forks over a first-round pick and more.
46. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
When healthy, Gilgeous-Alexander was the best player for the Thunder. In 35 games, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 23.7 points and 5.9 assists with a 50.8 field goal percentage and 41.8% from three-point range. From the free-throw line, he averaged 80.8%, so he has some work to do to get into the 50-40-90 club.
The Thunder rewarded their top prospect with a max rookie extension and at 22 years old, he has plenty of great years ahead of him. Last year, it was his first without Chris Paul leading the way. This is now his team and he will continue to get better and better.
45. Domantas Sabonis
There were times last year that Sabonis looked like Nikola Jokic lite. Sabonis has a long way to go before being on the same playing field as the MVP, specifically in his shooting from outside. With that said, his 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists are nothing to be ashamed of either.
Sabonis finished fifth with nine triple-doubles last year and tied for fifth with 48 double-doubles. If the Pacers don’t compete, look for the Pacers to ask for a massive haul in return. Sabonis is a perfect glue guy for any organization that wants scoring, rebounding, and playmaking.
44. LaMelo Ball
The youngest player to ever record triple-double looks to make the Charlotte Hornets a relevant NBA franchise. The Hornets have been searching for answers since Kemba Walker left the team. The 2020 No. 3 overall pick and Rookie of the Year had a magnificent season last year despite battling injuries. The 20-year old averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 51 games.
Moving forward, Ball could be one of the best young prospects in the league. The Hornets are going to contend for a back-end playoff spot. Ball will have a big part in that, but how far can he carry this team?
43. Michael Porter Jr.
Last season, Porter saw his minutes double to 31.3 in his first true healthy season with no minutes restriction. Porter is a top-50 player in the league when healthy and that was evidenced by his 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 54.2% shooting. With Jamal Murray out until the All-Star break, Porter is going to be the No. 2 option and has the pathway of averaging over 20.0 points for the first time in his career.
Once heralded as a No. 1 prospect out of high school, an injury in college cut his college season completely, as well as impacted his rookie year. His second year featured a minutes restriction, but now we finally have the full, healthy product.
42. Pascal Siakam
The Raptors learned that Pascal Siakam is not a No. 1 option. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t a top-50 player in the league though. If a superstar was on the Raptors and Siakam was the second-best player, the team would be competitive. When the Raptors had Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, Siakam thrived as the third option. Instead, both are gone, and the Raptors will do their best to contend for the playoffs.
Siakam put up a solid stat line with 21.4 points and 7.2 rebounds. He is a valued swingman that is putting up prime Rudy Gay numbers. Give the Raptors time to build around their max player.
41. Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins had an increase in offense last year, but his defense was borderline All-Defensive Team. With Klay Thompson back in the mix, if healthy, the combination of Wiggins, Thompson, and Green could be a lethal triple-threat on the defensive end.
Wiggins also saw a five percent increase in his three-point shooting. Playing in Golden State has helped Wiggins grow as a player. Now, can he shake the curse of missing the playoffs? In seven seasons, Wiggins has played in the postseason just once.
40. Kemba Walker
Just because Kemba Walker didn’t play the way Boston fans wished he did, that does not mean he is out of the top-40 players. Walker didn’t fit with the Celtics group. Moving to the Knicks, where they have an underdog mentality, we are going to see Walker put up numbers as he did with the Hornets, where he finished as the all-time scorer in franchise history.
In Walker’s last year, he averaged 25.6 points and 5.5 assists. The team is desperate for offense, which is why they acquired him. Walker should feel more comfortable in this setting with the pieces in place. We are going to see old-school Kemba Walker in New York.
39. John Collins
The way John Collins played in the playoffs, there was no question that he deserved a big contract. Now, the Hawks will have their dynamic duo in Trae Young and Collins for the next five years after the two led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the regular season, Collins had a slow start but finished with 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. This was one season after he was a 20-point, 10-rebound player. Collins is a 6-foot-11 combo that can spread the floor and nearly shoot 40% from three. He is a special player and is just 24 years old. Collins could contend for his first All-Star appearance this year.
38. Mike Conley Jr.
Making his first All-Star appearance this year was Conley Jr. Conley has averaged at least 6.0 assists in four of the last six seasons. This past year, he demonstrated that he is the true floor general of the Utah Jazz and that allowed Donovan Mitchell to have his best season in his career.
With Conley on the floor, the Jazz is a better offense and defense. The 33-year old is also coming off his best three-point shooting performance since 2016. Look for the Jazz to make another run at the No. 1 seed.
37. Draymond Green
Green is just 31 years old, but it feels like he has been in the league forever. Green is coming off a solid season where he averaged 7.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 8.9 assists. Green is potentially the best overall passing power forward in the league. What is most exciting is his defensive abilities and that Green is poised to land on the All-Defensive Team this season.
The last time Green made the All-Defensive Team was in 2019. The Warriors have battled injuries the last two years. With Thompson back in the fold, and Wiggins looking a new player, Green could settle back into that role that he held when the Warriors made five straight trips to the NBA Finals.
36. De’Aaron Fox
Nobody loved Tyrese Haliburton more than De’Aaron Fox. That is completely speculative, but with Haliburton running the point, it allows Fox to be the team’s natural shooting guard. Fox averaged a career-high 25.2 points and 7.2 assists. Despite Fox not being the primary ball-handler, he still made plays around him.
Fox needs to improve his outside shooting, but he is one of the best when it comes to finishing at the rim. Fox might be the fastest player in the entire league. The way he cuts and drives to the basket, he is one tough player to stop.
35. Kristaps Porzingis
The question with Porzingis is health. Porzingis hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since 2016. That’s a long time for someone that is constantly off the court for various reasons. For those reasons, that was why Porzingis was mentioned in the rumor mill because he is such a great talent, but his contract is horrid looking now.
Still, in 43 games, Porzingis averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and shot 37.6% from three-point range as a seven-footer. Porzingis needs to get some confidence in the paint as last year was the first time not averaging at least 2.0 blocks per game. If Porzingis can get back to that level, then the Mavericks get even better.
34. Ja Morant
Morant is easily a top-3 most exciting young prospect in the league. At 22-years old, Morant is a former Rookie of the Year that is coming off a strong sophomore campaign. He averaged 19.1 points, 7.4 assists, and shot 44.9% from the field. What America wants is for Morant to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest because this young man has some explosive moments.
Moving forward, Morant has to find a way to lead the Grizzlies to the playoffs if he wants respect from the world. This is his third season and he is already top-10 best point guard in the league. Morant could be due to his best year, which could potentially include an All-Star appearance.
33. DeMar DeRozan
Executives across the league are calling the Bulls’ signing of DeMar DeRozan as the worst signing in the offseason. Hear us out. If this works, the Bulls will have four legitimate passers in their starting lineup between Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and DeRozan. Last year, DeRozan averaged 6.9 assists per game with his 21.6 points.
DeRozan acted like a point forward last year, but that was because he had to. This year, we will see his numbers decline because of the talent around him. However, his numbers suggest he can pass very well. If this works in Chicago, the Bulls might have the best combination of passing in their starting lineup.
32. Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns is starting to be the next big injury show. Towns have played a combined 85 games the last two years. That included 50 last year where Towns averaged 24.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. When healthy, he is one of the best offensive centers in the game. That also includes nearly making the 50 and 40 clubs in shooting percentages.
One has to wonder how many more years he has in Minnesota. Towns is linked to the Celtics and Warriors last offseason and deadline. Instead, Towns has to wonder when the next No. 1 pick will come in and be his teammates. Towns have done just about everything in Minnesota besides winning.
31. Jaylen Brown
It was a career year for Brown, who made his first All-Star appearance after averaging 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 steals. Had Brown not been hurt in the playoffs, the Celtics would have challenged more for either a more entertaining first round or a trip to the semifinals.
Brown shot the best in his career, played the most minutes, and increased every major statistical measure last season. At 24 years old, we are entering prime years. Last year was impressive, but can he do it again?