NBA’s Top 100 Players: How To Rate Kawhi Leonard, Other Question Marks That Will Decide The Contenders’ Fate

the number of arguments the players have CBS Sports’ Top 100 NBA ListWhether Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant is in the top spot, how many places LeBron James should have fallen where James Harden and Russell Westbrook were is a mystery.

But the most interesting — and, in terms of contenders, impressive — is the position of three star players who haven’t played a meaningful game in nearly 18 months: Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray and Ben Simmons.

While each player’s ranking detracts from their time, which makes their potential effectiveness in the 2022–23 season even more difficult, each will be a key contingent in their team’s hopes of the championship.

Leonard comes in at number 8, a position he will need to cross this season if shear To compete for a title some NBA watchers — including those in Vegas, who place them at around +700 — believe is attainable.

Murray and Simmons come in even deeper on our list at number 35 and number 42, respectively, and each has been able to out- or under-perform our best guess here. Simmons, in particular, may swing wildly into the world of NBA stars by the end of the season, but both players will be vital to his team’s hopes of living up to the championship.

These three players, and their places in the NBA pecking order, draw in for different reasons. Kavi’s charm is what it was—the stuff of all-time greatness, when he seemed poised to beat LeBron on the mark of being the only man in NBA history to win Finals MVP with three different teams.

For Murray, the bridge is what it can be. And for Simmons it’s the notion that may never happen again.

Greatness is a fickle thing, and in the absence it has a way of skewing our memories as a player, or one that the player can retrieve. This is certainly true in all three of these cases.

Murray looked set to help Denver become a permanent threat in the Western Conference, but his injury and fellow Top 100 teammate Michael Porter Jr. (No. nuggets A vehicle for a one-man MVP show rather than a contender.

The last time Murray played was after the season, the Nuggets made it to the conference finals. In the previous season, without him, they managed only a modest victory with the last-champion in their opening round of the series. Golden State Warriors,

If Murray can get it together, the jury can leapfrog players like Holiday (No. 25), Harden (No. 21) and even an aging Chris Paul (No. 18) – and Nikola Jokic. (No. 4) can add firepower – that can change quickly.

For all the reasons we know Simmons is the quirkiest of the group. He may come in at number 42 here, but he’s a former Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-NBA, and All-Defense Ultra Talent. As in, he’s good.

well sort of.

We know he can’t shoot, and his exit from Philly was even more ugly than Kim and Kanye’s ongoing divorce. He has not played for physical and/or mental health reasons, having been humiliated in the playoffs more than a year earlier.

a year from now? He could be at the bottom of the out list, or even completely off it, with guys like Westbrook, who barely made the cut. Or it could be too much, too much. If things go in that direction – in the top 20 of where a player is with their gifts – the Net Might be the worst team in the league And Its most talented.

Then there is the poet. That’s the most important question mark on this list (and the NBA). He is now number 8, but at 31 he is much younger than Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant (34) and LeBron, 37, of the unstoppable wonder’s opening night.

A healthy Kavi, well-calibrated with load management that defines his approach to a long season, could easily find himself a top five player on next year’s list. And if it does—if most of us here at CBS Sports are hedging because we know what Kavi was up to, but not what he’d be too conservative with—the Clippers would be one of the best teams in the league.

The list we made at CBS Sports of the game’s top 100 players comes after several weeks of thought and conversation with people in the league, and the inevitable debate and disagreement are part of the goal.

I think Durant is too high and Ja Morant too low, and young players like Anthony Edwards and Evan Mobley are going to leapfrog from where most of the NBA followings see them right now. But all that and more, right or wrong, is based on what we think we know, what we have actually seen – or what we will see from what history tells us.

But it’s different for Leonard, Murray and Simmons. His place on this list, and the questions surrounding his upcoming season, are as colored by his absence as we think we know about him.

So, we go into the unknown, three potential greats trying to show that their future is as bright as their past.

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