Clarifying NBA Tiers:
Tier 1 15 deep - Superstar level players
Tier 2 30 deep - Star level
Tier 3 All Star Level 30 deep
Tier 4 Solid starter 15 deep
Tier 5 average starter 50 deep
Tier 6 Rotation Player 60 deep
Tier 7 Deep bench
Tier 8 Developmental/Scrub
Most of the players in this article will stop around tier 5 or 6. Rankings are based on current starting lineup and do not take into account any potential future changes.
1. Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry Tier 1
Klay Thompson Tier 3
Kevin Durant Tier 1
Draymond Green Tier 3
Demarcous Cousins Tier 2
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Eric Bledsoe Tier 3
Sterling Brown Tier 5
Khris Middleton Tier 3
Giannis Antetokounmpo Tier 1
Brook Lopez Tier 3
3. Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry Tier 2
Danny Green Tier 4
Kawhi Leonard Tier 1
Pascal Siakim Tier 3
Marc Gasol Tier 3
4. Houston Rockets
Chris Paul Tier 2
James Harden Tier 1
Eric Gordon Tier 4
PJ Tucker Tier 4
Clint Capela Tier 3
5. Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving Tier 1
Jaylen Brown Tier 5
Jayson Tatum Tier 3
Gordon Hayward Tier 3
Al Horford Tier 2
6. Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Simmons Tier 3
JJ Reddick Tier 4
Jimmy Butler Tier 2
Tobias Harris Tier 3
Joel Embiid Tier 1
7. Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray Tier 3
Gary Harris Tier 4
Will Barton Tier 5
Paul Millsap Tier 3
Nikola Jokic Tier 1
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook Tier 1
Terence Ferguson Tier 6
Paul George Tier 2
Jerami Grant Tier 5
Steven Adams Tier 4
9. Portland Trailblazers
Damian Lillard Tier 1
CJ McCollum Tier 3
Mo Harkless Tier 5
Al Fariq Aminu Tier 6
Jusuf Nurkic Tier 4
10. Brooklyn Nets
D'Angelo Russell Tier 3
Caris Levert Tier 3
Demarre Carroll Tier 5
Rondae Hollis Jefferson Tier 5
Jarrett Allen Tier 5
11. Indiana Pacers
Darren Collison Tier 5
Victor Oladipo Tier 2
Bojan Bogdanovic Tier 5
Thaddeus Young Tier 5
Myles Turner Tier 5
12. Utah Jazz
Ricky Rubio Tier 5
Donovan Mitchell Tier 3
Joe Ingles Tier 5
Derrick Favors Tier 4
Rudy Gobert Tier 3
13. San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray Tier 5
Bryn Forbes Tier 6
Demar Derozen Tier 3
Lamarcus Aldridge Tier 3
Jakob Poetl Tier 5
14. Sacramento Kings
D'Aaron Fox Tier 2
Buddy Hield Tier 3
Harrison Barnes Tier 5
Marvin Bagley Tier 4
Willie Cauley Stein Tier 5
15. LA Clippers
Patrick Beverly Tier 5
Shai Gilgeous Alexander Tier 5
Danillo Gallinari Tier 3
Jamychal Green Tier 5
Ivica Zubac Tier 5
16. LA Lakers
Lonzo Ball Tier 5
Brandon Ingram Tier 5
Lebron James Tier 1
Kyle Kuzma Tier 5
Javale McGee Tier 6
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
Jeff Teague Tier 5
Andrew Wiggins Tier 5
Robert Covington Tier 5
Taj Gibson Tier 5
Karl Anthony Towns Tier 1
18. Orlando Magic
DJ Augustin Tier 5
Evan Fournier Tier 5
Johnathan Issac Tier 5
Aaron Gordon Tier 3
Nikola Vucevic Tier 3
19. Detroit Pistons
Reggie Jackson Tier 5
Bruce Brown Tier 6
Luke Kennard Tier 5
Blake Griffin Tier 2
Andre Drummond Tier 3
20. Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young Tier 2
Kevin Huerter Tier 5
Taurean Prince Tier 5
John Collins Tier 3
Dewayne Dedmon Tier 6
21. Chicago Bulls
Kris Dunn Tier 6
Zach Lavine Tier 3
Lauri Marraken Tier 3
Wendel Carter Jr Tier 5
22. Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker Tier 2
Jeremy Lamb Tier 6
Nicolas Batum Tier 5
Marvin Williams Tier 6
Cody Zeller Tier 6
23. Miami Heat
Goran Dragic Tier 4
Josh Richardson Tier 3
Justise Winslow Tier 5
James Johnson Tier 5
Hassan Whiteside Tier 4
24. Washington Wizards
Thomas Santorasky Tier 6
Bradley Beal Tier 2
Jeff Green Tier 6
Bobby Portis Tier 3
Thomas Bryant Tier 6
25. Dallas Mavericks
Jalen Brunson Tier 6
Tim Hardaway Tier 6
Luka Doncic Tier 3
Kristaps Porzingis Tier 3
Dwight Powell Tier 6
26. New Orleans Pelicans
Elfrid Payton Tier 6
Jrue Holiday Tier 3
Kenrich Williams Tier 6
Anthony Davis Tier 1
Julius Randle Tier 5
27. Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Conley Tier 4
Tyler Dorsey Tier 7
Kyle Anderson Tier 5
Jaren Jackson Jr Tier 5
Jonas Valcunias Tier 5
De'Antony Melton Tier 6
Devin Booker Tier 2
Mikal Bridges Tier 5
TJ Warren Tier 6
Deandre Ayton Tier 5
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Colin Sexton Tier 5
Rodney Hood Tier 5
Cedi Osman Tier 5
Kevin Love Tier 3
Tristan Thompson Tier 5
30. New York Knicks
Dennis Smith Jr Tier 5
Damyean Dotson Tier 6
Kevin Knox Tier 6
Noah Vonleh Tier 6
Deandre Jordan Tier 5
Some quick notes:
The Pelican's ranking is based on the assumption Anthony Davis gets traded. They would be ranked higher if he stays.
Starting lineups and rankings are based on current talent level and starters during last 30 games. Many of these players are young enough to be able to move up one and possibly even two tiers.
Now that the trade deadline has passed, lets see who improved, who got worse and who at least got something for expiring assets.
Landing Nikola Mirotic will make the Greek Freak's life easier.
threekola is a lights shooter capable of explosive scoring bursts.
Despite not landing Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol is a nice consolation prize.
Gasol's defense, playmaking and basketball IQ will all be assets come playoff time.
Tobias Harris cost a lot to acquire but if he get Philly to the NBA finals, could very well be worth it.
Sacramento strengthened their playoff chances while not sacrificing the future. Harrison Barnes is a solid pro that fills a gaping hole at SF.
Despite a couple solid moves to add shooting, LA failed to bring Lebron any substantial help. Lebron James moves toward his mid thirties with no more than a coin flip chance at even making the playoffs.
Memphis didn't add much in the form of future assets, They kept an aging Conley and refused to even accept a reasonable return for him. I am glad Gasol got off the sinking ship though.
I like the Porzingis trade but it was still a big risk for a player they will have to pay the max for.
Because of this risk they could not afford to keep Harrison Barnes and had to salary dump him.
If Porzingis health holds up this could be a home run but nothing is guaranteed.
The Ny Knicks traded Kristaps Porzinigis to the Dallas Mavericks recently.
On the surface the deal looks like a coup for Dallas but let's look closer.
Porzingis as talented as he is, was unhappy, did not want to stay in New York and is coming off a major knee injury. Additionally he will like expect a max contract next off season.
New York not only cleared cap space but more importantly added two future 1st round picks and a talented young PG in Dennis Smith Jr.
Dallas are the ones taking the bigger risk. Porzinigs has star level talent but knee injuries in bigs can shorten a players career. Dallas now has no real assets to fill out its starting lineup and will have to hope Doncic is as good as most think he is. New York is taking a risk on luring two superstars but the deal is not without risk for Dallas either.
We will have to wait and see who got the better end of this deal.
Very few players at 6 foot 8 and 280 pounds would possess Zion Williamson's athletic gifts.
However Williamson has some real question marks that few are talking about.
At 6"8' Zion is undersized for the PF position. However you could argue his physical stature lends some compensation for this.
Zion is a terrible jumpshooter currently shooting 25% at Duke and even worse in highschool.
He lacks the advanced handle to take G's and Wing's off the dribble from the perimeter meaning his only offensive advantage is against other bigs who already have a height advantage.
Zion has a fairly basic handle lacking in advanced dribble moves. He won't be able to bully defenders at the next level.
Against Auburn and Gonzaga Zion struggled at times against NBA caliber length and pro level talent.
In the NBA Zion Williamson will struggle to live up to his physical gifts unless he shows substantial growth in skill.
I see Zion Williamson as a waste of a top 5 pick and likely only a rotational bench scorer in the NBA.
Without a high level of growth I think there is a real chance Williamson doesn't finish his rookie contract.
We are confident Zion Williamson will be a bust. Are you?
Let's set aside the all time greatest debate and look at another topic widely debated.
Lebron James vs Michael Jordan let's look at their age 29 season to provide the most fair statistical comparison.
We will take an in depth look at offense, defense and analytics and let you know what the numbers tell us and our interpretation.
As scoring goes Lebron and Jordan are both elite scorers however Lebron is the better 3 point shooter. We will call this a tie.
Lebron has a higher career asisst average and more games with a large number of assists. This one goes to Lebron.
Jordan and Lebron are also pretty close here but I give a slight edge to Lebron.
Jordan averages nearly one more steal and slightly more blocks per 36 min.
Defensive metrics show that both have been above defenders most of their careers , however starting at age 29 Lebron's defensive performance has begun to wane.
Also of note at the height of their prime's or age 29 Jordan posted a 9.5 BPM to Lebron's 9.0 and a 9 to 8 advantage in VORP.
By his age 33 season Jordan was still posting a defensive rating of 102 while Lebron's has dropped to 109 or close to league average.
Looking at this overall comparison here is my conclusion.
Lebron James and Michael Jordan are all time greats and legends to the game. However I give a slight edge to Michael Jordan based on near identical scoring ability but overall being a better defender.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts in comments.
Many see the Jimmy Butler drama, the Kyrie Irving trade request and the Blake Griffin trade and wonder who is the next star or superstar to get moved?
In my opinion a likely suspect is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers.
Lillard is an elite PG who is likely top 3 at his position and still in his prime. Why would Portland move him? Simple the rest of their roster is terrible. They are paying CJ McCollum like a star and he rates more as an average starter. They have no starting caliber SF or PF and are already flirting with the luxury tax.
In Moving Lillard the Trailblazers would be accepting a rebuild and some short term pain. However this would make much more sense than expensive roster that really only is a low playoff seed at best.
A package of a young PG with potential, a 1st round pick and likely at least one other young piece would make sense in return.
Some teams who could offer this include the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.
CJ McCollum would be moved for young talent and draft assets as well.
The TrailBlazers would have Nurkic, Simons and the return from these two trades as their potential core going forward. The team would be bad or even terrible for a couple seasons but those two high draft choices stand a real chance at giving the team the 2nd star long term it currently lacks.
I think the Portland Trailblazers should hit the reset button, do you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
MarvIf you read most media outlets you will notice plenty of love for the Phoenix Suns young talent and the youngsters on the Lakers. You won't hear the same said about the Sacramento Kings. For the last decade only three things have been likely, death, taxes and the Kings making poor basketball decisions. Beginning in 2016 that started to change the Kings began to stockpile assets and at the trade deadline moved on from their All Star big man Demarcus Cousins and accepted a rebuild.
The youngsters the Kings have drafted or acquired in the last 4 drafts include:
Willie Cauley Stein
Cauley Stein has had bouts of inconsistent play but is a NBA caliber big man.
Some of the reasons many undervalue him:
He is 5th in his draft class in total win shares.
He was 54th in the league last season in estimated wins added or EWA.
Among qualified centers he was 4th in steals and 6th in assists.
The Serbian guard proved quickly to be a solid pro. Bogdanovic was acquired in a draft day trade with the Phoenix Suns that also netted the Kings Georgios Papigannis and Skal Labissiere as well as Det 2020 2nd round pick.
Bogdanovic ranks 140th in EWA ahead of Kyle Kuzma and Robert Covington.
The centerpiece of the Demarcus Cousins trade Hield has proven to be an elite 3 point shooter and intriguing young talent.
Hield is 79th in EWA ahead of Myles Turner and Draymond Green.
Hield also ranked 9th in 3 point percentage.
The 10th pick was part of the DMC trade, the Kings also had the 5th selection as well.
De'Aaron Fox was selected 5th and had an uneven rookie season.
The Kings traded down from the 10th pick for 15th and 20th selections.
Harry Giles was taken with the 20th selection. Giles was the number 1 player in his highschool recruiting class and many compared him to Kevin Garnett.
Despite his superstar level talent Giles fell on draft day because of two different knee injuries.
was drafted by the Kings 2nd overall. The Ringer actually called Marvin Bagley the player they would have taken number 1 overall.
Recapping the Kings have added what looks like three young starters as well as 4 more young pieces who were drafted too recently to know what they will become. Fox, Bagley and Giles all possess star level or higher talent and Hield could still develop to an all star level.
Nothing is guaranteed and Giles health will be a big factor but the Kings could be a team on the rise sooner than most anticipate.
Devin Booker is one the best young scorers in the NBA. The question is will ever improve enough defensively to maximize his potential? Booker has improved offensively each year in the league and at only 21 you can make the argument that his growth is not done.
Why do I think he might only be a serviceable starter and not a star? Basketball is a two way game in order for a player to be a star they need to be elite at either offense or defense and at least average at the other.
Without this combination of skills they will not have a star level impact on the game.
Many see that Booker is a 20 point plus per game scorer and think this means he is destined for stardom. I disagree, Booker is an absolute sieve defensively for every 20 points he scores he gives up 30 making him a net negative on the court. He could be a prime Melo or more a Tyreke Evans or Bradley Beal type.
I think a likely outcome based on his pedestrian 2.4 win shares per season averaged is prime Ben Gordon.
If you don't remember Ben Gordon here is what he did during his prime.
Over a 5 year stretch he was a solid NBA starter despite being a defensive liability. During three of those years prior to a huge contract extension he signed he had two 20 point scoring average seasons sound familiar? The thing is his metrics were still better than Booker's.
Booker's defensive rating has consistently been around 115. The average is around 105. His offensive efficiency rating is about 105 or roughly league average.
Will Devin Booker be more than the next Ben Gordon? The next few seasons will tell us for sure.
I however for the record have some serious doubts.
Even if your not a fan of the Golden State Warriors it is likely you have heard of the other sharpshooting splash brother. Klay Thompson is an all star SG and elite perimeter shooter that solicits nightmares from opposing defenses.
What many may not realize is Klay developed his game to this point. He was not a 20 point scorer at the NBA level right away.
Buddy Hield despite some unfair comparisons to Steph Curry holds much of the same promise as the other splash brother.
Hield is a bit old for a 2nd year player but at 24 still has some growth left. Typically NBA player growth stops at 26.
The question is where was Thompson as a player at a similar age? What other players is Hield compared to and how does he stack up?
Hield shot 45% from the field and 43% from 3 point land at a similar career point Klay Thompson shot 42% from 3 and OJ Mayo and JJ Redick 36%.
Hield posted 3.8 rebounds per game higher than all these players with the next highest total of 3.1.
Defensively is the main difference at this point. Thompson at this stage in his career was a much better defender. If Buddy Hield wants to be a comparable type of player his growth defensively will go a long way toward telling us if this is his destiny.