It has been an exciting year in basketball with an epic NBA Finals and the introduction of two new teams to the NBA’s Eastern Conference, so we look forward to seeing what next year will bring. Here’s our list of the top 10 basketball players in the world by 2022 based on consensus from our panel of experts.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
By 2021, Antetokounmpo had made it to the NBA summit and accomplished two things: winning a championship and earning the Finals MVP award.
It wasn’t enough in 2022 with Milwaukee after Khris Middleton suffered a knee injury early in the playoffs. But Antetokounmpo showed up with a masterful 33.9 points, 14.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists in a seven-game series against the Celtics to remind us that he’s the alpha in the league right now.
2. Kevin Durant
James Harden and Kyrie Irving were injured by the end of the season, making Durant the best player in the world.
Durant missed most of 2021-22 with an injury, and the Nets flamed out in the first round after a turbulent regular season. The best player in the world may be able to reclaim his title with his new team.
3. Stephen Curry
It may have seemed as though he was done, but Curry could still be the best player on a championship team. He proved himself to be the Finals MVP when he conquered the top defense in basketball for six straight games.
Curry is not finished wreaking havoc on opposing defenses with his famous shooting stroke, and it’s hard to predict when he’ll be slowed down at this point.
4. Nikola Jokic
His game vastly improved in 2021-22 to win his second consecutive MVP award while playing a full regular season without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.
Denver will soon be getting healthier, but Jokic might not be getting the same kind of MVP buzz if he leads the Nuggets to a title.
5. Joel Embiid
There’s a solid argument that Embiid should have been MVP the last two seasons. Unfortunately, Nikola Jokic is still here.
Can he finally climb to the summit and win MVP in 2022-23? Will Embiid be healthy enough to take his team to the second round of the playoffs? No matter what answer to these questions, Embiid is still a top-five player in basketball.
6. Jayson Tatum
He led the Celtics to their first Finals in 12 years as he beat Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler.
Located on the outside of the top-five, Tatum will have to get back to the Finals and win a championship to reach the top.
7. Luka Dončić
Finally, after losing to Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs two years in a row, Luka Doncic made it to the Western Conference Finals and helped the Mavs defeat the Phoenix Suns in the first round to do so.
With a player like Doncic on your team, you’ll always have a chance of winning.
8. LeBron James
It’s strange to see LeBron James so low on an NBA player ranking, but his two years inside the NBA bubble have not been kind to him.
Despite long periods of injury in both of the last two seasons, the Lakers were bounced from the first round in 2021, and then missed the playoffs in 2022. James is still an elite force on the court. Having averaged 30 points per game in 2022, he hasn’t had the same impact on the game for two-straight seasons now. We’ll have to wait and see if the next decade is a renaissance.
9. Kawhi Leonard
As Leonard works his way back up the list, there is a chance he will be in the top five players in the world. Until then, he has missed an entire season and playoff and must prove his dominance to get there.
10. Ja Morant
As the final player on our list, we have Ja Morant, who established himself as one of the game’s brightest young stars in 2021-22. Morant won the Most Improved Player award and finished seventh in the MVP voting, leading the Grizzlies to the NBA’s second-best record during the regular season.
A point guard like Morant can score at the rim like few others.