Tier 5: Volatile question marks
21. Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Clippers
20. D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers
19. Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
18. Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
17. Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets
Westbrook has regressed, but he has shown to have some effectiveness in LA. Russell can score 35 points or 4 points on any given night, but the Lakers seem to believe in his high-end talent. Cunningham will eventually shoot up these rankings, but one must be cautious when ranking him as he works back from injury.
The Raptors are committed to making the ultra-talented Barnes and his unique skillset work, even though some may not be as enamored with him as a long-term piece. VanVleet was overpaid by Houston, but he can still provide some stability and veteran mentorship on a young Rockets team.
NBA point guard tier list: Scottie Barnes could climb up after 2023-24
Tier 4: High-End scorers
16. CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans
15. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
14. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
13. Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
McCollum has been perpetually underrated for his entire career, and things are unlikely to change now that he is the No. 3 star in New Orleans. Ball has been torching defenses for bad Hornets teams, but fans need to see how much of his production is simply the byproduct of doing it all offensively for a tomato can.
Garland is everything Cleveland could have hoped for in their top-five pick, as he has quickly become a high-end shooter and passer despite his physical limitations. Brunson was an absolute sensation during a terrific first season with the Knicks, but can he replicate such high-level production?
Tier 3: All-Star studs
12. Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
11. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers
10. Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
9. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Holliday and Harden could not be more different from a stylistic point of view, but both of them put up All-Star numbers. Holiday is a soft-spoken two-way guard while Harden will very noisily put up double-doubles every single night, yet they both remain desirable assets for contenders.
Haliburton has found his new home in Indiana, and his ascension has the Pacers looking to build a winner aggressively. Fox played a considerable part, perhaps a bigger part than anyone, in turning the Kings from a laughingstock into a viable contender with a tremendous home-court advantage.