2022 Top 125 Players Ranked in Tiers - The Athletic

lovegtm

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Could Tatum have taken that Dallas team to the conference finals? I love him, but I’m very skeptical.
Tatum has consistently made his teams wayyy better when he's on the court, so I don't think it's that crazy.

His playmaking is also improving so rapidly that he's less far behind Luka than people think. Even a year ago it would have been crazy to put them in the same sentence.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I don't think anyone is disputing that Embiid is a tremendous player and an elite one. I also don't see people wrestling a lot with how many games he misses, and that he plays fewer minutes in the games he plays. His impact when out there is no-doubt top 5...but you have to adjust for him missing a lot more time than everyone else near him save for Durant, too.
 

Kliq

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Embiid just flopped in the playoffs again and has been historically unimpressive throughout his career, despite having all the tools to be a completely dominant player. I'm surprised people here are so high on him based on two very good regular seasons that ultimately didn't mean that much once we got to the playoffs.

Jayson Tatum on the other hand crushed his way through three of the absolute top wings in the NBA en route to being two games away from a title. Embiid may have put up better stats in the regular season and because he's a big man, offer more theoretical defensive value, but we've never seen that actually play out when it mattered most. I'm kind of shocked people are Embiid>Tatum here.

LeBron. Don’t get me wrong, he’s one of my all time favorites. But the LeBronimator is gone and never coming back. He makes these lists as an Emeritus Selection. The man has barely played defense these last few years. Once you add in the mounting injuries you have a guy that belongs at the end of any top ten list. Which is still incredible given his age. But his days of being a legitimate top 8 player in the league are over.
Yeah I'm willing to fully believe in the "LeBron is cooked" category, despite him putting up good stats last season. The only reason I'd rate him over Embiid in this exercise is that if I ask myself which player do I feel like gives me a greater chance at a championship, I still lean towards LeBron because in a playoff series I have more confidence he can get to that extra level than Embiid.
 

Cellar-Door

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Embiid just flopped in the playoffs again and has been historically unimpressive throughout his career, despite having all the tools to be a completely dominant player. I'm surprised people here are so high on him based on two very good regular seasons that ultimately didn't mean that much once we got to the playoffs.

Jayson Tatum on the other hand crushed his way through three of the absolute top wings in the NBA en route to being two games away from a title. Embiid may have put up better stats in the regular season and because he's a big man, offer more theoretical defensive value, but we've never seen that actually play out when it mattered most. I'm kind of shocked people are Embiid>Tatum here.



Yeah I'm willing to fully believe in the "LeBron is cooked" category, despite him putting up good stats last season. The only reason I'd rate him over Embiid in this exercise is that if I ask myself which player do I feel like gives me a greater chance at a championship, I still lean towards LeBron because in a playoff series I have more confidence he can get to that extra level than Embiid.
I mean, Embiid lost in 6 to the 1 seed playing with a broken face and garbage teammates. The PHI team had 3 good players, 1 of them is poor man's Jalen Brunson and the other was a super gimpy, perennial choke artist Harden.
 

Kliq

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I mean, Embiid lost in 6 to the 1 seed playing with a broken face and garbage teammates. The PHI team had 3 good players, 1 of them is poor man's Jalen Brunson and the other was a super gimpy, perennial choke artist Harden.
Embiid went out with a whimper. He averaged 20 ppg on 42% shooting and didn't contribute a ton defensively either. In the elimination game he shot 29% from the field and was outplayed by Bam throughout the series. Yeah he was injured but that is part of the problem with Embiid; he's injured a lot. If Tatum crashed out in the second round with that kind of performance people would not be high on him the way they are at the moment. Durant did it this season and his stock has definitely taken a hit because of it. It's a weird thing to just overlook, especially when you look at his history of underwhelming playoff performances.
 

Cellar-Door

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Embiid went out with a whimper. He averaged 20 ppg on 42% shooting and didn't contribute a ton defensively either. In the elimination game he shot 29% from the field and was outplayed by Bam throughout the series. Yeah he was injured but that is part of the problem with Embiid; he's injured a lot. If Tatum crashed out in the second round with that kind of performance people would not be high on him the way they are at the moment. Durant did it this season and his stock has definitely taken a hit because of it. It's a weird thing to just overlook, especially when you look at his history of underwhelming playoff performances.
I mean... not really. I can look at his performances and understand context. For the same reason I don't put much weight on Durant losing to a much better team. Would you feel the same about Embiid if he hadn't played hurt and they got swept? When people put too much weight on team performance over individual they end up making poor decisions. Tatum didn't crash out in the 2nd round because his teammates played great (also he was healthy). I didn't think less of him after 2021 when his team was all hurt and the Nets rolled him.

Edit- Also I don't think Embiid has a history of underwhelming playoff performances. I think recent years he's been very good in the playoffs (barring a broken face) and his team has not given him the performances to match his.
 

Cellar-Door

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https://theathletic.com/3421673/2022/07/14/nba-players-ranking-top-125-tier-2/

As expected, Tatum makes the 8/9 tier with Butler

So... is Kawhi just not going to be on this? We have the top 7 we discussed still out there plus Kawhi unless I missed him?

EDIT- just counted... he labeled wrong, this is 9-19 not 8-19 and he has an 8 man tier 1 with Kawhi in it. Which I disagree with, Kawhi is exactly the type of guy that even his stated very loose injury criteria should flag, he should be tier 2, and if you're changing it to 8 Tatum moves up
 

Kliq

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I mean... not really. I can look at his performances and understand context. For the same reason I don't put much weight on Durant losing to a much better team. Would you feel the same about Embiid if he hadn't played hurt and they got swept? When people put too much weight on team performance over individual they end up making poor decisions. Tatum didn't crash out in the 2nd round because his teammates played great (also he was healthy). I didn't think less of him after 2021 when his team was all hurt and the Nets rolled him.

Edit- Also I don't think Embiid has a history of underwhelming playoff performances. I think recent years he's been very good in the playoffs (barring a broken face) and his team has not given him the performances to match his.
Embiid out of that group of eight has achieved the least as far as playoff advancement, and has played the worst in the playoffs, over his entire career. Him being injured during portions of that is a factor that you just can't ignore, because he is injured a lot. He's very good in the regular season, but in the playoffs, when good teams focus on trying to stop him, he's pretty underwhelming. He was very good in the Atlanta series and was let down by his cowardly teammates, who I certainly would never, ever, defend in a million years.

Tatum didn't crash out of the second round because he scored 46 points in the elimination game. Yes, that changes my opinion on him.
 

lovegtm

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Tatum for sure although at this stage I’d probably grade him over LeBron.
Yeah, the bar of proof that Tatum has for national pundit types (not you) is getting bizarre.

He has put up huge impact metrics since he was 21 (!), and now has taken 2 teams to the conference finals and one to the Finals, while being the alpha scorer on all of those teams.

Before turning 24.

His TS numbers are on the lower side, but so are Luka's, and for some reason Luka gets a pass as this no-brainer completely generational player, while Tatum is constantly ranked 1-2 tiers lower.

Impact metrics? Check. Scoring numbers? Check. Winning consistently while being a #1 option? Check.

I'm not sure what else the guy has to do; he's held to a completely different standard than other players.

I would say that he doesn't care...but he clearly does, and this national perception cost him about $50M on his current contract. Good for the Celtics winning prospects, but I would be pissed as fuck in his shoes.
 

lovegtm

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I mean, come the fuck on. Partnow wrote:
Jayson Tatum was bad in the Finals. I don’t think there is much debate there, as his continuing turnover issues and inability to finish at the rim — with many of the misses functioning as turnovers with the way they keyed Golden State fast breaks — were a big part of Boston’s offensive collapse as the series progressed.

My growing annoyance at his failings on the biggest stage tempted me to drop him down lower in this tier.
How can you possibly weight performance in a playoff series that heavily, and then put Embiid and Kevin Durant above Tatum? I don't even disagree that those two should be ahead; just noting that the thought process is complete bullshit.
 

Kliq

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I mean, come the fuck on. Partnow wrote:

How can you possibly weight performance in a playoff series that heavily, and then put Embiid and Kevin Durant above Tatum? I don't even disagree that those two should be ahead; just noting that the thought process is complete bullshit.
For real. Embiid lays an egg in the playoffs and gets a pass. HE'S NEVER DONE ANYTHING IN THE PLAYOFFS!!!!
 

PedroKsBambino

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I mean, come the fuck on. Partnow wrote:

How can you possibly weight performance in a playoff series that heavily, and then put Embiid and Kevin Durant above Tatum? I don't even disagree that those two should be ahead; just noting that the thought process is complete bullshit.
This is the same logical fallacy people fall into around Montana’s Super Bowl record relative to Brady’s….discounting earlier losses in a way that makes no sense.
 

Jimbodandy

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I think that it's good to factor in playoff performances when ranking guys, but we do need to be careful not to infer too much. Guys like Wilt and Jerry West probably take too much abuse for losing to the Celtics every year, for example.

Fwiw, Darko has basically no crap defenders at the top of DMP, per its def numbers. They have Steph and Durant high due to awesome O-DPM numbers are neutral D-DPM. This is probably fair since KD has regressed a little. Other than that, the bad defenders drop down the list because bad defense. Not everyone cares about that obviously.
 

Jimbodandy

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Also, I hope that Tatum getting shafted on lists like this makes him do a few extra burpees this summer. Having a no defense guy like Doncic ahead of him simply proves that most people only care about pointzz.
 

Cellar-Door

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I mean, come the fuck on. Partnow wrote:

How can you possibly weight performance in a playoff series that heavily, and then put Embiid and Kevin Durant above Tatum? I don't even disagree that those two should be ahead; just noting that the thought process is complete bullshit.
Yeah Partnow is wildly inconsistent in when he cares about things. This feels a lot like he just made the list he liked then came up with justifications later.
 

lovegtm

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Yeah Partnow is wildly inconsistent in when he cares about things. This feels a lot like he just made the list he liked then came up with justifications later.
Totally, and this was my point wrt Tatum: it feels like a lot of stat-ish national media guys have simply decided that he isn't in that top tier, and will seize on whatever lets them not have to update their priors.
 

Jimbodandy

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There's not a good-faith way to rank Luka ahead of Tatum unless you really, really, really like raw assist numbers.
Good-faith is a good way to put it.

Was talking with the boy last night about this ranking, and he raised the point that some folks still see Luka and think more highly of him because of what he might become. The vast skillset that he does have is tantalizing. But in all honesty, his age 22 year doesn't look a whole lot different from his age 21 or 20 years (not just in DARKO, also BBRef numbers). He might take another leap, sure. But I think that the picture of future Luka clouds the assessment of current Luka.
 

Cellar-Door

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Good-faith is a good way to put it.

Was talking with the boy last night about this ranking, and he raised the point that some folks still see Luka and think more highly of him because of what he might become. The vast skillset that he does have is tantalizing. But in all honesty, his age 22 year doesn't look a whole lot different from his age 21 or 20 years (not just in DARKO, also BBRef numbers). He might take another leap, sure. But I think that the picture of future Luka clouds the assessment of current Luka.
I think one case for Luka is the usage. Also, I do think for a lot of people they ignore the first month of every season where he works himself back into shape. I'd have Tatum above him right now, but I think that is the real case. Just like the case with some of the older guys who have injury or load management lulls, that when he's on he's a monster and he carries a league high load without any real degradation.
 

lexrageorge

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There is no arguing that logically places Tatum below Kawhi at this stage. But I’m not surprised that the so-called pundits are penalizing him heavily for his Finals performance.
 

DGreenwood

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Tier 2 (players 9-19)
Jayson Tatum (sub-tier 2A, players 9-10)
Jimmy Butler (sub-tier 2A, players 9-10)

Anthony Davis (sub-tier 2B, players 11-14)
Ja Morant (sub-tier 2B, players 11-14)
James Harden (sub-tier 2B, players 11-14)
Trae Young (sub-tier 2B, players 11-14)

Chris Paul (sub-tier 2C, players 15-19)
Damian Lillard (sub-tier 2C, players 15-19)
Devin Booker (sub-tier 2C, players 15-19)
Paul George (sub-tier 2C, players 15-19)
Rudy Gobert (sub-tier 2C, players 15-19)
 
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Jimbodandy

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There is no arguing that logically places Tatum below Kawhi at this stage. But I’m not surprised that the so-called pundits are penalizing him heavily for his Finals performance.
Nothing should be surprising with pundits. Disregarding that he played about 1000 minutes in the playoffs doesn't crack the top 10.

edit: that's not an exaggeration. He played 983 minutes.
 

lovegtm

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I think one case for Luka is the usage. Also, I do think for a lot of people they ignore the first month of every season where he works himself back into shape. I'd have Tatum above him right now, but I think that is the real case. Just like the case with some of the older guys who have injury or load management lulls, that when he's on he's a monster and he carries a league high load without any real degradation.
I appreciate that you're trying to make the case for Luka, and that's probably the best one.

It's not very strong.

If we take a step back from being annoyed at Tatum's ranking, it's impressive how far he has moved ahead of his age peers in a short time. I still think he has a playmaking+shooting leap left in him.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Good-faith is a good way to put it.

Was talking with the boy last night about this ranking, and he raised the point that some folks still see Luka and think more highly of him because of what he might become. The vast skillset that he does have is tantalizing. But in all honesty, his age 22 year doesn't look a whole lot different from his age 21 or 20 years (not just in DARKO, also BBRef numbers). He might take another leap, sure. But I think that the picture of future Luka clouds the assessment of current Luka.
Isn't he actually trending the right way on defense? I know it's popular to trash on his defense but he's not exactly Trae Young.

He also hasn't had much of a supporting cast. I think him and Tatum are pick your flavor.

Maybe I'm reading the rankings wrong but it has Tatum at 8. I guess people have more of an issue with Luka's ranking than Tatum's? Or the silly tier stuff. I guess they needed a cut off though.

edit: The argument for Luka is weaker supporting cast.
 

Cellar-Door

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Isn't he actually trending the right way on defense? I know it's popular to trash on his defense but he's not exactly Trae Young.

He also hasn't had much of a supporting cast. I think him and Tatum are pick your flavor.

Maybe I'm reading the rankings wrong but it has Tatum at 8. I guess people have more of an issue with Luka's ranking than Tatum's? Or the silly tier stuff. I guess they needed a cut off though.

edit: The argument for Luka is weaker supporting cast.
9/10 tiers aren't ranked so he and Butler are in the same tier. Also the labeling is wrong, it's 9-19 not 8-19 because Partnow appears to have broken his own rules on # of guys per tier to avoid dropping Kawhi into tier 2.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I think one case for Luka is the usage. Also, I do think for a lot of people they ignore the first month of every season where he works himself back into shape. I'd have Tatum above him right now, but I think that is the real case. Just like the case with some of the older guys who have injury or load management lulls, that when he's on he's a monster and he carries a league high load without any real degradation.
Yeah, I actually can see the case for Luka. It is largely usage, but also that he enables the entire offense...which is a little different though fairly well reflected by usage. He's an elite offense basically by himself; Tatum is not. Defense makes up a big part of the difference----and I also see the argument it more than makes up for it---but I'll be honest: I'd trade Tatum for Luka and I wouldn't trade Luka for Tatum.

What's hard about Partnow's list is that you can make the above argument in part becuase of the centrality of what Luka does on the floor to his team's success. But you can't both make the above AND put Kawhi and Embiid up there effectively on 'per minute/per game' kinds of theories. Either being out there and central to what youteam does matters a lot, or it doesn't. If Luka gets credit for being so central (which I personally agree with) then you have to dock guys who are regularly not out there at all. Otherwise, it's incoherent.

In spite of his stated criteria, I think what Partnow is really doing is saying 'who would I rather have next year' which is a question to which a reasonable person can prefer Kawhi or Embiid or Luka over Tatum.
 

Cellar-Door

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Yeah, I actually can see the case for Luka. It is largely usage, but also that he enables the entire offense...which is a little different though fairly well reflected by usage. He's an elite offense basically by himself; Tatum is not. Defense makes up a big part of the difference----and I also see the argument it more than makes up for it---but I'll be honest: I'd trade Tatum for Luka and I wouldn't trade Luka for Tatum.

What's hard about Partnow's list is that you can make the above argument in part becuase of the centrality of what Luka does on the floor to his team's success. But you can't both make the above AND put Kawhi and Embiid up there effectively on 'per minute/per game' kinds of theories. Either being out there and central to what youteam does matters a lot, or it doesn't. If Luka gets credit for being so central (which I personally agree with) then you have to dock guys who are regularly not out there at all. Otherwise, it's incoherent.

In spite of his stated criteria, I think what Partnow is really doing is saying 'who would I rather have next year' which is a question to which a reasonable person can prefer Kawhi or Embiid or Luka over Tatum.
I think Embiid is a bit different than Kawhi for 2 reasons:
1. I think he's incredibly central to what his team does on both ends... he's a massive part of the offense and he is the defense. Where Kawhi is a similar part of his offense, despite being a great defender, not being a rim protector means you can scheme him out of a lot of action.
2. Embiid has played in 78% of his team's regular season games the last 2 years, (83% last year).. he's not way below other guys anymore. He played more games last year than every guy in the top 8 except Jokic.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Yeah, I actually can see the case for Luka. It is largely usage, but also that he enables the entire offense...which is a little different though fairly well reflected by usage. He's an elite offense basically by himself; Tatum is not. Defense makes up a big part of the difference----and I also see the argument it more than makes up for it---but I'll be honest: I'd trade Tatum for Luka and I wouldn't trade Luka for Tatum.

What's hard about Partnow's list is that you can make the above argument in part becuase of the centrality of what Luka does on the floor to his team's success. But you can't both make the above AND put Kawhi and Embiid up there effectively on 'per minute/per game' kinds of theories. Either being out there and central to what youteam does matters a lot, or it doesn't. If Luka gets credit for being so central (which I personally agree with) then you have to dock guys who are regularly not out there at all. Otherwise, it's incoherent.

In spite of his stated criteria, I think what Partnow is really doing is saying 'who would I rather have next year' which is a question to which a reasonable person can prefer Kawhi or Embiid or Luka over Tatum.
If I were Boston, I would say no. If I were Dallas, I would say no. Building from scratch... it'd be a tough choice. But that's a different argument on who is better right now anyway.

It's mostly about fit. I think both teams would be worse but Boston would fare a lot better with Doncic than Dallas would with Tatum, at least with this years rosters. That has more to do with role than anything else though. Doncic is Dallas.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I think Embiid is a bit different than Kawhi for 2 reasons:
1. I think he's incredibly central to what his team does on both ends... he's a massive part of the offense and he is the defense. Where Kawhi is a similar part of his offense, despite being a great defender, not being a rim protector means you can scheme him out of a lot of action.
2. Embiid has played in 78% of his team's regular season games the last 2 years, (83% last year).. he's not way below other guys anymore. He played more games last year than every guy in the top 8 except Jokic.
He's certainly different than Kawhi in the degree of unavailability---Kawhi has played 109 games total the last three years, Embiid 170. But the gap between Embiid and Tatum is also pretty large (206) and Tatum is also playing about 4 MPG more. Add that in and he's played 7300 minutes in those three years vs Embiid's 5400. That gets even larger if you include playoff minutes. I believe Partnow was using a three-year sample, but could be mis-recalling.

To repeat what I noted above, if you think there's math that says Embiid is SO much better in the minutes he played that he can make up the total impact, curious what that might look like. To me, it's pretty clear however you want to think of impact while playing that 37% more minutes is simply too large a wall to get over. And I totally get that if the question is "who do you want next year" you can quite reasonably say Embiid---I just don't think that's what Partnow said he is doing
 

tbb345

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Reading Partnow’s commentary on his Gobert placement and then reading his reasoning for where he put Tatum is pretty interesting…no mention of the fact that Gobert couldn’t score against a chair in the playoffs but Tatum’s “consistently bad performances in big games” made Partnow want to drop him more.
 

Cellar-Door

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He's certainly different than Kawhi in the degree of unavailability---Kawhi has played 109 games total the last three years, Embiid 170. But the gap between Embiid and Tatum is also pretty large (206) and Tatum is also playing about 4 MPG more. Add that in and he's played 7300 minutes in those three years vs Embiid's 5400. That gets even larger if you include playoff minutes. I believe Partnow was using a three-year sample, but could be mis-recalling.

To repeat what I noted above, if you think there's math that says Embiid is SO much better in the minutes he played that he can make up the total impact, curious what that might look like. To me, it's pretty clear however you want to think of impact while playing that 37% more minutes is simply too large a wall to get over. And I totally get that if the question is "who do you want next year" you can quite reasonably say Embiid---I just don't think that's what Partnow said he is doing
I can see that argument. I can also see the case that some of the difference in minutes is about the team's choices, and some would say playing Tatum huge minutes for 76 games a year was a bad choice by BOS that may have cost them a ring. I think discounting guys with constant true injury issues like Kawhi who couldn't play no matter what, is important, and in say an MVP race I agree that minutes are important. If you're trying to make a more holistic ranking of players though, I don't know that a team bucking the general trend for managing the minutes of their stars is something that is positive. Tatum played the minutes he did because he's on the Celtics, if he was on say GS or PHI he would have played less because of how those organizations feel about the value of load management.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I mean, come the fuck on. Partnow wrote:

How can you possibly weight performance in a playoff series that heavily, and then put Embiid and Kevin Durant above Tatum? I don't even disagree that those two should be ahead; just noting that the thought process is complete bullshit.
Of course you never hear anyone who claims Tatum “was awful in The Finals” ever mention that he was forced to run the offense 40 ft from the basket bc we didn’t have a PG to get the ball to him in his spots. Sigh.
 

nighthob

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Yeah I'm willing to fully believe in the "LeBron is cooked" category, despite him putting up good stats last season. The only reason I'd rate him over Embiid in this exercise is that if I ask myself which player do I feel like gives me a greater chance at a championship, I still lean towards LeBron because in a playoff series I have more confidence he can get to that extra level than Embiid.
I don’t think he’s cooked. He’s just not the LeBronimator anymore. Put him on the Celtics and they become an all time great squad. Put him on the Lakers and they’re a lottery team because he can’t carry a team to the playoffs by himself anymore.
 

nighthob

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Isn't he actually trending the right way on defense? I know it's popular to trash on his defense but he's not exactly Trae Young.
Kinda/sorta but not really. Dallas’s entire defensive scheme is built around hiding Luka. It worked during the regular season when most teams are more focused on running their own sets. Didn’t work nearly as well in the playoffs when teams were actively trying to exploit mismatches.
 

benhogan

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Yeah, I actually can see the case for Luka. It is largely usage, but also that he enables the entire offense...which is a little different though fairly well reflected by usage. He's an elite offense basically by himself; Tatum is not. Defense makes up a big part of the difference----and I also see the argument it more than makes up for it---but I'll be honest: I'd trade Tatum for Luka and I wouldn't trade Luka for Tatum.

In spite of his stated criteria, I think what Partnow is really doing is saying 'who would I rather have next year' which is a question to which a reasonable person can prefer Kawhi or Embiid or Luka over Tatum.
I'd like to see Luka show up in shape one year before Brad ships out a growing, chiseled WING. Work ethic/habits count when talking about trades for young players. Tatum's $$$ is also friendlier.

Question, if JT plays with good players and Luka plays with nobody. Why does Tatum eviscerate Doncic on +/- per 100 OnCourt and On/Off every season? over 4-5 seasons it shouldn't consistently contrast to such a massive degree, esp. if Luka is a one-man show.

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/tatumja01.html

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/doncilu01.html
 

RorschachsMask

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Going a little deeper on what benhogan says above. Just going by on/off and percentile, this is Tatum by season, starting with his rookie year. Per cleaning the glass.

+8.5 (91st)
+7.6 (91st)
+11 (96th)
+5.4 (81st)
+16.5 (99th)

Now Luka
-1.9 (41st)
+1.8 (63rd)
+2.2 (65th)
-0.9 (46th)

Now obviously on/off isn’t everything, but it’s a staggering difference. Especially when you consider the Celtics have the luxury of another all star caliber player, and the Mavs have struggled finding that second guy.

Luka may have the higher ceiling, but Tatum is absolutely the bigger difference maker as of now.
 

nighthob

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I always say that Tatum is, in the pace & space era, the real unicorn. A two way wing that can carry an offense while providing you plus plus defense. He's literally the player that every NBA GM would sell their soul for.
 

lovegtm

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Apr 30, 2013
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Going a little deeper on what benhogan says above. Just going by on/off and percentile, this is Tatum by season, starting with his rookie year. Per cleaning the glass.

+8.5 (91st)
+7.6 (91st)
+11 (96th)
+5.4 (81st)
+16.5 (99th)

Now Luka
-1.9 (41st)
+1.8 (63rd)
+2.2 (65th)
-0.9 (46th)

Now obviously on/off isn’t everything, but it’s a staggering difference. Especially when you consider the Celtics have the luxury of another all star caliber player, and the Mavs have struggled finding that second guy.

Luka may have the higher ceiling, but Tatum is absolutely the bigger difference maker as of now.
Yeah, the whole "you can just run an offense around Luka and you can't through Tatum" is odd when we've seen Tatum+flotsam units do well for a couple years now.

Obviously that's regular season, and not playoffs, but "who can run a playoff offense surrounded by crap" is more of a parlor game than an elite player criterion.
 

DGreenwood

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Feb 2, 2003
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Tier 1 (players 1-8)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Kevin Durant (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Nikola Jokic (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Steph Curry (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)

Joel Embiid (sub-tier 1B, players 5-6)
Luka Doncic (sub-tier 1B, players 5-6)

Kawhi Leonard (sub-tier 1C, players 7-8)
LeBron James (sub-tier 1C, players 7-8)
 

Cellar-Door

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Aug 1, 2006
27,495
Tier 1 (players 1-8)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Kevin Durant (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Nikola Jokic (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Steph Curry (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)

Joel Embiid (sub-tier 1B, players 5-6)
Luka Doncic (sub-tier 1B, players 5-6)

Kawhi Leonard (sub-tier 1C, players 7-8)
LeBron James (sub-tier 1C, players 7-8)
Luka a sub-tier too high, Kawhi and Tatum should be swapped. Otherwise fine by Pelton's standard. Personally I probably swap Durant and Embiid, but that's because I think Durant and Embiid have trended in opposite directions on injury issues.
 
Jan 22, 2006
172
On The Athletic NBA Show Podcast, the other hosts were really ripping into Parnow. Safe to say we were not the only folks who took umbrage with the rankings (though no one felt Tatum was too low). A lot of questioning of Kawhi being so high despite the injury concerns.

They did question having Embiid and Jokic on different tiers. I think they're insane. I get that Embiid is elite, but Jokic is another level of playmaking, and I think that bears out in all of the regular advanced stats. And then there's injury history / availability, which is also not particularly close.

Let me put it this way: if I'm starting a new team and I need to pick between Jokic and Embiid, its a very quick and very easy decision for me. I don't think team makeup matters, I don't think competition window matters, I don't think there's any context whatsoever that could make the choice Embiid over Jokic. Does anyone disagree?
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
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Oct 1, 2015
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Tier 1 (players 1-8)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Kevin Durant (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Nikola Jokic (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)
Steph Curry (sub-tier 1A, players 1-4)

Joel Embiid (sub-tier 1B, players 5-6)
Luka Doncic (sub-tier 1B, players 5-6)

Kawhi Leonard (sub-tier 1C, players 7-8)
LeBron James (sub-tier 1C, players 7-8)
Well, I got it right (not counting Kawhi because I thought we had to pick 7 players, not 8).

I don't know why Durant would be as high as he is and Tatum not even in this group. Didn't Tatum just completely whip Durant's ass? But I just think that Durant is still Durant and he's going to get that respect because it's him.

I mean...Kawhi???
 

DGreenwood

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Well, I got it right (not counting Kawhi because I thought we had to pick 7 players, not 8).

I don't know why Durant would be as high as he is and Tatum not even in this group. Didn't Tatum just completely whip Durant's ass? But I just think that Durant is still Durant and he's going to get that respect because it's him.

I mean...Kawhi???
It seems that what Tatum did against Durant in the playoffs is not boosting his stock but what he did in the finals is hurting his stock. That seems unfair. If the Celtics had managed to hold on to game 4 in the fourth quarter and then Tatum had one great game in a Celtics win in either game 5, 6, or 7 I wonder how much higher he'd be rated?

It just feels like a recency bias.
 
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JakeRae

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Jul 21, 2005
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It seems that what Tatum did against Durant in the playoffs is not boosting his stock but what he did in the finals is hurting his stock. That seems unfair. If the Celtics had managed to hold on to game 4 in the fourth quarter and then Tatum had one great game in a Celtics win in either game 5, 6, or 7 I wonder how much higher he'd be rated?

It just feels like a recency bias.
It is. Tatum is a top 8 player. (Kawhi is not.) I think you can make a reasonable argument that Durant deserves to stay a notch above Tatum on any ranking, but there isn’t really a reasonable case that Tatum sits below Lebron or Doncic and it’s a lot easier to support that he’s clearly a step ahead of them. At the same time, I have a hard time getting too upset about ranking Tatum 9th instead of 6th or 7th. I also expect Tatum to be a clear cut top 5 player after next year, and think he has an outside shot at serious MVP consideration.

Separately, I think a correct tier 1A is limited to Curry and Giannis right now. Jokic is a tier 1A regular season player but is below that in the playoffs (although improving) and Durant’s performance this year in the playoffs should knock him down a notch, particularly since he’s at an age where decline is expected so it doesn’t make sense to assume he will ever again be the player he was a year ago.
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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Durant being a whiny, non-committal, sub-tweeter committed to a toxic relationship also should knock him down a peg, imo.

I'm all for a Tier Giannis; I think he's undisputedly the best player in basketball.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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Jokic this year in the playoffs:

25 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists
26 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists
37 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists
37 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists
30 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists

For the playoffs: 31.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.0 blocks on 57.5% FG shooting, 84.8% FT shooting

I know they got knocked out in the first round in 5 games, but that was to the eventual champs who were a TERRIBLE matchup for them. In previous years he got Denver to the WC Finals (2020), the WC Semis 2x (2019, 2021), and the first round KO this year.

For his career, his playoff numbers are:

26.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.9 blocks, 51.9% FG, 84.1% FT

I mean, that's frigging awesome.
 

coremiller

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Jul 14, 2005
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On The Athletic NBA Show Podcast, the other hosts were really ripping into Parnow. Safe to say we were not the only folks who took umbrage with the rankings (though no one felt Tatum was too low). A lot of questioning of Kawhi being so high despite the injury concerns.

They did question having Embiid and Jokic on different tiers. I think they're insane. I get that Embiid is elite, but Jokic is another level of playmaking, and I think that bears out in all of the regular advanced stats. And then there's injury history / availability, which is also not particularly close.

Let me put it this way: if I'm starting a new team and I need to pick between Jokic and Embiid, its a very quick and very easy decision for me. I don't think team makeup matters, I don't think competition window matters, I don't think there's any context whatsoever that could make the choice Embiid over Jokic. Does anyone disagree?
I don't disagree but the case for Embiid over Jokic is defense. Embiid is an extremely impactful defensive player. Jokic is ... not, and his defensive limitations really limit what you can do schematically.