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NBArank: Predicting the best players this season, from 100-51

For the eighth season in a row, ESPN.com is ranking the top players in the NBA.

Who will be the best player this season? To get the final prediction, we asked our expert panel to vote on pairs of players.
Stephen Curry vs. LeBron James. Kyrie Irving vs. Jimmy Butler. Luka Doncic vs. Jayson Tatum.

We asked, "Which player will be better in 2018-19?" To decide, voters had to consider both the quality and the quantity of each player's contributions to his team's ability to win games.

We'll roll out our top 100 players over the next week. Here are Nos. 100-51.

50-31| 30-21 |5-on-5 debate

NBArank: 100-51



100.Al-Farouq Aminu




Aminu will look to build on a strong showing in the first round of last season's NBA playoffs. After finishing with seven points in Game 1 against the New Orleans Pelicans, he averaged 20.7 points on 53 percent shooting and 9.7 rebounds over the final four games. -- Jose De Leon

99.Evan Fournier




Fournier had a very productive and efficient start to last season, scoring at least 20 points in nine of his first 11 games en route to averaging 20.5 points per game on 51 percent shooting over that stretch. He didn't quite keep up the same production the rest of the season, as he reached the 20-point mark in just 13 of his final 46 games played. -- De Leon

98.Jeff Teague




Teague did a great job of finding teammates off the drive last season in Minnesota. According to NBA advanced stats, he had 125 assists off drives, which was good for fifth in the NBA. -- De Leon

97.Danny Green




The quintessential 3-and-D specialist, Green experienced a drop-off in production thanks in part to playing the majority of the season with an injured groin. Green now teams with Kawhi Leonard in Toronto, and the duo will give opponents fits on the perimeter.

Green might be regressing as a long-range shooter, hitting no better than 38 percent from 3 the past three seasons after connecting on at least 41.5 percent the previous four. -- Michael C. Wright

96.Justise Winslow




  • Miami Heat | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:2.6

Winslow was drafted in the 2015 lottery as an athletic teenager with all the tools to develop into a star. While he hasn't put up monster box score stats, Winslow quietly improved as a shooter last season (career-high 38 percent from 3) while becoming one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA (10th in defensive RPM among small forwards). He should continue to develop into one of the better 3-and-D threats in the league. --André Snellings

95.Enes Kanter




Enes Kanter will start and play significant minutes for the Knicks again this season, and you can expect him to put up roughly the same numbers (14.1 PPG, 11 RPG, 59 percent shooting). One thing that may be different? New Knicks coach David Fizdale wants Kanter to shoot 3s, something the 26-year-old did just twice all of last season. Kanter has never averaged more than 0.3 3-point attempts per game, so it will be interesting to see how often he shoots from deep now.-- Ian Begley

94.Darren Collison




  • Indiana Pacers | G

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:3.4

For his career, Collison is shooting 39.3 percent from 3 and had never shot better than 42 percent from 3 in a season. That was until last season, as he shot an NBA-best 46.8 percent from beyond the arc.-- De Leon

93.Markelle Fultz




With Fultz coming off a bizarre quasi-redshirt season, all eyes will be on the former No. 1 pick, particularly his shooting. We don't know the current state of Fultz's jumper, but when he was right, he was arguably the most talented guard prospect I've evaluated in the past five years. Expect some highs and lows from deep. Still, as long as he gets enough on-ball reps with shooting around him, Fultz has natural talent as a driver and playmaker, and will shine much more in Year 2. -- Mike Schmitz

92.Kentavious Caldwell-Pope




Caldwell-Pope had the best 3-point-shooting season of his career in 2017-18 (38.3 percent), and he did it while serving a 25-day prison sentence as the season played out. This season he gets fellow Klutch client LeBron James passing him the ball and will likely be the Lakers' starting 2-guard to open the season. -- Dave McMenamin

91.Nicolas Batum




Batum has flirted with dropping 6.0 APG over the past three seasons, averaging 5.7 in his three campaigns with the Hornets. The only player 6-foot-8 or taller to average more assists than Batum over that span is LeBron James. -- De Leon

90. Malcolm Brogdon




Brogdon missed 34 games last season with an assortment of injuries, most notably a torn quad. Still, he increased his scoring and field goal percentage as a follow-up to his Rookie of the Year campaign. Brogdon is a capable shot-maker but doesn't attempt them at a high volume as the team's fourth or fifth option. He did shoot 49 percent on pull-up 3s last season (though it was on only 39 attempts). -- Vincent Johnson

89.Domantas Sabonis




Victor Oladipo wasn't the only player who saw an uptick in production across the board with a change of scenery. His teammate Sabonis saw the highest PER increase of any qualified player last season and very nearly doubled both his scoring and rebounding average. He and Oladipo were a lethal pick-and-roll duo, averaging 1.19 points per chance, the most of any combo, according to Second Spectrum research (minimum 150 plays). -- V. Johnson

88.Kelly Olynyk




  • Miami Heat | C

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:3.2

Olynyk is a 7-footer who works from the 3-point line in, with a sharp pump fake and a sneaky first step that stymies opposing bigs for just a split second. Last season, Olynyk averaged 1.14 points per chance when driving to the basket, according to Second Spectrum research (including playoffs). That was tied with Kevin Durant for the second most in the NBA, with only Stephen Curry averaging more (minimum 200 drives). -- V. Johnson

87.Tyreke Evans




  • Indiana Pacers | G

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:2.5

Evans joins the Pacers a season after averaging his most points (19.4) since he won Rookie of the Year in 2010. Playing on a struggling Memphis team, Evans often elected to do it himself. He averaged 1.08 points per direct isolation play, tied for sixth most in the NBA, according to Second Spectrum research. He will aid an Indiana bench that finished in the bottom 10 in scoring last season. -- V. Johnson

86.Thaddeus Young




  • Indiana Pacers | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:3.0

The individual numbers aren't gaudy for Young, but his on-court impact is certainly impressive. The Pacers outscored opponents by 4.4 points per 100 possessions last season when he was on the floor. They were outscored by 3.7 when he was off. His versatility as a defender was key: He allowed 0.78 points per chance defending isos last season, third best in the NBA, according to Second Spectrum research (minimum 150 plays). -- V. Johnson

85.Kyle Anderson




Kawhi Leonard's quadriceps injury provided "Slo Mo" the opportunity to showcase his ability after four seasons, and Anderson responded with career highs in almost every category. He might not be the most athletic player, but he compensates with an uncanny understanding of the game for a player his age (24). Spurs general manager R.C. Buford often raved about Anderson's defensive prowess and ability to make everyone around him better.

You'll see even more of that with an expanded role in Memphis. -- Wright

84.Julius Randle




  • New Orleans Pelicans | F/C

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:-0.5

Coming off a career season with the Lakers, Randle is a newcomer to the top 100. He left L.A. as a cap casualty but enters a better opportunity, playing alongside Anthony Davis in New Orleans.

The two-year contract (player option in 2019-20) also has Randle on audition once again, something he thrived on last season with the Lakers, when he appeared in all 82 games. -- Bobby Marks

83.Derrick Favors




  • Utah Jazz | F/C

  • Previous rank: 94

  • Projected RPM wins:1.9

Favors re-upped with Utah for two years in the offseason and will play alongside Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. With those two on the court together, the Jazz outscored opponents by 7.3 points per 100 possessions last season. Favors is a viable scoring threat in the pick-and-roll, putting up as many shot attempts as Anthony Davis after setting the screen last season (according to Second Spectrum research). -- V. Johnson

82.Terry Rozier




Rozier stepped into the spotlight for the injured Kyrie Irving last season and saw sharp increases in PPG (10.1 to 15.6) and APG (2.2 to 5.3). During the postseason, only LeBron James scored more points in clutch time, and no player made more 3s. Irving will be back, but the confidence Rozier gained in the starting role should set the table for another successful season.-- V. Johnson

81.Tim Hardaway Jr.




  • New York Knicks | SG

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:5.6


Hardaway should put up plenty of points with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined. The number to keep an eye on? Shooting percentage. Hardaway started off shooting well last season but finished with a field goal percentage of 42 percent (32 percent from beyond the arc). Part of those struggles were due to a leg injury that sidelined him for nearly two months. Will a healthy Hardaway -- starting at shooting guard all season for the Knicks -- convert shots at a higher clip?

Maybe more important, how can new Knicks head coach David Fizdale and his staff help Hardaway on the defensive end? He has improved there since his first stint with New York, but he has room to grow.-- Begley

80.DeAndre Jordan




Jordan, finally in Dallas a few years after leaving the Mavs at the free-agency altar, remains one of the NBA's most dominant athletic specimens. He leads the NBA in dunks (1,189) over the past five seasons by a wide margin and ranks a close second to Detroit's Andre Drummond in rebounds (5,684) over that same span.

There has been no sign of decline in those two facets of his game, but the two-time All-Defensive selection did slip significantly on that end of the floor in his final season for the Clippers.-- Tim MacMahon

79.Harrison Barnes




  • Dallas Mavericks | F

  • Previous rank: 58

  • Projected RPM wins:1.5

Barnes has proved some doubters wrong by his effectiveness as the Mavs' primary option the past two seasons, averaging 19.0 PPG with efficiency (.540 true shooting percentage) that compares favorably to his tenure as a complementary piece with the Warriors. He has yet to prove that he can lead the Mavs to victories, though.

Barnes' ability to adapt as the Dallas offense increasingly revolves around Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. will be a key to the franchise's future.-- MacMahon

78.Andre Roberson




As he returns from a brutal knee injury, there are questions as to how long it will take Roberson to reach his elite defensive level again, or if he will at all. His offensive deficiencies are well known, but as a wing-stopper, Roberson makes as much defensive impact as any player in the league.

His anemic free throw shooting and cringeworthy air balls bring groans, but after he missed the second half of the season, there's a newfound appreciation and recognition for what Roberson brings.-- Royce Young

77.OG Anunoby




  • Toronto Raptors | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:3.4

While his box score stats might not show it, Anunoby had an extremely successful rookie campaign, especially when you consider he played 84 games coming off an ACL tear. Still evolving as an offensive threat, Anunoby might not make a leap as a scoring threat, particularly with the addition of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. But his defensive value is undeniable, and the Raptors can throw out a host of modern lineups with unrivaled switchability.

So long as he's making open spot-ups, Anunoby is one of the league's best under-22 two-way combo forwards. -- Schmitz

76.Spencer Dinwiddie




Dinwiddie has one of the quickest first steps in the game, as seen through Second Spectrum research. Last season, Dinwiddie recorded 212 blow-bys on drives, fifth most in the NBA. The only players ahead of him were James Harden, Dennis Schroder, Lou Williams and Russell Westbrook.-- Matt Williams

75.Jusuf Nurkic




  • Portland Trail Blazers | C

  • Previous rank: 44

  • Projected RPM wins:2.7


Nurkic has flashed major potential during his 1.5 seasons with the Blazers. He has been pretty consistent with averages of 14.5 PPG (50.5 FG percentage), 9.2 RPG, 1.5 BPG and 0.9 SPG, but he has turned in great stretches late in both seasons that have corresponded with Portland's solidifying into one of the hottest teams in the league. If Nurkic can harness that level for a full season, he and his team both become very dangerous. --Snellings

74.Fred VanVleet




  • Toronto Raptors | G

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:5.1

VanVleet might not have cracked last year's #NBArank top 400 after playing just 294 minutes as an undrafted rookie. Given an opportunity, VanVleet became the engine of a stunningly dominant Toronto bench. The Raptors outscored opponents by 12.1 points per 100 possessions with VanVleet on the court, leading to the NBA's 28th-best rating in ESPN's real plus-minus (RPM). Despite tax concerns, Toronto showed faith in VanVleet by re-signing him to a two-year, $18 million deal. --Kevin Pelton

73.Andre Iguodala




Because Iguodala has been a sixth man for the Warriors during the past four seasons, it is easy to forget that he was once an All-Star in Philly. We got a reminder of Iguodala's importance during last season's playoffs, as his injury left the mighty Dubs vulnerable against the Rockets. Iguodala is one of the best perimeter defenders of his generation, an excellent facilitator and key component to one of the great NBA dynasties of all time.-- Snellings

72.Lou Williams




Sweet Lou claimed the Sixth Man of the Year award for the second time this past season (the third in five seasons for the Clippers) as he recorded career highs in points per game (22.6) and field goal attempts (16.9). It was enough to instigate a discussion about Williams' All-Star worthiness and general value, a question that will no doubt resume this season as the reigning instant-offense king sits on a very team-friendly deal (three years, $24 million with a third year team option). --Andrew Han

71.Kyle Kuzma




  • Los Angeles Lakers | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:1.4

Kuzma surprised many with an All-Rookie campaign that at times saw him become the Lakers' best scoring option, posting 16.1 PPG while shooting 36.6 percent from 3. The Lakers want to see Kuzma improve his defense and playmaking abilities.

Looking noticeably bigger now, Kuzma spent this offseason working with the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant while strengthening his inside game and dribbling.-- Ohm Youngmisuk

70.Andrew Wiggins




  • Minnesota Timberwolves | F

  • Previous rank: 57

  • Projected RPM wins:4.0

For a one-dimensional volume scorer like Wiggins, he wasn't done any favors with the addition of Jimmy Butler last season. Wiggins already struggled with passing, rebounding and defense before deciding to jack up a career-high number of 3s, on which he shot an abysmal 33.1 percent.

There are whispers Wiggins doesn't enjoy his role as the third option (it shows), but his offensive game could open back up if Butler leaves in free agency next summer.-- Martenzie Johnson

69.DeMarcus Cousins




  • Golden State Warriors | C

  • Previous rank: 17

  • Projected RPM wins:1.3


Cousins would be much higher on the list had it not been for an Achilles tear that cost him half of last season. As a freshly minted member of the Golden State Warriors, Cousins will face little pressure to return to the floor quickly. But once he does come back, it is imperative for his future that he shows he can still be a All-Star-caliber player on a team full of future Hall of Famers.

If Cousins can regain his form, he will have plenty of big-money suitors once he hits free agency again next summer.-- Nick Friedell

68.Will Barton




Barton posted career-best averages in minutes, points, assists and steals last season. He also shot his best percentages from the field and beyond the arc while making 40 starts. Entering last season, Barton had made just 25 starts in his first five seasons.-- Williams

67.Josh Richardson




  • Miami Heat | G

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:4.7

After averaging career highs in several different categories -- including games, points, assists and rebounds -- what Richardson did best goes beyond the box score. According to Second Spectrum research, opposing players shot 41.6 percent when Richardson was the closest defender, tied for fifth best among 100 players to defend at least 700 shots last season.

The only players with a lower percentage? Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Al Horford and Ben Simmons.-- Williams

66.Lauri Markkanen




After a strong rookie season highlighted by 145 made 3s, Markkanen should take another jump in offensive efficiency with more weapons at Fred Hoiberg's disposal. The addition of a rebounding, shot-blocking center like Wendell Carter Jr. also lets the Finnish 7-footer focus more on his strengths.

There's no question that Markkanen's scoring opportunities might fluctuate with Jabari Parker in town and Zach LaVine back, but the 21-year-old has never needed volume given his shooting ability, and a stellar sophomore campaign appears on the horizon.-- Schmitz

65.JJ Redick




  • Philadelphia 76ers | G

  • Previous rank: 87

  • Projected RPM wins:3.5

Last season, Redick attempted the most 3s per game in his career (6.6). He also averaged his highest-ever scoring average (17.1 PPG). Coincidence? In his 12th season, Redick sought an ideal fit, secured the bag and rewarded believers that shooting doesn't age with a barrage of treys from the city of brotherly love. It's a testament to understanding your skills and finding a situation that best uses it. Did we mention that basketball is a game of putting a ball through a hoop? Shooting seems important. --Han

64.Dejounte Murray




Murray often utters these five words: "I want to be great." Now's the time. Murray was drafted at age 19, and by 21 he earned NBA All-Defensive second-team honors in addition to wresting away the starting job from future Hall of Famer Tony Parker.

Murray ranked in the top 10 last season in defensive real plus-minus, steal percentage and defensive rating. But even he'd tell you there's plenty of work left to do on the offensive end (44.3 percent from the floor and 26.5 percent from 3).-- Wright

63.Luka Doncic




  • Dallas Mavericks | G

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:1.6

The Rookie of the Year front-runner and most NBA-ready player in the 2018 draft class, Doncic should stuff the stat sheet as a triple-double threat in Dallas. While his scoring is likely to come and go, Doncic could lead all rookies in assists, with DeAndre Jordan driving to the rim and shooters around him.

He's reportedly already turning heads in Dallas with his passing, and the 19-year-old should help Dallas win more games than most expect.-- Schmitz

62.Lonzo Ball




  • Los Angeles Lakers | G

  • Previous rank: 63

  • Projected RPM wins:4.6

The self-proclaimed biggest summer of Ball's life was shortened by a left meniscus injury that eventually required surgery in mid-July. Upon his recovery, though, Ball seemingly went to work tweaking his form after shooting 30.5 percent from 3 in his rookie season.

It remains to be seen whom coach Luke Walton starts at point guard, but Ball will be challenged -- and, one hopes, mentored -- by Rajon Rondo. Ball's strengths -- playmaking, rebounding and defensive length -- should only be enhanced by LeBron James' presence.-- Youngmisuk

61.Goran Dragic




  • Miami Heat | G

  • Previous rank: 47

  • Projected RPM wins:3.0

Despite seeing small dips in his numbers across the board, Dragic made the 2018 All-Star team, his first appearance in the game. Dragic was the third guard in Heat history to make an All-Star team, joining Dwyane Wade and Tim Hardaway.-- Williams

60.Tobias Harris




  • LA Clippers | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:3.7

Harris reportedly turned down an $80 million extension and is betting on himself in a contract year. Doc Rivers sees a breakout season coming for Harris, and the forward should have every opportunity to deliver one.

Harris averaged 19.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in 32 games last season for the Clippers, and he'll be eager to show teams that he can put up bigger numbers.-- Youngmisuk

59.Paul Millsap




  • Denver Nuggets | F/C

  • Previous rank: 27

  • Projected RPM wins:1.7


After signing a three-year, $90 million deal, Millsap played in only 38 games last season after missing time with a wrist injury. He also had his lowest average in points and rebounds in a season since his Jazz days.

Good news for Millsap? He played well with Nikola Jokic. When both players were on the court last season, the Nuggets outscored opponents by 8 points per 100 possessions.-- Williams

58.Kristaps Porzingis




  • New York Knicks | F/C

  • Previous rank: 22

  • Projected RPM wins:3.1

No ones knows exactly when Porzingis will return to the court this season. When he does, Porzingis expects to be stronger and faster than he was before his injury -- an ACL tear that's expected to sideline him until at least December. The first-time All-Star averaged 22.7 PPG and an NBA-high 2.4 BPG before he went down.

Players coming off ACL tears have said that it can take 18-24 months to return to full speed and strength, so it's unrealistic to expect Porzingis to replicate those numbers if/when he returns.-- Begley

57.Dario Saric




  • Philadelphia 76ers | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:2.8

Super Dario has finally come over. After waiting two years before joining The Process in 2016, Saric built off an up-and-down rookie season to increase his field goal, free throw and 3-point shooting in Year 2, becoming one of the most efficient sharpshooting stretch forwards in the league last season.

Notoriously slower than Interstate 676 traffic, Saric will need to improve on his defense so as to not be the "mark" alongside Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington.-- M. Johnson

56.Eric Bledsoe




  • Milwaukee Bucks | G

  • Previous rank: 37

  • Projected RPM wins:4.7

Bledsoe finished his debut Bucks season strong, averaging 19.3 points in the final 31 regular-season games. The playoffs proved a different animal (13.6 PPG), though, as Boston's Terry Rozier introduced himself.

But Bledsoe and new Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer could be a fruitful union, as Bud will look to the defensive menace (2.0 SPG last season) to move the ball while making shots and providing much-needed help to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.-- Youngmisuk

55.Marcus Smart




  • Boston Celtics | G

  • Previous rank: 65

  • Projected RPM wins:3.7

If box score stats were the deciding factor, Smart would likely not appear in the top 100. He's a career 36 percent shooter from the field and 29.3 percent from the 3, with a PER of 10.8 and an offensive rating of 97.1. The eye test shows an elite defender who can guard three positions and affect the game with intangibles. Now signed to a four-year, $52 million contract, Smart will continue his role as a valuable utility player in Boston and insurance policy in the starting lineup if injuries occur. --Marks

54.Brandon Ingram




  • Los Angeles Lakers | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:2.0

Magic Johnson feels no Laker will benefit more from LeBron James' arrival than Ingram. The third-year forward took a leap in scoring (9.4 to 16.1 PPG) while shooting 39 percent from 3 last season, but Ingram's offensive game is still very much developing.

Ingram should be able to learn from James' example on how to create better. And while Ingram seemed at his best with the ball in his hands, it remains to be seen how available that option will be. But Ingram could feast on easy baskets just running the floor with a plethora of ball handlers like James, Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball and Lance Stephenson.-- Youngmisuk

53.Joe Ingles




  • Utah Jazz | F

  • Previous rank: NR

  • Projected RPM wins:5.2

Ingles started 81 games last season, more than his first three seasons combined. His current situation on the Jazz matches his skill set perfectly. Ingles plays hard-nosed defense, knocks down the open jumper and knows how to move the ball to set up teammates when called upon.

This season, he should continue to improve and settle into his role of playing off his talented offensive teammates while helping support the best defense in the league.-- Snellings

52.Ricky Rubio




  • Utah Jazz | G

  • Previous rank: 48

  • Projected RPM wins:4.0

Rubio found his scoring touch with the Jazz last season after playing the first six seasons of his career with the Timberwolves. He averaged career highs in PPG, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. He had four 30-point games during 2017-18 after having one such game in his six prior seasons.-- Williams

51.Marc Gasol




  • Memphis Grizzlies | C

  • Previous rank: 29

  • Projected RPM wins:1.7


Gasol was the only impact player on the Grizzlies not to miss major time last season, but with the team imploding around him, he played his fewest MPG since 2010-11 and turned in a career-low 42.0 FG percentage. With running mate Mike Conleyhealthy again and an infusion of young talent, Gasol should be re-energized to return to form as one of the best defensive, passing and shooting big men in the NBA.-- Snellings

More:50-31| 30-21 |5-on-5 debate

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