NBArank 25-11: These stars are knocking on the top 10 dooron September 21, 2022 at 1:36 pm

NBArank is back for its 12th season counting down the best players in the league.

Where are MVP candidates such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic? What about rookies and young stars ready to take the leap into the upper tier of NBA players?

Where is LeBron James, who is entering his 20th season?

To get the final NBArank prediction, we asked our expert panel to vote on pairs of players: LeBron vs. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry vs. Ja Morant, Luka vs. Jayson Tatum … and the list goes on.

We asked, “Which player will be better in 2022-23?” Voters had to predict what they expected from each player during the season.

We’ve already revealed players Nos. 100-26. Today, our rankings continue with players Nos. 25-11.

Note: ESPN’s NBArank panel, composed of over 200 reporters, editors, producers and analysts, were asked to rank players based on their predicted contributions — quality and quantity — for the 2022-23 season only.

NBArank 2022: Zion, Russ and players Nos. 100-26

Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Minnesota Timberwolves PG

2021 NBArank: No. 8

Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Lillard was six spots higher a year ago before being limited to 29 underwhelming games by a core muscle injury that ultimately required season-ending surgery. Lillard’s numbers dropped across the board in 2021-22, most notably his 32% accuracy from 3-point range after hitting better than 39% the previous two seasons. Lillard had been playing through pain for years until the injury worsened after the Tokyo Olympics. But he should be healthy now.

One huge question for 2022-23: How will Anfernee Simons fit with Lillard? During his absence, Lillard saw a changing of the guard next to him. Portland traded longtime backcourt mate CJ McCollum and re-signed Simons to a four-year, $100 million deal that confirms him as McCollum’s replacement. Lillard and Simons played together just 377 minutes last season, per NBA Advanced Stats, and Simons was more deferential in those pairings. The Blazers need Simons to be the scoring and playmaking complement to Lillard that McCollum long was.

— Pelton

No. 13: Karl-Anthony Towns

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Timberwolves

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