- Devin Booker has faced unfair criticism for the Phoenix Suns’ lack of success, but his performance and growth as a scorer and defender make him a valuable player.
- Jayson Tatum’s offensive skills are top-notch, but his ability to lead the Boston Celtics will determine their success.
- Jimmy Butler may not be the most talented player, but his relentless scoring and defensive abilities make him a valuable asset to the Miami Heat.
There are approximately 450 total players in the NBA, though only a fraction of those players have meaningful playing time. Of that fraction, there’s an even smaller percentage of players who are considered superstars and have the skills to carry a team to a championship.
With NBA 2K24 hitting the selves, it’s time to once again tip-off on the hardwood. While the game features several historical eras and teams, we took a look at who are the best overall players in today’s NBA. These are the players you want on your team taking the final shot as the clock expires.
10 Devin Booker – 94
For much of his career, Devin Booker has been unfairly judged for the Phoenix Suns’ lack of team success. Year after year, he’s performed outstandingly in a losing effort because of inferior players on the team and an unstable head coach. But after reaching the NBA Finals in 2021 and successfully recruiting players like Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, it’s high time that Booker received his flowers.
Booker is one of the most ethical scorers in the NBA, capable of averaging nearly 28 points per game with hardly many free throws. He has perfect offensive ratings from all three levels and has grown exponentially in guarding the perimeter (B+). With Chris Paul no longer on the team, the Suns will lean on Booker more to create opportunities for his teammates and command the offense (A+).
9 Jayson Tatum – 95
The Boston Celtics hoped to bounce back from their NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors but Jayson Tatum turned ice cold against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. While Tatum is usually one of the best offensive players in the league, he struggled against the gritty Miami defense.
Tatum isn’t as good at playmaking (A-) as other top players, but he’s an extremely efficient three-point shooter (A+) and an all-around excellent defender. While the Celtics can say they have two superstar players in Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the team will only go as far as the former takes them.
8 Jimmy Butler – 95
Something changes inside Jimmy Butler once the calendar hits April, it’s as if all of his skills kick it into overdrive. After narrowly reaching the postseason, Butler and the Miami Heat upset the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and reached the NBA Finals for the second time in three years. However, Butler couldn’t sustain his incredible playoff run and fell to the Denver Nuggets.
In a nutshell, Butler is probably the least talented of the top-rated players in NBA 2K24 but something activates in him near the end of the season that warrants a spot among the very best. Butler is a scrappy scorer inside (A+) and is equally ruthless on defense (A+). It took a few different stops around the league, but it’s clear that Butler has found his home with the Heat.
7 Luka Doncic – 95
Several analysts anointed Luka Doncic as the next great NBA talent following the 2018 draft, and while the Slovenian superstar has surely turned heads with his clutch shooting and stellar playmaking, Doncic hasn’t had as much team success as you’d hope for. After the surprise trip to the Western Conference Finals, the Dallas Mavericks failed to even qualify for the play-in tournament.
But from a pure talent standpoint, Doncic is one of the best in the league. He has perfect offensive ratings and can score from virtually anywhere on the court. Although he’s technically the point guard, Doncic has the body frame of a forward so he has a physical advantage against other players at his position.
6 Stephen Curry – 96
When Kevin Durant left the Golden State Warriors, many thought the franchise’s championship runs had finally come to an end. However, Stephen Curry added another chapter to his Hall of Fame career by winning another title against the Boston Celtics two years ago. And while the Warriors failed to get past the second round last season, Curry has solidified his place in NBA history.
There’s no question that Curry will go down as one of the greatest point guards to play the game. He’s already regarded as arguably the greatest three-point shooter ever (A+), as he shattered Ray Allen’s all-time three-point record. He’s an excellent offensive player, who moves around constantly on offense to find his shot. Curry’s offensive impact is one of the biggest around the league.
5 LeBron James – 96
It’s hard to believe but the days of LeBron James throwing down massive dunks and blocking players from behind are slowly coming to an end. Father Time has finally caught up to King James but the Los Angeles Lakers were still able to reach the Western Conference Finals last season.
At age 38, it won’t be long until James decides to retire. But until then, the Lakers will try to keep him as healthy as possible because he’s still a freight train on offense (A+) and an amazing defender (A-). Ultimately, James might not be the best basketball player on the planet anymore but he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
4 Kevin Durant – 96
The Brooklyn Nets’ experiment with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden ended horribly and the team elected to trade the superstar to the Phoenix Suns. Despite only playing eight regular season games with the Suns, many saw flashes of Durant’s brilliance alongside Devin Booker.
Durant’s ability to score anywhere on the court amplifies the gravity around him, which allows other players better opportunities. He’s a top playmaker (A+) even when he isn’t trying to be, and he’s going to create many scoring opportunities for Booker and Bradley Beal. Durant might be the purest scorer in NBA history and is nearly unguardable in the game.
3 Joel Embiid – 96
Finally, Joel Embiid was recognized for his amazing regular season and was named MVP last year. Philadelphia’s center averaged a league-leading 33 points per game, and for a center in the modern era, that’s an incredible feat to accomplish. However, Embiid’s lackluster playoff run left a sour taste in his mouth and those of fans.
Embiid thrives scoring near the basket (A+) and from mid-range (A+) but he can spot up for a three-pointer (B-) every now and then. While he hasn’t won a Defensive Player of the Year award, he’s an incredible interior defender (A+) and will anchor a defense.
2 Giannis Antetokounmpo – 96
Following the Milwaukee Bucks’ championship in 2021, it seemed the era of Giannis Antetokounmpo was officially upon us. While Milwaukee hasn’t experienced much postseason success, including an inexplicable first-round loss to the Miami Heat last year, Antetokounmpo remains one of the best overall players in the league.
There might not be a better inside scorer (A+) in the NBA than Antetokounmpo. He’s simply too strong and powerful for smaller defenders but also too mobile for bigger defenders. Someway, somehow Antetokounmpo will find himself near the rim for an easy bucket. He’s starting to develop a mid-range (B-) and three-point shot (C) but his forte is trying to break the rim at the basket.
1 Nikola Jokic – 98
After winning two straight MVP trophies, it’s safe to say that Nikola Jokic was already regarded as the best player in the NBA. But following his sensational playoff run that ended in the Denver Nuggets’ first championship, Jokic has earned the top spot in NBA 2K24.
Jokic represents the ideal big man in the modern NBA. He can handle the ball and create plays for his teammates (A+) while also being an extremely effective scorer from all three levels on the court. He’s a fairly decent defender (A-) but his true value is displayed on the offensive end of the court. We may never experience another type of player like Jokic and that’s precisely why he’s the best player in the game.
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