Following the tradition of previous years, the top 100 list does not rank rookies. You’ll find a few of them ranked here, as well as some notable second- and third-year players to watch in progress. The immediacy of a player’s contributions was slightly a priority here, as we couldn’t select every young player in the NBA. Older players who just missed the cut can be found in the Snubs list.
Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Banchero’s strong, skillful game and creative abilities made him the No. 1 pick, and that frame will quickly propel him into next year’s Top 100 if all goes well. Improved shooting will be the key for the star here, and the Magic will give him plenty of room to figure it out.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
The other rookie who could immediately warrant Top 100 consideration is Murray, who was arguably the best player in the summer league. He can make a difference with or without designed touches and should thrive in all areas of the lineup as a result, making him a potentially very good support piece for the Kings right away.
Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets
It’s essentially just a matter of time with Smith, who has the physical and technical ability to be one of the league’s best 3-and-D players, and the makeup to be much more than that. The star depends on how comfortable he is putting the ball on the floor, but he’s already an expert shooter and tough defender.
Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
Holmgren is expected to miss the entire season due to Lisfranc’s injury, but the hope is that this is just a minor setback for one of the most unique prospects in the league. The big tag doesn’t do him justice, but how his ball skills and jumper eventually translate to the pros will be exciting to watch. His defensive impact should give him a fairly high level of value regardless.
Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
It may take two or three seasons for Ivey to put it all together, but he will be one of the best athletes in the NBA upon arrival and could be very difficult to stop. He will need to make better decisions and increase his effort on defense, but good luck trying to keep him off the rim.
Benedict Maturin, Indiana Pacers
Maturin had a promising showing in summer league and has a prototypical two-guard skill set, capable of scoring at all three levels. He will benefit greatly from playing next to Tyrese Haliburton, and he will get almost all the shots he wants as the Pacers repeat.
Dyson Daniels, New Orleans Pelicans
Daniels may not have a huge role this season, but keep him on your long-term radar as a multi-position wing who is advanced enough for his age. His jumper remains the main obstacle to him becoming a valuable complementary player.
Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings
Mitchell finished his rookie year strong and should be a positive for the Kings as he gets more comfortable, providing elite, high-energy on-ball defense and an offensive spark. His chemistry with De’Aaron Fox will be a key change agent for Sacramento, but a jump to true high-level player status seems possible.
Jonathan Cuminga, Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have been justifiably slow to play Kuminga’s path to playing time, but his physical gifts are among the best in the league. He’ll need to be more consistent to earn a serious role—and his minutes will tell the story—if he gets there, he could be a valuable two-way player
Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
There’s no getting around the fact that Suggs wasn’t good as a rookie, but his predraft pedigree deserves a second chance. He’s a top athlete and brings toughness to the defense, but he’ll either need to shoot well enough to live off the ball or make a jump as a playmaker to better lead a team. It is important that he shows signs of progress in the second year.
Josh Primo, San Antonio Spurs
Primo was the youngest player in the 2021 draft, and the Spurs have high hopes for him long-term as they rebuild their roster. He may not be pretty, but watch out for him.
Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers
Duarte’s sharp shooting ability makes him an intriguing candidate for the Pacers’ rebuild, who have plenty of shots to go around. He has shown enough variety in his skill set to be worth considering as more than just a specialist, which may be his reason for the long term.
Third year players
James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
This is a crucial year for Wiseman, who missed all of last season and has yet to return to a high draft pick. The Warriors should make life easy for him as a rim-runner, and he’s still huge and athletic. But it’s more of an idea than anything else at this point in his career, and if he hasn’t earned consistent minutes by the end of the season, I’d be concerned.
Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls
Williams was one of the youngest players in the draft class and was always going to need some time, but last season was a big flop after he played just 17 games due to injury. He has excellent two-way ability for a modern role player, but the Bulls will also want to see him take advantage of his scoring upside.
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks ultimately need to get more minutes to see what they have in Okongwu, who has had a slow start to his career due to injuries and having to back up Clint Capela at center. Atlanta says they want to feature him more, and the upside is that he’s more than a reliable backup, especially if he starts making jumpers.
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