Flashscore's Top 40 NBA players to watch this season: 3-1 - The cream of the crop

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Flashscore's Top 40 NBA players to watch this season: 3-1 - The cream of the crop

Nikola Jokic is the undisputed number one
Nikola Jokic is the undisputed number oneProfimedia
Until the start of the season, Flashscore has been bringing you our rankings of the Top 40 players to watch this coming NBA season. In this final edition, we look at the top three players in the league - the best of the best.

3: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Doncic has been plying his trade in the NBA for five years now, and he's been a marvel to behold. His stats, his insane highlights and his talent are astonishing. All-NBA First Team honours, All-Star Game selections, a kindness and candour that make him one of the faces of the big league, and rightly so.

But talent alone is no longer enough in the NBA because if we ranked him solely on talent, 'Luka Magic' might be battling it out with another Balkan genius for the top spot. This summer's World Cup brought out the best and worst in the Slovenian - an incredible level of play and questionable behaviour.

We saw in 2022 that when Doncic is focused, he can almost single-handedly take the Mavericks to the conference finals. But, as we saw in 2023, if he isn't focused and more concerned with implying that the referees have been bought off, they aren't going to make the playoffs at all, even with his incredible stats and the addition of Kyrie Irving. It's a case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. So, which version will we see in 2024?

Here, we're betting on the positive Doncic to emerge and on a legendary season. The good thing about coming off the back of a disappointing campaign is that you're anything but expected to perform. The Mavs have everything it takes to be this season's surprise package, provided their leader plays the way we want to see him play and is in the running for a three-letter trophy. Hopefully, last season was the price we'll pay for seeing him once again as what he already is: a superstar.

2022/2023 averages: 32.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 8 assists

Season target: MVP

What version of Doncic will we see this season?
What version of Doncic will we see this season?AFP

2: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Did Antetokounmpo's injury change the Bucks' 2022/23 season completely? You'd have to say so given how well Milwaukee played in the regular season. But losing their franchise player so early - we've no idea what he'll come back as - left an opening, and the Heat pounced on it to create an upset. All the more reason for frustration in Wisconsin.

It was a frustration shared by the Greek, who put a little pressure on his management. The result was that Damian Lillard magically appeared in Milwaukee. Better still, he has just signed a huge three-year extension. Collectively, the Bucks are scary and are now favourites for the title, but individually?

After two consecutive MVPs, Giannis was everywhere and racking up podium finishes for fun. However, since reaching the Holy Grail in 2021, he has not taken his team to the conference finals nor has he had the hoped-for impact in the playoffs. However, as an individual, he remains terrifying as do his stats and his desire to win. But it's not enough for him to issue quotes in post-match press conferences.

He needs to go back to being the player who terrorised everyone and showed no weakness. The hardest thing isn't getting to the top, it's staying there. Another maxim that Giannis could have said but now it's time for action. The demands remain enormous for a player like this, who must return to the top table.

2022/2023 averages: 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists

Season target: MVP, DPOY, NBA title

Antetokounmpo is known as 'The Greek Freak'
Antetokounmpo is known as 'The Greek Freak'AFP

1: Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

On top of the world. After two MVP titles (and then being ruled out of completing a treble almost from the outset without anyone understanding why), Jokic took things to the next level last season. With no more injuries to his teammates, there were no more excuses but the Nuggets still had to manage the status of favourites after finishing in first place in the regular season.

The response was emphatic. The conductor of an unstoppable team, 'the Joker' truly shone in the playoffs as he has in the NBA for years. With an almost unblemished run (just four games lost in the playoffs), an incredibly controlled Finals, the title, and the MVP of the Finals, Jokic justifiably sat on the NBA's throne.

So what's next? Denver have hardly moved an eyebrow this off-season, retaining the most complementary starting five in the league and, once again, Jokic should have a season worthy of the MVP he may well win again. But with such talent, we want more, we want to see him become a legend.

That means titles, of course, and the Nuggets are still serious contenders this season. But above all, it means prolonging the impression of technical and tactical over-domination that sets him above the pack. The Joker's legend is being written and there's no doubt that with his talent and leadership, he can stay at the top for a long time to come. A fitting conclusion to this Top 40.

2022/2023 averages: 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists

Season target: NBA title, MVP

I hope you enjoyed the Top 40
I hope you enjoyed the Top 40Flashscore

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