Are Thomas, Embiid headed in opposite directions? #NBArank hits the top 50
For the seventh season in a row, ESPN.com is ranking the top players in the NBA. Who will be the best player next season?#NBArank 2017: The top 100Who are the best ballers in the NBA? We're counting down the top 100 for 2017-18.#NBArank 76-100: The countdown begins!
Fallen stars: Dirk, Dwight, D-Wade plummet
#NBArank 51-76: Lonzo over Carmelo?
Still a superstar? Melo drops out of top 50
#NBArank 31-50: Where IT, Embiid check in
Coming Thursday: Players Nos. 11-30
Coming Friday: The league's top 10
All-Time #NBArank: History's top 100To get the final ranking, we asked our expert panel to vote on pairs of players.Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall. Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden.We asked, "Which player will be better in 2017-18?" 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 continue our countdown of the top 100 players over the next two days. If you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along, use the Twitter hashtag #NBArank. You also can follow along @ESPNNBA and on Facebook.Here are Nos. 31-50.#NBArank: 31-50AP Photo/Jae C. HongStats Info: A few years ago, you'd watch Beverley and marvel at the bevy of high-intensity plays that don't show up in the box score. Thanks to player tracking, they do now and it helps Beverley shine as a hustle stats All-Star. He led all players in loose balls recovered per game in 2016-17, ranking fifth in total "50-50s" recovered despite ranking outside the top 100 in total minutes played.Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY SportsStats Info: Hill parlayed a career season into a three-year, $57 million contract with the Kings this offseason. If his play mirrors that from 2016-17, he'll be far more than simply a tutor for top-five pick De'Aaron Fox. Hill figures to carry a significant scoring load in Sacramento, something that could bode well for the Kings. Last season, the Jazz went 15-1 in games Hill scored at least 20 points, the best such mark for any player that finished with 10 or more 20-point games.EPA/ROBERT GHEMENTStats Info: Given today's fascination with spacing and the rise of the scoring point guard, it's easy to see how Ricky Rubio can get lost in the shuffle when discussing the game's best floor generals. Yet despite his limitations, Rubio is a viable tip of the spear on both ends of the floor, as he's one of just three point guards in NBA history with career averages of eight assists and two steals per game, alongside Chris Paul and John Stockton. Rubio's heady game should be a perfect fit in Utah.Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty ImagesStats Info: Dragic did not receive a single All-NBA vote despite delivering a season nearly identical to 2013-14 when he was named third-team All-NBA and won Most Improved Player. Dragic remains one of the game's best at probing the paint, ranking third in the NBA in drives per game last season.AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastStats Info: Adams battled alongside Russell Westbrook more than any player, as 94 percent of his minutes came alongside his MVP teammate. An underrated part of Adams' game is filling the lane, as he has finished in the 90th percentile in points per play in transition each of the past two seasons, making him an ideal fit next to the tempo-pushing Westbrook.Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesStats Info: Entering his first season with the Spurs in 2015-16, Aldridge was ranked 13th in #NBArank. After falling to 23rd last season, Aldridge fell 22 more spots to 45th, leaving the Spurs with just a single top-40 player. Of the top 20 players from our 2015 rankings, only Dwight Howard has dropped further.Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty ImagesStats Info: Nurkic showed flashes that he's capable of becoming the third cog the Blazers so badly need. An untimely injury and doomed opening-round matchup with the Warriors in the playoffs last season may have delayed enthusiasm, but there's reason to be optimistic in the Northwest as the Blazers outscored teams by 11.3 points per 100 possessions in more than 400 minutes with Nurkic on the floor alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. That pair was a whopping 15 points per 100 possessions worse when sharing the floor without Nurkic.AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, fileStats Info: A steadying hand the entire season, Iguodala led the entire NBA in assist-to-turnover rate during the regular season. In the NBA Finals, he once again led the Warriors in plus-minus, just as he did during their run to the title in 2015.Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty ImagesStats Info: The Wizards thought highly enough of Porter to match a max offer sheet from the Nets and are trusting Porter becomes more than an advanced stat darling. After all, it was Porter, not John Wall, who led the Wizards in Win Shares last season while he ranked ahead of players such as Gordon Hayward and Paul George in Real Plus-Minus.Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesStats Info: Whiteside remains somewhat of an enigma. Though he once again finished in the top five of voting for Defensive Player of the Year, the Heat were still better defensively with him off the floor. On/off court splits can be noisy, but this is now three straight seasons in which Miami's defense has posted a better defensive rating with it's anchor on the bench rather than on the floor.Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty ImagesStats Info: Horford's unselfish, high-IQ game proved to be a great fit in Boston as he averaged 5.0 assists per game, which led all centers and nearly doubled his career average with the Hawks. He's still one of the best one-on-one post defenders as well, ranking second in points per post-up allowed among the 135 players to defend at least 50 of them last season.Jeffery Phelps/NBA/Getty ImagesStats Info: DeRozan is a master of getting to his spots, ranking second in PPG off drives and third in PPG off of pull-up jumpers. Nobody made or attempted more shots outside of 10 feet with a defender within 2 feet than DeRozan, who actually converted on a higher percentage of those than he did when there was no defender within 6 feet.