For the ninth season in a row, ESPN.com is predicting the top players in basketball with NBArank.
Who will be the best player this season? To get the final prediction, we asked our expert panel to vote on pairs of players.
We asked, “Which player will be better in 2019-20?” 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 in the regular season and postseason.
Here are Nos. 10 to 3. Nos. 1 and 2 drop on Friday.
NBArank: 10 to 3
One big question: How healthy is he? After George required surgeries to repair both shoulders, the Clippers will surely take things slow with him, which could delay how quickly he and Kawhi Leonard become comfortable and adjust to playing with one another. After averaging career highs of 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game in 2018-19, George will have to get healthy again while learning what his role will be like with Leonard. — Ohm Youngmisuk
One big question: From the moment he entered the league as a mystery guest from Weber State, Lillard established himself as a fearless, durable floor general with an uncommon stage presence. His big-game shot-making rivals any of his contemporaries, and he’s a first-rate culture-setter who quietly agreed to a supermax extension over the summer that will keep him in Portland well into his 30s. Lillard has publicly stated that he’s uninterested in building a superteam or serving as a recruiter in a league where such machinations are bigger than the game itself. Yet Lillard’s independence poses a challenge: Without the concentration of star power present on the rosters of most NBA contenders, how far can Lillard lift the Trail Blazers in an unforgiving Western Conference? — Kevin Arnovitz
One big question: Will Embiid hold up for a deep postseason run? A year removed from jumping 23 spots up to No. 9, Embiid receives a slight bump despite an improvement across the board statistically. Playing a career high 34.3 MPG, Embiid dominated when he was on the court, averaging 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds in 64 games. Battling an illness last spring and having his fitness questioned, Embiid saw his production on both ends of the court decrease in the playoffs, eventually leading to the 76ers falling in the second round. — Bobb