The NBA has produced countless basketball icons over the last seven-plus decades. The following list shows the top nine NBA picks for the most popular players in the entire league.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA championship in 2021. His outstanding individual performance earned him the Finals MVP trophy and catapulted him to NBA superstardom.
Antetokounmpo stands as the NBA’s alpha dog after averaging 33.9 points per game, 14.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists in a single playoff series against the Boston Celtics. There is no question Antetokounmpo is the man to watch at the moment.
Kevin Durant went head-to-head with Antetokounmpo toward the end of the 2021 season following key injuries to teammates James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Durant has been a consistent force throughout his career. As a former second-overall pick, he averaged 27.3 points per game and 7.1 rebounds.
Durant’s most dominant performances came as a member of the Golden State Warriors dynasty. He won two NBA championships in 2017 and 2018, taking Finals MVP honors in both seasons.
Speaking of the Golden State Warriors dynasty, Stephen Curry played a crucial role in the Warriors’ 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022 title runs. They reached the 2019 finals but lost to the Toronto Raptors.
Curry is considered one of the world’s best players after securing nine NBA All-Star selections, eight All-NBA selections, two Most Valuable Player trophies, an NBA Finals MVP award, and an NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy.
He is considered one of the game’s best players and is credited with revolutionizing the game thanks to his three-point shooting skills.
The two-time NBA MVP has led the upstart Denver Nuggets to championship contention, as he averages close to a triple-double every game. His playing style is methodical and deliberate.
Unlike high-flying stars, Jokic’s vision has transformed him into an elite playmaker. As a result, he’s considered the standard for the evolution of the NBA’s big man.
Embiid is another example of the progress of bigs in the league. The Philadelphia 76ers star is an elite playmaker who can score 30 points a night. He received serious MVP consideration last season but trailed Jokic in the voting.
The 76ers drafted the former Kansas Jayhawks’ center third overall in 2014, and an MVP award looks to be on the horizon for this talented Cameroonian star.
The Celtics’ small forward led his team past Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler to help them to their first finals in 12 years. The former Duke Blue Devil is considered one of the best all-around players in the league.
His solid play has earned him an NBA All-Rookie Team selection, four NBA All-Star selections, one All-NBA selection, and the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals MVP.
The Slovenian point guard was drafted third overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 2018 and hasn’t disappointed since joining the league. His European professional experience allowed him to transition seamlessly into the NBA. Last season, he helped the Mavs beat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference playoffs.
Few could argue that James is one of the all-time best. James has four NBA championships with three different franchises, 19 All-Star appearances, four NBA MVP trophies, four NBA Finals MVP awards, three NBA All-Star game MVPs, 13 All-NBA selections, the 2004 Rookie of the Year award, and the 2008 NBA scoring title.
In addition, time magazine named him the Athlete of the year, while Sports Illustrated has featured him three times as the Sportsperson of the Year. He will also become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in 2023.
Kawhi Leonard’s electrifying play led the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever championship in 2019. Since moving to the Los Angeles Clippers, Leonard has been one of the biggest reasons for this historically bad franchise’s turnaround. Leonard has become one of the best players to watch as he hopes to lead his team to its first championship.