NBA 2022 leader ranking: Stephen Curry of the Warriors remains in the lead; Ja Morant of the Grizzlies moves up the list
| Top stories | Local News
In October, The Sporting News took on the task of ranking the 30 NBA playmakers, which is no small challenge given the amount of talent in the position.
Now, roughly halfway through the 2021-22 season, compiling the roster is somehow even more difficult.
Where do you put Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, who both struggled but have Hall of Fame resumes? How high should youngsters like Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball climb?
For the rankings below, the performance of the season has obviously been taken into account, but the overall ranking still counts. The 2021-22 campaign offered only a small sample, and every team in the league has faced issues with injuries and players entering health and safety protocols. There is no perfect formula here, so feel free (respectfully) to disagree.
That said, here is The Sporting News’ updated rankings, starting with the easiest decision on this list.
(All statistics are up to date as of January 11)
NBA League Pass: Sign Up to Unlock Live Off Market Games (7 Day Free Trial)
NBA 2021-22 leader ranking: the top 10
1. Stephen Curry, warriors
By Curry’s standards, the two-time NBA MVP is having a bad shooting season. It fell to 42.2% on the court and 38.7% on the 3-point range. These two figures would be the lowest of his career (out of the 2019-2020 season in which he only played five games).
And yet, Curry is still arguably the most impactful offensive weapon in the league. His mere presence moves defenses and makes life easier for all around him. He’s the sun in the Warriors’ solar system, which is why everything works for Golden State. He’s an easy choice at # 1.
2. Luka Doncic, non-conformists
The Slovenian star is averaging 24.8 points, 9.0 assists and 8.2 rebounds per game, but he’s been in and out of the roster, missing 15 of Dallas’ first 40 games. Doncic also admitted in early December that he needed to get back in shape.
However, it seems premature to give up Doncic after a ‘hard’ streak given he’s still almost on average a triple-double. The guys behind him are charging hard, but he’s going to stay behind Curry for now.
3. Trae Young, hawks
After a surprising run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta started the season with a thud. If the Hawks continue to play at this level, they not only risk missing out on a playoff berth, but the Eastern Conference play-in tournament as well.
However, their shortcomings should not be blamed on Young. The 23-year-old has been formidable, averaging 28.0 points, 9.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 45.5% from the field and 37.0 % beyond the arc. There is no doubt that he has become a star.
4. Chris Paul, Suns
Which player is at the top of the assists table? That would be “The Point God” himself, handing out 10.0 assists per game, his highest score since the 2015-16 season with the Clippers.
He may not be in his prime anymore, but Paul is more reliable than ever for a Suns team looking to reach the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons.
5. Ja Morant, Grizzly bears
Morant was just outside the top 10 of The Sporting News’ preseason rankings, so that may seem like too big a leap.
But consider this: The former Rookie of the Year is currently posting career highs in – deep breathing – points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage. He became a legitimate MVP contender, leading the Grizzlies to the top four in the Western Conference standings.
Oh, and he might have won the Coolest Highlight award already. (It’s not a real thing, but it should be.)
6. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
Ouch. It hasn’t been a fun season for Lillard, who could miss an extended time with an abdominal injury. He didn’t look like himself until the Trail Blazers decided to put him on the bench, as he scores 24.0 points per game on ineffective shots. (His live-shoot percentage of 55.0 would be the second-lowest number of his career.)
Should Lillard be lower on this list? It is possible, but we are giving him the benefit of the doubt due to his health issues and general dysfunction in Portland.
7. Jrue’s vacation, dollars
Hey, there’s another Holiday going under the radar. The 31-year-old leads 18.4 points, 6.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. After a horrific shooting streak at the start of the season, Holiday is 49.9% on the field and 38.2% on 3 points.
Fresh out of an NBA championship, Holiday continued to bring his two-way talent to the field and help Milwaukee keep pace with the Eastern elite.
8. LaMelo Ball, Hornets
Ball showed his stellar vision for the pitch and his offensive creativity as a rookie, but he’s really raised his shot this season. He saw jumps from the 3 point line (35.2% to 37.9%) and the free throw line (75.8% to 87.3%). If these changes are real this early in his career, his cap must be even higher.
Yes, defense is still a work in progress, but at just 20 years old Ball has already entered the Top 10 point guard discussion.
9. Fred VanVleet, Raptors
VanVleet is no longer just a big ‘Bet on Yourself’ story. He receives All-Star consideration, and he truly deserves it.
He’s averaging career highs in points, assists and rebounds, and he’s shooting over 40% from deep on more than nine attempts per game. It was also his usual pesky self-defense. Let’s give “Steady Freddy” some respect.
10. Mike Conley, Jazz
No longer the “best player who has never been on an All-Star team,” Conley has been incredibly consistent for a jazz team tailored to rack up wins during the regular season. He doesn’t publish mind-blowing numbers, but he is the definition of a winning player. It completes the top 10.
NBA playmaker 2022 ranking: the best of the others
11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tonnerre
12. Kyle Lowry, Heat
13. Russell Westbrook, Lakers
14. Malcolm Brogdon, Pacers
15. Kyrie Irving / Patty Mills, nets
16. Dejounte Murray, Spurs
17. Lonzo Ball, Bulls
18. Darius Garland, Cavaliers
19. De’Aaron Fox, kings
20. Marcus Smart, Celtics
21. Monte Morris, Nuggets
22. Tyrese Maxey, 76ers
23. Kemba Walker, Knicks
24. Reggie Jackson, clippers
25. D’Angelo Russell, Timberwolves
26. Spencer Dinwiddie, wizards
27. Kevin Porter Jr., Rockets
28. Devonte ‘Graham, pelicans
29. Jalen Suggs, Magic
30. Killian Hayes, pistons
Latest News Headlines abc News NBA 2022 leader ranking: Stephen Curry of the Warriors remains in the lead; Ja Morant of the Grizzlies moves up the list