3. Paolo Banchero
Everyone found on ESPN’s top 100 list is without a doubt deserving of being considered the top players that the modern game currently has to offer, and Paolo Banchero is no exception.
The top selection from the 2022 NBA Draft, Banchero did not disappoint during his first season in the association, as he went on to post impressive averages of 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game en route to being crowned Rookie of the Year as well as earning All-Rookie First Team honors.
Now, coming into his sophomore campaign, the belief is that he’ll go on to take another step forward in his development and, in turn, separate himself from being considered a promising youngster to a legitimate NBA star.
However, at this point in time, this hype is merely sparked by expectations, thus meaning his placement at 30 in ESPN’s rankings is based heavily on hypotheticals.
Morant’s status as a superstar is not merely a presumption, it’s a legitimate fact, and yet he is positioned five spots behind Banchero?
Should the forward manage to up his on-court efficiency (shot just 42.7 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from deep, and held a -1.5 plus-minus rating last year) and help guide the Magic to a higher win total than last season (34-48) then there likely could be a legitimate conversation.
Until then, however, his current status of being a higher-ranked player than Morant is based solely on a “what if.”