NBA dominance encompasses all of those things and more. Both what the stats indicate and what your eyes can show you are true. The definition of NBA dominance may vary depending on the observer.
So what does it mean to be a dominant player? It simply means having the ability to transcend the era in which you played. The undisputed superstar of your generation? Well, go in a time machine and travel to the future as the same superstar you were in the past.
Numbers that are so impressive that anyone doubting them should perform a double take. Highlights that are so fancy and thrilling that they should be played continuously. A resume that is so exceptional that it can speak for itself.
In our case, GiveMeSport has ranked the three most powerful stars at each position after crunching the facts, trusting our eyes, and listening to our gut.
PG No. 3: Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Young makes contributions as a scorer, a table-setter, and a deep-range net-shredder that are almost incomparable. He effectively provides his team with a top-10 offence and the ability to be the best in the league.
Only Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the last two MVP award winners, recorded more offensive win shares this past season than Young. However, don’t be surprised if Young finds another level of efficiency now that Dejounte Murray will be there to assist in directing the offence.
PG No. 2: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Given the extremely high criteria applied in this type of activity, the only blemish on Doncic’s resume would be a lack of exceptional efficiency. Now, that might just be a result of the Mavericks’ failure to sign him as a full-fledged co-star, which places an enormous amount of pressure on him.
As terrifying as it may sound, it’s also entirely possible that he is still soaring toward the height of his power. Regardless, efficiency is the one area where he falls just short of taking the top rank.
PG No. 1: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
His movement off the ball is exceptional, and his off-the-dribble shooting may be the closest thing to a real-world cheat code. This past season, the Warriors—a championship team, mind you—were a staggering 12.1 points better per 100 possessions with him than without.
SG No. 3: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
In a position that is frequently defined by buckets, Mitchell’s tremendous scoring punch stands out. In his five years with the Jazz, he has been the offensive focal point of a club that has never missed the playoffs. He joined the league as Utah’s leading scorer.
Although his defence needs to get better for him to remain one of the top three shooting guards, his development as a three-level scorer and shot creator is enough to keep him in third place for the time being.
SG No. 2: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
The high rating appears justified because George had excellent volume when he was on the field and is fairly definitely the best two-way player at this position in his healthy form. Although George has the necessary mentality and a broad range of skills to play the position of Robin, he may perform better as a team member than as a lone leader.
He doesn’t possess the ball with the same swagger that a seven-time All-Star would, and he could be at his best defensively, which is saying a lot considering his offensive stat line of just 24.3 points, and 5.7 assists, and 2.9 three-pointers.
SG No. 1: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
At this point, Booker is virtually going unchallenged for the top slot among the 2-guards. His ability to score puts him in the lead and his rapid improvement as a shot-maker and defender has significantly distanced him from the competition.
His output has levelled off recently, but his influence and effectiveness have increased. Booker matched his previous best with a 38.3 three-point % this past season, helping the Suns record their highest win total in franchise history while also committing a career-low 9.3 turnover percentage. His 0.156 win shares per 48 minutes, a career-high, led all shooting guards with 1,500+ minutes played.
SF No. 3: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Butler is a magnet for free throws, an effective scorer within the arc, a willing and potent playmaker, and a determined, hyper-versatile defender, even if his offensive assertiveness isn’t always as strong as you’d want.
SF No. 2: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Being both the main scorer and a shutdown defender, Leonard has the potential to upend discussions about the best player on the planet. One of only two players in that group to shoot 50% from the field, 38% from three, and 88% from the line, he was one of nine players to average 24 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game.
SF No. 1: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Tatum simultaneously set career highs in points, rebounds, assists, three-pointers, player efficiency rating, win shares, and box plus/minus. This is because the rankings place a lot more weight on all of the basketball that was played before that time. He was a first-team All-NBA selection who had more wins above replacement than every other player but Nikola Jokic.
PF No. 3: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
James continues to be one of the most powerful players in this field and a matchup nightmare. At the age of 37, he recently produced his second-best scoring season (30.3 points per game), making him only the fourth player in history to average 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists a game.
PF No. 2: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Along with LeBron James, Durant was one of only two players to average 29 points, seven rebounds, and six assists per game. Additionally, Durant fell short of his second-ever 50/40/90 slash line by a perimeter heater, finishing with a 51.8/38.3/91.0 sizzler.
He’ll eventually have to reveal his age, and you might argue that the process has already begun given his recent injury troubles. However, he is still delivering as many dazzlers as he gets to the court.
PF No. 1: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
In 2021–22, Antetokounmpo may have had his best season ever. He won MVP awards to round off the 2018–19 and 2019–20 campaigns. He led the Deer to their first championship in 50 years in 2020–21, earning Finals MVP honours in the process.
His career-high 29.9 points were excellent. The same is true of his 32.05 player efficiency rating, which ranks third all-time. He was the only player in the league to make both the NBA All-Defensive and NBA All-NBA first teams.
C No. 3: Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
Nobody contributes greater value to the defensive end than Gobert, whose offensive value as a screener and finisher is underrated. Since 2014–15, when he started appearing regularly, he has produced 37.4 defensive win shares. The only other players north of 30 are Giannis Antetokounmpo (32.6) and Andre Drummond (35.9), who have the top total in the league.
We’re as interested as everyone in how Gobert fits in Minnesota and whether the Timberwolves will ever be able to recoup their investment in the pricey trade, but we also have as much faith in this ranking as anyone.
C No. 2: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid might hold the #1 rank if he played any other position. He’s always glaring up at Jokic, which is the problem.
It’s tough to predict whether Embiid will ever close that gap, but the fact that he has reached this level is a testament to his increased availability and all-around offensive improvement. He is a threat to score from anywhere, and his defence is unbreakable. His assists are also increasing and his turnover rate is decreasing.
C No. 1: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
In a single phrase, Jokic is unstoppable. He’s the best passer the NBA has ever seen, a strong post scorer, and a skilled shooter from beyond the arc.
In the same season, he just set records for player efficiency rating and box plus/minus in the Association. He had hilariously astronomical leads in certain all-encompassing categories. Jokic has established a top rung of dominance on the court all to himself.
Keep up to date with all of the latest NBA News right here at GiveMeSport.