Best player by jersey number for 2022-23 NBA season


Numbers can be overwhelming when it comes to NBA analysis.

The typical box score stats are simple enough to sift through. Things start getting a bit more complicated – and divisive – when it comes to advanced metrics like VORP, effective field goal and usage rate, though.

Here, with a new NBA season on the horizon, we’re going to use numbers that have absolutely no bearing on results: jersey numbers.

Unlike the NFL, where there are 53 players on a team and numbers are correlated to position groups, the NBA has fewer players and fewer jersey numbers across the league. Still, there are some unusual choices among the 101 number options available for players since there aren’t many restrictions.

Here is a look at the best player for each jersey number heading into the 2022-23 NBA season.

No. 00: Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz

Before we get to No. 1 – or even No. 0 – we start with No. 00. Jordan Clarkson is the most impactful of the eight players who wore the double zeroes during the 2021-22 season.

No. 0: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum jumps past Damian Lillard as the top No. 0 after earning his first first-team All-NBA nod and making his first trip to the NBA Finals.

No. 1: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

James Harden and Zion Williamson deserve consideration, but Devin Booker gets the spot after being selected to the All-NBA first team last season.

No. 2: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

It’s been a while since he’s been on the court, but Kawhi Leonard has a chance to remind everyone of his dominance this season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

No. 3: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

In another tightly contested battle, Anthony Davis beats out Chris Paul and Bradley Beal as the best No. 3 in the NBA right now.

No. 4: Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley were both fantastic first-year players, but Barnes gets the edge after narrowly beating Mobley in NBA Rookie of the Year voting. 

No. 5: Dejounte Murray, Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks went all-in on Dejounte Murray as a backcourt mate for Trae Young, sending three first-round picks to San Antonio in order to acquire the one-time All-Star. 

No. 6: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

On top of being one of the best players to ever wear No. 6, LeBron James will also be one of the last. The NBA announced that it has retired the number in honor of the late Bill Russell starting in 2022-23, though players who already owned the number are grandfathered in.

No. 7: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

After a long offseason saga, Kevin Durant will be wearing No. 7 for the Brooklyn Nets to start the 2022-23 season.

No. 8: Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Zach Lavine has turned into a leader for the Chicago Bulls and rightfully earned his second straight All-Star selection last season.

No. 9: RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

For the first time in decades, the New York Knicks signed a first-round selection to a multi-year extension beyond his rookie deal, keeping RJ Barrett in No. 9 at Madison Square Garden for the foreseeable future.

No. 10: Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

Darius Garland lands here after guiding his team to a play-in berth and making his first All-Star Game, which he got to play in front of the home-team fans in Cleveland.

No. 11: Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

No. 11 is one of the most stacked jersey numbers in the NBA. While Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan could all vie for the top spot this season, Trae Young gets the honor heading into opening night.

No. 12: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

No. 12 may belong to Tom Brady in the NFL, but Ja Morant owns the jersey number on the court.

No. 13: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers

With respect to Bam Adebayo, who else could be here besides PG-13?

No. 14: Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram has stepped into his own with the New Orleans Pelicans, paving the way for a brief playoff run with Williamson sidelined for all of last season.

No. 15: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic earned back-to-back league MVP awards for a reason. Now, he will turn his attention to making a legitimate run for the NBA Finals.

No. 16: Caleb Martin, Miami Heat

Caleb Martin embodied the “plug and play” mentality that carried the Miami Heat to the East’s No. 1 seed last year.

No. 17: Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans

Jonas Valanciunas was a rock for the Pelicans last season, averaging a double-double per game.

No. 18: Alec Burks, New York Knicks

Alec Burks spent a few years as an NBA journeyman before settling in with the Knicks over the last two seasons. 

No. 19: Raul Neto, Cleveland Cavaliers

Raul Neto is keeping the uncommon No. 19 as he heads from the Washington Wizards to the Cavaliers.

No. 20: John Collins, Atlanta Hawks

John Collins holds this spot for now, though Gordon Hayward and Markelle Fultz have the talent to usurp him when healthy.

No. 21: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Turning back to the NBA’s top tiers, Joel Embiid finished top two in MVP voting each of the last two seasons. Can he finally take home the honor in 2022-23?

No. 22: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat 

Jimmy Butler sits above fellow All-Star wings Andrew Wiggins and Khris Middleton as the NBA’s top No. 22 after nearly carrying the Heat to the Finals single-handedly.

No. 23: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Since LeBron is wearing No. 23 in L.A., one of his top adversaries gets the distinction as the best current player with the famous number.

No. 24: Norman Powell, Los Angeles Clippers

Dillon Brooks and Buddy Hield aren’t far behind, but Norman Powell beats them out here.

No. 25: Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns

Mikal Bridges is one of the best 3-and-D wings in the NBA and was rewarded as a first-team All-Defensive selection last season.

No. 26: Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas Mavericks

Spencer Dinwiddie was a strong scoring contributor for the Dallas Mavericks last season and should see his role increase now that he has an offseason with the team under his belt.

No. 27: Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Stifle Tower is keeping his No. 27 in Minnesota after being dealt by the Utah Jazz in the summer’s biggest blockbuster trade.

No. 28: Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons

Isaiah Stewart will need to show even more improvement in 2022-23 to hold off Alperen Sengun as basketball’s best No. 28.

No. 30: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Of course.

No. 31: Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers

Jarrett Allen joined Garland as first-time All-Stars for the Cavs in 2022 and formed one of the league’s most fearsome rim-protecting duos alongside Mobley.

No. 32: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

The self-proclaimed “best shooting big man ever” has a much stronger case as the top No. 32 in basketball right now.

No. 33: Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors

Myles Turner and Kyle Kuzma are in the mix, but Gary Trent Jr. gets the nod for his overall impact on a winning team in Toronto.

No. 34: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Donning the same number as Shaquille O’Neal during his heyday, the Greek Freak is now the most physically dominant player in basketball.

No. 35: Christian Wood, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks made their biggest addition when they made a swap with the Rockets for Christian Wood, who averaged a double-double in 2021-22.

No. 36: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart had a good shot at earning this spot after winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year last season, but he was the only NBA player to wear No. 36, as well.

No. 37: Matt Ryan, Los Angeles Lakers

While the NFL’s Matt Ryan wears No. 2, the NBA’s Matt Ryan wears No. 37.

No. 40: Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Clippers

After spending two-and-a-half seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Ivica Zubac has found a home with the other team that plays at Arena.

No. 41: Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons

Bey was a steady presence for the Detroit Pistons in his sophomore season, becoming one of two players to make 82 regular season starts in 2021-22.

No. 42: Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Al Horford saw a resurgent season in his return to the Boston Celtics and finally reached his first Finals after 141 playoff games.

No. 43: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Pascal Siakam earned his second All-NBA berth last season while leading the league in minutes per game.

No. 44: Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics

Williams soared to a second-team All-Defensive selection last season. He will be a welcome sight for the Celtics once he recovers from a knee procedure he underwent in September.

No. 45: Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers

Like Gobert, Donovan Mitchell is keeping his old number from the Jazz in his new destination.

No. 46: John Konchar, Memphis Grizzlies

John Konchar, the NBA’s only No. 46 last season, comes off a deep Memphis bench.

No. 50: Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets

With another season in Denver under his belt, Aaron Gordon will look to help take the Denver Nuggets to new heights in 2022-23.

No. 51: Boban Marjanovic, Houston Rockets

The NBA’s tallest player is also the league’s best No. 51.

No. 54: Sandro Mamukelashvili, Milwaukee Bucks

Sandro Mamukelashvili was the only player to wear No. 54 in 2021-22, doing so for the Milwaukee Bucks in his first NBA season.

No. 55: Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat

Duncan Robinson beats out Isaiah Hartenstein and will look to bounce back from a down season by his standards.

No. 61: Pat Spencer, Golden State Warriors

Pat Spencer could become the third player in league history to wear No. 61 if he gets regular season action with the Golden State Warriors.

No. 67: Taj Gibson, Washington Wizards

After wearing No. 22 in Chicago and Oklahoma City, Taj Gibson switched to No. 67 in Minnesota, kept it in New York and will continue wearing it in Washington.

No. 77: Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic already has three All-NBA first-team selections to his name. At just 23 years old, he’s just getting started, too.

No. 88: Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers

The 7-footer averaged seven points per game in Indiana last season while wearing No. 88.

No. 91: Blake Griffin, Boston Celtics

Blake Griffin is the first player in Celtics history to sport the unusual number, saying he chose it to honor Dennis Rodman.

No. 95: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Los Angeles Lakers

Juan Toscano-Anderson will wear his old number against his old team on opening night when the Lakers visit the Warriors.

No. 99: Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns

Jae Crowder is the only No. 99 remaining in the NBA, and it remains to be seen how much longer he will be wearing it with the Suns.

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