The Biggest Deficiency for Each of the NBA's Top 10 Players
The NBA’s best players have made a name for themselves with their dominant performances and incredible skill sets, but not one has been able to master the unattainable art of perfection.
Every player can improve, and every player has a weakness.
The top-10 list of the NBA’s best players is a subjective one, but with a general idea of who makes the cut, here’s a look at what each of the game’s greats can work on following the 2012 season.
Kevin Love’s production earns him a spot on this list, but his lack of a defensive presence is one of his biggest weaknesses.
Averaging just .5 blocks per game throughout his four seasons in the NBA, Love struggles to challenge shots, whether it be in the paint or out on the perimeter.
Love’s very good at running the floor, but a perimeter-based, below-the-rim style of play makes defense a chore on seemingly every possession.
He is one of the game’s best rebounders because of his timing and basketball IQ, but increasing his overall athleticism would do wonders for his defensive game.
Deficiency: Shot Selection
Russell Westbrook is a big-time scorer at the point guard position, but his shot selection has at times taken away from his ability to impact a game.
A career 28.9 percent three-point shooter—his three-point attempts have more than doubled over the past two seasons—Westbrook is at his best when he’s attacking the rim, not firing away from beyond the arch.
Westbrook’s pull-up jumper has become one of the best in the league, but with his field-goal attempts increasing five shots per game in the past two seasons, his assists have dropped nearly three per game as well.
A 59.7 percent free-throw shooter last season, Rajon Rondo has virtually no shot to his name.
Although he’s shown slight improvement as of late, his form is less than ideal and his results are inconsistent at best.
Rondo has become one of the best facilitators in the game, averaging a league-leading 11.7 assists last season, but to some, his lack of a jump shot probably keeps him off this list.
That being said, the 6’2” point guard has become a triple-double machine and adding a jump shot would only validate him as one of the game’s best players.
Deficiency: Three-point Shot
Dwyane Wade has a smooth shot and an uncanny ability to score, but from beyond the arch, the success becomes much less consistent.
It’s easy to forget that Wade is a career 29 percent three-point shooter because of his fantastic mid-range game.
His shot selection improved last year, as he nearly recorded a career low in three-point attempts, but it didn’t help his efficiency, as his percentage from downtown dropped to just 26.8 percent.
Deficiency: Free-Throw Shooting
Any time a team implements the Hack-A-Shaq strategy against you, you know what your Achilles’ heel is.
Howard shoots 58.8 percent from the free-throw line for his career, and finished last season with a career-low 49.1 percent.
Howard has been criticized in the past for his lack of a low-post game, and it’s true that his moves are limited with his back to the basket.
However, shooting 57 percent from the field and having the ability to dunk over virtually anybody in the league makes a lack of low-post moves acceptable.
Until he’s able to dunk from the free-throw line, shooting will be his biggest deficiency.
Deficiency: Outside Shooting
While health is clearly Derrick Rose’s biggest issue at the moment, his outside shot is what he’ll need to improve as a star point guard moving forward.
The 6’4”, 190-pound point guard can get to the rim with the best of them, but his three-point percentage remains 31 percent on his career.
His shot has improved since he’s entered the league; no doubt about that.
His percentage has increased nearly 10 percent since the 2008-09 season, but with his long two-pointers still an issue and a sometimes-flat release on his jumper, he’s going to have to continue improving if he’s ever going to be feared from the perimeter.
Deficiency: Willingness to Take Over
At age 33, Kobe Bryant is still one of the NBA’s best scorers heading into next season.
His willingness to shoot, however, has made it tough to remember that he’s actually a very good passer.
Bryant may not have LeBron-like court vision, but his passing game and basketball IQ should be good enough to get him above the 4.6 assist-per-game average he posted last year.
Having attempted nine more shots per game last season than Pau Gasol—the team’s second-highest shot-per-game player—Bryant’s passing game was overlooked, as it has been for his entire career.
In the fourth quarter, there's only a handful of players who could compete with his ability to score at will, but for the full 48 minutes, the Lakers have proven to be a better team when Bryant is getting others involved.
Deficiency: Willingness to Not Take Over
With Chris Paul's ability to penetrate and score at the rim, the Los Angeles Clippers might benefit from him putting the ball in the bucket in certain situations instead of kicking it out.
Despite being 13th in the league in points per game, Paul dropped down to 24th in field goal attempts last season.
Some will argue that his knees are his biggest deficiency moving forward, but with the exception of the 2009-10 season, he’s yet to miss significant time because of them.
With 9.1 assists per game last year, nobody’s going to ask Paul to be less of a distributor.
But on a young team where he has become the clear-cut leader, he should take on a greater scoring role as they look to make a deep playoff run in the not-so-distant future.
Deficiency: Strength/Post Game
Kevin Durant will be considered by some to be the best player in the game heading into next season.
His basketball IQ is high and his perimeter game is smooth, but his post game is virtually nonexistent at this point in his young career.
Durant entered the league as the prospect who couldn’t bench 185 pounds.
While he’s bulked up his frame slightly since his rookie season, adding strength and any semblance of a low-post game could make him virtually unstoppable as he continues to develop his game moving forward.
Deficiency: Closing Games
Despite winning his first NBA championship this season, LeBron James’ biggest weakness remains his inability to take over in crunch time.
Isolation plays for superstars have become the way to finish close games, and while James proved he can make it happen in the NBA Finals, next year will be his chance to prove he can do it on a consistent basis.
James' outside shot has also been inconsistent throughout his career, which is part of the reason he’s struggled to come up big late in games.
This past season was exactly what James needed to combat the critics, but until he can prove he has the mindset and the ability to keep it going, closing out games remains his biggest deficiency.