Current and Future NBA Superstars Who Will Be Amongst the Best of All Time

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIFebruary 25, 2013

Current and Future NBA Superstars Who Will Be Amongst the Best of All Time

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    The current and future NBA superstars who will be amongst the best of all time are those whose game will be remembered long after their playing days have concluded.

    They either are or will be the best players of their era whose games would compare favorably to NBA legends of seasons past.

    From a current superstar standpoint, however, this list does not include any NBA star who was not selected to the All-Star game this season after previously going in years past.

    This eliminates players like Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash—who will be considered amongst the best of all time to be sure—but do not qualify in this respect as current superstars.

    It also does not include injured players like Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo.

    In addition to two one-time All-Stars, this list also includes two players who are currently yet to make their first All-Star team.

    To various degrees, also included are a collection of current superstars who've established themselves amongst the very best of all time already. 

    Each player is listed according to the number of All-Star appearances they've made as of this season for some measure of current verses future superstars.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    All-Star Selections: 15

    While scoring 27.1 points per game, Kobe Bryant is the NBA's third-leading scorer this season.

    In his 17th NBA campaign, Bryant is also matching a career high of 46.9 percent shooting from the field through Sunday.

    He has won five NBA championships, one league MVP and currently ranks fifth on the NBA's all-time scoring list at 31,027 points.

    While still among the league's best players at 34 years old, Bryant earned his place among the very best to ever play the game a long time ago.

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

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    All-Star Selections: 15

    Kevin Garnett is not the superstar he was when he first arrived in Boston in 2007.

    At 36 years old, however, Garnett is still currently leading the Celtics in rebounding and blocked shots this season to go along with scoring 15.1 points per night. All of which helped earn him the start for the Eastern Conference All-Star team earlier this month. 

    For his career, in 1,310 regular-season games through Sunday, Garnett has averaged a double-double with 19.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

    The 25,101 points he's scored in total ranked 16th all time in NBA history. The only active player to score more is Kobe Bryant. The 13,735 rebounds Garnett has also collected rank 12th in league history, first among active players.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

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    All-Star Selections: 14

    Tim Duncan missed the All-Star game last season but was back among the NBA's current superstars earlier this month in Houston, Texas for this year's game.

    It was a well-deserved honor for Duncan, too, who is averaging 16.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game to go along with 2.7 blocks in 2012-13.

    The player efficiency rating of 24.13 that Duncan's earned in the process currently ranks sixth in the NBA through Sunday.

    In 2002 and 2003, Duncan won back-to-back league MVP awards. He also has four NBA championships to his credit during a 16-year-run with the San Antonio Spurs and just might find himself competing for another this postseason.

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    All-Star Selections: 9

    Dwyane Wade is a two-time NBA champion and nine-time All-Star who is currently much closer to his superstar prime than many people give him credit for.

    As of Sunday, Wade's player efficiency rating of 23.96 ranks seventh in the league overall, while the 21.2 points he's scoring are also good for eighth.

    Owners of the Eastern Conference's best record, Wade and the Miami Heat are on a path towards competing for a second straight NBA championship later this season. 

    If they do, D-Wade will be a big reason why—just like he was the last two times his team was fitted for title rings. 

LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    All-Star Selections: 9

    Even though LeBron James cashed in only his first NBA championship last season, he has been among the very best players of all time for a while now.

    James won the regular season scoring title during the 2007-08 season and followed that up the next year by winning his first of three league MVP awards.

    This year, while leading the NBA in player efficiency rating for the sixth straight season, James could be well on his way to a fourth MVP and second NBA championship.

    He is the league's fourth-leading scorer at 27 points per game through Sunday to go along with 8.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists. 

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    All-Star Selections: 7

    Dwight Howard hasn't had much reason to smile this season.

    Things haven't gone well for his Los Angeles Lakers, and his ability to mesh successfully alongside Kobe Bryant has been part of the reason why. 

    All that said, however, Howard is still the most physically dominant NBA center since Shaquille O'Neal.

    He's also averaging a double-double at 16.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in what's been deemed a below average season.

    That rebounding average, by the way, is enough to lead the NBA through Sunday.

    In his ninth NBA season, Howard has averaged 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game for his career.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    All-Star Selections: 6

    Chris Paul will be remembered as the best point guard of his era.

    His era being the one that directly followed Steve Nash's reign as the league's standard at the position, ending just prior to whenever it is Kyrie Irving eventually takes over. 

    While currently the NBA's benchmark by which all point guards are measured, Paul has led the Los Angeles Clippers to the third-best record in the Western Conference through Sunday.

    The 2.5 steals that Paul has averaged this season currently leads the NBA. He is scoring 16.2 points per night while his 9.4 assists are also good for third in the league

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    All-Star Selections: 6

    Carmelo Anthony will go down as one of the NBA's best pure scorers of all time.

    While he's given fans a right to question his ability to help teams win in the past, Anthony's scoring prowess has never been in doubt.

    This season, specifically, his 28.4 points per game are helping his New York Knicks team win more basketball games than people expected they would before the 2012-13 campaign began.

    Anthony's scoring total is also good for second in the league through Sunday, while he grades out as the tenth-best overall in terms of PER at 23.32.

    In his 10th season this year, Anthony has averaged 24.9 points per game for his career since breaking into the league in 2003. 

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    All-Star Selections: 5

    This shouldn't necessarily be the case, but after 11 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker is a current NBA superstar who will eventually sneak his way onto the list of all-time greats.

    Maybe the most underappreciated point guard of his era, Parker has only made five All-Star appearances despite leading the Spurs to three NBA championships.

    After their most recent title, in 2007, Parker was named Finals MVP. The damage he did in the painted area that year still haunts the Cleveland Cavaliers team he helped sweep from the championship. 

    This year he's averaging 21.1 points and 7.6 assists per game while ranking fourth in terms of player efficiency rating.

    At 30 years old, Parker is the primary reason why his Spurs own the NBA's best record through Sunday.

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    All-Star Selections: 4

    Even though Kevin Durant is only 24-years-old, he morphed past the category of future superstars on his way to the league's elite in only a few short seasons. 

    Durant's 28.8 points per game lead the NBA in scoring this year, something he's done for each of the three previous seasons dating back to 2009-10.

    This year, Durant is in a race with only LeBron James for league MVP. He also has his Oklahoma City Thunder team in a position to compete for an NBA championship again this summer and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. 

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    All-Star Selections: 3

    Russell Westbrook will eventually be remembered as one of the most athletically overwhelming point guards of all time.

    While not a true point guard in the sense of Chris Paul or Steve Nash, Westbrook has brought an elite combination of power and speed to the position over the last three seasons specifically.

    At 22.9 points and eight assists per night through Sunday, Wesbrook ranks seventh and fifth respectively in each category.

    He has also been the biggest reason outside of Kevin Durant that the Oklahoma City Thunder have won as much as they have over the past two seasons, and will continue to be moving forward.

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    All-Star Selections: 1

    Kyrie Irving is only 20 years old and in his second NBA season. 

    What he has demonstrated thus far, however, is enough to suggest he will eventually be amongst the best NBA players of all time.

    Representing the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month, Irving was only the seventh player in NBA history to play in an All-Star game before his 21st birthday.

    The other six players on that list are all Hall of Famers.

    As of Sunday, Irving leads all NBA point guards in scoring at 23.3 points per night. His player efficiency rating of 22.67 is also good for 13th overall in the league already. 

    It should only become easier for Irving to do what he's done thus far in the future, as more pieces continue to be assembled in Cleveland around him. 

James Harden, Houston Rockets

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    All-Star Selections: 1

    I have seen enough from James Harden to believe that he will finish his career amongst the NBA's best of all time. 

    He has a long way to go to be sure, in only his first full season as a starter this year in Houston, but the Rockets guard is currently fifth in the NBA at 26.4 points per night.

    He's helped reshape the culture in Houston as well, and currently has his team in the playoffs through Sunday with the eighth seed in the Western Conference. 

    At 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds, Harden's overall game is underrated as well, and the 23-year old will only improve the more comfortable he becomes with being his team's primary option on a nightly basis.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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    All-Star Selections: 0

    Despite the snub, Stephen Curry played well enough this season to make the All-Star team.

    While ranking second in the league in three-pointers made, along with sixth in three-point field goal percentage, Curry has combined long-range efficiency with high-volume scoring better than any player in the NBA this season. 

    Besides the work he puts in from behind the arc, Curry is also averaging 21 points per game to go along with 6.6 assists through Sunday.

    While they have slipped to the sixth seed in the Western Conference recently, Curry also has his Golden State Warriors heading to the postseason in all likelihood this summer as well.

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets

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    All-Star Selections: 0

    Despite the injuries, losses and fact that Damian Lillard is this year's Rookie of the Year, I still believe New Orleans Hornets rookie Anthony Davis has a skill set that will eventually land his name in the conversation of all-time greats.

    In his last five games, Davis has averaged 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per night. In 44 games on the season through Sunday he's averaging 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds in total.

    Those aren't eye-popping numbers to be sure, but it's not as bad of a professional start as some might suggest.

    While he might not fill out his 6'10" frame to the extent where he becomes a dominating center, I do believe that Davis could become the NBA's next great power forward as his mid-range jump shot develops.

    He has to get stronger regardless, and is only just beginning his NBA journey, but Davis is a future superstar who could finish among the league's elite.