10. O.J. Mayo - Mayo had a nice rookie season for the Grizzlies, and big things are expected of him by a franchise that has a lot of young talent.
I think Mayo would have benefited greatly had Memphis been able to bring in a veteran during the off-season that could provide stable leadership. But apparently the Grizzlies management doesn't follow the NBA, because instead they brought in Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson to ensure that their young players had some fabulous role models.
Either way, Mayo has a lot of areas that need work, but he is already a very good scorer and the rest of his game should come around with time.
9. Ray Allen - There's not a smoother stroke in the history of the league. Obviously Ray Ray's best days are behind him, but he is still a major weapon for a Celtics team that relies on its experienced veterans.
Allen may have lost a stop or two and you won't see him dunking over anybody anymore, but I have never seen any player with as quick of a release on their shot as his.
This is the reason he is still so dangerous; not only is he dead-on accurate, but he can get his shot off no matter how good the defense is. He is also pretty darn good in the clutch.
8. Kevin Martin - Martin is a lot like Ben Gordon in the fact that he doesn't do much besides score. But unlike Gordon, Martin is a tall and lanky guard that I feel has the tools to be a much better all-around player than he is.
Who knows, maybe he won't ever learn to play defense or pass the basketball, but Martin will always be one of the best scorers in the league. He can light it up from anywhere on the court, and he gets to the line as well as anybody. Only time will tell if Martin is able to eventually polish his all-around game enough to be top-5 material.
7. Vince Carter - He doesn't look anything like the Vince Carter that came into the league 10 years ago. I guess that's what age and knee-surgeries will do to you.
Back in the day, Carter was a guarantee to make Sportscenter Top 10 plays every time he set foot on the floor. It seems like ages ago that Vinsanity was jumping directly over seven-footers in the Olympics. To his credit he has been able to adapt his game nicely since his freakish athleticism left him.
He is now mostly a perimeter player, taking an average of over six three-pointers a game, but has become a very good shooter and should be the perfect compliment to Superman in Orlando.
It's still hard to watch him play now, though, because all I think about was watching the 2000 Dunk Contest and being absolutely blown away by what Carter was doing. Although he's only sixth on my list here, he does make No. 1 on my list of best dunkers of all-time. Sorry, M.J., you can't win everything.
6. Andre Iguodala - It doesn't seem right to me that Iguodala is this high on the list, but it really only happens by default because there's not a lot of great two-guards in the league.
No disrespect meant, because Andre is very good. He's really become a good all-around player since coming into the league. He has developed a decent outside shot to compliment his slashing ability, and he plays the passing lanes on defense about as well as anyone.
5. Manu Ginobili - Ginobili! It's too bad that Manu gets hurt so often because he's a lot of fun to watch when he's healthy. He's a lot more athletic than he looks, he's a good shooter, and he plays solid defense. He's also apparently quite handy when bats happen to fly onto the court.
4. Joe Johnson - One of my favorite players in the league. I love watching Joe Johnson play and he never gets the credit that he deserves. There's nothing that he doesn't do well, and he just goes about his business quietly and lets his game speak for itself.
He has the ability to be a playmaker for his teammates as well as get his own shot whenever he wants. Players like that are rare in today's NBA. Johnson is an MVP candidate this year if Atlanta keeps up its winning ways.
3. Brandon Roy - I don't think that most NBA fans and media around the country actually realize how good Roy is. I think you really have to watch him consistently in order to appreciate his game, because he doesn't play in a way that really stands out.
During Portland's playoff series with Houston last year, some Rockets fans and bloggers were saying that Roy was better than Dwayne Wade, and Ron Artest called him the best player he'd ever guarded.
Now I wouldn't go quite that far, and nothing Artest says should really be taken seriously, but I believe it still goes to show that Roy is even better than he gets credit for around the league.
The last thing he needs to do to completely polish his game is improve defensively; other than that there's not a thing he doesn't do well. He also happens to be one of the best clutch players in the game.
2. Dwayne Wade - Whenever I watch Wade I always wonder how long he can continue to play the way he does. The guy goes to the hoop with reckless abandon and with no regard for his body.
His style of play gets him massive amounts of free throws; this year he's averaging over 12 attempts per game, which is straight ridiculous.
While Wade can make you go "oooh" and "ahhh", I can't stand watching Miami play because it is just Wade going one-on-one pretty much every possession. I understand he doesn't have much help around him, but that's not how basketball was meant to be played.
I'm not trying to take anything away from Wade, it's not really his fault. It's really a problem with the whole league, but that's another discussion. It will be interesting to see what Wade does this summer as a free agent, because he could make most teams an instant contender.
1. Kobe Bryant - The Black Mamba is adjusting his game to account for his diminishing athleticism, much like M.J. did in his later years.
Kobe worked hard with Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon in the offseason to improve his post-up game, resulting in much less perimeter play and lots of points in the paint.
It will be interesting to see how his groin injury holds up throughout the season. When healthy, Kobe is still the most dangerous player in the NBA and one of the greatest clutch performers of all-time.