Watching the NBA playoffs gives you a great perspective of the beauty and athleticism of the game of basketball, and how the best of the best take it to another level.
Being able to elevate a team and making them better than they should be is part of my criteria to be considered a top ten player in the league.
If you didn't get your team to the playoffs, you don't make my list.
There are some players I left out that are going to surprise you, but I have my reasons.
Let's start with the obvious.
Kobe Bryant has been an All-Star for years, and is still near the top of the heap. I say near because there may be someone surpassing him. But he's still one of the best in the game today.
King James may be taking the throne from Kobe with the body of a tight end and the speed of a cornerback. You can try to take away his drives to the basket, and he'll throw up crazy shots from all over the court, and guess what, they'll go in.
He leads a pedestrian Cavaliers team and makes them one of the best in the game. Without him, they would probably be sitting at home watching the playoffs.
Speaking of watching the playoffs, have you been checking out Kevin Durant?
He ended up with 19 rebounds yesterday against the Lakers to go along with 29 points. He also took on guarding Kobe near the end of the game, and hindered Kobe's offensive onslaught with his unworldly reach.
If LeBron isn't the best in the game, Durant is ready to step up and claim that prize.
Dwyane Wade is still one of the best the game has to offer. He can score at will and carry the team by himself, which he sometimes has to do with Miami.
He may want to look into leaving South Beach this summer and coming home to Chicago, where his chances of winning another championship will increase greatly joining a talented young team.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in the league, but because he plays for Denver, I think he gets overlooked a bit. His game isn't necessarily pretty, but he has power moves inside and is tough to stop.
Dwight Howard is a beast on the boards and patrols the lane as well as anyone in the league. He's the only player in NBA history to lead the league in consecutive seasons in both rebounds and blocked shots.
Of course if they kept those stats when Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were playing, I don't think I would have written that last line.
Dirk Nowitzki has been the man for Dallas for the past decade and has kept them in contention every year. His outside shooting is astonishing for a big man, and that's not all he's got.
This one is probably going to get me some grief, but if you don't think this guy is already one of the 10 best players in basketball, then you don't know jack.
Derrick Rose has taken the Bulls to the playoffs his first two years in the league. He also helped push the Boston Celtics to the limit last year and is making LeBron sweat this year after pouring in 31 points last night.
He takes almost every big shot for the Bulls, and has developed into an excellent outside shooter. Once he masters the three, there will be no way to stop him; like anyone can right now.
LeBron took on that challenge late in the game yesterday and Rose repeatedly went around him. Nobody goes to the basket stronger outside of LeBron.
Deron Williams of Utah is a player in the mold similar to Rose, though he has more range on his jump shot and is a more polished player at this time.
Many people thought Utah overpaid when they traded up to draft him, but he's proving his worth for the Jazz.
He's a winner, and while I don't think Utah will be good enough to get over the hump, they're still plenty good because of him.
Last but not least, I'm taking Brandon Roy. I like him as a leader, and he has an excellent all-around game. His injury is going to doom Portland this year in the playoffs, but he's a big time player who is at his best when it matters most.
I know I left out some big names like Steve Nash, TIm Duncan, Chris Paul, and Chris Bosh among others.
Nash is still great and is probably one of the 10 best players in the league right now, but he's 36 years old, and I don't think he can sustain this level much longer no matter what his diet and workout plan is.
Duncan is an icon and a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but you can see he's not the same dominant player he once was. He's still really good, just not top 10 in my book.
Paul has had a few injury issues in his career, and his slight stature might not hold up over the long haul. When he's healthy, he's one of the best. The question is if he can stay healthy.
I think Bosh is overrated. His teams rarely make the playoffs because I think he's one of those guys who puts up nice numbers, but doesn't really make his team much better.
Think of players like Elton Brand and Zack Randolph. They would put up similar numbers most of their careers, but they were at home watching when the games counted.
I'm sure I've missed some players that others think belong. Let me know who they are, and I'll let you know why I didn't include them.
I originally thought of this when I got ripped for saying Derrick Rose was a top 10 player in comments to someone after writing that the refs should give him more respect.
Obviously there hasn't been anything of late to prove me wrong about how good he is.
If you disagree with me, let me know. I'll tell you why you are wrong.
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