The following rankings are a compilation of the top 50 players in the NBA today.
This list does not take into account potential or upside or anything of that nature. It is the best 50 players in the NBA at this point in time. No rookies were included because they haven't done anything to prove they belong yet. Also, the rankings are not based solely on statistics but a player's overall worth. Defense is as big a factor as scoring.
Each day this week, a new ten will be released until the final ten on Friday. Let's roll...
Honorable Mention: Kevin Martin, Brendan Haywood, LaMarcus Aldridge, O.J. Mayo, Cory Maggete, Carl Landry, Richard Hamilton
50. Joakim Noah, CHI - Noah is already one of the league's most active defenders. He's tall and long at 6'11" and plays with some tenacity. He's not quite the franchise big man he's hyped up to be, but his energy and heart make him a force. Part of the reason he alters so many shots can probably be attributed to his extra-terrestrial appearance.
49. Udonis Haslem, MIA - Many are going to question U's rank on this list. He might not be a force on the offensive end or a big time shot blocker on defense, but he is one hell of a basketball player. His effort is never in question, and his defense is as good as any forward in the league. Throw in his accurate mid-range jumper, and he is a top 50 NBA player. Haslem would kill for his teammates and is a true NBA warrior.
48. Aaron Brooks, HOU - The Chris Rock look-alike has been a pleasant surprise in Houston. Last year, he averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 rebounds while carving up the defense from deep to the tune of 40 percent from three point range.
47. Stephen Curry, GSW - Count me among the doubters about Curry heading into his rookie season last year. I didn't think his game would translate well to the NBA level because of his size, but he has found a perfect home in Golden State's up-tempo offense. He is already among the league's most efficient scorers. His 44 percent three-point shooting and 88 percent free-throw shooting rank among the league's best.
46. Vince Carter, ORL - The Vince Carter landslide continues. Remember when Vince was an elite NBA player? Well, I don't. It's been that long. He has become a team cancer in Orlando. J.J. Reddick is clearly a better fit for them at shooting guard.
45. Andrew Bogut, MIL - While Bogut is far from flashy, he is one of the NBA's steadiest players. His absence in last year's playoffs clearly impacted the Bucks first-round exit.
44. Al Horford, ATL - Big Al has improved every year he's been in the league. He should get more touches next year and is on the verge of being a 20-10 guy.
43. Chris Kaman, LAC - The battle between Kaman and Noah for NBA's strangest looking player is a tough one. All kidding aside, Kaman has become a top-five center and should get even better offensively with Blake Griffin's presence.
42. Kevin Love, MIN - A top fifty player? Yes, and here's why. Love just might be the best pure rebounder in the NBA. He ranks first in rebounds per 48 minutes. He also is one of the best passing big men in the league. If he advances in other areas of his game, he is going to be an All-Star one day.
41. Ray Allen, BOS - Ray is hit-or-miss at this point in his Hall-of-Fame career. Either he's lights out from three or horrifying, as his 2010 playoffs indicated. He still is an effective player at 35 and has a couple more productive seasons left in the tank.
40. Anderson Varejao, CLE - He's a bigger version of Haslem and the second best defensive big in the league behind Dwight Howard. He's scrappy and plays with so much intensity on every play. Every team would love to have a guy like Varejao.
39. Marc Gasol, MEM - Marc is finally stepping out of his big brother's shadow and has solidified himself among the top NBA centers.
38. David West, NOR - Mr. West, where have you gone? It seems like we haven't heard his name on a national scale since 2008 when New Orleans was the number two seed out west. He's still one of the NBA's better big men and will excel with Chris Paul's return to the court.
37. Lamar Odom, LAL - I have to say that although Lamar is a Laker, I am a bit saddened as to how his career has panned out. Sure multiple championship rings are nice, but he never fulfilled his immense potential as a player. He's still an effective player in this league with incredible versatility, but he had the talent to be a top 10 player.
36. Ron Artest, LAL - Ronny will go down as one of the wildest, troubled players in NBA history. He's the Dennis Rodman of this era and was a big reason why the Lakers won it all last year. He has lost a step but still is one of the more versatile defenders in the league. His toughness and physicality are unmatched.
35. Al Jefferson, UTA - Al was on his way to becoming an elite center before injuries slowed him down a year ago. He is back on track and in a new Utah Jazz uniform. Playing with a point guard of Deron Williams' caliber should vault him into the league's top thirty players this year.
34. Gerald Wallace, CHA - The high-flying Wallace has become a complete player. He's an incredible rebounder (10.0 rebounds a night last year), defender, and leaper. He also extended his shooting to three-point distance last year.
33. David Lee, GSW - Lee got paid big money this offseason from his solid body of work in New York last year after puting up 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds. He should thrive in a similar up-tempo offense in Golden State with shooters like Monta Ellis and Steph Curry spreading the floor.
ON THE CUSP
32. Tyreke Evans, SAC - Reke already is one of the best in the league at getting to the rim after just one season. He has mastered the "Wade side-step penetration dribble." Defensively he is great, as he has a knack for jumping the passing lane at the right moment. The addition of big man Demarcus Cousins will take his game to another level. However, he still needs to develop a consistent jumper to be among the NBA's elite.
31. Andre Iguodala, PHI - Andre is one of the premier perimeter players in the league, at least on defense. He's an elite athlete, allowing him to lock down the opposing team's top perimeter threat. He's best suited for a run-and-gun style of offense, as he is a great finisher on the break. His biggest weakness is perimeter shooting, like many fellow NBA players on the cusp on stardom.
30. Rudy Gay, MEM - Gay is a big-time talent who hasn't quite put it all together. His defense is atrocious at times. It's not that he doesn't have the skills necessary to be a good defensive player. It seems more mental than anything else. How bad does he want to defend? Offensively, he is as smooth as silk, with many different weapons. Now that he got paid, it will be interesting to see where his career goes from here.
29. Zach Randolph, MEM - Randolph has as much pure talent as any big in the league, and he showed that last year after dominating the paint to the tune of 20.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. His defense is lousy, but he is one of the best post scorers in the NBA.
28. Russell Westbrook, OKC - He is the NBA's most athletic point guard. Nobody moves from one end of the court to the other as fast as Russ. His defense is at an extremely high level as well, which is why he ranks so high on this list. Imagine if Miami had taken him instead of Michael Beasley! A Westbrook-Wade back court with LeBron and Bosh in the front court. WOW!
27. Chauncey Billups, DEN - Chauncey is still one of the game's most complete players. He's a true team player and unbelievable leader who is never afraid to take and make big shots.
26. Gilbert Arenas, WAS - Gilbert is as hard to rank as anyone in the NBA right now. Until he gathers himself off the court, we can't put him among the NBA's elite.
25. Manu Ginobili, SAS - Although Manu is getting up there in NBA years (he just turned 33), he is still an integral part of the Spurs' core. He is among the most creative playmakers in the league. His health is critical for an aging unit that looks to make one last run at a ring.
24. Kevin Garnett, BOS - KG is starting to break down. That's no secret. He is still a top big man because his presence alone makes the players around him better. Can he hold up for a couple more deep playoff runs in Boston?
23. Josh Smith, ATL - Smith has finally become a star on both ends of the court. On offense, he stopped settling for jumpers and went with his strength of taking the ball to the hole. He is without a doubt one of the league's highest flyers. He's also a playmaker on defense with his shot-blocking ability and active hands on steals.
22. Brook Lopez, NJ - Yet another player Heat President Pat Riley wished he didn't pass on in the 2008 NBA Draft. Lopez is right around the corner from becoming a top three center. He doesn't get the credit he deserves because he plays for the Nets, who might as well move to the D-League.
21. Yao Ming, HOU - You can't argue with Yao's career numbers of 19 and nine. His health, however, has always been an issue. He missed the entire 2009-10 season, and he may never return to dominant form ever again. The verdict is still out on Yao, but he deserves to be ranked this high because of what he's accomplished thus far.
20. Carlos Boozer, CHI - Boozer is a rare breed. He is an old-school player who makes his living on the block. He is one of the best post scorers in the NBA and will become even better with a multi-talented revamped Bulls' roster. He's physical and really knows how to use his body, leading to easy buckets around the rim. His defense isn't great, but it doesn't need to be with Joakim Noah along side of him.
19. Paul Pierce, BOS - Congratulations to the highest ranking member of Club BD (Boston Dinosaurs). Pierce is still one of the game's best pure scorers, and he does so in a highly efficient manner (47 percent FG, 41 percent 3FG, 85 percent FT). Of the three elderly Celtics, Pierce has the most left in the tank and should continue to play at a high level for a another two to three seasons.
18. Brandon Roy, POR - Nobody talks about Roy because he doesn't wow you in any aspect of his game. He is, however, very good in just about every area of the game. He can handle, pass, shoot, and "D up." He has perfected the art of changing speeds off the dribble. He might not have the raw athleticism of some of the other NBA stars, but he is absolutely a top 20 player.
17. Danny Granger, IND - A year ago, I thought Granger was going to be an elite player. Today, I'm not sold. His numbers are impressive, and he is on a lousy Pacers team, but I don't see him being a dominant top dog on a contender. Like Chris Bosh, I think he fits exceptionally well with another alpha superstar. He can be a Pippen to somebody's Jordan.
16. Joe Johnson, ATL - If you had told me before free agency that Joe would come out as the highest paid player in the best free agent class in NBA history, I would have slapped you. Well it happened, and although Johnson is a great player, he is going to handcuff the Hawks in a few years when his game weakens and his paycheck skyrockets.
15. Rajon Rondo, BOS - It seemed that as soon as Rondo was proclaimed a superstar by the media, his play dipped in the Finals. He still had a hell of a playoffs and is absolutely the best player on the Celtics. Can he handle the pressure and the hype of being the man night in and night out? The jury is still out. He has the talent and skill, but does he have the head?
14. Tim Duncan, SAS - Tim is like a timeless '57 Chevy. You can still take her out, putter around for a while, admiring the fundamentally-sound parts of a true classic, but no longer is it your go-to, all-purpose vehicle. There's just too many miles. Duncan will go down as one of the best big men to ever play this game. The fact that he is still this good after 13 bruising NBA seasons is amazing. The Big Fundamental's window, however, is quickly closing.
13. Derrick Rose, CHI - I have Rose higher than Rondo on this list because we know he can handle the pressure and expectations of being a superstar. Chicago is Derrick's team. Did you see this kid in the playoffs when he dominated Cleveland with 26.8 points and 7.2 assists? They lost because he had no help.
With Boozer's arrival, among others, we will really see what this kid is made of. He has NBA superstar written all over him. Word is he worked his tail off on his outside jumper this summer. His athleticism and skill with an outside jumper? Yikes.
12. Amare Stoudemire, NYK - It was a wild offseason for Amare. He is reunited with coach Mike D'Antoni in the Big Apple, meaning his stat sheet is going to explode. He could easily land among the top three in scoring this year in that style of offense. I still want him to show that he cares about defense as much as scoring.
11. Steve Nash, PHO - Nash is the Kate Beckinsale of the NBA who somehow gets better with age. I mean have you seen Click!? If only I were her neighbor...
Back to Nash.
The 14-year veteran is a freak of nature. He's 36! Nash will always be one of my all-time favorite players. The guy hasn't missed a free throw since like '96. The way he plays the game is visually captivating. He always makes the right decision and makes everyone on the court so much better.
Amare is going to wish he had Steve in NYC instead of the shlubs they have passing him the rock. He is one of those guys who will leave the game before he fails to produce at a high level.
Tell me you didn't just google Beckinsale. You can't!
10. Chris Bosh, MIA - The difference between a player like Bosh and a Stoudemire or Boozer is simple. Defense. Bosh is a great pick-and-roll defender. He has excellent quickness for a big guy, with great defensive awareness. People don't think he's a good defender just because he doesn't block a ton of shots. Just because he isn't a great shot blocker at 6'10" does not mean he isn't a good defender.
Offensively, Bosh is superb. He has a few go-to post moves and has range out to 18 feet. He is going to shoot a ridiculously high percentage next year with Wade and James drawing most of the attention.
9. Carmelo Anthony, DEN - Melo' is in the Facebook Dilemma. You go to a bar and meet what you thought was a really hot girl. You then get her number and proceed to Facebook creep her the next day. After looking at her pictures, you realize she wasn't that 10 you envisioned, but more like a seven or eight.
That's not to say he isn't a hell of a player. He just isn't quite on par with the other top-notch perimeter players. His game is so smooth and he's a joy to watch, but then you check out the stat sheet the next day and realize he had to take 30 shots to get those 30 points.
8. Deron Williams, UTA - He was absolutely the best point guard in the NBA last season. He just didn't get as much credit as he should have because of the unbelievable playoff performances of Rose and Rondo.
Williams is one of the best transition players in the NBA. His court sense is unfair at times, and I'm convinced he has a third eye somewhere. He's a great team player who isn't afraid to step up and hit the big shot.
7A. Dirk Nowitzki, DAL - There might never be another Dirk, a player that stands 7'0" with the skills of a shooting guard. He is a dominant offensive player, and his efficiency is off the charts (48 percent FG, 42 percent 3FG, 92 percent FT). It's too bad he will never win a championship. His team has gone downhill from that nightmare of an NBA Finals from 2006 in which D-Wade bent over the entire Mavericks squad over and over again. Still, Dirk is one of the best.
7B. Pau Gaol, LAL - Poor Pau. He's so bizarre looking I left him off the original top 50! I swear he has an arm pit on his chin. My bad!
He's the NBA's second best big man, hands down. He used to be soft in the post, but over the last couple years, he has turned into a monster. He plays the game with high intensity on both ends of the floor and is just as big a reason as Kobe for the Lakers' recent success.
6. Chris Paul, NOR - Although he battled injuries last season, he is still the best point guard in the league. He has no weakness. I think he's pissed to be honest, and I would be shocked if he is in New Orleans for more than one more season. He belongs on a contender. Lakers, Magic? Think about those scenarios.
5. Kevin Durant, OKC - He should be every little kid's favorite player. If there is such a thing as a role model in the NBA, Kevin is it. It's refreshing to see a 21-year-old superstar with a clear, humble head. Have you heard him speak? I don't think he has ever said a word to offend anyone, ever. Do you know how hard that is for an NBA star who's always in the spotlight?
As for his game, he is so unique. His arms go on for days, and at 6'9", he can get his shot off over anyone. He has a knack for drawing fouls, making his 90 percent free throw shooting all the more dangerous. He still needs to beef up, but that will happen with time. The youngest scoring leader in NBA history has an unlimited ceiling, and it will be a pleasure to watch his game progress over the next five to ten years.
4. Dwight Howard, ORL - Dwight's talent comprised in his shredded body is a crime. He should be the most dominant player in the NBA on both ends of court. He has taken that honor defensively, but his offense disappoints. Part of the problem is that his teammates and coaches don't make it a priority to get him the ball inside consistently.
He really needs a point guard. Nelson is nice, but nothing special and never gets him the ball on time. If Chris Paul went to Orlando, Dwight would be a terror on the offensive end. He should be a 30 and 15 guy.
Remember, this ranking is about the best players in the NBA right now. The past is taken into account, but this is more about the present than anything else. The final three are Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade. This was written 99.5 percent bias-free. The finalists...
2009/10: 27.0 PTS, 5.4 REB, 5.0 ASS, 1.5 STL, 45.6 percent FG, 33 percent 3FG, 81 percent FT
Team: Lakers, 57 - 25, NBA Champions
09' Notables: All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Def 1st Team, Finals MVP
Skinny: The NBA's best player of this decade. But does that mean he's the best player of 2010?
2009/10: 29.7 PTS, 7.3 REB, 8.6 ASS, 1.6 STL, 1.0 BLK, 50.3 percent FG, 33 percent 3FG, 77 percent FT
Team: 61 - 21, Eastern Semis (Lost to Celtics in six)
09' Notables: All-Star, MVP, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Def 1st Team
Skinny: The NBA's most talented player. But does he have it mentally?
2009/10: 26.6 PTS, 4.8 REB, 6.5 ASS, 1.8 STL, 1.1 BLK, 47.6 percent FG, 30 percent 3FG, 76 percent FT
Team: 47 - 35, Eastern Quarters (Lost to Celtics in five)
09' Notables: All-Star, All-Star MVP, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Def 2nd Team
Skinny: Wade has killed it on some very bad teams. We know he's elite but, is he the best?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present the top three players in the NBA, as of August 2010...
3. Lebron James, MIA - He is the most feared player in the NBA. His pure talent and skill is above and beyond anyone else in the league, but he is not the best overall player for a few reasons.
First, his display in this past years' playoffs was disappointing. I don't know what he was dealing with at the time, but for certain games in the Celtics series, he looked disinterested and unmotivated. The all-time greats have a level of focus unparalleled. Mentally they want to bury the opposition into the ground, and LeBron did not have that mindset in the 2010 playoffs. Sure, he didn't have much help offensively, but that's no excuse.
I'm not convinced that LeBron has the killer instinct of a Wade or Kobe, and that's okay. Not everyone has the ultra combination of mind and body. Maybe LeBron doesn't want the pressure of carrying a team on his back alone. Maybe he wants to have fun and win some rings, which is why he is in Miami. Physically, LeBron is the best player in the league, but mentally, he has a ways to go.
2. Kobe Bryant, LAL - I can hear the Lakers fan screaming: "Five NBA championships! Finals MVP last year! Best player of the decade!"
Aren't those accolades enough? No, and here's why.
Kobe is 32-years-old and has 14 years of mileage in the NBA. He is wearing down. Everyone can see it. He still might be the best player on the floor most of the time, but he doesn't have the title of best player in the league anymore. He's lost a step athletically and doesn't have the same explosiveness that placed him above everyone else.
Unlike LeBron, Kobe is an absolute killer. He wants to beat you and beat you bad. His competitive streak and work ethic is unbelievable, and he always, always has his body in peak condition.
It's part of an athlete's life. At some point, your body will wear down. Kobe is on the downswing and has maybe three years left of high-level play before injuries and aging will take its toll. If you didn't see it during the NBA playoffs, you are blind. He isn't the same player from five years ago from an athletic standpoint.
1. Dwyane Wade, MIA - He has the talent, resume, and mentality of the best player in the NBA. He is a proven NBA champion. Although he hasn't experienced the same team success of Kobe recently, you can't automatically count him out of the discussion. Are you telling me that with Wade instead of Kobe on the Lakers they would not have won it all? Dream on.
Wade is the ultimate team player as well. He has perfected when it's best to take over a game and when it's best to get his teammates involved. Kobe has gotten better, but he isn't on Wade's level in that regard. Kobe always wants to make the big shot while Wade has the selfless attitude to do whatever is best for the team. If that means giving the ball to Haslem for a mid range jumper, so be it.
Right now, Wade is absolutely a better player than Bryant. He's younger, more explosive, and just as talented on both sides of the court. He has the same killer instinct as Bryant but is better at managing the game, knowing when to selfishly take over a game to help his team win.
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