NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, Carmelo and No. 1 Scoring Option from Each Team

Thomas CopainCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, Carmelo and No. 1 Scoring Option from Each Team

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    Every team needs one of those guys.

    The ones who want the ball in the last possessions, with the spotlights all on him and the crowd on their feet. The player that everyone knows is getting the ball on that last possession and the one who wants the ball on that last possession.

    Every team has the one guy they depend on to be the scorer (or in the case of some teams, a couple of guys) who'll take all the big shots and hopefully for each team, knock all of those shots down. So we decided to take a look at each NBA team and their main scoring option and rank them.

    Now in the case of some teams, there are more than one option, so they're listed as such. So without further ado, here are the 30 best No. 1 scoring options in the NBA. Read on to see where your favorite team ranks.

30. Washington Wizards: Nick Young

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    Not much has gone right for the Wizards this season, but two things they can hang their hat on is John Wall at point guard and the continued development of Nick Young.

    Despite starting only 34 of 57 games, Young still leads the Wizards in scoring and is their most dependable scorer from outside. As the years progress, expect John Wall to eventually take over this role but right now it belongs to Young.

29. Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani

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    One of those guys who's the No. 1 scoring option by default because he's the leading scorer. 

    DeMar DeRozan continues to develop and he's having a nice season. But in the starting lineup, Bargnani is really the only player who can consistently knock down outside shots and be a scorer. And to his credit, he's averaging better than 21 points per game this season. But he's not really a No. 1 scorer, especially when he spends a good deal on the outside and he's starting at center.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers: Antawn Jamison

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    What else can you say about the Cavs?

    It's been the season from you-know-where, largely due to the struggling offense and defense. If it was a couple of weeks ago, the answer might have been Mo Williams. It could also very well be Baron Davis, but he hasn't played a game with Cleveland yet.

    So the honor goes to Jamison, who leads the Cavaliers in scoring and minutes per game. He's been perhaps one of the few bright spots for the Cavs, if there have been any at all.

27. Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap

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    The Jazz are one of those teams that don't have a true No. 1 scoring option (now that Deron Williams has left town) although Devin Harris might be a No. 1 down the line.

    So for right now, I'll go with the Jazz' two leading scorers who have played well this season and have been dependable if nothing else. Everyone probably still remembers Millsap going off on the Heat earlier in the season. 

    But that was when Deron Williams was around. Let's see how they respond when they become more of the focus.

26. Denver Nuggets: J.R. Smith

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    Some of you will probably think I'm crazy.

    But after the trade of Carmelo Anthony, Smith probably becomes the most balanced offensive player on the Nuggets. Wilson Chandler has been up and down since coming over from the Knicks, and Danilo Galinari missed the Nuggets last game.

    In the four games since the All-Star Break, Smith has averaged a little more than 15 points per game. But the fact of the matter is the Nuggets will be more of a scoring by committee kind of team, and he's probably the most dependable shooter on the roster save for Galinari.

25. Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala

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    The Sixers are another team that don't really have a true No. 1 scorer and do it by committee instead, with five players averaging double figures in points, two of them coming off the bench.

    With that in mind, Iguodala's average is high but he's also missed time due to injuries this season, plus he's become more of a facilitator this season. Brand has been one of the constants this season for the 76ers and played pretty well considering, so despite not being a dominant scorer like he once was, he's probably the closest the Sixers have to a No. 1, although Iguodala's still in the discussion.

24. Detroit Pistons: Rodney Stuckey

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    At their peak, the Pistons never had a true No. 1. Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace all carried the team and they all played a part. But Billups was never afraid to take the shots at the end of the game. 

    The Pistons haven't really had that since Billups left, and the closest they have is Stuckey, who's probably more of a scoring guard than a true point guard and a distributor. But he's also the team's leading scorer. I'd say he's consistent but when you're benched for an entire night by your coach, it's hard to be consistent.

23. Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans

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    Evans has slipped back from his outstanding rookie season, but there's no doubt who the leader of the Sacramento Kings is. He's the leading scorer in terms of season average on the Kings and there's no question who wants the ball at the end of the game in key situations.

    Evans has dealt with some injury concerns this season, but he continues to grow as an Allen Iverson-type scoring combo guard. Although if Marcus Thornton continues to light it up like he has in Sacramento, then Evans might have competition.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love

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    It's been nothing short of a breakout season for Love in Minnesota.

    He's grown into a scoring and rebounding machine, averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds a night. To put that in perspective, Kevin Garnett averaged a double-double for nine seasons in Minnesota, but his best season in Minnesota was when he averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds for the T-Wolves.

    Love is not that far off, and that's when you start to realize how important he is to Minnesota.

21. Charlotte Bobcats: Stephen Jackson

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    In a couple of seasons, it'll be D.J. Augustin on this list. But for right now, it's Jackson, who's still the most dependable scorer and shooter the Bobcats have. But it should be interesting to watch over the next couple of weeks how he reacts to be the No. 1 option in Charlotte now that Gerald Wallace is gone.

    Either way, Jackson is the most dangerous weapon the Bobcats have. Although to be fair, he's having somewhat of a down season.

20. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili

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    Tim Duncan still might be the guy that makes everything run in San Antonio, but the offense now runs through Parker and Ginobili. 

    They're the two leading scorers who also lead the team in minutes per game and assists per game. And it's no longer foreign to see either one of them with the ball at the end of the night with the game on the line. Duncan's still a very important part of the Spurs, but he's no longer the focal point of the offense.

19. Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph

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    Zach Randolph is a lot of things, but under-the-radar never seems to be one of them.

    Yet everywhere he's ever been, he's scored and produced some nice numbers. He's in Memphis (in his contract year nonetheless) and he's putting up another 20 point per game season. In fact, since his second season in the league, he hasn't averaged worse than 17 points per game for a season.

    The Grizzlies have other scoring options, but Randolph is a nice safety cushion to have and he's been dependable.

18. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings

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    His jumpshot and his outside shot, among other things, could use some work. But Jennings has shown the tools to be a lethal guard in this league along the same lines as a Deron Williams or Derrick Rose. He has the potential to be that electric of a player when he can slash to the hoop.

    He's struggled a bit more this season, which would make the stats misleading considering he's averaging the same amount of points he did last season (15.5), but it's been tougher considering he hasn't had Andrew Bogut for large amounts of the year.

17. Houston Rockets: Kevin Martin

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    Martin might be one of the game's most well kept secrets.

    You wouldn't think Martin is 10th in the league in scoring, nor that he's on pace to average more than 20 points for the fifth time in the last six seasons. It might be because Martin hasn't been blessed for being on the best teams for most of his career.

    But he's shining in Houston. Unfortunately for him, he's stuck on another losing team.

16. Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash

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    There's no doubting Nash is one of the best players in the league, but he's not in good shape when he has to be the top scoring option on his own team, nor when he has to be his team's leading scorer as he is right now.

    Nash has been better when he can score when he has to and he can distribute to Amar'e Stoudemire and others. He hasn't had that this season now that Jason Richardson is gone and Vince Carter is barely averaging double figures in points. His ranking on this list is not a knock on him at all, it's just that he's not a scorer.

15: New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul

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    David West might be the team's leading scorer, and he gets his fair share of looks, but CP3 is the man in New Orleans. 

    He's never been a huge scorer, and he even admitted that the Hornets really don't have a true No. 1, which is why they don't run a lot of isolation, according to ESPN. But when the game's on the line, few players are better than Paul, who just makes things happen. David West might get his, but the key to the offense is Chris Paul.

    He is their best true scorer.

14. Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger

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    Danny Granger is a lot like Randolph, in that a lot of people who don't follow basketball intently might not realize just how good he is. 

    Just consider the fact that he's played with players like an injury prone T.J. Ford and Josh McRoberts in his career and that he is the focus for any opposing team to shut down. Then he goes out and very quietly averages 18 points per game for his career and averages 20 points per game each of the last three seasons. 

13. Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce

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    Paul Pierce's numbers the last couple of years might be skewed a little bit by the fact that he's played with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and he hasn't had to carry the offense as he once did.

    But he's still the main scorer for the Celtics, and he's still the one that makes the offense run smoothly. He can still slash to the hoop and knock down an outside shot, which makes him especially valuable. The stats don't look as good as they once did, but don't get it twisted; Paul Pierce is still the man in Boston.

12. Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson

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    Despite the emergence of Josh Smith and Al Horford, Johnson's still one of the best outside shooters the Hawks have and the best pure scorer they have with Jamal Crawford being a close second.

    Johnson can still knock down a shot from anywhere on the floor, and he's one of the most dangerous scorers out there. He doesn't have to be some nights because of Crawford, Smith and Horford that have given him help.

    But Johnson still carries the offense when push comes to shove.

11. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin

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    Surprisingly enough, Blake Griffin can do more than just jump out of the roof.

    He's also near the top of the league in scoring and developing more of a post-up game every day, although it doesn't really hurt that he's the size of a center and can move like a small forward. It'll be interesting to see how he develops as defenses try to stop and neutralize him, but for right now the Clippers offense is pretty simple.

    Just get the ball to Blake.

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Roy

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    When Brandon Roy is healthy, he can beat you so many ways. The key word being when he's healthy.

    LaMarcus Aldridge has become more of the top option now with Roy hurt, but he is the offense when he's healthy. He's fearless enough to drive and penetrate to the lane, or he can step outside and knock down an open shot or even create his own shot.

    It's unfortunate to think how his career might be limited by the beatings he's taken over the year.

9. Golden State Warriors: Monta Ellis

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    Ellis is very much like Roy in that he can beat you a number of ways.

    He's fast enough that he can turn the corners on defenders and athletic enough that he can get to the rim. But he's also agile enough that he can completely juke a defender out of his shoes to create his own shot. Then again, he's also very underrated as a shooter from outside.

    When the game is on the line, the Warriors can either go to Ellis or Stephen Curry. But Ellis is still the go-to guy.

8. Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard

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    Howard is still raw in terms of a post-up game, but he's improving. But still the Magic are a different team when Dwight Howard is involved in the game.

    When Howard gets touches and can get easy baskets, it opens up everything for the rest of the Magic, including players like Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson. The Magic still don't get him the ball enough at times, but he's the man that makes the Magic go on offense.

7. New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams

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    Perhaps the most impressive thing about Williams is that he was able to walk the line between being scoring guard and distributor.

    But make no mistake, he was the No. 1 scoring option in Utah and he had a better cast around him. Even with a vastly improving Brook Lopez, Williams will be the guy in New Jersey. He was brought in to be the guy. His skill set as a distributor, a penetrater and a shooter make it so.

6. New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony

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    If this list was compiled a week ago, it would've been Amar'e Stoudemire without a doubt. But despite being in New York for all of a week, you can't deny Anthony as a scorer.

    He can drive and penetrate, but he's best as a pure shooter who can knock down a shot from anywhere on the floor. And truth be told, the Knicks didn't acquire him to be a No. 2 scoring option to Stoudemire. They brought him in for the same reason the Nets got Deron Williams.

    To be the guy.

5. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki

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    Who else would it be for the Mavericks?

    Despite all the changes the Mavericks have made over the years, Nowitzki's been one of the few constants. He's still a big body that can knock down that mid range fade away jumper better than anyone in the league save for Kobe. He can beat you inside, outside or at the line.

    In plain terms: He's always been the guy in Dallas.

4. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose

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    One of the most exciting players in the league, the Bulls were hoping they would get some help from Rose in the form of Carlos Boozer.

    But Boozer has been hurt for large chunks of the season and Joakim Noah has had the same fate as well. So Rose has had to carry the load for the Bulls. Not surprisingly, he's passed the challenge with flying colors.

    It's no surprise that while he's been his dynamic self, there are some who think Rose should be the MVP.

3. Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant

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    Perhaps this season for the first time, we've started to see the accumulation of all the miles Kobe's had over the years. And this year more than in the past couple of years, he's reverted at times back to the 2005-2006 Kobe that felt he had to take over and take 30 shots a game.

    But let's be honest. Besides all that, try imagining the Lakers without Kobe. More importantly, if someone told you you needed one shot to win the game and Kobe Bryant would take it. Would you say no?

2. Miami Heat: LeBron James

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    LeBron James has had to be more of a facilitator than he has been in recent years, taking on more of a point guard role than he has even in Cleveland.

    So it was interesting to see who would take a bit of a scoring drop between him or Dwyane Wade in Miami. Not surprisingly, both are still in the top five in scoring and James is second in the league, meaning he's still getting his points.

    Just another year for LeBron, who has become the man in Miami.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant

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    Is there anything he can't do?

    Durant could very well be on the way to an MVP award the way he's playing, leading the league in scoring and leading a very young and very hungry Thunder team that believes they can win now. Other players on the Thunder have continued to develop (namely Russell Westbrook), but it still starts and stops with Durant. 

    He has the ability to carry a team on his back, and as he goes, the Thunder goes.