I'd like to start off by saying this is not a historical comparison. I'm not power ranking the careers of each player.
Kobe can no longer hide behind his rings, and LeBron doesn't get slammed for blowing it against the Celtics.
This is based of the premise of one season. It's loosely designed to create an argument that would go something along the lines of who would be picked first in a one season format trying to build the best possible team without factoring in positions. This means Dwight Howard doesn't get bonus points for being the league's only elite all-around center.
With that said, the criteria that I will base this off of include statistics, talent, efficiency, team value, maturity and durability.
So who is the best basketball player on the planet right now?
He was the first cut of the 15 elite players. He's too immature, and he didn't understand how to play his position. He really killed the Thunder in the playoffs.
He's the best passer in the league, but he's not dynamic enough to be a top-10 guy. He just can't shoot.
One of the best low-post scorers in the game who shined during the playoffs.
He almost made the cut, but his playoff performance and overall season numbers didn't get me all that excited.
Williams is entering his prime as one of the best point guards in the league. Overall, I just thought he wasn't as valuable as some of these other guys.
Definitely the toughest cut of the five. He's just so talented, and he started in the All-Star Game, and also made the All-NBA Second Team.
The biggest problems: He was the primary rebounder and averaged just eight a game, his numbers were inflated because of the offense he played in and he turned the ball over way too much. Amar'e was clutch and really led the Knicks this year, and hey, 11th isn't bad.
Definitely the most controversial pick. Definitely. In my defense, Blake Griffin played a lot better than you think this year. He averaged 22.5 points per game and added 12 rebounds in all 82 games. He was also the most exciting player and won the dunk contest, but that's beside the point.
Griffin emerged as one of the league's best and most unguardable players last season. His elite athleticism in combination with his excellent skill set allow him to be one of the best post players in the game in just his rookie season. He was far and away the best player on his team, and provided Clippers fans with hope for the future.
Griffin is just an adequate defensive player, but his most underrated skill is his passing. Griffin averaged 3.8 assists last season, landing him second among all frontcourt players, trailing only Boris Diaw—who in my opinion, isn't really a power forward. You could certainly say he was the best passing big man in the game last year.
Last season, Griffin was 12th in the NBA in scoring, fourth in rebounding and first among big men in assists. You may say Griffin can't be a top-10 player because of his age, but if you looked at those numbers and I told you he was the best dunker in the game, would you really say he couldn't be a top-10 guy?
In a one season format, I like Blake Griffin as my 10th-best player, ahead of both Pau and Amar'e.
Carmelo can score. Ever since he came into the NBA, he's widely been regarded as one of the league's most lethal scoring threats.
He was third in the NBA last season in scoring, and was third among small forwards in rebounding. He is an elite scorer who can do it in a variety of different ways.
Although 'Melo may not be the best all-around superstar in today's game, he is one of the most complete scorers, and that's definitely worth something.
How well 'Melo plays in New York next season will definitely change how we see him as a player, but right now, I think he's the ninth-best NBA player.
Chris Paul is one of the league's flashiest players. He can dribble and pass like no one else in today's game, and he can really get the fans excited.
Every year, Paul is among the NBA's best in assists. After finishing in the top two in each of the past three seasons; he finished fourth this year. This could be in part due to the lack of a supporting cast in New Orleans.
Paul is extremely fast, and has very quick hands, finishing at the very top of the league in steals in each of his past three healthy seasons.
As if those numbers weren't enough, he averaged a shockingly low 2.2 turnovers per game, and he has finished in the top six among point guards in rebounding for the past six years.
A trend is starting to appear: Chris Paul is one of the most complete players in today's game. Although he averages 16 points a game, he is probably the game's first or second passer. He is also one of the best perimeter defenders, and he can rebound. What can't he do?
Because CP3 hasn't been a great scorer over the past three years, he will sit at eighth. It's hard to put a player this good at eight, but it had to be done.
It's hard to put Dirk at No. 7 after his performance in the playoffs, but I have to be realistic about his abilities. He can score from anywhere. That's for sure, but beyond that I'm questioning him.
The biggest thing working against Dirk at this point is time: He's currently 33 years old, and he isn't getting any younger. I certainly love Dirk in a one-year format, but he isn't the player he used to be.
This season, he saw his minutes drop substantially, and he played 73 games, the fewest he's played since his rookie season. He still played plenty, but he posted essentially career lows in games and minutes. I'm not sure how much longer his body is going to hold out on him.
The other issue is he's a seven-footer who can't really rebound. He averaged just seven boards a game this season, his lowest since his sophomore season. His rebounding numbers have decreased every year since '06.
Overall, I love Dirk. I love his scoring, and I love what he did in the playoffs, but I think the decline has started. In a one-season draft, I don't think he cracks the top five anymore.
Dwight Howard lands at No. 6 on this list. This marks the beginning of the top six. These are the NBA elite, the very best the league has to offer. Now, one flaw can really hurt your status, and that's what happened here.
Dwight Howard is a dominant scorer, but the lack of versatility in his game really hurts him and his team. He put up plenty of points this season, averaging 23 points per game, but he could be averaging significantly more.
If Howard had great low-post moves and a mid-range game, I don't see a reason why he couldn't get to 30. The other issue is, he's a terrible free-throw shooter. This season, he shot just below 60 percent, making him a liability at the end of close games. Putting the ball in his hands is a risk, because fouling him can be an effective strategy.
Howard finished second in the league in rebounding and fourth in blocks. He also led the NBA in double-doubles, although had Kevin Love played as many games as Howard he certainly would have passed him.
Overall, Howard is no doubt one of the NBA's best, but there is one other thing knocking him down: His team isn't necessarily great. The Magic are certainly good, but they were eliminated in the first round by the Hawks. Howard doesn't have a great supporting cast, but they are solid, and he should at least take them to the second round, and it worries me that they were eliminated so early.
Howard still has things to work on, but he is one of the NBA's six best all-around players.
Kevin Durant is probably the best scorer in the game. He can really fill it up in a hurry, and he really doesn't have an offensive ceiling.
I see Durant as essentially a better version of Carmelo Anthony. They both rebound fairly well, and can score from all over.
When Durant came into the league he was seen as a tweener, but he has developed into one of the best small forwards around. I think at some point in his career he could be a 50-40-90 guy—50 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 90 percent from the free-throw line. This year he put up a 46-35-88 and he's still improving.
Durant has led the league in scoring in each of the past two seasons, and there is no reason to believe he won't continue to do it.
It's hard to grade the best scorer in the world at No. 5, but he needs to improve the other parts of his game before he goes any further.
The Black Mamba has been one of the NBA's best players over the past decade, but right now, I just don't think there's an argument for him against LeBron James as to who is better at playing basketball.
Yes, Kobe has five rings, and he will be remembered as one of the greatest players ever. But at this moment, he just isn't the same player he was five years ago. He averaged 25-5-5 this season, but his team failed in the conference semifinals.
Kobe is sneaking up on 33 and recently had another knee surgery. It's hard to imagine him being able to keep up with players five years younger than him for much longer.
For now, Kobe remains in the top five. Although he didn't practice last season and he is wearing down, I think he's still one of the game's best. Next year, it might be a different story.
Dwyane Wade gets the edge over Kobe barely.
It was close, but Wade gets the nod because of his superior field-goal percentage, rebounding and defense. Wade is currently right in his prime, while Kobe just passed it. If we're talking Wade's prime vs. Kobe's prime, I like Kobe, but that's a different argument.
The other reason I like Wade is because I believe he's a better ball-handler. He's more capable of taking the ball up the floor and making good decisions, while Kobe forces a few too many shots. Wade isn't as good of a shooter, but he plays to his strengths and I think he's overall a better player.
Again, this was an extremely tough decision. The margin between these two players is so thin it's hard to determine who you would rather have. For now though, I'm going with Wade in my top three.
Yet another close one. Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP and had a monster year, posting new career highs in almost every important statistical category.
Rose came back ready to go this season, and really improved on the one thing he needed to, which is his outside shot. He got to the line significantly more and converted on nine percent more of his attempts. From the three-point line, he improved by six percent, and he will only continue to improve. If Rose can develop a deadly outside game, he will be literally unstoppable.
He is one of the best in the NBA at taking his man off the dribble, and gets to the basket in almost any situation. He controls his body extremely well, and can get to the line at will.
I chose Rose instead of Wade mainly because of one category. That category is team value. Rose was the MVP for a reason. He makes that Bulls team go, and without him they would be completely lost. He is a superstar, and because Wade plays second fiddle on the Heat, I'm giving Rose the advantage.
After next season, this could all change though. Not in a sense that Wade takes over this spot; it's more about Rose pulling away. If Rose improves on his assist numbers and develops a better outside game, he could run away with No. 2, or even challenge for No. 1.
I know, I know, we all hate LeBron. But to be honest, he's the best basketball player in the world, and it's not even close. Is he the best crunch-time player in the league? No. Did he perform well in the fourth quarter in the Finals? Absolutely not, but that's beside the point.
LeBron James is the most complete player in the game today. He averaged almost 27 points per game, good enough for second in the league. He also averaged seven assists and 7.5 rebounds per game.
LeBron is also a lockdown defender. He harassed Derrick Rose in the Eastern Conference finals as the Heat held him to 35 percent shooting for the series. LeBron can play four positions on the floor and is one of the most versatile players ever.
The combination of power and finesse allows LeBron to dominate opponents and control the game.
Many people thought LeBron would be the No. 2 option on the Heat after he signed with them this offseason, but they were wrong. This is undoubtedly LeBron's team, and he is the best player in the league.
In my mind, the only thing keeping LeBron from being a top-five all-time player is his lack of an offensive post game. If he could play the power forward well, with an excellent array of low-post moves, he could be one of the greatest players ever. No one would ever be able to match up with him. Well, they already can't do that, but then it would be even worse.
I know there will always be people that say LeBron isn't the best player in the league because he hasn't been clutch, but when it comes down to which player is the best at basketball, I think the answer has to be LeBron.
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