NBA: Ranking LeBron James and the Top 15 Players in the League Today

Mark EvansCorrespondent IIIJuly 11, 2011

NBA: Ranking LeBron James and the Top 15 Players in the League Today

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    In today's NBA, there is absolutely no shortage of talent or future Hall of Famers. Experts and fans alike are constantly debating who is the best of the best, and the order in which the best players are ranked often varies.

    As much as I wanted to put Jimmer on this list, I didn't. My most sincere apologies go out to to the BYU community.

    Anyway, we'll start at No. 15.

15. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat

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    It's easy to lose sight of the fact that Bosh is an elite player given that he plays next to LeBron and Wade.

    However, 18 points and 8 rebounds as a third option is nothing to poke fun at. His defense is definitely questionable, but Bosh has a great mid-range offensive game that is a big part of the Heat's offense.

    Don't forget he was also one of the most coveted free agents of the 2010 class.

14. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

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    This one might surprise a lot of people. A year ago, there were plenty of fans who didn't even know Z-Bo.

    This year's NBA playoffs brought Randolph's talents to the public eye, as well as his very limited athletic ability. But hey, when you can score and rebound like that, who needs to jump?

    For such a fantastic offensive player, Randolph plays very little defense. For him to climb this list, that will need to change.

13. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets

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    D-Will is a legitimate franchise player and potential building block as the Nets look to move to Brooklyn.

    Of course, that all rests on a labor agreement and a certain Turkish basketball team.

    Some argue D-Will is the best all-around point guard in the game today in terms of scoring, passing, defense, rebounding, etc. For that reason, he earned a spot in my top 15.

12. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Aldridge is the quiet type who leads by example and takes care of his own business. Compounded by the fact that Portland isn't the biggest of markets, LaMarcus doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

    Coach Nate McMillan has been quoted several times saying Aldridge is the type of player who can dominate both ends of the floor. Well, with Brandon Roy injured, the Texas standout certainly stepped into the spotlight. He is a cornerstone-type of player, and will be around 20 points and 10 rebounds for many years to come.

11. Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers

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    A few years ago, "soft" was the first word that came to mind when thinking of Gasol.

    As of late, however, Pau has started to shred that label with great play and a couple of championships.

    Outside of Dirk, Gasol is the most skilled man in the league today. As Kobe's sidekick, he helped bring the Lakers back to a championship level that hadn't been in place since Shaq left town.

    He may be only the second-best player on his own team, but make no mistake, Pau Gasol is elite.

10. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks

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    We crack the top 10 with one of the most electric offensive players in the league.

    STAT is an absolute freak athlete and one of the hardest players in the league to guard.

    Amar'e proved he could succeed without Steve Nash when he was the primary offensive option before Carmelo arrived in New York.

    His defense is still lacking, but he will block some shots.

9. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

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    Having this year's MVP this low on the list probably looks a little ridiculous—sorry, Bulls fans.

    The fact is, Rose is still not a terribly efficient player.

    He only shot 44 percent from the field this year, which isn't terrible, but not quite elite.

    On top of that, please look at what he did against the Miami Heat in the playoffs. Yes, he scored 23 points per game during that series, but on 35 percent shooting.

    I expect Rose to get better though, and he could really use a scoring wing player to help him take the next step.

8. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    Many people consider 'Melo a top-five player, and I have no problem with that. 'Melo is a top-three or top-four individual offensive player in the league.

    I just value defense more than most people.

    The only problem I have with Anthony is that he slows down an offense with his isolation. He's great at scoring one-on-one, but his style sometimes lets his teammates drift in and out of the game.

    All that being said, don't get me wrong; Carmelo is still a great player and a franchise cornerstone.

7. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

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    I know, you're probably looking at Rose's numbers and asking why he's not above Paul on my list.

    The fact is, CP3 really does a lot with very little.

    When David West went down, the Hornets were left with very little. He put the Hornets on his back just to compete with the Lakers.

    The Lakers threw everything they had at CP3, and he still came up big. The Heat threw everything they had at Rose and, well, he didn't come up so big.

    Plus, CP3 is a more established player.

6. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

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    Dirk is a straight-up baller—and a world champion, by the way.

    We all saw him during this year's playoffs, but he's been doing this for a long time now as one of the most unstoppable players in the league. Seven-footers just aren't supposed to have that much skill and that pretty of a jump shot.

5. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    There's really very little not to love about Durant.

    He's an outstanding offensive player who is only going to get better on both ends of the court. He'll be in the top five for years to come, if only Russell Westbrook could remember how to pass...

4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

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    In a league that is short of quality big men, Dwight Howard is flat-out dominant, averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks a game—and even that is with other teams ganging up on him with 4-5 guys and fouling to no end.

    Please don't compare his numbers with Kevin Love.

    There are two things that need to happen to make Howard completely unstoppable: better teammates and even more improved post moves.

    If I could build my team around any player in the league today for years to come, I would take Dwight Howard and not think twice about it.

3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    Wade is a whole lot more than just a great dresser—and he's a man who knows how to dress.

    Along with being one of the league's best at getting to the rim and scoring, Wade's also a shut-down defender on the perimeter. People wondered how he would adjust to having to share the ball with LeBron and Bosh, but he did just fine.

    On top of all that, Wade is a closer. Down the stretch, I want him to have the ball in his hands.

2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers

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    Even with all those miles on his legs and all the injuries, Kobe is still Kobe. He's not Jordan, but he's still one of the best players of all time.

    Kobe is one of the best at absolutely taking over a game on both ends of the floor, and his five championships can attest to that.

    The Black Mamba's play talks for itself—no question here.

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    I understand it's easy to hate on LeBron, but come on now. This one is easy.

    On top of being an absolute physical specimen, LBJ can get to the rim on command. On top of that, his perimeter shooting has gotten much better since he entered the league, and he's also an outstanding passer.

    Oh yeah, and he can also take pretty much anyone out of the game with his defense.

    Ask Derrick Rose.

    Nobody is supposed to be that big, that fast or that strong.

    He's no Jordan—he's more of a Magic Johnson. Say what you want about him, but LBJ is the best player in the league today.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @JrMarkyMark.