I'm trying to start a regular weekly column with my personal picks of the top three NBA players at the five spots, as well as a rookie watch. This was partially inspired by ESPN's Awards Watch and my love of lists and categorization. It's only been one week, and anything can change, but we'll leave that for when fate intervenes. So let's see who's caught my eye so far...
1. Chris Paul, New Orleans
Could there be any doubt? The guy's a stud, and he's set to have a career season, which is saying something because he torched the league last year. Just check the stat line after three games—21.7 ppg, 12 apg, 2.33 steals. Fire is afraid to go near Paul.
2. Jose Calderon, Toronto
Am I biased towards the Raptors? Sure I am, but there's no denying that three games in Calderon is the clear No. 2 point guard in the league. Will this eventually change? Probably, with Nash and Parker just beginning to rev their engines, but let's let Calderon savour his moment for now.
3. Steve Nash, Phoenix
Say what you will about his diminishing returns, the guy's still electric to watch and his numbers haven't dropped off that much since last year, which means he's still a top-five point guard at any given time. He even has slightly better numbers than Calderon, but he's here in third for now because his Suns aren't exactly burning up the conference like they had in the past.
1. Joe Johnson, Atlanta
This guy's red hot, but damn if I don't hate on his name. When you think "Joe Johnson," you think of your tax agent. You think about your insurance salesman. You do not think of an all-star calibre shooting guard currently blazing a trail of destruction and mayhem in every arena he sets foot in. For the rest of the season, I'll call him Jetstream Johnsonation.
2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
‘Durr...’ some of you may be thinking. 'Wuss' would be on the minds of others. Or, more likely, “why the heck isn’t he No. 1?” Kobe's the best player, bar none, in the league, and this admission comes from a guy who HATES Kobe and the Lakers. That's how talented he is. But Jetstream Johnsonation’s simply been a better player these last seven or eight days.
3. Michael Redd, Milwaukee
This was a tough third between Redd, Dwyane Wade, and Stephen Jackson, but Redd's mad efficiency put him over. 47 percent from three? That's sickening. He probably won't be able to keep this spot in the coming weeks, but he'll have a place in my heart as one of the most stone cold shooters in the league.
1. Danny Granger, Indiana
Huh? Where's Lebron? How dare you commit blasphemy! Just cool your jets. When Lebron decides to show up, I'll have his No. 1 ranking all warm and snuggily from Granger's rear. Yes, Granger's only played a game, but oh what a game—33 points on 62.5 percent shooting? Impressive.
2. Lebron James, Cleveland
Yes, his numbers are still great by any means, but they're not great by Lebron's means. Three games in and he's only (ONLY) averaging 22 ppg. and shooting a sizzling 0 percent from three? Yeah, that's not gonna cut it.
3. Gerald Wallace, Charlotte
21 ppg. and nearly 9 boards? Yes, you may have a spot in the list Gerald.
1. Chris Bosh, Toronto
This isn't because of my Raptor goggles. At 26 ppg. and 10 rpg. after three, he's firmly asserted himself as the best playing big man in the NBA a week into the season. Plus, he kind of looks like a Raptor so he essentially embodies his franchise more so than any other player in the league.
2. Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix
I could lose the shades. They make him look weird. Shady, you might say. New image aside, Amare's doing what Amare does best—destroy his defenders en route to murdering rims.
3. Carlos Boozer, Utah
Yes, I remember Garnett and no, he doesn't belong on this list yet. Boozer's running the league-leading Jazz while getting 21 ppg. and 10 boards. You can't ask for more in a power forward.
Centres (I'm Canadian)
1. Yao Ming, Houston
This was a tough one. Both Yao and Dwight have done great this year, but because Houston does have the better record, I'll give my nod that direction. Barring any sudden, though ultimately inevitable, injuries we can expect Yao and Dwight to be battling the top spot at centre the rest of the year.
2. Dwight Howard, Orlando
He's not human. After that dunk contest and now averaging 22 ppg. and 14.5 rpg. (!) I've concluded that Howard was not birthed by a human woman, but rather is an offspring of a classical Cyclops and a promiscuous pogo stick.
3. Andris Biedrins, Golden State
17.5 ppg. and 14.5 rpg. (!!), Andris definitely deserves this spot. This could very well be his break out season, and it's unfortunate that nobody seems to have noticed.
Rookies (Yes, bonus analyses!)
Marc Gasol, Memphis: He's like a bigger, scruffier Pau. Can he be better? Who knows. What I do know is Marc can probably beat Pau in a bout of fisticuffs.
Derrick Rose, Chicago: He's doing exactly what everyone predicted, and that makes him the top contender for ROY.
Michael Beasley, Miami: Definitely easing the fears of Heat fans. Too bad it seems like Dwyane Wade stopped caring just as soon as Beasley arrived. Poor, poor Beasley.
Rudy Fernandez, Portland: Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. Best Spaniard since Gasol and Calderon? You bet.
I'll be back next week for another update.