The basketball universe subsequently exploded.
How can a guy with no rings be the best player in basketball? How can he be No. 1 when he can't finish in the fourth quarter? And how the hell is Kobe Bryant ranked seventh?!
Woah, woah, woah. Cool your jets there imaginary person shouting questions for no apparent reason. You've come to the right place.
Now, I know how much you all anticipated ESPNs rankings to come out, but I know even more that you've anticipated my opinion on the whole ordeal. Right?
Ah screw it, you're getting my opinion whether you like it or not.
So, I took a look at the top-50 that ESPN listed (sorry I didn't go into the top 500 but it has only been two days) and plucked it apart, making minor and major tweaks here and there to make it look as I think it should.
This is the result.
ESPN Ranked Player: Carlos Boozer
To me Tyreke Evans is a tough player to put a finger on. Obviously he's the best player on the Kings, but what does that mean exactly?
It made it even harder to rank him after Marcus Thornton stepped in and basically replaced him without a beat, which hurt his ranking quite a bit to me.
Still, it's hard to leave a guy who can put up a 20-5-5 on any given night out of the top-50, I'm just not as high on him as the rest of the ESPN crew I suppose.
ESPN Ranked Player: Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd knows his place, and it's right here.
He is still a good defender, he knows how to rebound as well as ever and he knows how to run the Mavericks' offense.
A top-50 guy for sure.
ESPN Ranked Player: Gerald Wallace
The one player I absolutely had to put into the top-50 was Luis Scola. He's really the only snub that I saw out there.
Scola plays such a strange style of basketball for a power forward that it gets opponents confused and out of whack.
He has a very well-defined offensive game, a relatively cheap contract and he plays better defense than people give him credit for.
ESPN Ranked Player: Tyreke Evans
I'm higher on Lamar Odom than I ever was before, but I still have a problem with the fact that he is the fourth option on his team.
At some point you have to assume that he thrives when there is less pressure on him, when less is expected of him.
He tends to step up from time-to-time, but he just isn't worth as much to his team as the guy I had to put ahead of him, who happens to be on the next slide.
ESPN Ranked Player: Luol Deng
A cornerstone of the Hornets' franchise and a player who probably gives them the best chance of re-signing Chris Paul, I just see David West as a more important player than Lamar Odom.
When you analyze their games side-by-side they come out pretty close to even, but the role that West plays for the Hornets breaks that tie for me.
ESPN Ranked Player: David West
I had to drop Kevin Martin a few spots just because of his atrocious defense.
He is a great offensive player, and if we were just ranking players on offense he would probably be in the top 20, but when you take defense into consideration it just hurts him quite a bit.
ESPN Ranked Player: Lamar Odom
A player who I would consider the most underrated of the past decade (nearly), Gerald Wallace just knows how to play the game right.
Wallace is a godsend on defense, especially if you hate watching professional basketball players just give up when the ball isn't in their hands. Wallace is the master of pestering his man and could probably guard most of the players in the NBA with some effectiveness.
On top of that he is a relatively efficient and effective offensive player, which is just icing on the cake for a guy this good defensively.
ESPN Ranked Player: Josh Smith
I boosted Luol Deng up a few spots for his amazing defense that he's played over the past few years and for the fact that he was the most underrated player of the past season.
Deng can easily break out and score 20 or 25 points on any given night, but he'll do that along with putting forth a furious performance on defense.
If the Bulls end up making it to the Finals this year, I'm betting a good chunk of the credit should go to Deng.
ESPN Ranked Player: Kevin Martin
I felt a little leery putting a true rookie (Blake Griffin is way higher, but he's more of a "redshirt" rookie) in the top-40, especially if they played in just 69 games for a 23-win team, but I can't leave John Wall out altogether.
His 16 points and eight assists are already good enough to make him one of the 10 best point guards in the league.
ESPN Ranked Player: Monta Ellis
I had to drop Eric Gordon down a bit because I think he may have had some inflated numbers last season.
He was the only consistent part of the backcourt for the Clippers, which made him more of a focal point for the offense once Baron Davis left, and even then he only played 56 games all season long.
Still, I have high hopes for Gordon, and I really think that he could be a top-25 player one day.
ESPN Ranked Player: John Wall
Josh Smith had one of the most underrated seasons in years in 2010 with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks on 50 percent shooting, while Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford (Sixth Man of the Year) got all the credit.
Smith took a bit of a step back this year, but he is still one of the best defensive forwards when it comes to athleticism, and he can score when you need him to.
ESPN Ranked Player: Eric Gordon
I may have only dropped him a spot, but the biggest thing that happened to Curry from the ESPN rankings to the all-important Dorsey Rankings is that Monta Ellis skipped ahead of him on the list.
It's not that I think Monta is better for the Warriors in general, or that Curry isn't as good as people think he is, it's just that I think many people out there have an awkward view of Monta Ellis, and I'll get to that when he comes up in a few slides.
ESPN Ranked Player: Stephen Curry
I dig Danny Granger, I think he fits well with the team that he's on and he could be a great leader for this team, but I just don't think he's there yet.
As of right now I would say that he is near the bottom of second-tier small forwards. He fits in well with the Pacers, but he's not yet the reason why the Pacers are a good team.
ESPN Ranked Player: Tyson Chandler
My problem with the view that people have about Monta Eillis is the idea still out there that he is still a chucker.
Sure, Ellis is still very much a volume shooter, I have no problem with that assessment of the man. However, when you play 40 minutes a game (leading the league) for a team that shoots the ball nearly 90 times a game (most in the league), you're going to have to shoot quite a bit.
Do I think Stephen Curry has a better chance at making the Warriors a good team down the road? Yes. Do I think that Stephen Curry is a better basketball player than Monta Ellis at this point in time? No.
ESPN Ranked Player: Danny Granger
Ray Allen is an ageless wonder at this point, still able to shoot the three and be just a horrible distraction on the offensive end for every opponent.
Plus, he can still defend to some extent and is one of the smartest players in this league.
ESPN Ranked Player: Ray Allen
I had to give Tyson Chandler a pretty sizable bump up in the rankings because of what he showed off in the playoff run (hey, that's 90 percent of the reason Marc Gasol is going to be as high as he is, so why can't I do it with Chandler too?).
Chandler was the most efficient scorer in the league last year with a true shooting percentage of nearly 70 percent to go along with his ridiculously tough defense.
ESPN Ranked Player: Andre Iguodala
I had Andre Iguodala in the same place that ESPN had him.
For one, Igoudala is still quite a fine player, offensively and defensively.
However, the biggest reason I would consider him in the top-35 (I considered moving him into the top-30, but I just couldn't justify it) is his leadership. He has led by example and has made the Sixers a smart-shooting, defense-first team, something that's damn near impossible to do when you consider the number of young players they have.
ESPN Ranked Player: Andrew Bogut
I don't want to completely kill Joe Johnson because of his ridiculous contract, but it's just something I can't get out of my mind whenever I hear his name.
Still, he's a perennial All-Star and has been an effective offensive player longer than most players stay effective.
ESPN Ranked Player: Joe Johnson
Maybe I just don't buy into the hype as much as some of the other basketball fans out there, or maybe I just don't see it, but not only do I not see Andrew Bynum as the second-best center in basketball (something I hear far too much), but I don't see him as a top-30 player yet either.
He is fragile (starting just 47 games last year), he's not as huge a scoring threat as he should be for a guy with his strength, and his immaturity level is still pretty high. However, he is a defensive stalwart, so I can't drop him too far.
ESPN Ranked Player: Nene
In the end I had to put Andrew Bogut ahead of Andrew Bynum because he just played better last season.
Bogut led the league in blocks (2.6), was a better rebounder, the leader of his team and a fan-favorite, while Bynum had the advantage in offensive efficiency and defensive toughness.
Bogut got the nod for the way he has taken over the Bucks and made them his team.
ESPN Ranked Player: Andrew Bynum
Yes, I dropped Chris Bosh six spots (more than anyone else) in my rankings, and I stand by every spot he dropped.
Going from 24th to 30th, Bosh was surpassed by Nene, Joakim Noah, Tony Parker, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Al Horford.
If I were putting together a team I would pick any of those six guys over Bosh and not look back.
ESPN Ranked Player: Joakim Noah
I have much respect for Nene after he and the rest of the Nuggets made that playoff run last season, and I think the biggest reason for it was the fact that they had Nene.
With a center who is as mobile and still as defensively sound as Nene is, they were able to run a fast-paced offense without losing the advantage down low, which seems to happen quite a bit when teams run fast-paced.
ESPN Ranked Player: Tony Parker
This is what happens when everything goes right in the development of a player.
Originally, Joakim Noah was no more than a high-energy guy. A poor man's Anderson Varejao.
Now, Noah is one of the most important parts of a championship-caliber team, and has a more polished offensive game and a legitimate defensive skill set to go along with his high energy.
ESPN Ranked Player: Rudy Gay
Running an unorthodox offense may have lessened the value of Tony Parker over the years, but it hasn't lessened it that much.
Even as a sort of co-point guard with Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker was able to rack up close to seven assists a game this past season to go along with 17 points. Plus, any time you have a point guard shooting 51 percent you know you're pretty well off.
ESPN Ranked Player: Marc Gasol
I'm not going to get on Rudy Gay for the fact that his team did so well in the playoffs without him just yet.
Sure, Memphis was 15-10 without him compared to 31-26 with him during the regular season, but I'm convinced a huge part of their success was the development of Marc Gasol after the All-Star break, which should continue to help them this season, plus Rudy Gay will come back to help them even more.
ESPN Ranked Player: Al Horford
Coming on strong after the All-Star break, Marc Gasol's improvement was the reason that Memphis was able to take down San Antonio in the playoffs.
Gasol's stats didn't take off that much, but his mindset did, and you could see him playing tougher defense and exerting himself more often on his opponents.
Then when they got to the playoffs, Gasol was able to carry over that momentum.
ESPN Ranked Player: Chris Bosh
Al Horford has to be the NBA's most underrated player.
When you look at what Horford has been able to do (15 points, nine boards, a block on 55 percent shooting and consistency on a team where nobody was consistent) and combine that with the fact that he should be playing power forward instead of center and it becomes all the more impressive.
If he ends up on a team with a true center (or if Atlanta gets one), he could turn into an elite player.
ESPN Ranked Player: LaMarcus Aldridge
I dropped Kevin Garnett down a spot in favor of LaMarcus Aldridge, which I think is something I had to do.
Still, Garnett is still going strong after spending the better part of two decades in the NBA, playing powerful and sometimes delightfully dirty basketball to pester his opponents and get his team the win.
ESPN Ranked Player: Kevin Garnett
He's getting older, but Paul Pierce is still a top-25 player in the league.
Pierce took a step down in my rankings as well because he is no longer the most important player on the Celtics, I think he has started to share his leadership role with Garnett and Allen, which has lessened his impact on his team in a way.
Still, he is a very effective offensive and defensive player, and one day his jersey will be hanging in the rafters in the TD Garden.
ESPN Ranked Player: Paul Pierce
It hurts me, but I had to drop Tim Duncan out of the top-20, I just had to.
San Antonio has been putting less importance on Tim Duncan over the past few years, and because of that he has seen his numbers take a hit.
He is still quite effective on defense, but he has lost some of his deceptiveness on offense, and has definitely lost a step now that he is entering the darker part of his 30s.
ESPN Ranked Player: Zach Randolph
Riddle me this fellows.
You have a player averaging 20 points, eight rebounds, a steal and a block. He shoots 50 percent, while playing out of position, while becoming the leader of his team. The team he is on had two of their five best players out with injuries, yet he still got them to nearly 50 wins.
Don't you think that guy is one of the 20 best basketball players in the NBA?
Me too, I don't think we need to go any deeper here.
ESPN Ranked Player: Tim Duncan
I never thought I would see the day that Jail-Blazing, salary cap-eating, Luis Amundson-punching Zach Randolph would be considered a top-20 player, but I stand firmly behind it.
Randolph came into his own, and even though he was used as a bit of a black hole down low, he was the Grizzlies best player when they took down the mighty Spurs.
ESPN Ranked Player: Manu Ginobili
Something tells me that if Kevin Love were on a team that had anybody else worthwhile on its roster than his stats would be a bit different, and we would be talking about a top-30 player at best.
I mean their starting center pulled down just five boards a game and only one other guy came within 750 total rebounds of Love (that's right, Michael Beasley had 409 to Love's 1,112 boards. That's a 703 rebound difference).
Still, I can't argue with the fact that the dude averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds this year and is legitimately the best rebounder we've seen since Dennis Rodman.
ESPN Ranked Player: Rajon Rondo
One of the most unique basketball players ever to step foot onto a court, Manu Ginobili has emerged as the leader of the Spurs amidst the decline of Tim Duncan.
Still as shifty and innovative as ever, Ginobili should help keep the Spurs afloat until they find their next diamond in the rough to take over. Who knows, maybe they already have one with Kawhi Leonard.
ESPN Ranked Player: Kevin Love
The crafty young point guard is quickly moving up the ranks in the NBA, and if he is just able to develop a jump shot then he might be able to compete with Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and Chris Paul.
Sadly, that's not the case yet (although I think it's coming), so Rondo will have to settle for being left out of the top-15.
ESPN Ranked Player: Russell Westbrook
Just a shade ahead of Rondo because of his ability to score the ball from all over the court and his extremely high (sometimes irrational) level of confidence.
Russell Westbrook rapidly became one of the best point guards in the NBA in just two years time, and is still improving.
ESPN Ranked Player: Steve Nash
I dropped Amar'e Stoudemire down below his former teammate when compared to the ESPN rankings because I think Steve Nash deserves so much credit for what he's done with the Suns.
Still, Amar'e is a top-15 talent without a doubt, and he has even started to play some aggressive defense from time-to-time, now only if the rest of the Knicks would follow.
ESPN Ranked Player: Amar'e Stoudemire
Carmelo is a notch above Amar'e mostly for his almost unreal ability to score.
Anthony can take the ball at any point on the floor and score on his opponent in a myriad of different ways. He is a good shooter, great at breaking his man down and just a scary offensive player altogether.
ESPN Ranked Player: Carmelo Anthony
To make it short and sweet, without Steve Nash, the Suns are the worst team in the NBA, with him they have a chance to make the playoffs.
Nash is able to transform a ragtag bunch of no-defense playing basketball players into a team that can efficiently run a fast-paced offense well enough to win 40 games, and that's just downright impressive.
ESPN Ranked Player: Pau Gasol
I don't feel comfortable putting a rookie into the top 10, mainly because it feels wrong, like an overreaction to a good thing, and because I expect at least a little bit of a sophomore slump when he realizes that playing with Mo Williams for another year isn't going to be all that fun.
Still, I have to give props to Blake Griffin, he absolutely annihilated the expectations for him and has completely set the bar at an unreachable point for this season's Rookie of the Year.
ESPN Ranked Player: Blake Griffin
Despite his collapse in the playoffs, I have to shed some love on Pau Gasol.
He is the best low-post offensive player in the NBA, he can absolutely break down any other big man in the league with his quick and fancy footwork, and quite frankly his defense isn't as atrocious as it is made out to be. It's bad, but it's not jaw-droppingly bad as it's made out to be at times.
ESPN Ranked Player: Deron Williams
I would call him the second-best point guard in the league (even though there are two point guards ranked ahead of him) and one of the most impressive players in the game with the ball in his hand.
He can break down his opponent like no other guard in the league, and his offensive game is almost enough to get me to consider listening to an argument that claims him to be better than Chris Paul. Almost.
ESPN Ranked Player: Derrick Rose
The reigning MVP should surely be a top-five player...right? Wrong!
Not to take anything away from the year that Derrick Rose had, but the reason he was voted the Most Valuable Player was because he had a stellar season and because he held his team together through injuries, still getting them to 62 wins.
Rose became a great leader as well as a great basketball player this year, he just hasn't become the greatest yet.
ESPN Ranked Player: Kobe Bryant
It feels funny to put a back-to-back scoring champion as the seventh best player in the league, but it pretty much makes sense when you look at who is ahead of him.
Despite the fact that Durant averaged 30 and 28 points per game in 2010 and 2011, he has still struggled to find his defensive game and he has shown a tendency to take shots seemingly because he wants to.
ESPN Ranked Player: Kevin Durant
Chris Paul is the best all-around point guard in the NBA, and I don't even feel like the argument is that close right now.
Sure, offensively Deron Williams is pretty close, and he may even be better than him, but when you factor in Chris Paul's amazing defense (he is just the fourth player ever to lead the league in steals at least three times) and his uncanny leadership ability and you have to give him the nod.
ESPN Ranked Player: Dirk Nowitzki
The fact that Kobe Bryant got left out of the top-five in ESPNs ranking left me speechless. Sure, it was just two spots, but how could the closest thing to Michael Jordan since Michael Jordan be out of the top-five after he averaged 25-5-5 on a 57-win team.
Sure, he's on a great team with great teammates, but there isn't a player in the past five years that has consistently showed the desire to win like Kobe, and that's worth more than stats at some point.
ESPN Ranked Player: Chris Paul
I had to knock D-Wade down a notch to make room for Dirk Nowitzki. I was too enamored with that cat this year to leave him out of my top-three, but that's not a knock on Wade in any way.
The interesting thing about Wade to me is the fact that he is the most important player on Miami, yet that doesn't make him their best player. Basketball is weird.
ESPN Ranked Player: Dwyane Wade
There was nobody, I repeat, nobody in the NBA this year who wanted to win a title as badly as Dirk Nowitzki.
I'm sure that if the Mavericks wouldn't have won a title this year he is easily out of the top-five, maybe even the top-10. However, with that title victory came a new Dirk Nowitzki, a man on a mission, if you will.
His burning desire made him such a good basketball player this year that it would be a crime to leave him out of the top-five.
ESPN Ranked Player: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is the best player at the most important position in the league. That should be enough to warrant a top-five spot right there.
On top of that he is now the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and seems to be a perennial contender for the MVP Award.
Even if he does seem to have LeBron James syndrome at times (he tends to shy away from high-pressure situations and thrive when the spotlight is on him in less important situations), he is still the second best player in the NBA.
ESPN Ranked Player: LeBron James
It's hard for most of us to comprehend a world where the best player in a sport hasn't won a title, and has actually been counter-productive in the most important games of the year.
However, I, along with most of the people at ESPN who voted him so high I would assume, truly believe that LeBron James gives any team the best chance of winning a title at this point in time.
He may have shown some signs of shying away from the big moment, but he is still the biggest reason the Heat made it to the Finals, so I have to give him the nod.
It's frustrating, because for nearly two decades we knew who the best player in the league was. For most of the 80s it was either Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. We may not have known which one was tops, but it was one or the other, we knew that for sure. And of course for the majority of the 90s it was Michael Jordan.
Then in the 2000s we had legitimate arguments at different times from Allen Iverson, Shaq, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and LeBron James, and you'd be walking into a death trap if you were to try to get 100 people to all agree on who was the tops in the league.
And besides, if LeBron's not No. 1, then who is?
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