NBA Rankings: Breakdown of Every Aspect of the Top 5 Players Abilities

Bhemis ParksAnalyst IAugust 14, 2010

NBA Rankings: Breakdown of Every Aspect of the Top 5 Players Abilities

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    We all have our favorites in regards to who’s the best at doing what on a basketball court. It is a never ending situation that will never have a winner.

    Yet we all indulge in the act of passing our biased opinions off as facts. It really is a distasteful act that needs to stop.

    We all share one very important thing in common. That is the simple fact that we are fans of the NBA brand.

    Not one fan is greater than the next, we all have an equal voice, and all the money in the world can’t change that.

    As a fan, you need to understand that you rooting for a player doesn’t make him any greater than the guy that you’re rooting against.

    Your favorite’s abilities aren’t increased by how much more ignorant you can be than the next guy. What these players accomplish and don’t accomplish are solely in their control.

    We are nothing more than spectators to their athletic abilities. The sooner you realize that, the quicker we can all engage in healthy discussions of basketball.

    Now that we’ve gotten that out the way, let us get to the issue at hand.

    Instead of writing my own opinion on each player (something that’s been done more than enough), I decided to breakdown each aspect of the game of basketball and ranked each player accordingly to how I view them. You don’t have to agree, after all; it’s my opinion.

    As far as the players involved in the ranking, I don’t expect many to agree with my selections. But again, it’s my opinion.

    The top five players in my estimate are as read: Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. The list is in no particular order…so spare me the rants, Kobe-homers.

    Kevin Durant, the NBA’s newest project of creating the “Best in the game,” does not make the cut because he isn’t better than the five players before hand.

    In order for him to climb the NBA ranking of top players, we would all have to admit that players like Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh all decreased as players.

    That wouldn’t be a true statement. So I won’t sit here and tell a lie.

    What Durant should be classified is as a top scorer. The rest of his game has yet to reach the levels of the top five players I listed.

    This is not a ranking on potential. Nor is it a ranking on past accomplishments. It is a ranking of the here and now. It is based on what these players can do today if they had to lace them up.

    With that said, I hope you enjoy the article and I hope it broadens your view as a fan.

The Seven Aspects of Defense

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    In regards to defense, there are seven areas of focus in most coaches’ eyes. They read as followed: Individual-D, Team-D, Positioning between one's man and the basket, Rebounding, Shot-Blocking, Steals, and Awareness.

    Individual Defense:

    Individual defense is the ability to defend your man in a one-on-one situation. The great ones aren’t great because they stop their man from scoring.

    They’re great because they do all the little things before a guy has the ball. It’s fighting for position, ball denial, pushing a guy off his sweet spot, and just consistently making a guy work harder than he normally has to, thus limiting his chances at making a positive play for his team.

    Sure, some show an ability to lock a player up on single possessions, but that isn’t an effective tactic.

    The key to being a great or good defender is consistency. Not consistency from game to game, but more so each possession played. With that said, here are how the top 5 players rank amongst themselves.

    1. Chris Paul
    2. LeBron James
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Kobe Bryant

    The reason Chris Paul gets the No. 1 spot is because he consistently has to defend the toughest position in the NBA. He consistently does so at a high level and rarely can be seen taking a play off.

    LeBron James is No. 2 because unlike Wade, Kobe and Anthony; he didn’t have designated defensive stoppers starting alongside him.

    He actually defended the best perimeter player for long stretches of games due to Anthony Parker’s limited athletic abilities. Kobe has the best technique, but what good is it if he only displays it for 6- to 10-minute stretches of games?

     

    Team Defense:

    Team Defense is the ability to follow a systematic scheme or plan. It’s also the ability to help out teammates when they have been beaten, understanding rotations in regards to switching off players or trapping them.

    Discipline ways heavy in the team defense concept. One weak link can cause the entire structure to falter. It isn’t about roaming passing lanes or chase down blocks.

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. LeBron James
    4. Kobe Bryant
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    Chris Paul wins this again mainly due to his constant pressure on the ball and his ability to keep other guards from getting into the lane and breaking down his team’s defense.

    Wade is second because he’s extremely big on positioning and being able stay between his man and the basket while still being able to drop down in the paint and protecting his smaller front line.

    James is similar in nature but not as efficient as Wade at doing so. Kobe is just as capable at doing the same thing but doesn’t. He generally allows his teammates to play by themselves and let the chips fall as they may.

    Melo isn’t a very good team defender yet. He’s gotten better these past two seasons but is still behind the other four.

    Awareness:

    Defensive awareness is understanding of what an opposing team is trying to accomplish. It’s basically as simple as that. A player with great awareness is alert and active.

    They are the players you often see drawing charges, getting weak-side blocks, and playing the passing lanes for steals.

    They are also the players you see executing things like simple defensive rotations and boxing out players who aren’t their man to prevent offensive rebounds.

    1. Dwyane Wade
    2. Kobe Bryant
    3. Chris Paul 
    4. LeBron James
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    Awareness is more of a respect and pride issue. Wade is clearly the most aware of all these players because he consistently makes plays in a half-court setting.

    Kobe is also extremely aware of what goes on around him but often doesn't react to make the play needed to prevent a score.

    James and Paul make a ton of plays but often are because they gamble a lot.

     

    Rebounding:

    Rebounding isn’t solely judged by the number that a player averages. As a fan, you should understand how rebounds are acquired in relation to a player’s position on the court.

    There’s a reason that the center and forward positions are generally the leaders. They are closer to the basket and thus afford more opportunities to get numbers.

    A guard spends most of their time on the perimeter challenging jump shooters. So simple logic should tell an intelligent person that their numbers will on average be lower.

    Having greater size and athletic ability does not make you a better rebounder; it only gives you a greater chance at achieving the goal…that’s called production.

    Production isn’t always a sign of better. If it was, Kobe and his efficiency rating wouldn’t have people regarding him as a top 10 player.  Never the less, here are the rankings.

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. LeBron James
    4. Kobe Bryant 
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    The Chris Paul selection explains itself. The guy averaged four defensive boards per game… same as Kobe, Wade and Anthony.

    Wade gets the second spot because he averaged two less rebounds than LeBron while playing two minutes less per game.

    Kobe out performed Anthony who has no reason not averaging at least six defensive rebounds per game.

    Shot Blocking

    Shot- blocking is the ability to erase a offensive players attempt at scoring. I also took into consideration how often these players affect the shot attempts of players throughout the course of a game.

    With that said, let’s get to the rankings.

    1. Dwyane Wade
    2. LeBron James
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Chris Paul

    Dwyane Wade doesn’t just gets weak-side and chase down blocks. Unlike the other four, he has a knack for blocking jump shot attempts. He patrols the paint more like a center than a guard.

    James gets most of his blocks from rundown and weak-side attempts. He isn’t very good or consistent at getting a hand up and challenging the shot of his own man…same applies with the other three.

    Steals:

    Steals are the ability to generate turnovers by taking the ball before an opponent can get a shot off. A player can acquire them in a variety of ways, so the ending total isn’t a direct indication of how good a player is.

    I took into consideration how often a guy pokes a ball away to a teammate or just causing a turnover. People should also understand the point guards generally get more steals because they are in the proximity of the ball more often, thus allowing more opportunities to actually get a chance at getting a steal.

    1. Dwyane Wade
    2. Chris Paul
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. LeBron James
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    Wade gets his hands on more balls per opportunity than anyone in the NBA not named Kyle Lowry.

    Chris Paul is great at getting steals from on ball pressure and jumping passing lanes, Kobe also.

    James basically plays the passing lanes and needs to improve in his ability to generate turnovers from his individual defense.

    Carmelo gets most of his from oppurtunity.

    Versatility:

    Versatility is the ability to cover multiple positions on the floor in an effective manner...the key word being effective.  

    Just because a guy is tall and strong enough doesn’t mean he will be an effective defender on a player playing a position that he isn’t accustom to defending.

    So the common sentiment that James can defend positions one through four isn’t really a true statement.

    Truth is, Kobe is more adapt at defending larger players than James or Carmelo is. With that said. Here are the rankings. 

    1. Kobe Bryant
    2. LeBron James
    3. Dwyane Wade 
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Chris Paul

    Kobe is the most versatile because he can effectively defend positions one through four. His knowledge of positioning and footwork is as good as it gets.

    James can do it with positions one through three…Wade is a step behind.

    Anthony can handle positions two and three…occasionally he can be put on a four man.

    Final Grade :

    I used a grading scale of 5 points for each first place finish, four for second, three for third, two for fourth, and one for last. It will also be repeated in the next two portions at the end of the article to help get a better understanding of who the best player in the NBA might be…key word being might.

    1. Dwyane Wade (29 points)
    2. Chris Paul (24 points)
    3. LeBron James (22 points)
    4. Kobe Bryant (20 points)
    5. Carmelo Anthony (10 points)

    Wade finishes as the highest graded defender. He has the biggest impact on a game defensively.

    You can take what has been broken down at face value or you can hold onto your biases. It won't make them any more right than mine…they both will still be opinions. 

The Five Aspects of Play-Making

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    Awareness:

    Offensive awareness is nothing more than being able to understand what a defense is trying to do.

    It’s also being alert to what your teammates are anticipating and being able to make the proper read in order to get a positive outcome.

    There are a lot of other little things that can be tied into it also but really aren’t important for this discussion.

    1. Wade
    2. Paul
    3. James
    4. Kobe
    5. Anthony

    In all honesty, Kobe should be No. 1. His ability to read defense should be great being that he has eight-plus years of experience over the other four guys.

    But that isn’t the case. He’s good at reading his initial defender but instead of making the proper read after (pass the ball); he elects to take difficult shots.

    Wade is the best at reading a defense. His ability to generate positive plays for himself and his teammates is only matched by James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

     

    Setting Up Teammates:

    Setting up teammates is the ability to draw a defense attention on one’s self to put a teammate in a position to make a positive play. It requires a strong understanding of the nature of all players on the court.

    The average fan thinks it’s simply dribbling and passing, but it’s more cerebral than that. It’s where a players basketball IQ shows up best in regards to offense. 

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. LeBron James
    4. Kobe Bryant
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    Steve Nash is the best in the game and Chris Paul is right behind him. Wade is ahead of James because he actually is more adapt at running an actual designed offensive play.

    James is more comfortable in a isolation play where he can draw the defense and kick it to an open man. That isn’t setting up a teammates, that’s setting up a defender.

    Reason why I say this is because, if a defense elects to stay in one on one situations and not help. James’ teammates would never be involved. Kobe is the same way also.

    If Kobe wasn't so selfish, he could easily average seven assist due to all the attention he commands.   

     

    Ball Handling:

    Ball handling is basically the ability to dribble and pass. It’s also the ability to not turn the ball over. It’s difficult to evaluate who is a better ball handler by simply watching a guy.

    You have to have a sound understanding of the actual acts of both actions. You have to understand that beating a guy in a one-on-one situation is not the same as beating a double or triple team.

    1. Chris Paul
    2. LeBron James
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. Kobe Bryant
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    Chris Paul is often regarded as the best ball handler in the NBA. His ability to dribble and pass is as good as it gets in the NBA.

    Steve Nash might be the only player that can match him in regards to those two things. LeBron is a better passer than Wade slightly but Wade is the better dribbler.

    The only difference between the two are the fact that James is less likely to turn the ball over because he isn’t as bull-headed as Wade in trying to dribble through multiple defenders, and his size affords him better passing angles.

    Kobe is probably the second-best ball handler in regards to his ability to keep himself between the ball and defender but he isn’t adapt at dribbling through multiple defenders, he’d rather shoot over the top of them.

     

    Passing Ability:

    Passing is nothing more than being able to get the ball to a teammate. The greater passers are the ones who are able to get the ball to guys that in a position to make a positive play.

    Assist aren’t always a sign of a great passer, that’s more a sign of a player’s awareness and willingness to involve their teammates. Passing is just an act and not a thought.  

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. LeBron James
    4. Kobe Bryant
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    James is the strongest passer in regards to being able to make plays under duress. But Passing is about getting the ball to players in a manner that allows them to be successful.

    James doesn’t always do that as he often elects to hold the ball to long. Paul and Wade are at the top because they deliver clean and on time passes that allow their teammates to be most successful.

    Willingness to trust teammates:

    Willingness to trust teammates offensively is nothing more than giving up the ball and allowing them to try and create for themselves or the other four guys on the floor. 

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Carmelo Anthony
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. LeBron James
    5. Kobe Bryant

    Chris Paul is No. 1 because he doesn’t have a problem trusting anyone. He looks to keep his teammates involved at all times. Carmelo gets the call at the second spot because he is on a team loaded with offensive talent and he affords his teammates the respect needed for them to do what they do best.

    Wade faltered because several times this past season Michael Beasley was the hot hand and Wade elected to take the final shot himself.

    Only reason he is ahead of LeBron is because for the first three quarters, no top five scorer makes a more conscious effort to keep his teammates involved and urges them to make a play.

    Offensive Rebounding:

    Offensive rebounding is the ability to come up with a miss shot of ones self or a teammate.

    1. Dwyane Wade
    2. Carmelo Anthony
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. Chris Paul
    5. LeBron James

    Wade is first because he played two minutes less than the other guys and still finished second to only Carmelo Anthony. LeBron and Chris Paul didn’t even manage one per game.

    Kobe was just at one even though he played close to 39 minutes per game and spends a ton of time in the post.

    Final Grade :

    Chris Paul came out on top…big surprise? Wade and James evened-out… big surprise?  

    1. Chris Paul (26 points)
    2. Dwyane Wade (24 points)
    3. LeBron James (16 points)
    4. Kobe Bryant (15 points)
    5. Carmelo Anthony (9 points)

The Nine Aspects of Scoring

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    Jump Shooting:

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Kobe Bryant
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. LeBron James

    Most folks would tell you that Kobe is the best shooter in the NBA. That isn't even remotely close to being true. Guys like Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen, Michael Redd, Chris Bosh and etc are all better shooters.

    In regards to the five players listed. Chris Paul percentages suggest he's the top guy...he was the fourth rated jump shooter this past season. Only Terry, Nash and Ray Allen finished better. Kobe fans will argue that he takes more difficult shots, as if that's an indication of his greatness. It's not. It's more a declamation of his ignorance.

    The truth is, Kobe only finished slightly above Wade in jump shooting percentages... 43.9 to 43.1 according to 82games.com

    James and Anthony bought finished fewer than 40 percent. 

    Freethrow Shooting:

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Carmelo Anthony
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. Dwyane Wade
    5. LeBron James

    Three-Point Shooting:

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Carmelo Anthony
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. LeBron James
    5. Dwyane Wade

    Refer to 82games.com by cicking above.

     

    Ability to draw fouls:

    The ability to draw fouls is nothing more than the ability to get a defender off balance and then getting ones body in position to sustain or initiate contact. The biases of NBA officials skew this aspect of the game.

    1. LeBron James
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. Chris Paul
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Kobe Bryant

    Kobe is probably the most skilled at it in regards to footwork and getting his body in position. However, he often shies away from the act in favor of trying to shoot over rather than going through. Wade is second in footwork to Kobe but he different because he tries to go through rather than over. James is just a bull. And though he isn't as skill as Wade and Kobe, he's still the top free-throw taker...year in and year out.

    Kobe uses dirty tactics like bringing your arm through a defender that has his hand in your face. I can't respect that.

    Ability to score with contact:

    This is the ability to absorb contact and finish a play. It's often regarded as an "And-1." However, most contact isn't called. So to just base it on that aspect would be totally wrong. 

    1. LeBron James
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Chris Paul

    James leads the league in And-1 attempts year in and year out. But Wade is ofen right behind him and last season was no different. Should have put Wade numer one for all his poster shots.

    The other three aren't close. 

    Movement without the ball:

    1. Carmelo Anthony
    2. Kobe Bryant
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. Chris Paul
    5. LeBron James

    Scoring off the dribble:

    1. Chris Paul
    2. Dwyane Wade
    3. LeBron James
    4. Kobe Bryant
    5. Carmelo Anthony

    Scoring over multiple defenders:

    1. Dwyane Wade
    2. LeBron James
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Chris Paul

    Versatility:

    1. Carmelo Anthony
    2. Kobe Bryant
    3. Dwyane Wade
    4. LeBron James
    5. Chris Paul

    Final Rating:

    1. Dwyane Wade (29 points)
    2. Chris Paul (28 points)
    3. Kobe Bryant (27 points)
    4. Carmelo Anthony (26 points)
    5. LeBron James (25 points)

End Results... Wade is as good as it gets!!!

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    Dwyane Wade comes out on top. So say what you will, the guy is as good as anyone in the NBA.

    There's a reason why his teams are always in a position to win a game against the better teams in the NBA.

    1. Dwayne Wade (82 points)

    2. Chris Paul (76 points)

    3. LeBron James (63 points)

    4. Kobe Bryant (62 points)

    5. Carmelo Anthony (45 points)

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