NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and The 50 Best Players in the NBA

Bhemis ParksAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2010

NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and The 50 Best Players in the NBA

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    LeBron James trying to check Kobe Bryant
    LeBron James trying to check Kobe Bryant

    When talking about the best players in the NBA, folks far too often refer to past accomplishments as if they are the end all discussion to what’s really the truth. People also have the bad habit of talking about what a player will one day be able to do.

    It’s as if people chose to ignore what’s presently in front of them.

    Most fans and Media personalities don’t even watch players or teams that they don’t consider relevant. So how can one accurately gauge who’s better than whom?

    Opinions are still opinions...no matter how you want to dress them up. The only thing that gives credibility to an opinion is reasonable logic set upon an equal foundation.

    Simply put. Don't speak on things you aren't familiar with. 

    There’s no logic in arguing about what player is better than the next if you haven’t devoted equal amount of attention to both players. It’s just not a reasonable notion.

    People owe it to themselves, the players and the game itself to try and watch each player as much as possible. And until one does, he need not engage in certain discussion of basketball.

    Premises For This Article

    The basis for this article is not to discuss the greatness (career achievements) of a player. The premises for the article is to discuss the top players in the game based on their current abilities.

    What a player did five years ago isn’t important if he isn’t doing the same thing today. If you’re going to bring up an 81-point game and speak in terms as if it’s being achieved on a regular occurrence, then you’re truly as dumb as this article suggests.

    Potential is also a word thrown around carelessly. You cannot use the expectations of what a player may become to put him over a player who’s already achieved levels of skill and success that he hasn’t.

    When discussing who the best players are, it isn’t important about what a player was or will be able to do...only the now bares relevance.

    You can’t put player-A over player-B because of what he was able to do four or five seasons ago. To do so is to show you are an individual void of logical thinking.

    I don’t care to hear about an 81-point game if it hasn’t been followed up with another or one remotely close in the past season. Only a complete idiot would argue past abilities as if they are current occurrences.

    It’s great to be a fan but it isn’t healthy for the sport of basketball to be blindly devoted to one player. It’s borderline ridiculous to think that you over-valuing a players abilities somehow makes him even more capable.

    Using team accomplishments to determine what player is greater is borderline idiotic in my opinion. Players do not increase the abilities of their teammates skill-set. They either make the game easier or motivate those teammates to play at or near their potential.

    My method of critiquing players are based on overall abilities, consistency of performing at their peak levels, abilities to get the most out of their surrounding cast and how they fare when facing the top 16 teams.

    I don’t expect many to share my opinions. I’m actually hoping that many don’t…thus creating room for great debates.

    Anyway, if you’re going to try and sell me on your beliefs, don’t waste your time. Until we are at the midway point of the season, my opinions want be swayed.

    (Click here before you start the slide)

    So enjoy the article and do be reasonable in whatever response you choose to leave.   

50. Devin Harris

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 27:  Devin Harris #34 of the New Jersey Nets drives against Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game on March 27, 2009 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Devin Harris is still learning to be a leader and a point guard in the NBA. It’s strange to say such a thing about a six-year NBA veteran but it’s true.

    Offensively, he’s gifted with speed, quickness, and explosiveness. When he’s attacking the basket he can be a nightmare for any opposing defense because he can finish and still get guys in foul trouble. He has poor court awareness and often misses open teammates but when he does make a read, it’s generally a good one.

    Defensively Harris has all the tools to be the best defender at the point position. Sometimes he acts as if it’s a major concern of his and other times he’s on another planet.

    As a floor general he needs to learn how to utilize his abilities to make life easier for his teammates.

    He has a career PER of 17.6

49. Ron Artest

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    BOSTON - JUNE 08:  Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics in the second half of Game Three of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 8, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Whether you love, like, or hate Ron Artest the person; you’ve got to respect his game. And after carrying Kobe Bryant to a fifth NBA Championship this past season, he’s trusted his name back amongst the game's greatest players.

    Offensively, Artest does a lot of things well. He can post players up, he can put the ball on the floor and he can knock down jump shots. He’s also adapt at setting up teammates and in all honestly could be the focal point of a few NBA franchises if not for his past antics.

    Defensively, Artest is a beast. The dude is a top-10 defender…thank the heavens he wasn’t blessed with the athleticism of a lot of other players or the NBA might see 82 games where the opposing player doesn’t score over 20 points. He could rebound at a higher clip but he does a good enough job given his limited athletic ability.

    Ron greatest attributes as a player are his stubbornness and intensity. The dude’s will is ironclad.

    He has a career PER of 16.0

48. Tony Parker

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    Kevin Garnett
    Kevin GarnettRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    People often forget how great a player Tony Parker really is. He just might be the best penetrating guard in the NBA.

    Offensively Parker does everything but shoot the long ball well. He probably has the softest touch of any player in the league and has some of the best foot-work in all of basketball. He's a superb ball handler that is blessed with exceptional speed and quickness. He's an underrated passer because of his mediocre assist numbers (never averaged seven or more, but he’s also never played more than 34 minutes per game).

    Defensively Parker is solid in team and individual defense. He however is poor at rebounding and generating turnovers. He’d be a lot better if he’d dedicate himself to strengthening his body.

    One of the most clutch performers of his era, at age 27, Parker has ways to go before his book is complete.

    His career PER is 18.3

47. Caron Butler

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    DALLAS - APRIL 27:  Forward Caron Butler #4 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Ian Mahinmi #28 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 27, 20
    Pool/Getty Images

    The 29-year-old from Racine, Wisconsin has become a NBA journeyman. Last year Caron Butler joined his fourth team in eight seasons after his production dropped drastically.

    One of the most sincere players a fan will ever meet, Butler’s game is a lot like his versatility as a man.

    Offensively, Butler can do basically whatever he sets his mind to doing. He can create off the dribble for himself as well as others. He can work the mid-range game or he can knock down deep shots. He's an underrated passer and decent enough post player. Only real weakness in his offensive game is his passiveness.

    Defensively, Butler doesn’t back down from anyone. He’s somewhat limited by his lack of speed and athleticism. However that doesn't prevent him from doing his job. He’s a solid rebounder, help defender, and has a knack for creating turnovers. He's one of the most underrated individual defenders in the league.

    He has the personality of a franchise player but his skills and overall production aren’t quite there.

    Has a career PER of 16.3 

46. David West

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    David West
    David WestChris Graythen/Getty Images

    David West doesn’t have much that separates him from the average power forward in the league. He is slow and athletically challenged. Yet still he remains one of the most productive forwards in the league.

    He has one of the best mid-range jumpers in all of basketball and he relies heavily on it. His post game is mediocre because he lacks the size, quickness and explosiveness to be really effective...but he does have a nice baby-hook and fade-away shoot. Most of his points in the paint come from transition and penetration for his teammates. He’s an underrated passer that has great court awareness.

    Defensively West is sound in his positioning, but he’s too slow and too small to effectively stop some of the more versatile players at his position. He is an average rebounder and provides a little in the shot-blocking department. He also has active hands and does a great job of staying out of foul trouble.

    West is a really smart layer but he’s peaked at what kind of player he will and can be.

    He has a career PER of 18.8

45. Joakim Noah

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    CHICAGO - MARCH 30: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls battles for the ball with Jared Dudley #3 and Channing Frye #8 of the Phoenix Suns at the United Center on March 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns defeated the Bulls 111-105. NOTE TO USER: Use
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Most people want to just label Joakim Noah as a energy or hustle player. To do that would be to sell the young man short.

    Noah is a very intelligent player. His energy and effort trumps the talent levels of more skilled players at his position…but that isn’t to say he lacks skill. In regards to what he does, he's one of the most consistent players in the NBA.

    Noah excels in everything but the role of go-to-scorer. He’s only in his third season and is still defining what kind of a player he will be. He's also one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA being that he can defend positions three through five.

    Right now he’s a solid defender, rebounder, passer and extremely aware player. He’s also developing into a very vocal leader…something a lot of players aren’t comfortable doing.

    Expect his numbers to take a major hike-up now that he is the lone center in Chicago.

    He currently has a PER of 16.7

44. Marc Gasol

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 12: Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies goes up for a shot over Josh Powell #21 of the Los Angeles Lakers on April 12, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 92-75. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Marc Gasol is one of the 10 best centers in the NBA and he’s only in his third year in the NBA. Many wonder how good he’d be had he came into the league and been developed like Andrew Bynum was in Los Angeles.

    His offensive game is solid and still growing. He’s a solid 15-foot jump shooter, skilled in the low post, and one heck of an offensive rebounder. Like most European big men, he’s also a skilled passer with great vision.

    Defensively, he’s tough and takes up space because of his size. But he needs to improve his focus and awareness. If he can do that, he’ll easily be a 12-rebound and 2-block per night guy.

    Very intelligent ballplayer with the potential to become a solid leader and even possible the face of a franchise. 

    His career PER is 18.0

43. Andre Iguodala

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 03:  Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks against the Boston Celtics at the Wachovia Center on November 3, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
    Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    Andre Iguodala is often regarded as just a dunker, but the 26-year-old leader of the 76ers is so much more. He is as versatile as any perimeter oriented player in the game today.

    Blessed with tremendous athletic abilities, Iguodala uses his physical capabilities to maximize his many skills on both ends of the court.

    Offensively, Iguodala is at his best with the ball in his hand. He has the ability to create for his teammates or take to the air for an aerial assault. His shooting abilities are growing but far from what they should be for a six-year pro. His only weakness are his lack of a post game and his limited shooting abilities.

    Defensively Iguodala is everywhere…or at least that what it seems. Able to defend four positions, Iguodala can control a game on any given night with his ability too play the passing lanes. He would probably be even better if he didn't have his offensive obligations. He’s an average rebounder and mediocre shot blocker.

    He’s still pretty young and growing as a player, most think he can take his game even higher…I’m also inclined to agree.

    He has a career PER of 17.

42. Jameer Nelson

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    Nelson leaves Rondo reaching for straws
    Nelson leaves Rondo reaching for strawsKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If you were building a team, Jameer Nelson wouldn't be the first player you would think to pick. And it wouldn't be based on his understanding of the game or his ability to play it.

    The reasoning would be based solely on his physical stature and nothing else.

    Nelson is a tremendous shooter and ball handler. He’s also a extremely competitive player and effective floor general.

    He does a great job of balancing the role of playmaker and scorer.

    Nelson is sound in his defensive principals and takes a systematic approach. Rarely does he hurt his teammates in spite of his small stature. He's not a stopper by a long shot and he isn't great at rebounding or generating turnovers but he does a good job of keeping his man in front of him.

    Most people don’t realize that Nelson basically gets you 14 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in 30 minutes of play...keep in mind, these are numbers he's posted while being a third and fourth option.

    He has a career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 16.3.

41. David Lee

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    e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'
    e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'Nick Laham/Getty Images

    David Lee made his first All-Star game last year and finished the season averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game while connecting on 55 percent from the field. 

    It's hard to imagine that this young man was the 30th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

    He has a career PER of 19.5

40. Kevin Garnett

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    Derrick Rose
    Derrick RoseRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    No longer a player that can carry a team by himself for 82 games, Kevin Garnett is on his last leg. Yet still he remains a top-tier player at his position.

    Due to his age and injuries, Garnett isn’t as explosive as he used to be on the offensive end. He’s still one of the best low-block scores and has one of the best jumpers in the NBA but his speed and quickness have taken a major fall off. He’s still a superb passer and every bit aware of his surrounding as was in his earlier years.

    Defensively he’s fallen into the Kobe habit of grabbing and holding onto guys. Unlike Kobe, he’s becoming a very dirty player that has a nasty habit of shoving guys from behind to get rebounds. His diminished physical abilities are the biggest reason he does this but he’s also a poor sportsman.

    He’s still sound in his understanding of what offenses are trying to do. And his discipline hasn’t changed much.

    His rebounding is still great as is his ability to protect the basket and create turnovers with his quick hands.

    His career PER is 23.6

39. Ray Allen

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    BOSTON - JUNE 10:  Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celltics attempts a shot against Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Four of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 10, 2010 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    No longer the franchise player he once was. Ray Allen is in the twilight stage of a Hall of Fame career. Yet still he remains one of the best players at his position.

    Ray Allen is still one of the most cerebral players in the game. That compared with his world class conditioning and jump-shooting ability makes him one of the toughest covers off of screen and pick plays.

    His game is still as versatile as it was two or three seasons ago. He can post guys up, knock down shots from anywhere, put the ball on the floor and find the open man with his passing ability.

    Defensively Allen has gotten better with age. It’s a shame that he didn’t apply this kind of effort when his athleticism matched his basketball IQ. He's become one of the best individual defenders at his position. He's a average rebounder and solid team defender.

    He remains one of the best leaders in the game today…both on and off the court.

    His career PER is 19.4

38. John Salmons

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    MILWAUKEE - APRIL 30: John Salmons #15 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives around Mario West #6 of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at the Bradley Center on April 30, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    John Salmons career doesn’t reflect the player that he is today. His NBA journey is one of dedication and perseverance.

    For eight years John has continued to improve as a player. He’s proof that you can never really place limits on a player by simply looking at the early stages of a career.

    He has a solid offensive game. He comfortable going off the dribble, using the mid-range jumper, and setting up outside for the long ball. He’s also an underrated passer with above average court vision.

    Defensively Salmons is sound in his positioning and in help defense. He does a decent job in individual aspects of defense but his limited speed and quickness usually have him at a disadvantage.

    In regards to being a leader, he’s one of those guys that lets his game speak for him. He’s considered the poor man’s Joe Johnson.

    Career PER of 13.1

37. Russell Westbrook

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots over Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on Apr
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Russell Westbrook is a player on the rise. His game is quickly catching up to the levels of his intensity and energy. He’s managed to turn himself into a legit NBA point-man in a matter of two seasons in the NBA.

    Offensively, Westbrook use his speed, quickness and explosiveness to launch an all-out assault on the painted area. He’s also become a respectable set up man that does a good job of finding open teammates. He’s a bit of a streak shooter at this stage of his career. His only glaring weakness is his lack of a three-point shot.

    Defensively, Westbrook is a beast at the point position. His size and strength allows him the ability to defend most shooting guards and point guards. He’s willing to crash the boards and is a nightmare in the pressure department. His only weakness is that he can sometimes be too aggressive and pick up silly fouls.

    He’s an underrated leader and does not receive the credit he deserves because of his teammate Kevin Durant.

    He has a career PER of 16.5

36. Rudy Gay

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    LOS ANGELES - MARCH 3:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots over Luke Walton #4 and lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers on March 3, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 99-89.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackno
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Rudy Gay is a player on the rise. He sees greatness on the horizon and looks like he’s ready to chase it.

    Offensively Gay does everything effectively. He’s an underrated shooter and is developing into a respectable post option. He’s a slasher by trade and uses his athletic ability to it’s full potential. His only weakness is his poor shot selection.

    Defensively Gay has the ability to change the momentum of games within minutes. He’s great at generating turnovers but he doesn’t rebound or block shots at the rate he’s capable of. His only real weakness is his own effort.

    His career PER is 15.6

35. Michael Beasley

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    MIAMI - APRIL 23: Forward Kevin Garnett #5 and guard Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics defend forward Michael Beasley #30 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    For the past two seasons Michael Beasley has had the biggest bull’s-eye on his back. And for the life of me I can’t understand why.

    He’s been in the league for two years. In those two years he’s been the second most productive player on a team that’s finished as the fifth seed in their conference consecutive seasons. If this was any other player, I can’t help but believe their light would be shined a little brighter.

    Think about this for a second. Beasley played nine games in which Dwyane Wade was injured (Haslem was also injured in three of those games) over his two NBA seasons. Five of those games were against playoff or teams with 42 or more wins. He carried the Heat to a 4-5 record…four of the loses were by 5 or fewer points (Boston-4, Atlanta-2, Dallas-5, and Minnesota-3).

    His numbers also prove that he’s every bit the franchise player advertised:

    275-minutes (30.5)... only played 35 or more minutes in one of the games.

    180-points (20.0)... 20 or more in six of the nine games.

    76-rebounds (8.4)... seven or more rebounds in seven games.

    14-assists (1.5)... an assist in seven games.

    12-steals (1.3)... six games with one or more steals.

    11-blocks (1.2)... six games with one or more blocks.

    19-turnovers (2.1)... three games without a turnover.

    47-percent from the floor (75/ 161)... five games of shooting better than 50-percent from the floor.

    So as you can see, the young man is very skilled and very productive…something Minnesota fans will quickly realize.

    Offensively Beasley can do whatever he wants. He is the most skilled player at his position…period. The only real weaknesses in his armor are his offensive rebounding effort and his inability to quickly diagnose what a defense is trying to do. To often he holds the ball and allows a defense to reset.

    Defensively, Beasley is better than Nowitzki, Stoudemire, Lee, Lewis and a few other All-Star players at his position. Yet somehow he gets hung on a stake for the slightest of mistakes. Beasley is skilled at generating turnovers and protecting the rim. He’s also a solid defensive rebounder.

    Beasley has the potential to be a very good leader should he ever find an organization that wants to back him. His first two teams appear to have been the wrong situation.

    His career PER is 16.6

34. LaMarcus Aldridge

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    e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'
    e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    LaMarcus Aldridge is one of those players that many have heard of but really aren’t aware of how good he is.

    The four-year veteran has only begun to scratch the surface of what he truly can be. He is blessed with the skill, size, and mobility to be a top-five power forward for the next half decade…will he reach that, it’s entirely on him.

    Aldridge’s offensive game is as complete as it gets for a four-year power forward. He can score on the low-block against any defender, he can put the ball on the floor, he’s a good free-throw shooter, and he’s an above average jump shooter for NBA power forwards.

    On defense, his game leaves a little to be desired, especially in regards to how effective he was coming out of college. For a guy who plays as many minutes as he does, he really needs to crash the defensive boards a lot harder.

    Aldridge is great at taking care of himself, but he’s miles away from being a leader or guy that can be the center piece of a franchise. But that’s based on the mental aspect and how he approaches the game. He’s a guy that needs constant reassurance of his role on a team. In terms of production and results, he's one of the best.

    He has a career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 18.4 

33. Stephen Curry

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    OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Stephen Curry #30 the Golden State Warriors shoots against Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on February 21, 2010 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Last season saw the first year pro from Davidson grow as the season progressed. Came the final month of the season Stephen Curry was averaging 26 points and 9 assist per game…numbers that trumped that of Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

    It remains to be seen if that is the direction his career is headed, but at the moment he’s a pretty darn good player.

    His offensive game is basically without flaw. Only thing he doesn’t do is post up. His field goal percentages are jaw dropping for a player that moved from the shooting guard position he played in college to the point position in the NBA.

    Defensively Curry gives effort but he isn’t the quickest of players, but somehow he still manages to get his hands on a lot of balls. In regards to rebounding, Curry is slowly developing into one of the best at his position…and to think the young man added 10-pounds of muscle this offseason.

    He's going to be one heck of a floor general. The young man is extremely bright and appears to be focused on trying to make the most of his abilities. 

    He finished his rookie season with a PER of 16.3 

32. Zach Randolph

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots over Josh Powell #21 of the Los Angeles Lakers on November 6, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 114-98.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowl
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Zach Randolph is a low post tyrant. In regards to paint play, very few players are as productive. He just has a talent for putting the ball in the basket…period.

    In regards to his offense, Randolph can score over either shoulder in the post. He probably has the softest touch of any NBA big man currently playing. His shooting range stretches out to about 17 to 18 feet. And he’s arguably the best offensive rebounder in the game.

    Defense isn’t Randolph’s greatest strength. He’s limited in regards to quickness and leaping ability but often he suffers most from a lack of effort.

    A fiery competitor at times, he can sometime be the victim of his own emotions…which usually hurts his teammates more than him.

    He has a career PER of 19.6.

31. Chris Kaman

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13:  Chris Kaman #35 of the Los Angeles Clippers dribbles to the basket in front of Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on December 13, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowl
    Harry How/Getty Images

    If Chris Kaman every decided to hit the weight-room he could really be something special. His career is an odd one, one year he progresses and the following he seems to take a step backwards.

    He’s one of those players whose organization is the reason why he isn’t a household name. Up until last season, Kaman wasn’t a top option for the team. Those days appear to be behind him now that he's gotten his offensive game top five among NBA centers…easily.

    What ever you can think of a center doing, Kaman can do it. Solid on the low block with his jump shot, skilled passer and without question the best ball handling center in the NBA. His only weakness is his jump shot and even that isn’t all that poor.

    Defensively, Kaman is aware and strong in the paint and one of the best at closing out on screens (when he’s committed). His only weakness is his strength and conditioning. 

    He has a career PER of 14.4

30. Josh Smith

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    ATLANTA - APRIL 20:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after a foul by the Milwaukee Bucks at Philips Arena on April 20, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photogr
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Last season Josh Smith continued his growth as a player as well as a man. He expanded nearly every aspect of his game while becoming more disciplined as a player.

    Offensively, the 24-year-old is still refining his game. He’s a decent ball handler, and has average post-up skills. He’s relinquished his aspirations of being a three-point shooter for the time being. He’s current just a slashing player who feeds off of the abilities of others. His two biggest assets on offense are his vision and passing abilities and offensive rebounding, shooting is his only real weakness.

    Defensively, Smith is great in the help department but extremely overrated in the individual department. He’s solid but with his athletic ability, strength and length he could be a lot better. Smith excels at creating turnovers by playing in passing lanes and roaming the painted area to protect the rim.

    I believe Smith will continue to grow as a player and leader, but he may need to leave Atlanta to become the player he wants to be.

    He has a career PER of 17.9  

29. Monta Ellis

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Monta Ellis #8 of the Golden State Warriors shoots over Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers on December 29, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 124-118. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    If ever the Golden State Warriors become a winning team,Monta Ellis will be a name that rings loud in every NBA fans home. Pound for pound, there might not be a better scorer in the NBA.

    The 6’4” and 185lb titan once shoot 53-percent for 81 games (2007-2008). This past season, Ellis was a 25-point, 4-rebound, 5-assist, and 2-steal a game player.

    He’s one of the best finishers in the NBA and his mid-range jumper is a thing of beauty once it gets going. He’s also a gifted player in the low-post (even at 6’4). He’s also a gifted passer and a nightmare in screen-and-roll plays.  

    His game is enhanced by his speed and agility…and he probably has the best spin moves in all the NBA.

    Defensively, he tends to be a bit lazy, but when he’s focused (usually against the top guards) he can be a head-ache for anyone. However, he isn’t much in the rebounding department and doesn’t care to help-out teammates too often either.

    He has the potential to be a good leader because he has a solid basketball IQ. His only problem is that he think he knows more than his coaches.

    Career PER rating of 16.3

28. Andrew Bogut

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    PHOENIX - JANUARY 11:  Andrew Bogut #6 of the Milwaukee Bucks puts up a shot over Channing Frye #8 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 11, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    To be honest, too much was made of Andrew Bogut and what he and his team were able to do this past season. But from an individual standpoint, Bogut’s numbers weren’t all that better than his 2007-2008 numbers.

    I’m not suggesting that he’s the same player from two-seasons ago, only that his growth isn’t as big as most made it out to be. He’s always been a quality-center. He’s just never had a coach willing to feature him like Skiles did.

    Offensively, Bogut can do what he wants against any center he wants. His unique blend of skill, athleticism and size makes him a tough cover. Gifted with the ability to shoot, post or take his man off the dribble. He’s also a skilled passer and has pretty good court awareness. His only weakness is his poor free throw shooting.

    Defensively, Bogut has benefited from the teachings of Scott Skiles. His rebounding, defensive rotations and shot blocking all looked to be slightly better than what was previously expected of the 25-year-old last season.

    He grew as a leader vocally this past season as well as with his play. Now we must sit and wait to see how he returns from the nasty injury that ended his season.

    His career PER is 17.1

27. Jason Kidd

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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 25:  Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 25, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees t
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Jason Kidd

26. Stephen Jackson

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 24:  Guard Stephen Jackson #1 of the Charlotte Bobcats chases a loose ball while guard Vince Carter #15 of the Orlando Magic pursues during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Time Warne
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Stephen Jackson isn’t one of the most efficient players in the league, but he sure is pretty darn effective when he’s focused on trying to win a game. However, he sometimes loses sight of that goal trying to prove that he isn’t some soft push-over.

    Offensively, Jackson is best when he’s putting the ball on the floor and not settling on his sub-par jump shot. Though he has the ability to knock down three-point shots, it isn’t a strength. He’s a gifted set up man, and he has decent passing abilities, and pretty good court awareness. His only weaknesses are his poor shot selection and tendencies to carelessly handle the ball.

    Defensively Jackson is extremely versatile and extremely effective when he wants to be. Even at the age of 31, Jackson still remains a tremendous athlete. His combination of speed, strength, and length permits him the ability to cover positions one through four. Considering his size and athletic abilities, he’s a pretty average rebounder.

    At times he shows qualities of a good leader and others he reminds people why he never developed into a franchise player.

25. Carlos Boozer

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    SALT LAKE CITY - MAY 10:  Carlos Boozer #5 of the Utah Jazz shoots against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2010 at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USE
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Carlos Boozer is one of the most underrated players in the past decade. He’s constantly placed behind other power forwards in the NBA. His numbers would suggest a different story—for the past seven seasons the man has been a beast when healthy.

    One of the most complete players in regards to offense in the NBA, their isn’t much that Boozer doesn’t know or can’t do. Superb offensive rebounder, there’s only two or three better at using their body for positioning. He’s skilled in shooting as well as posting up and finishing in the paint.

    He’s also an underrated ball handler in one-on-one situations and passing. Boozer is also an above average free throw shooter. His only weakness is his lack of height. If he was an inch or two taller, folks would be calling him the best power forward in the game.

    Defensively, Boozer is a solid rebounder and does a decent job at positioning himself between his man and the basket, but his lack of height usually puts him at a disadvantage against the taller players at his position…just so happen that they are also the better players at the position. He’s good at generating turnovers by using his strong-quick hands to knock balls lose from his or teammates cover.

    Stand-up player who generally plays his best ball against the better teams…just look at his playoff numbers and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    Career PER of 20.8 

24. Paul Pierce

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics drives past Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Paul Pierce

23. Joe Johnson

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    This is the defense that Lakers fans are yelling about???
    This is the defense that Lakers fans are yelling about???Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Joe Johnson 

22. Derrick Rose

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    CLEVELAND - APRIL 19: Derrick Rose #1 Chicago Bulls gets in for a dunk in front of LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 19, 2010 in Cle
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    Derrick Rose

21. Tyreke Evans

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 06:  Tyreke Evans #13 of the Sacramento Kings dunks over Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat at ARCO Arena on December 6, 2009 in Sacramento, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    With the way people talked about Tyreke Evans (2010 Rookie of The Year) last season, you'd think the Sacramento Kings won 50-something games...he had more headlines than players like Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, and Chauncey Billups for crying out loud.

    Evans isn’t on their level yet but he’s still a special player in his own right.

    Offensively Evans is able to play above what his athletic abilities would suggest. He is a tremendous ball handler and very gifted finisher. He's an attacking player that manages to consistently score 15 or more points per game (57 of 72 games) even though he’s limited in his shooting abilities. That’s a clear indicator that he has an extremely high IQ and is skilled at reading and setting up defenses. Only weakness in his game is his shooting abilities…not to bad for a 20-year-old.

    Defensively, Evans is a solid on the ball defender and shows signs of being a great help defender with how he reads passing lanes. His rebounding is average for a player his size but the months of February and March had him rebounding at a seven per-game rate.

    Tyreke looks like he’s going to become a really good floor general and team leader. All he needs to do is stay the course he’s already set for himself.

    His first season PER was 18.2 

20. Danny Granger

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 15:  Danny Granger #33 of the Indiana Pacers drives against Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center on January 15, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees th
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Danny Granger

19. Amare Stoudemire

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    Pau Gasol should be called for a foul with this shove in the back
    Pau Gasol should be called for a foul with this shove in the backJeff Gross/Getty Images

    Amare Stoudemire is the most over-hyped power forward in the game. Statistically speaking, he’s as good as anyone. But in regards to making intelligent basketball decisions and being a team player, the man known as “Statz” is piss-poor.

    All of his unwarranted praising from his fans and media supporters are set to change this upcoming season; he’s going to prove he isn’t worth his pay grade.

    Offensively, the dude may be the most dominant post player in the game. He’s darn near unguardable in one-on-one situations. He has a solid mid-range jumper and is a beast in pick-and-roll scenarios. He can put the ball on the floor better than most but he’s basically a one-dribble and go guy. He’s a decent passer but doesn’t look to do much of it.

    His only real flaw offensively is that he plays with his head down far too often.

    Looking at his stats, a person would assume that Amare is a pretty good defender. At times he shows the ability to be a very capable defender, his only problem lies in the fact that he’s a bit of a diva. He’s goes for the highlight plays and ignores his responsibilities (area). This often results in his teammates being left in un-favorable decisions. Individually he’d be the laughing stock of the NBA if not for being a gifted athlete—he has little discipline or patience.

    Amare has never been a leader and never will be. He’s simply a guy that craves the spotlight. The entire world will get to witness that this season.

    His career PER is 22.6

18. Manu Ginobili

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    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 23:  Guard Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 23, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Manu Ginobili is arguably the third most efficient shooting guard per-36 minutes, only Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant are better when he's on his game.

    Offensively Ginobili can do anything he wants. He’s great at putting the ball on the floor and creating offense for himself. He’s a solid shooter but not great. He’s also an underrated offensive rebounder. His only weakness his propensity to over-dribble and making ill-advised passes.

    Defensively Ginobili can be a nightmare with the havoc he can cause on ball handlers. He’s great at providing on the ball pressure and playing in the passing lanes. He isn’t much of a shot blocker but could be if he wanted to. He’s also a pretty good rebounder.

    Most folks don’t realize that Ginobili only plays about 28 minutes per game for his career. His career would be viewed a lot differently if he was on a team of his own.

    His career PER is 21.7 

17. Steve Nash

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns passes the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 27, 2010 in Los Angeles,
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    If you need a point-man to run your offense, none may be better than Steve Nash. The man has been a basketball wizard for the pass five or six seasons. He’s great at what he does but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been extremely overrated for much of his career.

    Nash is as gifted a shooter and shot maker you’ll find. He’s at home offensively anywhere on the court but the post position. He’s arguably the best passer in the NBA and one of the best ball handlers. His ability to set up defenses is darn near unparalleled to any other player in the game. His only weaknesses are his unselfishness and size, which hasn’t hurt him much at all.

    Defensively Nash gives effort, but that effort doesn’t yield results very often. It’s amazing that a guy who blows by players with ease on offense is such a piss-poor defender at keeping them in front of him. He’s a poor rebounder and doesn’t force many turnovers.

    Nash is a one-side of the court kind of player. Only reason why he ranks so high is because of the level that he plays on the offensive end.

    His career PER is 20.2

16. Rajon Rondo

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    Lakers are always fouling and the refs are always looking the other way.
    Lakers are always fouling and the refs are always looking the other way.Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Rajon Rondo has gone from NBA unknown to NBA All-Star in a matter of a season and a half of play. And to think he’s achieved all this while being the worst shooting starting point-man in the NBA.

    Statistically Rondo has improved as a player each year he has been in the league. I don’t see any reason why that will not happen for a fourth consecutive season.

    Offensively Rondo excels in dribble penetration and setting up teammates for easy baskets. He’s easily the best offensive rebounding guard in the NBA. His game is enhanced by his freakish athletic abilities. He doesn’t offer much in the shooting department because he struggle’s making jump shots and free throws. Luckily his ability to get in the lane often negates those inabilities.

    Defensively Rondo is a ball hawk. He can generate turnovers from locking up his own man or knocking the ball away from an un-expecting ball handler. He’s also a major nightmare because of how he plays the passing lanes. He’s versatile in the fact that he can defend any point guard and most shooting guards. He’s also arguably the best defensive rebounder of any perimeter player, regardless of position. Size and gambling frequency are his only real weaknesses.

    Rondo is growing as a leader and would be better served to fix his attitude issues. Should he ever correct his shooting woes, we could all be looking at a top-five player.

    He has a career PER of  17.1

15. Kevin Durant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks to pass the ball as he is covered by Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Cen
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Kevin Durant is another player the media wants to accelerate into the top-player discussion. He isn’t a top-10 player yet because he makes to many mistakes and poor decisions. However that all could change after his FIBA experience.

    I'm banking it will.

    He is a top-five player in terms of production. However, production doesn’t mean better—he played three more minutes per game than Dwyane Wade and still wasn’t able to out-produce him from a statistical stand-point.

    Offensively Durant excels because of physical attributes and his ability to shoot from long range. He is average in his posting abilities because he lacks bulk and has average footwork.

    He’s an average ball handler that uses his explosive first step to put his man at an advantage but he isn’t much of a threat to pass to his teammates as he only averages 2 to 3 assists per game in 40 minutes of play—not good for a guy that turns the ball over three too four times a game. His weakness is his poor shot-selection and average ball-handling abilities.

    Defensively he shows flashes of being great, but there is no reason for a 6’11” player with his speed and quickness to average fewer blocks and steals than a 6’3” guard. He’s an above average rebounder but should grab more being that his teammate Jeff Green draws the tough assignments.

    Durant is a rising talent but he is not the player that people are trying to make him out to be. He’s still young and doesn’t always do what he’s capable of doing. His numbers didn’t improve all that much from a year ago when you really look at the major categories.

    His team’s improvement was attributed more to the overall talent and not the efforts of only Durant…to put that in perspective. The Thunder only won three more games than the Miami Heat, even though the Heat’s top three players missed 21 more games than that of the Thunder (Durant, Westbrook, and Green played all 82-games last season).

    His career PER is 21.2 

14. Gerald Wallace

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 26: Gerald Wallace #3 of the Charlotte Bobcats dribbles away from Vince Carter #15 of the Orlando Magic at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 26, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Magic defeated the Bobcats 99-90 to complete the
    Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images

    Gerald Wallace is arguably the most underrated player in all the NBA. Yes, he was recognized somewhat with his All-Star berth last season, he still got snubbed from the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

    Wallace is an extremely efficient offensive player. He rarely forces attempts and he’s almost always playing within himself. He’s a solid ball handler and distributor who does a respectable job of getting his teammates the ball. However, he’s most effective when he’s attacking the basket as a slasher and offensive rebounder. He also has a solid deep shot and has worked hard to become a decent free-throw shooter.

    Defensively Wallace can lock a guy up, swallow the key and still provide the kind of help defense needed to protect his lesser teammates. He’s tremendous as a rebounder, shot-blocker and creating turnovers. You name it and Wallace generally does it.

    He’s a passive leader that usually lets his actions speak for him. It’s hard to believe that he’s only 27 years old.

13. Chauncey Billups

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    DENVER - APRIL 08:  Chauncey Billups #1 of the Denver Nuggets drives between Pau Gasol #16 and Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during NBA action at the Pepsi Center on April 8, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 98-96. NOT
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Chauncey Billups

12. Brandon Roy

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    PHOENIX - MARCH 21:  Brandon Roy #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives the ball against Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 21, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 93-87.
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Brandon Roy

11. Pau Gasol

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Glen Davis #11 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics box out Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User ex
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Pau Gasol is the man who saved Kobe Bryant’s career and legacy. Without him, we wouldn’t have to deal with this overrating of Mr. 24.

    Gasol isn’t the most talented or offensively versatile player at his position, but he is extremely talented at what he does do. He’s one of the best low-post scorers in the game and arguably the best passer out of the post position. He’s a really good jump shooter and an absolute beast on the offensive board. He could probably average 26-plus points if he needed to but he’s one of the best team players in the game. His only weakness is his shooting range. He’s solid at everything else.

    Defensively Gasol has made great strides since coming to Los Angeles. He’s becoming a great rebounder and solid interior defender due to his length and awareness. He struggles as a perimeter defender which is odd because he has such good foot-work…it’s probably just an effort thing. At times he shows flashes of being the best defender at his position. He’s also extremely versatile because he can defend multiple positions.

    He’s honestly a Hall of Fame talent that has been ignored for a major part of his career. People really don’t know how good he really is. For the past two seasons he’s been the Lakers best player and biggest reason they’ve captured consecutive NBA titles.

    His career PER is 21.9

10. Dirk Nowitzki

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    DALLAS - APRIL 21:  Forward Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Tony Parker #9 and DeJuan Blair #45 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines C
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Say what you want about Dirk Nowitzki, but for 10 consecutive seasons he’s been the leader of a club that has made it to the NBA playoffs. For 10 consecutive seasons he’s been on teams that have won 50 or more wins—not even Kobe Bryant can lay claim to that, Tim Duncan can however.

    Offensively Nowitzki is the most complete player at his position. He’s capable of doing nearly whatever he wants on the court regardless of his individual defender. The NBA is lucky Dirk never dedicated the time to make his body stronger to be an even greater force. Had he ever decided to bulk up like other NBA power players, he might have become the greatest offensive force of the modern era.

    Defensively Dirk is far from a game changer but he’s better than folks give him credit for. He’s an average rebounder in regards to his size and length. His weakness is his lack of strength and conditioning. Remember, Nowitzki has a huge burden on the offensive end of the floor, thus being part of the reason he takes a ton of defensive plays off.

    Tremendous player and underrated as a leader, Nowitzki has been a winner every since he became a full time starter. One of the most accomplished players in his era and in NBA history.

    He has a career PER of 23.8

9. Deron Williams

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz passes the ball alongside Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in Los Angel
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Deron Williams is the most versatile player at his position. His unique blend of size and skill make him one of the five most offensively disruptive players in the league.

    Honestly, Deron Williams could probably lead the league in scoring if he wanted to. His ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor are only trumped by Chris Paul and Steve Nash. Williams is an unbelievable ball handler and passer. His only weakness is his passive nature—too often he defers to his lesser teammates.

    Defensively Williams is solid but could be a lot better with his size and quickness, if he wasn’t on a Jerry Sloan team, I really believe he’d be a lot less. He isn’t a great team defender either but shows flashes when he’s pissed off. He’s 25 years old and needs to turn the corner to better serve his team. He’s an average rebounder and average at creating turnovers.

    He has a career PER of 18.6

8. Chris Bosh

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    MIAMI - JULY 09:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat greets fans as he is introduced during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    If you aren’t aware of the capabilities of Chris Bosh by now, you soon will be. Thanks to his offseason choice of new employer, he’s slated to become a household name.

    Chris Bosh is a three-point shot away from being the most well-rounded power forward in the game…and that aspect of his game isn’t far off. He’s a underrated ball handler and passer and is arguably the best mid-range shooter on the Miami Heat. He’s also an accomplished post player that’s solid at offensive rebounding. However, he prefers to get his by facing the basket. His only weakness is his lack of strength and bulk, something the Miami organization will surely address over his duration with the team.

    Defensively Bosh is very good defending players that like to put the ball on the floor because he has good speed and quickness. He struggles defending stronger players that like to play with their back to the basket. He’s a solid team defender that’s a great defensive rebounder and solid shot blocker from the weak-side. He’s also good at generating turnovers with his quick hands and ability to jump passing lanes.

    He has a career PER of 21.3

7. Kobe Bryant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up against Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    In regards of overall ability and knowledge of the game,Kobe Bryant ranks head and shoulders above all others. In regards of production and being consistent in what he can do…the story isn’t what’s sold to the public.

    For as great as Kobe is said to be, his performances do not reflect all the hype. No star-player has more excuses made for why he does or doesn’t do something.

    Offensively Kobe does everything at an extraordinarily high degree. His only weakness is his diminishing physical abilities and habit of making idiotic decisions that forces his teammates to play harder than they should.

    On defense Kobe is great at everything when he chooses to be—the problem is he doesn’t often do this. He's probably the most versatile defender of all the wing players, as he’s strong and skilled enough to guard most players playing the 1-4 positions. However, if it isn’t a marquee game with a marquee player, Kobe generally isn’t interested in proving himself. His ego and diminishing athletic ability are his only weaknesses.

    One of the all-time best because of the work and effort he puts in to hone his abilities, but unlike others who made the most of their abilities, Kobe actually hasn’t been as good as he could have been. When you score 81 in a game, you don’t to have as many subpar performances as he has.

    His career PER is 23.5 

6. Carmelo Anthony

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    SALT LAKE CITY - APRIL 30:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets is fouled by C.J. Miles #34 of the Utah Jazz in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on April 30, 2010 in Salt Lake City, U
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Mentally you can see the growth in Carmelo Anthony. However, his production last season wasn’t any better than it’s been at any stage of his career. It’s actually nearly identical to his third and fourth seasons.

    Anthony is a beast offensively and often gets labeled as the best scorer in the NBA. I’ll agree that he makes scoring look easy at times, but he has his moments where he looks out of control and downright silly in his attempts.

    He’s an extremely gifted mid-range shooter but his long-range ability is often overrated. He’s also an exceptional free-throw shooter. Out of the top 10 players, he’s only second to Tim Duncan in low-post scoring abilities. He’s also great at putting the ball on the floor and creating for himself. His ability to create for his teammates is vastly underrated but that may be due to his lack of always passing. His only weakness is him: He really does have all the abilities needed to score at a way-more efficient rate. There is no reason for him to not be shooting at or above 50 percent from the floor.

    Defensively Anthony has made great strides in the individual department. After his stint with the Olympic team, he began to take more pride in his effort. His team defense still needs a ton of work but he’s getting there. He’s an above average rebounder and solid at causing turnovers. He is a mediocre shot blocker that should easily average at least one block per game.

    He’s improving as a leader and has yet to reach the peak of his potential.

    He has a career PER of 20.1

5. Tim Duncan

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    SAN ANTONIO - MAY 07:  Forward Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs takes  a shot against Channing Frye #8 of the Phoenix Suns in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 7, 2010 in San Antonio,
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The so-called experts want to elevate all the youngsters into the NBA spot light, but Tim Duncan remains one of the best players in the NBA. His skill and intelligence are unrivaled by any other player at his position.

    Offensively, Duncan remains the most skilled low post player in the game. He’s a solid mid-range shooter and effective offensive rebounder. He’s one of the most underrated passers in the game and has top-10 awareness for front-line players. His only weakness is his free-throw shooting, declining mobility, and speed.

    Defensively, Duncan still remains the second best defender at the center position. He’s probably the smartest guy at his position and is still one of the best individual and team defenders, in spite of his age. He’s a great rebounder and efficient shot blocker. Only his health will stop him from being a force. He’s easily a top five help defender.

    The man is a living legend and still producing at an extremely high rate. If he was a walking highlight reel he’d be in more discussions of best in the game.

    His career PER is 25.0 (that’s .3 tenths higher than what he recorded last season).

4. Dwight Howard

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 26:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic dunks against Paul Pierce #34 and Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 26, 2010 in Orlando, Fl
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Dwight Howard

3. LeBron James

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    Derrick Rose
    Derrick RoseGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    LeBron James is the most physically gifted athlete of the modern basketball era…period. You factor in his skill set, basketball IQ, and it’s safe to say he is without peer. However, nothing on this earth is created perfect. Like every other player, James too has flaws.

    Offensively James gets where he wants for the most part. When he’s focused, he’s without question the most imposing player on the planet. He is arguably the best penetrator in the NBA and is a decent long range shooter. He’s improving his mid-range game and is arguably the most gifted passer in NBA history. His only flaws are his average free throw shooting abilities and his tendency of bailing out defenses by settling for inefficient shots.

    Defensively James is the most versatile defender on the planet. He can be down-right nightmarish when he wants to be. He’s a talented shot blocker and exceptional thief via passing lanes. His only weakness is his nasty habit of gambling without checking to see if his teammates are in a place to rotate and recover—too often his man is left standing wide open.

    His leadership took a huge hit because of his questionable demeanor and effort in the playoff series against Boston this past season. He’ll need some time to change that.

    Production wise James is as good as it gets. Only thing that keeps him from the top spot is his maturity and inability to bring out the best of in himself when the game matters most.

    He has a career PER of 26.9

2. Chris Paul

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 29:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets drives the ball around Kirk Hinrich #12 of the Chicago Bulls at the New Orleans Arena on January 29, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Chris Paul is easily the most efficient, as well as productive, point man in the NBA. He’s also one of the most competitive players in the NBA. It can be argued that he is in fact the head of that debate.

    He excels at every aspect of offense not named post play and that’s only because of his size. He’s the best ball handler in the entire NBA and arguably the best passer. His vision is only rivaled by Kidd and Nash. Paul is an extremely gifted offensive rebounder. No one does more with less in my opinion.

    Defensively, no player is better at generating turnovers than Paul. His size prevents him from being a major force in the individual department but he’s one of the top help defenders in all of the NBA. He’s an absolute terror when he’s focused.

    Paul is a top-five floor leader regardless of position in my opinion…leads with his play as much as he does with his mouth.

    His career PER is 25.6

1. Dwyane Wade

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    Joe Johnson
    Joe JohnsonMarc Serota/Getty Images

    Dwyane Wade will go down as the most overlooked player of his generation. For some reason, the numbers tell the story for Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. But in regards to Wade, the numbers lie?

    Wade is a complete offensive player. Regardless of what you’ve been fooled into thinking, he can do whatever he sets his mind to doing. He’s a skilled mid-range shooter and growing as a long-range shooter. He’s a great ball handler and arguably the most underrated play maker in NBA history, it’s as if people can’t see that he averages nearly the same amount of assist as James does career wise. Wade is also a solid low-post scorer. Only thing he struggles with is free-throw shooting.

    Defensively Wade is second only to Chris Paul and Manu Ginobili in regards to generating turnovers. He’s arguably the best shoot blocker in all the NBA. His individual defense is vastly underrated, which is odd for a guy that has so many highlights of doing what many say he can’t. He’s always been a great team defender. His only weakness is his lack of height but it really doesn’t affect him.

    He isn’t a great leader in regards of knowing how to talk to guys. He’s actually piss-poor at it. He also isn’t the best player to try and develop a young talent under. He does however, have the knack of being the best big-game player in the NBA. Nobody shows up when the moments matter most.

    He has a career PER 25.7 (four seasons of 28 or higher).

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