The Summer Top 50
The top players in the league are often up for debate, and the offseason is a great time to analyze who rises above the rest. A player’s talents, statistics, and overall team influence magnify where they should stand. There will likely be some disagreement in such rankings, and we can let the upcoming 2010-2011 season decipher any doubts or questions.
1. Kobe Bryant, G, Los Angeles Lakers: You can’t argue with Kobe’s drive and 5 NBA titles. This keeps him on top.
2. LeBron James, G-F, Miami Heat: When it is all said and done, many will see LeBron as the most gifted player to ever play.
3. Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City Thunder: He will likely win multiple MVP awards and the scary thing is that he is just getting going.
4. Dwayne Wade, G, Miami Heat: It will be interesting to see if he ever resorts to taking a back seat to LeBron, much like Pippen to Jordan.
5. Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic: Despite how much better he can still get in the low post, his overarching presence changes games like no other big man.
6. Deron Williams, G, Utah Jazz: People often debate if he is the best point guard in the league, but his size, speed, court vision, and improved shooting virtually leave him without a weakness.
7. Chris Paul, G, New Orleans Hornets: He is coming off an injury-plagued season but he remains undoubtedly in the top 10.
8. Carmelo Anthony, F, Denver Nuggets: He is likely to be traded during the upcoming season, which could help form a potential Miami Heat challenger.
9. Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas Mavericks: His skills will soon wane but he has now been a steady plug in Dallas for around ten years.
10. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago Bulls: He is electrifying and may soon overtake Williams and Paul as the league’s best point guard.
11. Pau Gasol, F-C, Los Angeles Lakers: His fundamentals and mental toughness have shut up critics who claim he’s “soft.”
12. Rajon Rondo, G, Boston Celtics: He has been on an upward trajectory for the past three seasons while slowly becoming Boston’s leader.
13. Chris Bosh, F-C, Miami Heat: He could never win in Toronto but he will now.
14. Steve Nash, G, Phoenix Suns: After leading the Suns to the Western Conference championship, he’s proven he still belongs among the game’s elite. Although the loss of Amare will hurt.
15. Tim Duncan, F-C, San Antonio Spurs: It may surprise some that he still ranks ahead of Stoudemire, but he’s been the most consistent post player of the past decade.
16. Amare Stoudemire, F-C, New York Knicks: His offensive strength is great but his lackluster defense is a major question mark. And it will be interesting to see how he fares without Steve Nash handing him so many dunks.
17. Brandon Roy, G, Portland Trail Blazers: He was dealing with an injury for some of last season. Look for a big year in 10-11.
18. Danny Granger, F, Indiana Pacers: He is long on defense and his three-point range stretches the D on offense.
19. Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder are loaded with young talent and he is quite the compliment to Durant.
20. Andre Iguodala, F, Philadelphia 76ers: He is a triple double waiting to happen and could be in major trade talks during the season.
21. Carlos Boozer, F, Chicago Bulls: Despite missing out on Lebron and Wade, Bulls fans are thankful to have acquired the legitimate post threat they’ve been waiting on for years.
22. Paul Pierce, F, Boston Celtics: Pierce’s toughness in the playoffs continues to prove pivotal to the Celtics’ success.
23. Joe Johnson, G-F, Atlanta Hawks: He drops in the rankings after a rough playoff performance. It’s hard to know if he was worth the huge contract the Hawks rewarded him with.
24. Kevin Garnett, F, Boston Celtics: He is slowing down but his tenacity will never fade.
25. Stephen Jackson, G-F, Charlotte Bobcats: He deserves praise for finding a way to lead the Bobcats to the playoffs.
26. Tyreke Evans, G, Sacramento Kings: A 6-6 frame paired with strength and speed solidify him as an up and coming star.
27. Andrew Bogut, F-C, Milwaukee Bucks: He finally reached his potential last season before getting injured before the playoffs.
28. Chauncey Billups, G, Denver Nuggets: He is getting older but his leadership remains invaluable.
29. Josh Smith, F, Atlanta Hawks: He piles up every statistic and his field goal % is much better since he stopped shooting threes.
30. Monta Ellis, G, Golden State Warriors: He puts up huge scoring numbers but could soon be traded with teammate Stephen Curry’s quick emergence.
31. Manu Ginobili, G, San Antonio Spurs: When healthy, he’s one of the game’s elite shooting guards and a proven winner.
32. David Lee, F-C, Golden State Warriors: Give him credit for how much he developed in New York. He should continue putting up big numbers for the Warriors.
33. Gerald Wallace, F, Charlotte Bobcats: He’s one of the league’s best athletes whose game is very comparable to Josh Smith’s.
34. Kevin Martin, G, Houston Rockets: The unorthodox looking shooter has continued to put up big scoring numbers in Houston.
35. Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors: He really came on in the second half of the season. Expect more development as a sophomore.
36. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey Nets: He’s been one of the lone bright spots in New Jersey the past couple seasons.
37. Darren Collison, G, Indiana Pacers: He put up near the same numbers as Chris Paul during Paul’s injury absence. Now he’s the main man in Indiana.
38. Devin Harris, G, New Jersey Nets: He needs more help. The addition of Troy Murphy and the drafting of Derrick Favors won’t be enough to make a playoff run.
39. Vince Carter, G, Orlando Magic: He can still score but questions loom if he is the best fit in Orlando.
40. Brandon Jennings, G, Milwaukee Bucks: He shot a dismal percentage as a rookie but expect more consistency in 10-11.
41. Al Horford, C, Atlanta Hawks: His big body does the dirty work and he continues to develop offensively.
42. John Wall, G, Washington Wizards: He hasn’t played a game yet but look for him to find his niche quickly.
43. Jason Richardson, G, Phoenix Suns: He can still catch fire and with Amare’s departure, he will likely lead Phoenix in scoring
44. Zach Randolph, F-C, Memphis Grizzlies: He can score and rebound but has always been on the clumsy side.
45. Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls: Players don’t like playing against him but he thrives off that and will be one of the league’s leading rebounders.
46. Tony Parker, G, San Antonio: He isn’t recognized much anymore but is only 28. He remains a quality point guard when healthy.
47. Chris Kaman, C, Los Angeles Clippers: He’s big, fundamentally sound, and rarely talked about. He now plays alongside Blake Griffin, which makes for a fearsome frontcourt.
48. Aaron Brooks, G, Houston Rockets: He can score and would likely thrive all the more if he had a consistent threat in the post other than the typically injured Yao.
49. Andrew Bynum, C, Los Angeles Lakers: He remains young but the crux of his career will rest in his health. He has the tools to be dominant.
50. Antawn Jamison, F, Cleveland Cavaliers: It wouldn’t surprise me if his name is mentioned in trade talks again.
Honorable Mention: Rudy Gay (Memphis), Al Jefferson (Utah), Jason Kidd (Dallas), Mo Williams (Cleveland), Ray Allen (Boston), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers), Baron Davis (L.A. Clippers), Corey Maggette (Milwaukee), Jamal Crawford (Atlanta), Eric Gordon (L.A. Clippers), David West (New Orleans), LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland), Luol Deng (Chicago), Marc Gasol (Memphis), Kevin Love (Minnesota)
Special Mention: Caron Butler (Dallas), Jeff Green (Oklahoma City), John Salmons (Milwaukee), Marcus Thornton (New Orleans), Ron Artest (L.A. Lakers), Paul Millsap (Utah), Trevor Ariza (New Orleans), Richard Hamilton (Detroit), Troy Murphy (New Jersey), Rashard Lewis (Orlando), Andrea Bargnani (Toronto), Jameer Nelson (Orlando), O.J. Mayo (Memphis), Lamar Odom (L.A. Lakers), Luis Scola (Houston), Jason Terry (Dallas), Nene Hilario (Denver)
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