There are a lot of different rankings for top 10 players in the NBA, so I figured I’ll make my own list as well. This one will have some major differences, as I tried to rank what I value most in NBA players.
- Lebron James
This is a no brainer. Lebron is easily the best player in the league, and it probably won’t change for the next few years. He has dominated the eastern conference for a very long time, and now will try to do the same in the west. His ranking will come more into question this year as he will be competing with the other stars in the west much more often. If he beats all expectations and makes a very deep playoff run this year, it should only add to his GOAT resumé.
- James Harden
Most people put Durant here. Although he might be the second best player individually, basketball is a team sport. James Harden has been in the MVP conversation multiple years before finally winning it last year. The reigning MVP is unstoppable on offense with his ability to create space to either shoot a jumper or drive to the basket. He also benefits from the system of Mike D’Antoni.
- Steph Curry
No one has changed the game in the last 5 years as much as Steph Curry, or at least that’s the perception. Others have made their mark on the game in similar ways, but none have had this much success. In their first year under Steve Kerr, Curry showed us a new brand of basketball, where he just needed to get inches of space behind the three point line to drain the shot. To this day, he is still the main part of the offense. Even though they have Durant, they struggle most when he’s not playing.
- Kevin Durant
Finally, we get to Kevin Durant. He is obviously a great basketball player, as he is unstoppable on offense and can play some defense. His size, ball handling ability, and shooting makes him one of the top players in the league. Maybe he should be higher, but in his current role, he’s not even the most important player on his team. The Warriors have an easier time figuring out how to win without him than they do without Curry, which is why I believe he should be ranked behind Steph Curry.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
Putting the Greek Freak here is a major question mark, as he needs to have his best season yet and the Bucks need to make it past the first round of the playoffs. He can’t shoot, but can do everything else on offense, and his defense is phenomenal. Many picked him to be in the MVP conversation last year, but he fell short. If he and the Bucks don’t have a good enough season to put him in that conversation, he will drop on my list.
- Damian Lillard
Lillard is almost as good as Steph Curry on offense, as he can also create space to shoot the three at will, and has the speed, strength, and athleticism to get to the basket. Throughout the regular season, he took over many games to lead the Blazers to victory. Many will respond by saying that his terrible playoff performance should bring him down on this list. I am putting him here, however, as I believe he will not perform this poorly again. He is in his prime, and he wants to have some real success in a Portland uniform, so I believe we will see a new and more dangerous Lillard this year.
- Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis’ ability to do everything on offense makes him one of the most dangerous players in the league. He can shoot the three, drive to the basket, and has a great game around the basket. He is also a great defender. The reason I don’t have him higher on this list is because I don’t believe he can take over every game in a playoff series, much less multiple playoff series, which I believe all the players before him could. Last year, when he and the Pelicans swept the Blazers, Jrue Holiday was the best player in the series, and Mirotic and Rondo were crucial to their success as well. For AD to be higher on this list, I believe he needs to have a playoff run similar to what Dirk Nowitzki did in 2011, where despite having a very good team, he took over multiple games in multiple playoff series to win a championship.
- Russell Westbrook
Many would put Westbrook higher on this list. I personally am not a fan of him or his stat padding, but his talent warrants him a spot here. His athleticism, explosiveness, and effort makes him a nightmare for opposing teams. However, he values stats more than winning, which is always frustrating. He has a very good center on his team in Steven Adams, but still has to go for every defensive rebound he can, even when that means his man gets the open shot (which happens a lot). Last year, he shot over 4 threes per game, making less than 30% of them. He also drags his team members down, as players who leave him seem to do better. He could crack the top five in this list if he focused on winning instead of always being the man.
- Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is the most promising player on this list, assuming he stays healthy. He has the same skills and tools as Anthony Davis, but could have a higher ceiling. The 76ers have a really good team around him, making his life a lot easier. If he leads the team to a deep playoff run this year, he’ll move higher on the list next year.
- Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard was probably in most people’s top three at the beginning of last year. I never ranked him that high, as I thought he was a very good player, but looked better due to the Spurs’ system. This year, we will see just how good he is. Everything will be put to the test, as if he doesn’t show the motivation to play, he’ll definitely be out of the top 10. Also, if he struggles to fit into a system that isn’t as good at bringing the best out of players as the Spurs’ system is, he will certainly drop out of this ranking. On the other hand, if he has a season similar to the one he had two years ago, he’ll shoot up to the top three.
There are a few players that sometimes find themselves in the top 10 conversation, but I don’t believe it’s warranted: Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and Klay Thompson. Ben Simmons had a great rookie year, but I still need to see more from him to compare him to the players above. As for Klay and Kyrie, they have only shown success when they were the second best player on the team. I don’t believe either of them can lead a team far as the first option, while the 10 players listed above can.
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