Here is a list of how I would rank the top 50 players in the NBA right now.It actually took me a couple of days to finish it because once you get past the top 10 or so it gets really hard to separate guys.Some are falling and some are rising.This is based on where I feel they stand when the season ended.Of course if you’re doing the “who would you start a franchise with” debate then some of it would change.Feel free to debate me on this on twitter @TBoneWFNZ or email me TBone@wfnz.com.
Couple notes before we get started.
*Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Kobe Bryant are based off the assumption they will be healthy when the new year starts
*I actually forgot Andrew Bynum still played in the NBA. My bad. I honestly have no clue what to even think about him right now
*J.R. Smith was dropped down multiple spots when the news came out that he was pretty much shutdown by Rihanna during the playoffs.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
I expect most of the players in this tier to make a move up by the time we do this next season. Most of these Guys that had a breakout season, are poised to, or still have a lot to prove.
DeMar DeRozen: Can score at a pretty high level.Needs the rest of his game to follow
Nikola Pekovic: Averaged 16 and 8 without Kevin Love playing much
Monta Ellis: Solid player that never seems to make his team that much better
Chandler Parsons: Really came on strong in the style the Rockets play.
Nikola Vucevic: Was 2nd in the league in rebounds per game.
Greivis Vasquez: Had a breakout year 13ppg and 9apg without much help from the 2 guard spot
Klay Thompson: Terrific shooter.Will only get better playing with Curry.Defense needs to improve
John Wall: Averaged 18 and 7 when he returned.Lookout for the back court of Wall and Beal going forward
DeMarcus Cousins:Talent isn’t the issue. Lack of maturity and playing in Sacramento are the problems.
Rudy Gay: Here is how I look at it.How did trading him away impact the Grizzlies? Exactly.
Anthony Davis: Of course he will move way up.Looking forward to seeing a fresh and healthy AD in the fall.
Kemba Walker: Shows flashes of brilliance at times.Numbers in 1st half of season were better than Deron Williams who some say was snubbed for ASG
Brandon Jennings: I really do like him a lot.Needs to get away from Monta Ellis like NBC needs to get away from Matthew Perry comedies.
Anderson Varejao: Was leading the league in rebounding before he went down. Which always seems to happen
Danilo Gallinari: Great outside shooter who was sorely missed in GS series.I speak Italian as well as he plays defense however.
Ryan Anderson: Outstanding 3 point shooter who I think will get more credit and become more valuable once Anthony Davis emerges more.
Avery Bradley: If a certain player made this list for defense (number 50) than AB needs a mention.His on ball defense is as good as it gets right now
Manu Ginobili:Still can ball. Still clutch.FG percentage dropped 10 percent this year and only averaged 11ppg though
50 Tony Allen:Better offensive players left off but this is a nod to the best perimeter defender in the league
49 Greg Monroe:Has been solid but would like to see him take his game to another level soon
48 Larry Sanders: One of the breakout players of 2013. Rebounded and defended at an elite level.Will he remain a Buck? They also have John Henson who does similar things
47 Kenneth Faried: “Manimal” is one of my favorite players to watch and will keep moving up the list
46 Mike Conley: Questioned the contract he got but he is perfect for what Memphis tries to do.Solid not spectacular
45 Paul Pierce:Still one of the most clutch players in the game but really struggled in the playoff series against NY
44 Jamal Crawford: If this was just based off pure scoring he would probably be a top 12 player
43 J.R Smith: See Jamal Crawford.
42 Jeff Green: The face he is even in the league after his health issues is amazing.The future of the Celtics along with Rondo
41 Pau Gasol: Will be interesting to see how the latter part of his career goes. Does he regain form or will injuries take a toll?
40 Andre Iguodala: I think he has peaked. Your getting a very solid player with AI but won’t reach star status
39 Kevin Garnett: Still a top 5 player mentally and on defense but the legs are starting to go
38 Damian Lillard:Might seem a little high but had one of the better rookie seasons in recent memory
37 Al Horford: Much like Iguodala you just kind of know what you’re getting game in and game out.Good player, not great.Interested to see him without Josh Smith and how that affects him either way.
36 Joe Johnson: Of course he can still score but it seems like teams are always trying to figure out how to get out of his contract as soon as they get him
35 Ty Lawson: Seems to be getting better by the year.Would like to see his assist numbers go up to the 8-9-10 range with all the good offensive talent he has surrounding him
34 Joakim Noah:The heart and soul of the Bulls.Perfect for that team, coach, and city.Love what he does.
33 Al Jefferson:One of the best low post scorers in the game despite never leaving his feet. Should get big money in July
32 Luol Deng:One of the more underrated players in the league.Always plays great defense and a ton of minutes.You could argue he is as important for what he does for the Bulls as Rose
31 Josh Smith:I have no idea what to think of him anymore.Top 10 skill set but settles too much from the outside.Fascinated to see if he becomes elite on a new team
30 David Lee: Led the league in double doubles but his defense keeps him a notch below other bigs
29 Jrue Holiday:Just 22 years old and blossoming.Made first all-star team despite losing Iggy and Bynum not playing
28 Blake Griffin: May seem low but is he really getting any better? Good player, lots of highlights, but may never be great.
27 LaMarcus Aldridge: Led the NBA with 16 games of 25 plus points and 10 plus rebounds
26 Tyson Chandler: He has many Offensive deficiencies and whines too much to refs but still one of the top defensive players in the game.Slipping a little though
25 Serge Ibaka: Struggled against Memphis shooting wise but is only 23 years old and is one of the elite shot blockers/defenders in the game
24 Roy Hibbert: I struggled with his ranking.At times he plays like a top 10-15 player but there are stretches where he disappears and doesn’t impact the game as much as he should
23 Brook Lopez: One of the elite offensive big man in the game.Doesn’t rebound well but he has Reggie Evans there to handle the dirty work
22 Dirk Nowitzki:Down year but I think he has a couple more years left at a Dirk like level.Mavericks will put better pieces around him
21 Zach Randolph: Was an absolute monster against the Thunder.Lot of miles on him but still only 31 and in his prime
20 Chris Bosh: We saw how important he is to the Heat in the playoffs last year.Not a great rebounder but always seems to hit big shots when the Heat need to him
19 Tim Duncan: Colin and I watched him play in 2009 against the Bobcats because we figured that was the last chance we would get.He was dragging his leg around.4 years later and he is going strong again.Seems like he will be like Mariano Rivera and not the leave his sport with his skills diminishing.
18 Kyrie Irving: If you’re doing the debate on who to start a franchise with he is probably 3rd behind LBJ and KD.Needs to commit to defense though before he moves up this list
17 Paul George: He scores, he passes, he rebounds, and we have seen in the Knicks series how well he defends.Should be a valuable member of Team USA in the future.Only 23.
16 Rajon Rondo: We have seen how great he can be surrounded by Hall of Famers but the real test is going to come when Garnett and Pierce are gone. Does he have the maturity to be the team leader? Will he be as good without great players around him? Jury is out.
15 Tony Parker: One of the most underrated players in the NBA.Entertaining to watch.Still only 31 with years left but we need to start discussing his credentials for the Hall of Fame.
14 Dwight Howard:I’m not a huge fan but I will chalk up this past season as a down one due to injuries.Seems to have more maturity issues than anyone listed but I think we will get the monster Dwight Howard on both ends of the court wherever he chooses to play.
13 Marc Gasol: Was the best big man in the league this season.Won the defensive player of the year award and his ability to pass the ball is vital to the Grizzlies success.Little turnaround shot is nearly unstoppable when hitting.Only averaged 7 rebounds per game but part of that is due to Randolph getting 11 per game
12 Kevin Love: Of course he makes it this high based off past years and not his injury plagued 2013 season in which he only played in 18 games. Averaged 18 points and 14 rebounds in the games he did play.Looking forward to him getting out of Minnesota so we can see him play with better players. One of my favorite players.
11 Steph Curry:If the ankles hold up there is no reason he can’t be in the top 10 for the next decade.One of the best shooters of all time and becoming an elite passer.Defense leaves a little to be desired but you can say that for a lot of guys on this list
10 Carmelo Anthony:The leading scorer and best mid range shooter in the league.He is flawed at times with his shot selection and defensive effort but there are few players who can do what he does.Needs to advance further in the playoffs but getting the Knicks to a 2 seed from where they were is a great start. He is not the new Stephon Marbury despite what some “experts”will tell you
9 Dwyane Wade: I really have no clue how to rank Wade at this moment.It seems like every time we think the injuries are too much for him to handle he bounces back and goes into beast mode. Lets revisit him again when the finals are over. If he only averages 12ppg the rest of the playoffs we will know he really isn’t right.
8 Deron Williams:Played like the best PG in the league the 2nd half of the season after a brutal start.When he is motivated he as good as any guard in the game but goes through these long stretches when he doesn’t seem engaged.I rank him this high as the Deron Williams that finished the season and not the chubbier one from November.
7 Chris Paul: Was shocked to see the LA Times piece that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan had issues with him as a teammate.That goes against everything we have heard about him. Great leader, arguably the best PG in the game but we are at the point where he needs to start winning and advancing deeper in the players before the pressure really gets on him. I have no idea where he will sign this summer but I would guess the Clippers minus some of the guys who had issues with him.
6 James Harden: Proved me wrong. Wasn’t sure he could be the main guy on a team but he was sensational.Now he needs to lead the Rockets past the 8th seed. He does have an aggressive GM who will certainly make an effort to surround him with talent.They have room for a max contract. Dwight Howard perhaps?
5 Russell Westbrook: Outside of LBJ there isn’t a better athlete in the league today.We finally saw just how important he was to the Thunder when he got hurt against Houston. It’s easy to pick out his flaws but I think we need to realize what a special talent he is and enjoy him for what he is.
4 Derrick Rose: Even though he will have to wear a name tag to training camp I still rank him this high based off how great I think he still will be. Gonna be interesting to see how he adjusts his game when he returns.Part of what made him great was his leaping ability and how special he was off the bounce in the lane. He may not do all of the things we remember but the great ones adapt and I think he will
3 Kobe Bryant: Are we really counting the Mamba out? One of the great competitors in league history? A little stem cell in the off-season and he will be back at his 27ppg level by December. I just cannot see Kobe coming back at anything other than an elite level.
2 Kevin Durant: Really struggled to find his shot for long stretches without Westbrook. Still the 2nd best player in the game and I don’t think its even close really.Will win a championship in time but getting multiple ones will be tough in the Lebron James era.
1 LeBron James: There is no debate on where he ranks among the current players.The debate is going to be his rank all time.Some say he has already passed Magic. Is Jordan in sight? Sure is as long as he keeps winning championships.The most elite athlete we have ever seen in the NBA.