Here we take a look at the Bouncy Orange Ball Top 50 Current NBA Players after the successful series of posts in the Summer, this will be updated at the end of each season and is your first point of call to see just who is the best of the best right now in the NBA.
Any suggestions and comments are welcome, if we’ve missed out your favourite player let us know and we’ll be sure to give him more serious consideration come the end of the Playoffs next year!
#50- Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings is a pretty outspoken player, if you recall he had said that his former Bucks team would beat Miami in six games earlier in this seasons Playoffs, only to get swept by the reigning NBA Champions in emphatic style.
But looking past his extrovert style off the court, he has a very strong offensive game giving defenders across the league some real problems, especially with his silky smooth shooting stroke.
Jennings averaged 17.5 PPG, 6.5 APG and 3.1 RPG last season at Milwaukee with a slight dip in scoring but a notable rise in his assist statistics, this being understandable with the Jennings and Ellis mixture coming to fruition in Milwaukee last season, culminating in their Playoff appearance.
His best showing this season came against Chicago in January, where he dropped 35 points on one of the best defensive teams in the league.
After just three years in the league so far we hope to see Jennings higher up in these rankings soon enough, and if he helps Detroit into Playoff contention there’s nothing stopping him becoming one of the premier guards in the NBA.
#49- Ray Allen
Allen, who has long been considered the best shooter in the game would have been higher in this countdown when he was seeing starters minutes at Boston, but following his decision to move to Miami and play fewer minutes we had to move him down these rankings.
Ray-Ray, as he’s affectionately known by fans overtook Reggie Miller with the most made three pointers in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since joining Miami, continuing to knock down the three ball at a consistent level despite his drop in minutes.
Shooting the three at over 40% during his career and averaging 19.4 PPG is no mean feat in the NBA, and the veteran shooter continues to show the younger generations that practice is a key element in becoming an NBA shooting Guard, as opposed to just being athletic.
Allen’s biggest play at Miami is most probably his four point play against Denver in the final seconds of the game to give the Heat the win earlier this season (shown below).
But it’s not just the one shot which sums up the best three point shooter to grace the NBA so far, it’s his consistency from beyond the arc, and this is something which will be extremely hard to match when Ray-Ray decides to hang up the sneakers.
#48- Tyson Chandler
Chandler, who won a Championship with Dallas in the 2010/11 season has continued his gritty work in the Big Apple and has become one of the premier rim protectors in recent years and that’s why he’s made this list.
This season, the 30-year-old has been a solid 10-10 player, averaging 10.4 PPG and 10.7 RPG for the Knicks, before they dropped out of this years’ Playoffs against Indiana.
It’s not just Chandlers’ defensive presence though which helped the Knicks this season, it’s his will and determination to get the job done, likening him to Kevin Garnett. Simply put, Chandler isn’t the type of guy to let something go easily, and if you’re in the way of his goal he’ll try and go straight through you.
Although he isn’t the scoring force some other big men are, he is guaranteed to make himself a presence inside the paint and makes a lot of good players reconsider their shot when driving inside, shown by his Defensive Player of the Year Award in the 2011/12 season.Let’s put it this way, would you rather have a guy like Chandler protecting your teams’ basket, or would you prefer to go up against him when you’re making your way to the basket?
#47- Carlos Boozer
Many know him as the guy on court nobody really wants to mess with, he’ll get up into your grill if you end up guarding him and he’s not afraid to talk some trash. This is topped with being one of the most physical guys in the entire league, and straight away you have someone who you just look to avoid on court.
In fact Boozer is such a physical player even some NBA refs aren’t safe, as shown below when he hits Danny Crawford clean in the crotch, we should add that it was a complete accident and Boozer apologised pretty much straight away.But it’s not just his physical attitude which has seen him make this list, he has a plethora of moves inside and a strong jump shot, with a technique which makes it nearly impossible to block.
Through his career so far he’s also averaged near a double-double each game, scoring just under 17 points and a fraction under 10 rebounds per game, showing his offensive and defensive ability.
Although he’s a player who does go through hot and cold spells, he’s such a force on a physical level that we couldn’t look past him and we hope that he continues his rugged style of play for years to come.
#46- Monta Ellis
Some of you will be questioning why Ellis is above former compatriot Brandon Jennings in our rankings and the answer is simple, Monta has averaged more points, steals and rebounds so far in his career. Although Brandon Jennings is showing a lot of promise, Ellis is simply a better statistical player right now.
Ellis has averaged 19.4 PPG, 4.7 APG and 3.7 RPG so far in his career, and although his highest scoring season did come during his time at Golden State, he is still one of the top scoring Two Guards in the league.
He’s quick to back his own case as well, and confidence clearly isn’t an issue for him as he once said that he was equal to Miami Heat Shooting Guard Dwyane Wade.
Although we don’t rate him that highly we do think that he’s a very effective scorer who can wriggle his way past defenders and finish well at the rim on a consistent basis.
We don’t think he’s quite at D-Wade’s level but who’s to say he won’t have a breakout season next year and get propelled to an All-Star level?
If Ellis fits into the Mavericks this upcoming season he’s sure to get himself higher up this list come next year.
#45- Serge Ibaka
The enigmatic Ibaka has now spent four years in the NBA and is still a bit of a mystery man on the offensive end of the action, varying his productivity on a nightly basis, but is a feared defensive player who is number one in the NBA’s Blocks Per Game stats with just over three rejections a game.
Many players have seen their shots sent away from the basket by the Congolese born Centre who has been likened to another African big man Dikembe Mutombo .
Ibaka has been a key part of an Oklahoma City team who have made some considerable moves in previous seasons, reaching the 2011/12 NBA Finals, only to get beaten by the star-studded Miami Heat.
Whilst the Thunder have essentially faltered this season after the loss of Russell Westbrook to injury during the Playoffs, Serge has still been productive over the season, averaging 13.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 3.0 BPG.
Many predict a bright future for this terrific shot blocker, and it’s hard to look past him defensively, if he develops a solid offensive game he could become one of the dominant NBA big men sooner rather than later.
#44- Al Jefferson
Some of you will be looking back at our rankings so far and see the likes of Carlos Boozer, Tyson Chandler and Serge Ibaka and be thinking ‘Is Al Jefferson better than these guys?’ and we think he is.
Although he doesn’t do the pretty things on the court, Big Al is a dominant post presence on offense and is averaging some pretty big numbers which we don’t think you’ll know about.
How does 17.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG strike you? That’s some big production in the NBA if you ask us, and it’s getting to the point where you can compare his stats to the likes of former stars in the position.
Not only was he producing last season, but he was doing it for a team who haven’t got that superstar player and weren’t expected to perform to a high level each season.
At 28 years of age Al still has some of his best years ahead of him and if his move to Charlotte is a success there would be nothing stopping him from having a chance to make a real impact in the Playoffs, if they make the cut.
#43- David Lee
Lee, who previously played in New York is another solid big man to grace our countdown and is well worthy of his position in our top 50.
He has a fairly consistent mid-range game, something which is somewhat hard to find in the NBA in recent years, and is also a very good rebounder of the ball, averaging 11.2 RPG this season at Golden State, 4th in the NBA this season.
Also, scoring 18.5 PPG this season sees him reach the top 15 players in that category of NBA players, making him an effective presence against most teams who has helped Golden State reach the position they have this season alongside the likes of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Although Lee has had a good career so far he has suffered in the Playoffs, with injury setting him back, summed up this season when he injured his hip during the first game of the first series of this seasons Playoffs.
A healthy David Lee will have a strong impact on any team however, and if he does avoid the treatment table he could well become a major factor for Golden State, who are beginning to impress the league, and could become real Championship contenders if they continue to improve.
#42- Kevin Garnett
The definition of will, Kevin Garnett has become one of the most competitive players ever to grace the NBA courts. He has a true ‘never say die’ attitude and always ups his game in the big moments and has done so throughout his long and industrious career.
He pretty much carried the Minnesota Timberwolves early in his career, until he was traded to Boston to become part of the ‘big three’ of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and himself. During his time at Boston he has seen success, numerous Playoff runs and winning the Championship in 2008.
With a strong shooting stroke from mid-range and his scrappy play, KG has become one of the biggest names of this era in the NBA and is a Hall of Fame certainty. His stats alone tell the story: averaging 19.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 3.9 APG.
It’s true that Garnett’s best years are most likely behind him, but he is still an incredible player to have on your team, who will push you forward on the court and lead by example.
Garnett’s also one of the great ‘trash talkers’ of the NBA, and isn’t worried about getting under his opponents skin by any means. His clash here with Carmelo Anthony pretty much sums up his ability to not only get physical on-court but also to get inside your head.
Add this uncanny ability to frustrate his opponents with his genuine skill and ambition to perform at the highest level and you have a player who would be an asset to any team in the NBA right now, even with 17 years experience.
#41- Ricky Rubio
Now this selection will probably raise some eyebrows, the Spanish Point Guard hasn’t scored a ton of points and hasn’t been extremely prolific with Minnesota, but one thing he certainly has been is exciting.
Now excitement alone won’t get you onto this list, but his ability to find teammates in scoring positions is absolutely phenomenal, and the way he gets the ball to those players is just as good.
Whether he’s passing the ball around his back after pump faking his way past a defender, or giving the crowd something to shout about with a silky smooth handle he’s always keeping you entertained.
It’s not just his offense that turns our heads though, Rubio is a bit of a master thief on the court, averaging 2.3 SPG this season, good enough for 2nd across the league. This next to 10.7 PPG and 7.7 APG makes a pretty good stat line.
But one area he could improve is in his turnover rate, averaging over 3 a game isn’t particularly bad for someone who does the majority of the ball handling, but it could be improved upon. If he manages to cut down his turnovers and maybe develop a solid jump-shot, he could quite easily become one of the premier Point Guards in the league.
Having already come through a serious knee injury we’re just hoping that he can keep fit and continue to wow the fans in Minnesota and across the globe.
#40- Joakim Noah
An old fashioned big man in many senses, hitting the glass hard and working hard inside to get his baskets, Joakim Noah is one of the harder workers on the block, and has put in some big performances this season to get himself onto this list.
By no means is the 6’11’ man out of Florida a push over, he’s willing to battle for every inch and gets his dues for the amount of work he puts in, especially for a guy who isn’t the most athletic big man in the league.
Noah averaged 11.9 PPG and 11.1 RPG this season, and had some pretty astounding performances, most probably topped by his triple double against Philadelphia this February.
Defensively Noah is improving, upping both his steals and blocks this season by rather large increments and is becoming a strong presence inside the paint.
Without Derrick Rose in the fold for Chicago they have had to rely on Noah to perform at a higher level and he hasn’t disappointed. If Rose comes back as good as he was next season and Noah continues to improve there is nothing stopping Chicago becoming a stronger Playoff team come next June.
#39- Andre Iguodala
Long been listed as one of the premier perimeter defenders in the NBA, Andre Iguodala has also become a part of the Team USA success of 2010 and most recently at the London Olympics and this has seen him make our top 50.
Offensively Iguodala is a bit hit and miss, especially when shooting the ball, but when he reaches the basket he knows how to finish as strong as anyone, and he had been a key part of the Denver Nuggets’ success last season, up until their first round loss against Golden State in the Playoffs.
He averaged 13 PPG, 5.4 APG, 5.3 RPG and 1.7 SPG last season and is an accomplished perimeter defender, often tasked with defending the oppositions best players.
Iggy, as he’s known by fans still has some time to improve, and will be hoping for success next season as he understands that he isn’t the go-to scorer for Golden State. Hopefully the Warriors can continue their improvement and challenge for some more Playoff success.
#38- Rudy Gay
Recently traded to Toronto after six full seasons with Memphis, Rudy Gay has become synonymous with attacking the rim and scoring the ball from the wing.
Many questioned the Grizzlies motives for trading Gay, and although there were issues with floor spacing and running plays for himself and Zach Randolph the key seemed to be the financial aspects for Memphis.
But this takes nothing away from Gay, who’s a proven scorer in the NBA and isn’t shy of taking the big shots come the dying seconds. He’s averaged 19.5 PPG and 6.4 RPG with Toronto so far and has solidified his role in the Canadian franchise.
If Gay can extend his shooting to beyond the three point line more consistently he could quite easily increase his options offensively and might see him rise up these rankings next season.
#37- Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph isn’t exactly the most athletic player in the league, he can’t jump too high and isn’t very quick, but even with these flaws he’s still one of the most dominant Power Forwards in the league and has been the bane of a lot of opposition big men throughout the NBA in recent seasons.
The key to Randolph’s success is in his footwork, work ethic and sheer strength in the post. He might not be athletic, but the guy can rough up a lot of other players in the paint and isn’t afraid to use his strength to his advantage.
Averaging 15.4 PPG and 11.2 RPG last season as Memphis went on an unexpected Playoff run, Randolph, along with Centre Marc Gasol was a key part of their success.
A superb rebounder for his physical attributes, he’s also a good finisher in the paint, and can extend his jump-shot to outside the paint given the opportunity.
Although defensively he could improve, he has made this countdown with his punishing offensive abilities, acting as a battering ram in the half-court offense of Memphis which nullified the abilities of Blake Griffin during their Playoff series in which the Grizzlies came out clear winners.
Given a few more pieces, Memphis and Z-Bo could become even more feared opponents come the post season next year.
#36- Luol Deng
Now, you might think that Luol has made this countdown purely because he plays for Team GB with us being British, but I assure you although it made his inclusion easier, it certainly wasn’t key for us to include him today.
Deng is one of the best defenders in the NBA on the perimeter, often facing the likes of Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant on the defensive side of the game. But Deng is also effective on offense, he can knock down the three and is surprisingly good around the rim.
He has lead the NBA in average minutes per game this season (38.7), as he did last season (39.4), and it’s for good reason. Averaging 16 PPG and 6.4 RPG this season, whilst also guarding the opposing teams’ best players is no mean feat and this is what see’s the Sudanese refugee find his place in our countdown.
His ability is quickly being recognised across the NBA, having now been selected for two All-Star games, and if he continues his good work, whether it be in Chicago or somewhere else, we will be hoping to see him suit up for another East vs West game next February.
#35- John Wall
The 6’4” Point Guard is one of the most athletic players in the league no questions asked, and has been putting up some crazy numbers in Washington (Dropping 47 points on Memphis this March).
Although there is room to improve with his turnover rate and he hasn’t developed a solid jump-shot yet, he is still good enough to make this countdown.
Consider this, if John Wall was playing with another high-calibre player he would be way more successful than he has been at the Wizards. Often it’s Playoff performances which really define a player and Wall hasn’t been lucky enough to appear in the Playoffs yet, with another great player at his side, he could well make an appearance.
This isn’t to say that Wall would be dropping 30 a game with a superstar teammate, but he’d certainly become more successful. This season he’s averaged 18.5 PPG, 7.6 APG and 4.0 RPG, solid numbers and could well be used as a foundation for a breakout season in coming years.
If he develops a strong outside shot and cuts down the turnovers, we could be looking at a future superstar in John Wall.
#34- Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford is one of, if not the best dribbler of the ball in the NBA Right now, maybe even of all time. With some of the best handles in the league how could we not include him?
Although Crawford is a bit of a liability defensively, and is known to take shots with a high degree of difficulty, you simply can’t argue with his production off the bench.
He averaged 16.5 PPG this season on 43.8% shooting, not bad for a player undersized for his position who’s on the wrong side of thirty if you ask us.
He always puts on a show and is a nightmare for defenders in the half-court with his fancy dribbling, which often sees them left in his wake, especially if he’s shooting the ball well.
With his patented ‘shake and bake’ moves, he’s always in contention for sixth man of the year, having already won it once during the 09/10 season.
His jump-shot extends beyond the arc, and he’s hit some pretty insane shots over the years, and although he isn’t a regular starter, we still see him as one of the best offensive players in the league.
We personally thought #2 in this video was downright ridiculous, beats his defender twice, and then nails the jump-shot…
#33- J.R. Smith
Long has J.R. Smith been considered one of the most exciting players in the league, and he’s continued to entertain this year in New York, winning this years Sixth Man of the Year award before re-signing with the Knicks.
Smith has always been a phenomenal finisher and scorer, often providing a huge spark off the bench to add some scoring if the starting five aren’t cutting it, and he’s been superb with the Knicks this year, averaging 18.1 PPG and 5.3 RPG this season.
Although he, similarly to Jamal Crawford who was #34 in this countdown, takes a lot of contested shots and isn’t a standout performer defensively, Smith is still considered one of the best players in the League in our countdown.
One of Smiths’ best ever plays in our personal opinion came when he was still in a Denver uniform, slamming home over the Spurs’ Gary Neal back in 2010.
The question is simple, when does a player like Smith make the move from a bench scorer to an all-star talent?
#32- Andrew Bynum
Now, many of you who know the NBA will say ‘how can you include Bynum when he hasn’t played all season?’ But in all seriousness, Andrew Bynum is one of the best Centres in the league, and is a real force when he’s fit.
The only real problem for Bynum is his attitude, he’s constantly being judged for his immaturity and rightly so, but on the court he’s one of the most effective players in the paint.
He averaged 20.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG and 2.0 BPG last season with the Lakers and although he has been injured the entirety of this season, if he’s the same player he was when he comes back, he will be a force to say the least.
The Lakers were questioned by many when they let him go last season, he’s younger than Dwight Howard and could well be equal or better than Howard when his game reaches its peak, but it’s clear that the Lakers didn’t like his attitude, as shown below.
So, he shoots the three now and then, tries to steal the ball from his own teammates but still makes this countdown, and that’s down to his strength in the paint. He has great footwork and solid defence, along with a great rebounding ability.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing Bynum on the court next season and away from the treatment table.
#31- Steve Nash
Yes, his best years are behind him and yes he hasn’t seen the minutes i’d think we’d all like him to see at L.A. this season but Steve Nash is still one of the best Point Guards in the league and one of the best of all time.
Averaging 14.4 PPG, 8.5 APG whilst shooting 49% from the field and near 43% from behind the arc over his career. These stats have obviously lowered during his time in L.A. but he’s still a top quality passer.
Some of the passes he makes are ridiculous, whether it’s between a defenders legs or from an impossible position, Nash continues to find players in a scoring position with superb skill.
Defensively he is a bit of a liability, as he fails to keep up with some of the faster players in the league but it’s his offense which wins his accolades.
Nash doesn’t have long left in the league that’s for sure, but he is certain to trick his way past defenders and find teammates with his deceiving passes in his final years in the NBA.
#30- Amar’e Stoudemire
I’m sure many of you will question this decision, especially seeing as Amar’e has sat out almost the entire season, but we still see him as an offensive force in the NBA.
He’s averaged 21.3 PPG and 8.6 RPG over his career, and although many credit his success to his former teammate Steve Nash during his time at Phoenix we think he is a real danger on offense.
He knows how to finish around the rim and he can extend his jump-shot to just inside the arc, making him incredibly hard to guard. He isn’t as strong as other Power Forwards in the league but makes up for this with unexpected speed and a good handle of the ball.
Obviously he has had some issues this season, with his attitude and fitness being questioned, especially after the incident last year where he apparently injured himself punching a glass case after a frustrating performance.
But if he stays healthy and can show some improvement defensively, he could help lead the Knicks to success.
#29- Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk’s long been considered one of the best international players to ever grace the NBA, and it’s hard to argue that fact. He has a great shooting stroke for a seven-footer, extending his shot to beyond the arc with incredible effectiveness. He has a nice set of post moves and is a good scorer of the ball.
Although this season hasn’t been his best he is still well worthy of a place in our Top 50. He’s averaged 22.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG and shot at 47% over his career and is still a premier player in the league.
His shot technique makes him nearly impossible to block, shooting the ball from above his head, often whilst fading away, making him a terror for defensive players.
If Dirk can rediscover his form and continue to shoot the ball well, he could well help Dallas challenge in the Playoffs once again if they successfully rebuild around him in the off-season.
#28- Paul Pierce
One of the best veteran scorers in the league, Paul Pierce has long been revered for his clutch performances and offensive abilities over his years in the NBA.
Pierce’s tenure with Boston is all over after his trade to Brooklyn, besides fellow future hall of famer Kevin Garnett, but Pierce is still a good scorer who can make the difference over 48 minutes.
Averaging 18.6 PPG, 4.8 APG and 6.3 RPG this season, Pierce may be aging, but he is incredibly useful offensively and offers some real leadership on a Nets team void of a flag bearer this season.
He may only have a few years left in him but Pierce could help lead Brooklyn to battle in another Playoff run next season, and they might be a team who could turn some heads by possibly challenging for a Championship come next postseason.
#27- Manu Ginobili
A player like Manu Ginobili cannot be measured merely on his stats (14.9 PPG, 4.0 APG and 3.9 RPG over his career), his numbers are no match to some other players we’ve already seen in this countdown and we accept that. But what we also realise with Manu is his influence on his team. San Antonio have been a very successful franchise with him, and we think they’d suffer without him.
Yes, he commits his fair share of turnovers, but he is a great spark offensively and is a deceptive specialist with a knack for picking players’ pockets.
Well into his thirties now, he is on a downward spiral in terms of his career opportunities, but he’s still a difference maker for the Spurs.
The crafty veteran from Argentina has a cult following in San Antonio and is a delightful player to watch heading to the basket. He squirms his way past defenders with moves which look completely out of control, but maintains his composure and finishes well. He has a patented Euro-step and has hit countless ‘circus shots’ throughout his career.
Although he may be at the latter stages of his career, we hope to see him trick a few more defenders before his time is up.
#26- LaMarcus Aldridge
One of our personal favourite players in the league, LaMarcus Aldridge, we feel, is one of the most underrated players in the league who is effective offensively whilst also a good rebounder of the ball.
With a jumpshot which is consistent up to mid-range and with a patented series of post moves and fadeaways, Aldridge is a real danger offensively, and as his stats have showed he is a very effective rebounder of the ball.
Averaging 21.1 PPG and 9.1 RPG this season, Aldridge has taken to his role as a scoring Power Forward well, alongside the surprising Rookie Damian Lillard.
There is room for improvement defensively but he more than makes up for his flaws with his strong shooting (nearly 50% from the field).
He can finish at the rim effectively as well, and if Portland manage to bring in a superstar calibre player they could be dark horses in terms of Playoff success sooner rather than later.
#25- Pau Gasol
One of the best all-round Power Forwards in the NBA right now, with a mixture of savvy post moves and superb passing inside the key.
Gasol has been criticised due to his lack of bite offensively, often backing away from the aggressive style of play in the paint, but Pau has a great touch around the basket and has been one of the biggest cogs in the Lakers success over the past five years.
He has a solid shooting stroke which can be stretched out to just inside the three point arc, and he has been a consistent rebounder throughout his career.
He’s averaged 18.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG and 3.3 APG over his career and although he and Kobe Bryant have had their hot-headed moments, he has been a star performer in L.A.
He’s been overtaken in recent seasons by his brother Marc, who won Defensive Player of the Year this tenure, but Pau is still a big part of the NBA, and is likely to be for the next couple of years at least.
#24- Blake Griffin
Possibly the most exciting player in the NBA and for good reason, Blake Griffin is one of the most emphatic dunkers of the basketball we’ve ever seen.
Not caring about who’s in his way, Blake will rise up and try to punch the ball through the basket from near impossible distances and with a massive degree of success.
He’s already put some of the best NBA Players into posters over his fledgling career and he isn’t looking like slowing down anytime soon besides Chris Paul in L.A.
He’s averaged 20.4 PPG and 10.4 RPG over his career so far, but his game could improve leaps and bounds if he develops a decent set of post moves and a consistent jump-shot.
But, there is no arguing with Griffins’ ability above the rim, as shown below in this highlight reel.
If Griffin does continue to improve in the ways we’ve mentioned he could well become one of the best players of his era in his position.
#23- Paul George
Another brilliant finisher at the rim here in Paul George, and the scorer has been key in the Pacers performance this season without Danny Granger.
Playing phenomenally this post season, Indiana pushed the NBA Champions Miami to a deciding seventh game before Lebron took over and secured the Heats’ place against San Antonio in the Finals, where they eventually came out 4-3 winners.
George is a superb dunker and of that there is no doubt, but his improvement in other areas of his game has seen him rise up our rankings.
He averaged 17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 4.1 APG this season, improving across the board from last season, and his ability to become the main vocal point of the Pacers offense is even more impressive.
When Granger returns it will be interesting to see just who is the key cog in the Indiana performances, but either way Paul George will be hoping to improve yet again in his bid to become one of the leagues’ elite players.
#22- Joe Johnson
Often criticised for his salary, Joe Johnson was signed for BIG money by Atlanta before being moved to Brooklyn, currently being paid over $18M a year, and he is regularly scrutinised over his contract.
We feel that he is overpaid, much like many other players with big names (Gilbert Arenas, Rashard Lewis to name a couple), but the difference with Johnson is that he does produce to a high level, and although he may not warrant a ‘max contract’, he shouldn’t be put down because of it.
He’s the guy who likes to take the big shots, and he’s also the guy that seems to make a lot of them, and that’s something that’s very hard to find in the NBA.
He’s averaged 17.6 PPG, 4.4 APG and 4.1 RPG over his career, and is set to help push Brooklyn past the first round of next years’ Playoffs alongside recently acquired teammates Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
If Brooklyn do find success next season, Joe Johnson would be one of the players they will have relied upon and he might just get the critics off his back once and for all.
#21- Chris Bosh
Whilst writing this we understand that Boshs’ inclusion in this countdown will not be a popular decision, but we believe that Bosh has played an integral part of the Miami Heats’ repeated Championship efforts and has earned his place in this countdown.
Bosh always receives criticism for his outside skill set and lack of toughness inside, but if he produces to a high level it shouldn’t be a major cause for concern in our opinion.
He’s averaged 19.5 PPG and 8.9 APG over his career, and although his numbers have dropped during his stint at Miami (which is to be expected seeing as he’s playing alongside two other superstar calibre players) we feel he has done well.
Yes, he didn’t play to his potential in the Playoffs this year and we understand that, but when you consider that Bosh is a menace on both sides of the floor, and has a jump-shot which is now fairly comfortable from three point range, he has become a tough guy to guard effectively.
He’s a solid player, and although he could ‘toughen up’ we don’t think he’d be as effective as he currently is. Bosh will never be the ‘go-to’ guy for Miami, or on many other rosters at this point in time, but he’s one of those players who can make a big difference between a playoff certainty and a championship contender.
#20- James Harden
Another personal favourite of ours here in James Harden, traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Many questioned their decision to trade away the 6’5” scorer, and it seems that their decision has backfired as Harden has helped push Houston up the standings and is set to become part of a Championship challenging side with Dwight Howard joining him.
One of the best scorers in the league, James Harden has had multiple 35+ point games with Houston, and has produced on an astronomic level since being traded there.
Averaging 25.9 PPG, 5.8 APG and 4.9 RPG this season with Houston, he has used his athleticism, shooting and finishing ability to force the Rockets into the Playoffs.
One of Hardens best skills is getting to the foul line and converting when he gets there, it’s astonishing how he gets through contact and still has the composure to finish at the rim so effectively.
If Harden and the Rockets have another successful season next year, we could well see him reaching the top 10 of this countdown and it’s safe to say the Rockets will certainly be contending for an NBA Championship with Dwight Howard joining him in the Toyota Centre.
#19- Deron Williams
One of the finest shooting and scoring Point Guards in the NBA right now, Deron Williams has boosted the Brooklyn Nets into Playoff discussions alongside Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, KG and Paul Pierce.
One of the best long range shooters off the dribble, Deron Williams wowed the Barclays centre last season with a stunning 9 three pointers in the opening half against Washington, proving his deadliness from beyond the arc.
The 6’3” Guard is no slouch on either end of the floor and is quick across the ground and has strength to match some of the better Forwards in the league.
Averaging 17.8 PPG, 9.0 APG and 3.2 RPG over his career, he is truly a fearsome opponent to face when he’s shooting the ball efficiently.
Now the Nets have acquired the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, they should push past the first round of the Playoffs next year, and could be in contention for the Conference Finals if all goes to plan.
Deron has long been talked out of the ‘Best Point Guards’ conversations, but we feel he’s well worthy of a place in our Top 50 and is one of the Top 5 Point Guards in the league.
#18- Roy Hibbert
One of the best performers of this years’ postseason in Roy Hibbert, the 7’2” big man proved Indianas intent in the Eastern Conference Finals, putting on a dazzling show as they took Miami to a decisive game 7.
Although Miami proved too strong for the Pacers, Roy Hibbert shone through alongside Paul George and built on a well established reputation as a strong offensive and defensive presence in the paint.
Averaging 11.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 2.6 BPG this season it’s clear that Hibbert is a strong post defender, using his size and length to disrupt and block multiple shots.
For his size though, Hibbert should be rebounding at a much higher rate, but that comes down to his style of play. He doesn’t get up close and personal on offense, in fact he often relies on a good touch around the basket as opposed to barreling his way through defenders. Defensively he also tries to block shots instead of focussing on getting the rebound, which also effects his stats.
If Hibbert improves his rebounding rate he could well become one of the best NBA Centres in the league for the rest of his career.
#17- Brook Lopez
One of the best post scorers in the NBA, with a great set of moves on the block and with length to become the perfect target for lob passes and tip-ins at the rim.
Lopez was always slept on during his earlier years in the NBA, but has blossomed into one of the best Centres on the offensive end of the court.
Defensively Lopez isn’t the strongest, but his length does cause problems for his opposition. However his biggest weakness is his rebounding for sure, averaging only 7.4 over his career.
For a guy his height (7’0”), he should be bringing in close to double figure rebounding numbers, but due to his lack of real physicality and offensive mindedness he often misses out on the boards.
If Brook manages to improve his rebounding and improve defensively he could be one of the best all-round players in the league.
#16- Marc Gasol
A key player in the Memphis Grizzlies season last year, Marc Gasol has officially overtaken his brother in our countdown and seems to be only looking up as Memphis showed their ability in their Playoff success this spring.
A superb one-on-one defender in the post, Marc Gasol is a true warrior in the paint, although his help defense could be improved.
Offensively, Gasol has developed some solid and smart post moves, with a near automatic post hook and a consistent mid/close range jump-shot.
Gasol could grab a few more boards for his height (7’1”), and averaged 14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 4.0 APG and 1.7 BPG this season in Memphis.
One great remark about Marc is that he always tries to step up to the big occasions, during this years’ Playoffs he pushed his numbers up, and Memphis reaped the benefits.
If Marc Gasol continues to improve he is sure to be courted by a lot of big-market NBA franchises before the trade deadline, whether Memphis will let him go though is a completely different question.
#15- Kyrie Irving
One of the best young Point Guards in the game, Kyrie Irving has been putting on a show for Cleveland fans who were desperate for something to cheer about after Lebrons’ ‘Decision’.
With a superb handle on the ball, Kyrie Irving is most comfortable breaking opposition defenders down off the dribble and either stepping back for the jump-shot or driving straight to the basket.
Irving has quickly become one of the best dribblers of the ball across the NBA and has put plenty of defenders on the floor with his ‘super-quick’ crossovers. One of his most notable showings was during the All-Star Weekend in February, where he toyed with Brandon Knight, won MVP in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge before winning the Footlocker 3 Point Contest.
But it’s not just during the All-Star Weekend that he proved his ability, he produces at an astonishing level in Cleveland, averaging 22.5 PPG, 5.9 APG, 3.7 RPG and 1.5 SPG this season.
He’s unbelievably fast, can finish at the rim, and is one of the best three 3 point shooters in the league, all at the age of 21.
He’s also become one of the standout players across the States through his Pepsi Max Advertisements, becoming his aged alter-ego ‘Uncle Drew’ and travelling across America, fooling pick-up streetballers by schooling them on their home courts with a full set of ‘old man makeup’ on.
It’s safe to say that this young All-Star has put some smiles back on the Cleveland faithfuls’ faces, and is set to do so for the foreseeable future.
#14- Derrick Rose
Before his injury he was undoubtedly one of the best players in the league with a ridiculous amount of athleticism and finishing ability. But Rose has sat out a year, and this forced us to move him down our rankings.
Sitting out an entire year was a huge blow for him and his fans, we had never seen a player so athletic, so quick and so powerful when attacking the basket, and everyone was disappointed to hear he had to sit an entire season.
He averaged 21.8 PPG, 7.9 APG and 3.8 RPG in his most recent season, before crumpling down in the Playoffs with a torn ACL, and we are hoping to see Rose carry on from where he left off in the 11/12 season.
His series of spots with Adidas gained world-wide acclamation, and has hyped up his return to the league to the point where everyone is expecting big things.
One of the best scoring Point Guards in the NBA, Rose can beat defenders and rise up for ferocious dunks with ease. He has developed a jump-shot to mid-range and has apparently extended it during his time out, and this could make him the most dynamic Point Guard in the league.
Rose is also hugely popular after his MVP season in the 10/11 season, where he dominated the league from all areas of the court.
We now all sit and wait for the upcoming season to see if D-Rose can make a comeback and claim the ‘vengeance’ his most recent ad is portraying.
#13- Dwight Howard
This is a controversial decision at this point in time, Howard forced his way out from the Lakers set-up just a few weeks ago and has been given a lot of criticism for it, but it shouldn’t effect his ranking in our Top 50.
One of the best defensive players in the league, and a major force on any roster, Dwight Howards’ inclusion has pushed Houston into real Championship contention.
He blocks shots for fun, grabs rebounds on a high level (leading the NBA last season) and is a massive presence in the paint. Although his offense could see some improvement, especially in terms of his free throw shooting.
Dwights’ best basketball clearly didn’t show up during his time in LA, whether that’s down to his injuries he was playing with, the coaching or just his general performance is unclear, but it’s safe to say Houston are hoping to see a better Dwight Howard next season.
All of these highlights came in an Orlando jersey, and nobody should be surprised by it, the majority of this season with the Lakers he was playing injured, which should be commended in our point of view. If you look at his stats as well it’s clear he was doing well despite the injuries: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG and 57% FG.
Dwight will long be criticised for the way he has managed to create this move to Houston, but either way, if he has a great season next year and proves the haters wrong we’re sure that he won’t be too bothered about his LA nightmare.
#12- Dwyane Wade
The Miami Heats’ longstanding two-guard has entered our countdown at number 12, working alongside Lebron James and Chris Bosh in South Beach.
He’s long been the Heat fans’ idol and has shown his all-round skills each season he’s played and is proof that a player can stay with one franchise and see plenty of success.
Winning an NBA Championship with Shaquille O’Neal back in 2006, and now performing a repeat over the past two seasons, Wade has been key in each season.
Averaging 24.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.8 SPG and 1.0 BPG, Dwyane Wade is an out-and-out force on both ends of the floor.
He’s a fantastic pickpocket, a strong rebounder in his position and knows how to score the ball. He also has one of the most deceiving shot fakes in all of basketball, regularly faking defenders and drawing fouls to give himself easy opportunities at the free throw line.
The only issue with Wade offensively is his 3PT shooting, he’s never been a very consistent shot maker from behind the arc and most defenders will allow Wade a little extra room from range, making it harder for him to pass defenders.
However Wade has proven that he doesn’t need the 3PT shot to score the ball and we look forward to seeing him and the Heat try and go for the ‘three-peat’ next season.
#11- Kevin Love
One of the best rebounders in the NBA hands down, Kevin Love has a game which is near impossible to match with a good mixture of 3PT shooting and inside presence.
Love, who sat out a lot of games this season due to injuries is a rebound magnet and has superb timing when going to the glass, proven with his performance against New York in 2010 as he secured a 31 point and 31 rebound game, the first player since Moses Malone to have a 30-30 game from all the way back in 1982.
It’s not just on the glass though where Love is a factor, he’s an extremely solid 3PT shooter, winning the 3PT contest back in 2012. This mixture of post and perimeter offense causes a lot of problems for opposing teams, often opening up the lane for players like Ricky Rubio.
The only issues for Love at this point in time is his fitness, after dealing with two hand injuries this season along with having knee surgery, and his perimeter defence.
Although he’s slightly undersized for the centre position, he’s often played at power forward so this isn’t too much of a factor for him, especially with his strength in the paint.
Hopefully Love will be fit and ready to tip-off next season and can spend a few more games on the court this year as opposed to being on the treatment table.
#10- Rajon Rondo
A superb passer and finisher inside, Rondo is now, along with Jeff Green, the future of a Boston Celtics franchise who look prepared to drop out of Playoff contention this year.
One of the best passers of the basketball right now, Rondo was forced to the bench earlier this season due to a tear in his ACL, but the facts are there: Rondo is a top Point Guard.
He can sneak by defenders and is so unpredictable inside that he can trick his way to the basket or somehow find a teammate no matter how much traffic there is between them.
But it’s not all easy for Rondo, his attitude has come into question several times and his scoring outside of the paint is near non-existent. He has never developed a consistent jump-shot which drastically limits his offensive abilities. His free throw shooting also suffers and makes him a liability come clutch time.
But besides this Rondo is a double-double machine, he had five triple-doubles this season alone, showing just how much of a stat buffer he is. (He averaged 13.7 PPG, 11.1 APG, 5.6 RPG and 1.8 SPG this season.)
There’s so much going for Rondo it’s easy to look past his flaws, but if he works on these issues he could well challenge for the MVP award besides the likes of Lebron, ‘Melo and KD.
#9- Russell Westbrook
One of the premier scorers in the NBA, Russell Westbrook is one of the quickest and most exciting players in the league.
His skills proved even more apparent after Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City struggled in the Playoffs this year after losing the 24-year-old, eventually losing to Memphis in one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Westbrook is a phenomenal finisher at the rim, with unbelievable athleticism and ball handling skills which saw him average 23.2 PPG, 7.4 APG, 5.2 RPG and 1.8 SPG this season.
The discussion has been rife over who should be the dominant player in Oklahoma, Kevin Durant is a better scorer, but Westbrook often has the ball more than him leading to him creating more off the dribble.
This opened up one major flaw for Westbrook which is his shot selection and attitude on-court, often taking more difficult shots when he has the opportunity to give the ball to his superstar teammate.
But Westbrook is still a superb scorer, and there are very few teams in the league who wouldn’t have him starting every game despite his questionable attitude.
#8- Tim Duncan
Arguably the best Power Forward of all time, Mr. Fundamental has been the long lasting silent superstar in San Antonio.
He’s averaged 20.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.1 APG and 2.2 BPG over his career and this has seen him gain worldwide acclaim. Mix this with his silky smooth shot in which he famously uses the backboard, making it much harder to challenge or block and you have a near complete player.
He’s an all-round success story, with a huge set of post moves, unbelievable basketball IQ and great footwork. Although he’s not the most athletic guy on the court he is always a thorn in the side of opposing teams and offers a massive package of abilities to San Antonio.
Even the likes of Charles Barkley has been reported to have listed Duncan ahead of himself in the greatest Power Forward arguments and it’s clear to see why; he is a great scorer, a strong defender and is willing to make sacrifices for the teams’ good.
He’s often overlooked in the MVP rankings and that’s down to the Spurs ‘team basketball’ philosophy, but we feel that he’s earned a place in our Top 10.
Hopefully Duncan will continue to perform at the highest level in San Antonio and we will see a few more of them patented bank shots before he decides to hang up the sneakers.
#7- Steph Curry
The best shooter from long range last season hands down, Steph Curry was instrumental in the Golden State Warriors’ Playoff run in a season where he showed just how effective his shooting from three point land is.
Crazily enough, Steph Curry had a higher 3PT% than he had FG%, he shot the ball at 45.3% from beyond the arc, compared to 45.1% from across the floor, becoming the best single season 3PT shooter- making 272 in 78 games.
This doesn’t even consider the rest of his statline: 22.9 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.0 RPG and 1.6 SPG over the season, along with his shooting percentages puts him right at the top bracket in terms of point production.
He has a ridiculous handle of the ball, often tearing defenders apart before knocking down the jump-shot, top this with a great eye for a pass and it makes for an incredibly dangerous player to guard.
Golden State are looking like a team on the rise with the likes of Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andrew Bogut and newly signed Andre Iguodala, who will offer some much needed defense to make this young Warriors franchise one of the better teams in the league.
Steph has come through a tough period early in his career, battling an ankle injury which required surgery and coming back stronger than ever.
If he continues to improve and drop as many buckets as he has so far he could well be included in the MVP discussions sooner rather than later.
#6- Tony Parker
Possibly the most underrated player to play in the last decade, Tony Parker has long held firm in the San Antonio Spurs franchise alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
His performances always seem to step up in the Playoffs and last season was no different, forcing a rare Game 7 against Miami in the NBA Finals and making some unbelievable plays along the way.
He averaged 20.3 PPG, 7.6 APG, 3.0 RPG and 0.8 SPG this season, and within the well rounded Spurs offense these numbers are truly phenomenal.
He’s an expert at beating his defender and finishing acrobatically at the basket, whilst also being a superb passer of the basketball.
Parker will most likely see his entire NBA career played in San Antonio unless he makes some drastic decisions. The Spurs have helped guide this French Point Guard to three NBA Championships and it would seem almost wrong to split these two parties up.
The Frenchman could help guide San Antonio to one or two Playoff runs before the Spurs are likely to try and rebuild after the ageing Tim Duncan eventually decides to hang up the sneakers.
Hopefully Parker will continue to wow the crowds in San Antonio and give Tim Duncan the send off he truly deserves by pushing the Spurs to the Playoffs during his final years.
#5- Kobe Bryant
One of the greatest players to ever play the game, Kobe Bryant is truly up there alongside the likes of Michael Jordan, with some people even putting Kobe ahead of MJ.
Kobe is one of the best finishers at the rim, a clutch shot maker and a true competitor, often playing through the pain barrier to push his team upward.
He averaged 27.3 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG and 1.4 SPG this season, these stats stand out even more considering the season the Lakers had, barely making the Playoffs after Kobe ruptured his Achilles Tendon during a regular season game against Golden State.
Kobe couldn’t play through this injury, but is set for a comeback early next season without Dwight Howard suiting up besides him, after his move to Houston.
The Black Mamba is truly an astonishing competitor, barking orders at his teammates when they are under-performing and praising them when they play to their potential whilst carrying the Lakers with his unbelievable scoring.
When Kobe comes back we’re sure we’ll see him come right back to his peak, and it wouldn’t be a shock to us if he continued to drop 25+ points each game.
#4- Chris Paul
The best Point Guard in the league in our opinion, Chris Paul is an all-round success with great scoring, crafty handles and superb court vision and passing.
After his trade to the Lakers was vetoed by David Stern, Paul ended up heading to the other LA outfit besides Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, automatically branding the Clippers ‘Lob City’.
Paul is a phenomenal scorer from all across the court, he can beat defenders off the dribble and either head to the rim or pull up and knock down the jump-shot.
He’s also one of the best players come the big moments, creating space to either score the ball himself or open up a teammate and give them the best opportunity to score in the vital last seconds.
He’s a master thief on the court, picking players pockets on a regular basis and triggering easy fast break baskets for his teammates, ending up with some spectacular throw downs.
Pauls’ stats speak for themself: 18.6 PPG, 9.8 APG, 4.4 RPG and 2.4 SPG over his career, whilst also committing just 2.4 TOPG.
It’s quite easy to say he’s the best Point Guard in the league, and if he can guide the Clippers to championship success in the future he could well be in the thick of the MVP discussions in the seasons to come.
#3- Carmelo Anthony
The NBA Scoring Champion last season, Carmelo Anthony is any defenders nightmare match-up. He can shoot the three, pull up from mid-range, drive to the basket or post you up extremely effectively.
He averaged 28.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 2.6 APG this season, shooting at a fraction under 45% from the field, recording twenty 35+ point performances, topped by a 50 point performance against Miami in April.
His jump-shot is unmatched off the dribble, he’s one of the only players we’ve ever seen that can be driving at full speed to quickly stop and pull up for the jump-shot and make it at an efficient rate.
He’s a monster to handle in the post, using his mixture of speed and strength to get to the rim and score through contact. He also shoots at 83% from the foul line, meaning aggressive defense is a big no-no when it comes to guarding him.
Melo’s only notable flaw is his defensive intensity, or lack there of. He is so focused on scoring the basketball, he rarely puts his efforts into stopping the opposition defensively.
But, if anybody tries to get into a ‘I can score more than you’ match with Melo, they will most likely lose by a fair distance simply because of his offensive versatility.
Melo was the only other player in the league to get an MVP vote this year, and if he improves defensively he could well challenge Lebron for his crown come the end of next season.
#2- Kevin Durant
A phenomenal scorer and clutch shot maker, Kevin Durant sees himself finish runner up in our Top 50, and we’re pretty sure you can guess who he’s finished behind by now.
Standing at 6’9” and with a near unpredictable offensive output, Kevin Durant is a freak of nature on the basketball court due to his ability to score in so many different ways.
He averaged 28.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.4 SPG and 1.3 BPG this season, showing his all-round abilities and continued to show the NBA why he should have been the no.1 draft pick in his rookie class.
He’s a superb teammate, often letting the offense run smoothly through the entire team as opposed to getting the ball and playing one-on-one. Although this has sometimes worked against the greater good of his team.
Due to his length he’s great at blocking shots for his position and is a good passing lane thief to boot, giving him simple opportunities at the other end of the court on the fast break.
He was left slightly vulnerable in the Playoffs this year after teammate Russell Westbrook had to hit the bench through injury, and Oklahoma never really recovered from his loss, despite Durants’ scoring efforts.
If KD continues to develop his game and gets a bit more selfish offensively he might just see himself challenge for the top spot next year, but of course that is a gigantic if right now.
#1- Lebron James
The most complete player we’ve seen this season, and dare we say it- ‘the most complete player of all time?’. Lebron has proven himself in every way since taking his talents to South Beach.
He is a great scorer, an intimidating defender, a superb rebounder and best of all, he makes his teammates better players when he’s on the court. This is what seperates him from all the other players in the league right now.
Sure, other players help their teammates out, but Lebron does it in such a way that he gets HUGE stats himself whilst creating opportunities for all the other players on court.
He has become a master of the chase down block to help compliment his already brilliant all-round game, spiking balls off the glass on a regular basis. This doesn’t even overshadow his excellent defensive skills which are a credit to his unreal athleticism.
He can leap ridiculous heights and is one of the quickest players across the floor, combine this with his sheer strength and much improved shooting ability and you have an unguardable player who stands a solid 6’8”.
He isn’t the type of player to shy away either, he has stepped up come clutch time throughout his career so far, silencing his critics with crazy stat lines and even crazier game winners.
It’s hard to look past him when you do a countdown like this one, players like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are great NBA players, but each of them have flaws, but when you look at Lebron it’s extremely hard to find an obvious flaw.
He’s averaged 26.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.7 SPG and 0.9 BPG this season, also shooting at 56.5% from the field, 75.3% from the charity stripe and at 40.6% from behind the arc.
The only area’s we think he could improve are his shooting, both FT and 3PT, although these stats are already extremely strong. At the end of the day, Lebron is a monster on the basketball court and we think it’s going to be a while until someone challenges him for this spot in our next rankings.