(Boulder-CO) The following is a list that I just couldn’t help myself to compile. There has been some really good ones out there, but I might as well throw my two cents in the game. I chose my list by scrutinizing each player’s game down to the real nitty-gritty and their current status as of right now. Things like how tough a guy is ranging to how clutch they are in the final seconds were also put into consideration. It wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be, but here it is:
1. Kobe Bryant: The real deal. Kobe Bryant does what he wants to whoever he wants and opposing players just hope they don’t end up on a poster. Kobe Bryant is the league’s top scorer at a clip of 35.4 a night and is also snagging five boards. His 81 point performance is stuff of legends not to mention he is a dominant defender who often draws the other team's best man. If you want to get beat off the dribble, Kobe can do it. If you want to get shook in the post, he can do that too. Fast break? No problem, whether he is finishing it off or leading it. He is coming off another 1st Team NBA Selection and will, unless unforeseen disaster strikes, be named again in 2007. Kobe Bryant is the best player in the league, hands down.
2. LeBron James: On the potential scale, he is limitless. LeBron James is a force that is so versatile it would be blasphemy to not put him in the top three players on the planet. He is the closest thing to mimic Oscar Robertson-esque play since well, Oscar Robertson. He posts averages, (31.4 points, seven rebounds, and 6.6 assists), that are just cuckoo for his age. He is mature way beyond his years and it is probably not a matter of if he will win a championship, but rather a matter of when. Named to the 1st Team All-NBA in 2006, this might have been the easiest pick in the whole damn thing. He means everything to the Cavaliers. Without him they might as well close up shop. Keep printing the money Cleveland, he is worth every penny.
3. Dwayne Wade: Coming of a peak-performance in the NBA Finals was enough for me to put D-Wade in the top five in the league. Championships are hard to come by, but Wade has got one already. Maybe the most exciting finisher in the NBA, Wade is simply electric. He scores in bunches and can also be one of the sneakiest players on the defensive end of the floor. Scoring 27.2 points per game and dishing out 6.7 assists a night makes Dwayne an irreplaceable component of the Miami Heat and a shoe-in to make pretty much any list out there.
4. Steve Nash: Eh Steve, you didn’t think I was going to forget about the Association’s MVP did you? Not many people in the NBA’s great history have repeated as the league’s MVP, but Nash is forever in elite company. He is accountable for almost forty points, (18.8 points and 10.5 assists), just by himself and is tops in the league when it comes to the intangibles like leadership, dictating the pace of the game, and making the extra pass. Wet jumper and tight handles make Steve Nash an unbelievable talent like no one else in the game. Straight baller.
5. Allen Iverson: Being six feet tall has been no obstacle for the Answer. Coming in second to Kobe in scoring, Allen Iverson puts up 33 a night. He gets his team involved at a tune of 7.4 assists a game and if it were a list based on heart. AI would be #1. He plays hurt more than he is healthy and was a 3rd Team All-NBA selection last season. Allen Iverson is a scorer that can do it anyway possible, including some of the most impossible shots at the cost of his body.
6. Dirk Nowitzki: Where’s Scooby is all I can think about when I see Dirk. The German superstar makes us all rethink what a 7-footer can do on the offensive end of the floor. He can shoot the trey, fade-away, and dribble like a small forward. Dirk Nowitzki is coming off his first All-NBA 1st team selection and an NBA Finals appearance. He will have his work cut out for him to keep pace with his impressive stat line from 2006, but with any luck, Dirk could quite possibly improve his numbers.
7. Shaquille O’Neal: Winning his fourth championship with his second team makes Shaq a no-brainer. He makes his team better by presence alone. Playing less minutes doesn’t make Shaq any less effective as he posted averages of 20 points, 9.2 boards, 1.9 blocks in 2006. He is the last true remaining center, and as long as he stays healthy will always be a force to be reckoned with. Even with a drop in numbers, Shaq was still 1st Team All-NBA in 2006 for the seventh consecutive time. He has been at the top of the game for a long time without losing the limelight.
8. Kevin Garnett: The biggest name that could use a change in scenery. Just because the Timberwolves can’t get their act together, doesn’t take anything away from the game of the “Big Ticket”. A true anomaly when it comes to athletics, Kevin Garnett does things for a man his size that just should not be possible. KG is about as rounded as a player as you’ll find in the NBA. He gives you 12.7 rebounds, 21.8 points, and four dimes every night and never complains about a thing. He embodies everything that the word, “professional”, means in a league that sometimes doesn’t.
9. Carmelo Anthony: ‘Melo is the most clutch player with the game on the line. After a sophomore slump, Carmelo bounced back and was a 3rd Team All-NBA selection in 2006. Averaging 26.5 points a game, eighth best in the league, makes Carmelo a franchise player. He is probably the hottest stock in the NBA after an unbelievable FIBA run. Carmelo can either rise on this list or drop out of it depending on his stability, but there is no question that as of right now the sky is the limit.
10. Tim Duncan: “The Big Fundamental” may not be winning championships at the same rate as he was, but he keeps the Spurs in the hunt every year. Named to the 2nd Team All-NBA was a slip in a way, but his game is hardly slippin’. Timmy still gives you 18.6 points and eleven rebounds. With the most tender bank shot in league and stifling D, Tim Duncan is an elite player still. Don’t get it twisted.
So that is it. Comment if you wish, rearrange or totally disregard it. I just thought I would throw my two cents…which is probably all this list is worth!