Who are the best players in basketball? Names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade come to mind but it is often hard to choose. Everyone's list is subjective and there are different criteria to look for, which is why TheBestSportsBlog is presenting two different lists to debate!
Rose really blossomed during his 2010-2011 MVP season and went from being a young all-star with flaws to a true superstar player. The Chicago Bulls' franchise player can now shoot from range, make his free throws, and collect fouls when he drives into the lane, which makes him almost unstoppable on offense. Even more important, his feel for the game at the point guard position has improved each season and he now makes the same spectacular, no look passes that we have come to expect from Steve Nash. If he can keep his power scoring game and continue to meld it with elite point guard acumen, he will become the NBA's best player.
It's a close call putting Rose over Chris Paul. The Clipper's star is the games' best pure point guard and his feel for passing is second to none. But Paul cannot rival Rose as a scorer and injuries have taken a half step away from his dribble penetration. That makes him more of an elite distributive point guard, like Steve Nash, and less of a multifaceted force like Rose. It is Rose's increasing ability to meld brute scoring, passing touch, and closeout skills that make him the best.
It's still Kobe. Like Michael Jordan before him, Bryant has learned to cheat age by substituting cunning for pure athleticism. He now glides lightly around the court and takes his shots from the best positions and angles he can find-rather than using his body to physically create space or driving to the rim-which is allowing the Laker's star to keep putting up elite numbers while tapping into the fountain of youth.
But, despite his evident skill and otherworldly conditioning, Kobe's reign as the NBA's best at his position cannot last forever. Bryant is 35 and even Michael Jordan, whose skill level and conditioning surpassed even Kobe's, was running on fumes when he retired at 36. Since Jordan took a two year layoff in 1993-94, that does not bode very well for Bryant's chances of remaining an elite player for many years to come. The Lakers would be wise to find a younger star (DWIGHT HOWARD!!!) to pair him with, so that Kobe can settle into the role of elder star and elite closer for the remainder of his career.
A controversial choice, maybe, but I think that Durant has become the NBA's best player. He has been the NBA's best pure scorer since 2010 but has now become an unstoppable offensive force. He has also become an underrated defender and the unquestioned leader of the best team in the Western Conference.
What separates Durant from LeBron James, the other potential pick here, are several important skill-sets and intangibles. Durant is a much, much better shooter than James anywhere on the court, which makes him a better late game closer in big moments. Durant is also the true leader of his team, which is a role James has been unable to assume on Dwayne Wade's Miami Heat.
For years, basketball fans waited for LaMarcus Aldridge to tap into his god given talent. Every year, he would put up 17 points and 7 rebounds, almost make the all-star team, and tantalize with his potential. But in 2010-11, Aldridge became a tenacious defender and learned how to use his size and strength to move opponents in the post, which has made him the most dynamic two-way frontcourt player in basketball.
But, Aldridge is hardly the only possible choice. Do you value proven veteran experience or explosive young talent? That is the question at the power forward spot. Tim Duncan was the unquestioned ruler at this position until 2009, when age caught up with him and he became a complimentary star. Dirk Nowitzki continues to excel and won a championship in 2011, which would have made him a good choice, but he only plays one end of the court. Ditto for young Timberwolves star Kevin Love. Ultimately, Aldridge's youth, exceptional defense, developed offensive game, tenacity, and leadership make him the NBA's best power forward.
Sorry Andrew Bynum fans, this choice remains a no-brainer. At 26, Howard is the NBA's best center, a physical behemoth that dominates the paint defensively and is developing into an elite offensive player. He is a franchise-defining player who can almost win games on his own and will change the fortunes of several franchises when he decides his future team this summer.
For another view, see My Top 5 NBA Players by Positions
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