Written By: Austin Philippi
- Jordan’s Era – Michael Jordan’s Era is perceived by the previous generation of NBA athletes and a lot of the media or fan base as having been the better era. This perception is because it was more physical, and the rules allowed have changed to help protect NBA athletes. However, while they could muck the games up and keep the pace slow that suited most players in the league as they were uncoordinated, nonathletic, and would be unable to play in today’s era. Now this isn’t the case for all players there have been exceptions over the years the biggest being Michael Jordan who obviously dominated his competition while they could be more physical with him. I’m not denying his greatness compared to his peers, I’m just saying his peers aren’t on the level of what Lebron faces in today’s NBA. The Centers in the Late 80’s and 90’s was obviously some of the best in history, however in that era most teams believed you couldn’t win building around a shooting guard. The guard positions were undersized and slow, they needed to be able to hand check just to have a prayer of guarding Jordan. Obviously, I can’t deny Jordan’s Greatness, but I also can’t deny the overall state and quality of the players in the League today.
- Longevity – Lebron has kept a level of greatness almost incomparable to anyone in league history, especially being the best player in the world in his 15th season. Obviously, his seasons started sooner because he came into the league at 18 so he’s still relatively young but the miles on his basketball legs are not. With no real sign of slowing down or retiring in the next 5+ years Lebron James will eclipse a 20-year career without having a major injury (knock on wood). He can possibly play till he is 40 years old as the best player on the planet. This due to some of the benefits of LeBron’s Era and his dedication to health, science, and his body. Lebron can continue to morph his game into playing and passing out of the post much like he does during key stretches in the playoffs. Lebron has a game and a body that will age well and stay at a high level for a long time due to his knowledge of the game and the knowledge of today.
- Competition – Kevin Durant 6’11 245, Kawhi Leonard 6’7 230, Giannis 6’11 220, Draymond Green 6’7 230, Anthony Davis 6’11 254, Ben Simmons 6’10 240, Joel Embiid 7’0 250, Jayson Tatum 6’8 205, Jimmy Butler 6’8 220, Paul George 6’9 220.
John Stockton 6’1 176, Jeff Hornacek 6’4 190, Gary Payton 6’4 181, Hersey Hawkins 6’3 190, Isiah Thomas 6’1 185 (Isaiah Thomas is 5’9 185 for comparison), Joe Dumars 6’3 198, Reggie Lewis 6-7 195, Brian Shaw 6’6 190, Mookie Baylock 6’0 180, Nate Mcmillan 6’5 195, 6’7 220 Dennis Rodman, David Robinson 7’1 235, Hakeem Olajuwon 7’0 255, Horace Grant 6’11 245, Reggie Miller 6’7 195.
Above is a list of names Lebron and Jordan have played in the playoffs or have made DPOY first teams or won awards and guarded or been guarded by the individual in question on a regular basis when they matchup. As you can clearly see LeBron is facing bigger and better athletes than Jordan had to face during his era. (These were the names that littered the 1st Team-All Defensive Teams of the 90’s)
- Size Difference – Lebron James 6’9 250-270 Lbs., 7’1 Wingspan, 8’11 Standing Reach.
Michael Jordan 6’6 218 Lbs., 6’11 Wingspan, 8’10 Standing Reach.
If Lebron played in Jordan’s era the level of physicality Lebron could exert on players due to his size, strength, and speed Jordan wouldn’t have been able to guard Lebron. Let alone score as efficiently on LeBron and his peers as he did in the 90’s. Lebron has the same advantage Jordan had in that he’s bigger stronger and faster than his peers. However, LeBron’s peers are bigger fast and stronger than MJ’s, excluding some of the huge centers in the 90’s however Jordan only met them face up when he got to the rim and many of the centers weren’t very athletic, meaning Jordan got a lot of easy looks on top of getting mauled and sent to the free throw line more times a game then Lebron.
- Shooting – Lebron is a better shooter from 3-PT range throughout his career than Jordan was. Jordan has one season plus a few games in which he shot better than LeBron has from deep but even with that extremely hot year his career average is less than league average. Furthermore, 10 of Jordan’s 13 career seasons he shot below 33% from 3, LeBron only has 4 such occasions. Lebron may not have had the killer post game early in his career but he has shown an ability to hit from anywhere on the court no matter who Is guarding him. He takes and makes some of the hardest shots in the league, all of this while shooting 3 less shots a game on average than Jordan took only to score 3 less points a game. Making him more efficient from the field and scoring with defense on him. Where Jordan has the advantage shooting the ball is his pull up midrange jumper and his FT%. He makes more free throws than LeBron taking relatively the same amount per game.
- Driving to the Rim – Lebron is the best driver of the basketball in NBA history. These are words spoken not only by Lebron fans but his critics as well, if you don’t believe it look at some of the reasons listed above as well his athletic prowess. Better yet turn on an NBA game and watch how un-guardable going to the basket he is. He is also a better passer while driving to the basket than any other player in NBA history.
- Athletic Ability – Jordan may have beaten Lebron in leaping ability and slightly in quickness, however Lebron is pushing and accelerating a much bigger body making his athletic abilities all that more impressive. So, when you combine Lebron’s vitals across the board and compare them to Jordan he either beats or comes close to Jordan in everything while being much bigger and stronger than Jordan. All of this while continuing to keep this athletic ability for a longer period than Jordan played in the NBA.
- More Involved with his Family and Kids – He married his high school sweet heart, had two kids with her early on and has stayed committed to having and raising a good family. Not that I’m knocking Jordan for his personal life but Lebron not only commits countless hours to perfecting his craft but commits that kind of time and energy into his kids and wife as well. He also helped life long friends make careers of themselves. Lebron’s son also seems poised to make a run at the NBA.
- Post-Game – Lebron has moved more to the post over his career, especially after the Mavericks series. During key moments and important playoff possessions LeBron goes to the post where he is the most un-guardable, he just doesn’t post every possession as it takes a tool on his stamina and body. When Jordan posted up he posted mid-range on smaller players and hit them with a dace they couldn’t guard. Lebron has bigger bodies guarding him on a nightly basis making his post play more impressive.
- Vision – Lebron is the best passer in all of basketball. He may be one of the best 2-3 passers in NBA history and could have the stats to back it up. Lebron sees the entire court, and it even seems as if he sees things happen before they do. His overall ability to pass the ball in traffic, in transition, and through or around defenders is what completes his game and makes him the best player to ever play.
- IQ – Lebron may be the smartest player in the NBA, or at least he has one of the highest basketball IQ’s in NBA history. He also has shown an almost photographic memory when it comes to what goes on, on the basketball court. Lebron’s understanding of the game mixed with his athletic ability to be able to execute what he envisions makes him a unique player.
- Never had a HOF Coach – Michael Jordan played and won 6 championships with a HOF coach who won multiple championships years later without another high caliber player. Lebron has never had the luxury of playing with a coach who know more about the game of basketball than he did and that has pretty much been the case sense he was in high school.
- Pass First – While being one of the greatest scorers in NBA history if not the greatest he most often seems to pass first or look to hit a teammate who has an opening for better shot. He trusts his teammates and tries to make the right basketball plays and still finds a way to score nearly 30 a game while taking shots in the flow of the offense (even if it is the Lebron offense).
- Defense – LeBron’s athletic ability, IQ, and intangibles make him a better defender. However, Jordan benefited from his era giving him the nod on DPOY trophies. Lebron also doesn’t give nightly effort on this end any longer, but when the game is on the line I’d rather having Lebron playing defense than Jordan.
- Has done more with his Platform and for his Community – Lebron has been on record several times stating his beliefs and standing up for his community and not worrying about upsetting the other group of people. Jordan has been quoted saying “republicans buys shoes too” and while I don’t mind or knock Jordan for is stance I can give LeBron credit for trying to be a good person in his mind and not just be concerned with his money. He has developed an entire school district and program for kids in his community, under the I Promise initiative. Giving away several million dollars’ worth of scholarships to local kids to help better his communities futures the way he has bettered his own. Jordan does that now too his older age and his billion plus to spend but LeBron has been doing it for years now.
- Rule Benefits (both sides have ways they benefit from rules) – Like I stated many times before Jordan had benefits working in his favor as well as against him while he was in the league. For example, in the 90’s the game was more physical because they could put their hands on you a little while their defending to check you or keep you in front of them. This I something that makes the game more physical, now if you go back up and look at the players Jordan guarded and was guarded by not only did they need to hand check just to contain him, but it allowed Jordan the bigger stronger faster player of his generation to be able to exert his physical dominance more so than LeBron is aloud to today.
- No Injuries – Lebron has played all 15 seasons of his career and the playoffs in 12 of those years. Never having played in less than 60 games in those seasons including a season in which the league had a Holdout and only played 66 NBA games that season. Lebron also looks poised to play at this level another 5-8 years if he can continue this steak of being ironman.
- More Consistently in Finals – Lebron has already been to 8 NBA finals with a chance to go to a 9th this season. Jordan only played in 13 total NBA seasons, if Lebron’s career continues along the path I’ve been projecting it for the last decade then he will end up in more total finals than Jordan played years in NBA. Lebron would have been the only athlete in the modern era with this kind of dominance and the only one known sense Bill Russel. Lebron may finish his career having went to 13 or 14 NBA Finals and winning 5-6 rings in total. However, that is just speculation and we will have to continue to watch the greatest ever defy our expectations.
- Expectations from a Young Age – Jordan set his standards and exceeded them and expectations. Lebron has been given the ultimate expectations from day one, that he has had to live up too. He was deemed the “Chosen One” in High School by sports illustrated, was made the number one pick in the NBA draft as a kid still in High School, and he’s been getting compared to Michael Jordan sense basically his 3rd and 4th seasons in the NBA. Lebron too has exceeded almost all his expectations and because he is so great and seems so super human we believe he can keep it up for a long time to come.
- Higher Nightly Standards – The Previous expectations are historic, but he also faces pressure to perform on every night of the regular season and post season. At any point that he has a game below his super human standards he is ridiculed and discussed in the media for it daily. No other athlete has had these kinds of expectations and pressure put on them on a nightly basis until Lonzo Ball this season, and even he was given a pass once he didn’t put up Lebron level numbers. Lebron meets his nightly expectations and proves his greatness by updating his resume nightly on why he is unstoppable in the golden age of NBA basketball.
- Clutch – For much of LeBron’s career he has had to live under those previously stated standards and take last second shots under such pressure. This is something Jordan didn’t have the same worry of if he missed. Obviously the both are worried about making it to win the game first but that is all that Jordan had on his mind. The social media age has given us an avenue to put our opinions of athletes out for consumption. With all of this said Lebron has made more game winners in the playoffs than Jordan on a better FG% than Jordan on such attempts. Lebron has come through for his teams which been underdogs more often than Jordan’s bulls ever were, just for LeBron to overcome the odds. Not to mention Lebron has the highest PPG avg in elimination games and has the most wins in NBA history when facing elimination.
- Finals Competition – Lebron James has Faced Tim Duncan (3), Kevin Durant (2), Kawhi Leonard (2), Steph Curry (3), Draymond Green (3), Klay Thompson (3), Tony Parker (3), Manu (3), Westbrook (1), Harden (1), Nowitzki (1)
Michael Jordan has Faced Karl Malone (2), John Stockton (2), Shawn Kemp (1), Magic Johnson (1), Charles Barkley (1), Clyde Drexler (1), Gary Payton (1)
Lebron has faced some amazing teams in the NBA finals and some all-time greats as well that are in their prime. The warriors could possibly have 3 top 5 players of all time at their respective positions depending on who you ask, and this team was created for the sole purpose of beating Lebron.
- Stat Accumulation – The previous 22 reasons are going to be what leads Lebron James into being the all time leading scorer in NBA history while also being top 5 in assists all time and top 25 in rebounds and steals. Lebron will also lead NBA history in virtually all playoff stats, wins, and appearances. His overall longevity and stat accumulation will end up untouched and almost un repeatable in NBA history going forward. What Lebron is accomplishing daily at only 33 years of age that is already being etched into NBA history is just remarkable.
Written by: Austin Philippi
- NBA Evolution – The NBA has evolved into a 3-PT shooting league, and some of the best players in the league are 3-PT snipers that have major holes in other aspects of their game. I can list several examples, but I firmly believe there are several players on several NBA teams currently that Liangelo not only has more potential then but can contribute more to a winning team now then they can. Most noteworthy on a championship level-ish team JR Smith, he can be hot and cold and is still an NBA level starter due to his ability to sometimes shoot the 3. I think the Cavs would be in better shape with Liangelo in the lineup over JR Smith. If Liangelo could get on a team like the 76ers, Cavs, or Warriors where is job will be to catch and hoot 3’s he can earn viable minutes in the NBA.
- Liangelo’s Fit – Liangelo Ball while shooting on a 3-PT line slightly closer did shoot over 40% from 3 while nursing several minor injuries. An NBA scout who watched him play said “When he gets his feet set he can shoot and if he makes the league that will be his bread and butter”. I believe Liangelo is a Poor Man’s Klay Thompson, however he already has a better post game, than a lot of NBA Shooting Guards. I believe shooting transfers from the different levels of basketball, especially ability to shoot open shots with your feet set. Liangelo will be a knockdown shooter in the NBA, and will find a roster he fits on.
- Size – This is the stockiest of the 3 ball brothers at 6’5 215 pounds he has an NBA ready body. He didn’t lift at the Pro Basketball Combine but there is rumors he already benches over 350 pounds. Making him one of the Stronger Guards in the NBA already. With a standing reach of just over 8 feet he isn’t an exceptionally long player, but he is stocky and is still tall enough for his position. His size can be a big advantage if he can continue to develop as an all-around athlete.
- Athletic Ability – Coming out of High School he wasn’t graded well on his athletic prowess, sense the rise of his family’s fame however there has been a transformation in his body. He turned a lot of that mass and wide frame into muscle and even posted a 35.5’ inch vertical leap at the Pro Basketball Combine. His Lateral Quickness and speed videos also looked much improved although they weren’t stellar or eye popping. His Wingspan, Hands, and ¾ quarter court speed are comparable to Devin Bookers and Klay Thompsons coming out of college.
- Star Power – He may have the least star power of the 3 brothers, but he has made a name for himself mostly by haters saying he won’t make it and his infamous trip to china. However, his dad bought him a Ferrari to help make him feel even more like the Star he has become in his own right. This Star Power can lead to ticket and jersey sells for your team, and even if he isn’t amazing if you draft him; your team as well as him will be talked about on ESPN often. So, for both business and basketball I see potential in using a pick on him.
- Work Ethic – Once his family blew up on Social Media and his chances of going Pro grew you saw the change in his body and commitment to the game. As I stated previously he changed the negatives against him coming out of High School to be a better athlete and being in better shape. This is a good indicator as fame can make someone either crumble under the pressure and lights or work harder and it seems from the outside looking in his Work Ethic has grown, and I don’t believe that’ll slow down when he makes the NBA.
- Potential – Seeing his Transformation that I’ve eluded too previously in the past year along with how well he shot from deep especially with his feet set in the LKL League I think he has even more room to grow. He has good basketball instincts doesn’t shoot as man bad shots as his youngest brother and has other areas to his game if his jumper isn’t falling. Along with a big body and good size he has potential to be a pest on the defensive end if his Lateral Quickness and instincts can continue to improve.
- G- League – If everything I’ve stated previously isn’t true this may be the truest statement I can make. If Liangelo Ball isn’t good for your NBA franchise he can be amazing for your G- League affiliate. He could be one of the first G-league players to continue to play on two-way contracts for full NBA seasons (so he gets paid more than 34k) and bring real attention to not only the G-league for once but could even increase revenue by selling more tickets and merchandise than ever before just ask Vytautas. Using a late second round pick on a player that at worse could bring attention to your team or help put money in your owners’ pockets and at best can be a reliable knock down 3 and D guy.
- Lonzo Ball – Lamelo Ball looks like he has a chance to be a solid pro prospect as he is still only 16 and growing into himself. Lavar has continued to say all 3 boys want to play together and that Lonzo would even the Lakers to play with his brothers if given the chance. I believe a team like New York or Miami could benefit from drafting the middle brother if not for all the other reasons I’ve named just so he can sit in your G-league or at end of the bench until you can entice Lonzo with his and Lamelo presence if you draft both ball brothers. Now this obviously is a long shot and would take a team believing Lavar in that his 3 boys play better together and are all legit prospects.
- Middle Brother – Sometimes people have eluded to how the feel like Gelo being the middle brother or what can seem like the forgotten brother. He has heard the noise that his other brothers are pro players and he is not. Like the Dad said in Ball in the Family “Zo is chasing Jordan and being the best ever, Gelo and Melo are chasing Zo”. He has an example in front of him of what it takes to get to the NBA and all the negativity and doubt surrounding him I believe has created a huge chip on his shoulder that not only led to the body transformation but the recommitment to developing his game. He has that look in his eyes that his brother doesn’t seem to have, Lonzo seems calm and unaffected by anything good or bad. Lamelo is young, cocky, and acts like he doesn’t care. Liangelo on the other hand he cares, has desire for this game and has real fight in his eyes unlike his brothers who were also raised in the comfort of Chino Hills. You couldn’t tell where or how Gelo was raised by looking at his demeanor.
Written by: Austin Philippi
While Ranking NBA players, 3 things were considered in this order.
1. Who would you want on your team in the playoffs?
2. An NBA players size relative to position.
3. An NBA players’ Potential Moving forward into next season.
100. Thaddeus Young- Between him and Myles Turner they bottled up Kevin Love and helped take Lebron and the Cavaliers to 7 games. He had a down year for his standards, but you can’t teach his size and he gave solid production at 11.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season.
99. Jonas Valanciunas- The Raptors had the #1 seed in the east and one of their best all-around seasons as a team, however the raptors chose to play him the lowest minutes of his career. And opted against his presence on the court during multiple stretches when they were swept by Cleveland.
98. Andre Iguodala- He is still one of the 25 smartest basketball players on the planet which makes him great in the Warriors lineup, however Iggy is no longer the player he used to be. If he made shots or even took them when open on a consistent basis I could have him higher on this list.
97. Michael Kidd-Gillchrist – I used to be a huge fan of his, but he just never developed into a solid costar to pair alongside Kemba walker. Combine that with his abysmal shooting % sense he’s entered the league and it’s a no wonder between him and Dwight Howard the hornets can’t make the playoffs
96. Kyle Korver- This man is in his 15th season, he was drafted the same year as Lebron James and he is hitting shots like its his 5th season in the league. Ending his career on a Lebron led team is huge for the end of Korver’s career, depending on what he continues to do to help Lebron he may inch up this list by next season.
95. Dwight Howard- How the mighty have fallen, I almost didn’t want to include him in my top 100. However, you can’t teach size and you can’t teach that kind of athletic ability. Things you can teach or improve on your own will like free throws and effort he is however lacking. His greatest accomplishment will always be beating LeBron once a decade ago.
94. Jabari Parker- If he could stay healthy for a full season he could stay relevant and maybe take his game the level of play I believed he could. The bucks have some solid young talent in Brogdon, Parker, and Giannas. Parker needs to stay on the court and he will develop with a great core.
93. Rajon Rondo- He’s gotten a bad rap over the last few years but between his defense last year in the playoffs for the bulls and now his play for New Orleans this season and post season rondo has taken strides back towards his old self only now over the last 4 years rondo has been a slightly above league average shooter.
92. Brandon Ingram– He has a high basketball IQ and is even better with the ball in his hands as you can from his first two seasons when his point guard has gotten injured and he has assumed some of those duties. He needs to be a more consistent scorer to become like Kevin Durant but with Lonzo ball and Kuzma look for Ingram to continue to develop his game into an all-star.
91. Bojan Bogdonavich- He stepped up in the series when Oladipido started to fade and he had a huge game 3 being guarded mostly by Lebron where he hit big shot after big shot on his way to a 30-point outbreak against the king to take the lead in the series. Combine that with career highs in PTS, FG%, and 3p% and you see he has done more than enough to be a top 100 player.
90. Dennis Schroder- He said he doesn’t want to finish out his prime on a rebuilding team and as he’s the only player on their team worth even thinking of putting into the top 100 I’d have to say maybe he should look to go elsewhere. However, teams won’t want him if shoots 29% from 3 on the season again.
89. Lou Williams– He has been a great presence of the bench for a while, however with the clippers moving on from CP3 and even Blake Griffin it opened a lot of shot attempts on an otherwise bad team in which Lou was able to shoot slightly above his career average while getting the most attempts of his career.
88. Kyle Kuzma- The 27th pick in the draft not only exceeded expectations he has given the Lakers a solid young core to build around. He has a shoot first mentality and can put the ball in the basket along with again what you can’t teach in being 6’9 220. He will also continue to grow being paired with Lonzo Ball. Kuzma while a solid young scorer benefited from open shots, his defense and overall game I don’t think would have translated well into the playoffs in his rookie year unlike some of the other rookies on this list. Currently id rather have the player above for what they can offer, based on potential he would be much higher.
87. Trevor Ariza- He has been in the league for a while, continues to be a reliable 3 and D player while helping the rockets to a league best 65 wins. However, he is limited by the fact I know who Trevor Ariza is for his career he’s been someone that can give you between 5-12 points a game and not much more.
86.Gary Harris- He has a huge year alongside the “joker” in trying to help the Nuggets make the playoffs. However, they came up short in a do or die game 82 against the Timberwolves. He had a career best year and if he can raise his shooting percentage and scoring again next year he could be an all-star.
85. Nikola Mirotic- He missed time due to a teammate punching him in the face however that didn’t stop him from having a career best year on two different teams. Putting up respectable numbers and helping get NOLA and AD past Portland and onto the second round. He could be good piece for New Orleans.
84. Danilo Gallinari– He was injured most of the year and in his limited time he put up similar numbers but didn’t shoot well from the field he’s going to have to step his game up on a team that is otherwise incapable for him to regain any of his standing in the league from last year.
83. Brook Lopez- He has fallen off a cliff or maybe was just overhyped to begin with. He has multiple years scoring 20+ however they were on bad teams and he just that good anymore. He has moved out to the three-point line and it has made other parts of his game disappear completely. As a three-point shooter which is what it seems he’s been the last 2 years he’s lucky to be top 100.
82. Derrick Favors- He not only managed to stay healthy this season but played a huge part in Utah’s stunning success post Gordon hayward. Shooting a career high 56.3% from the field and coming into the game playing hard defense and giving energy Favors just needs to stay away from the 3pt line.
81. Tristan Thompson- He may have fallen out of the top 100 players all together if not for his play in these playoffs. He has now come into the Indiana series and now the Boston series getting inserted into the starting lineup and coming up huge against superior players like Al Horford. Despite the injurie, drama, and benching surrounding TT he has kept himself ready and has performed.
80. Patty Mills- He played all 82 games and for most of his career he has been a snipper with Kwahi out for most of the season it gave him an opportunity so score a few more PPG than he does for his career. However, being a career 39% 3PT shooter for your career is bigtime even though patty mills may not be.
79. Serge Ibaka- He doesn’t block as many shots as he did a few years ago, however for a big man he shoots the 3 well 36% on the season and his career. Ibaka has found a solid role within the raptors but he just isn’t the presence defiantly he used to be with the way the NBA stretches the floor.
78. Dion Waiters- Waiters has had some up and down play ever sense being shipped out of Cleveland. However, he took strides while being healthy this season in both his overall game and his closing abilities of a game down the stretch, multiple times this year he willed this heat team to a win. He didn’t shoot well this season but in the fourth quarter he was huge.
77. Jeff Teague- This was one of Jeff Teague’s best seasons yet on a team with a ton of talent. He shot either at or above his career averages and stats last year while being on a team with a ton of talent. He finds a way to contribute without having to be the primary coring focus.
76. Nicolas Batum- Ever sense he left Portland he hasn’t been the same shooter or player that deserved that payday he received. He took a step back this year shooting below career averages across the board and scoring a mere 11 points a game on a team who could use any amount of help you can give.
75. Danny Green- This may be too high for Danny Green. He isn’t very good over the last few years but I’m basing this rank on the fact that if he was on a team with other quality players where he can’t be the focus of a defense he is still a lethal sniper even shooting an abysmal 38 from the field and 36% from 3.
74. Malcom Brogdon- The rookie of the year from last season did improve slightly on his numbers however between playing in a little over half the games and the rookie class from this year being so stellar he was lost in an otherwise decent year for a Milwaukee team going through coaching changes as it tries to get to a championship level, if their going too it’ll take Brogdon and Parker taking leaps.
73. Patrick Beverley- Was out most the year, could be higher on this list if he was available and playable. However, he did shoot well from 3 in his limited time. He is still stellar defensively you’d have to assume and will come back from injury.
72. Isiah Thomas- He was injured most the year and seemed to be rushed back by Cleveland, he had spurts of some the MVP from last year, mostly with the Lakers after the trade. I believe he will continue to come off the bench and be a spot scorer as his defense is atrocious and without the Celtics defense to counter his weaknesses I don’t believe you can play him enough minutes to be an MVP.
71. Jrue Holiday- He was stellar for the pelicans this season and outplayed Damian Lillard in the playoffs with both his own defense and the help of rondo and Anthony Davis. Jrue made an even bigger name for himself this postseason after having a career best year from the field shooting almost 50% and scoring almost 20 Pts/G. The only reason he isn’t higher on this list is because
70. Dennis Smith Jr. – His defense isn’t overly stellar, and he shot sub 40% from the filed in his rookie campaign, however if not for a weak draft class he could have been a rookie of the year in another season. He had plenty of bright spots including trying to challenge Draymond Green at the rim. He has major potential but currently if I’m trying to win now id want the people ahead of him on this list.
69. Jae Crowder– I was big on him coming into the season because ESPN had him over hyped and overrated. He wasn’t good with the Cavs and got worse with the jazz while taking more shots and at least playing a little more defense as it seemed he made some big plays alongside Gobert and Mitchell in the postseason. However, he is not the player from his last two seasons in Boston.
68. Jusuf Nurkic– His numbers were slightly down from last year, but he actually got almost a full season in this year and he bested his career averages in almost every category. Along with the blazers getting the 3 seed he had a solid showing, until the playoffs where he and the other blazer big men were dominated by AD.
67. Hassan Whiteside– Miami played him less and less and I don’t if he isn’t giving every game effort he needs or if he has just been unplayable. But by time the playoffs rolled around the Miami heat elected to go small rather than have Whiteside on the court against Embiid. He got paid and hasn’t been the same.
66. Ricky Rubio– This was Ricky Rubio’s best season yet shooting the basketball all around and scoring. Sporting career highs in several categories while helping Utah make the playoffs and they disappeared as he did. Once he was injured in the playoffs the Utah jazz team wasn’t the same. Ricky Rubio really changed my opinion of him this season as he even became less ball dominant.
65. Otto Porter Jr.– He was good in the absence of john wall and shot over 44% from 3 on the season. However, I wanted to see him take a bigger step forward. If he gets his feet set he is lethal, however the wizards are going to need him to get much better in other aspects of his game including creating his own shot if they are ever going to beat the raptors let alone Lebron or the Celtics.
64. George Hill- I wanted to move him below DSJ and Ricky Rubio however his defense is stellar, and most of his games played this season he shot over 45% from 3 with the kings however the pressure of playing with Lebron and a chance at the finals may be too much on Hill as his play had declined with more talent around him then before.
63. Steven Adams– Don’t look at his stats as his barometer of skill, Steven Adams anchors one of the best defenses in the league and may have been one of the most consistent players on the thunder this season. He also has got a huge assist in helping Westbrook average a triple double the last few years.
62. Eric Bledsoe– He improved with more talent around him, Bledsoe gets a bad rap because 2 coaches have lost their job while he was part of the team. However, he played good defense for Milwaukee and put up solid numbers while shooting well from the field, they will take a step forward as Giannas develops a more well-rounded game. This will open Lanes and space for Bledsoe.
61. JJ Reddick- He is an absolute snipper, hit a ton of big shots for the 76ers while averaging a career high in points while shooting better than his career averages in multiple categories. It’ll be interesting to see where Reddick goes this offseason or if he will take less money to try and compete for a championship in Philly.
60. D’Angelo Russell- He had some bright moments for the nets and led them to more wins then they had last year, and most of the nets wins came with him in the lineup. He bested his career averages in a few categories, but he needs to stay on the court and get better defensively.
59. Markieff Morris– He is a big body who defends well and does a lot of other things above average. He was a good role player for the wizards and id argue they traded from him for the same reason the Celtics did his brother and that is to try and contest LeBron James. His brother however is better and on a better team.
58. Marcus Morris- He defends Lebron well, and he had many games this season in the absence of a true star on the Celtics where he stepped up and scored 20+ points. He has been a huge part of the Celtics being a 2 seed and tied 2-2 against the Cavs without Hayward and Kyrie.
57. Aaron Gordon- He took another huge step this season improving on his dunk contest fame he has improved as a player in each of his seasons in the NBA. I think the magic have a young star in the making that if he can stay healthy has a Blake Griffin ceiling and his floor is probably a 15 and 5 guy on 45% shooting.
56. Terry Rozier- This is the biggest surprise and may be the biggest jump, his performance in the absence of Kyrie and in this NBA playoffs he has not only made a name for himself but shown the Celtics re more than just one or two stars they are Deep and littered with lottery picks.
55. Robert Covington- He has a decent size body and a long 7’0 wingspan. However, he finally shot better than 40% from the field for a full season. And his Defense was big for the 76ers at stretches. But between him and Ben Simmons it can be hard to stretch the floor in Philly, I believe he gets traded this offseason.
54. Avery Bradley- He missed almost half the season and he wasn’t amazing even though he was on lottery teams that needed someone to step up. After all this time in the league he is no more than a really good 3 and D player. However, with the league getting more and more tall point guards he will have a trouble defending and switching on a top defense in today’s NBA
53. Marcus Smart- He has not been very good for the Celtics shooting the ball. However, he is a pest defensively that can even switch onto guys with 4-5 inches on him and guard them effectively. If he could ever shoot over 40% or above league average from 3 I could have him higher on this list.
52. Jaylen Brown- He has been huge for the Celtics and is on his way to be a top 50 player in the NBA and maybe even a top 25 in another year or so. If the Celtics trade any young talent for a superstar it should be Brown and Smart, Tatum would be off limits and untradeable if I’m the Celtics.
51. Tobias Harris- He is a big body player who improved from being a decent scorer and defender for his size to a good shooter who shot over 40% from the floor while shooting over 5 a game. Tobias put the ball in the basket better than he has in his career this season. And I’m hoping he can find his way onto all star team before he his career is over.
50. Harrison Barnes– He hasn’t been as good sense leaving the warriors as far as efficiency goes, however he has put up better overall numbers than his career averages. However, his shooting % has also dipped below career averages, he is still 6’8 and a threat to score 20 points especially if he isn’t the number one option. So, you must give him some respect as a borderline top 50 player.
49. Goran Dragic– He was the all-star that shouldn’t have been an all-star. He was selected as an injury replacement because the Heat at a high seed at the time of the selection and his play did have a lot to do with it, but he was below his career averages or bests in several categories especially efficiency and I believe Devin Booker deserved his all-star nod.
48. Lamarcus Aldridge- He led the spurs to a 6 seed without Kawhi in a loaded west and had his first real good season as a Spur. Hopefully they can retain Kawhi and he can continue this alongside him and possibly another all-star caliber player. He bested his career averages and came close to his best years in Portland in scoring while besting his overall efficiency.
47. Kemba Walker- He didn’t take a step forward and he is still the focal point of his team. Going into his statistical prime this next season the hornets need to trade him for some value as he could be a viable 2nd or 3rd option on a championship team. But will not ever lead Charlotte past the first round as the best player on the team, if they even make the playoffs.
46. Mark Gasol– Without Mike Conley he took huge steps backwards as did the rest of the team in not only defense but wins as well. Marc Gasol was almost traded this season and the grizzlies should be looking to trade him this draft if they can even sniff an additional lottery pick for him. Gasol doesn’t have many good years left and is long past his (almost) DPOY potential he once had.
45. Myles Turner- His play against Cleveland in the playoffs both dominating Kevin love and stretching the floor made me want to have him even higher on this list however on a team that could use a second star he doesn’t step up as consistently as he should if he wants to be an all-star.
44. Clint Capela– Capela has gotten better every year in the league and has been a huge part of the rockets success this year both on the defensive end and helping them with the pick and roll on offense and covering the opposing teams pick and roll. Combine that with a league leading 65.2% from the field and he is leading the post season in blocks after being second in blocks during regular season.
43. Deandre Jordan- I’m giving Jordan the slight edge over Capela due to the fact he was almost DPOY a few times and was first team ALL-NBA on 2 occasions. He was injured for a lot of the NBA season, but I believe the rockets would get slightly better if they just swapped Jordan for Capela.
42. Al Horford- His Defense on Embiid was stellar and it gave the Celtics a route to possibly go to the NBA Finals and Al Horford in the first two game stepped up big time for the Celtics until other wise bottled up against Tristan Thompson. It’s baffling he is good against 7’2 Embiid but struggles vs 6’9 TT. However, Al is an all-star and a superb defender and will continue to be for the Celtics.
41. Andrew Wiggins- Wiggins needs to take a bigger step forward in his game then he did this offseason. Im not sure if making jimmy butler the focal point of the two wings may have discouraged him. If the wolves move towns they are moving the wrong player. I know the just traded for butler but they either need to bite the bullet or trade Wiggins, so he can fully blossom.
40. Lonzo Ball– He is three years younger than Wiggins nearly the same height plays a position that he gets better mismatches at. Lonzo is also a better than expected defender across the board due to his lanky frame and ability to play the passing lanes and block smaller players shots, including most notably the MVP James Harden. All of this while having extreme pressure expectations and still averaged nearly 10-7-7-1.5-1 as a rookie. He however wasn’t the best rookie in a stellar class and needs to improve his weight and shot to move any up any further in these standings and to bring the Lakers back to SHOWTIME.
39. Eric Gordon– If he doesn’t win 6th man of the year he should. He has been big for the rockets this season in winning 65 games and had a huge game for the rockets in game 2 when they beat golden state in Houston. He needs to continue to hit shots in the playoffs and improve his % but most of his attempts are from 3 anyway based on the offense Houston runs so I think they’ll live with the results.
38. Andre Drummond- Drummond is one of the best big men in the league and somehow bested his career average in rebounds at 16 a game and that was with the pistons accruing another big man in Blake Girrifn. However, you can’t teach his size (7’0 280lbs) and 15-16-3-1.5-1.5 is hard to come by, his overall presence is a bright spot in Detroit and he has potential but like Blake griffin needs to find a way to step away from the rim and make shots on a consistent basis.
37. Khris Middleton– He scored more points than he has previously in his career, but It seems the workload was too much for him as of now. The bucks would have been better off with him as a third option. Bledsoe looked for him on the 3pt line as he was on of their few shooters, but he regressed from hiss career average and his career best season last year.
36. Paul Milsap- He has become a decent shooter and was solid for stretches along side the “joker”. He got his 3pt% back above league average but as he continues to age I don’t see him making a leap forward on this list and this may be as high as he gets ranked from this point forward.
35. Devin Booker- He should have had his first All-str nod this last season. He can be unbelievably hot, and I would have him higher on this list if he had played a full 82 or if the suns made the playoffs. However, if he goes one more season without making an all-star game it’ll be a travesty. Next year he will average 25-5-5 even if he gets a Karl Anthony Towns, he has that dog in him and will only get better with talent around him. He needs to bring his FG% north of 45% as well.
34. Kyle Lowry- Personally I think Lowry is a little overrated much like Lebron shows you he and Derozan are come postseason time. One of them or both must be traded this offseason. Lowry had one of his best years especially as part of the best team he has been a part of, but he is a borderline top 50 player that I believe has been coached into his all-star form. Raptors shouldn’t have fired Casey.
33. Mike Conley- Most of this season was spent on the injury list, however after watching the grizzlies crumble without him you must give this man all the respect he has deserved now. He has been an all star for years that hasn’t gotten the call yet. He I the most deserving player to not reach an All-star game yet.
32. Blake Griffin– He has always needed to add a 3-point shot and better ball handling to his game, Blake griffin has reached his max potential as this version of himself he needs to try and be more like Lebron and be able to control an offense and shoot from 15-25 feet on a semi consistent basis. He also need to be healthy.
31. Kevin Love- I’m giving love the nod over griffin as Blake still hasn’t developed key parts of his game and would hinder a championship team in the kind of spacing they would need to compete. Love has played a lot of rolls for the cavs and if you put him on a bad team could easily be a 25-13-5 guy as the focal point of a bad team.
30. Demar Derozan- He improved his outside shooting this season but when the pressure mounted, and The Beast of the East stepped on their court he shrunk and may not be in a Raptors uniform again. He may not even be a top 5 shooting guard in the NBA anymore and that’s with him having improved his game, but I need to see more from him and more come playoff time.
29. Victor Oladipo- He is the most improved player in the NBA by far and if he does this again next season and can find a way to win a playoff series I may move him all the way up above Paul George. He shot career highs across the board while being the focal point of a playoff team that was one win away from beating Lebron James and his historic streak of finals appearances, giving him the nod over Derozan who many believed had more talent and they were swept.
28. CJ Mcollum- He is lucky he is this high on the list after the flameout the blazers had this postseason, however most of that was too blame on Lillard and the Portland big men. CJ does need to continue to improve but I believe he has cracked the top 5 shooting guards in the NBA.
27. Bradely Beal- He has hit more 3s than Steph curry through the same age in the NBA, I don’t think Beal will ever have a Steph curry type season. However, this man will go down as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history by time he hangs em’ up. Beal needs to be on a team with a more ball dominant player that is a true number one player for him to reach his max potential playing off the ball.
26. Nikola Jokic- The joker almost took the nuggets to the playoffs averaging a double and shooting nearly 40% from 3. He needs to increase his overall percentage above 50%. But this is a near 7-footer who can give you 20-10-5 on a nightly basis. His defense is questionable at times but he offensive game if great.
25. Donovan Mitchell- Took a team expected to go back to the lottery right to the playoffs while leading the team in scoring with over 20ppg. In the playoffs he didn’t disappoint either upsetting 2 players who are above him on this list. For now. I expect Mitchell to build off his rookie campaign, we have reached the golden age of the NBA with the best draft class since 2003.
24. Rudy Gobert- Mitchell was better when Rubio and Gobert was on the court this season. Gobert was good no matter what and rarely gets any offensive plays called for him. He is still a huge presence for the jazz and was a huge part of their defense and their team’s success, he needs more of an offensive game to take his game any further up this list.
23. John Wall- I’d barely give Wall the nod over Mitchell and Gobert just from experience and athletic ability. However, Mitchell in one season in the playoffs has already done nearly as much as john wall has in his career. Wall is going to need to win a few playoff series and finish a full season to ever be a top 20 player again. He can however roll out of bed and give you 15 PTS and 10 ASTS.
22. Gordon Hayward- He hasn’t played but a few minutes all season, and im not sure he will come right back and be amazing but thankfully for him he is no longer as good as the other small forward on his team. So, he will get the chance to come off the bench hopefully and work his way back into basketball shape and becoming the player he once was, it took PG13 a season or so after injury to return to his previous form.
21. Jason Tatum- With his play in the playoffs and leading the Celtics to the 2 seed with kyrie and hayward being out for the season. Tatum stepped up huge for this franchise and is looking like the next Paul Pierce. He is a rookie and has the King down 2-0 in the eastern conference finals. He will only get better and after a season like this one I expect him to put even more work into his game. This young man this time next year will be a top 20 player in the NBA.
20. Kristaps Porzingis- Obviously this requires him being healthy, but again you can’t teach this kind of size. And better yet he’s young and can already pull up from 35 feet. He has the potential to be a Dirk level player that can play defense. I see his floor as being a slightly worse Dirk and his ceiling as a combo of Tim Duncan and Dirk into one 7’3 monster frame.
19. Demarcus Cousins- He went out with an Achilles injury and I’m not sure how he will come back from it but before that happened he was the best center in the NBA and the 1-2 punch of him and Anthony Davis is still something a lot of people are interested in seeing come playoff time, especially if they face golden state, who cousins has been known for giving trouble for years now.
18. Damian Lillard- Lillard had a great regular season and even stated that he thinks he is as good as any point guard in this league. And while he has improved drastically he is not a top-5 Point Guard in the NBA yet. If he wants to be known as such he can’t get bottled up by holiday and rondo in the playoffs.
17. Jimmy Butler- He is one of the best 10 defenders in the NBA and is a solid offensive weapon but he needs to call up Dwayne Wade and ask how does he pass the torch, because he will never win as the number one option he needs to fully embrace Towns and Wiggins as the go to guys and he needs to play DPOY level defense and score 15-20 points on a higher FG% and the wolves can compete in the west conference.
16. Karl Anthony Towns- He would have been higher on this list if not for his no show in the Houston series. However, you can’t teach his size and he already has a very diverse skill set. He does need to improve on defense and his strength going into next season. He needs to be putting up the most shots for the wolves, while they get a true center to man the paint. He also needs Butler and Wiggins to focus more on defense and give him more control of the offense.
15. Draymond Green- He is starting to regress even as a 4th-5th option on the team and can’t seem to hit open shots let alone contribute other than moving the ball around. He has a high IQ and could average 20-8-6 on another team but at this point in his career his stat line isn’t that much more impressive than Lonzo Ball. However, he is a great defender a DPOY winner and candidate, and I’d need to see him on a team by himself to ever put him any higher on this list.
14. Joel Embiid- If he stays healthy he has a chance to be the best big man in the NBA in over a decade. He is also playing with another top 20 players that isn’t playing his position but is still nearly his size. He is on a team poised to be strong and contending for years to come. He needs to better develop a back to the basket game you’d think a 7’2 frame would have at this point.
13. Ben Simmons- Can’t teach size. Can’t teach size. He may be 7’0 tall and has the vision, handles, and passing of a 6’0 tall player. This man is the next LeBron James from size to all his intangibles. However, LeBron was a much better shooter coming into the league. Ben Simmons can’t be a top 10 player till he develops at least a jump shot as mediocre as Giannis’s. He did however steal Donovan Mitchells ROY, but this “rookie” crumbled in the playoffs to Tatum’s Celtics.
12. Paul George- He would be better if he didn’t play with Russel Westbrook, while Westbrook. Paul George is a great defender and was the only thunder player to do better than his career averages or right on par in every category while going from a number one option to a number 3. He and Brodie both however lost to Donvan Mitchell mostly due to Westbrook and Melo (who didn’t make my top 100 list) However his overall skill set resume and playoff resume is only bested by the 11 players listed ahead of him.
11. Chris Paul – He is one of the best 5 passers in NBA history, and came up huge in a game 4 victory in Oracle Arena with 27 points. Chris Paul has had some clutch moments in the playoffs and he has also fizzled out when it mattered most. Finally, on a team with realistic title hopes CP3 has had one of his best seasons. He is ahead of everyone else on this list because he is a sure-fire HOF, and even though not voted as an all-star is still a top 15 player in the NBA.
10. Klay Thompson – The best shooter in NBA history not named Steph Curry. He is an absolute sniper, if he gets his feet set and you hit him in his spot he is the most lethal shooter in the world. He is the 3rd option for the warriors and still scores over 20 point a game while shooting 44% from downtown. Klay could very well be a top 5 player for all we know hes just being hidden on an all time great team. There is an argument id take him over Harden however harden will have an MVP and has shown me what he can do as the lead Klay has not.
9. Kyrie Irving- I said this when he was with Lebron before, “he has the best shot of anyone to be the next best player in the world” this was due to his finals experience at a young age with Lebron. I did think he would get another ring or two before no longer playing with Lebron however he is under 25 years old and if he comes back healthy has real potential to be an MVP next year. The Celtics however did look just as good without Kyrie.
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo- Needs to develop a 3-point shot and he will be the 2nd or 3rd best player on the planet. He is very close to KD and Lebron however his glaring weakness from outside the paint is easy to defend come postseason time. He also lost to a starless Celtics team in 7 games while coming up short in several of those games. He has the best chance to take the torch from Lebron outside Ben Simmons.
7. Russel Westbrook- He can be overrated, and his stat line is stuffed and plagiarized like a Pre AP-classes homework assignment. However, you can’t teach his athletic ability or effort. He gives it his all 100% of the time and it is wonderful to watch. I do believe he is one of the 10 best NBA talents in the world I just believe he is the rare form that doesn’t always make his teammates better. He has his upside and that’s how he cracked the top 10 when id rather have several other guys on my team than Westbrook. However, his overall physical presence I believe with everything on the line he can play some of the best defense for a point guard, his decision making on the other end is what hurts him.
6. James Harden- He is a lot like Russel Westbrook he just shoots better from 3PT range and doesn’t steal rebounds from teammates. They are both volume shooters who dribble the ball 3-4 too many times much like Carmelo used to do. Which is who their game sometimes reminds me of. Like a young Melo just looking to shoot and put on a show. They are however better than Melo ever was, not to disrespect one of the 25 greatest scorers (currently) but these two just are.
5. Kawhi Leonard- If he isn’t a headcase and is healthy Kwahi Leonard is one of the few players I don’t want to see LeBron face in the finals. He is a pesky long defender with a good offensive game and good decision making. Leonard if he hadn’t missed the entire season could be as high as number 3 on this list if he had been the NBA MVP like oddsmakers predicted to start the year.
4. Steph Curry- The best shooter of all time. He has been hunted by teams defensively in these playoffs. Curry is still undersized and can’t guard very many players in the NBA successfully. He does play the passing lanes well and again I can’t stress enough, he is the best shooter of all time. If he can stay healthy and the Warriors continue to win rings he could shoot his way into being one of the 5 greatest players of all time alongside Durant, Lebron, Jordan, and Kareem.
3. Anthony Davis- He is a point guard turned C/PF and you can see every bit of it in his game. He is one of the best defenders in all of basketball, the best at his position this season for sure. He can step all the way out shoot the 3 and can put the ball in his hands and drive to the rim. He is everything I hoped Blake Griffin would turn into. But he doesn’t need to turn into that he has been perfecting it since coming into the league. He has one of the highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) averages in league history and his team got better when his co-star got injured not worse. And he led the pelicans to their first playoff win in a decade.
2. Kevin Durant- The torch hasn’t quite been passed as Lebron only get better in his 15th season, Durant did however win his first ring. And if he does so again this year and in the years to come he can overthrow LeBron’s legacy as much as I hate to say it. The league has never seen a player like Kevin Durant, that can shoot that well from deep and be over 7’0 tall. Durant is a one of a kind player and if you are talking pure basketball skill he is a top 5 NBA talent all time. He did however take a lot of the load off Steph curry this season and was the reason for their last ring.
1. Lebron James- He is Lebron James. I don’t even have to continue but I will, No one in the league is talked about more, has more pressure, more expectations, and no one has his standards set by us and himself. Lebron is a class of his own and he doesn’t currently play with the level of talent that Kevin Durant does, however he is un-guardable is the best passer maybe in NBA history, but he has the highest IQ and has an entire team and organization built around his greatness. Not only would he be the number one player in todays league, but he would be the number one player of any league or generation. He is a one of a kind player and athlete who has no peers in the NBA today.