Ranking the 10 best current NBA players

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Ranking the 10 best current NBA players

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Titus Perez, Courier Staff

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The NBA playoffs are less than two weeks away, and for the first time since the 2004-2005 season LeBron James will not be participating. This has sparked a massive debate all over sports shows and between sports writers. Since, James has missed the playoffs, is he still the unquestioned king of the NBA? I have tried to stay away from this argument because many times people dislike players out of pure hate and will never respect the player for what they do on the court. It makes it tough to argue for a player when the person you are talking to hates his guts and will never agree with you anyway, even after providing the necessary facts. Therefore, writing about this topic makes it a little easier to get my point across, who is really the top player in the NBA today, and who is on the outside looking in, ready to take the throne. Here are my 10 best players in the NBA.

Number one at least until the playoffs conclude is James. He’s the most proven player in the NBA from a statistical and competitive standpoint. A lot of people will argue he played in the weaker Eastern Conference and had an easy path to the championship, but who else has pulled off a streak like James did? If it was so easy to win in the Eastern Conference, why hasn’t anybody else been able to do it. The Cleveland Cavaliers continued to win year in and out for one reason: they had the best player in the game. Last year James probably had the worst roster in the playoffs from a talent standpoint and still made the championship. He was sweept by the Golden State Warriors but getting there showed how good he was. I believe James would have defeated any other team in the finals had the Warriors not made it, however, it’s tough to compete with a team with four all-stars when you are the only one on your team playing at a high level. This year he didn’t make the playoffs, and everybody is blaming it on the tougher competition of the Western Conference, when it is injuries that really took the Los Angeles Lakers season. They were sitting in the fourth spot and were looking good when James got injured in the Christmas Day game against the Warriors, a game they won. When James got back, his team was on the outside of the playoffs and had suffered more injuries to other key players. I did see James take a step back this year, though, he could not take over games like he could in the past. Even with that he was able to average 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Those are unbelievable numbers. Had anybody else achieved them ,they would be getting praised; however, James is getting the cold shoulder. He may not be the greatest teammate and if we are being honest no NBA superstar is, but he is still the best player in the world because no one in the NBA has a presence that affects the game like he’s does.

When I said the playoffs can change who the best player in the league is, I was specifically talking about James Harden. What he has done in this regular season should have flung him on top of the rankings as the league’s best. However, the best does not just do it in the regular season, but they also do it when the games count the most. Harden’s lack of playoffs success is astonishing for such a talented player. Two years ago, he lost a series in embarrassing fashion against the San Antonio Spurs, a series he was expected to win. Last year’s seven-game series loss to the Warriors was tough as well, starting point guard Chris Paul was out for the seventh game due to injury. Warriors had the upper hand coming into the match-up, but the least you would have expected out of Harden is to play great, this didn’t happen. Therefore, I hesitate to put Harden over James. James can get his teams over the hump; Harden hasn’t shown that yet. He always has the presence of the best player on the floor during the regular season, but this changes in the playoffs. Still you can’t deny his resume, the league’s most valuable player last year and a top two candidate this year Harden has averaged 36 points, seven assists and six rebounds and when his best two teammates were out this season, Harden stepped up and played his best basketball, saving the Houston Rockets season.

My third rated player is Kevin Durant. He’s probably the most skilled player at his size to ever enter the NBA. If he wasn’t playing for the Warriors, I would bet good money that he would likely be my best player. However, he has not proved to me he can win without the help of three other all-stars. When he played with the Oklahoma City Thunder, they reached just one championship. With a team that stacked they likely should have won one, but youth got in their way. He failed to put away the Warriors the year before he joined them despite leading 3-1 in the series, if you want to be the NBA’s best player you can’t allow a team to beat you three straight times when your teams are evenly matched talent wise. Next season will be interesting for Durant, if he can prove he still has the energy to put up great nightly numbers and still win despite being on a new team with less stars he will likely shoot to number one in my rankings. I have him behind Harden because I don’t know if he has that same ability, he shown in OKC. Yes, he dominates with the Warriors but when you have four other all-stars around you, there is more room to operate and less time for opponents to scheme for you like many teams do for Harden. Next year when Durant is expected to change teams and step back into a leadership role, we will be able to see if he can still show off those abilities and win like he has with the Warriors.

The fourth spot on my rankings is going to Stephen Curry. Yes, his numbers are not as crazy as others, but remember who he plays with and what he has done by himself. Before Durant arrived, Curry led the Warriors to, two straight NBA finals. He was dangerous from anywhere on the court, and his presence took defenders away from teammates. Fans seem confused why Klay Thompson is open so often or why NBA teams elect to give Draymond Green so much room to score it’s because of the presence of Curry. His shooting and dribble abilities are unmatched in the league today. He has the stats to back up this claim and has the playoff success with and without Durant.

Twenty-seven points, 12 rebounds and six assists are the numbers for Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. He might be the NBA’s MVP this year if the heroics of Harden have gotten old to the voters. “The Greek Freak” has dominated the last few seasons in the NBA, but this year he has hit new heights. The only thing he is missing from his game now is a jump shot but that hasn’t stopped him at all. There are four very good players in front of him in my rankings, but Antetokounmpo has the most potential to grow amongst this group. Durant, Harden, Curry and James have reached their full potential and are in their primes, I think “The Greek Freak” has yet to enter his playoff success is holding him back from moving up. Reaching the Eastern Conference finals is not enough for him either; they have the best record in the NBA and should be in the finals competing for a championship.

Players aside my top five in order includes: Anthony Davis, Kwahi Leonard, Joel Embiid, Russell Westbrook and Paul George. I also strongly consider Kyrie Irving and Nikola Jokic for the 10th spot in my rankings.

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