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The 10 best players in the NBA today

Updated on October 24, 2012
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How do you define a great professional basketball player? I define a great basketball player as someone who is not only statistically great but fundamentally great, and possesses all the intangibles needed to succeed at the NBA level. One who increases the efficacy of his teammates. One who simply impacts the game on such a level that not many others could reach it.

This list will consist of, who I think, are the 10 best professional basketball players in the game today. A list that is certainly not perfect, but a list I compiled using several statistics and on-court observation. Statistics that include PER, Win Shares, True Shooting Percentage(TS%), and Effective Field Goal Percentage(eFG%). My observation of each player overall or the "eye test" plays a big part in this list as well. When I'm observing, I look at how he impacts the game on court, how good do they make their teammates, how much of a fighting chance he gives his team to win, how clutch he is, and how many little plays does he make that doesn't show up on the stat sheet.

With the NBA tipping off just less than a week from today, I couldn't help but feel obligated to give my take on who I think are the best basketball players in the world. It took a lot of time in creating this list, and I hope you enjoy.

10. Kevin Love

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Kevin Love's 30/30 game

One of the most fundamentally-sound big men in the game, KLove kicks off this list with a bang. Mediocre defense aside, he more than makes up for it with his offensive repertoire, his deadeye shooting, and his relentlessness on the glass.

Virtually an unknown in his first couple of years in the league, he still put up more than spectacular numbers in a limited role. A role that wouldn't last long as he would break out in a big way in the 2010-2011 season as he averaged 20.2 points, 15.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 threes per game on 47% shooting with an 85% mark from the stripe. Last season, he would be even better averaging an astounding 26 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.9 threes per game on 45% shooting with an 82% clip from the free-throw line.

Kevin Love is a new breed of the power forward position. Rarely do you see a player from this position put up such rare stats. He's not only a dominant rebounder, but he's a great scorer with unlimited range. We have yet to see him at his passing peak. If you can remember, he was seen as one of the best outlet passer in the game in his college career at UCLA. He's a great passer, and if he can incorporate that into his already dazzling game, he will be a top 5 player before we know it. It's scary to think that he just turned 24-years-old last month.

Kevin Love Career Stats

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
17.3
12.0
1.9
0.9
.566
.491
22.4
31.6
Notable stats: One rebounding title.

9. Carmelo Anthony

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Carmelo Anthony Clutch Performances

Melo originally didn't crack my list, but after extensive research and brainstorming, I came to the conclusion that he at least belongs on this list. Despite the fact that I think he's highly overrated, doesn't play great defense, and doesn't make his teammates better like the upper echelon players in the league. But you could say some of the same things about Kevin Love, who obviously ranks #10, so it would have been a disservice to leave Melo off the list.

Melo is an intriguing player. In the sense that he possesses all the tools necessary to be an elite player in this league, but the little nuances of the game escape him. He isn't fully committed to the defensive side of the ball when he has the physical frame and athleticism to be an intimidating defender. While he is a pretty good passer, he doesn't pass it nearly enough, especially when you consider that he is a very good player with his back to the basket which would allow him to find open men from the post. The ball often sticks when it's in his hands and it has a negative effect on his teammates around him.

What makes him a top 10 player in my eyes is his ability to put the ball in the hoop and his ability in clutch situations. He is, in my humble opinion, the best pure scorer in basketball. The variety of moves in his arsenal, his pure athleticism, his back-to-the-basket game, and his bulky body that allows him to move defenders out of his way with ease, makes him truly the best scorer in the game today. He's also a great rebounder for a small forward and if he were more committed to the glass, he could possibly threaten 10 rebounds a game. His performances in the clutch really make you appreciate just how great of a player he is. He does have his flaws, but when it's crunch time, he can make the big shots. You can't help but give him his props.

The question with Melo has never been his talent. He's always had top 5 talent. The question with Melo has always been his full commitment to the defensive side of the ball, making those around him better, and leadership.

Carmelo Antony Career Stats

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
24.7
6.3
3.1
0.8
.544
.478
20.4
62.9

8. Derrick Rose

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MVP, Rookie of the Year, All-NBA First Team, 3x NBA All-Star, Eastern Conference Finals appearance, and leading his team to the best record in the NBA two straight seasons all before the age of 24. That's right, Derrick Rose says hello. Rose burst onto the scene immediately with a spectacular Rookie of the Year campaign.

There is a reason why I ranked Rose #3 on this list and #8 here. You'll notice that Rondo is not in my top 10. That is because this is not a point guards list. I believe Rondo plays the point guard position better than Rose. It's really quite simple, Rose is the better overall player.

His speed and athleticism at the point guard position is second to none. His ability to get to the basket and finish makes him a joy to watch. He's always the #1 focus for the opposing team, and even that's not enough to stop him. He's the heart and soul of the Bulls. Without him, they virtually don't have another offensive threat to speak of.

I do believe he's a little overrated, but I realize his importance to the Bulls. The Bulls may win with defense, but they need somebody who can score and make shots easier for a cast littered with limited offensive players, and that somebody is Rose.

Derrick Rose Career Stats

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
21.0
3.8
6.7
0.7
.534
.473
19.9
30.0

7. Dirk Nowitzki

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Never have we've seen an amazing shooter such as the Diggler that stood 7-feet tall. Dirk definitely belongs on this list. Even despite a down season a year ago. Dirk may not be a great defensive player but he simply impacts the game more than you think he does. You watch him play and you think he's nothing but a shooter, but he's more than that.

He's the #1 focus of the defense at all times, he's a great passer even though his assists numbers don't show it, and he has one of the best offensive games in the league. His step-back one-footer fade-away has become a trademark imitated by the likes of Kevin Durant. His back-to-the-basket game is simply not penetrable. He is one of the most clutch shooters in the game. You can't give him any space in the waning seconds of a game and you certainly can't foul him because he's nearly a 90% shooter from the free-throw line.

The underrated part about Dirk's game that I love is his passing ability. He's not shy about finding the open man. He makes his teammates around him better by just simply being on the court and taking on all the attention of the defense and making the right passes when the defense collapses on him.

Any criticism you had about Dirk had to be erased after he won that elusive first ring and Finals MVP. He proved to be a clutch performer contrary to common misconceptions about him being a "choker." He is now an NBA champion and while he may be declining, he's still one of the top 10 players in the NBA. Respect him.

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
22.9
8.3
2.6
1.2
.581
.495
23.6
168.9
Notable stats: Career 88% shooter from the free-throw line. 19th on all-time scoring list.

6. Kobe Bryant

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Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh in this article regarding Kobe. Maybe there's some truth to it. Here's some more truth, Kobe is still one of the greatest players in the game despite turning 34 in August. Even if he may be retiring in a couple of years. Who knows if that retirement talk is just a ploy to get Dwight Howard to sign an extension.

One thing we do know is that Kobe still has some left in the tank. Nearly securing a 3rd scoring title last season while also having an MVP-caliber year didn't look like a guy who was approaching retirement in the near future. Silencing all prognosticators with talk of him declining. Kobe still has one of the smoothest offensive games in basketball. He still has the ability to get up his shot with ease. He's a good rebounding guard, and he can dish the rock too. He has arguably the most complete offensive game in the L even at this stage in his career.

What I like most about Kobe is his fearlessness in the clutch. He doesn't shy away from taking the last shot. He's proven to be clutch. Maybe not as clutch as many say he is, but certainly someone you do not want getting up a good shot in the last seconds of a game.

Kobe is a top ten great all-time, and he's still one of the 10 best players in basketball even at the age of 34 and having little tread left on the tires. A true testament to his determination and work ethic. I have no doubts Kobe will take us on another great ride and possibly has another championship run. Even though it would absolutely sicken me to see the Lakers win another title.

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
25.4
5.3
4.7
1.3
.554
.486
23.4
162.4
Notable stats: 5th on all-time scoring list. Two scoring titles.

5. Dwyane Wade

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With LeBron James leading the pack in South Beach, it seems like Wade almost gets lost in the mix in the discussion for best players in basketball. Simply put, he is obviously a top 5 player in the game today. LeBron's addition to the Heat has made Wade underrated somewhat. It wasn't too long ago that Wade was putting up absolutely spectacular numbers on an average Miami Heat team. Not so long ago that he was a Finals MVP either.

With so many Kobe-to-Jordan comparisons, I feel as if Wade is the one player in today's game most comparable to MJ. Like Michael Jordan, Wade is one of the best slashers the game has ever seen. He's completely fearless in going to the basket and can finish in a variety of ways. He's developed a rock-solid jump-shot to go with his dynamic game. He's one of the toughest players in the NBA to guard if not the toughest.

The thing that stands out to me the most when I watch Wade is his defense. You typically don't think defense when you think of Wade, but Wade is an outstanding defender. He plays such great help defense, plays the passing lanes well, and is a good shot-blocker for a shooting guard. He is one of the most versatile and explosive players we have in the game and this spot still might not be high enough for him.

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
25.2
5.1
6.2
0.5
.566
.506
25.7
90.3
Career average of 1.0 blocks per game for a shooting guard.

4. Chris Paul

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Unquestionably, the best point guard in basketball. Not only that, he is one of the top 5 players in the game. CP3's impact is without question the most of any point guard in the NBA. He simply makes everyone around him much better players.

The one thing that stands out to me is his ball security. Hard to believe that someone can average as many dimes as CP3 yet turns it over no more than three times a game. When you have a PG that can dish it like that and also limit his turnovers, that makes your offense that much more efficient.

I can't imagine how mediocre the Hornets will be without CP3, but one thing is for certain, he's already made his mark as a Clipper. Leading them to nearly double their win total from the previous season(which was 82 games) in a lockout shortened season. Taking them all the way to the 2nd round despite not being fully healthy. Maybe they could have provided more resistance against the Spurs had they had a healthy CP3. Just goes to show how much he means to his teams.

He can't really contest shots, but he makes up for it by being a disruptive force on the ball and playing in the passing lanes, leading the league in steals an amazing five times. CP3 is everything you want in an elite point guard. He can score, he can dish it, he limits his turnovers, he gets you a lot of steals, he's clutch, and most importantly, he's a floor general and a true leader.

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
18.8
4.5
9.8
0.9
.581
.522
25.4
89.1
Career 2.4 steals per game. Has led the league in steals five times. Career 9.8:2.5 assist:turnover ratio.

3. Dwight Howard

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Enough of this Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard comparison nonsense. The fact of the matter is, Dwight is the best center in basketball, and it's not close. No other big man can anchor a team loaded with push-over defensive players to a top 10 defense in the NBA consistently like Dwight can. That's exactly what he has done. You look at those Orlando teams and they had guys like Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu in the starting line up, who couldn't guard a door, yet the Magic sported elite defensive numbers in multiple seasons.

Yeah, that's because of a guy named Dwight Howard. You may hate the way he handled things in Orlando. You may think he's overrated, but please respect the man's ability on the defensive end. He is simply a dominant presence and no other player in the league has as big of an impact on a defense as Dwight.

As much that is made about his limitations offensively, he does make up for it by shooting a sky-high percentage from the field and routinely getting teams in foul trouble(even if he doesn't make his FTs). He also runs the floor very well for a big man. The positives greatly outweigh the negatives. He isn't your prototypical big man offensively, but he is the best big man we have in this game we love.

PTS
REBS
ASTS
BLKS
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
18.4
13.0
1.5
2.2
.569
.573
22.5
87.5
Notable stats: Six rebounding titles. Led league in blocks twice. Career average of 1.0 steals per game for a center.

2. Kevin Durant

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I've talked about Durant seemingly ad nauseam in fantasy basketball articles. If you've read any of them, you know about my love affair with him. He's more than just an elite fantasy player, he's pretty good in real life too. The shooting clinics he puts up are a sight to see. I don't think I've ever seen a player his height that could make the toughest shots look so easy.

Durant isn't quite the defensive player I want him to be, but he's getting better and improving each year. Where Durant excels is his ability to get up shots over any defender. He can knock em down with a hand in his face, come off screens and knock em down, and get into the lane and draw fouls. He may be the best in the game right now when it comes to drawing fouls. His lightning-quick release makes him even tougher to guard. He scores in a variety of ways and he's only 24-years-old.

I've seen improvement in his passing skills and he's making the right passes in pick-and-rolls. If his big men could simply finish at an efficient rate or if he were surrounded by more pure set-shooters, you'd see a spike in his assists numbers. He is becoming ridiculous in the clutch. If you are the opposing team, you don't want to see the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Durant is becoming the complete package and he's still so young. I don't think I could say enough good things about Durant.

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
26.3
6.6
2.8
1.5
.582
.507
22.6
50.5
Notable stats: Three-time defending scoring champion. Averages 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game for a SF.

1. LeBron James

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The only thing LeBron's critics can say about him now is that he only has one ring.
The only thing LeBron's critics can say about him now is that he only has one ring. | Source

It's about damn time. Only fitting to end with the king. I don't know where to start. I could spend all day talking about LeBron just looking at his numbers alone. These are Wilt and Jordan-esque type numbers. LeBron is statistically excellent consistently year-to-year and not only that, he's even better to observe.

He can command the court like a point guard, as if he were Chris Paul himself. No telling just how many assists LeBron could average if he chose to pass more than he shot the ball. He can literally do anything he wants on the court and there isn't anything anybody could do about it. You could try to force him to shoot jump-shots but he can even make those. Not at the rate that Durant does it, but he can make them and he can get hot.

Not only is he a force offensively, but defensively he has come such a long way. He now has the ability to make the guy he's defending work for every single shot. He's also a great team defender much like his partner in crime, Dwyane Wade. But it is LeBron that allows the Heat to get away with being small in the paint defensively. It is LeBron's Magic Johnson-esque versatility that gives the Heat that extra dimension that other teams just don't have. It is LeBron that is the straw that stirs the drink. Make no mistake about it. This is LeBron's team, not Wade's team. Hate him or love him, this is the NBA's best basketball player and the best basketball player in the world. Anything to the contrary would be uncivilized.

LeBron James Career Stats

PTS
REBS
ASTS
3PM
TS%
eFG%
PER
Win Shares
27.6
7.2
6.9
1.3
.569
.516
27.2
133.3
Notable stats: One scoring title. Has led the league in per five straight seasons.

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    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 4 years ago from Texas

      Nice hub Giancarlo, Although I don't know if I would have Dwight Howard in the top 10. When you say best players, I'm thinking all around, Dwight is a beast on defense, but his offensive skills are suspect. I would give Paul Pierce an honorable mention, He's getting older, but still clutch on both ends of the court.

    • GiancarloLorenzo profile image
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      Ray Williams 4 years ago from Little Rock, Arkansas

      I love Paul Pierce, but he's not putting up great numbers right now like he used to. I do personally like him though. Dwight's defense is just too good not to have him top 5. His impact is that great defensively. He's as close to Bill Russell as we'll get in this era.

    • allelsematters profile image

      Lady Jen Palven 4 years ago from Philippines

      nice choice for the number one spot..LeBron James is a good leader in his team.. he knows where to pass the ball and shoots without any hesitations.

    • GiancarloLorenzo profile image
      Author

      Ray Williams 4 years ago from Little Rock, Arkansas

      Couldn't agree more.

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