Welcome NBA fans! A few years ago I was visiting a friend in Washington, DC and we talked about the state of the NBA. It was my friend’s contention, and mine as well, that there are only about 15 to 20 players in the NBA worth paying to see. So I decided to start grading the top players in the NBA with my grading system. The goal of my blog is to educate and inform NBA fans so that they may better appreciate and understand the league and its top players. At times it may appear that I’m preaching to hate but all I’m trying to do is set the record straight.
In the NBA there are basically four types of players. They are as follows:
Playmakers – players like Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio, etc.
Scorers/shooters – players like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Klay Thompson, etc.
Workers – Joachim Noah, Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Davis, etc.
Non producers – ie.practice fodder, roster fillins, retreads, etc.
There are also players that don’t necessarily fit into one category. Most notably LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
My grading system tends to favor the playmakers but can also help identify the workers. Scorers/shooters do not generally grade out as high in my grading system but are needed to have a championship team. NBA championship teams almost always have had at least one player who can create his own shot and score off the dribble consistently. The following is a list of the top 25 players in the league last year based on my grading system. The numbers next to their names are per game averages.
- Chris Paul – +24.71
- Anthony Davis – +20.88
- Russell Westbrook – +20.51
- John Wall – +20.08
- Stephen Curry – +18.87
- James Harden – +18.83
- LeBron James – +17.40
- Pau Gasol – +16.47
- DeAndre Jordan – +16.44
- Blake Griffin – +15.81
- Demarcus Cousins – +15.80
- Jimmy Butler – +15.55
- Jeff Teague – +15.12
- Tim Duncan – +15.00
- Marc Gasol – +14.83
- Joachim Noah – +14.62
- Kawhi Leonard – +14.47
- Al Horford – +14.36
- Rajon Rondo – +13.94
- Damian Lillard – +13.76
- Kyle Lowry – +13.76
- Erik Bledsoe – +13.70
- LaMarcus Aldridge – +13.19
- Paul Millsap – +12.88
- Kyrie Irving – +12.36
Based on my grading system the top player in the league last year was Chris Paul. But as I stated previously in this article my system is biased towards playmakers. A person could argue that Anthony Davis was really the top player in the league last year. Chris Paul controls the ball the majority of the time for the Clippers and therefore his grading is just going to be higher because he gets so many assists per game while making few turnovers per game. Anthony Davis on the other hand is the prototypical worker type that I mentioned earlier. He is doing work all over the basketball court, he scores, rebounds, block shots and make steals. These two players along with Russell Westbrook and John Wall had great seasons last year. That being said it is still my belief that LeBron James is still the best player in the league. LeBron James has been to the NBA finals six times, winning two titles, while being coached by below average coaches. Had LeBron James been coached by someone like Phil Jackson or Pat Riley he would probably have 10 championship rings by now. He would’ve probably had his third ring last year had Kylie Irving and Kevin Love stayed healthy through the playoffs.
I will be putting together a list of the top 25 players for the first third of the season during Christmas break. My next blog will list these players. Stay tuned!
The following list is my All Time NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams. Before I list the players for my All Time NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams I would like to clarify one thing. I hear the talking heads on TV talk about Michael Jordan as being the greatest player ever. I wholeheartedly disagree. Based on my 55+ years of watching the NBA, Wilt Chamberlain is the best player to have ever played in the league. There was never anybody like him before him and there has never been anybody like him since he retired. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal are the closest to being as dominant as Wilt Chamberlain was. LeBron James is the closest to being like Wilt in regards to freakish athleticism. I hope that before I die I will get to see another player like Wilt Chamberlain. Here is my list of the All Time NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams. Please be advised I have picked six players per team as the sixth man has always been an integral part of championship squads.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar
I am sure that there will be a lot of people who disagree with my choice of players for these teams.
On a closing note I would like to engage in some critical analysis of my hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Minnesota Timberwolves organization has been and continues to be a total sorry mess. This organization needs a complete and total overhaul. It needs new ownership, new management and in the near term a new coaching staff.
The Timberwolves finally have some talent but lack good coaching. Ricky Rubio is the perfect example of why the Timberwolves need a new coaching staff. He is going into his 5th year with the team and still can’t shoot for a damn. He could become an elite player if the coaches would help him develop a consistent mid-range jump shot. He is playing very well so far but could be even better if he had a consistent mid-range jump shot. The Timberwolves would win more games and possibly be a solid playoff team if Ricky Rubio shot the ball better. Gorgui Dieng is another example of a player that is not utilized properly by the coaching staff. He graded out last year at +12.04 on my grading system. He is also the prototypical worker type I mentioned earlier. The Timberwolves coaching staff run very few sets for him and he basically just goes out and does work every night. In his rookie season after Nicola Peckovic got hurt, he had 3 or 4 twenty point and twenty rebound games. That is because the coach at the time, Rick Adelman, ran sets for him and let him do his work. I sure wish Adelman was still the coach. In regards to Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince, the Timberwolves should have Garnett retire immediately and bury Prince on the bench. Tayshaun Prince should be called the invisible man because in most games he’s invisible. Garnett should retire so he is not a cripple in a wheelchair in 5 to 10 years or sooner. The Timberwolves should give up on the experiment with Zach Levine as point guard, he is a shooting guard and should be starting and playing alongside Ricky Rubio with the first team. Maybe the Wolves should give Tyus Jones a chance as the back-up point guard. He certainly does not lack any confidence in his abilities although I believe he is too little to be an impact player in the NBA. But the Wolves might as well find out sooner rather than later about this kid. It might help sell tickets being that Tyus Jones is a local kid. Adrian Payne should have his name changed to Adrian Painful because he is painful to watch. Who are the Timberwolves scouts that find these guys? It doesn’t appear to me that they are earning their money.
The young players such as Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins remind me of a young Walt Bellamy and a young Bob Dandridge. Shabazz Muhammed should get all of Tayshaun Prince’s minutes as he is another worker who could make them a better team. I would like to see the Timberwolves hire Scott Brooks as their next coach. He got a bad deal in Oklahoma City. I think he could make the Timberwolves into a contender. The most recent news regarding the Timberwolves is that the owner Glenn Taylor is selling 30% of the team. I hope he changes his mind and decides to sell 100% of the team.