Lately there’s been a lot of speculation and pondering about who the best of the best is in the NBA. With Team USA playing ball right now, some people have felt that there have been many snubs involved in the selection process. There are players who could have been selected, players who couldn’t go because of injuries, and many other circumstances as well. This motivated us at Hardwood Houdini to showcase our top 25 players list.
I can’t speak for everyone on staff, but below is my complete list of top players in the NBA.
Top 25 players list
LeBron James has a skill set that is very rare to come by—no one in the NBA is as complete as him. He has the handle of a point guard and the makings of a scoring machine also. James dominated throughout this season and I expect nothing less from him for next year.
Kevin Durant is a three time scoring champion. He puts the ball in the bucket effortlessly and does so game in and game out. His range can’t be quantified or defined as a range. As soon as he walks in the building he’s able to score you points. He’s simply the best scorer in the NBA.
No one effects both ends of the floor quite like Dwight Howard. The closest person to being able to do similar things to Dwight is LeBron James. Aside from all the whining and complaining, Dwight has anchored a defense that has showcased some of the worst defensive players in the league today. All while giving you twenty points per game.
Dwyane Wade is one of the best players in the game today, contrary to popular belief. Many think that Wade has slowed down a bit since LeBron James came to the Heat, but that’s only because of how good James is. Last season, Wade put up numbers that would’ve earned him an MVP in any other season that Kevin Durant and LeBron James didn’t play the way that they did. He’s uber efficient and does all of the little things—you could say that he’s a super glue guy now.
As a pure point guard, no one is better than Chris Paul. He can score the ball well, but chooses to get his teammates involved more instead. He doesn’t dominate the ball a la Steve Nash or Derrick Rose. Instead, he’ll give the ball up early in the clock and put a teammate in the perfect position to do well on his own. When he chooses to be dominant, there may be no one better in the league. No one is more efficient than Paul is with the ball in his hands.
Derrick Rose, when healthy, is the the second best point guard in the game. Maybe more of a 1A 1B thing with Chris Paul. His explosiveness takes him to new heights and enables him to score the ball similar to the way LeBron James does. He is probably the best penetrator in the league and his ability to facilitate compliments that as well.
Kobe Bryant is a basketball savant. He has one of the highest, if not the highest, basketball IQs in the league. He knows what to do in every situation and is still dominant in what could be considered the twilight of his career. He almost snatched a scoring title out of Kevin Durant’s hands.
Love is the best rebounder in the NBA and does it with very little athletic advantage over his usual competition. The Timberwolves were on the brink of competing for a playoff spot until star point guard Ricky Rubio went down, but Love was a key component to their success. He gave the Wolves his supreme effort and had some spectacular games along with that effort.
Rajon Rondo is the most unorthodox player in the NBA. He’s a point guard who has shown no evidence of a consistent jump shot in the NBA and has teams who play 10 feet off of him each night. However, he remains dominant and is able to distribute and score the ball almost at will. He’s probably the best passer in the league and does that more consistently than anyone else in the NBA. His teammates love him.
Deron Williams has the best all-around scoring game of any point guard in the NBA. He has the three, he can drive the lane and body anyone in his way, his handle is impeccable, and he has a great post game. He fills the bucket up—period. He’s almost as good of a facilitator as well.
Russell Westbrook fits the same mold that Derrick Rose does. He’s an athlete that uses his superior athleticism to get to spots on the floor that others can’t and do things that others could never do. He takes a few questionable shots a game, but sometimes they fall. That’s what makes him so great of a scorer.
Pau Gasol doesn’t get enough praise for how good of a player he his. Offensively, he can play from the high post or the low post. It doesn’t matter which because he excels at both. He’s a phenomenal passer for his height as well. Also, he’s a great rim protector. He may not register a lot of blocked shots, but he alters plenty more. He’s a great all-around player who any team should love to have.
Lamarcus Aldridge has one of the best post games in the NBA. He’s got plenty of moves to showcase and dominates almost anyone in that area of the floor. He has to work on his game defensively and can improve in rebounding, but he’s come a long way since he first came out of Texas.
Andrew Bynum is the second best center in the NBA. He doesn’t have the same defensive prowess that Dwight Howard does, but he’s got more of an offensive skill-set than Howard. He reminds me of the way Shaquille O’Neal used to play with the meanest dropstep I’ve ever seen. Now, Bynum isn’t on his level, but his game in the post is certainly similar.
Tony Parker had a career resurgence this year with the Spurs last season. He had never been considered a pure point guard, but he was one that was incredibly quick and could lead a 1 on 4 fastbreak on his own. Other than LeBron James, no one does it better than Parker. He combined that with more facilitation and led the Spurs to the best record in the West.
As the third wheel on the Miami Heat, what Chris Bosh does is often overlooked. With Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on your team, that tends to happen. But Chris Bosh does all of the little things that don’t show up on the box score. He alters shots, plays great single cover defense, rebounds well, and will get you buckets also.
Blake Griffin is one of the most athletically gifted specimens I have ever seen touch the floor. With that, he plays the pick and roll better than any big in the NBA. He knows when to roll, slip, or pop. Once he can consistently hit a 15 foot jumper, he’ll be much more of a force to be reckoned with. That’s saying a lot considering that he’s already a 20-10 guy.
Carmelo Anthony has the worst love-hate relationship with NBA fans that I’ve seen in a while. People hate him for being a ball-stopping scorer, but love him when he can drop 30 on a consistent basis. Either way, Anthony is a joy for me to watch. Being a tremendous rebounder and scorer is something that many small forwards lack.
If I had to go to anyone for a bucket, other than Kevin Durant maybe, I would go to Dirk Nowtizki. He has some of the best moves at and away from the basket. He patented his own fade-away and has a shot that is nowhere near blockable.
James Harden is what Manu Ginobili has been for the Spurs for so many years. A versatile scorer that can handle the ball as well as some point guards and is very adept at passing the ball. He can shoot the three ball as well as almost anyone and has a euro-step that makes it look like the floor is sliding under him.
Steve Nash should be nicknamed the catalyst. His teams have gone as far as he has been able to take them. Nash has a knack for controlling the ball during a large portion of the shot clock until his team finds a shot. Though that isn’t the proper way to play basketball, Nash has always made it work. And he’s also been a member of the 50-40-90 club. Some consider him to be the greatest shooter of all time.
Rudy Gay can score the ball as well as anyone in the NBA. He has a nice back to the basket game and can also face you up as well. Off the ball Gay is fluid in his movements and knows what spot he needs to be at to go to work. He can fill the bucket whenever.
Zach Randolph is one of the few low-post threats in the NBA. He may have the best low-post game other than Al Jefferson in the NBA. He has so many moves that he can go to and put the ball in the basket. He’s a monster on the boards with limited athleticism, similar to the way Kevin Love plays.
Josh Smith is a defensive powerhouse on his own. He can guard perimeter players and bother some of the best post players in the NBA as well. He can step out and hit a 13-15 foot jump shot in the pick and pop game, and also he’s a great passer for his position. Sometimes Smith thinks that he’s a guard and gets a little carried away with his 18 foot shots, but I think we can live with that.
Andre Iguodala comes in last on this list. He’s a very versatile forward that makes anyone hesitate to put the ball on the floor. He may well be the best perimeter defender in the NBA. He’s great in transition on the ball or off of it. He needs to work on his half-court game because other than being a spot up guy, he tends to fade away here.