The ‘Real’ Top 10 Players In The NBA

By Eric Williams
Updated: April 17, 2006

NOTE: With the NBA Finals set to begin later this week, BASN looks back at an article that first appeared on the site back in late October. Eric Williams took a look at the NBA’s “real” Top 10 players. After looking back at the regular season and postseason, Eric’s Top 10 should be cause for some interesting conversation.

PHILADELPHIA – I recently read an interesting column the other day in which the writer ranked his top ten players in the league. Now, I must say, that whenever someone writes an article like this, it is purely the opinion of said writer.

Having said that, since I disagreed vehemently with some of this other scribe’s selections, I decided to compile my own list of the ten best players in the league with a definitive reason to go along with each pick. Now that I’ve gotten that long-winded explanation out of my system, let’s get started.

1. Tim Duncan

Even with Duncan ailing all season from a nagging injury I know all about from firsthand experience (plantar fasiciitis) he is clearly the most important and dominating player in the game. Yes, he has wonderful talent all around him and the game’s best coach, it his driving presence that has driven San Antonio to three championship titles and a possible fourth.

2. Kobe Bryant

I think Bryant has clearly shown this season that he is the game’s best all-around player. He has single-handedly driven a mediocre Laker team into the playoffs and more importantly, established himself as a leader at both ends of the floor and one who should be even better next season if L.A management gets him some legitimate help. Love him or loathe him, Bryant has not only, rebounded from his off court personal woes, but improved his game, dedication and even his reputation.

3. Steve Nash

There is not a player in the game who makes more of an impact on all of his teammates than Nash. I believe is ability to elevate his teammates respective games, makes him the league’s MVP. With the season long loss of Amare Stoudemire, Nash has elevated his scoring to a career high this season while continuing to lead the league in assists. The thing I’m most impressed about is the fact that it doesn’t matter who is on the court with Nash. He plays the same way all the time and makes whomever he’s playing with reach their full potential whether they want to or not. Just look at Tim Thomas. Enough said.

4. LeBron James

After the season James has had, I almost feel embarrassed calling Bryant the best all-around player in the game. James has had a season for the ages and will one day be hold the title of the best player in the game. James has dispelled the notion that he fades away down the stretch and has been the driving force behind the Cleveland Cavaliers renaissance. This season James will accomplish a feat that only three other players in league history have completed. By averaging 30 points, six rebounds and six assists, James joins the elite company of Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West. Need I say anymore?

5. Kevin Garnett

KG is still putting up eye-popping numbers (21.8 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists) for a team that is absolutely atrocious. I know a lot of people are really enamored with the ability of Dirk Nowitzki to go out to the three point line and drain jumpers like they’re lay-ups, but for me, if I had to choose one player to match up against Tim Duncan, I would choose Garnett. His rebounding ability is unmatched at this point and he would probably be averaging more points if he had any consistent offensive help to help shed the constant double and triple teams he’s faced all season long. His professionalism with the T-Wolves has been nothing short of incredible. No matter who his teammates are, KG comes to play every night.

6. Dirk Nowitzki

Nowitzki is obviously, supremely talented. There has never been a man of his size who can do the things that he does. He really is a modern day Larry Bird without the killer instinct that is. Until he develops that instinct, which helped carry a lot less talented Bird, to three championships and the Hall of Fame, Nowitzki will continue to be a bridesmaid to Duncan’s bride. Unlike Bird, who was a better passer and rebounder, Nowitzki only affects games with his scoring. If he ever develops a nasty streak, it could be lights out for a lot of western conference opponents, including the Spurs.

7. Dwyane Wade

Not only is Wade one of the most athletic players in the league, be he is also a very intelligent player who generally lets the game come to him. Don’t get me wrong, he can definitely take over when needed, but his court sense and basketball intellect may be unmatched by any young player in the league. I expect Wade to move up on this list, possibly to a top-three spot in the next couple of years. He’s that good.

8. Paul Pierce

Pierce, who has always been an extremely talented player, has raised his game, and his leadership abilities, to another level – one that should have Boston GM Danny Ainge seriously thinking about getting him some veteran help. Pierce is the only player in the league to lead his team in points (a career-high 26.8), rebounds (6.7), assists (4.8) and steals (1.4). If this season is any indication of what lies ahead for Pierce in the next few seasons then he will get some serious consideration for the league’s MVP title, especially if the Celtics ever start winning some games again.

9. Elton Brand

Simply put, Brand is a monster who has always been a 20 and 10 guy since he entered the league. However, with a new and improved Clippers team, Brand has elevated his game this season to even greater heights. His career-best 24.8 points per game to go along with 10.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks would probably be enough to win the league’s MVP award in any other season besides this one. Nevertheless, Brand looks like he will be a MVP contender for a long time and with a little more help, who knows, maybe the Clippers themselves can become legitimate championship contenders themselves.

10. Shaquille O’Neal

I’ve never been a Shaquille O’Neal fan especially after seeing the way he was used and abused early in his career by Hakeem Olajuwon. I always say that if Shaq weren’t 7-1 and 300 pounds, he would be an ordinary low post player. However, he is 7-feet-1 and 300 and even with his rapidly declining skills, his presence alone is enough to turn any pretender into a legitimate championship contender.

So there you have it — the ” real” 10 best players in the NBA. Feedback and comments, as usual, are always appreciated, many of which will be shared in a later column.