Part 2: Ranking the best players in the NBA by position
by Andrew Kennedy
Now that I have explained all of the positions or types of players in the league that I respect, here are my rankings:
High post iso guy
Tier 1:If he’s you’re best player, it gives you the best chance to win a title
1. Dirk Nowitzki – see 2011 Playoffs.
2. Kevin Durant – if he tries to emulate Dirk from last year, and I think he is, he is the next in line for this type. He needs to do less running off screens (although deadly) and handling in pick and rolls and more of this.
Tier 2: Almost Tier 1 but need more help around them
3. Carmelo Anthony – I think he may have hit his ceiling but we’ll see after this year.
4. Kobe Bryant – getting too old, needed Paul or Howard to prolong career at elite status.
Tier 3: This guy can’t be your best player but unfortunately he is
5. Zach Randolph – looked elite for a time in last year’s playoffs but not consistent enough.
6. Paul Pierce – might have one great playoff series left in him vs. LeBron.
7. Joe Johnson – if LeBron, Wade, Melo and Rose are injured come playoff time, I’m picking the Hawks to make the Finals.
Tier 4: If this was your best player in the 1950’s, you’re winning it all
8. Stephen Jackson – such a perfect fit in Milwaukee.
9. Corey Maggette – unbelievable how good he is at getting to the line.
10. Andray Blatche – the starting center on the “Best at the Eurostep” team along with Rondo, Wade, Ginobili and John Wall (this team has to play small ball a lot).
Tier 1: Dwight Howard and nobody else
1. Dwight Howard – probably the most valuable player in the league. No one has even close to the impact he has on defense.
Tier 2: If you don’t have one of these guys, you probably can’t beat the Heat
2. Joakim Noah – biased pick here but he reminds me so much of Bill Walton.
3. Tyson Chandler – showed in the 2011 NBA Finals why 12 and 10 guys who protect the paint are paid so much.
4. Andrew Bynum – just can’t stay healthy and don’t like what he did to J.J. Barea.
5. Marc Gasol – more valuable than Pau Gasol now, who predicted that?
Tier 3: You can win a title if these guys are your starting center
6. DeAndre Jordan – only because Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are on his team.
7. Kendrick Perkins – only because Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are on his team.
Tier 4: Practice more
8. JaVale McGee – still waiting on a year where he improves a bunch, John Wall should help.
9. Demarcus Cousins – could become the next Rasheed Wallace. Can’t wait until he starts jacking up threes.
Tier 5: At least you’re a true center
10. Andrew Bogut – watch this video. Sorry.
11. Roy Hibbert – nothing wrong with getting 24 minutes and a 12-9 stat line from your center if you’re Indiana.
Non-PG, perimeter player who handles the ball in pick-and-rolls
Tier 1: Try to go into the high post more (and I think they are)
1. LeBron James – I still don’t like his low post moves, they make him look weak when strength is usually his greatest advantage. But his midrange game has been one of the best in the league since joining the Heat and it is good news he or Wade has yet to attempt a three this season.
2. Dwyane Wade – he doesn’t need to become the high post iso guy that LeBron should because they play together. He can be a better version of Ginobili and do his job in terms of giving the Heat a chance to win a title.
Tier 2: Would be as good as and similar to LeBron if four inches taller
3. Tyreke Evans – he’s so incredible in the paint but stuck on a team with five other shooting guards and no point guard. How does that happen?
4. James Harden – he’s probably the best player in the league (not kidding). If he was the most athletic he’d be the most dominant player. Watch him play and you’ll become a better pickup player.
Tier 3: Closest to Iverson
5. Monta Ellis – like Evans, is incredible doing things in the paint and especially for his size. But being a lesser version of Iverson really isn’t a good thing.
Tier 4: Best value off the bench
6. Manu Ginobili – maybe I’m underrating him. He’s still a “slightly slower Wade with better range but disinterested in defense,” which is pretty good.
7. Jamal Crawford – just what the Blazers needed, a closer on offense and great value for a second unit. He could really give them the needed ingredient to make it to the West Finals this year.
Tier 1: You probably can’t win a title unless Blake Griffin or Dwight Howard is on your team
1. Chris Paul – showed us how good he still is versus the Lakers in the playoffs last season. He’s the true point guard with the best chance to win a title as his team’s best player.
2. Derrick Rose – not a true point guard but at this point in his career is the right type of player to make Chicago a serious title contender with their current cast. People remember LeBron shutting him down in the playoffs but remember how he kept settling for step back jump shots even though he had a step on LeBron. I think he gets better this year.
3. Deron Williams – give him Dwight in New Jersey and I may just pick the Nets out of the East.
Tier 2: Really good at the Eurostep
4. Russell Westbrook – please leave Oklahoma City. It’s not working out anymore. He’s the most clueless basketball player in the league and playing alongside the smartest (Harden) and sickest (Durant).
5. Rajon Rondo – I describe Rondo this year as a player who was an underclassmen his whole career until this year where he plays like a senior. He’s not better at anything in particular, just better. I’m starting to think he’d give the Thunder a better chance at a title if he was swapped with Westbrook.
6. John Wall – either this year or the next he takes Washington to the playoffs.
Tier 3: Andrew Kennedy’s favorite players
7. Steve Nash – as much as I dislike Miami, I would love for Nash for him to end up there somehow and get a ring playing a crucial role. He’d become Steve Kerr 2.0.
8. Stephen Curry – the next in line to be the next Nash. Get him a great finisher around the rim like Stoudemire and Curry could make the jump into superstardom.
9. Ricky Rubio – he’s the league’s next great passer. Every pass he throws is incredibly crisp. After one game it is already obvious he’s the best passer in the league.
Tier 4: Has scored 55 points in a single game before
True power forward
Tier 1: The next great power forward
1. Blake Griffin – I got a little overexcited and picked the Clippers for 50-plus wins this season and for them to possibly win the title. I forgot that Blake is only in his second year and needs another 2-3 years to become a top five player in the league. But he’ll get there and as long as Paul sticks around they have as good a chance as any to win titles.
Soft (skilled) big
Tier 1: Get more rebounds and play better defense please
1. Amare Stoudemire – he and Carmelo are both right under the cusp of being a legit number one option on a championship team. I guess the problem is they both have the same weaknesses. It still could be enough to win one though.
2. Pau Gasol – I don’t think you’re the same anymore but I could see him proving me wrong this year. Let’s not forget how not too long ago he was the second best player on a championship team and should have won the Finals MVP.
3. Chris Bosh – never seen a bigger disparity between how soft a player actually is yet how thunderous him dunks can be. It must suck to be left handed (let’s not forget that LeBron does write with his left hand which could be contributing to how he chokes from time to time).
4. Lamarcus Aldridge – another key ingredient to a sneaky team in the West. If they snuck into the Finals and played Miami, could we possibly see a huge upset and an Aldridge Finals MVP averaging over 30 a game? (I need to prepare myself to root for any number of teams that could be playing the Heat in the Finals)
Tier 2: Needs an elite point guard
5. Carlos Boozer – he has one in Rose. I think he has a bounce back season if healthy and is better in the playoffs (super deadly in pick and pops with Rose which worked well vs. Miami last year).
6. Brook Lopez – he has one in Deron Williams. Lopez is the best candidate to turn into the next Pau Gasol. Only averaging 6.0 rebounds per game in 35-plus minutes in a full 82 games last season is super-suspect though.
7. Al Jefferson – he doesn’t have one.
Tier 3: Could win title if your fifth best player
8. David Lee – why haven’t you worked out better in Golden State yet?
9. Luis Scola – would be perfect for any title contender to snatch up in the offseason in the next year or two.
10. Lamar Odom – I love the idea of him in Dallas but it’s been a terrible start so far. Still think it’s scary to imagine him and Dirk running pick and rolls, it’d be the closest thing ever to “if Magic and Bird teamed up in 1994 and it was really depressing to watch.”
11. David West – an elite pick-and-pop big, who doesn’t dream of becoming this?
Tier 4: Why not?
12. Greg Monroe – a great passing center but one million percent worse at passing than Boris Diaw. That’s just a credit to how good Diaw is though.
13. Carl Landry – like Scola, would be a great add to a contender sometime down the road.
Comes off screens
Tier 1: Would be awesome if were your third best player, but he’s your best
1. Danny Granger – Indiana’s looked as good as advertised to start the season. They’re deep and young but will need Granger to step it up a level once in the playoffs.
2. Rudy Gay – the Grizzlies were so good without him in the playoffs last year. I think this is the point I’m making about a player like this being your best guy, not necessarily a good thing.
3. Eric Gordon – a prime candidate to make the leap this year and become a 23-5-5 player. Also has one of the underrated all-around games and could become more or a pick-and-roll player.
Tier 2: Fits in perfectly with an elite point guard
4. Ray Allen – it’s amazing how good he still looks.
5. Kevin Martin – maybe ranked a little low here but I think we’ve seen him hit his ceiling (although he’s more efficient than Kobe Bryant).
6. Rip Hamilton – most underrated pickup of the offseason made by the Bulls. He basically took the last two years off and coasted, we’ll what he has left this year playing for a contender.
Tier 3: Great value on your second unit
7. Jason Terry – here’s his career-defining shot. You want him on your team.
8. O.J. Mayo – a great defender and can score off the bench. It’s amazing how much better James Harden is than him though.
9. Marcus Thornton – he’s averaging over 20 points per game so far this season but has yet to attempt a pass.
10. Wes Matthews – I’m starting to like this Portland team the more I look at their roster.
11. Kyle Korver – you can run your second unit’s offense through him for stretches. That equals value.
Almost a center
Tier 1: If only you were taller or younger
1. Kevin Garnett – one of the best defenders of all-time. He really gave it his all against the Heat in the playoffs last year but there’s no way he has much left in the tank anymore.
2. Al Horford – could be of super value if a true center was playing alongside him.
3. Tim Duncan – had four points and one rebound the other night.
4. Nene – doesn’t rebound enough or play defense but field goal percentage will always impress.
Tier 1: Would make the Heat or Thunder all-time great teams
1. Kevin Love – obviously a guy that rebounds this well and can hit threes is incredible value.
2. Anderson Varejao – best pick-and-roll defender in the league.
Tier 2: It’s crazy how many blocks or rebounds you get
3. Serge Ibaka – it’d be nice to see him develop more of a post game but the spot-up shooting numbers are impressive.
4. Kris Humphries – it’s rare to find a big that hustles in the league, Humphries does.
5. DeJuan Blair – one of the best rebounders in the league along with Love.
6. Tyler Hansbrough – calm down.
7. Thaddeus Young – he looked good against the Heat in the playoffs last year, that has to count for something.
Tier 3: Not as good as the tier before you and better than the one after you
8. Paul Millsap – I was at this game.
9. Emeka Okafor – I really thought Orlando should have taken Okafor over Dwight.
10. Udonis Haslem – I guess it can’t be that hard to look as good as Haslem has this year playing with Wade and LeBron.
11. Nick Collison – I still prefer Ibaka to be in the game over Collison, he’s just too short at times.
Good defender, slasher
Tier 1: Can make an All Star team
1. Andre Iguodala – only averaged 14.1 points per game last year but the six assists a night was impressive.
2. Josh Smith – it’s painful to watch him brick wide open 18-footers.
3. Gerald Wallace – he’s probably the best perimeter defender in the league.
Tier 2: Will step up in a big playoff series
4. Trevor Ariza – too bad you won’t make the playoffs.
5. Landry Fields – beast on the offensive glass. All you have to do is hustle.
6. Shawn Marion – does Dallas win the Finals starting Butler over Marion last year? Maybe not.
7. Arron Afflalo – Bill Simmons likes him too much not to be included.
Tier 3: I think you help someone win a title
8. DeMar DeRozan – not sure if you’re good at defense but imagine you are.
9. Shane Battier – I don’t think you help the Heat that much.
Okay I think that’s everyone. The point of this, as always, is that I can’t stand LeBron.