25. Chris Bosh
Before Justin Beiber and Drake, the Toronto star attraction was Chris Bosh. For years he led the team in scoring and rebounding and displayed a full arsenal of athletic explosiveness, with a mixture of finesse touch, all built inside his 6 foot 10 inch lengthy frame. Once the Heat formed the notorious “Big Three” he took a back seat statistically wise to Dwayne and LeBron but his skills never diminished. In fact, Chris has managed to improve upon his 3 point field goal percentage and has evolved into a stretch 4-option. While he is more than likely entering the final two seasons of the prime of his career he will need to carry the burden for a Lebronless Miami Heat team. At this point with all the young talent the NBA has to offer, Bosh has most likely peaked at #25.
24. Dwight Howard
The most dominating force since Shaq’s retirement has no doubt, without a question been Dwight Howard. Dwight has been highly scrutinized over the past few seasons after not re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. However the 6’10’’ Atlanta native has seemed to find a home in Houston playing sidekick to James Harden. Pairing with a young superstar who has not made a huge playoff splash has allowed Howard to take the burden of Championships off of his shoulders. Nonetheless, he still dominates the paint against most opponents, and has managed to improve upon his offensive game with his back to the basket. If Dwight could manage to finish 60% or better from the free throw line then he is no doubt a top 20 player.
23. Damian Lillard
I feel bad for Western conference point guards this year having to deal with Damian Lillard the season after being cut from the US National team. An argument can be made that he is one of the 5 most valuable players in the league. If you analyze Portland’s success prior to Damian becoming their floor leader and after, it does not compare. Even with the improved game of LaMarcus Aldridge, it was not until Lillard entered the fold when the Trail Blazers started to become a contender in the Wild Western conference. Damian, still in his early twenties has plenty of time to move up this list and eventually will be in the argument for best point guard in the NBA.
22. Andre Iguodala
Iggy has been a little bit of a journeyman in recent years, having played the majority of his early years in Philadelphia, then having a stint in Denver before signing in Golden State he has been a highly sought after player for many teams. Andre Iguodala has been given the label of “glue guy”, which commonly is associated with players who do not do one thing very well but do a collection of things good. AI is a tough defender and often takes the role of guarding the opposing teams best player. He is not a marksman from outside, but can slash to the rim and finishes above it. AI’s most athletic years are behind him but he is such a valuable player in this league and is held in such high regard by other players that he will remain in the top 25 until he is over the hump. (Working on that perimeter jump shot wouldn’t be a bad idea either)
21. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus is what consistency looks like in the NBA. For years LaMarcus Aldridge has been in the conversation for top power forwards, after Tim Duncan. The problem the past few years was that he was playing out of position. As a center LaMarcus had to sacrifice some of his offense to bang with the biggest guys in the league, and he had to play rim protector on the defensive end. Now that Robin Lopez has solidified his role as the Center, LaMarcus has gone back to being LA. Only Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett have a more deadly back to the basket game then LaMarcus Aldridge. And since the acquisition of Damian Lillard, LaMarcus does not see as many double teams in the paint allowing him to flourish. Portland will be a contender and LA (along with Lillard) is the reason why.
30. Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba returns for his 19th NBA season coming off of Achilles and severe knee injuries and promises to impress. There is no doubt that even at the vintage age Kobe remains a top 30 player. Surrounded by limited talent, he will have to carry the burden of Laker Nation in attempt to bring the franchise back to a level of respectability. I don’t anticipate Kobe moving any higher on this list in his twilight years, but he will certainly use it as motivation.
29. Dwayne Wade
Dwayne Wade has dropped out of the top 20 range due to his lack of participation in the 82 game schedule. The past 3 summers he has elected to take trips to Germany in order to have the plasma knee procedure and has taken a toll on his career. Now a healthy Dwayne is a NBA MVP, a 20+ppg guy, and one of the most explosive, dynamic guards in the league. But an unhealthy, 31 year old recently married is only the 29th top ranked player.
28. Kenneth Faried
Kenneth Faried is an enthusiastic, energized, garbage man. He is the highest ranked garbage man in the NBA. A garbage man, in my definition is a player who does not have an offensive repertoire, who thrives off of energy and hustle. Kenneth does not have an outside game, nor is he creative in the post. What he can do is finish around the rim, grab every obtainable rebound, and bring tenacity on the defensive side. If he ever polishes his offense he can quickly move into the top 20.
27. DeMarcus Cousins
Boogie Cousins under the tutelage of Coach K really showed how dominant of a player he could be in FIBA competition. With Demarcus it has never been a question of talent or ability, rather a question of attitude and basketball IQ. He has steadily improved in each of those areas over the first few years of his career and this season he looks to be the leader on a very talented Sacramento Kings team. If he can stay afloat mentally DeMarcus will thrive and challenge Anthony Davis as the best young big man.
26. John Wall
John Wall being cut from the US National team will fuel him to outright destroy his competition this year. The cat-quick guard from Kentucky has been working hard on his mid range game knowing that if he can develop the consistency to drive and pull-up he will be in the DRose, Westbook conversation. John can go toe to toe athletically with any guard in the league including Westbrook and Rose. Wall must not only be the leader of this young Wizards team but he needs to take the next step offensively by strengthening his 3 point shooting percentage. Already in his young career he stands at 26 on my power rankings and is nowhere close to his prime. SCARY
35. DeMarr DeRozan
DeMarr is another young exciting, high flying 2-guard who made final cuts on the World National team. He is added a dimension to his game that makes him a threat from multiple areas on the court. He is an above average defender and hits the boards which explains why I ranked him as high as I did over other flashier offensive talent. DeMarr is capable of climbing the ladder with players like Kobe, Dirk, and Tim Duncan climbing in age. Those guys are bound to retire one day...right?
34. DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan is arguably the best defensive big man in the league. Doc Rivers has elevated his game to an all star level. No question DeAndre has top 20 talent, but with minimal offensive game it is hard to place him higher on this list. If DeAndre can develop a turnaround hook, higher free throw percentage, or a 10 foot jump shot he will easily be top 20, possibly the best big man in the league.
33. Al Jefferson
The smooth center who was drafted straight out of high school has really flourished in Charlotte. He has taken over the reign as the best big man in the eastern conference and can move even higher on this list. He is an old fashioned 7 footer who plays with his back to the basket better than anyone since the 90's had Patrick Ewing and Hakeem. With the New York City back court putting pressure on opposing guards, Al Jefferson will have plenty of room to work with
32. Dirk Nowitzki
Who do you know that is 7 feet tall, and still can consistently knock down the wing three and is unguard-able from the post out? The German. Dirk has plenty left to show in the twilight of his career and he will certainly put it on display now that he has sufficient help in Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons. Defensively Dirk can not do too much to alter a shot, and can barely get off the floor high enough to grab a rebound. But with 10 seconds left in the game, there is no player east of Kobe that I rather have the ball in his hands than Dirk Nowitzki.
31. Serge Ibaka
Serge has improved an aspect of his game every year since being in the league. Hands down he is the best shot blocker with an uncanny ability to time shots, and the fast twitch fibers that enables him to get off the floor quickly and easily. Ib-lock-a can step out and knock down the corner three, and consistently hits the jump shot from 15 to 20 feet out. In order for Serge to move higher on this list he would have to average 20 plus points a game, and in OKC with Russ and KD, that is pretty hard to do.
40. Andre Drummond
Coach K was able to spend a lot of time with the 7 foot 1 inch emerging center during the summer. He began to polish his game and develop the defensive stud into an offensive contributor. I anticipate new Detroit Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy will place Andre in the similar offensive scheme that made Dwight Howard a defensive MVP and NBA Finals runner-up. Andre has the mass of an Andrew Bynum mixed with the agility and foot work of a Kevin Garnett. If Andre continues to develop under Van Gundy he will be arguably the best big man after Anthony Davis.
39. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo would be much higher if we had more film on him from the last few seasons. But unfortunately Rajon is a big question mark heading into this season and we really do not know what to expect. What we can expect is a top 50 point guard who previously won an NBA championship. What we can expect is a Celtics team with no real lottery-talent type of players from recent drafts. What we can expect is Rondo playing on a team in the midst of a rebuilding process. We do not know what to expect out of Rondo so until he proves that he is a top 20 player and a top 3 point guard as he was in 2007-2008 he ranks just under the top 40.
38. Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford is still one of the most electrifying and deadliest one on one players in the NBA. He has found a home in Los Angeles alongside CP3 and Blake Griffin and has flourished as the go to guy off the bench for the Clippers. Already winning 2 Sixth Man of the Year awards, he is heading into this season as a leading candidate once again. He is the highest ranked player off the bench on my top 50 player list and would be a starter shooting guard on most other teams. I am not sure if Crawford can move up much farther on this list at age 34, his best days are behind him. But I fully expect Jamal to show his offensive dominance as the Clippers battle for Supremacy in the West.
37. Chandler Parsons
Another Olympian who was cut at the last minute prior to competition in Spain. Chandler Parsons was added to an already tough Dallas Mavericks roster as the prominent star in Dallas after Dirk retires. He stretches the floor better than Shawn Marion was capable of and is an overall more versatile scorer. Chandler Parsons has an extremely high basketball IQ. He knows the essence of floor balance, and truly understands how to maximize his talent. If Chandler can prove that the Rockets were idiots for allowing him to leave he can very easily move up this list.
36. Rudy Gay
Coming off an olympic off-season Rudy Gay is posed for a great season. I always believed that teammates who performed together on the Olympic national team added cohesion to their regular ball club. This will be the case for the Sacramento Kings' stars Demarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Rudy has always put his talents on display with acrobatic plays at the rim and a silky smooth jump shot. Consistency and unselfishness have always been the biggest question marks surrounding this forward and this season those questions become answered. Rudy has the potential to be a top 25 player, and he is reaching the prime of his career--this has to be the year he takes the step into Super stardom.
Created Hiphop and Home Runs in 2014 out of his broadcasting studio in Queens, NY. Visit daily to find updates and breaking news in the urban sports community
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