UPDATE: Here is Perry’s updated 2009 list of the Top 10 players in the NBA.
10) THE POINT GUARDS: Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Baron Davis. I struggled with this list a lot, because all five of these players are deserving to be here. Each one of these players understand and play the point position in a way that makes everyone on their team better. You don’t learn how to play this position. You are born with the unselfish ability to want everyone on your team to excel. Each one of these point guards makes life easier for the following NBA players listed below.
9) KEVIN GARNETT: In his 13th season, The Big Ticket, has been reborn in Boston, leading his Celtic team to the best record in the NBA. The 6-foot 11-inch big man has dominated the East inside thus far (with one exception listed below). Drafted out of Farragut Academy HS in Chicago, Garnett has a 2000 Olympic gold medal and a 2004 NBA MVP under his resume. I list him this low on the list, because he is a little past his prime. It showed the last three seasons in Minnesota when he failed to lead his team to the playoffs.
8. CARMELLO ANTHONY: ‘Melo was the 3rd overall pick in the star-heavy 2003 draft after leading his Syracuse Orangemen to a win in the NCAA National Championship game over Georgia Tech. â€˜Melo, statistically, is the most clutch end-of-game player in the NBA right now. Check out these stats that were updated through the 2006 season. I had to do a little research through last season and found out â€˜Melo has added five more game-winning shots (don’t quote me) to that tally.
7) DWAYNE WADE: It pains me to put Wade this low, but he hasn’t been healthy the last two seasons. When healthy, he is a top-five player in this league. D-Wade, or Flash as his teammates call him, led his Miami Heat team to the NBA Championship in 2006 and was named 2006 NBA Finals MVP. His Heat team is a mess right now, but Pat Riley mortgaged the future to win it all in 2006. He accomplished that goal, but has left D-Wade nothing to work with. It pains me to see talent get wasted like this, but hopefully the Heat organization will surround Wade with the players he needs or trade him to a team that will know how to appreciate him.
6) MANU GINOBILI: Manu has been part of three NBA Championship teams with the Spurs and led the Argentina national basketball team to the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal, also being named the tournament’s MVP. Manu is becoming one of the NBA’s best all-around players and is best known for his fearless attacks to the rim. As I was writing this article last night, Manu dropped 46 points (8 for 11 3PFG) on the Cavs on 75% shooting and dished out 8 dimes.
5) YAO MING: I realize Yao Ming has never won a playoff series, but this is not his fault. The Houston Rockets are plagued by the "Tracy McGrady Disease." A disease that spreads during playoff time, not allowing his team to advance past the first round. McGrady has never won a playoff series in his 11 year career. The Rockets need to build this team around Ming. He is 7-foot-6 and can touch the rim with his feet still on the ground. Shaquille O’Neal summed up Yao’s abilities right before their first meeting in â€˜02 with this statement, "Tell Yao Ming, ching-chong-yang-wah-as-soh." I couldn’t have said it better myself.
4) DWIGHT HOWARD: I hesitate to put him this high, but I only see three other players that I would want more (presently). Three years from now he could be number one on this list. This guy is a monster. Nicknamed "Thunder," Howard was drafted out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy with the #1 overall pick in 2004. Orlando was criticized for not taking UCONN’s polished power forward, Emeka Okafor with the first pick, but who’s laughing now? Actually, I don’t hesitate putting him this high.
3) LEBRON JAMES: His ceiling has been set so high ever since being drafted out of St. Vincent – St. Mary High School with the first overall pick in 2003. Lebron led a team of scrubs to the NBA Finals last year, which included one of the most memorable playoff performances in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Detroit Pistons. Lebron scored 29 of the last 30 Cavalier points, leading his team to a double-overtime victory. The only knock I have on Lebron is at times he tends to coast with the flow of the game. Unlike the next twoâ€¦
2) KOBE BRYANT: It took him three years to realize that he can’t win by himself. I was disappointed to see the Shaq/Kobe era end, but it helped Kobe mature into the player he is today. Black Mamba (Kobe’s nickname for himself) has finally developed into the unselfish player that we all wanted him to become. His offensive, killer instincts are second to none, but what is most impressive is that he can play the opposite end of the court with the best of them, being named to the NBA All-Defensive team seven times. In my opinion, there’s not a more exciting player to watch in the NBA.
1) TIM DUNCAN: There shouldn’t be any argument here. Tim Duncan is the cornerstone for the San Antonio Spur dynasty. Two-time NBA MVP and Three-time NBA Finals MVP, Duncan continues to perform at the highest level, dominating the NBA. Any logical basketball connoisseur understands you build a championship team around a big man and nobody has done this better than the Spurs with the Big Fundamental.
HONORABLE MENTION: Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer, Tony Parker, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace, Chauncy Billups, Richard Hamilton & Paul Pierce
THE WHY NO MENTIONS: Allen Iverson & Amare Stoudemire. These are two of the biggest defensive liabilities in the game. They can’t guard anyone one-on-one. Iverson gets picked apart by bigger guards and gambles way too much for steals that usually backfire into an easy two-on-one situation for the opposing team. Stoudemire gives absolutely no effort on the defensive side of the ball.
THE UP AND COMER: Monta Eillis, Golden State Warriors. This kid can play. Drafted (2nd round) out of Lanier High School, Mississippi, Ellis is on an absolute tear right now. He is a smaller version of Manu Ginobili.