Ranking the best players – in any sport – is always a difficult task at hand. For one, not every person who ranks players considers the same factors. One might include previous accomplishments, and one might act like previous accomplishments don’t exist in the current season.
It is getting tougher and tougher to rank the players 3-10. Yes, spots one and two are on lock, and have been for a few seasons. For those who don’t know: LeBron James is number one, followed by Kevin Durant.
For these rankings, I took previous seasons into consideration, based on how long a player has been playing at a high level. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
10. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
(2017-2018: 16.2ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.3apg- 9 games)
The Claw. Finals MVP. Two-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner. Perhaps, the most quiet player in the NBA. Nonetheless, Leonard allows his game to do the talking for him. Entering the league as a lockdown defender, he has since added an offensive skill set to his game. He can go get 25, while locking down the opposing team’s best player. He only played in nine games during the 2017-2018 season due to injury. With him, the Spurs are capable of beating almost any team. But, is his time coming to an end in San Antonio?
9. Chris Paul, PG, Houston Rockets (2017-2018: 18.6ppg, 5.4rpg, 7.9apg)
Point God? Point God. In terms of the position, Paul is the best point guard in the NBA. Yes, even after his thirteenth NBA season. After six seasons of not living up to the hype with the Clippers, Paul, alongside James Harden, was right on the heels of reaching his first NBA Finals. A hamstring injury forced Paul to miss games six and seven in the WCF vs Golden State. Houston was up 3-2 before losing Paul. CP3 is a magician with the basketball. He is always looking to get his teammates involved. Not to mention, he can go for 30 if he really wanted to.
8. DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans
(2017-2018: 25.2ppg, 12.9rpg, 5.4apg)
Boogie! While Cousins missed 34 games during the 2018 season, it won’t hurt his spot as a top 10 player in the NBA. A terror in the paint, who also has a solid mid-range and three point jumper. Cousins, and teammate Anthony Davis, have the advantage every time on the court. No front-court in the NBA can guard the dynamic duo. Cousins had seemed to adapt well with the Pelicans, after things went sour in Sacramento. The question is will Cousins re-sign with New Orleans this offseason?
7. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
(2017-2018: 26.9ppg, 10.0rpg, 4.8apg)
The Greek Freak. A 6’11 specialist who can almost do whatever he wants on the court. He can get to the rim, play with his back to the basket and get his teammates involved. He lacks a consistent jump shot, but it has improved. He can also play solid defense. Did I mention Giannis is only 23? As long as he’s in Milwaukee, Bucks fans will not have too much to worry about.
6. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
(2017-2018: 25.4ppg, 10.1rpg, 10.3apg)
Russ. The Brodie. MVP. Westbrook, during the 2016-2017 season, became the first player to average a triple double for an entire season since Oscar Robertson did it during the 1961-1962 season. And guess what? Russ averaged a triple double for the second consecutive season. Many who have been around the NBA say the way Westbrook plays the game every night reminds them of the way Michael Jordan played the game. Westbrook attacks the rim with no remorse. He also has a solid mid-range game, and can also knock down the three on occasion. The only real knocks on him is he is turnover prone and can force up too many shots.
5. Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
(2017-2018: 28.1ppg, 11.1rpg, 2.3apg)
Is he more popular for some of the most historical stat lines we have ever seen? Or being known as “The Brow”? Either way, Davis’ impact on the game is nothing short of phenomenal. He can score at will, and his defensive skills are nothing to look away from. Not to mention, he’s added a three ball to his game. AD finished the 2017-2018 season in the top 3 in MVP voting (winner has yet to be determined when this article was published). In the very near future, Davis will enter the top three rankings.
4. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
(2017-2018: 26.4ppg, 5.1rpg, 6.1apg)
The 2015-2016 season featured the NBA’s first ever unanimous MVP winner. The player? Stephen Curry. Ray Allen? Larry Bird? Reggie Miller? Each game, Curry is making the case that he IS the best shooter ever. Curry, a three-time NBA champion, is right up there with Kevin Durant and James Harden in terms of scoring ability. The downside? His below average defense. Don’t let the steal numbers fool you, Curry lacks defensive ability, but he is improving. But, even that is not enough to knock him down on these rankings.
3. James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets
(2017-2018: 30.4ppg, 5.4rpg, 8.8apg)
When Harden is making the “cooking” hand gesture, the league knows he is on his game. And he’s doing the hand gesture quite often. Harden has come a long way from being the third or fourth option during his time with Durant and Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Harden is a left-handed machine who can score with the absolute best of them. That’s why he’s the likely 2017-2018 MVP, and probably would’ve been in the NBA Finals if Chris Paul didn’t get hurt. The only thing really lacking in Harden’s game is his defense. But like Curry, it’s getting better.
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Golden State Warriors
(2017-2018: 26.4ppg, 6.8rpg, 5.4apg)
Just how there is no question who number one is, the NBA’s second best player really is not a conversation. A 7 foot sniper who is the best scorer in the NBA. Shoot the three? Check. Mid-range? Check. Back to the basket? Check. Free throws? Check? He can also play solid defense as well. The only negative thing we have to say about this NBA champion is him joining (and leading) Golden State to win, now two, championships. KD also won Finals MVP for those title runs. It’s very realistic that when Durant retries, he’ll be the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
1. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
(2017-2018: 27.5ppg, 8.6rpg, 9.1apg)
4 MVP’s. Three NBA Championships. Three Finals MVP’s. The list of accolades is long. There isn’t much to say about why LeBron James holds the top spot. Despite the on and off season Cleveland had, LeBron clearly showed why he is in a tier of his own by carrying the Cavs to the NBA Finals. Sometimes, you have to ignore the advanced analytics that may point to a decline in LeBron’s game. But, even if a small decline is happening, James is still the King of the NBA.
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