The ESPN top 500 NBA player’s list is officially over as the top 5 were released Thursday on ESPN.com. The “Mother Ship ” showed some love to two men who met in the 2012 NBA Finals, the center everyone has wanted the last two summers and two elite point guards.
No. 5 is the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose
No. 4 is the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul
No. 3 is the Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard
No. 2 is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant
No. 1 is the Miami Heat’s LeBron James
Just in case you need clarification, James and Durant were in the finals, Howard is the highly recruited center and Rose, and Paul are the top one-guards.
Paul as the fourth best player in the league works for me, but in my list, I would have put him third ahead of Howard because the NBA is a point guard’s league these days instead of a big man’s domain. How does Howard get the ball if he’s not being fed by a point guard? I hope he isn’t running the floor with the rock in his hands.
Both Howard and Paul are huge game changers. In my opinion, Paul can change a game in more ways — one-on-one perimeter defense, hitting a three-pointer, making assists, making the extra pass to push the floor, penetrating the interior defense and reading passing lanes. Paul has won many games for his teams in countless ways.
Howard has too, but his main court assets — blocking a shot, grabbing a rebound, throwing down a thunder dunk, helping defensively or accepting a lob pass — seem to be out numbered by CP3.
On the other hand, I can see why ESPN would put Howard above Paul because of what he does defensively and for the amount of love the media outlet tends to give the gold and purple in Los Angeles. Either way, I get it.
Although Paul is one of my favorite players in the league, I find it very difficult to put him above Durant or James.
James was a man possessed on both sides of the court in the finals, while Durant is one of the purest shooters/scorers the NBA has ever seen. I would find it wrong to not have them in the top two spots for many years to come, barring any serious injury.
I do feel ESPN was wise to put Paul on the list above every other point guard. As strong of a Rose fan as I’ve been in the past — he’s not as good of a player as Paul is.
In fact, I might even move Rose to the sixth spot and put Kobe Bryant in the five spot. Although, this move isn’t definite on my list, but more than likely, Bryant is still an amazing player even though he is moving into his mid-30’s. He can score at will and remains an elite perimeter defender.
The only negatives in Bryant’s game are the fact he loves to chuck up the ball instead of making the extra pass, he holds the ball to long, which wastes time on the shot clock, and doesn’t always seem to be a great teammate if someone is struggling. With that said, I do feel all his negatives have in some way, shape or form have become positives at one time or another and has helped the Lakers win games.
Bryant is the type of player, whether you love him or hate him, who should have the ball in his hands if the Lakers are trailing. The addition of Steve Nash demotes his role a little, which in turn, diminishes his rank.
All in all the ESPN list was interesting. I definitely agreed with their top five more than I agreed with most of the other rankings. I would move Paul to the third spot and might move Bryant up and Rose down — also, have to remember Rose is going to be out for the beginning of the season — but I wouldn’t change anything else.
One correction and maybe another isn’t bad for ESPN.