So I caused a bit of a kerfuffle earlier today when I claimed that Russell Westbrook wasn’t as good as most people make him out to be and as such, I decided I’d give you my top 10 players heading into the 21013-3014 season.
Without further ado:
10. Kevin Love
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 17.9 PER
I’m going to throw it out there straight away and say that K-Love is the only big I have included in my top 10 players. This is probably going to seem strange to a lot of you but I wholeheartedly believe that next year will be the little man’s league.
Still Kevin Love has shown the ability to change a game at the flick of a switch, what remains to be seen is how well he rebounds from a season marred by injury.
If Love stays healthy you can expect regular 20-2’s with a healthy smattering of 3’s as well. We all know a rebounding big man who can space the floor is a rare commodity in the NBA and as such, I believe that Love (injury free) rightly deserves his place in the top 10.
9. Russell Westbrook
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.3 blocks, 23.9 PER
I know, I know, you’re all probably going to say he deserves to be higher up, and maybe so, but I still believe Westbrook has a long way to go. His defensive skill set puts him up there with the best, but his terrible shot selection and lack of range loses him points. How often have you seen Westbrook pull up and force a shot with one or more of his players open? If you haven’t, you’re not watching close enough. I’ve been watching a lot of Westbrook video and although his job is to drive the lanes and open up shots for Durant, I’ve found that it’s quite often Durant that’s creating space of Westbrook. Westbrook is also lucky to have an assist rate as high as it is. Take Durant out of the equation and he isn’t anywhere near 7 anymore.
8. Tony Parker
Team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 23.0 PER
In addition to the aforementioned numbers Parker shot 52.2 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from downtown and a career-high 84.5 percent at the line.
This realistically would put him in most people’s top five but I’ve got a gut feeling that the upcoming season might not be so kind to Parker.
That being said, it’s impossible for a guy of his calibre to fall completely off the radar and so I think 8 is a decent place for him.
7. Stephen Curry
Team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.2 blocks, 21.3 PER
I’ve been on the Steph Curry bandwagon for a while now and year after year I’ve been disappointed due to that glass ankle. Luckily for Curry, Golden State and myself, last year his ankles held up to the rigors of the league and Curry did what everyone expected him to do, he delivered.
In his already short career Curry has already put forward a strong case for being one of, if not the best sharpshooters the game has seen.
Last year was a testament to that, Curry set the record for most threes made in a season and if not for San Antonio’s extended playoff run, would have had the record for most threes made in playoffs, albeit from only 2 rounds.
With percentages of 49 percent and over 90 at the line, Curry is an exciting guy to watch. But Curry isn’t just a good shooter, as the main proponent of Golden State’s attack last year, Curry was forced game in and game out to create his own shots – something most sharpshooters do not do.
I believe Curry’s trip to the playoffs will have helped him tremendously and that with Iggy now in the line up, he is only set to get better. Curry will without a doubt be one of the league’s top point guards next year.
6. Kobe Bryant
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, 23.0 PER
Those stats speak for themselves, his career speaks for itself. Kobe Bryant should return to the form that we all know and expect. His offensive skill set is almost unrivalled and his 1-on-1 defence is up there with the best.
Injury has never held him back before. No reason that it should now.
5. James Harden
Team: Houston Rockets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 23.0 PER
Harden finished narrowly to Kobe last year in the claim for the league’s best shooting guard, but I feel Kobe’s injury and Harden’s youth, give the Rocket’s go to man the competitive edge this year.
The only thing I am worried about is whether or not Dwight Howard’s presence will hamper him. Howard whinged in L.A about not seeing the ball enough, and the stats show that Harden himself holds the ball even more than Kobe Bryant. Where that leaves Howard who knows?
4. Derrick Rose
Team: Chicago Bulls
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
This is a massive call considering he missed the whole of last season, but anyone who takes the title as youngest MVP ever has more chance than most in returning to the of the league.
His last full season was coincidentally his MVP season in 2011-12, in which he averaged 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game with a 23.0 PER. It’s worth noting he did all that while still under a health cloud.
I think he’ll be out to prove the doubters wrong.
3. Chris Paul
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, 26.4 PER
I don’t have to give you a run down. Paul does it all. He is the NBA’s most elite floor general.
The only thing Chris Paul doesn’t have is a ring, or any playoff success for that matter. Look for that to change this year.
2. Kevin Durant
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks, 28.3 PER
Without Westbrook alongside him, Durant proved throughout the playoffs just how dominant he could be if he wanted to. An ominous sign for his rivals heading into the 2013-2014 season. During last season Durant’s saw an increase in his assist percentages while decreasing his turnovers. Add to that the fact that he is one of the most pure scorers that the NBA has ever seen and you’ve got yourself one intimidating player.
Did I mention he is only 24?
That leads me to the grand tittle of Best Player in the NBA and that title is reserved for none other than LeBron James.
1. LeBron James
Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 31.6 PER
You’ve seen what he can do. He’s now done it all. Back to back championships, 2x MVP awards and Olympic gold.
This isn’t a title I see LeBron losing for at least another two years. In fact, when it comes to LeBron James, I think the only thing we’ll see him continue to lose is his hair.
While Derrick Rose might have something to say about this, for now at least, the bragging rights remain with LeBron.
You can find me here: @MattLB_