When ranking players or teams of certain sports, it's 100% guaranteed that not everyone will agree with the players on the list or the order in which they're ranked. But that's the fun in it! We all have different opinions of what makes a professional ball player elite or just another guy on the court, field or ice.
The ten players I ranked in order from 1 - 10 are simply my opinion and I'll back up my opinions with facts. This is not a list of player accomplishments and accolades from 10 years ago. I base my rankings on the eye test, what I've seen from these athletes in the recent past and how bright I expect their future in the NBA will be over the next few seasons.
Courtesy of YouTube
The closest thing we've seen in the NBA that emulates the individual greatness of Michael Jordan has been the late great Kobe Bryant "The Black Mamba" and "The King" LeBron James. If you saw M.J. play in his prime then you watched the most dominant, skilled, exciting, win at any cost best player in NBA history. In most peoples eyes, no matter who comes next and even if they have the skill set exceeding that of Jordan, nobody will ever live up to his legacy. And to me that's just old people, get off my lawn type of crap! Nobody thought that any quarterback could live up to the 4 - 0 in Super Bowls legacy that Joe Montana retired with. Then there was a man named Brady who absolutely exceeded Montana's accomplishments on the field. So never say never!
Now just for the record, Michael Jordan is the best player I've ever seen when you include everything he could do on the court and his uncanny will to win and not accept failure. Some thought that Kobe Bryant or LeBron James could possibly one day take the mantle away from M.J. but no matter how many championships they played in and won, along with individual accolades like league MVP or 1st Team All NBA, they could never ever equal what Jordan did in this league.
In my opinion LeBron is as close or even equal to the greatness of Jordan. Yea I said it! And just so you know I am 42 years old so I've seen both M.J. and L.B.J.'s greatness. I think LeBron has more skill and is a smarter player than Jordan was. The one thing that separates these two legends is that M.J. had the ultimate killer instinct and refused to lose as shown by his 6 - 0 record in the NBA Finals and 6 Finals MVP's. While M.J. is widely considered the greaest of all time, doesn't mean that one day another baller will come along and completely take our breathe away forcing us to compare him to the great Michael Jordan.
Here's my top 10 NBA players right now, at this moment among their peers in this roundball roundup.
Courtesy of UPROXX
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 29.9 PTS, 11.6 REBS, 5.8 AST - The closest player we have to Michael Jordan's dominance in today's game is Giannis. He basically single handedly won the Bucks the championship in 2021 while becoming the unanimous NBA Finals MVP. Giannis can do just about anything from scoring in the paint to defensivley not allowing points in the paint. He's a complete two-way player and has even won defensive player of the year honors along with two regular season back to back MVP's. Giannis is not a great shooter nor does he have a good percentage from the free-throw line. But neither did Shaq and The Big Diesel led the league in scoring anyway and was at the time the undisputed best player in the league. Right now we're seeing a more athletic version of Shaquille O'Neal and that's terrifying as a defender going against Giannis.
2. Kevin Durant: 29.9 PTS, 7.4 REBS, 6.4 AST - Some say K.D.'s best days are behind him. Maybe that's true but he's still one of the games best scorers and can create a shot and can shoot from anywhere on the floor. He may not be the greatest defensive player in the world but he gives a solid effort (most of the time) and his length makes him a weapon on both offense and defense. K.D. is completely unstoppable when he's on his game. Don't let this past season fool you. He's still a champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. Maybe if Kyrie Irving didn't believe the world was flat and James Harden discovered a treadmill, quite possibly K.D. and the Brooklyn Nets would be in the Eastern Conference Finals right now!
3. Joel Embiid: 30.6 PTS, 11.7 REBS, 4.2 AST - Some may argue the NBA's runner up for the MVP belongs higher on this list and that's fine. Embiid being the 3rd best player in basketball is no slight on his game. He is another player who when on his game is unguardable. Embiid can post you up, turn around in the post and shoot a short jumper, or better yet can hit the occassional 3-pointer. His defense has improved and his energy on defense has turned Embiid into a strong two-way player. Embiid is a guy you can revolve your offense around and win a championship. He just needs more help. However, the one knock on Embiid is not against his game, it's can the man stay healthy for a full season? Had he not got hurt in the post season, would the 76ers still be playing?
4. Stephen Curry: 25.5 PTS, 5.2 REBS, 6.3 AST - This man revolutionized the game of basketball. I used to teach physical education and when my students played basketball they all wanted to shoot three's. That's simply because Curry changed the NBA and became the best shooter the league has ever seen. It's not even debateable! Even at 34 years old he's still one of the games most lethal shot makers and his ball handling skills and ability to get to the hoop are still underrated to this day. Just a few months ago at the NBA All-Star game where Steph was introduced as one of the NBA's 75 all time greateast players - Curry reminded everyone why he wore the jacket that evening by jacking up 50 points, banging in 16 three-pointers shattering Paul George's previous record of 9 and going on to win the MVP of the All Star-Game
Courtesy of NBC Sports
5. Luka Doncic: 28.4 PTS, 9.1 REBS, 8.7 AST - The new version of Magic Johnson?! Not exactly but pretty damn close. I can see Luka averaging a triple double in a single season and it won't even look like he's trying that hard. The Mavericks run their offense through Luka and why wouldn't you?! He's now led Dallas to the Western Conference Finals and seems like the best player on the floor every night. He can score from anywhere on the court. He creates space with his body power and make slick European style plays under the net. Luka can score a triple double in his sleep. Luka could also be higher on this list. He's begun to involve his teammates in the offense much more as he has shown to be an elite passer of the ball. Plus he keeps gaining his teammates trust by getting his guys the ball and learning how to use the whole court with the help of his teammates. He's so young and has already accomplished so much. He's highly respected around the league and he's an absolute nightmare to guard one on one. He draws double and triple teams routinely which allows his teammates to take advantage of the space on the floor.
6. LeBron James: 30.3 PTS, 8.2 REBS, 6.2 AST - This feels weird! LeBron James the 6th best player in the NBA today? I mean the guy just averaged 30 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game in 2021. While LeBron still clearly has the ability to put up monster numbers, his ability to win meaningful games tells a different story. LeBron was basically forced to put up these stats with Anthony Davis sidelined due to injury and Russell Westbrook playing like poop! You can certainly debate that LeBron should be higher on the list and some would even argue lower. Can LeBron still be the best player on a championship team? Yea he probably can. But at this point in his career he'll need a lot of help. I hope everyone has appreciated what this Mt. Rushmore man has done for this league since 2004. Something tells me he's not done yet!
7. Nikola Jokic 27.1 PTS, 13.8 REBS, 7.9 AST - Here's another guy who had to put up huge stats to keep his team alive. Nikola Jokic just won the NBA MVP for the second consecutive year and single handedly carried the Denver Nuggets to the post season as their 2nd and 3rd best players, Jamal Murray and Micahel Porter Jr. were both out for the majority, if not all of the 2021 season. Jokic stood no chance against the Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the playoffs. But the Joker is the two-time MVP for a reason.
Courtesy of The Denver Post
8. Jayson Tatum 26.9 PTS, 8 REBS, 4.4 AST - Here's a star on the rise who may be in the top five this time next season. tatum's game has evolved and improved every season. His best attributes is that he's a solid two-way player. Tatum can take control on offense and take on the opposing teams best scorer. Jayson Tatum has led the Boston Celtics to the playoffs every season he's been there and continuously props up as the team leader. Marcus Smart may be the hype man and Al Horford the enforcer, but Tatum is the leader by example and his teammates feed off that.
9. Devin Booker 26.8 PTS, 5 REBS, 4.8 AST - Booker has been the best player on the best regular season team two years in a row. While Booker's all around game improves game by game, there may be a reason he hasn't got a top vote for MVP after two years of leading the Suns to the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Booker could be the best player on the court on any given night. He's got crazy skill, a sweet jumper and a tenacious ability to hit the hole full speed and score. The league has definitely taken notice of Booker's skills. Yet until he come sup big in the big moments, he'll remain in the lower half of the leagues best.
10. Ja Morant 27.4 PTS, 5.7 REBS, 6.7 AST - Welcome to the top 10 Ja Morant. Man do you deserve it. Morant has made people seriously question if he should have been the first overall pick instead of Zion Williamson. Just ask Pelicans fans! Ja is probably the quickest I've ever seen a player go from 0 - 60 toward the basket. And he keeps control of that toothpick body. Ja will need to gain some significant weight if he's going to last in this league. Nevertheless, Ja Morant has arrived and he's only going to keep getting better. The sky is the limit for this kid. He has a great offensive game and once he learns to bring that defensive effort, we'll start talking about him as a top 3 player in a couple of years. He led the Grizzlies to the 2nd seed in the West and I promise you nobody predicted that. Going into next season, Ja will be on the short list of MVP candidtaes.