Tuesday, April 6, 2010

updated top 50

In January, I wrote a top 50 players in the NBA. Since that time, a lot has changed. Here is my updated list, with the players’ January ranking in parentheses.

Knocked off the list:
Andre Miller (50)
Lamar Odom (49)
Vince Carter (44)
Devin Harris (43)
Andrew Bynum (42)
Rashard Lewis (33)
Kevin Garnett (20) -

Updated List

50. Brandon Jennings (NR)
49. Chris Kaman (46)
48. Jason Terry (NR)
47. Jamal Crawford (NR)
46. Stephen Curry (NR)
45. Rudy Gay (25)
44. Antwan Jamison (39)
43. Jeff Green (NR)
42. Aaron Brooks (NR)
41. David West (47)

40. Russell Westbrook (45)
39. Marc Gasol (NR)
38. Manu Ginobili (37)
37. Tyreke Evans (38)
36. Marcus Camby (48)
35. Danny Granger (18)
34. Corey Maggette (41)
33. Monta Ellis (26)
32. Mo Williams (34)
31. Carlos Boozer (36)

30. Jason Kidd (30)
29. Ray Allen (28)
28. Andre Iguodala (32)
27. Zach Randolph (35)
26. Derrick Rose (24)
25. Amare Stoudemire (22)
24. Tony Parker (27)
23. Andrew Bogut (40)
22. Josh Smith (31)
21. David Lee (29)

20. Rajon Rondo (23)
19. Paul Pierce (14)
18. Pau Gasol (19)
17. Al Jefferson (20)
16. Joe Johnson (13)
15. Chauncey Billups (17)
14. Tim Duncan (12)
13. Deron Williams (16)
12. Gerald Wallace (15)
11. Brandon Roy (11)

10. Chris Paul (7)
9. Dwayne Wade (10)
8. Steve Nash (5)
7. Chris Bosh (9)
6. Dirk Nowitzki (4)
5. Dwight Howard (6)
4. Kevin Durant (8)
3. Carmelo Anthony (3)
2. LeBron James (2)
1. Kobe Bryant (1)

As the NBA playoffs near, I see a Lakers-Cavs match-up looming, but I wouldn't bet against the Hawks this year. I also wouldn't pencil the Lakers into the Finals; the West is stacked with quality teams and a lot of hunger.

Kobe's still the best player in the West, but Dallas, Denver, Portland and Utah have good teams, good balance, good depth, and good coaching. They each have what it takes to win a 7-game series against LA. I can't say the same for San Antonio, Phoenix or OKC, although each might win a series. Home-court positioning is still being worked out in the West and that will be key; Denver and Utah are both GREAT at home.

The East severly lacks the depth to compose an entertaining Playoffs. Cleveland will sleep-walk through the first round, as will Orlando and Atlanta. Boston is primed for a slip-up, but with Bogut hurt I don't think Milwaukee can beat them. Miami could get the 5 seed and they would probably beat Boston with the help of some bad officiating. The interesting thing in the East will be the Orlando-Atlanta series for the right to play Cleveland in the ECFs. I actually like Atlanta, but don't think they have enough firepower to beat Cleveland in a 7 game series.

So who will the Cavs play? A Kobe-LeBron Finals has been looming for years and years and may finally happen? Is this the year? Sadly, I think not. I see Cleveland going up against either Dallas or Utah or maybe Denver; of those, only Denver offers an interesting storyline - LeBron against Carmelo, who will win their first ring? But there's no question about it, the NBA and it's crooked officiating will stop at nothing to help LeBron win his first ring.

And even after he does, I still think he flees for New York.

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