ESPN Player Rankings (The Top 11-20)

Apr 6, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives the ball past Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood (33) during the overtime period at the American Airlines Center. The Trailblazers defeated the Mavericks 99-97 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Last week ESPN fully released their Top 500 NBA players currently playing basketball today. I haven’t had much free time to be able to give my personal opinion on this list but today I will give you everything I have to say on the list. However, we’ll not try to go overboard, right now it’s the Top 20 (11-20)

I won’t be digging deep beyond the Top 20 as it will pretty much force me to make a novel out of this post.

When I first saw that Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is the obvious face of the franchise for the Blazers, named as the #20 NBA player today I was just astonished at how underrated Aldridge really is to the NBA universe. In my personal opinion, Aldridge is simply the second best power forward in the NBA today behind Kevin Love. He may not have as much rings as Pau Gasol or as many highlight reel dunks as Blake Griffin who both are ranked above Aldridge, but Aldridge has the talent and is simply the better forward today. In the words of ESPN analyst Steven A. Smith, it is blasphemous to see Griffin named as the #14 NBA player in the NBA today. With that rank Griffin is placed ahead of New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, to whom I’ll talk about further later, and Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh who proved his value to the 2012 NBA champions.

May 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots a free throw against the Miami Heat during the second half of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 89-87. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Now, talking about #17 Carmelo Anthony. Yes Carmelo is somewhat of a ball hog that doesn’t play defense as well, but with all honestly with his talent and basketball IQ on the offensive end just makes him a legitimate Top 10 player in the NBA. The guy has the jump shot, the clutch gene, the determination to win, but all he lacks is just the mindset to win games on a consistent basis and be a true leader on the floor for a team that just doesn’t have that click yet. Trust me, this season you might want to reevaluate Carmelo’s rank.

The veteran point guards in Tony Parker and Steve Nash in my opinion are on their correct rank with Parker rank #16 and Nash ranked #19. Most people would wonder why Nash, despite being about a thousand years old, is still in the Top 20. Why? Well, the reason is simply because the way he is playing at his age today is almost the same way he played during his two MVP seasons with the Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately for Nash, players have caught up to him and simply overtook him which is why he no longer seems to be one of the best. But when you watch him, you can still accept that he’s a Top 20 NBA player. As for Parker, the San Antonio Spurs is no longer Tim Duncan’s team, it’s his and he has been running with it well enough to make him the #16 NBA player today.

Jan 20, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) shake hands after the game at Amway Center. Orlando defeated Los Angeles 92-80. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

For those of you guys that don’t know I’m one of the “rare” people than say that Andrew Bynum is better than Dwight Howard. Personally, Dwight is ranked too high and Bynum is ranked a little bit too low. Now, I know that most people could easily argue that Dwight has the better footwork, the better jump, the better agility, but that doesn’t match up to how Bynum works hard for every basket much like the previous best center in the NBA in Shaquille O’neal. In previous years, the best big man in the NBA either is a dominant big man in the paint or a big man that can hit the back to the basket jumpshot like Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing back in the 90′s. I understand that last season was just maybe the first time we saw Bynum really flourish, excluding those three point attempts he had, and his fragile knee is what’s keeping Howard a better player. Today, I can give a nudge to Dwight for being the better player as he has consistently been an All-Star for his team. However, once Bynum gets rolling and powering in Philly, I better see him move into the Top 10.

 

Nov 19, 2010; Boston, MA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives against Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the first half at TD Garden. The Oklahoma City Thunder won 89-84. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

As a fan of the Boston Celtics aside from just the Minnesota Timberwolves, seeing Russell Westbrook in the Top 10 and not seeing Rajon Rondo is something I’m not happy to see. Rondo’s stats from last season and accomplishments should easily make him a Top 10 NBA player. We can all agree that Westbrook is still the same player that makes costly mistakes on either end of the floor for the Oklahoma City Thunder who lost in 5 games to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals. Just like Westbrook, Rondo had a marvelous performance in the playoffs against the Heat but still lost. However, Rondo didn’t make any senseless play that cost the team a possible victory. Other than that Rondo led the league in triple doubles last season, and if I remember correctly he outdid 2012 NBA league MVP LeBron James in that count. Rondo is the captain, the main guy, and the leader of the Boston Celtics and he has proven to be just that successfully with the Celtics as his team gave the NBA champs their best challenge.

In the summer of 2011, Dirk Nowitzki stole the hearts of many NBA fans around the world with his jaw-dropping performance in the 2011 NBA playoffs. Last season however Dirk really wasn’t able to showcase his talents once again as his Dallas Mavericks were swept in the first round by the better Oklahoma City Thunder. Being ranked #11 to me seems just right for Dirk if your basing on last season. I know I stated earlier that LaMarcus Aldridge is the second best power forward in the NBA the other player that still is making me think if I should delete that is Dirk. It’s a really close call for me now between the two but I give the slight edge to Aldridge who hasn’t gotten any solid recognition for what he can do on the court.

I’ll be posting the second part of this article soon so keep an eye out for that!

Topics: Andrew Bynum, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo

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