No need for a fancy intro for this one, same thing we did with the NFL, we’re doing with the NBA. So let the debate begin.

Point Guards

Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook had a great battle in the back court during last season's Western Conference playoffs. Right now these two are the best point guards in the league, along with Tony Parker. Both of them have a complete all-around game, able to play defense, rebound the ball, and still do their regular point guard duties. Combined, they averaged 41 points, 18 dimes, 9 boards, and 4 steals last season. First matchup is October 30th in LA, should be a good one. 

Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook had a great battle in the back court during last season's Western Conference playoffs. Right now these two are the best point guards in the league, along with Tony Parker. Both of them have a complete all-around game, able to play defense, rebound the ball, and still do their regular point guard duties. Combined, they averaged 41 points, 18 dimes, 9 boards, and 4 steals last season. First matchup is October 30th in LA, should be a good one. 

  1. Russel Westbrook, Thunder - 22 points, 7 assist, 6 boards, 43% FG, 2 Steals (46 games) 
  2. Chris Paul, Clippers  - 19 points, 11 dimes, 46% FG, 2.5 Steals (62 games)
  3. Tony Parker, Spurs - 17 points, 6 dimes, 50% FG (68 games) 
  4. John Wall, Wizards - 19 points, 9 dimes, 43% FG, 2 Steals 
  5. Steph Curry, Wariors - 24 points, 8.5 dimes, 47% FG, 42% 3pt

Honerable Mentions: Kyrie Irving (Cavs), Damian Lillard (Blazers), Kemba Walker (Hornets), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Goran Dragic (Suns)

The league is filled with point guards, good ones too. What once was a BIG MAN driven league, now belongs to the smaller players on the court. We can thank Isaiah Thomas and Allen Iverson for being the pioneers of dominant small guys. 

In this era of point guards, scoring has become mandatory. Every player in our top 5 can score very well. Russy comes in at #1, previously ranked 3rd last year. Russell's performance against Chris Paul in the playoffs solidified him as the best point guard in the league. He does everything just as good as Chris Paul, except he is more explosive and younger. With KD being out for awhile, we will now get to see Russell's capabilities as the #1 option, should be fun to watch. 

Derrick Rose should definitely be on this list but he has only played 10 games since June 2012. I don't think anyone knows what to expect from D-Rose but I think we all hope he can return back to his MVP form. 

Derrick Rose should definitely be on this list but he has only played 10 games since June 2012. I don't think anyone knows what to expect from D-Rose but I think we all hope he can return back to his MVP form. 

Tony Parker achievements gets him on the list but he did drop from the #1 spot. Even though his team defeated the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, his production seen a drop off from last year. Career wise, Tony Parker sits at the top of this list just because he always gives all the best PG's problems in the playoffs. 

John Wall elevated himself to the elite level of PGs with his performance in the playoffs last season. His average dropped but we finally seen him slow down the game, something you have to do as a point guard in the playoffs. 

It came down to Kyrie and Steph for that last spot. Steph numbers are better and he is less injury prone than Kyrie. Kyrie eclipsed 70 games in a season for the first last year while Steph has four seasons with 70+ games under his belt. Both are highlight reel players that plays little defense, but they can score with the best of them. 


Shooting Guards 

James Harden has so much potential. He has every tool needed to take over the league. He departed from the Thunder so he could be that main guy and since then he has lived up to the expectations, numbers wise. We all know that you have to look beyond the numbers and Harden's lack of defense and playoff woes has kept him from being considered the league's best player. (John W. McDonough/SI)

James Harden has so much potential. He has every tool needed to take over the league. He departed from the Thunder so he could be that main guy and since then he has lived up to the expectations, numbers wise. We all know that you have to look beyond the numbers and Harden's lack of defense and playoff woes has kept him from being considered the league's best player. (John W. McDonough/SI)

  1. James Harden, Rockets - 25 points, 6 dimes, 5 boards, 45% FG
  2. Demar Derozan, Raptors - 23 points, 4 dimes, 4 boards, 43% FG
  3. Monta Ellis, Mavs - 19 points, 6 dimes, 45% FG
  4. Klay Thompson, Warriors - 18 points, 44% FG, 41% 3PT
  5. Dwayne Wade, Heat - 19 points, 5 dimes, 4.5 boards, 54% FG (59 games) 

Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Jamal Crawford (Clippers), Wesley Matthews (Blazers), Joe Johnson (Nets)

The Shooting guard position is on a decline right now as far as talent go. Shooting guards were usually the player that could score from anywhere on the court, in many different ways. These 5 dudes right now are keeping the shooting guard position alive with their versatile games.

James Harden is the best shooting guard by default. Not many players at his position can score as well as him, and the ones that can are old and on their way out of the league. Harden is very strong on the offensive end and can always get his shot off, no matter the defender. His game is very smooth, but still explosive in his own way. He can attack the rack, and shoot it from anywhere. Some say he is a hulk, which may be true, but he is probably one of the toughest players in the league to guard, so let him shoot it. With the departure of Chandler Parsons, Harden has an oppurtunity to lead the league in scoring, along with MVP consideration.

Kobe has nothing else to prove. He has 5 NBA titles and is a member of the 30k points club. If it wasn't for him missing the entire season last year, he would definitely be in the top 5, just out of respect. It's no need for us to critique Kobe anymore, he has done it all. At this point, lets just enjoy watching a legend play in the finals days of his basketball career. 

Kobe has nothing else to prove. He has 5 NBA titles and is a member of the 30k points club. If it wasn't for him missing the entire season last year, he would definitely be in the top 5, just out of respect. It's no need for us to critique Kobe anymore, he has done it all. At this point, lets just enjoy watching a legend play in the finals days of his basketball career. 

Demar Derozan exploded onto the scene last year, along with the rest of the Toronto Raptors squad. Derozan is the prototype shooting guard, long, slim, and athletic. He is very deadly attacking the basket but his outside game hasn't fully matured yet, as far as shooting the ball. He was voted to his first all-star game this past year, so his improvements as a player is being noticed.

Monta Ellis has been in the league for 9 years and he is only 28. Everybody always knew Monta could hoop back when he was dropping 25 with the Warriors in 09' but for some reason, this past year with the Mavericks seemed like a breakout season for him. Even though he didn't eclipse none of his career highs, I think everyone can agree that his game matured.  

Klay Thompson barley edges out Wade because he played 81 games while Wade played 59. Klay has really showed me something last season when he put a couple players on posters. I thought he could only shoot but he proved to me that he could also attack the basket. Klay like Derozan, also has the prototype size for SG with one of the best 3 point shots in the league. 


Small Forward 

 KD had one of the best scoring season in NBA history, reason why he won MVP. He will miss at least two months due to foot surgery, but as the reigning MVP, he is still top 3-man. (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)

 KD had one of the best scoring season in NBA history, reason why he won MVP. He will miss at least two months due to foot surgery, but as the reigning MVP, he is still top 3-man. (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)

  1. Kevin Durant, Thunder - 32 points, 7.4 boards, 5.5 dimes, 50% FG, 39% 3PT
  2. Lebron James, Cavs - 27 points, 7 boards, 6 dimes, 57% FG
  3. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks - 27 points, 8 boards, 45% FG, 40% 3PT
  4. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs - 13 points, 6 boards, 52% FG
  5. Paul George, Pacers - 22 points, 7 boards, 42% FG 

Honorable Mention: Chandler Parsons (Mavs), Rudy Gay (Kings), Nicolas Batum (Blazers), Luol Deng (Heat)

This is probably the most controversial and talented top 5 in the league. The top 3 small forwards can also be the top 3 players in the league. After the top 3, that's where it get shaky and shows the lack of talent in the league. 

KD received 119 votes for the MVP award, 113 more than second place LeBron James. He went 40 games straight scoring at least 25 points, third longest in NBA history. He dropped 40-points fourteen times and led the Thunder to a 20-7 record while Russell Westbrook was out with his knee injury. He also averaged 35 points and 6 dimes during that span, which I think helped give him the knod over Bronny. With all that being said, the only negative for KD last year was he was eliminated by the Spurs, who went on to win their 5th title since 1999. I expect KD to come back better than ever. 

Bronny will be playing with a new team this season, well, sort of. For some reason Bronny is taking his talents back to Cleveland, attempting to bring a title back to his home-state of Ohio. Bronny's final season with the Heat was his best from the field, shooting a career high 57%. Majority of his shots were coming inside but his perimeter shooting was much more consistent. Bronny takes smart and efficient shots, which makes him very hard to stop. Him departing Miami will prove to us if he can really do it without Wade and Bosh. Even though he still has two all-stars in Irving and Love, Bronny will now have to be the leader of a young group of guys. 

I'm not sure where the expectations are for Melo this year. Some will say they are high because he signed a contract  worth $122 million and the Knicks missed the playoff last season, but then some say they're low because its a new offense, coach, and system. I don't expect the Knicks to win a title this year but I do think they will make a nice run in the playoffs. The East still isn't as strong as it could be but it wasn't last year and the Knicks still missed the playoffs. This will be Melo's first time in a structured offense since he joined the Knicks 4 years ago. People will still be very critical of Melo this year and it will continue until he wins a title. 

Kawhi Leonard makes the list because of his performance in the NBA Finals. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP will be on everyone's radar this year since he is on his way to becoming the Spurs franchise player. Defensively, he is top of the line but in order for him to really thrust himself into that upper echlon of NBA elites, he must become a better scorer. If it wasn't for Paul George's injury, Kawhi would be ranked #5 instead of 4. 


Power Forwards 

The debate for best PF last year was between Lamarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. Love's numbers were better on paper than Aldridge's but while Love was watching the playoffs, Aldridge was getting buckets against the Rockets. 

The debate for best PF last year was between Lamarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. Love's numbers were better on paper than Aldridge's but while Love was watching the playoffs, Aldridge was getting buckets against the Rockets. 

  1. LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers - 23 points, 11 boards, 46% FG, 82% FT
  2. Kevin Love, Cavs - 26 points, 12.5 boards, 4 dimes, 46% FG, 82% FT 
  3. Blake Griffin, Clippers - 24 points, 9.5 boards, 4 dimes, 52% FG 
  4. Tim Duncan, Spurs - 15 points, 10 boards, 49% FG, 2 blocks
  5. Dirk Nowitski, Mavs - 22 points, 6 boards, 50% FG, 40% 3PT, 90% FT

Honorable Mention: Chris Bosh (Heat), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Pau Gasol (Bulls), David West (Pacers), Serge Ibaka (Thunder), Paul Millsap (Hawks) 

Picking 5 of the best power forwards was harder than what I thought it was going to be. My partner and I debated for over an hour on whether or not K-Love should be on the list, which I will speak on. This year I can say the power forward position in the NBA is more competitive than what I initially thought it was. 

LA-12 made his claim for best PF in the postseason last year. Against the Rockets he averaged 30 points, 11 boards, and 3 blocks. Game 1 he scored 46 points and grabbed 18 boards  while Dwight Howard was on the court. He was the primary reason why the Blazers defeated the Rockets in 6 games, along with the assistance of Damian Lillard. For that series, LaMarcus was pretty much unstoppable, dropping 89 in the first two games. For that reason alone, I have to put him over K-Love who has yet to play in the postseason. I expect LA to have a MVP caliber season once again, carrying the Blazers to a top-4 seed. When you got a workhorse in the middle that can completely control the paint with rebounding and scoring, plus hitting his free throws, you are bound for glory. 

Kevin Love is a very controversial athlete here at the Fan-i camp. I think K-Love is one of the most talented players in the NBA. My partner agrees with me but he don't think K-Love is the second best PF in the league. We agreed on the other positions but for some reason we have two different top 5's when it came to this position. Here is his list:

  1. LaMarcus Aldridge  
  2. Tim Duncan
  3. Dirk Nowitski 
  4. Chris Bosh 
  5. Kevin Love 

He based his list off the players' complete resume. All 4 players ahead of K-Love has playoff experience, which he feels K-Love at some point in his career should have carried the T-Wolves to the playoffs. I agree with him to an extent because I feel K-Love never had a team that was capable of supporting him. I placed Love at #2 because he can score and snatch boards with the best of them, and unlike the older players, he is still in the early years of his prime. 

Blake really stepped his game up last season, you can see the difference Doc Rivers make. I always said that Blake couldn't do much offensively with the ball but dunk. I never thought he had a distinct game with the exception of his athleticism. Last season we seen Blake play at an MVP level with a consistent mid-range game along with his high flying ability. I'm expecting another MVP type of season from Blake along with more posters. You can argue that he might be the most exciting player in the league, especially at the rim. 

Timmy D, Dirk, and Bosh are the older players of this list. Even though Bosh missed the 5, he is still without question one of the best players in this league. With him being the third option, I held him accountable for being the third best player on his team. This year I expect him to bump his numbers up a few points and get back to the 20 & 10 Bosh we seen in Toronto. Career wise, Dirk and Timmy D are at the top of this list. Both have championships and both have the numbers. Even with their age, they are still very productive. Without these two, both teams may miss the playoffs, and in the Spurs case, not win the championship. 


Centers

  1. Joakim Noah, Bulls - 12.6 points, 11 boards, 5 dimes, 45% FG 
  2. Dwight Howard, Rockets - 18 points, 12 boards, 2 blocks, 59% FG 
  3. Al Jefferson, Hornets - 22 points, 11 boards, 51% FG
  4. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies - 14.6 points, 7 boards, 47% FG (59 games)
  5. Demarcus Cousins, Kings - 23 points, 12 boards, 50% FG 

Honorable Mention: Deandre Jordan (Clippers), Andre Drummond (Pistons)

The 5 position is not as dominate as it once was throughout NBA history. No longer are they the most dominate players on the court, instead they are more so complimentary.

Joakim Noah is the only player on this list that actually carries their team. Joakim led all centers with 4 triple doubles last year, carrying the Bulls without the help of Derrick Rose. He is probably the worst offensive player on the list but he is probably the most complete all-around center in the league. I didn't like Noah when he first entered the league but his production and leadership while Derrick Rose was absent turned me into a fan. It's not much Joakim doesn't do on the basketball court, creating the new term "point-center". And when it comes to passion, Joakim is at the top of the list for all positions, not many can match his intensity. If Joakim can ever develop a post game and become deadly with his back to the basket, the league will be in trouble. 

I'm really not a fan of Dwight. He is probably the most talented and athletic center in the league but yet his dominance level is low. D-12 is 10 years and still lacks a post game, and even though he can still score, the pure dominance just isn't there. I would like to see him average 25 & 15, especially since the league is scarce with quality centers. Dwight is only on this list by default. He is a very talented player but I personally, just expect more from him. 

Deandre Jordan had his best season last year, averaging 10 points, 13 boards, and 2.5 blocks, all career highs. Just like with Blake, Doc Rivers has found a way to make Jordan a multi-dimensional big man. (AP Photo) 

Deandre Jordan had his best season last year, averaging 10 points, 13 boards, and 2.5 blocks, all career highs. Just like with Blake, Doc Rivers has found a way to make Jordan a multi-dimensional big man. (AP Photo) 

Al Jefferson seems to get better with time. 10 years in, Big Al is coming off one of his best seasons, scoring 20 for the first time since 2008-09. He helped bring playoff basketball back in Charlotte along with Kemba. Offensively, he is one of the best scoring centers in the league and the numbers prove it. With Lance Stephenson now apart of the Hornets, I expect the Hornets to make a nice run to the postseason, similar to how the Raptors did last season. With Big Al being the workhorse in the middle, they will give some of the elite teams trouble. 

Marc Gasol would have been higher on this list if it wasn't for him missing 20+ games. He is also one of the best all-around centers in the league, I would say second behind Noah. He is a better scorer than Noah, with a little bit more range, but I think Joakim has him beat on the defensive end.

Demarcus Cousins has the potential to be the best center in the league. He already lead all centers in scoring and he is 3rd in doubles-doubles. I thought he and John Wall should have stayed in college one more season but they both have improved their game since entering the league. Mentally, Cousins has to adjust and become the leader the Kings need him to be. It's crazy that we're asking a 24-year old to be a leader but that's the league we are in now. 

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