With the 2012/13 season around the corner, SportsKeeda presents the NBA Top 20 – a countdown of who we predict will be the NBA’s 20 best players in the upcoming season. Six of the finest basketball writers on this website – Karan Madhok (hoopistani), Sabarinath Sankaranarayanan (sabarinath.sankara), Siddarth Sharma (sidbreakball), Siddharth Srikanth (darthsid), Sidhartha Patra (sidhartha), and Souvik Roy Chowdhury (souvik) – put their minds together to vote for the NBA’s best, the players who will be most “valuable”, not just to their team but in determining the course of how the upcoming season unravels. Enjoy!
“With the first pick of the 2003 draft, the Cleveland Caveliers pick LeBron James out of St. Vincent’s – St. Mary’s High School in Akron.”
Seven years later….
LeBron James in his highly publicized “decision” conversation on ESPN:
“In this fall…this is very tough…in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there.”
Cleveland hates him. The rest of the NBA envies him. Fortunately for Miami, LeBron Raymonne James is the new deal or let’s be honest, the “real” deal. While LeBron couldn’t have made it worse with his departure to South Beach where many felt he betrayed his home state franchise, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the hatred transformed the man into the bigger “King James” he always wished for.
“So Mike, hear it from me – Miami has no real fans, it’s the bandwagon city. What’s this traitor gonna do there? Pass the ball to Dwayne Wade?”
“Let’s face it, John, not many doubts arise if Miami can win the ring now. What I question, what really bothers me is the respect this man named LeBron James covets in the league right now.”
And just four months ago, LeBron shut his critics up. He couldn’t have done it in a better manner. Moreover, he didn’t just silence his doubters but the thousands that questioned his integrity and commitment to a team, rather than centering the game on himself. He might have let more than a million fans down in Cleveland but now, there aren’t many who wouldn’t certify him as the best player in the game. This past season, Miami’s number six racked up record number stats – numbers that may never be put again – 27.6 PPG, 6.9 APG, 1.9 SPG, .8 BPG and 7.9 RPG with a nearly 60 percent shooting accuracy from the field.
LeBron is a prolific shooter – no doubt! But that doesn’t limit his dexterity in spreading the ball on the court. His 6.9 assists per game indicate how committed his game is to his team mates. So let’s round that off to 7 assists per game, which is at least 14 points to another 27.6 – LeBron has a direct effect on 42 points in a game – half of the team’s usual total on a normal night. Apart from his passing, James is an extremely good power player, in simple terms the defensive workhorse. If Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem are having absolutely unacceptable rebounding nights, the team can rely on LeBron to stack up a minimum of seven boards a game.
Even Michael Jordan, the game greatest living soul, didn’t average this.
Do you still want to hear the “Let’s face it, John…” quotes? Possibly not! And LeBron statistically took less shots and ball time during the game than MJ did.
King James as he is known isn’t just an effective rebounder and offensive power load. Most big men in the game actually aren’t comfortable being guarded by LeBron. Yes, being a forward, LeBron does guard any opposing position with ease. In the Olympics, he blocked out Pau Gasol and in the past, has had men like Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love and Dwight Howard being thrown at him. Imagine this – for a shooting forward, who is an assist machine and rebounding phenom to incredibly guard centers is just fascinating.
“It was LeBron that lost Miami to Dallas. Yeah, a 39 year old Jason Kidd made him look like a lollypop hunter. Beat it, LeBron. The ring is never yours. Don’t you agree, Mike?”
It was evident LeBron didn’t show up against Dallas. For every game till then, he was the ultimate superstar. Nobody faced him and came out beat out till the Jason Kidd overpowered LeBron’s then fool-proof less game. Against Boston in Game 6 at the Garden in April, LeBron played the game of his life. Coming off a disappointing game 5 where a Paul Pierce game winner put LeBron and Miami to a choking shame, the Heat had a huge reputation to forge back. The forward guarded Pierce and Allen when asked to and in the absence of Bosh on the court, took on a seven foot Kevin Garnett. Forgetting Game Six, the Heat marched on to a Championship run. Rightfully, LeBron earned the MVP honors for the regular and finals.
When the television screens showed the Heat celebrating after thumping the Thunder hard in the Finals, not many players got to hold the TV. In fact, the trophy was hardly away from LeBron. His jubilant self clung on to the trophy like a man who had conquered the unfathomable.
LeBron has a huge way to become the greatest the game has seen. To reach Jordan’s six rings might be a little too much to fetch for but LeBron is on his way to numero uno. Even if he doesn’t win six, he’d be judged for his electrifying the game of our generation. Be thankful to God, we got ourselves a LeBron to brag about. There were many questions asked: when is he going to conquer the league? When is he going to win the championship? Now that LeBron has check marked everything we wanted him to, the question is what next? There is only person who knows the answer.
The man himself, LeBron James – the best player in today’s NBA.
SportsKeeda NBA Top 20
20. James Harden
19. Chris Bosh
18. LaMarcus Aldridge
17. Pau Gasol
16. Dirk Nowitzki (for 20-16, read here)
15. Blake Griffin
14. Tony Parker
13. Andrew Bynum
12. Russell Westbrook
11. Carmelo Anthony (for 15-11, read here)
10. Kevin Love
9. Derrick Rose
7. Dwyane Wade
6. Kobe Bryant
5. Rajon Rondo
3. Chris Paul
2. Kevin Durant
1. LeBron James