LeBron James doesn’t show up for fourth quarters? Arguable. Afraid to take the last shot? Some would argue he makes the right decisions and players simply miss. This argument will go on until James wins an NBA title. One thing is for sure – According to an SI, which asked 137 NBA players who they would choose first to build a team around, LeBron James is the number one choice.
Number 15 – Andre Bynum
The Lakers’ center is finally showing, on a consistent basis, just how good he can be. After 33 games into the 2011-2012 NBA season, Bynum is averaging career highs in both points (16.2) and rebounds (12.8). I think he still isn’t getting enough touches, putting up less than 12 field goals attempts a night.
Number 14 – Ricky Rubio
Players in the league have caught on to the Rubio trend quickly. Rubio is averaging 10.3 points and 8.3 assists a night, but his shooting (35.5% from the field) has got to improve before Rubio is a legitimate franchise point guard on a team that’s on the right path.
Number 13 – Eric Gordon
Gordon did have an impressive start to his NBA career during his three years with the Clippers and is undoubtedly the most talented player on a depleted Hornets roster. Problem? He’s played only two games this season for them.
Number 12 – Rajon Rondo
A question asked by Danny Ainge each and every day and then again at night before he sleeps. Can put up incredible numbers on the board, but is a terrible outside shooter. Is this the man the Celtics rebuild around as Garnett, Pierce and Allen ride into retirement?
Number 11 – Pau Gasol
Gasol is going through something. I’m sure he didn’t like hearing he was about to get traded, but he didn’t react like Lamar Odom did, and things have turned out better for him, averaging 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds for the Lakers so far this season. He’s still trade bait, but time is running out. The Grizzlies actually built around Gasol, which didn’t result in more than a few playoff appearances with no wins.
Number 10 – Deron Williams
The New Jersey Nets’ point guard isn’t exactly happy with the situation he’s in, and probably won’t be sticking around for much longer. It isn’t stopping Williams from being an explosive scorer, including his 57 points night not too long ago. A player to build around? I’m not sure I’d want him as my number 1 guy.
Number 9 – Blake Griffin
The Clippers had to wait one year for Griffin to arrive, but he was worth the wait. A freak athlete who is learning to do more than just dunk, Griffin is averaging 21.2 points and 11.1 rebounds this season. Needs to become more than just a highlight reel guy.
Number 8 – Steve Nash
The Suns have built around Nash for the last 7 seasons. For a while, they were the most exciting team to watch in the league. But run n’ gun basketball doesn’t last forever, and doesn’t win titles. Western Conference finals and two MVP awards was the most they got out of it. The question remains is will Nash remain his entire career (what’s left of it) with the Suns or opt for a better chance at the NBA title.
Number 7 – Dwyane Wade
Needs a sidekick, there’s no question about that. His years without Shaq and before LeBron were a couple of rough ones, although Wade was playing incredible basketball on a terrible team, even taking them to the playoffs one time. Rumors say he’s on his way down because of being too banged up.
Number 6 – Chris Paul
The Clippers won the lottery with Paul, sending a guy who is in the lower part of this top 15 but shouldn’t be and other negligible parts, for arguably the best point guard in the NBA. Paul immediately took over a team with a very bright future, that needs another season and a bit more depth to be a real contender for the Western title.
Number 5 – Derrick Rose
Rose was good from the first minute, but his rise in his second and third years in the NBA were a tad unexpected. He won the MVP last season and goes out to prove each and every time he’s on the court it was the right choice, although it’s hard to see him winning it again this season.
Number 4- Kobe Bryant
Does Kobe Bryant care about anything but winning another NBA ring? Probably not. Should he be shooting this much? Probably not. But he doesn’t care.
Number 3 – Kevin Durant
The question about Durant is this – Can he be more than just a pure scorer? Does he need to be, with the kind of talent around him? I’ll guess we’ll know this postseason.
Number 2 – Dwight Howard
The best center in the NBA for a few years now, who above all things is an incredible defensive player on an all-time level, not just because of his mad hops and athletic abilities. Can do Magic keep shuffling parts around him and create another contender, or is Howard’s time in Florida running out? It’s hard to know who to believe.
Number 1 – LeBron James
Not clutch? Afraid to take the final shot? True or not, there’s no other player in the league his peers prefer to build a team around, for enough reasons. Maybe the most incredible skill-athletic set ever to step on an NBA court, but something is missing.