The NBA: My #NBArank 2012

For the past two years during the NBA off-season, ESPN has compiled player rankings of the top 500 players in the league. They polled more than 100 writers, journalists, reporters and bloggers to rank the players from a 0-10 scale in the "current quality of each player". Each ranking should have taken into consideration injuries, age, team wins, defense and statistics. ESPN used social media to promote debates and discussions among fans. People on twitter, used the hashtag #NBArank to voice their opinions on who should be higher or lower. I was among those who followed the rankings from 500 to 1 and I wanted to share my own #NBArank. I dont have enough time and resources to rank my top 500 players so I will just do top 20 players. Please hit the comments and share your very own NBArank. You can follow me on Twitter: @rollzter

One guess on who the #1 player is.
(Image by ESPN)

20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers NBArank: 15; 2011 rank: 11
Gasol was the third best player on the Lakers last year as Andrew Bynum stepped up and played healthy. Pau also struggled in the playoffs for the 2nd straight year as the Lakers lost in the 2nd Round. Some critics even say that Marc Gasol is slowly becoming the better Gasol. This year, Pau will have more help with Nash and Howard in town and his numbers will probably drop.

19. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers NBArank: 20; 2011 rank: 23
Aldridge is the best player and franchise player of the Blazers especially after Brandon Roy retired (Roy un-retired and is now with the T'wolves). He became an All-Star for the first time last year and his efficiency has improved the last two years. He has good range from the outside and his post game is decent. His defense needs more work and so does his rebounding.

18. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat NBArank: 18; 2011 rank: 24
His numbers went down last season but his value went up due to the Heat finally winning a title in their 2nd year. His playoff injury and absence proved his worth to the Heat as they could never have won without him. He played through the Finals even though he was never 100%. Bosh has also added three-point range to his sweet shooting stroke from the perimeter.

17. Steve Nash, LA Lakers NBArank: 19; 2011 rank: 14
The former two-time MVP was still the best player on the Suns and he finished 2nd on assists per game. At age 38, Nash can still play efficiently and effectively especially the pick and roll. His addition to the Lakers have made them better (on paper) than the OKC Thunder. Nash shot 53% from the field, 39% from threes and 89% on freethrows. He could show Kobe a thing or two about shooting skills.

16. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs NBArank: 16; 2011 rank: 28
The Spurs now belong to Tony Parker. He is their best player and his numbers improved last year. He is now their leader and he led them to a 20-game winning streak before losing to the Thunder in the West Finals. His signature floater shot in the lane is hard to stop and his jumper has gotten better. Look for the Spurs to be in contention with the Lakers and Thunder for the top spot in the West.

15. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks NBArank: 17; 2011 rank: 12
Melo has continued to drop in the rankings. He used to be a top 10 player back in Denver. His shooting numbers were low and he remains to be an inefficient volume shooter. His pairing with Amare has not yet worked and he missed 10 games due to various injuries and maybe a lack on conditioning during the lockout. His defense is poor and they brought along Tyson Chandler to help hide his defensive problems.

14. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers NBArank: 14; 2011 rank: 10
Blake was ranked too high at #10 last year. Griffin did not show a lot of improvement this year. His post game needs more work, his perimeter game is lacking and his freethrows are poor. Yet, he averages 21 points from alley-oops and monster dunks. An improved jumper could see Blake scoring in the mid 20s and his hustle on the boards could net him a few more buckets.

13. Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia Sixers NBArank: 13; 2011 rank: 30
The 2nd-best center in the league stayed healthy last season and we saw his improvement and potential. He now becomes the best player and first option in Philly where he can score more than 20 a game. His post game continues to evolve and his freethrows are way better than Howard. Defensively, Bynum can be a beast when focused and motivated. Hopefully, his attitude problems are now in the past.

12. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics NBArank: 12; 2011 rank: 17
Rondo can get triple-doubles in every game. He is a great passer and playmaker. His defense and steals rate are above average. The Celtics almost made it to the Finals due to his ability to create off the dribble and when he scores, the Celtics look unbeatable. His jumper could use more consistency and he is definitely the best player in Boston.

11. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks NBArank: 11; 2011 rank: 5
A year removed from winning it all, Dirk came into last season with a lack of conditioning and not as motivated like before. His points, rebounds and shooting percentages all went down and his team started losing. Dirk's ankles bothered him more and he missed a few games due to injury/conditioning. The Mavs reloaded this year and Dirk has another chance to prepare for this season and get in the top 10.

At least KD won a gold medal in London 2012
(Image by Getty)
10. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder NBArank: 9; 2011 rank: 15
He is the 2nd-best player on the Thunder and on some nights, he can be the best player in the league. Westbrook increased his scoring but his assists dropped. He is still an inefficient scorer and critics would prefer that he pass the ball more to better shooters like Harden and Durant. He actually shot just a shade lower than Durant and with Russell, he can win or lose games with his shot selection (or lack of shots). 

9. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets NBArank: 10; 2011 rank: 9
Deron missed a few games with injuries last season but he is expected to be back strong this year. He is definitely the best player in the state of New York. His playmaking abilities and his ability to make threes consistently have opened up driving lanes for him. He is a stronger and bigger version of Chris Paul who can post of smaller point guards. 

8. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves NBArank: 7; 2011 rank: 16
Love increased his scoring by 6 points and still landed 2nd in rebounding in the NBA. He is among the best shooters in the league and is arguably the best shooting power forward (Bosh, Nowitzki). He stays low on the ground and plays under the rim but his basketball IQ and his positioning allows him to grab numerous rebounds and score inside. 

7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls NBArank: 5; 2011 rank: 8  
The former MVP had a tough year with various injuries before he was lost in the playoffs with an ACL injury. His value was understated in the regular season when the Bulls got the #1 seed but they flopped in the playoffs when Rose went down. It may take a while for Rose to regain his old form because ACL injuries take long to recover from (a year or more). He is a sure top 5 when back to normal. 

6. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers NBArank: 6; 2011 rank: 7
Overall, he is no longer the best player on the Lakers but he is still the leader and it's his team. He ended up 2nd in league scoring but his shot selections and isolation plays affected his team negatively with Gasol and Bynum being less involved in the offense. Kobe is still an elite scorer but his defensive skills have diminished and he is mostly a jump shooter nowadays. 

5. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat NBArank: 8; 2011 rank: 3
D-Wade had a great year when ranking team success but on a statistical level, he had a down year. Wade allowed LBJ to take over the team and be the best player in the NBA and the sacrifice showed on his numbers. Wade was also playing hurt with a myriad of leg injuries. Still, he is an elite scorer and efficient at it. He can take over games offensively and defensively. He is the best shot blocking guard in league history. 

4. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers NBArank: 3; 2011 rank: 2
The best big man in the game is coming from a serious back injury that ended his season early. Howard is still a machine when it comes to rebounds and blocks and is a force of nature down low. Defensively, he can win the DPOY every year but offensively, his games needs more work. His post moves mainly consist of jump hooks and power dunks while his freethrows and perimeter game remain non-existent. 

3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers NBArank: 4; 2011 rank: 4
The best PG in the league guided the Clippers into advancing past the 1st round of the playoffs. He is a master at maintaining the flow and pace of a game. His playmaking skills and basketball IQ consistently land him in the top 2 or 3 in PER. He gets his teammates involved and the Clippers deliver fantastic highlights due to his uncanny passing skills. 

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder NBArank: 2; 2011 rank: 6
A runner-up in the MVP race and in the Finals but an Olympic Gold medalist places KD as the top 2 player in the game. Durant is poised to take another scoring title, his 4th straight this season with his silky smooth jumper. He is the best shooter in the game and he does it efficiently too. His overall game needs more work like his defense and post moves but shooting jumpers all day will work too. 

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat NBArank: 1; 2011 rank: 1
Was there any doubt on who the best player in the world is? LBJ was MVP, Finals MVP, Gold medalist and a champion last season. He is a superb defensive player who can guard all 5 positions and he can play all 5 positions on offense as well. His unselfishness and playmaking skills always place him at the top of PER because he does things efficiently and properly. He looks for his teammates first but he can take over the game when he feels the need to. His tendency to launch bad shots (or threes) have lessened and he attacks the paint more. LBJ is supremely talented that he can lead the league in scoring if he wanted to. 

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