With all of the shuffling taking place this NBA offseason, players have jumped from team to team and coast to coast, as the landscape of the NBA continually changes. The reason for this is because teams are constantly reinventing themselves each and every year as former superstars get older and younger players begin to develop. There are only a handful of players that can play with a level of sustained excellence throughout their entire careers before fresher legs look to dethrone them and take their spot.
So, who are the best players on each NBA team today? Some teams are stacked with multiple stars on their team, however, unlike the All Star Game where three to four players can be nominated to it, for the purposes of this article, only one player can be selected on each team. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. All three of these players were the best players on their respective teams just a year ago, however, since they have collaborated together and joined forces, only one of them can be the best player on the team. This, of course, means that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love would be left off this list because LeBron James is clearly the best player on Cleveland now.
Additionally, this also means that some players will be selected by default because they are on such poor teams. Some teams literally have no superstars and are filled with just role players as they tank their way to a higher draft pick this upcoming season. To a certain degree, the NBA is about the have’s and have not’s, due to the way players recruit one another today. Players know that they can only win a championship if they join forces with another superstar or in some cases, two superstars.
So, here are the best players on each NBA team today.
30. Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia Sixers
The reigning Rookie of the Year had a fantastic rookie season and was able to get a lot of experience on the court as the Sixers tanked another season. During his first game of the season, he nearly acquired a quadruple-double with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists, and a whopping 9 steals. MCW will get another huge dosage of minutes this season to improve even more this season.
29. Larry Sanders – Milwaukee Bucks
Larry Sanders had a forgetful season last year as he ran into problems on the court and off the court. However, the Bucks are committed to making Sanders the defensive anchor of their team. With Jabari Parker set to score most of the points this season, Sanders can get back to doing what he does best – blocking shots.
28. Victor Oladipo – Orlando Magic
Victor Oladipo was making a strong push to become Rookie of the Year last year before ultimately falling short. However, with the experience he gained last season, he was able to make a lot of mistakes early on. Now that he is approaching his sophomore season, he will be even more of a complete player than he was last year. The Magic will hope that he can be a building block for them going forward.
27. David West – Indiana Pacers
Now that Paul George is out for the year with his gruesome injury and Lance Stephenson is on the Hornets, the Pacers are really thin as a team. This leaves veteran David West as the franchise player this season. The aging veteran is one of the toughest guys in the league and has one of the most accurate fifteen footers in the NBA. It is hard to say if he can lead them to the playoffs, but after the way the season was going last year, maybe this was the facelift the Pacers needed.
26. Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics
Rondo did his best to salvage what was left of last season after missing a good chunk of games early on. Rondo did not look like the same type of player that he used to be, but that was expected. There have been some rumors that he wants to leave Boston, so if he is disgruntled, it could affect his play. But who else do the Celtics have to represent them? As it stands with the Celtics roster, he can’t just be a terrific playmaker, he needs to carry the entire team.
25. Derrick Favors – Utah Jazz
Favors has been a project for some time, but he made some good strides last season. Favors is still raw, but he possesses great length and athleticism. If he can develop a few more post moves, he could become a very serviceable big man. The team absolutely needs him to become one if they plan on moving forward and getting back to the postseason.
24. Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky Rubio can’t shoot, but he can do pretty much everything else. Rubio is a very underrated defender. Last season, he averaged 2.3 steals per game, which was one of the best in the NBA. Furthermore, he is an elite distributor with an average of 8.6 assists per game. If he develops a 3-point shot, it will be downright scary. He inherited this spot from Kevin Love, who moved onto the Cavaliers and will be challenged for this spot by Andrew Wiggins in the near future.
23. Greg Monroe – Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe was not able to get the max extension from the Detroit Pistons that he was looking forward to, so he will be a free agent next season. If Monroe can continue to do what he did last year, some team is going to fork over a lot of money for this versatile big man. Other than blocking shots and hitting three’s, Monroe can do just about do everything.
22. Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets
Deron Williams was the best point guard in the league at one point. Now, he is not even the conversation for the top-10. However, Williams was able to play through his ankle injuries last year, and if they are finally healthy, he could easily become a top-10 point guard again. Talent like his does not disappear that quick. He’ll need to hope that he can get some more help for his supporting cast this season.
21. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
For some reason, Lowry gets over looked every single year, and sometimes by the team he even plays for. However, Lowry was rewarded handsomely by the Raptors this past year on a four-year deal worth $48 million this off season; looks like Lowry has found a home in Canada. Canada basketball is on the rise.
20. Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets
Kenneth Faried played like the best player during this World Cup and should have been the overall MVP. Even though hardly anyone in America was watching those games, Faried proved to the NBA world, just how valuable his motor is. Sure, he can’t shoot or pass, but hustles better than anyone else in the NBA. If only they could get more shooters on their team..
19. Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies
Despite being upset by France in the World Cup, Gasol looked really good in International play. Gasol is one of the most talented big men in the league. He’s not an explosive athlete, but he has a soft jump shot, soft hands, and plays excellent post-defense. He is easily one of the most skilled players in the league overall. Paired with Zach Randolph, they form one of the best front courts in the league.
18. Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks
After Al Horford went down with a shoulder injury last season, Millsap took it upon himself to lift the Hawks to the playoffs. Millsap can do it all. He can shoot three-pointers as a stretch four, he can rebound, he can block shots, and he can dribble. There really aren’t too many players in the NBA as versatile as him. Look for him to be a fantasy stud again this upcoming season.
17. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
The big German is bar-none the best shooting big man to have ever played the game. Sure, Dirk is not athletic, but he never was. At 7 feet tall, he can shoot over anybody, no matter how slow his release is. The Mavs are stacked this season with the acquisitions of Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, which should only make Dirk look even better.
16. Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns
The Slovenian point guard had a great showing in the World Cup, despite not having a lot of help. But he clearly believes that he belongs, and that he can play against the best point guards in the NBA. The left handed guard can shoot threes, pass, and is an extremely tough player. If Dragic continues to play like this, the Suns will definitely make the playoffs this season.
15. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
It is hard to believe that Kobe Bryant would be 15th on any list, however, after an Achilles injury and a knee injury, Bryant is not the same type of player that he used to be. At 36-years of age, Bryant is going to change his game a lot, to prove that he has what it takes to lead the Lakers back to the playoffs. But that is a big if. Still this is Kobe we’re talking about.
14. John Wall – Washington Wizards
John Wall was cut from the US team in the World Cup, but he is one of the up and coming players in the NBA. Now, that Wall has some playoff experience under his belt, he will be even more poised when the bright lights are on next year. If he can develop a consistent jump shot, he could become a nightmare for opponents to guard.
13. Al Jefferson – Charlotte Hornets
Big Al suffered an unfortunate foot injury last season during the first playoff game in the first round. Jefferson tried to play through it, but it was obvious that he was in a world of pain. Nevertheless, it was a groundbreaking season for Jefferson. After missing out on the playoffs year after year, he really proved that he could be a franchise player for a playoff team.
12. DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings
Cousins grew tremendously this offseason playing for the US Team in the World Cup. He was on his best behavior because he knew that he represented the US. Cousins’s biggest challenge has been his level of emotional intelligence, but he has maturated quite nicely this offseason. And now that Isaiah Thomas is gone, this means more shots in the paint for Cousins.
11. Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
Parker decided to rest this offseason after playing over 100 games last year on the road to winning a NBA Championship. Parker has been in the league forever, but he is still only 31-years of age. His teardrop is still one of the deadliest in the league, and he can score at will on anyone in the paint. The NBA really has never seen a point guard quite like him. They probably never will.
10. Chris Bosh –Miami Heat
Now that LeBron is gone, Bosh is now the face of the team. And he better be with the new contract that he got for $118 million over 5-years. It was obvious that Bosh deferred to LeBron last year as he floated on the three-point line. However, this year, he is going to have to post-up a lot more in the paint, which he is certainly capable of doing. Otherwise, the Heat are going struggle drawing any sort of double team.
9. Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls
Judging by the way Derrick Rose has played in the World Cup, he is still very rusty. This means that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, has got to be an enforcer on defense, as Rose shakes off his rust on offense. Noah was a walking double-double last year, and he continues to prove that he is one of the best passers in the league as well. Sure, he can’t shoot, but he can do just about everything else.
8. LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trailblazers
LaMarcus Aldridge got some much needed playoff experience last year. He really demonstrated what a force he can be with his length and jump shot. The big man has not drifted to the 3-point line yet, but he is one of the best mid-range shooters in the NBA. However, he had better keep his game sharp because Damian Lillard is coming at him to be the best player on the Trailblazers.
7. James Harden – Houston Rockets
Harden put on full display what he could do during the World Cup. Even with a star filled cast, Harden stands out on offense. His defense is still something to be desired, but there is a dearth of good shooting guards in the NBA right now, and Harden stands alone at the top. There may be no player in the NBA better at getting to the line than James Harden.
6. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
Last year, Carmelo missed out on the playoffs. He was forcing a lot of bad shots that he normally would not have taken, but he literally had no help on offense. Now that he has a competent point guard to distribute the ball, Melo should thrive even more on offense with Calderon at the helm. But he is going to have to prove that he can make the Knicks relevant again if he is going to remain in the superstar category.
5. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
Curry is not only the best shooter in the game right now, but he might go down as one of the best shooters in NBA history. Curry continues to prove to everyone that his basketball IQ is off the charts with the way he plays. And now that he has been able to stay relatively healthy, Curry is going to shatter single season shooting records. With a new coach and a healthy supporting cast, Curry is going to have a huge year.
4. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
Blake finished 3rd on the MVP ballot last season, so he has clearly improved his game leaps and bounds. Yes, he has CP3 on his team, but the Clippers rise and fall with Blake Griffin’s play. Griffin has improved his free throw shooting and his midrange game last year, so if he can keep building on that, he could help lead the Clippers to the NBA Finals.
3. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis won a NCAA title, an Olympic Gold, and a World Cup gold. The only thing he has not won is a NBA title. No player in NBA history has won all four. But he could be the first. Davis has put on a solid 15-20 pounds this offseason, and he looks ready to post up a bit more in the paint this upcoming season. Davis is still 21-years old, so the world is his oyster right now. If Davis continues to play defense like he does, he will be one of the few complete players in the NBA that can do it on both ends.
2. Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
Durant has been playing so much basketball the past few years, that he decided to take a much needed break this offseason. If KD can get his legs fresh this summer, he may be even more rejuvenated to play this upcoming season. KD has proven to everyone in the NBA that he is the best offensive player in the league, the only thing that he has left to prove, is that he is a NBA Champion.
1. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron now faces a new challenge – giving the Cavaliers its very first championship. He got close one year, but he was still young and not ready to play the veteran Spurs. However, LeBron is now a seasoned champion, and he comes to Cleveland with a very different mindset. He’s not only there to be the best player in the league, but to bring a championship to his championship deprived city.
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