By Dr. Brandon Spradley |
The 2018-2019 NBA season is currently underway after a season in which the Golden State Warriors won their second consecutive championship. They have won three of the last four years. The biggest move of the NBA off-season was the Los Angeles Lakers signing LeBron James to a four year deal. As the NBA season continues, here are my top 5 players in today’s NBA.
#5 James Harden, Houston Rockets: Coming off his MVP season, James Harden is one of the best scorers in today’s game. He is one of the best at getting to the basket and earning his points at the free throw line. Harden is a good three point shooter and almost impossible to guard one on one. He led his team to the Western Conference Finals with a 65-17 win/loss record in the regular season. Houston ultimately lost to the Golden State Warriors in a seven games series but showed they had the talent to compete with the NBA’s best. This season, Harden and the Rockets have gotten off to a slow start. They lost key guys from a year ago that played an integral part of their success last season. It will be interesting to see if Harden is able to have another MVP-like season to get his team out of their slump.
#4 Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis is arguably the best two way player in today’s game. He was the only player to be a finalist in the MVP voting as well as Defensive Player of the Year. He is an elite offensive talent who is among the leaders in blocks per game. I’m not sure if he has the talent around him to get deep into the playoffs this year, but with his ability to score and defend multiple positions, he is most definitely a top 5 player with the potential to be number 1 on the list in the coming years.
#3 Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry is arguably the best shooter in the history of the NBA. He is a bona fide game changer. His ability to shoot the long ball, coupled with elite handles makes him one of the best offensive talents in the game. He currently leads the league in total points scored, points per game, and three point field goals made. Although he is sometimes seen as a liability on defense, he is usually among the leaders in steals per game. I can easily make a case for him being number two on the list, but for now, he is the third best player in today’s NBA in my opinion.
#2 Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant is probably the most talented player on this list, at least offensively. He is able to score from anywhere on the court. Now that he is a member of the Golden State Warriors, Durant is able to efficiently score 25-30 points a game. The Warriors offense is perfect for a player of Durant’s skillset. In my opinion, he is one of the best scorers the league has ever seen. Some people may not admit it, but since he has been with Golden State, he has improved defensively. He often times guards the other team’s best players, which is what he did against the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year’s finals. Durant has been a top 2 or 3 player for some time now, but still has work to definitively be seen as the best player in the NBA.
#1 LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James in my opinion is still the best player in the NBA. It seems like he continues to get better as he ages. What LeBron James was able to do last year with the Cleveland Cavaliers was nothing short of amazing. His playoff performances were absolutely ridiculous. He was able to lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals but ultimately lost to a much better team. James is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. They are off to a slow start but I think they will eventually get it together. If he is able to win the Lakers a championship in the next few years, it would be an amazing achievement. He is already an all-time great in my opinion, but there is still work to be considered the greatest player of all-time.
Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors
Dr. Brandon Spradley is the chair of sports management at the United States Sports Academy. He recently discussed issues related to the rise of eSports in the sports profession.