This is when the most debate will be sparked on this list. The top ten players in the NBA are the next level of superstar in the league. These are the names that championship teams are built around, and for some teams, there are even two players in this tier on their roster. Let’s continue the series by counting down the first half of the top ten players in the league.
Click here to see players #25-21.
Here to see players #20-16.
Here to see players #15-11.
Top 25 Players In The NBA – #10-6
10. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler deserves all the credit in the world for what he helped the Miami Heat accomplish in the bubble. The team entered the playoffs as the fifth seed, and was nowhere near a championship contender. However, the team’s cohesiveness allowed them to band together and make a push. They made quick work of the Indiana Pacers, knocked off the first seed Milwaukee Bucks in surprising fashion, and topped the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals.
Despite losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, the Heat have a lot to be proud of this year, and Butler got the recognition as the superstar and leader that he is. The team bought into his leadership, and it proved dividends. Butler’s tenacity and thirst for a win as the team’s run grew deeper and deeper was contagious, and it elevated both his play as well as the teams.
As a bitter Celtics fan, I still have to tip my cap off to Butler for what he was able to accomplish and how he was able to re-establish a winning culture in Miami. While the Eastern Conference is going to be even stronger next season, Miami has the firepower to keep pace with the top teams in the bunch and come back for another playoff run.
9. James Harden
Much like the analysis for Russell Westbrook, the future of James Harden and the Houston Rockets is very uncertain. There’s no denying that Harden is still a superstar in the NBA, but questions surround the organization of whether this team is going to be able to compete this year or if they should trade in their superstar for a plethora of assets.
Despite this growing speculation, Harden once again proved why he may be the best pure scorer in the NBA this year. He topped the entire league in scoring per game at 34.3 points per night and logged 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds to go with that scoring load. The MVP candidate had another impressive season individually, but will his contributions ever translate to a championship, regardless of if it is in Houston or elsewhere?
8. Damian Lillard
Few players in the NBA are more enjoyable to watch when they are hot than Damian Lillard. Lillard was a scoring machine when the NBA resumed in the bubble, to the point where the NBA named him the NBA Bubble MVP for the eight exhibition games that took place before the unprecedented 2020 playoffs. Lillard’s dominance led to a 6-2 record that saw the Portland Trail Blazers succeed in securing the eighth playoff seed.
Surprisingly enough, the Blazers managed to steal Game 1 against the Lakers, which led many to believe Lillard and the Blazers could knock off the Lakers in the first round. That was not the case, as the team ended up losing the series. While the team underperformed in the regular season, perhaps things will turn out differently come next season with a fully healthy roster and a revamped Damian Lillard at the helm.
7. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic is the future of the NBA. He built off one of the most impressive rookie seasons in NBA history with an even stronger sophomore campaign. At just 21 years old, Doncic has established himself as a future MVP and an All-Star for years to come. He is going to carry the NBA for the next 20 years.
That all being said, why is Luka not ranked higher right now? We just need to see more. As this list dwindles down to the last remaining players, they are among the most experienced and successful players in the NBA today. We’ve seen them win MVPs, championship rings, Finals MVPs, and have been playing at an elite level for a long time now. Luka is still very young and will eventually get there, he just simply hasn’t done enough yet.
Doncic helped the Dallas Mavericks return to the playoff picture in a season when many did not expect them to, and he helped the team produce one of the most efficient offensive seasons we have ever seen. The roster is not exactly championship caliber. However, expect another leap from Doncic as he propels his team back to the playoffs for a lengthy run.
6. Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard had a massive opportunity to make NBA history this past season, but unfortunately, the Los Angeles Clippers could not put together a solid championship run. Leonard has two rings on two different franchises already in his career. That, along with two Finals MVPs to go with each of those rings. Had the Clippers hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy this past October, it would have made Leonard just the third player to win a ring on three different franchises, and the first to potentially win Finals MVP. This feat was accomplished by a different wing from LA, but we will get to him later.
Nonetheless, Leonard proved why he is still arguably the best two-way player of this generation and among the best all-time. He put forth a career high in scoring with 27.1 PPG. That was on a team that desperately needed any sort of consistency to hang with the top of the West. It was a shame this Clippers team was not able to put it all together this year. A major opportunity was left to waste.
However, this upcoming season could be different. With a new coach in Tyronn Lue, who has historically deferred to his superstars in order to win, Leonard, Paul George, and company might be in the right position to gel and find their consistency as they look to avenge their losses from last year.
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