To fill the void in the world of basketball right now, I have decided to follow in SLAMonline's footsteps (somewhat) in counting down the best basketball players in the League today. I remind you to leave your opinions in the comments section since I would like to hear what you think. I'll probably roll out a new part of this blog once every couple weeks so stay tuned. Please note that injuries have no effect on a player's ranking.
#40- Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors. Even though he's out for the season, we can't forget how great of a year Monta had with averages of 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists. He was essential in leading the Warriors to 48 regular season wins and was a playmaker on both ends of the floor with an average of 1.5 steals per game.
#39- Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies. The only bright spot on the team (after the Grizz "gave" Pau away) was a 20-point scorer in only his second NBA season and started in all the games he played in (81). Because Gay is so good at getting to the hoop, people forget how good of a shooter he is, too. Few realize that he shoots a solid 35% from three-point range.
#38- Mike Dunleavy, Jr., Indiana Pacers. Some may be scratching their heads at this one, but he is fully deserving of the #38 spot, if not higher. I recently wrote an article on Helium.com making a case as to why Dunleavy is the most underrated player in the entire league with averages of 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists last year.
#37- Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks. The big man for the best young team in the East had quite a season last year with his team almost pulling off the miracle upset against the eventual-champion Boston Celtics. In that series, Horford averaged 12 points, ten rebounds, and four assists against the best defensive team in the NBA.
#36- Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats. The force in the middle for the Cats is one of the few reasons they win as many games as they do (which doesn't say a whole lot, but still). His averages of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks per game are nothing to scoff at, while his 54% shooting from the field is decent as well.
#35- David West, New Orleans Hornets. The second half of one of the most lethal pick-and-roll combos in the League puts up 21 points, nine rebounds, and three assists per game. He is a solid shooter from both the line and the field and, when left open, can knock down the three. He was undoubtedly the second-best player on the second-best regular season team out West last season.
#34- Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers. The new AI in the City of Brotherly Love is one of the most versatile players in the NBA and has a large array of moves in his repertoire. In only his fourth year in the League, Iguodala put up 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He was the catalyst behind the late-season surge of the Sixers and definitely deserves some love as a top forty player in the L.
#33- Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz. Some were unhappy with Boozer's inclusion on Team USA when the roster was announced; many more were unhappy with his being on the team as the Olympics went on, saying how he was a non-factor for the gold medalists. Whether he contributed much or not, he is extremely important to the defending Northwest Division champs on both offense and defense. Boozer averaged a double-double in both the regular season and playoffs this past season.
#32- Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons. Arguably the best conditioned athlete in the NBA is "Rip" Hamilton. He routinely plays forty minutes a game and never stops running his defender off screens the entire time. His averages of 17 points, four assists, and three rebounds does not accurately portray how vital he is to the Pistons team though. His shooting is even somewhat underrated in my opinion since he is known as only a "mid-range shooter". However, he shot 44% from deep last season.
#31- Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks. The second Hawk on my list is a guard, not a big man like the last. Johnson was the scoring presence for Atlanta all season long (22 ppg) and was a very good shooter (38% from deep). His rebounding is actually pretty good for a combo guard, too, with an average of four per game.