#5 SF Carmelo Anthony
-Melo, Melo, Melo... an unbelievable knack for scoring the basketball. He is the guy you want to have the ball at the end of the game. Wants the ball because he believes in his abilities. Great rebounder for his size and enjoys the game. I've seen improvement in his footwork and you can tell he cares about being the best. I think with the right mixture of teammates, he could be a real winner. His career stats, 25ppg, 3apg, 6rpg, are all worthy of notoriety, but it is his attitude and mental approach to the game that keeps him from being at the top of this list. With the NBA stacking players and the almost certainty that Melo will either become a Free Agent or be traded, I think this will do nothing but help his game. Landing in NY with Amare and perhaps, CP3, the game of Melo would reached a place its never been before. Melo has room for growth defensively and off the court, but these are all things I think he is learning as he continues to mature as a player and person. My personal thoughts... 2nd best closer around, behind someone else who will make an appearance on this list!
Strengths: Scorer, Rebounder, Clutch
Weaknesses: Leadership, Selfish, Mental Approach
Improvements I'd Like to See: Better Team Player, Leadership, Defense
#5 PG Derrick Rose
-He's continually making a case as the best PG in the league. I've seen tremendous growth from him since he's entered into the league. Has the ability to score the basketball from anywhere in the paint (just ask Dragic), but now has developed into a pretty decent jumpshooter. His J looks more fluid and it doesn't seem so mechanical. He is turning into a triple-double type guy nightly (although his 1st one just happened Jan. 17 vs the Grizz). He has improved his FG percentage every year since entering in the league and that has a lot to do with his improved jumper. Also, increases in his assist and rebounding distribution this season (career highs at 8.2 & 4.5 respectively) has helped him gain more and more attention from the media and fans. And he's single handedly responsible for reuniting the Chicago Bulls with playoff contender thoughts since some guy named, Michael Jordan. I see big things for this guy as he continues to age and climb into the peak (he's only 22 years old) of his career. My personal thoughts... BEST PG IN THE LEAGUE!!!
Strengths: Quick, Strong, Passing, Scoring, Rebounding (for a guard)
Weaknesses: Jumpshot, Leadership, Mid-Range Game
Improvements I'd Like to See: Jumpshot, Mid-Range Game, Leadership, Closer
#4 SG Dwyane Wade
-DWade seems refueled now that Bron and Bosh have been added to the mixture in South Beach. There has never been any doubt about his ability to put the ball in the basket. Coming out of Marquette, he was the player I pegged at "Super Stardom" in the making. At a practice of mine in college back in 2003, legendary coach, George Karl, was speaking with my team and said, "DWade in my opinion will be the better of the top 3 in the upcoming draft (Melo, Bron, DWade)". Those words stuck with me ever since then and I don't think DWade has disappointed. Wade gets to the basket with ease and scores just about whenever he wants. With very respectable career averages of 25ppg, 6.5apg, and 5rpg, Wade proves he can get it done on his own. Now throw in Bron and Bosh... shouldn't be long before he adds to his O'Brien Trophy count. He's clutch and wants/demands the ball at the end of games. He's capable of scoring 50 any night! He's a great leader to his teammates! What else can he do to move up the list??? Hope Durant doesn't keep getting better at the pace he's at and that Bron starts tailing off with his production. My personal thoughts... he'll be remembered as a great player but not "top 20 ever" type great.
Strengths: Leader, Scoring, Winner, Defense (at times)
Weaknesses: Injuries, Movement w/o Ball, Passing.
Improvements I'd Like to See: Better Team Player, Consistent Effort (when he doesn't have the ball)
The top 3 players will be revealed in my next post. Hope you enjoy my thoughts!