The 2018-19 NBA season taught us a lot about which players deserve to sit at the top of the NBA’s hierarchy. Below our Sports Panel discusses their picks for the NBA’s top 10 players one by one with in depth descriptions and commentary:
The Panels Picks for 1:
Allan Porter: For the first pick, I’m going to go with Durant. I think there’s no other player who’s as complete as KD in regards to scoring at all three levels, passing, defense and taking over a game. He has the playoff experience needed to know how to take over a game when it matters and proved that he can single handedly take over quarters at a a time.
Mitchell Moore: For 1, I have Giannis Antetokounmpo with the edge over KD. Between him putting up 27.7, 12.5 and 5.9 and putting his team in contending position the Greek freak is not only the best player currently but can be for the next decade.
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: I’m in on the Antetokounmpo boat as well. He led the league in PER and ranked third in win shares during the regular season, and his single-handed success this year seems to be trumping the contributions that guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James have made in relation to the success of their teams.
Tristan Tucker: For my first pick, I’m selecting Kevin Durant. For me this boils down to realizing that his game is the most complete out of any other NBA player, he has range from outside and inside, he can play elite defense and is an excellent initiator. Giannis is a great player, but his lack of a mid-range/3-point game has him just a notch below.
William Boyd: For the first pick I have KD for the same reasons as Allan. He is the most complete player in the NBA. Plain and simple
Dylan Skurnick: Gotta be KD for me as well. Since we are going based off just next year. I don’t think Giannis will develop a jumper adequate enough to challenge KD for the top spot. For me though it is 1A 1B. I think it is that close. If freak ever develops a jumper I’m flipping them due to his age
Olamide Olatunbosun: For the first pick, I’m going with the Greek Freak. He’s arguably already the best player in the league (though I’d still personally consider LeBron) but he’s also so young and will only get better as his jump shot improves.
The Panels Picks for 2:
Mitchell Moore: With the second pick I have Kevin Durant. I have him in the second slot since he’s complete offensively and can score from anywhere on the court. Defensively, he is the same and putting up 26-6-6 on a lower usage rate and is very consistent. Now the question is where will he go next 👀
Olamide Olatunbosun: For the second pick, I’m selecting LeBron. I acknowledge that he picks and chooses where he plays defense in the regular season, but even in the disastrous year the Lakers had, he still put up numbers that are on par or are better than his career averages. Give him a healthy Lakers this year, and we wouldn’t be talking about him in the mostly negative way we are now
Allan Porter: For 2, I’m going to go with Lebron. I know after this season thats controversial, but he still put up 27,8,8 and I think the injury really slowed him down. At full strength I expect him to be closer to the same old Lebron next season.
William Boyd: My second pick is LeBron. He literally had shown he can take a team that has very little and make them nearly a playoff team. If he wasn’t hurt this year, I could have definitely seen the Lakers as a playoff team. His numbers show that
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: I’ll give Kevin Durant the nod at 2 as well. He’s too talented not to be, regardless of his team’s success without him.
Tristan Tucker: For my second pick, I’m selecting Antetokounmpo. His athleticism is off the charts, his knowledge of the game is elite, he is proving right now he’s capable of leading a team through the playoffs and gave the Bucks their first 60-win season in a LONG time
Dylan Skurnick: Since i already said it is 1a 1b for me with Kd and Giannis..for me 2nd pick I’m gonna go with the freak!
The Panels picks for 3:
Olamide Olatunbosun: With my third pick, I’m selecting KD. Though I’m not a fan of his, it is impossible to deny the pure talent he has on a basketball court and all the mismatches he creates. However, he has a luxury very few people in league history have had; I believe he’s become a better passer and distributor because he’s played on the Warriors and they help him score even more efficiently. If he were doing this on the Thunder with Russ, then I’d probably put him #1
Tristan Tucker: My third pick is Stephen Curry. His talent is unmatchable, he is carrying an injured team on his back through the playoffs and he is dominating night in and night out. The man shoots 44% on 11 3-point attempts a game. He is also 29-1 in his last 30 games without Durant, proving that he is elite
Allan Porter: Im going with Giannis at 3. I think he’s one of the only players in the NBA defenses have to specifically change their whole style for.
William Boyd: I’m going Giannis at 3 as well. He has shown throughout the playoffs that he was undervalued throughout the season with everyone saying the Celtics would beat them no matter what. And now he’s showing that he’s easily a top 3 player in the nba
Dylan Skurnick: I’ll go with the King at number 3. Only reason hes not going number 1 is because of his age. If he didnt get Injured and put up those number over a full season the Lakers probably make playoffs.
Mitchell Moore: My third pick, goes to Kawhi Leonard with the complete package and new home in Toronto he put up 26.5-7-3 I give him the edge due to his power house defense and ability to completely takeover a game
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: James Harden made more of an impact on his team this season than LeBron James did. Injuries and a rough offseason left the Rockets in a horrible spot, and Harden stepped up to put Houston in a great playoff position, and, although they fell short, who doesn’t against the Warriors? Harden led the league in win shares, points per game—by a wide margin—and he did it with a 54.1 eFG%. He’s my number three.
The Panels picks for 4:
Mitchell Moore: My fourth pick, Steph Curry he’s the most offensive mastered player in the game and can play quarterback for his team, not only did he put up 27-5-5 but also shot an insane percentage to back those numbers off
Olamide Olatunbosun: I agree with Mitchell. While we have been robbed of MVP Steph since Durant joined the Dubs, he is the heart and soul of that team. His sheer presence on a court forces teams to defend him once he crosses half court and every now and then, he reminds just why he’s no doubt the best shooter of all time
Tristan Tucker: My fourth pick is Kawhi Leonard, he is probably the best pure defender in the NBA and his clutch factor is undeniable. He led the Raptors to new highs and while these games against the Bucks have been rough, I think he can lead the Raps to one or two wins against a deep Bucks team
William Boyd: I am definitely going with Steph at 4. We saw in game 1 and 2 that he is mvp Steph when KD isn’t on the court. He’s an obvious choice for a top 5 play. We can talk about KD being the best player, but Steph is the best pure scorer in the nba
Dylan Skurnick: 4th pick for me I am going with Kawhi! Best 2 way player I feel in the league today. Sucks what happened with the spurs it seemed like he was the perfect guy to take over the mantle for Duncan.
Allan Porter: For 4 Im going with Kawhi, I think hes shown he can almost single handedly carry a team on both ends of the floor throughout this postseason. Thats something that held him back before
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: I’m gonna go with Lebron at 4.
Our Panels Picks for 5:
Olamide Olatunbosun: At 5, I’m taking Kawhi Leonard. As many have already said, he’s the best two-way player in the league (though Giannis is coming for that title fast) and has taken his game to a new level during the first two rounds of the playoffs, proving he’s one of the most clutch players in the league. My only knock against him is that I’d argue LeBron and KD could carry that Raptors team better against Giannis and the Bucks.
Tristan Tucker: My fifth pick (really my next two are 5a and 5b) is James Harden. His stats are ridiculous and don’t come at the cost of his team, he is the heart and soul of the team and the fact that he had so many more 50 point games than everyone else is ridiculous. Including his streak of 30+, it’s really unheard of in today’s NBA for that to occur. Even when he lost his third best player (Capela) at the start of the year, he didn’t let that stop him
Allan Porter: For 5 Im going with Curry, hes shown without KD he can still be in the conversation for best offensive player in the league and his outside shooting is clearly the best we’ve ever seen. But I cant put him higher with his defense
William Boyd: At 5 I’m going with Harden. It is unbelievable I think what he can do with the basketball. It is a lot of iso basketball which can be boring to some people, but man his Rockets were a lot of fun to watch
Mitchell Moore: My 5th pick, goes to James Harden not only we’re the Rockets bit by the injury bug, they really struggled yet Harden lead the team to war with a crazy stat of 36-6-7, Lebron is yet to meet my picks but with the year Harden had its easy to pick him over the King
Dylan Skurnick: Its curry for me at 5. His ability to shoot off the dribble is one we have never seen. The type of defense teams have to play just because of him makes scoring for his teammates that much easier
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: Curry and Durant pretty clearly devalue each other because there’s only one ball to go around, but from a talent-standpoint, there’s no denying that they both have their way with defenses in their own styles. Im going with Curry at 5.
Our Panels pick for 6:
William Boyd: I have kawhi at 6 and I feel like that one is fairly obvious because kawhi is a spectacular player and I feel like I’m disrespecting him almost for having him at 6
Olamide Olatunbosun: At 6, I’m taking Harden. No doubt one of the greatest offensive players the game has ever seen; his style of play is often hard to watch and isn’t as great a leader or playoff performer as the aforementioned players
Allan Porter: Im going Harden at 6, I think Harden this late needs no explanation, but he’s a dominant offensive player and can single handedly take over a game offensively like only KD, Lebron or curry can
Tristan Tucker: My sixth pick (or 5b) is LeBron. This is a bit reactionary I’ll admit because he did post great stats this season. However like I said, his contract is scary as he is 35 and on the hook for 35 mil+ at age 38. While his game won’t be awful, it’s hard to build a team around that, especially when he came off of his worst season, and his leadership was questionable
Mitchell Moore: With the 6th pick I’m FINALLY going with Lebron even though he put up 27-8-8 he really lacked percentage wise and played the worst defense of his career, yes his injury dwindled his window of success but we must remember he’s on the decline of his great career
Dylan Skurnick: I’ll go harden at 6 but what I’m liking so far is we all almost all agree on players I’m the top 6 just not the order haha
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: Harden had a 30.6 PER compared to Kawhi’s 25.8 which, like I said, isn’t knocking Leonard. I think if you swapped the Raptors and Rockets in the postseason, and the result stayed the same, people would have a much different opinion of Harden as a whole.
The Panels picks for 7:
Mitchell Moore: With the 7th pick I have Anthony Davis, 26-12-4 is terrific for the team he had around him, even though there has been “injuries” and hold outs there is no doubt he is still dominant, and with a new team possibly this summer I look to see him have a career year number wise in the ‘19-‘20 season
Allan Porter: I have AD at 7 and I really think after 1-7 there’s a big dropoff.
Olamide Olatunbosun: I don’t think the dropoff is “that big”, but it is sizeable for sure. I also have AD at 7
Tristan Tucker: My 7th pick is Anthony Davis and at this point I feel like Mitchell Moore and I have the same list. Davis was higher last season, but he sort of gave up in the midst of everything this season. He’s still super young which is a plus. But his dominance is pretty great to watch, he needs more long term good teammates aside from Holiday. Maybe it’ll be LeBron, maybe it’ll be Kyrie, but I’d like to see how he does with other elite talent
Oscar Boyd: I got Russ ahead of AD at 7. I really think Russ is an elite talent that unfortunately is looked down upon because we think that his teammates just give him rebounds and assists
Dylan Skurnick: 7th pick for me is the brow! Cant wait to see what he does on a team with another star whether that’s Zion or hes traded!
Oscar Rzodkiewicz: Nikola Jokic would like a word with everybody’s lists. I have him at 7.
The Panels picks for 8:
Olamide Olatunbosun: Oscar Rzodkiewicz I didn’t forget, I was just about to select him. Jokic at 8.
Tristan Tucker: At 8 I have Paul George. I think he gets slept on way too much for what he did this season. He was one of the best 3 and D players this season (right behind Kawhi) and was the biggest reason for the Thunder’s mid-season success. He really looked like the MVP for a while
Mitchell Moore: 8th spot for me goes to Joel Embiid, his offensive skills bloomed this season along with a career defensive season, there is no doubt Joel is going to be an all time great with the numbers of 27-13.5-4 there is no saying how high is potential truly is
Allan Porter: I got Jokic over Embiid. Jokic really killed it this postseason I think he silenced a lot of doubters. That being said he is more prone to the off game than the other tier 1 players
Dylan Skurnick: 8th spot for me goes to me triple double himself Russell Westbrook. His intensity costs him sometimes in big games but I’d go to war with him any day of the week. He has to get his shooting percentages back up though they took a real dip this year
William Boyd: At 8, I got AD. He should have potentially been higher, but 1-6 I feel like is pretty set in stone regardless of the order. AD is almost in that top 6, but I wanna see him in the playoffs more and how he plays with other stars. He hasn’t shown that he can take his team to the next level
Our Panels Picks for 9:
Mitchell Moore: 9th spot, Paul George yes he is on a lower tier than others ahead but his all around game is top 4 in the league 28-8-4 and guarding the opposing best player night in and night out is a skill not many players possess
Tristan Tucker: My number 9 pick is Nikola Jokic. He was simply unstoppable on the offensive end this year. He is probably the best center in the NBA depending on how you view Davis. He led his team to the semis in their first playoff appearance in a while. Even being a young player, he doesn’t look inexperienced at all. Once he does more in the postseason he will move up, or down on my list if he misses the playoffs again
William Boyd: I got Klay at 9. His scoring ability I think is only outmatched by Steph, and his pure scoring ability is out of this world and I absolutely love his game
Olamide Olatunbosun: At 9, I’m taking Damian Lillard and it was a toss up between him and Embiid. Embiid certainly has more potential, but Damian is the real deal. He’s the closest player in the league to Steph’s range shooting abilities, is extremely durable, and is crazy clutch
Allan Porter: I got Paul George at 9. I think he’s one of the best two way players in the NBA and has a very good outside shoot. He shot pretty efficiently this year and that was with him being basically the thunders only viable outside shooter
Our Panels Picks for 10:
Mitchell Moore: Rounding out my top 10, Nikola Jokic he sprung into things this year I would have him higher with his stat line 20-11-7 offensively he’s the quarterback and runs everything smoothly through him, I think some defensive advancement and another good year could push him into my top 6
Tristan Tucker: My tenth pick goes to Damian Lillard. My tenth through fourteenth are really close again. Him and Kyrie is kind of a toss-up. But his leadership through these playoffs has gone through the roof. His loyalty and sportsmanship is on another level and his shooting is absurd. I’m glad he’s finally opening eyes this season
Allan Porter: I got Jimmy Butler at 10. I think he really proved in this playoffs how he can take over a game offensively and we already know how good he is on defense. I think the two way wings are generally the most important players in the modern NBA
Olamide Olatunbosun: Finally at 10, I have Joel Embiid. Yes, he needs to take care of himself better so he’s not missing playoff games due to being sick or injured. However, he has the ability to be one of the greatest big men of all time, and if the 76ers can find a way to get him in the post more often (*cough cough trade Ben Simmons if he doesn’t learn to shoot), we can see a modern version of Hakeem Olajuwon
Dylan Skurnick: Jokic rounds out the top 10 for me. Never thought I’d have him this high but the dude can ball. Modern day big man who can shoot the 3 as well have the offense run through him almost like a pg!
William Boyd: Lastly, I got Nikola Jokic at 10. He is revolutionizing the big man position. The big man position was dying in the nba and because of Jokic, I think he is bringing it back and making that position necessary and relevant again