Eddie Johnson is arrogant, ignorant, biased, and obsessed with how great the NBA was in 1988 (when defense consisted of grabbing on to your opponent and holding on for dear life). He recently wrote an article listing what he believes to be the top 25 players in the NBA. I obviously disagreed with his list, and wrote a rebuttal based on my 2K10 roster (which sadly, make infinitely more sense than this self-proclaimed expert's opinion). .
You can read his article here (hey look, a free plug!)
Eddie Johnson's top 25
1. LeBron James
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Dwyane Wade
4. Kevin Durant
5. Dwight Howard
6. Amare Stoudemire
7. Dirk Nowitzki
8. Carmelo Anthony
9. Deron Williams
10. Steve Nash
11. Chris Paul
12. Pau Gasol
13. Tim Duncan
14. Chris Bosh
15. Brandon Roy
16. Joe Johnson
17. Jason Kidd
18. Rajon Rondo
19. Gerald Wallace
20. Chauncey Billups
21. Tony Parker
22. Paul Pierce
23. Kevin Garnett
24. Derrick Rose
25. Josh Smith
Rashidi’s Top 25 as per his NBA 2K10 Playoff Roster (which can be downloaded via 2K Share on XBox 360)
95 – LeBron James (SF)
93 – Dwyane Wade (SG)
93 – Chris Paul (PG)
92 - Kobe Bryant (SG)
91 – Dwight Howard (C)
89 – Deron Williams (PG)
88 – Kevin Durant (SF)
88 – Tim Duncan (C)
87 – Chris Bosh (PF)
86 – Carmelo Anthony (SF)
86 – Brandon Roy (SG)
85 – Yao Ming (C)
85 – Rajon Rondo (PG)
84 – Steve Nash (PG)
84 – Joe Johnson (SG)
84 - Russell Westbrook (PG)
83 – Pau Gasol (PF)
83 – Amare Stoudemire (PF)
83 – Carlos Boozer (PF)
83 – Josh Smith (PF)
83 – Derrick Rose (PG)
82 – Dirk Nowitzki (PF)
82 – Manu Ginobili (SG)
82 – Gerald Wallace (SF)
81 - Andrew Bogut (C)
1. LeBron James - such an easy call even Eddie Johnson can’t screw that one up.
2. Dwyane Wade - I get that Eddie is scared to knock Kobe off his pedestal as #2 until the Lakers lose in the playoffs, but Dwyane Wade passed him last season and hasn’t looked back. Wade is unstoppable, and it will be scary to see what happens when Miami surrounds him with top tier talent next season (read: not a 30 yr old Jermaine O’Neal, a 20 yr old Zach Randolph, a random corner shooter, and a backup PG).
3. Chris Paul - CP3 is the best PG in the league even when he's not healthy.
4. Kobe Bryant - The Lakers on the other hand are winning because they are blessed with two all-star caliber bigmen, not because Kobe is doing everything himself. Yeah, he hit all those game winners, but in years past his team would have had the lead and not heroics. Give Gasol and Bynum to D-Wade and they’re the most dominant force in the league. Even Artest is basically Q-Rich with all-defense. Give Kobe the supporting cast Wade has and they’re fighting Oklahoma for the 8th seed.
5. Dwight Howard - is the defensive player of the year once again, but until he gets a legit post up game, learns how to find his teammates like Duncan, and stops turning the ball over so much, he’s hit his ceiling. That said, it is a bit scary that he still has so much room to grow.
6. Deron Williams - Deron is the de facto #2 PG which ain’t a bad thing. Sorry, but CP3 would be doing backflips if he had Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, and Paul Millsap (instead of David West, Peja Stojakovic, and Darius Songaila).
7. Kevin Durant - Durant is obviously a great scorer (which Eddie Johnson loves more than anything in the world - else he'd have put him behind Dwight Howard) but does he make his teammates better? Answer: No, not really. Give him a few years before you crown him #4 in the freakin world.
8. Tim Duncan - Only an idiot would think Tim Duncan has regressed when he’s put up the same exact production three years in a row. A hobbled Tony Parker is all that kept the Spurs from being #1 in the west. What sane man would actually take Tim Duncan over Amare freakin Stoudemire?
9. Chris Bosh - Unlike Amare, Bosh can actually rebound the basketball (while still scoring at a high rate, imagine that!), which is why he’s the league’s top PF (presuming of course, that you’re not actually counting Tim Duncan as one).
10. Carmelo Anthony - Melo’s a good scorer, but he was obviously a bit overrated in most circles given the Durant-mania that everyone has right now.
11. Brandon Roy - Roy was good, but he wasn’t as great as he was this season. Going forward, I’d be concerned about his knees as he continues to have surgery on them. He has the skill level to deal with any athletic decline but it’s something to watch nonetheless.
12. Yao Ming - That’’s right, Yao Ming is still in the league! He’s a dominant offensive force when healthy and until he shows us he’s lost it, he needs to be on a top 25 list.
13. Rajon Rondo - Rondo is basically the leader of the Celtics now on the court, and is making a lot of his 2008 critics look stupid along the way.
14. Steve Nash - Nash is still Nash, which was somewhat unexpected for a 35 year old - though Nash never had any athleticism to rely on in the first place, so a big drop wasn’t to be expected anyway. He could play to 40 without a dropoff just as John Stockton did, provided he starts getting his minutes limited. The Suns are the top offensive team in the league (by quite a bit, in fact) but they are also (EASILY) the worst defensive team in the playoffs. Part of that falls on Nash, and always will so long as he’s the head of the team’s defensive attack.
15. Joe Johnson - JJ’s as versatile as they come. He isn’t an elite scorer, but he’s good enough to get by as a #1, sets his teammates up, and plays exceptional defense. He is the closest thing to Scottie Pippen you’re going to find in today’s league (and no, I’m not saying he’s as good as Pippen - else he’d rank 5th instead of 15th).
16. Russell Westbrook - Westbrook transformed into a solid PG after having a Steve Francis-type rookie year that had me pessimistic on his future (Steve Francis comparisons are NEVER a good thing for a PG). His A/T ratio improved dramatically from 1.58 in 2009 to 2.43 in 2010. His athletic talents and defense are a big reason why Oklahoma improved by 20+ wins. If he can actually learn how to score the ball efficiently, he’s a top 10 player. If he doesn’t, but continues to improve his defense, we’re talkin Gary Payton that can throw it down.
17. Pau Gasol - Gasol is just as good as Bosh offensively, but he’s not a great rebounder. That’s okay though - I and everyone else in the world not named Eddie Johnson would still rather have Gasol over Amare Stoudemire.
18. Amare Stoudemire - Speak o the devil himself! Amare didn’t start caring about the season until the trade deadline passed. Imagine where they’d be if he weren’t dogging it the first 50 games?
19. Carlos Boozer - Booze is just as good a scorer as the other PFs on this list, and he’s probably the best rebounder too. It’s a shame that he’s undersized and can’t block a shot. Btw, unlike other PFs on this list COUGHamareCOUGH I give him credit for being a professional during his contract year and not dogging it.
20. Josh Smith - Atlanta’s improvement this season stems from J-Smoove’s improvement on the offensive end. Less threes. More dunks. Solid formula for success. His elite shot blocking also returned from a one year hiatus (stemming from an 09 injury).
21. Derrick Rose - I know ya’ll are probably complaining that Rose should be higher than Westbrook, but until the man can have an impact on the defensive end, that’s not happening. (Just imagine how good the Thunder would be if Joakim Noah shored up the team defense instead of Nenad Krstic!). Regardless, Rose had a great year, and was nowhere close to a disappointment… I wonder where I read such a stupid statement…
22. Dirk Nowitzki - Frankly, Dirk has been playing with stacked teams for the last decade and hasn’t gotten it done. You know what that means ladies and gentlemen? THAT THE DUDE IS OVERRATED! His rebounding has declined the last 4 years, and at age 31, that’s not gonna change. His defense is still suspect. Yes, he can shoot it, and he’s the greatest 7 foot shooter in world history (a fact that probably makes Eddie Johnson shoot himself at night, if ya get what i’m sayin), but there’s more to this game than putting the ball in the basket. For instance: Being seven feet tall AND BEING ABLE TO PLAY CENTER(!!!!) without getting killed by an 8th seed team lead by a certain point guard (don’t look up).
23. Manu Ginobili - Ginobili rarely gets respect from anyone except Spurs fans, but the fact is he is one of the league’s elite players whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. His averages as a starter this season: 21.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.4 apg… in only 30.7 mpg. Compare this to Joe Johnson: 21.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.8 apg… in 38.7 mpg. You’ll notice that Eddie Johnson left Manu off his list, and with good reason - he’s an idiot Suns homer who hates the Spurs.
24. Gerald Wallace - G-Force improved his game and took the Bobcats to the playoffs. That’s a pretty generic statement and you already knew that. You know who didn’t take thier game to another level? Andre Iguodala & Danny Granger. That’s why they’re sitting at home right now and Wallace isn’t.
25. Andrew Bogut - Bogut deserves the lionshare of the credit for helping the Bucks get to the playoffs. He was the top defensive player on the top defensive team, as well as their featured post scorer on the offensive end. It's a shame his season ended the way it did, but here's hoping he has a full recovery.
Now, on to the players on Eddie's list that I left off: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Tony Parker, and Chauncey Billups.
Pierce and KG play for a stacked team and would be so screwed if either had to carry a team as they did in their younger years.
Ditto for Jason Kidd.
Tony Parker last season would have been somewhere around 11-15 and was easily the #3 PG in the league, but hasn’t been himself at all this season. As stated in the Duncan section, a healthy Parker is all that prevented the Spurs from being the 1st or 2nd best team in the west.
Billups is a good player and a godsend for the Nuggets offense (probably even more important than Melo in this regard, since he makes Nene, K-Mart, and Birdman dangerous), but his defense hasn’t been “good” since Ben Wallace was watching his back. The Nuggets were 16th in defense, which was the 2nd worst mark by a playoff team (Suns were 23rd… the Pacers were the only non-playoff team in the top 16 btw). He does hurt them in this regard, but I don’t think anyone will complain so long as he’s manning the league’s #3 offense (i mean, he’s not a D-killer like Nash, just not as skilled on the offensive end either).