Tag:Nuggets
Posted on: January 20, 2011 10:23 am
 

Carmelo to the Bulls? Nope. Not happening.

Okay, so we all are aware that the Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov yesterday dropped out of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes during a press conference. Yesterday it was also reported by YahooSports' Adrian Wojnarowski that the infamous Worldwide Wes is going to Chicago and sources are saying that Melo's "people" are going to try to work a deal with the Chicago Bulls.

This past summer the two sides talked about a trade and neither side would budge on two sticking points. The Bulls wanted to package Deng and his 40 million dollar contract as a centerpiece to any deal, but the Nuggets wanted no part of taking on the extra cap. Also, Denver wanted Joakim Noah and the Bulls flat out said no way. It is hard to think that a deal could ever be put together between these two teams alone. A third team would certainly have to be part of the deal.

So, do I think that Carmelo will become a Chicago Bull? Absolutely not. I think that any person with a clear understanding of how recent negotiations in the NBA have been cunducted with regards to superstars should have a keen insight as to what these talks between Chicago and Melo's people are really all about. It is simply smoke and mirrors. Sure Melo had Chicago on his short list "publically", but in reality there is but one team and city that he want to play for and that team is the New York Knicks. Not really a big shocker at all. So why now are Melo's people moving to the Bulls and trying to spark an old fire? They are using triangulation negotiation tactics in order to place a fire under Donnie Walsh's ass. Walsh is a pretty savvy businessman as he has stepped back a bit from this whole Nets/Nuggets deal and held firm on his offer. He most likely even knew that the Nets would back out. Now the Nuggets are in a hard spot. They turned down the best deal they could possibly get and now are either going to sit on Melo until this summer calling his bluff, trade him to a team like the Rockets or Mavericks as a loaner and get little back in trade, or try to work out a deal directly with the Knicks. Part of me thinks that Donnie Walsh saw all this coming a mile away. This whole thing has shifted a ton of power in the negotiations over to the Knicks who can make a reasonable offer and the Nuggets almost have to take it.

So the Bulls are only being mentioned as a cheap ploy to make it look as if there might be interest from another team in order to drive up the Knicks offer. Melo's people have a clear understanding that Nuggets ownership is being unreasonable and they know if a deal is to be done with the Knicks, that the offer is going to have to be higher or the Nuggets may simply hold onto Melo, or trade him for cap space and a picks as a rental. I am pretty sure that this angle will not work for two reasons. One, the Bulls are not going to part with Joakim Noah. That has not changed and if anything the Bulls will be more firm on the subject as Coach T loves what Noah does for the team and the Bulls have the upper hand now in the negotiation. Also, again the Bulls almost have to deal Luol Deng in any deal to make the money work. On the Nuggets side the Bulls simply have little to offer them. The Bulls would give up Luol Deng, James Johnson, Taj Gibson, and a 1st rounder, but the Nuggets do not want Deng's contract and I am sure they are not that desperate. Maybe a third team could get involved, but again this is never going to happen. Melo wants NY and so does his wife and we all know what that means. Wink wink. 

Donnie Walsh must see right through this as well. He has no reason now to raise his offer. Melo may or may not be traded and all the Knicks need to do is sit and wait and sign him in the offseason. Sure Melo might say he would sign an extension in Chicago but I simply do not see it happening. Would Melo make the Bulls better? Sure, but how much better and is it even worth the risk? Deng is their top defender and Melo plays no defense or very little of it. Sure Melo is a superstar and a much better talent then Deng, but Coach T has a man crush on Deng as you can see from Deng's minutes(3rd in the NBA). The Bulls need an upgrade at the shooting guard, not a high usage player like Melo. I digress. 

The bottomline is that Melo will be on the Knicks next season. He may or may not finish the year out with the Nuggets, but he will become a Knick.  
Posted on: November 29, 2010 1:49 pm
 

ChiTownCliff's Top 10 - Power Rankings #2

Well we are about 15 games into the season and it is fair to say that we have a decent sample now to produce a better and more accurate rankings. Again I am only looking at the Top 10 teams. These are the teams that look like they are contenders or close to it at this point. We will alos look at my picks for the Sexy Seven, players that have been plating great since my last rankings. So let us begin.

1.
Spurs (10). As long as Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan can stay healthy, I see no real end in sight to their great play. We all new they would be a top 5 team in the west, but nobody thought they would come out of the gate the way they have. Not only are they racking up wins but they are wins against above .500 teams. There is no illusion here, the Spurs are for real. Can they keep this up? Can they stay healthy? Those ar the only two questions I have for this team, but if they are playing like this in the playoffs, then the Lakers are in trouble.




2. Mavericks (7). This team is hot right now and have recently beat Miami, San Antonio, OKC, and Atlanta. They are firing on all cylinders and Dirk is looking like a true MVP again. He ranks 2nd in NBA Efficiency is the league with 26 points, 8 rebounds, while shooting 54% from the field. How do you stop that? Props also have to be thrown at Tyson Chandler, who looks like a perfect fit in Dallas averaging nearly 10 points and 9 rebounds, with 1.6 blocks to boot. Let's hope he can stay healthy.




3. Lakers (1). The Lakers could be number two, but they have just dropped two in a row. I can see losing a game to Utah, but they should have adjusted and beat Indiana. All in all this is still the most complete looking team in the league and could very well reclaim the top spot in my rankings. Kobe is looking better and better with each game and Gasol himself is in the running for MVP. Two MVP level talents together and it is working. Take notes Miami.





4. Celtics. (2). Their record does not show the whole truth as they have been beatin up on the weaker teams in the league lately, but they have adjusted well to losing Rondo to injury, so I have to give then some credit. They still are the deepest and most well rounded team in the east and the favorite to make it to and out of the ECF. As a team they are shooting over 50% fromthe field. It is no wonder that Rondo is averaging near 15 assists per game.





5. Jazz. (-). This is a team on the rise. Out of the deepest corners of the west this team has crept to near the top. Recent wins against both L.A. teams, Portland, and New Orleans has brought this team into the spotlight. We all knew what Deron Williams was, and most of us thought that Al Jefferson would patch the injury left when Boozer left, but few thought that Paul Millsap would become a top ten power forward this quickly. With 19 points and 8.5 rebounds, while shooting 56% from the floor, Milsap has become the next in a long line of great power forwards to play in Utah.




6. Hornets. (4). This team is still hanging in there as one of the top teams in the west. They have a nice inside out game and Okafor finally looks like a good addition. Chris Paul is the real story though. Many wondered, including myself, if he would still be the same player as he was before he got hurt. The answer is yes. He has recaptured the rank of the best point guard in the league is most people's eyes. If not the best, he is certainly top 2 or 3. With a healthy CP3 the Hornets should have a nice season ahead of themselves.




7. Magic. (5). There record is very much like the Celtics in that a lot of the wins have been against weaker teams. Their revenge victory against the Heat however was very nice to see and puts them ahead of the other Florida team for now. Dwight Howard's slight shift from a Defensive to Offensive mindset is almost needed and is a clear sign that this team has a hole. They lack a go to shooter that would clearly make them perhpas the best in the east. Carter and Nelson can light it up from time to time but they need a consistant thread on the wing and they will be complete.




8. Thunder. (8). So who is the best player on this team? In the begining of the season everyone would have killed me for even asking such a question, but not anymore. While Kevin Durant was bathed in talk of the next MVP, Russell Westbrook was transforming into a top 5 point guard. Some could even debate him as the best right now in the NBA. Him and Durant are both top 10 candidates for the MVP. They have started out a bit slower than most thought but they are still winning games and could be a contender out of the west.




9. Bulls. (-). The Bulls have been playing pretty good thus far and better then teir record shows. Close loses to the Spurs and Lakers and a last second loss to the Nuggets without Rose have scarred their record. They have been playing great lately and their 4-3 record on the annual circus trip is a team best since 1998 with MJ and Scottie. Once Boozer returns this week the Bulls will become near complete. They still have needs for a better shooting guard, but with scoring from Rose, Noah, Boozer, and Deng, perhaps a defensive minded Bogans or Brewer might be best.




10. Nuggets. (-). I myself am waiting for this team to implode. Denver knows Carmelo is leaving and his teammates know as well. You would have to think that this will start effecting his temas play. However, having a veteran coach like George Karl might be the difference keeping this storm of emotions in check. As it stands the Nuggets are playing quite well, but Nuggets fans must be more nervous then a Clevelnad fan during the "Decision".





Off the Top 10 this week are the: Heat, Hawks, and Trail Blazers.

Sexy Seven. These are the seven players that have been playing out of their minds over the past few weeks in no order.

Kevin Love. I do not care if he is playing for the Timberwolves or not, the guy is averaging 20.5 ppg and 17.2 apg over the last 10 games. If you are in the NBA and are putting up those kind of numbers then you are the real deal.

Kobe Bryant. Slowly over the past few weeks Kobe is coming to life. Scoring 41 points is only the begining, as he is averaging nearly 30 points per over the last 10 games.

Blake Griffin. Dropping 22.6 and 12.5 over the past 10 games have him a clear favorite for ROY until John Wall can prove otherwise.

Russell Westbrook. He can score, make a play, and defend. He is almost complete and has been playing like a MVP with 24.6 ppg, 8.8 apg, 4.3 rpg, and nearly 2 spg over the past ten games.

Amar'e Stoudemire. STAT is finally making a splash in New York and making him look almost worth the 100 million they spent on him. With 25 ppg, 9.1 rpg, and 2.3 bpg, he has simply been a beast as the Knicks piled up some wins over the last 10. 

Derrick Rose. He now ranks 2nd in the league in scoring with 26.6 points per and 8th is assists with 8.2 per. Rose is clearly a superstar now scoring 30 or more in 5 of his last 6 games in which the Bulls went 4-2 with losses only to the Lakers and Spurs.

Dwight Howard. Over the last ten games he is scoring 22.3 points per, with 12.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He has the Magic on his back and is getting it done on both ends.

Hope you enjoyed the read and please reply with your Top Ten and your Sexy Seven or simply give your thoughts. Thanks.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 3:31 pm
 

Come February Carmelo Anthony will be a...?

Before we know it the trade deadline will be just around the corner and one name is all the talk. Carmelo Anthony. At this point all the rumors have pointed to either him simply staying in Denver, or pushing for a trade to either Chicago, New York, or New Jersey. All three teams have nice trade bait for Denver to consider, but only one of them will land him. So, which team is most likely to land him? You have to consider things such as New York being his home and the chance they might add Chris Paul, Chicago being so close to being a contender and being a defensive minded team that he knows would be a top team if he were to choose them, and New Jersey being so close to home with some nice young players. Or will he wait out is time until the summer and then look for a team?

In my eyes this is my rankings of which teams are most likely to land him.

1. New York Knicks. Upside: Hometown with Amar'e in place and perhaps another star on the way. Downside: He has stated lately that the knicks are not a good defensive team in so many words and that defense is needed to win it all. New York does not look close to being a contender and adding Melo does not make them a sure fire top 4 team in the east.

2. Chicago Bulls. Upside: Bulls are close to contending and adding Melo would make them certainly a top 3 team in the east and top 5 in the league, no question. Downside: Will Carmelo be fine with Rose being the top dog or at least with sharing top dog status with Rose?

3. Denver Nuggets. Upside: He might just want to wait it out and see what the offseason brings. Downside: Waiting it out could close the door on teams like the Bulls that will need to make a trade to get him because they do not have the cap space.

4. New Jersey Nets. Upside: Not to be an a$$, but I see little upside to this move. Downside: Nets are worse then the Knicks and with a trade the team will be even further gutted. The Nets seem to have a very slim chance in my eyes, if Melo is worried about winning and Championship.

So were will Melo be after the trade deadline?

Posted on: November 10, 2010 11:26 am
 

Do the Bulls really need Carmelo Anthony?

Okay, it is well known that Carmelo Anthony is likely leaving Denver at some point. It could be as early as next week or at late as next summer, but the guy is leaving. The three teams on his list are the Knicks, Bulls, and Nets. I am not exactly sure what the other teams are willing to trade to land him but I am sure they can both offer nice packages as both have some nice young players. The Bulls have stated that they will not part with Noah in any deal for Melo and it is easy to see why. Of course Rose is not going anywhere and I think it is very unlikely that the Bulls will offer Boozer on December 15th simply because he is the scoring bigman that this team has needed for years. that leaves really only one offer that the Bulls can make and this is it.

Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and a 1st rounder or maybe even two for Carmalo Anthony.

My question becomes: Does this make the Bulls a better team? I mean you really have to consider what the Bulls would be losing and what they would be gaining. Carmelo is a elite scorer that can hit clutch jumpers and back smaller guys down with his solid post skills. However, he is about as average a defender as they come. My real concern is his personality. He is yet another NBA player on a long list of players that have demanded to be traded. What happens if he beomes unhappy in Chicago? Will he cause major chemistry issues? If at some point he wants out he could cost us a title. It is not like the Nuggets are a bad team. They have bult around him prety well and have a good head coach. Does he simply want to be in a big city like Chicago or New York or is it about conflicts with team managers? Could he be a poison to a team? Call me drastic if you will but I am not sold on him and I think we might be giving up a lot in this trade.

Sure a starting lineup including Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah would be lights out and could compete with the big dogs. However, who comes off the bench? Kyle Korver and ... With no more Taj Gibson that would mean Kurt Thomas or Brain Scalabrine which is a hug drop off talent-wise. We would still need a better backup point gaurd because Watson has looked quite bad. We would also have issues still at the SG. I am sure Bogans or Brewer would be fine with the other four out there, but Wouldnt it be safer and a bit wiser to address real needs first like a bcak up point guard and perhaps a better shooting guard?

The Bulls would be losing a SF that can defend well and nail 3 pointers, can slash and post up in Luol Deng. They would also be losing a young power forward that is having a breakout season thus far in Taj Gibson. We could stand to lose James Johnson, but if it cost us 2 first rounders then we are selling out or future as well. It is a gamble and the Bulls are not in the business of taking a ton of risks. I think if we could goback in time and know that LeBron was going to Miami, then we could have kept Kirk Hinrich and signed Boozer and called it a day. The loss of Hinrich is causing our biggest flaw, a lack of a playmaker besides Rose. Once we have Boozer we should have plenty of scorig with Rose, Korver, Deng, Gibson, Boozer, and even Noah. Do we need another? Do we want to trade balance for another superstar?

I know people love to say that it takes superstars to win a title, well the Bulls have a young superstar in Rose and Boozer and Noah are both stars in their own right. Plus you have a Luol Deng that can drop 40 on you and you have both star power and balance. Titles are also won with good roleplayers as well as some depth. I am not saying a deep 12 man rotation is needed, but you need a solid 8 man rotation with 2-3 stars to win it all. Gibson will be a great roleplayer when Boozer returns and Korver, Brewer, and Asik are all nice players as well.

One more factor to consider is Derrick Rose. The guy openly stated he wants to be a MVP. He wants to be the best player in the league, so he certainly wants to be the best player on his own team. Carmelo Anthony is right now a better player then Rose, so would adding him upset Rose? Let us be honest here Bulls fans. Rose wants to be an Alltime great and he never reached out to LeBron in the offseason. Had he we might have seen a different Bulls team this year. one with LeBron James on it. Was it Rose's desire to be the best that kept him from even calling LeBron once? that is something only he knows, but it is certainly something to tink about. Adding Melo could upset Rose.

Well, that is the end of my rant. My question to you is if you think the Bulls should for Melo and trade how much?
Posted on: October 29, 2010 1:41 pm
 

3-Way Trade. Bulls land Carmelo?

Here is a 3-way trade I was considering that would include the Nuggets, Bulls, and 76ers. There have been a few rumors that the 76ers wanted to swap Andre Iguodala for Luol Deng recently. I am not sure how true these rumors are, but they are just rumors. I am not certain this is a great idea for the Bulls as Luol, if healthy, is a great fit. Iggy is a better defender and a better slasher, but not by much and Deng is a better shooter and is now nailing threes. However, Carmelo if Carmelo wants to play for a bigger market and with a better cast then the Bulls might be a great option. I lineup of Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah, would have to be a contender right? So I ran this trade on ESPN's Trade machine and it works. What do you think?

Bulls get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Andre Iguodala, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and Bulls future 1st round pick.

76ers get: Luol Deng

Bulls
would land a top 10 player and a superstar that would have to sign an extension for the deal to go through and the Bulls would beome a powerhouse.

Nuggets would land a star shooting guard to ease the pain of losing Melo and a nice young double double machine power forward in Taj Gibson. James Johnson is a raw talent that in time could become a solid player. The 1st rounder from the Bulls would be in the mid to upper 20s but still it is a pick.

76ers would get the player they wanted and only lose the player they were willing to give up.

Thoughts?

Posted on: February 28, 2010 7:54 pm
 

The New Rivalries in the NBA.

        Ok, so we all still get a bit excited when the Celtics and the Lakers lace it up and battle it out on the hardwood, but times are changing and there seems to be new rivalries on the horizon. I thought it might be interesting to see what rivalry is the hottest right now by putting together a list of seven rivalries and creating a poll. Like any good poll I will include an option for "Other" just in case I missed one that you think is better then the ones I listed. So, what is the best rivalry in today's NBA? Let us take a look.

Mavericks vs Spurs. These two teams have had their share of fantastic showdowns both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Both have been elite teams for the past decade and both reside in the great state of Texas.

Magic vs Cavaliers. Shaq vs Howard. Superman vs Superman. Trash talk'n. Oh, and they are the two best teams in the east right now so that always helps a rivalry. Imagine if they end up in the ECFs together again.

Lakers vs Nuggets. Last season the Lakers swept the Nuggets in the WCFs, but I do not think the Lakers would sweep the Nuggets this season. Melo vs Kobe is always nice as well. These two teams give it their all when they face eachother.

Cavaliers vs Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony vs LeBron James. If you missed the epic battle earlier this month I feel sorry for you. It is great when the two best players on the floor have to guard eachother.

Celtics vs Bulls. After last season's historic first round clash were four games went into overtime this unlikely rivalry has become must watch TV. If the season ended today they would matchup again in the first round. Interesting.

Cavaliers vs Lakers. This is another melee of the superstars with LBJ going up against Kobe at the crossroads. Kobe vs Shaq is also always going to grab headlines as well.

Magic vs Celtics. After the Magic took out the Celtics(minus KG) last season in the playoffs a rivalry was born. There was bad blood created by the Celtics not reaching the ECF, and there has been smack-talk ever since.

So what is the best rivalry in the NBA today and why?
Posted on: August 16, 2009 8:15 pm
 

ChiTownCliff's Power Rankings: Top Ten

     I really want to do a Power Rankings this season but it is a lot of work to write about every team so I thought I would try to keep it simple by only including the top 10 teams. This will be my offseason rankings. I will do another one after the preseason ends and then as much as I can after that. I understand that no matter how I rank these teams that I will upset someone and I am fine with that. This is my opinion and nothing else. Many factors will go into these rankings. I will not assume that the team will be 100% healthy either. If there is a history of injuries it will play into things. So let us take a look.

1. Lakers. It is really hard for me to think that any team should be ahead of the Lakers at this point. For one they are the Champions and for two they are the same team plus they added a very solid piece in Ron Artest. Sure Kobe Bryant is starting to age and is not as explosive as he was a few years back but he is still a top 3 talent in the league. This team is stacked from top to bottom with the only real hole being in the point guard position but in the triangle offense an elite point is not needed.

 

 

2. Magic. I did not just put them here because they made it to the Finals last season but rather for the solid moves they made this offseason. Sure they lost a few players and a key one in Turk, but they more them made up for it by snagging Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Bass. This team is now very balanced and now that Jameer Nelson is back this team is very scary. They will have a chip on their shoulder and I am sure Vince Carter came with chip already on his shoulder.

 

 

3. Cavaliers. Ok, so they were the best team in the regular season last year and were heavily favored to make it to the finals and then they laid an egg. Maybe their egos did get in the way. Maybe their lack of depth revealed itself in the intense playoffs of the NBA. The bottomline to me is that this is a great team with perhaps the best player in the game and they just added a future hall of fame center in Shaq. Shaq is old as we all know but he has looked good lately and I think he is a nice fit on this team. They still need a consistant second option though if you ask me.




4. Celtics. If this team stays healthy they are the deepest team in the NBA if you ask me, but I can not move them up higher on the list because the chance of an injury is so high on this team. What are the chances that this team will enter the playoffs with a full roster? Rasheed Wallace could be a gamble but I think he will mesh well, but if he starts jacking threes then he could hurt the chemistry on this team. Age is the biggest factor and I really wonder how much gas is left in Kevn Garnett and Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo could become the best player on this team this season. Strange.




5. Spurs. It is clear to me that the top five teams are the top five teams and that things drop a bit after the Spurs. You could rearrange the top 5 and get few arguments. The Lakers however have to be number one, but after that the next four are very close. Again, this is a team that could win it all if they stay healthy. With the addition of Richard Jefferson they get a very good wingman. Tim Duncan is fading much in the way that Kevin Garnett is, but in both cases they are still at the top of the class for thier position. Nobody should be shocked if this team wins 60+ games this season. 




6. Nuggets. Part of me was hoping this team would take out the Lakers last season just for a change of pace, but that did not happen. Chauncey Billups is the heart and soul of this team. He really brought a winning attitude to this ballclub. I am not a big fan of Melo and I do not like J.R. Smith at all. I think Melo made a case however that he is a top 10 player in the NBA with his play last season and while I may not like Melo the man I have to admit he is darn good. My big problem with this team is Nene. He was great last season, but I can smell an injury coming. With him out this team will lack the size to compete with the big dogs.



7. Trail Blazers. This team oozes with talent. A young shooting guard that in my mind is the third best at his position in the league is the cornerstone. Roy will only get better as his young team grows around him. already LaMarcus Aldridge is a top power forward and is getting better every year. I wish my Bulls had a chance of snagging him. Oh wait, we did. (single tear runs down my cheek). I digress. If Greg Oden can defend the paint then this team could go places. I also love the addition of Andre Miller as well. I see no major weaknesses on this team.




8. Mavericks. On paper this is one of the best teams in the NBA, but I am not drinking the cool-aid quite yet. This team always seems to have the talent but lacks chemisrty. Dirk, Kidd, and Marion seems like a winning combo but you just never know in Dallas. Marion should give them the defense in the post that they were missing outside of perhaps Dampier. I also like the Drew Gooden pick up. It heals the wound left by Bass leaving. Gooden should fit in nicely. this is just one of those teams that i will have to see play together as a team before I am sold on them.




9. Hornets. This team struggled last season to live up to all the hype but Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA and he makes the player around him shine. I really think the story for this team this season is the pickup of Emeka Okafor. I think this is a great move for the Hornets and for Okafor. It will be interesting to see how Emeka does on a good team alongside a scoring post player like West. Was he held back all these years by playing on the Bobcats? Maybe. Can CP3 turn him into an Allstar? Maybe.





10. Wizards. There is a ton of buzz surrounding this team lately and it all has to do with Gilbert Arenas. Remember him? You know, that buzzer beating, highlight making, scoring machine. Talk is he is back and healthy. Butler really looked great down the stretch last season and Jamison is Jamison. However this team only won 19 games last season so I had to swallow really hard before I put them in the top 10 ahead of the Jazz, Hawks, Heat, 76ers, and Suns. Infact, You can replace the Wizards with any of those five teams if you like. If Arenas is his one self then this team can win 50 games, if not maybe only 30.




Well, I hope you enjoyed the read. Like I stated before, I will write up the Top 10 as often as I can. Numbers 11-30 I will leave for others. Getting into the Top 10 is all that really matters. I means your team is a contender and winning a championship is what it is all about. Please leave you replies and your Top ten list as well.



Posted on: May 29, 2009 10:05 pm
 

Top 10 Playoff Performers Thus Far.

    The Playoffs seem to be much better this year in general if you ask me. Maybe it is due to the great series I got to watch my Bulls play in, but I think most will agree that there have been a lot of close games in this years playoffs. i can not remember a season with so many last second shots and amazing plays. I thought it would be fun to rank the top ten players as far as their playoff performances are concerned. I understand the size of the can of wrath that I am about to open by making a list but I only hope to spark some debate. So let us take a look.

Number 1)
LeBron James.

I think it goes without saying that LeBron James is having a historic postseason. I myself have not seen stat lines like LBJs since you know who graced the floor. I am not going to get into the LeBron versus such and such debate becuae I really think it is clear that at least in these playoffs this season that James is the best player in the league. His line is: 36.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and 7.3 apg. His game 5 triple double is historic in that only 3 other players have ever scored more the 30 point and had more then 10 rebounds and assists in an elimination game victory. He is clutch beyond clutch. What if the Cavaliers made that trade for Shaq last year for Wally? If James can carry his team past the Magic, which looks near impossible at this point, and to a victory in the Finals I will concede to the fact that he is the greatest player in the NBA period.

Number 2) Kobe Bryant.

Kobe has been Kobe which translates into 29.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 4.6 apg. He has led his team to a 3-2 advantage in the western conference championship. As great as Kobe has been and as clutch as he has been his numbers still are a big drop off from LeBron's. The fact of the matter is clear. Kobe has a much better team around him and this allows him to take less shots and it takes some of the pressure off him to display outright greatness. What I am saying is that if you swapped Kobe and LeBron from their teams I think Kobe would be putting up numbers close to those of LeBron's. If Kobe has to he can score at will but I do not think he could average the assists and rebounds that LeBron is. LeBron is just bigger and a more physical presence. Kobe will continue to make big shots and lead his team and I think the Lakers will end up in the Finals. If they play the Magic I think the magic win in 6, but if they get the Cavs then I see the Lakers winning it all in 6.

Number 3) Dwight Howard.

I almost put Dwight Howard in the 2 spot because he has been out of world great. 20 and 15 is scary and with over 2 blocks a game nobody is playing better in the paint and it is not even close. If Howard can continue to polish his back to the basket game and also pick up a 15 foot jumper then he will be unstoppable and could become the "real" best player in the league. He is like a combintion of Shaq and Alonzo Mourning in that he has great size and is athletic but is also very well conditioned. We all used to wonder what Shaq would be like if he lost 40 pounds, well now we can see. Shaq was for sure a much better offensive player but Howard is the better defender of the two. His future is so bright just like his smile. Sorry, I had to write that.

Number 4) Dirk Nowitzki.

Ok, I understand that the Mavericks are no longer in the playoffs but Dirk had a great playoffs this season. In many ways he shed his reputation of being soft by playing a very gritty style of play. I thought the Mavs had a great chance to adavance to the WCF after watching them take out the Spurs in 5 games. I thought the Spurs would win the series going into it and Dirk was the force that finally made the Spurs look like non-contenders. With a stat line of 26.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, and 3.1 apg Dirk makes the Mavericks still relevant for the next 3 or 4 years. If only Cuban can put the right pieces around Dirk. The Jason Kidd idea was solid but they could use a good wing player. Josh Howard is not the answer.

 Number 5) Rajon Rondo.

The future of Boston showed up in the playoffs. We all knew that Rondo was a top 10 point guard going into the playoffs but I for one never thought he was this good. A case could be made that he is the 2nd best PG behind Chris Paul. Infact a case could even be made that he is the best PG in the league. I would say he is top 5 for sure now and have no problem saying that he is in my mind the 4th best behind Paul, Chauncey and Deron. His stat line of 17.4 ppg, 10.0 rpg, and 9.8 apg in the playoffs is insane and while not as sexy as LeBron's numbers, I think it is safe to say that the Celtics will start slowly building around this young budding superstar. My only complaint would be that he loses his head in dire moments and he needs to mature a bit in that area so that he can become a true floor general.

Number 6) Carmelo Anthony.

Once you get past his outer shell which at times comes across as a bit thuggish you realize that he is a special player. He has slowly turned himself into a top 10 player in the league. When he entered the NBA it was all about him and LeBron James and they were compared constantly. It has become clear that LeBron is the better player and even Dwyane Wade has proved to be the better pick of that draft, but Carmelo has really started to shine the last two seasons and is doing a wonderful job of leading his team deep into the playoffs. He is not leading like fellow teammate Billups but rather leading with his effort on the floor. He is averaging 27.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists a game so far in these playoffs. That is nearly 5 more points per game then during the regular season.

Number 7) Chauncey Billups.

The trade of Allen Iverson for Billups should go down as one of the best personnel moves in NBA history. I think AI is a great player and has had a solid career and on paper it seemed that perhaps the Pistons robbed the Nuggets, but in reality Billups was the perfect fit in Denver while Iverson was far from an ideal match in Detroit. I can think of few players that have had such a positive affect on a new team as Billups has had in Denver. He is in many ways the model point guard with his play making decisions and savvy defense. He has stepped up his game on all fronts in the playoffs, but that can be expected from an old pro. He is averaging 21.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 6.7 apg. Can his playoff experience get the Nuggets over the hurdle that is the Lakers? We will find out tonight.

Number 8) Pau Gasol.

Knowing that my Bulls could have made a trade for Gasol for a bag of peanuts last season still makes me sick. Gasol has proved to be the missing link for the Lakers and Kobe. It is no secret that Kobe thrives with a great bigman down low and if the Cavaliers get knocked out of the playoffs it will be in part because LeBron lacks what Kobe has, an real bigman down low. Gasol has been a beast in the paint. While his scoring has not been any better then the regular season he is grabbing more rebounds and blocking twice as many shots. If Gasol can stay this effective then the Lakers should advance in the playoffs. However if the Lakers matchup with the Magic then Pau will be in trouble. He has played his worst basketball against Orlando this season, averaging only 12 points and 8 rebounds against them. 

Number 9) Dwyane Wade.

Even though his team got knocked out in the first round Wade still proved to be a giant on the floor. Averaging 29, 5, and 5 is special and Wade did all he could to carry his team on to the next round but because of the Heats lack of depth his efforts were halted. A real question needs to be asked at this point. Will Wade stay in Miami? There has been so much talk about LeBron James leaving and even about Chris Bosh being traded that Wade has kind of flown under the radar. Can he really be happy? Miami has made no solid trades since they originally acquired Shaq. Marion did not work out at all and J.O. is on his last leg and is not going to help bring a title to Miami. It will be interesting to see how things unfold with Wade over the next season.

Number 10) Brandon Roy.

I think I am not alone when I say that Roy is now the third best shooting guard in the NBA behind Kobe and Wade. He is only 25 years old as well. Portland has a bright future with Roy leading the way. His team also was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round but like Wade he did all he could to elevate his team. In the end Portland proved to be to young, but next season they should have the hunger required to advance. If only Greg Oden could be a factor. If Oden ever takes off then the sky is the limit for this team. Otherwise there will be a lot of what ifs in regards to what if Portland took Kevin Durant with the first pick. Ouch! Roy's scoring in the playoffs went up by 4 points per game but his assists went down by about 2 1/2 per game. That looks like a young player trying to do to much.

Honorable Mentions:

Tony Parker, Ben Gordon, Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming, Joakim Noah, Deron Williams, and Tim Duncan

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com