The best players in the NBA right now: #20-11

Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11
Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wizards v/s Timberwolves 03/05/11
Wizards v/s Timberwolves 03/05/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wizards v/s Spurs 02/12/11
Wizards v/s Spurs 02/12/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

20.  Paul Pierce- Pierce would have surely ended his career as the Celtics all-time leading scorer had he not been traded to the New Jersey Nets this off-season.  Pierce still has plenty left in the tank to make another playoff push in New Jersey but will not be the focal point of the offensive like he had been in Boston for the last decade.  Even though Pierce is in the twilight of his career, he still put up very impressive numbers in 2012-13 averaging 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals a game.

19. Joakim Noah- Noah isn’t your prototypical NBA big man.  He can dominate a game without having to have a play run for him, which is why Noah only averaged 11.9 points a game last season.  Noah’s main contributions come from a direct result of his hustle.  Last season, Noah averaged 11.1 rebounds a game, of which 3.9 were on the offensive end to go along with 4 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.1 blocks.

18.  Zach Randolph- Now that most of the (little) lift he had is gone; Randolph really needs to perfect his face up game to keep his effectiveness up to his lofty standards. Even though Randolph is no longer the offensive force that he used to be he is still a great player.  Randolph averaged 15.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game.

17.  Blake Griffin- Griffin might have the worst face up game of any non-center in NBA history. Even with no offensive game to speak of other than dunks and layups, Griffin knows how to get it done.  In fact, Griffin was an ankle injury away from leading the Clippers on a deep run in last year’s playoffs.  Griffin averaged 18 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals a game.

16.  LaMarcus Aldridge-  even though Aldridge matched his career low in shooting percentage he has established himself as one of the premier power forward in the NBA.  Aldridge has a nice face up game but can kill you on the block as well.  Aldridge averaged 21.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks a game.

15.  Marc Gasol- Gasol is a great defensive player, as shown by the fact that he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012-13.  He is also very effective on the offensive end of the floor.  Gasol averaged 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1.7 blocks a game, while leading the Grizzles to the Western Conference Finals.

14.  Kevin Love- Love only played 18 games last season because of a number of injuries but still put up ridiculous numbers in his short time on the court.  Love might be the best rebounder in the game with averages of 15.2, 13.3 and 14.0 over his last three seasons.  That’s not the only thing that Love does very well though.  He can also really score the ball averaging more than 22 points a game over his last three years.  Not bad for a player who was called a bust after his rookie season.

13.  Kyrie Irving- Irving only has two years’ experience in the league but is already a top flight point guard.  Irving put up monster numbers in what would have been his junior year at Duke, when he averaged 22.5 points, 6.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game.  With a couple more top flight weapons on the roster, Irving is poised for another monster season and a chance at making the playoffs for the first time in his young career.

12.  Steph Curry- at the beginning of last season no one was sure if Curry would ever make it in the NBA because of his severe ankle problems.  Funny the difference a year makes.  Curry showed that while healthy, he could be a star guard on a blossoming playoff team.  Curry averaged career highs in points and assists, while breaking the NBA record for three-pointers made in a season.

11.  Tim Duncan- Duncan has been one of the premier players in the NBA since he entered the league in 1997.  That didn’t change in 2012-13 as Duncan had his best season in three years and was a huge piece of the Spurs finals appearance.  Duncan averaged 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.7 blocks a game while making the All-NBA first team for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

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