It is very popular at the end of a decade to look back at the previous ten years and compile “Best Of” lists. There are enough looking back lists, I am not into that. I like to make irrational projections and wait to find out if I was right, in the ballpark, or not even in the same sport. Irrational projections is part of the fun of NFL and NBA drafts. This is my list of the stars of the 2010’s. This will not include Kobe, Duncan or Dirk. Although Kobe is among the top two or three players right now, he will not be in a couple of years.
1. Lebron James: Lebron is the best player along with Kobe and Wade right now, and he has at least 10 years left of his prime, he is 24.
2. Dwight Howard: Howard is the best center in the league and he is 24. Barring injury, he will be the best center in the NBA for the majority of the 2010’s, if not the entire decade.
3. Kevin Durant: Already a star and only 21. Durant is already among the best scorers in the NBA, he will be a nightmare when he starts adding more elements to his game.
4. Dwyane Wade: Wade is also in his prime, but is a little older than the other established stars at 27. Wade will start to tail off by the end of the decade. One thing that could really help Wade is if he actually is able to join Lebron. That combination could add years to both players’ prime.
5. Brandon Roy: Roy is great, one of the best players in the league but I have a nagging feeling that he will wear out. Maybe that is due to the entire Blazers roster being injured, but I get the feeling that Roy will have to carry too much and could get worn out. Lebron can do it because he is a freak of nature, Roy does it with less natural ability dominance.
6. Brandon Jennings: Jennings has been somewhat quite since the 55 point outburst, but he has still been very effective. He will be the quickest player in the NBA for the next decade and his shot will only get better and better. In a couple of years the Bucks will be able to get rid of Redd and get a better athlete at the 2 to run with Jennings.
7. Tyreke Evans: As a rookie Evans can score at will by basic brute force. When he starts to add other dimensions to his already effective play, he will dominate.
8. Carmelo Anthony: Carmelo is great, he has really found his game and matured this season. At 25 I feel his prime will not be quite as long as Lebron and Wade. I foresee Carmelo being a top player for the next five years, then starting to tail off the second half of the decade.
9. Monta Ellis: Ellis is 24 and a great scorer. The key for him will be getting out of Golden State, the franchise is cursed. If Ellis can get moved to more visible market, he will have a chance to become a superstar. If he stays in Golden State than he would drop off my list.
10. Derrick Rose: Rose has had a tough year this season with injuries but he is only 21 and will be the strongest point guard in the league for the next decade.
On the Cusp: These are guys that I considered for the list but left them off for different reasons.
John Wall: ESPN’s college basketball coverage already wants to put Wall in the Hall of Fame. He has been good, but we need to see it against NBA competition, not a watered down college basketball.
Chris Paul: Paul was a tough one to leave off. When he comes back healthy he could possibly remind me how good he is but I cannot shake the feeling that he was better as a rookie than he is now.
Deron Williams: Williams is another player I like but I really did not like his performance in the playoffs last year. It may have just been something with that Utah team.
Luol Deng: Every time I watch the Bulls I am impressed with Deng. He can dominate at times. At only 24 I am throwing him in as a wild-card that could develop.
Chris Bosh: Bosh is very good right now, but even if you start to list off the best players in the league Bosh will rarely come up in the first six or seven players. Blame it on playing in Canada, when he moves to the states next year he will get more exposure.
Rudy Gay: Gay has a chance to get better and better, he is only 23. One nagging thing for me, and this is unfair, is I am still bothered by the UConn loss to George Mason in Gay’s last year at UConn. It has always bugged me that Gay did not throw the team on his back and get the Huskies through that game. Carmelo did with Syracuse.
Guys I gave no consideration:
Greg Oden: Does any more need to be said about Oden’s career outlook?
Ricky Rubio: I am not a fan of the hype. All I see is a skinny, nonathletic passer. How will he get into the lane? How will he beat great athletes off the dribble with no strength or speed advantage? I need to see more, I feel the Euro game is much better for his skills, we will see.
There is my list, I am sure I left worthy players off or am completely unaware of a current high school or European player that could be a future star.