Kyrie Irving is the only rookie to make the Top 60 this season after helping restore Cleveland back to relevancy. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters Pictures)
We recently decided to put together a top 60 NBA players list. This list will cover players from last season, heading into the 2012-13 NBA season. We will drop these lists 20 picks at a time. Last Thursday we brought you picks 60-41. Now we present picks 40-21. Look out next Thursday, August 2nd, for the final 20 picks, 20-1.
40: Eric Gordon, shooting guard, New Orleans Hornets (Mark)
One of the best combo guards when he is healthy, Eric Gordon provides a lot for a team. He has shown that he can fill it up with the best of them, as well as lock down defensively for stretches. He can get to the hoop, get fouled, and shoot from the perimeter.
39: Joe Johnson, shooting guard/small forward, Brooklyn Nets (Bats)
The newly installed Brooklyn Net will look to shine in a familiar, yet completely new role, in the Big Apple. I believe “Joe Cool” will embrace his new role as the Nets’ 3rd option, behind Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. He should come in with a big chip on his shoulder and work to justify the incredibly large contract he could never live up to in Atlanta.
38: John Wall, point guard, Washington Wizards (Andy)
John wall is a flat-out, can’t miss point guard who will absolutely become a top-flight floor general in coming years. Wall has unmatched quickness and ball control, insane athleticism and great court vision. He’ll need to work on a consistent jumper, but all things seem to be pointing in the right direction for the young man from Kentucky.
37: Kyrie Irving, point guard, Cleveland Cavaliers (Damon)
After the loss of Lebron James fans and analysts alike wondered how they would be able to bounce back. Well thanks to a terrible season and, ironically, the bounce of a ping pong ball the Cavs were able to acquire Irving. Although the Cavs were never in serious playoff contention down the stretch, Irving showed that he could become one of the top point guards in the league with further development. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have Byron Scott has your head coach(see: Chris Paul and Jason Kidd).
36: Al Jefferson, center, Utah Jazz (Mark)
Ever since being traded for Kevin Garnett, Big Al has never really gotten the attention he deserves. He is a constant production machine, and always seems to be hovering around 20/10. Big men like that don’t grow on trees.
35: Danny Granger, small forward, Indiana Pacers (Bats)
Danny Granger needs to crumple up the bad-boy persona he tried and failed to succeed at during the Pacers 2nd round matchup versus the Miami Heat last season. Much like LeBron James ditched his “bad guy” alter ego from the 2010-11 season and bounced-back better-than-ever to win his 3rd MVP and first NBA championship, Granger will be better off forgetting his failed enforcer role and get back to playing his game.
34: Brook Lopez, center, Brooklyn Nets (Andy)
Lopez gets the chance to come back from a nagging foot injury and prove to the city of New York that he’s worth the 4 years, $61 Million that the Nets paid him after plans of delivering Dwight Howard to Gotham City failed. Lopez will be unjustly criticized all season because the fans will still be living in a Dwight Howard induced fantasy that never came true. But Lopez is a solid player and should fulfill his new deal with ease.
33: Marc Gasol, center, Memphis Grizzlies (Damon)
After last season’s great postseason performance most made the debate of who was the better Gasol. Marc or Pau? Although his older brother has the rings and the experience, Marc has the physicality and the muscle to battle with the big boys in the paint. Despite the lose of Zach Randolph, Gasol handled his own in the paint for the Grizz helping them reach the postseason for consecutive seasons for the first time in 7 years.
32: Al Horford, center, Atlanta Hawks (Mark)
Although often undersized while playing center, Horford is one of the league’s best big men. He is fairly skilled for his position, and can do a lot of things well. Not to mention he can be one of the toughest rebounders around.
31: Manu Ginobili, shooting guard, San Antonio Spurs (Bats)
The soon-to-be 35 year old from Argentina is likely starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and will probably only have one more shot at his 4th NBA title. Manu is still one of the most dangerous players in the league and will have an immense effect on the Spurs title hopes if he can put it all together and stay healthy.
30: Andre Iguodala, small forward, Philadelphia 76ers (Andy)
Iguodala, one of the most versatile players in the league and also one of the most talked about when it comes to trade rumors year after year. This guy can flat-out play the game, whether it’s being a swingman, a lock defender, or running the point-forward. Iggy is proving his basketball chops right now by helping the USA men’s basketball team with their goal of bringing home another gold medal in the 2012 Olympic games.
29: Tyson Chandler, center, New York Knickerbockers (Damon)
The Knicks ranked 11th in points allowed this past season and that could be a start in rebuilding their defense. But the initial decision was to bring in Tyson Chandler who proved to be no disappointment to the Knicks organization. Despite his mere 11.3 ppg, Chandler averaged 9.9 rpg along with 1.4 blocks per game. As the Knicks continue to build a title contender, the defense will have to me the main focus in NYC. Tyson Chandler is helping make that happen.
28: Tim Duncan, power forward/center, San Antonio Spurs (Mark)
We all know he’s not the player he used to be, but Timmy can still compete at a high level. He was a huge part of the Spurs team that looked unstoppable for a long stretch this season. Duncan is still a great post presence, rebounder, and defender.
27: Amar’e Stoudemire, power forward, New York Knickerbockers (Bats)
Amar’e is one of the harder players in the league to guard. This because his quickness and overall athleticism truly puts him in another league per his position. Stoudemire has battled his share of injuries and has had trouble meshing with fellow star, Carmelo Anthony, but I look for Amar’e to put that stuff behind him and continue to grow as a player.
26: DeMarcus Cousins, center, Sacramento Kings (Andy)
Cousins is in the same league as guys like Brook Lopez and Andrew Bynum, in my opinion. He just has to ditch all of the nonsense and get back to playing ball. He’s a skilled big man, with great hand and an above average post game. If Cousins can stay focused on the game, he can become a very special player.
25: Kevin Garnett, power forward/center, Boston Celtics (Damon)
Who says that age slows you down? Not Kevin Garnett. Garnett proved, when healthy, that he is still one of the top enforcers on defense helping Boston rank #2 in the NBA in points allowed in 2012. The question is now, will he be able to continue that intensity as he ages? We’ll have to see. Stay tuned.
24: Steve Nash, point guard, Los Angeles Lakers (Mark)
It’s amazing that the Suns were competitive the past few seasons; their roster simply was not very good. Well, with the exception of Steve Nash, who pushed his team to the limit every single night. He is still a premier passer, as well as maintaining the excellent shooting touch that he has always had.
23: Rudy Gay, small forward, Memphis Grizzlies (Bats)
Rudy Gay is an above average swingman who plays good help defense and can knock down any jumper. His real weakness lies in his lack of the ability to create his own shot. However, I do feel like Gay can be the second best player on a championship team. He’s averaged 6+ rebounds per game in his last two seasons and gets right around 1.5 steals per game.
22: Chris Bosh, power forward/center, Miami Heat (Andy)
Bosh is a guy who is unjustly abused in the public eye far too often. They call him soft. But try and name 5 legit power forwards who are soft… I’ll wait. Bosh can spread the floor, take his defender off the dribble and score almost at will. The problem is he plays with LeBron and Wade. Of course they will take the majority of shots. Bosh proved his worth to me in the 2012 playoffs on their way to a Heat championship. The Heat were 11-3 when Bosh played and he really made the difference for a Miami squad who seemed like they might not even make the finals. he also averages over 9 rebounds for his career.
21: Josh Smith, power forward, Atlanta Hawks (Damon)
Atlanta’s highflyer showed once again in 2012 that he should discussed among the top swingmen in the NBA. Smith did a great job in filling the void for the injured Al Horford in the paint. Smith averaged 18.8 ppg and 9.6 rpg for Atlanta helping them reach the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year.
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