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Top 5 Franchise Players to Build Your NBA Team

By 02.23.10

After we dropped our Top 5 Players in the NBA List last week, one of my boys hit me with an email that said, “Was just thinking, if you were going to start an NBA franchise today, who is the one player you would start with to build around?” It’s a good question. I think Kobe is the best talent in basketball, but if I’m starting a team from scratch? Age, miles and injuries all come into play in the decision, which means Kobe probably isn’t the best guy to start building around right now. So here are the Top 5 guys I would want to build my team around as the cornerstone of my franchise:

1. LeBron James: No surprise here. Detractors knock parts of his game, but there is no denying that he is the most physically dominating athlete in the game today, and he is still probably 2-3 years away from hitting his true basketball prime. It’s tough to put anyone else in this spot.

2. Kevin Durant: 6-9, clearly gets better every season, and is more than three full years younger than LeBron. It’s been said before, but it’s 100 percent true: Kevin Durant has been put on this planet get buckets. He’s averaging a career-best 29.8 ppg this season – is it out of the question that a few years down the road that he’s scoring 35, 36, 40 points a game? I don’t think so. Throw in his increasing rebounding totals (almost eight boards per game this season) and you have a guy who is clearly moving beyond one-dimensional-scorer territory. When it’s all said and done, he could make the Blazers’ selection of THIS GUY one of the greatest blunders in NBA history.

3. Chris Paul: My boy listed Carmelo Anthony in this spot on his list, but I have to go with CP3. The hardest positions to fill with elite players are point guard and center, and Chris Paul is the best point guard in all of basketball. Unfortunately he has been an afterthought this season as the Hornets go about selling off every piece of their franchise, but the fact remains that there is no one in basketball who can lead, score, pass, defend, dictate tempo, and elevate those around him like Chris Paul can. The only other guy is Steve Nash.

4. Carmelo Anthony: When Melo arrived in the NBA, he and LeBron were inextricably linked. No story could mention one without the other. But then Carmelo kind of dropped off a bit as James took off … but now Melo’s back, having made himself into a dominant player, as opposed to being just a scorer. If you watched Melo single-handedly beat the Cavs on national TV last week, you know how far he has come.

5. Dwyane Wade: I can’t list Wade higher than Melo for two reasons: he’s older than Carmelo and Wade’s longevity is a serious issue. Dwyane is an all-around better basketball player than Carmelo, but there’s just no way that he can sustain his style of play for any great length of time. He crashes headfirst into defenses dozens of times every single game in much the same way A.I. used to for an entire decade. Commentators would always talk about how that style would eventually catch up with Iverson and they were right. I can’t see Dwyane’s future being much different, unless he adds MJ pieces to his arsenal (fadeaways, post-up moves, etc.) ASAP. Wade is so good though, there is no else who can bump him out of the top five.

Who did I miss? How would rank your Top 5? Let us know in the comments section below.

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TOPICS#CARMELO ANTHONY#Chris Paul#KEVIN DURANT#LeBron James
TAGSDimeMagDWYANE WADEfeature

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