While this space has recently been used to report on the Minnesota Twins baseball squad’s up and down season, today it is being devoted to the NBA and the ongoing play-offs. Both conference championship series are tied at one game apiece and could not be more entertaining. What better time to try and decide who is the best player remaining in the playoffs, since history has shown us the title is won by the best player. Evidence of this in recent history would be Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan if you’re the evidence looking type. Here we go, two players from each team, let’s see who is going to win the title. Please note the two main factors in these rankings are hoops skills and success. Also an honorable mention goes to Corey Brewer, the last remaining former Minnesota Timberwolves high draft pick of the past several years with the exit of O.J. Mayo, Ty Lawson and Brandon Roy. Yes it is correct that Brewer was the only one to actually play a game wearing the Wolves uniform, a scary thought with a number 2 pick fresh in the pocket of David Kahn.
- 8. Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls – Had to consult some NBA experts for this one. Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer were all mentioned, but the Bulls win when Noah’s in. And that winning got them the number one seed in the East from the Heat and some home court advantage, well for a couple games anyway. You can make an argument for all of them, and Noah could be bumped off this list by the end depending on what happens the rest of the postseason.
- 7. Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks – Guy can go for a triple double any night. Those predicting Kobe’s demise the next couple season probably said the same thing about Kidd 5 – 6 years ago. The worst shooter on this list, just over 40% this postseason, but fills up the stat sheet in so many ways he gets away with it. Kidd would rather get the ball to Dirk to do his thing anyway.
- 6. Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder – There are people trying to make the argument Westbrook is the Thunders best player. He’s not better than Kevin Durant, but he is really good. Westbrook and Durant should only get better playing together with coach Scotty Brooks. Westbrook is absent from the top 5 in every major offensive category this postseason, he’s not better than Durant.
- 5. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder – The scoring champ. The now world famous dunk in game two over Brendan Hayward will stick in our minds, but just as impressive was the jumper he hit a few moments later while being smothered by the Mavericks defense. Durant Durant Durant. Get used to it, this guy was put here to play basketball. 29.4 this postseason, that good for slot number 1 in postseason scoring as well. He can score.
- 4. Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls – The MVP of the regular season and a possible contender to be the same of the NBA Finals. But he has to get there first and he has “The Big Three” in his path. Fortunately the guy has a knack for finding a route, evident by his 28.2 ppg this postseason, 8 assists too so if he can’t get there he’ll at least get the ball there. The ball is always the fastest on the court, but Derrick Rose is the second so that gets him number 4 here. A NBA title would vault him to the top of lists like this.
- 3. LeBron James of the Miami Heat – The best baller of this bunch, but still needs a ring. Plenty of time to do it, and he has a great guide in Dwyane Wade. Almost averaging a double double in the playoffs with over 25 ppg and close to 10 boards. Wonder if he’s realized D Wade will always have one more ring than him?
- 2. Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks – Career numbers helped him out here, but take a gander at these postseason stats from the 2011 playoffs: 28.5 points, 7.9 boards, 3.1 assists. Those of us that watched Kevin Garnett put up 20-10-5 for so many years know how hard it is to beat a team with a guy putting up these kind of numbers. The concern with this team has to be the window, they are not getting younger and the rest of the teams players on this list are practically kids.
- 1. Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat – He’s got the ring. That’s why. Not to mention he was smart enough to lure LeBron and Chris Bosh down to South Beach. He can play basketball too, averaging just a tenth of a point less than LBJ with 25.3 per game. He also rebounds, passes and steals. That’s why he’s on top.
Based on these clearly very scientific rankings it sure looks like our 2011 NBA Champs will be the Miami Heat as they occupy two of the three top slots. In fact if the Heat don’t win, its doubtful the players would ever be blamed. The plan has always been to crucify the coach, those seeds have been sown from the beginning, D-Wade and LeBron can do no wrong. This year anyway. That’s it, nothing left to do but sit back and watch. Thanks for reading.