Due to injury, it is tough for me to put Derrick Rose at the top of the list. He’s still just as complete a player as Paul and we all know how explosive he can be. His field goal percentage was down in 2011-12, as were his field goal attempts, but his assist average went up ever so slightly. This tells me he may be trending toward more distribution, which is a good thing when you play with Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah. He will easily make the Bulls a Top-3 team and make Jimmy Butler look like one of the league’s best two-guards. He finally has a solid shooting guard to lean on and it could make Rose look even better. That would be a scary sight.
Behind Rose are two players that may be interchangeable, but I decided to go with Tony Parker over Russell Westbrook for two simple reasons.
First, Parker was second/third in MVP voting for my money (he was actually sixth, which is a travesty) and second, Russell Westbrook is coming off an injury. The latter is an easy excuse to rank Parker higher, but we’re talking about a 12-year veteran who averaged 20 points per game for the first time in four years last season and who shot 52.2 pecent from the field, the second-best mark in his career.
Above all else, if it weren’t for Ray Allen’s heroics, he may have led the very, very old Spurs to yet another title. Russ, meanwhile, has all the tools to be up there with Rose, but he’s still got some maturing to do.
Finally, Kyrie Irving cracks this list for what I see as the first time in his career. With Rajon Rondo a question mark and playing for the lowly (yes, lowly) Celtics, he can’t be better than the phenom Irving. To add to his scoring ability and knack for making ‘youngbloods’ pay for their ‘reaching,’ he’s now got Andrew Bynum (if healthy) and Anthony Bennett in the post. There are second chances and assist opportunities coming. I could write 500 words on Irving, but I’ll save that for later on in the season.
— Kenny Ducey