There are many players in the NBA that can lay claim to the title of being a star. Few however, can lay claim to being a “superstar” A superstar—in my opinion—is defined as a player that makes others better with him on the court, is a big TV ratings/media draw, an individual that can cause intense love/hate from fans alike, and is a big marquee name that can single-handily lead a franchise to a championship.
Obvious players such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are established superstars in their own right
Below are the top ten players in the NBA who currently fit this definition today.
1.) LeBron James (SF, Miami Heat) The undisputed alpha dog of NBA superstars, The King is simply on another level in terms of talent, skill, championships—and most importantly, winning. Two NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, two NBA Finals MVP’s, one scoring title and four NBA MVP awards. Once upon a time, it was easy to vilify and hate the former Cleveland Cavalier for taking his talents to South Beach after his infamous “decision” in 2010, and his failures in the clutch.
Three years later, haters and naysayers have few words—if not grudging admiration for the best basketball player of the Social Media Age—and the heir apparent to Michael Jordan and magic Johnson in terms of transcendence and charisma.
2.) Kevin Durant (SF, Oklahoma City Thunder) If the aforementioned James is the Jordan/Magic of his era, Oklahoma Thunder small forward Kevin Durant is the Social Media Age’s version of George Gervin/Alex English thanks to a deft scoring touch and uncanny ability to shoot. The Washington D.C. native and former Texas Longhorn is James’ undisputed rival in terms of scoring, skill and ability to take over a game. What he lacks—and what James has—is the killer instinct to be selfish and single-handily dominate. If his recent streak of 12 straight games of 30-plus points is any indication, then Durant is in line to not only collect his first MVP trophy, but his first NBA ring as well.
3.) Chris Paul (PG, Los Angeles Clippers) The best pure point guard in the NBA today, Chris Paul is simply a joy to watch. Thanks to a smooth stroke from beyond the arc, and the ability to find open teammates on ESPN-worthy highlights on a nightly basis, Paul defines what a point guard is in getting others involved in transition.
4.) Paul George (SG/SF, Indiana Pacers) After enjoying a breakout season that was highlighted in going toe-to-toe with LeBron James in an epic seven-game East final last spring, Paul George ascended into superstar status in developing into an athletic lock-down defender and prolific scorer on the wing. The 23-year-old 6’9 220-pound former Fresno State Bulldog is enjoying his best season as a pro in points(23.3) free-throw percentage(.865), three-point percentage(.390) and field-goal percentage(.462)
5.) Blake Griffin (PF, Los Angeles Clippers) Often on the receiving end of the aforementioned Paul and his alley-oop passes, Blake Griffin has developed into one of the NBA’s most feared above-the-rim players. Thanks to his brand of explosive dunks and low-post presence, Griffin has steadily developed into a steady all-around player.
Enjoying career highs in free-throw shooting(.697) and points (23.7), Griffin—thanks to his highlight reel dunks—is a player to watch.
6.) Carmelo Anthony (SF, New York Knicks) Often criticized for being selfish and never a team player, Carmelo Anthony is one of the most polarizing superstars in the NBA. Lambasted as a high-volume shooting ball-hog, Anthony broke the Madison Square Garden single-game scoring record, held by Knicks Hall-of-Famer Bernard King of 60, in scoring 62 in a 125-96 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
Currently averaging 27.3 points for the season, Anthony is one of the biggest and most prolific players in the NBA today.
7.) Dwight Howard (C, Houston Rockets) Selfish, self-absorbed and a whiner, Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard burned a lot of bridges during his brief stint in Los Angeles. A three-time NBA Defensive Player of The Year, Howard is perhaps the most dominant big man today in averaging 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks for his career.
In Houston, Howard appears to have found a system and players that play to his strengths in protecting the rim, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots.
8.) Tony Parker (PG, San Antonio Spurs) Perhaps the most underrated superstar point guard in the NBA, One has to ask how does a three-time NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP get overlooked so easily? Perhaps playing in the same conference as the aforementioned Paul, Brian Westbrook, James Harden and Stephen Curry has something to do with it.
Parker played at an elite level last spring in a tough seven-game loss to the Heat, despite the tough loss, Le Parker raised his profile, and is now the undisputed face of the Spurs.
9.) Stephen Curry (PG, Golden State Warriors) The most feared shooter today, the second-year baby-faced sharpshooter from Davidson is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Currently averaging career highs in points (24.5), assists (9.1) and rebounds (4.4), Curry forms one-half of “ The Splash Brothers” alongside Klay Thompson to give the Warriors the most feared backcourt in the league.
10.) Kevin Love (PF, Minnesota Timberwolves) Narrowly edging out Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love is perhaps the best stretch four in the league. Many can make the argument for Aldridge over Love in this case and vice versa, as both play the same position, shoot the ball well from outside and are able to dominate in the low post.
While Aldridge edges Love in field-goal percentage(.490 to .451), points (18.8 to 18.5) and blocks (1.0 to 0.5), Love edges Aldridge in three-point shooting(.359 to .200), free-throw percentage(.813 to .786) and rebounds (12.3 to 8.1). Based on these stats, it’s a virtual toss-up as both players give you solid production at the power forward position, but due to Love’s ability to shoot from outside and better rebounding numbers, Love does truly conquer all in this case.