NBA

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21291047 Best of them all Best+of+them+all NBA

It's not just about rings, which are more team than individual accomplishments. It's also not solely about stats, which can be misleading, or raw talent or versatility or durability or efficiency or intelligence or competitiveness. This ranking tries to take into account everything that goes into being a really good basketball player. Is that subjective? Of course. We're not going to pretend we've come up with a rating formula (like some websites) that produces results any sentient fan knows are flawed. This is just one guy's opinion about who the top 10 players will be this season. -- John Galinsky

Next five: Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Derrick Rose and Brandon Roy.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21293004 LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat LeBron+James%2C+SF%2C+Miami+Heat NBA

LeBron needs to fire his management team, work on his post game, take fewer 3-pointers and win a damn title or seven. Then we can stop arguing what's been clear for several years. He's the most dominant player in the world, a basketball force of nature like few in league history. His offensive efficiency is off the charts. His D is catching up to his O. When he doesn't thoroughly impose his will on a game, it's a surprise. So much so, apparently, that he gets labelled a quitter or choker if it happens more than once in a playoff series. Even in Miami, it's unclear if his supporting cast can match Kobe's, but he's put himself in a much better position to succeed.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21287112 Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers Kobe+Bryant%2C+SG%2C+Los+Angeles+Lakers NBA

Kobe's legion of fans are adamant that the last two seasons have put him in his rightful place on top of the basketball world. That's true in so far as the best player on the championship team gets the ring and respect he deserves. But didn't those same fans argue that Kobe was the league's best player even when Tim Duncan was winning more titles and the Lakers couldn't get out of the first round of the playoffs? Maybe he's been the best all along and the Finals MVPs are mere validation. We'll know that's true if the Lakers meet the Heat in the Finals and he outplays both Wade and LeBron.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21293003 Dwayne Wade, G, Miami Heat Dwayne+Wade%2C+G%2C+Miami+Heat NBA

He's now the second-best player on his team. He'll have to defer at times to LeBron James. And his health is a question mark after missing the preseason with a strained hamstring. But none of that should take away from the fact that Wade has been one of the NBA's very best players for six years now. And at 28, health permitting, he should be in his prime. How he meshes with LeBron and Chris Bosh remains to be seen. But after years of doing it all for the Heat , it's likely he'll welcome a somewhat reduced role. What Miami needs from him now, more than ever, is leadership. Any doubt he'll provide it?

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21291048 Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin+Durant%2C+SF%2C+Oklahoma+City+Thunder NBA Because of his play at the world championships on the heels of his NBA scoring title, Kevin Durant has joined the conversation for best basketball player on the planet. In some ways, that's deserving. He's already an incredible scoring machine, able to shoot over smaller defenders and draw fouls from bigger men. But in other ways it's premature. He still has a long way to go as a passer, rebounder and defender. Having just turned 22, the potential is there for greatness. But for now, the top three players on this list are more finished products and better all-around players. Next year, it may be a different story. Joe Murphy/NBAE - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/10/19/101910-NBA-gallery-4_20101019212608_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2010/10/19/101910-NBA-gallery-4_20101019212608_107_80.JPG
NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21287113 Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic Dwight+Howard%2C+C%2C+Orlando+Magic NBA

With a lot more skill and a little more seriousness, Howard would be a truly great player, maybe the best in the NBA. That may come with age and maturity. After all, he's still only 24. But even now, you have to give Howard his due. He keeps himself in phenomenal shape, he plays every game and he dominates on defense like no player in the league. He also benefits from playing in an era of mediocre big men. Howard should be the league's best center for a long time. It's up to him to want more than that.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21293005 Deron Williams, PG, Utah Jazz Deron+Williams%2C+PG%2C+Utah+Jazz NBA

Williams surpassed Chris Paul as the NBA's best point guard last season, and not only because Paul was hurt. The knock on Williams was that he does everything well but nothing spectacularly. Yet he put the injury-riddled Jazz on his back in the second half of the season and dominated Chauncey Billups in the first round of the playoffs. Is he a dominant player who can carry a team to a title? Maybe not. (Though even dominant players need help to get a ring.) But he has no real holes in his game. How many players can you say that about?

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21287114 Pau Gasol, PF, Los Angeles Lakers Pau+Gasol%2C+PF%2C+Los+Angeles+Lakers NBA

The Lakers once traded Elmore Smith (and three others) for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant. But the Gasol swap with the Grizzlies (Pau in exchange for his brother Marc and a bunch of nothing) may eventually belong with those steal-of-a-deals in the annals of L.A. thievery. No way do the Lakers make three straight NBA Finals and win the last two championships without Pau, the league's best offensive big man. His skill set fits perfectly in the triangle offense and his personality meshes nicely with Kobe's. Even if they don't win another title together, it's a safe bet he'll never ask Kobe how his a-- tastes.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21293006 Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans Hornets Chris+Paul%2C+PG%2C+New+Orleans+Hornets NBA

Of all the players on this list, Paul is in the worst situation. The Hornets, contenders three years ago, will be fortunate to make the playoffs this season. And while we're not holding that against him, Paul's enthusiasm and energy may be hard to maintain if New Orleans stinks and he's looking for a way out of town. Of more concern is the fact CP3 is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he missed 37 games. If he's healthy and happy -- two big ifs -- Paul can be an MVP candidate again.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21291051 Carmelo Anthony, SF, Denver Nuggets Carmelo+Anthony%2C+SF%2C+Denver+Nuggets NBA

'Melo has essentially turned his back on Denver's franchise, meaning it could be an awkward season for both player and team if the Nuggets don't trade him. But no matter where he is, Anthony will score points, lots and lots of points. He boasts arguably the most complete offensive arsenal in the game, from post moves to 3-pointers and everything in between. He's also a decent rebounder, passer and defender ... when he feels like it. Maybe a change of scenery would inspire him to raise the rest of his game.

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NBA 73 43 2010-11 NBA preview: Top 10 players 21293007 Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks Dirk+Nowitzki%2C+PF%2C+Dallas+Mavericks NBA

Dirk's not quite as good as he was in his late 20s, when he was arguably a top-five player in the league. His defense and rebounding, never great to begin with, have slipped. (If Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh played better defense, they'd deserve this spot.) But he's still a devastating offensive weapon, a 7-footer who shoots a basketball as well as anyone in the world. Coming off his best season as a shooter, Nowitzki still has a lot left in the tank at the age of 32. He can't carry the Mavs to 67 wins or a conference title anymore, but he still makes Dallas dangerous on any given night.

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