James Harden and Steph Curry


What has happened over the last 7 years with the NBA top ranked players?  A lot, if I’m being honest.  Keep reading to find out what exactly.


10. Draymond Green

2011 Team: Michigan State Spartans
2017 Team: Golden State Warriors

Draymond moved from being ranked at 334 in 2012, to being ranked number 10 in 2017.  What is interesting about Draymond is that he had shown potential, but his stats weren’t getting him anywhere.  In the 2010/2011 season, he had averaged just 12.6 PPG, and had 8.6 RPG as a junior.  Which was his first year as a starter in college.  In the 2014/2015 season, he was still outside the top 100.  But then the Golden State Warriors won the NBA title, and he was launched into the 19th spot, and now 10th.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

9. Giannis Antetokounmpo

2011 Team: Filathlitikos (youth squad)
2017 team: Miluakee Bucks

Giannis was no where near being on the radar of the NBA back in 2011.  He was, aftera all, only 16 years old and playing for a youth development team in Greece.  He didn’t join the senior squad until the start of the 2012/2013 season. He was actually supposed to play in Spain during the 2013/2014 season, but bypassed that league entirely and went straight to the NBA.  He was ranked 376 that year.  One year later, he jumped up to the top 100.  Last year, he made it into the top 20, and now he checks in at number 9, coming off a season in which he was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.


8. James Harden

2011 Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2017 Team: Houston Rockets

Harden had only started five games over his first two seasons in the league, but he was seen as one of the top sixth men in the league heading into the 2011/2012 season.  Initially checking in at number 58, he was ahead of more than half of the leagues starters. During that season, Harden won Sixth Man of the Year, as the Thunder made it to the NBA Finals.  He was then sent off to Houston, where he blossomed into the true start that we know today.  He’s been in the top 10 ever since he became a Rocket, and reached as high as number 4 in 2013.


7. Chris Paul

2011 Team: New Orleans Hornets
2017 Team: Houston Rockets

What’s interesting about Chris Paul, is that he’s going the opposite way of some of these guys. Maybe that has to do with where he is in terms of his career.  But Chris Paul started off in the number 4 spot, back in 2011, and now finds himself at number 7.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but does seem odd when we compare it to the other players that we’ve already talked about.  Chris Paul is ranked one higher than his teammate James Harden.  But he’s never been the highest ranked player on his own team.


6. Anthony Davis

2011 Team: Kentucky Wildcats
2017 Team: New Orleans Pelicans

Unlike Draymond Green and Giannis Anteeokounmpo, Davis was firmly on the NBA radar even from outside the league in the fall of 2011.  The then 18 year old, was entering his freshman season at Kentucky as the number one high school recruit in the nation.  He would likely have been in the NBA, if not for the league’s age limit. Davis has wasted no time in making his mark.  He entered in 2012 at number 62. A year later he was at number 33, and now, he’s at number 6. Which is where he’s been for the past two years.  He is still viewed as one of the best individual talens in the league without some of the accolades and team success of those players ahead of him.


5. Russell Westbrook

2011 Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2017 Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

Westbrook made his NBA debut at number 15 in the intial rankings.  Had he done nothing to improve himself as a player in the subsequent years, he still would have likely moved into the top 10.  Westbrook, of course, didn’t remain the same player that he was back in 2011.  He definitely got much better.  He is a six time All Star who won scoring titles in 2015 and 2015, made the All NBA first team in 2016 and 2017 and won the league’s MVP trophy last season. So why is he only ranked at 5?  It’s likely that he will take a step back from the level that he’s been playing at as the team welcomes Paul George to Oklahoma City.


4. Stephen Curry

2011 Team: Golden State Warriors
2017 Team: Golden State Warriors

Curry proved he was one of the best 3 point shooters in the NBA when he first came ot the league, coming in at the number 38 stop. But he still wasn’t even averaging 20 PPG in a season.  There was thought that Curry could be really good, but he just had to prove it.  Curry actually took a step back in the next season, which is likely due to an injury.  Since then, however, he has been steadily climbing the ranks.  He peaked at number 2 last year, and makes a small step back to number 4 this year.


3. Kawhi Leonard

2011 Team: San Antonio Spurs
2017 Team: San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi entered at the number 296 spot, and is now in the number 3 spot.  Sure, its been 6 years but that’s still an incredible climb.  Kawhi finished in the top three of MVP voting in each of the past two seasons, and hsa been a first team All-NBA selection in both of those seasons as well.  Kawhi is in his third consecutive year of being viewed as a top 10 player.  It was only during his rookie season that he ranked outside the top 100.


2. Kevin Durant

2011 Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2017 Team: Golden State Warriors

2010/2011 was the second of three consecutive seasons in which Durant led the NBA in scoring and the second of five straight first team All NBA selections for him.  In the 2011/2012 NBA Season, Durant helped lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to what many expected would be the first of multiple NBA Finals appearances.  Durant has kept up his strong play throughout the remainder of his time with OKC.  He’s consistently ranked just behind LeBron at the top of this list.  Durant left OKC in 2016, for Golden State where he won his first title just three months ago.  The MVP moved back ahead of Steph Curry to claim the number 2 spot.


1. LeBron James

2011 Team: Miami Heat
2017 Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is a bit of a mystery.  I mean, he lands at number one every single year.  LeBron is the ultimate model of consistency and excellence.  Which is likely why he retains is spot at number 1.  He won two more MVP trophies in Miami, along with two titles.  He then returned to Cleveland where he led the Cavaliers to their first NBA championship.  LeBron is widely recognized as the leagues’ best player, and he regularly proves this in June.  In June he became the first player in Finals history to average a triple double.

By Staff Writer

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