Sports Illustrated magazine released a list of the top 100 NBA players for the 2014-2015. The list contains three Oklahoma City Thunder players in it, two players in the top 5 spots, and one player in the top 20. The three players are, you guessed it, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka was ranked in the 19th spot, Westbrook was ranked in the 4th spot, and lastly Kevin Durant in the 2nd spot. I am sure you are currently wondering who was ranked ahead of these players.
Starting with Ibaka, he was ranked behind Chris Bosh. Ibaka averaged 15.1 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, 2.7 blocks per game, while shooting 53.7% from the field where Bosh averaged 16.2 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 51.6% from the field.
If we come to evaluate both of the players performances on the court, we are going to notice that Ibaka's value is arguably more than Bosh. Ibaka is one of the top defensive players in the league. He lifts his team continuously by clearing up their defensive mistakes. He can shoot the ball from mid-range as well as the 3-point line, and beside that he rebounds the ball better than Bosh.
In the 2014 playoffs, Bosh was one of the reasons the Heat lost in the finals. He struggled in scoring the ball as well as rebounding it, and his defense was miserable. He basically didn't fulfill his role as a power forward. On the other end, Ibaka was wonderful in the playoffs although he missed some games in the western conference finals due to an injury in his calf. His performance was consistent in all respects. On top of that, he participated in the FIBA basketball world-cup coming back from an injury, and his individual performance was marvelous. Also, let us not forget the Ibaka is still 25, and Bosh is 29. That being said, Ibaka is still a young player filled with potentiality and a bright future is waiting for him. I think he is going to be way better than Bosh in 2015.
Moving on, Chris Paul was ranked in the 3rd spot ahead of Westbrook. Let us take a look at their 2013-2014 statistics. Westbrook averaged 21.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 5.7 RPG while shooting 43.7% from the field, and 31.8 from the 3-point line, where as Paul averaged 19.1 PPG, 10.7 APG, 4.3 RPG while shooting 46.7% from the field and 36.8% from deep. Note that Westbrook won the award of best comeback athlete of the year.
I think Westbrook was the better point guard than Paul in 2013-2014. He proved it in the Western semi-finals series against the Clippers as one of the central figures as to why OKC won in 6 games. After Paul started hot in game 1, Westbrook was the player who slowed him in the rest of the series. He recorded triple-doubles, and saved the Thunder twice in the semi-finals series. He is currently at his highest peak and I think he will continue being on that level of play consistently. Moreover, if you compare him with the rest of the point guards in the league, you will find that Westbrook is unique, he has a very high athleticism. He can attack the basket and penetrate the defense easily through posterizing dunks or layups.
Lastly, Obviously Lebron James was ranked ahead of Kevin Durant, and I agree with that. Durant was better than James in the regular season only and still has a ways to go to equal James' playoff performances. Durant needs to win a championship ring as well as a MVP award in 2015 in order to prove that he is better than James.
Do you agree or disagree? What about the rest of the rankings? Comment below!