by Lang Whitaker

Fri-Day! Yes!

And the good news? Summer League is almost over! Hey, did you hear that Anthony Morrow scored 47 points last night in a Summer League game? That’s great. He also scored 37 points last season in an actual NBA game. That, I care about. But 47 in a Summer League game? Eh. And yet, because we are all so NBA deprived right now, for many people, Summer League morphs into something greater than it actually is. I tuned out when they retired Nate Robinson’s jersey.

So, here’s a couple of non-basketball related links, and then we end it with some NBA talk…

• Ebony magazine really screwed this one up. I don’t think anyone looked like this in the year 2000, but definitely not Michael Jackson.

• The Boston Globe has a ton of very cool pictures from Apollo 11. I think I’m turning into a space geek.

• Also from NASA, here’s a great picture of a volcano erupting.

• Jay-Z vs. The Game and lessons for the American primacy debate.

• Some Starbucks stores are changing their names. I love Starbucks, but when you have to change your name to get people to come into your stores, maybe the name isn’t the problem.

Cool…but nope, still not going to drink the Red Bull Cola.

• Here is the proper way to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Don’t say we never taught you anything.

• Finally, a couple of days ago, the guys from Basket, which is definitely one of my two favorite basketball magazines from Germany, hit me with an email. They were assembling a panel of international experts to rank the top 10 NBA players for each position (PG, SG, SF, PF, C = 50 players) for their next issue. By German rules, I qualified as an NBA expert, so they sent along a list of the top few dozen at each position, asked me to rank them, and added a few caveats:

- Don’t mix up the positions, please use their list and positions.
– No rookies.
– It’s not about value for money.
– It doesn’t matter if the player was good two years ago or if he has potential – it’s about today.

So…here’s how I ranked the top ten NBA players at each position. Surely there won’t be anyone out there who disagrees with me, right? Apologies go to whoever it pleases. Here’s my Top 50…

POINT GUARDS
1. Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)
2. Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)
3. Deron Williams (Utah Jazz)
4. Jameer Nelson (Orlando Magic)
5. Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
6. Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics)
7. Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets)
8. Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns)
9. Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks)
10. Andre Miller (Philadelphia 76ers)

EXPLANATION: I wasn’t sure what to do with Gilbert Arenas. When he’s healthy, he’s probably top half of that list, but since this list is for today, and we have no idea how Gilbert’s knee is right now, I left him off. Mo Williams also almost cracked my list, but I put this together thinking if I were starting a franchise today and needed a point guard, these are the guys I’d go after first. Mo would probably be number 11 on my list. Or 12, because Devin Harris was also just left off. I know people will probably quibble with Andre Miller making my list, but I’ve always appreciated his game — never the most athletic guy, but he’s really solid and, in the right system, he understands how to run a team. Same with Baron Davis, who I couldn’t find room for, either.

SHOOTING GUARDS
1. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
2. Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
3. Brandon Roy (Portland Trail Blazers)
4. Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks)
5. Vince Carter (Orlando Magic)
6. Michael Redd (Milwaukee Bucks)
7. Ray Allen (Boston Celtics)
8. Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks)
9. Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons)
10. Allen Iverson (Detroit Pistons)

EXPLANATION: Calm down, Sacramento fans. Kevin Martin scores a lot of points, but he doesn’t play defense. At all. Also, he’s missed 52 games the last two seasons, and if I’m building my team around someone, it’s not going to be him. GINOBILI! would have made the list, but with his recent injuries I felt safer leaving him off this time. Same with T-Mac. Iverson? He averaged 17 and 5 last year for Detroit, and when the Pistons let him do his thing, they were still a tough team to beat.

SMALL FORWARDS
1. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
2. Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets)
3. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
4. Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
5. Ron Artest (L.A. Lakers)
6. Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers)
7. Hedo Turkoglu (Toronto Raptors)
8. Shawn Marion (Miami Heat)
9. Josh Howard (Dallas Mavericks)
10. Richard Jefferson (San Antonio Spurs)

EXPLANATION: I thought this was the toughest category, by far. At different points I had both Andre Iguodala and Caron Butler on this list, but ended up dropping them. There’s also a lot of younger guys on the come-up (Al Thornton, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Trevor Ariza) who could crack this list a year from now.

POWER FORWARDS
1. Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
2. Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers)
3. Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
4. Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics)
5. Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors)
6. Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns)
7. Carlos Boozer (Utah Jazz)
8. David West (New Orleans Hornets)
9. Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic)
10. Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks)

EXPLANATION: There may be some quibbling with some of these guys being listed as power forwards, but I didn’t come up with the list. That said, I found it interesting that Boozer was my generously-rated seventh-best power forward in the NBA and he’s still on target to get a $14 million-a-year deal next season. And so many teams are talking about Bosh as a max guy…really? I left off Elton Brand because of his injuries. I left off Charlie Villanueva because he’s not one of the ten best power forwards in the NBA, although someone probably should have explained that to Joe Dumars a while ago. The ten spot came down to Josh Smith and Kenyon Martin, but I went with Smoove because he’s younger and sturdier.

CENTERS
1. Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
2. Shaquille O’Neal (Cleveland Cavaliers)
3. Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers)
4. Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)
5. Al Jefferson (Minnesota Timberwolves)
6. Mehmet Okur (Utah Jazz)
7. Nene (Denver Nuggets)
8. Brad Miller (Chicago Bulls)
9. Marcus Camby (Los Angeles Clippers)
10. Tyson Chandler (New Orleans Hornets)

EXPLANATION:
I let off Yao because his foot exploded, otherwise he was my definite number 2 on this list. At the same time, I broke my own rule about the injuries to include Al Jefferson on this list, because the top ten centers were really looking weak and I was afraid I’d have to include Jermaine O’Neal or Chris Kaman or Emeka Okafor. And we can’t be having that.

That’s it. Have a great weekend everyone and catch you all back here next week.

(Go Braves!)