With summer dragging on and on and on before the NBA tips off, we’ve decided to initiate a multipart series that will be the definitive look at the best players in the NBA today.

Over lunch at the Outback Steakhouse (word to Steve Irwin), your crack SLAMonline.com staff sat down and ranked the 50 best players in the NBA today. We realize that’s kind of ambiguous, but that’s how basketball is and that’s how we like it. Basically, though, we tried to list the 50 guys we think have the most value to their teams, right now, at this moment. This doesn’t mean they’ll never be traded, and it doesn’t mean they’re due tremendous contract extensions, but it does mean — since value is king in the NBA — that over the next month or so we’ll run down the 50 guys that we think are the 50 best players, right here, right now.

Before long it’ll be time for our annual NBA team previews. Right now it’s time for some law and order…

20. Chris Bosh

By Ben Osborne

I may or may not have just spent the last couple days on the road working on a Chris Bosh story, and that may or may not been enough for me to confirm what I’d heard about him from colleagues, which is that he’s a great person to interview because he gives thoughtful answers and expresses his own level of curiosity about others. That stuff doesn’t matter, though, because this list ain’t a popularity contest—it’s about what dudes bring to the floor. And if you’ve ever seen Chris Bosh play (I think “if” is a fair qualifier when discussing the NBA’s oft-ignored Canadian franchise, though it won’t be for long with this guy), you know he brings plenty.
There’s the guard-like quickness in a 6-10 body, the long wingspan and the soft shooting touch. So far it’s been enough for a statistical progression straight out of an NBA scout’s wet dream: 11.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his first year, 16.8/8.9 in his second, and 22.5/9.2 last year. Clearly, CB had potential, and just as clearly, he’s realized it. One more year of improvement and we’re talking about a 25 and 11 per night, all-NBA first team player. Don’t sleep.