Thursday, August 27th, 2009 at 11:23 am  |  80 responses

(Re)Introducing the SLAMonline Top 50

The definitive ranking of the best players in the NBA is back!

SLAMonline Top 50

by Ryne Nelson

There are moments when we say, Damn, the NBA is almost here! We know exactly what those moments are. Because we nearly forget them until they happen, actually. And when they come, we pretend to be caught by surprise and allow ourselves to get hyped just as we did the year before. These moments remind us how time, no matter how it may drudge on, keeps making the same things fresh.

Today has become one of those moments for SLAMonline readers and writers alike. Whenever the Top 50 countdown begins, we just know the regular season is on its way. We began preparing during the first week of August. Because it’s meant to be SLAMonline’s list — as opposed to a single person’s list — no contributor will (or should be expected to) agree with the placement of every player in the Top 50. More important was that we agreed on the method by which the list was conceived. We did. And here’s how we did it…

First thing was first: choosing criteria. Farmer Jones submitted the most succinct explanation, one we easily agreed upon: “Who, based on what you expect them to contribute ON THE COURT this season, are the 50 best players in the NBA?” So that question is your answer. The 2009 SLAMonline Top 50 is our early, super extended, MVP predictions.

In order to truly call this a site-wide list, every contributor needed an equal voice. We looked to the NBA for a model and ended up using a modified MVP voting system. Everyone who wanted to contribute to this year’s “definitive ranking of the best players in the NBA” had to submit a Top 50 list of their own. I won’t say how many people contributed last year, but, 2009 kicked 2008′s ass. Thirty-one, yeah, 31 of the most tenured SLAMonline contributors and editors took part in this year’s rankings.

Talk about a list that got better with age.

Condensing 31 lists into one might sound complicated at first, but when you’re dealing with so many numbers, keeping it simple is the way to go. I’ll say it one sentence: The sum of the a player’s rankings determined his final position in the SLAMonline Top 50. Confused? For instance… If I ranked University of Illinois’ Deron Williams first on my list, he would get one arbitrary point. If someone else thought DWill is the ninth-best player (clearly delusional, but OK), nine points would be added to Deron’s total. He would have 10 total points, and the process continued until Deron Williams’ total points were tallied.

Deron’s sum was then matched against the totals for every player with a Top 50 vote. How did DWill rank against the likes of Brandon Roy, Al Jefferson, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade and the rest? I, of course, couldn’t tell you. That’s what our writers are here for.

Lang will kick off the 2009 SLAMonline Top 50 list tomorrow with No. 50. Each post will go live at 8 a.m., six days a week (yeah, we’re workin’ Saturdays now!), until the final weekend before the season.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and pinch yourself. This is real. Another season’s right around the corner, and it’ll be here sooner than you can count to 50.

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  • ENDS

    Top 50 Again

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Sorry Yao, but you’re not on the list this season due to injury.

  • neaorin

    I predict calm, level-headed discussions all throughout this countdown…

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Damn, this came quick.

  • http://www.tscblogs.com kyle

    hotness. TSCblogs likes this immensely

  • http://Www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    War, huh, good lord, what is it good for, absolutely nothing, say it again. (let the levelheaded discussions begin).

  • http://www.twitter.com/from_the_chi Bryan Crawford

    It’s going to be fun reading all of the comments, but I can’t wait until Kobe & LeBron’s numbers are called. Then things should get REAL interesting.

  • Double J

    Oh man I can’t wait, sadly it sounds like Lebron may get the nod for numero uno this time around…

  • http://Www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    First Omar’s back, then a Jordan issue announcement, now this? Lovely day on slamonline.

  • runngun22

    What happens if someone is put #50 on one list and not included on another? What would their total be then? 51 points for each time they are not included or more?

  • Ken

    Very excited about this. I wonder where Durant will fall?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Right. If a player is left of a top 50 ballot, he received 51 arbitrary points.

  • Yesse

    I dont think the list is gonna change alot.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Well, you know Durant will be higher than last year’s No. 50, Ken. ;)

  • http://antwonomous.blogspot.com Bennie Bravo


  • http://slamonline.com styliztik_jones

    Will Gilbert Arenas be on the list? Hell of a player, just hasn’t been on the court much.

  • izzo

    Someone email me when it’s over.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    I remember me and BET got the comments section to 1000 last year with Kobe being number ONE!!! So this year when Kobe is ONE AGAIN, we should be able to get it to 2000!!!!

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Wow. Knowing that the season is starting soon makes me feel all giddy inside.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    I agree Niq, so many things to look forward to. Artest, Spurs. Shaq, Vince, Rasheed!!

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Nice. Team previews coming up soon as well?

  • cramzy

    Soooo, I’m assuming my man Flash will move up a few spots this yr. Is the real argument DWade vs Kobe for no.2?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    If Ricky Rubio is not on the list, i’m not reading.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    Dwade, Dwade, the guy should be number two for being healthy and having a great season? Sure, but he will be fighting Bron … Kobe gets it for getting his ring!! And Paul Pierce should drop a few spots, along with Ray. KD will be a hell of alot higher, and I assume Chauncey will actually move up. Duncan will drop a bit. KG as well?

  • cramzy

    Alright EFF it, I tried to be political. DWADE FOR NO.1. Yall left him of the top 50 all time, yall put him as a maybe for HOF, yall ranked Paul effin Pierce ahead of him on the last list. Give the homie some respect. Got all the numbers Lebron got and a ring. And he’s doing it at about 5 inches shorter. If he’s not one the write up better be dope. Im riding son…okay that is all

  • http://www.nba.com JE

    Something tells me people won’t be as pissed about Iverson not being in the top 10 this year.

  • http://www.nba.com JE

    …and I’m glad you guys are working Saturdays now, because hoopshype.com blows.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    this is why I love SLAMonline. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    Iverson, will he even be on the list?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Y’all aren’t going to beleve who is number 50.
    It will shock you.
    And I hope all the SLAM writers submit their player rankings so everyone can see exactly how certain folks feel about cats in the League.

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    As long as Ryan Jones writes the Kobe joint again I’ll be happy.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    And the ranking was not purely objective either. It wasn’t stricly “by the numbers.” That’s a lie.

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    If your basing this on what you expect them to do next year, I see Agent Zero, Durantula, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger(Was he on the list last year?), B-Roy moving up. Devin Harris and Derrick Rose will be added, unfortunately so will Rondo. As hard as it is for me to say this, AI is about to drop dramaticly.

  • 6marjon

    didnt you do this like yesterday?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    I moved up on the list this year! Well, I got one more vote than last time. I think it was the 15 pounds of muscle.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    can’t wait. I will be on the computer more this year so I look foward to “debating” everybody about these selections. play wit it.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the balla

    Where is Amare? Top 20?

  • Young C

    Kevin Durant > Carmelo Anthony > Paul Pierce > Danny Granger > Andre Iguodala > Hedo Turkoglu > Rudy Gay

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    So: Is he?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown


  • Young C

    Il Mago for #50!!

  • http://facebook.com/jasennielsen jbn74sb

    How many Lakers in the list? 5?

  • Overtime

    in the words of the tiger: ”ggrrrrrrrreat!!”

  • Young C

    Are any ’09 rookies allowed on the list?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Pardeep

    I hope A.I. is on the list.

  • ti-sizz

    kobe will definitely be number 1 this time… especially since he won the ring

  • ti-sizz

    kobe will definitely be number 1 this time… especially since he won the ring

  • http://ballislife.com Moose

    Ryne….thanks a lot for this, man! Haha. Got the email. And, BETCATS….you ready son?

  • g

    Wade #1!!

  • http://ballislife.com Moose

    For those of you who are wondering about the exact details of how I’ll be commenting, I’ll be there at the end of the day almost every day except for next week….schoolio. But, it IS 50 days plus Sundays, so HERE WE GO! Last year’s comments’ section was great; this year we try to top it.

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    For everyone who thinks it’s a forgone conclusion that Kobe will be number one because of the ring, pump your breaks. It’s about who they think will contribute the most on the court NEXT season. Given the addition of Artest, Kobe may not have to score as much next year and on most nights he probably won’t be asked to guard the other teams best perimeter player. It doesn’t mean that he isn’t the best player in league, it just means that he may not have to do as much in order for his team to have the best shot at repeating.

  • Sparker

    last year there was some doubt about kobe/lebron. don’t see that as debatable, at least as of today. interesting to see how much chris paul will drop and how much dwight will rise. and with respect, i still find the question tough to answer. what about gil? i EXPECT he’ll be awesome. same with manu. but who the hell knows?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Exactly, Brad. Past awards don’t (er, shouldn’t) factor into this list.

  • chingy

    Young C: Il Mago could very well be #50 (I’d certainly have him in 45-50 range); but I’d have to disagree with you on KD > Melo…Melo remember is playoff tested and IMO the best offensive player not named Kobe

  • Overtime

    Would be cool if there was a little bit at the top of each post saying where they were ranked last year…just an idea

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    This is going to be so funny.

  • rog123

    Kobe better not be ranked number 1. This is player rankings not team rankings. Lebron better reg and post season stats

  • Overtime

    Why would Chris Paul drop?

  • http://www.slamonline.com melvin ely

    @Overtime: I think it’s because we were given a glimpse of how bad he was schooled by chauncy in last year’s playoffs. Despite being physically superior than billups was, he was outplayed by him throughout that series. I know we don’t factor in previous seasons into this thing, but that’s what I mostly remember from CP’s last playoff run.

  • http://www.anwilson.blogspot.com rainman10

    Is Darko #50?

  • Quail

    I bet greg oLden is #50.

  • http://www.anwilson.blogspot.com rainman10

    How many teams have 4 players on this list? Orlando, Boston, San Antonio, Lakers? If the Grizzlies sign Iverson do they have 4 on the list, or does Randolph’s 20-10 not get the love? (That is a statement following my assumption that Mayo, Gay, and Iverson make it) This is my favorite part of the Slamonline season.

  • http://www.anwilson.blogspot.com rainman10

    I guess it is a question actually*

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Who were the 31 contributors?
    All people who ‘work’ for SLAM?
    What about just online commenters?
    I want a list of that too please.
    Also, I think Jukai will be happy now that he knows there is a criteria haha.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    It’s not because you win a ring that you’re better individually. Kobe didn’t do anything this time around that he had not done against Boston. The numbers are identical. The team was better. KG didn’t get better individually with the ring, more accomplished yes, but not better. We know who’s the best player in the league and he’s the one who PLAYED better in the reg season and in the playoffs.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Kobe, Lamar and Pau, I can totally see it. I’m not sure that Artest is Top 50. Bynum is nowhere close to Top 50. C’mon now.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Pardeep

    Kobe 1st. D-Wade 2nd. LeBron 3rd.- LOL Yeah right! nobodys putting LeBron 3rd on any list.

  • http://www.mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    #50 hasn’t even been posted yet and we’re already debating #1?

  • http://slamonline.com acethat 56

    1st LbJ 2nd kobe 3rd wade 4th melo 5th dirk 6th cp3 7th dwight 8th D.wills 9th….brain farts

  • Jeter

    #50 Kwame Brown

  • http://Www.lkz.ch/basket Darksaber

    Cosign Hish (as usual). Relax people, let’s enjoy this like a glass of fine, nicely aged wine. Then again, we live in the age of “instant gratification”. Oh well.

  • Darko

    Cant wait….

  • Furious

    It clearly says “Who, based on what you expect them to contribute ON THE COURT this season, are the 50 best players in the NBA?”
    Therefore Kobe’s ring from last year shouldn’t mean anything. Neither does Wade’s. Its based on what they think will happen this season. Or at least they say it is, no doubt Kobe will be ranked high because he “finally got a ring without Shaq”, but he won’t be as effective as he used to, and shouldn’t be number 2.

  • http://slamonline.com Jhaney

    No debate about who is #1 this year. Kobe Bryant is #1 not only because he won a ring last year, but he will take on the challenge of being even better with Ron Artist on board. Be affraid Kobe haters, the quest for #5 starts now.

  • B_Easy24

    At least Kobe is still # 1 and that’s all that counts to me right now.

  • Clark

    Anyone else smell that bs? Yeah, that’s Iverson getting #50. And no, I’m not saying he should be higher on the list. I’m saying that if a player is the 50th best player in the league, someone besides the Grizzlies would want him…

  • ?????

    Somebody please explain how they got OJ Mayo ahead of Ben Gordon…..and how they aint even got Derrick Rose on the list. Like….its a reason he went 1 and would still go one if they had the draft tomorrow…or the next day…or any day. I see you still on that OJ Mayo hype. Rudy Gay is the best player on that team. Look out for that man this season. And really…..where is Kevin Durant…..and why is Dirk Nowitzki above him?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    @?????? D Rose hasn’t been listed YET, maybe because the list is only up 46. We still have 45 spots to go. Also, Gordon/Mayo is def. something that can be argued. But we chose Mayo. And you’re looking at last years list with Dirk/Durant.

  • Clark

    Agreed that Gordon should not be behind Mayo. Apparently none of these people watched the playoffs…..

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    This is why I keep coming back to Slam. You don’t write a Top 50 LIST. You write an entire article devoted to every pick in the top 50. That’s how it should be done. Just like how Slam did the mock draft better than anyone else. I will disagree with 90% of all the rankings, but I love the effort regardless. One small criticism. I think the ranking system might’ve been a little more accurate if you counted a vote for #1 to be 50 pts, #2 to be 49 pts, and so forth onto #50 being 1 pt. This way, not being on a list gives a player the true number of votes he should get from that list: 0. Just because someone put Kwame Brown #35 on a list doesn’t mean all other 30 contributors thought he was #51. His true average score is probably in the 300′s, but because somebody put him on his list, Kwame ends up being 50.5.