SLAM Top 50: LeBron James, No. 1

This, I think, is the best way to capture just how dominant LeBron James remains, even now, at the age of 32 and entering his 15th(!) NBA season: A 73-win juggernaut of a team felt it needed to recruit Kevin Durant, the second best player in the world, in order to stave off his challenge.

Think about that for a moment. The Warriors, a team that won more regular season games than any other team in history, and boasted the two-time reigning MVP, along with two other top-20 players (Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) were, well, scared of facing off against LeBron once again in the Finals. And they weren’t wrong.

That’s the greatness of LeBron. He’s still a one-man wrecking ball capable of destroying everything in its path, no matter the strength.

I mean, just look at the numbers he put up during last year’s postseason: 32.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game. He also shot a ridiculous 56.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep, all while playing an obscene 41.3 minutes per game.

Do you know how hard that is, to play that many minutes and carry that much of a load but also do so that efficiently? It’s literally unprecedented, as was his averaging a triple-double (33.6 PPG, 12 RPG, 10 APG) during the NBA Finals, and all that came after leading the League in minutes per game during the regular season (and Real Plus-Minus, by the way, so don’t worry about the slight downtick in numbers). The dude’s a cyborg, only stronger and smarter.

And it’s a good thing, too, because with Kyrie now gone, and Isaiah Thomas’ hip likely holding him out for a few months, the Cavs will be leaning even more on James. One of these years, he’s going to show signs of age and fatigue. He has to, right? Either way, that time, remarkable, appears to be years away. The Warriors may be the title favorite, but only because they amassed a collection of stars unlike anything the League has ever seen. That’s what it takes to beat LeBron James. There’s not another player in the world that can boast that claim.

Previous Rankings:
2016: No. 1
2015: No. 1
2014: No. 1
2013: No. 1

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons 
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap
No. 37 — Hassan Whiteside
No. 36 — Andrew Wiggins
No. 35 — Marc Gasol
No. 34 – DeAndre Jordan
No. 33 — Bradley Beal
No. 32 — Kemba Walker
No. 31 — CJ McCollum
No. 30 — Devin Booker
No. 29 — Nikola Jokic
No. 28 — Joel Embiid
No. 27 — Mike Conley 
No. 26 — Kyle Lowry
No. 25 — Rudy Gobert

No. 24 — Gordon Hayward
No. 23 — Kristaps Porzingis
No. 22 — Carmelo Anthony
No. 21 — DeMar DeRozan
No. 20 — Blake Griffin
No. 19 — Draymond Green
No. 18 — Chris Paul
No. 17 — Klay Thompson
No. 16 — Jimmy Butler
No. 15 — Isaiah Thomas
No. 14 — Karl-Anthony Towns
No. 13 — Damian Lillard
No. 12 — DeMarcus Cousins
No. 11 — Kyrie Irving
No. 10 — John Wall
No. 9 — Paul George

No. 8 — Anthony Davis
No. 7 — Giannis Antetokounmpo
No. 6 — James Harden
No. 5 — Kawhi Leonard
No. 4 — Stephen Curry
No. 3 — Russell Westbrook
No. 2 — Kevin Durant
No. 1 — LeBron James

GALLERY: 2017 SLAM Top 50 Players