SLAM Top 50: LeBron James, No. 1

Hey, we did it. We made it to No. 1.

Look, this year’s SLAM Top 50 list brought on a slew of debates. Those are fun; we’re here almost solely for that conversation.

But they’re over.

Not because we don’t want you to continue arguing about basketball players, but because we’ve arrived at the top of the list. And there’s no questioning the top of the list. Not at the moment.

LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet. It’s been true for a while now—despite a couple of guys clawing at his spot over the past year or two—and it’s very, very true as you’re reading this, mere months removed from an epic Finals comeback that I still can’t believe actually happened.

Down 3-1 to the best regular season team in NBA history with the unanimous… etc. etc. etc. You know the story. Which is why I’m going to keep this short. Really, really short.

Most of this list requires explanations—“Here’s why this guy was ranked here, or “Here’s why I think he should be higher/lower.”

But this write-up doesn’t need such an explanation. If you watched basketball this past June, it was provided—almost force-fed—to you. Perhaps over the next year KD and/or Stephen will boost one another to a new height, or Russ or Harden will become such a one-man wrecking crew that one of them will make sense as the new No. 1, or some young gun like AD or KAT will meet his full potential and ascend all the way up. But that’s a conversation for next year. This year’s is over. We’ve reached the pinnacle, and the pinnacle, at this exact instant, is not up for debate.

What more can I say?


2009: 1
2010: 1
2011: 1
2012: 1
2013: 1
2014: 1
2015: 1

2016: 1

SLAM Top 50 Players 2016
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Ben Simmons 76ers SF 9
49 D’Angelo Russell Lakers PG 12
48 Derrick Favors Jazz PF 12
47 Devin Booker Suns SG 8
46 Chris Bosh Heat PF 11
45 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 7
44 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
43 Serge Ibaka Magic PF 10
42 CJ McCollum Blazers SG 6
41 Pau Gasol Spurs PF 9
40 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 9
39 Kevin Love Cavs PF 8
38 Dirk Nowitzki Mavs PF 7
37 Kristaps Porzingis Knicks PF 6
36 Kemba Walker Hornets PG 10
35 Dwight Howard Hawks C 8
34 Hassan Whiteside Heat C 7
33 Gordon Hayward Jazz SF 8
32 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 9
31 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 7
30 Dwyane Wade Bulls SG 5
29 Paul Millsap Hawks PF 5
28 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
27 Al Horford Celtics C 5
26 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 6
25 Isaiah Thomas Celtics PG 8
24 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 4
23 DeAndre Jordan Clippers C 4
22 Andre Drummond Pistons C 3
21 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 7
20 Karl-Anthony Towns T-Wolves C 2
19 Jimmy Butler Bulls SG 3
18 LaMarcus Aldridge Spurs PF 4
17 John Wall Wizards PG 6
16 Draymond Green Warriors PF 3
15 Carmelo Anthony Knicks SF 5
14 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 2
13 Klay Thompson Warriors SG 2
12 Kyrie Irving Cavs PG 5
11 Chris Paul Clippers PG 4
10 Damian Lillard Blazers PG 3
9 DeMarcus Cousins Kings C 1
8 Paul George Pacers SF 4
7 James Harden Rockets SG 1
6 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 1
5 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 3
4 Kevin Durant Warriors SF 2
3 Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 2
2 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 1
1 LeBron James Cavs SF 1

Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2016-17—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.

Follow the entire SLAM Top 50 countdown.