Today in The Works: We mock-draft the best scorers in the NBA. Enjoy!
Nothing But Net
Bethlehem Shoals: Scoring, we have been told, is often fool's gold. Points are only as good as the percentages behind them. Three rebounds are better than two points. Still, it's hard to win games without points, and every team needs one big-time scorer. The question I want to discuss is: who is the fairest scorer of them all?
Eric Freeman: It's a good question and one we should certainly discuss at great length.
1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
EF: Name one way he can't score. The man can do it all.
BS: He really can. He can touch the sky. I think what impresses me most about Durant is that not only can he score without you realizing it -- he can score without the defender catching wind of what's happened, either. Look at how often Durant gets the ball late in the shot clock, or way up at the top of the key, and then in an instant, he's engineered a move, or launched off a shot, that's just what the doctored ordered. It's like what Mogwai said: something, the best is just the best.
EF: With him, the term "quick release" means a lot more than just a fishing regulation.
2. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
BS: This pick might stun you, but the man really can score from a lot of places on the floor, and he's got a package few can match. We're talking athleticism, speed, strength, skill, and range, both as a shooter and in terms of penetration. We talk a lot about LeBron or Blake Griffin as super-human, but Amar'e was ahead of his time.
EF: One of the most amazing things about Amar'e is how he was able to reinvent himself after his knee injury. The man who was once just a dunker came back reformed with a killer mid-range jumper, and he just keeps adding to his range. At the same time, he can still drop the hammer on defenders with the best of them. He really shows you that the most athletic players in the league don't have to coast on natural talent.
BS: It's crazy. Remember when Amar'e came into the league? All dunks, all the time. And so reliant on point guards, be it Stephen Marbury, Joe Johnson, or Steve Nash. Now, look at him. He's made Raymond Felton into a star.
EF: Maybe Amar'e was even doing things for those players back then. The world may never know, and history is a fickle judge.
3. LeBron James, Miami Heat
EF: I'm going to grab a player I can't believe lasted three turns: LeBron James. Sure, sometimes he settles for jumpers, but when he's running through the lane you best get out of the way, because even a hard foul won't stop him from getting to the tin.
BS: Forget about tin, he's like a pair of brass knuckles going right into the defender's gut. They always say to foul him hard. Easier said than done, mon hombre. It must hurt to be on the receiving end on one of those drives. What's that equation? Momentum equals mass times velocity? That should be Bron's new nickname. Points come so easy for him, all day. That 51-point game was a good game for him, like most people dropping 30.
EF: But here's the thing: most guys don't drop 30 as a habit, and that's why we're singling out those that do in this column.
BS: Then why do we have LeBron third?
EF: You're the one who passed on him last round, bucko. It's almost like you were consulting some preconceived list.
4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
BS: I'm going to play it safe, hedge my bets, and go with the devil we know, as I probably should have with LeBron. Kobe Bryant is my choice. There's been a lot of talk lately about whether or not he's clutch; how much of a black hole he is; and whether he's still got it. Doesn't matter. He gets it done, and the Lakers are still winning. You got a problem? Take it up with the Mamba.
EF: When I think about Kobe, I think about longevity. How many other guys could score at this high a level for this long? When he entered the league, Chris Webber was still a young star and AOL was still sending out those free CDs. Oh my, how times have changed!
BS: Kobe has been around for three Presidents. Name another NBA player who has pulled that off. Nobody. Ever.
5. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
EF: I'm going to stay on the safe route with another perennial All-NBA talent: Dwyane Wade. Was there ever a time when he wasn't a great scorer? Even with LeBron taking up a lot of possessions, Wade continues to get it done.
BS: I would have gone with Tim Duncan, but that's why you had this pick, and I didn't. Here's a very serious point about Wade: You never heard him mentioned as the best. He'll be Top 3, maybe 4. But if it's not LeBron in someone's mind, it's Kobe, or Durant. Why not Wade? WHY NOT WADE?
EF: He is way too solid. But mark my words, when he retires, we will all appreciate him for the amazing player he is. That is one thing you can never take away from him.
6. Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors
BS: This next one is probably going to be controversial, because a lot of guys don't know who he is. Pound for pound, this little man is the best scorer in the league. And not like Allen Iverson -- he can get it done while making his teammates better. Or at least giving them room to operate. Look at how great Steph Curry has gotten playing alongside him? Top of the world!
EF: When you talk about Monta, you talk about highlights. He's a dynamo wrapped up in a firecracker. But I think the most impressive thing about him is his improved efficiency. You can take your highlights, but I'll take production on few possessions. That's how you win basketball games.
BS: Agreed. And that's what a lot of people don't know about him. I wish they knew.
7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
EF: Well, I'll see your Monta and raise you a Derrick Rose. If you're talking efficiency, whoa momma, look out! He gets to the cup and finishes with authority. Is he the best point guard in the league? I don't know, but he's definitely the best scorer of the bunch.
BS: Derrick Rose really has the burden of greatness upon him. He's got to follow in MJ's footsteps and stand in his shadow. And he can do it. He can do it. But he's got to decide what kind of player he's going to be. How can he carry this team to the next level? Can he take his scoring to the next level, take the big shots and make his teammates better? I say yes.
8. Eric Gordon, Los Angeles Clippers
BS: I think we're running out of truly great scorers to discuss, but how about some love for Eric Gordon? Everybody loves Blake Griffin with the dunks, but Gordon's scoring more, and he can throw it down a little, too. He's as complete a scorer as you'll find. I like to compare him to a more exciting Joe Johnson.
EF: Gordon has risen from humble beginnings on the Clippers roster to become a great player in his own right. Sure, give a big assist to Griffin for helping him out this year, but don't forget that Gordon made strides on his own, too. I bet you five dollars that his experience on Team USA this summer did a lot of good.
BS: It's amazing how many players on our list have played for Team USA. And how many players who went last summer made a huge leap this year. Remember when people used to say that Team USA hurt players' regular seasons? Fi, I say. Everybody who came out of there is star.
EF: I know he's not a scorer, but Kevin Love definitely belongs on that list. Don't worry, folks, we'll get to him soon when we run down the league's top rebounders.
9. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
EF: Here's a name that we've forgotten so far but who surely would rate higher if not for the dark clouds of trade rumors that hover around him. It's Carmelo Anthony, you dummy. Did you see he had 50 points last night? That's elite scoring, ladies and gentlemen.
10. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
BS: I'll close this list out with Dirk Nowitzki. Teams still don't know how to stop him. Do you?
EF: The only man who can stop Dirk Nowitzki. You know how I talked about longevity with Kobe earlier? Dirk isn't far behind. He could play until he's 50 with those genes.
BS: The Germans are known for their good genes. That's a fact.