5. Dwyane Wade - It was hard to come up with my #5 here. I love Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, I think that Kevin Durant is quickly on the rise, and believe that Kevin Garnett is still elite. But Dwyane Wade had an amazing 2008-2009 campaign, having led the NBA in points per game.
Wade is a little shaky at times in the ball handling department, but the rest of his stats are top-notch. He is singlehandedly the reason for the turnaround in Miami last season.
4. Dwight Howard - Every five or so years, there's a new dominant man on the boards. For a while it was Dennis Rodman, then guys like Kevin Garnett and Ben Wallace. Now it belongs to Dwight Howard, and should remain that way for quite some time. His free throws are weak but everything else is invaluable.
Having brought his team to the NBA finals, Howard's talent speaks volumes. The league's best rebounder and shot blocker will improve all facets of his game during the next few years. That's just scary.
3. Chris Paul - Easily the best point guard in the NBA, and will be considered one of the game's all-time greats by the end of his career. While his team struggled a bit last season, short of David West, there's probably less talent on that team after these two than there is on any team in the NBA. Paul's assists, steals, rebounds, and points all speak for themselves. Arguably the best ball handler in the NBA too.
2. Kobe Bryant - The Kobe/LeBron debate lives on this season, as Kobe won the most recent battle with his first NBA title without Shaq. At 30 years old, he can still drop 50 or 60 in a game when his team needs him to.
Kobe has more talent around him than James does in Gasol and Odom (and now Artest). Bryant will remain one of the game's best for the next few years, but LeBron James is improving with each season, pushing him ahead of Kobe on my list.
1. LeBron James - No championship in Cleveland yet, but he'll get his eventually. If you swapped LeBron and Kobe, I can undoubtedly say that the Lakers would still be champions. Probably even more dominant than now, because LeBron's numbers are pure gold. What he does for an otherwise miserable team in the Cavs is simply remarkable.
Jesse Boskoff is the founder of RootZoo, a social sports network with a vibrant sports forum, a massive collection of sports trivia questions, fantasy football leagues, and a lot more. He can't wait for next NBA season to begin.