ESPN released its top 25 players heading into the 2013-2014 season earlier this week, and let’s just say that a lot of people disagreed with some of the rankings. For example, ESPN ranked Kobe Bryant 25th, which caused some uproar around the internet.

While ESPN’s list was pretty good, I wasn’t satisfied with it. I wanted more. So I assembled a team of the best NBA writers from around the internet and decided to form our own list.

For scoring, a first place vote received one point, and second-place vote received two points and so on. The lower the point total, the better.

Here's the five players that just missed the cut:

30. Chris Bosh (184 points)
29. Roy Hibbert (183 points)
28. Pau Gasol (180 points)
27. DeMarcus Cousins (176 points)
26 John Wall (172 points)

Our NBA Writer Dream Team features writers from across the country with interesting and unique views on basketball and it’s superstars.

With that being said, here is the team before we get started:

Brian Rpezza
I’m Brian Rzeppa, and I am the co-owner and lead writer for an NBA website called The League News. I’m a member of the Professional Basketball Writer’s Association, and you can check out all of my work attheleaguenews.us.

Brendan Taylor
CEO/Founder and writer at Tru School Sports, as well as writer at The League News. My favorite team is the Charlotte Bobcats and favorite player is Kemba Walker. I grew up cheering for Baron Davis and the Charlotte Hornets, and was inspired by the crosssover of Allen Iverson.

Josh Dhani
Josh is the CEO and founder of FootBasket.com, one of the most popular sports websites around. FootBasket has won SportsNation’s "Website of the Day" award twice. Josh also writes for Dime Magazine, the second-largest NBA magazine in the country. Josh is from right outside Indianapolis, and is an avid Pacers fan.

Max Yavarone
A Boston sports enthusiast above all things. I’m married to my teams, but couples therapy is sorely needed. At least I know they’ll always be there in the morning.

Hassib aka BaggyDizzle
Baggy Dizzle is a child of hip-hop who bleeds Knickerbocker orange and blue. A die-hard NBA fan, Baggy also runs his own website, thebrownpaperbag.tumblr.com.

Jack Andrade
Jack Andrade is a football, twitter, and sarcasm fanatic and has experience covering football at every level from middle school to the NFL. He is obsessed with statistics and overly sensitive to bad contracts in sports. Aside from his football writing, Jack is an NBA enthusiast that watches the game differently than everyone else in the room.

Lucas Frankel
Lucas Frankel is currently a Junior at Emerson College in Boston. Originally from Livingston New Jersey, Lucas is a co-founder of StandingOSports. He is a big Jets, Yankees, Nets, and NJ Devils fan. Lucas tells you exactly how it is in the world of sports without sugar coating.

Mike Lucas
I’m a 20-year-old journalism major at Emerson College, and am the CEO and owner of StandingOSports. I love two things in life: talking and sports, so I’m trying to figure out how to make a living combining my two loves. I’m from New Jersey, and am a die hard Giants, Nets and Yankees fan. I am a member of the Emerson College basketball team, and the captain of Blue Squad. I’ve been following the NBA since I was a toddler, and my work was been featured on Fox Sports.


Top 25 Players Heading Into the 2013-14 NBA Season

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25. Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston Celtics (167 Points)
I’m not going to lie to you, I left Rondo off my ballot. Don’t get me wrong, I think Rondo is a good player but for the 2014 season, I don’t think he’s a great player. I’m sure most of these analyses will fawn over why so and so should be on the list. This won’t be that. I’m going to tell you why Rondo shouldn’t be on this list. The first reason being that I don’t feel he’ll play enough games. I’m all about value, so even if you think Rondo is this exceptional basketball player, do you think 50 games of great basketball is more valuable than 82 games of good basketball? The second reason is the fact that he can’t hit a jump shot for the life of him. Forget the ocean, he couldn’t put the ball on this planet because he’d find a way to miss it. A point guard that isn’t any sort of threat from the perimeter puts his team at a legitimate disadvantage. Oh yeah, he’s also an extremely overrated defender. People look at his physical tools and his steal numbers and automatically assume that he’s this awesome lockdown defender. I call bullshit. I’ve watched enough League Pass to see how many chances he takes on defense and how little effort he shows on it at times. Can he be a great defender when he wants to be? Absolutely. Show it to me on a consistent basis though, homie. Let’s also not forget about the fact that he has a tendency of not showing up for games sometimes He’s a top 5 rebounder at his position, he’s one of the best passers in the league and, when he wants to, he’s a damn good finisher. (Hasib)

24. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers (167 Points)
As one of the leaders for the Portland Trail Blazers, Lamarcus Aldridge is just that, as he was the team's leading scorer at 21.1 points per game last season. The two-time All-Star set a career-high in rebounds last year with 9.1 a game. The ultimate goal is leading Rip City back to the playoffs, and once he does that, the higher his ranking on this list will be. (Brendan Taylor)

23. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks (166 Points)
I personally had Dirk ranked a little bit higher, but there’s no doubt at all that he’s still a top 25-player in the league. The Mavericks were a completely different team without him, and for good reason. He’s one of the best scoring big men in the NBA, even at his age, and he just has a knack for making the players around him better. Now that he has a clean bill of health this year, I expect him to return to his superstar form. (Brian Rzeppa)

22. Al Horford, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks (164 Points)
Horford is one of the more overlooked players in the league year-after-year. He continually puts up statistics that put him with the top centers in the league, but no one ever seems to notice. This year, it’s basically a guarantee that he’ll go for at least a 18-10, and he’s only getting better at this point. (Brian Rzeppa)

21. Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls (162 Points)
On any championship team, you need a guy who plays with an edge and intensity to win. Joakim Noah is that guy for the Chicago Bulls. With the return of Derick Rose, the former Florida Gator standout should benefit from it with a bit less pressure to lead the team. When matched up against any big man in the NBA, Noah always holds his own. (Brendan Taylor)

20. Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets (158 Points)
Brook Lopez has quietly become one of the NBA’s most dominant post scorers. Last season, Lopez led the Nets in scoring with 19.4 points per game, and was often the player with the ball in his hands late in the game when Brooklyn needed a bucket. His game isn’t pretty, and he needs to improve his rebounding productivity, but Lopez is definitely one of the top 25 players in the NBA right now. (Mike Lucas)

19. Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers (158 Points)
Is there a bigger superstar that’s less protected than Blake Griffin?  He was clearly punched below the belt in the Clippers game against the Oklahoma Thunder, and Serge Ibaka wasn’t even tossed. That’s not happening with any of those other stars who top out jersey sales and sell out League Pass subscriptions. The criticisms are valid, and we’ve yet to see that athleticism put consistently to use on the defensive end, but with a real coach like Doc Rivers in charge, all that should change.  At the very least, he’ll have the league’s two best politicians lobbying for him when he’s getting mugged on the court. (Max Yavarone)

18. Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers (149 Points)
Kyrie Irving looks like one of the next great superstars of the NBA. Now entering his third season, we are all expecting a jump from him as a player and the Cavs as a team. Through two years in the league, Irving has been a 22-point, 6-assist point guard, a Rookie of the Year award-winner, an All-Star and a three-point contest champion. He’s carried himself and his organization exactly how you’d want a franchise player to do so. Not bad for a kid who will turn 22 this March. This year, Irving needs to prove he can win. The Cavs brought in some solid pieces, and their young core of talent has another year of experience under their belts. Another bottom 5 finish is not acceptable, and a playoff appearance is within reason for this group. For that to happen, Irving is going to need to become more efficient and match up stat-for-stat with the other franchise players in the NBA.  If he does, and the Cavs improve, we’ll likely be calling Irving a top 10 NBA player for the next decade or so. (Jack Andrade)

17. Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets (141 Points)
It’s crazy how Deron Williams was once regarded as the best point guard in the league a few seasons ago. Since joining the Nets and dealing with injuries, that ranking has changed significantly. However, Williams and his massive $98 million deal is enough to show he’s still the leader of Brooklyn. Now with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on his team, Williams could find himself going back to his old ways. (Josh Dhani)

16. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies (136 Points)
As the NBA gets smaller and smaller, Marc Gasol is a nice reminder of a true center that can protect the rim and gets the gritty points down low. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year averaged 1.7 blocks per game, and anchored a defense that allowed the fewest points per game in the league. There’s always room for improvement on the offensive end of the floor for him, though. (Lucas Frankel)
How much will Westbrook impact OKC when he returns from injury?
15. Tim Duncan, PF, San Antonio Spurs (131 Points)
Some players age like fine wine and some age like spoiled milk, but Tim Duncan is definitely the wine. In his late-30s last season, the Spurs big man averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per game while playing a big role in the Spurs getting to the 2013 NBA Finals. Duncan is a model of consistency, so expect no less than that this season. (Brendan Taylor)

14. Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (113 Points)
Kevin Love, or Mr. Double Double, has quietly become one of the NBA’s most versatile players. Love has the ability to play down low and take his defender out past the three-point line and make it rain consistently. In the 2011-2012 season, Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds for a very bad Timberwolves team. When healthy, Love is one of the premier big men in the NBA. It’s a shame the country doesn’t get to see Love on a more consistent basis, because he plays in Minnesota. But don’t sleep on the big man ... he’s got serious game. (Mike Lucas)

13. Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat (98 Points)
Flash toes the line between over-glorified and under-appreciated. That’s what happens when you have one of the GOATs on your squad. People either think you’re getting too much credit or they tend to trivialize your skills and accomplishments. It happened to Scottie Pippen. Heads overlooked the fact that he was the best defensive non-center to ever play the game because he played with Michael Jordan. It also happened to Tony Parker to a certain extent until last year. However, Wade had done something that neither of those two had done. He’s been the top dog on a team that’s won a championship. Going from the alpha dog to a sidekick is no easy task to an American-born player as good as Wade. Not too many have had to do it in their prime. But Wade has done it shamelessly and gracefully. Sure, he’s not as athletic as he used to be but the man can still throw it down enough to make Bill Walton blush. The advanced stats are all over the board with this guy. He’s either a top 5 player or a top 20 guy, but there’s no debate ... Flash can still ball his ass off. (Hasib)

12. Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers (97 Points)
George really burst onto the scene during last year’s playoffs, where he went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did an incredible job of covering both, and played well on offense. His offense is still very raw at this point, so that holds him out of the top 10, but he has plenty of room to grow on that end. (Brian Rzeppa)

11. Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers (92 Points)
Bryant is on his last legs (literally) in the NBA, but remains one of the game’s elite shooting guards to this day. As he has lost a step or two, Kobe has gotten smarter, craftier and more creative finding ways to score the basketball.  His defense is still very good considering his age, and nobody works as hard as Kobe to keep his body going strong for 35 minutes a night over a whole season. He’ll surely be back and ahead of schedule from his injury, because that’s what Kobe does. And once he's back, he’ll be the focus of the Lakers offense and score 22-25 points a night. There’s no denying Kobe is slowing down, but an aging, 80 percent Kobe-effort is better than most players at 100 percent. (Jack Andrade)

10. Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors (84 Points)
If he can stay healthy, watch out because there may not be a better pure shooter in the league.  Last season, Curry shot better from beyond the three-point arc than he did in front of it.  There are few, if any other players, that can say that. When Warriors coach Mark Jackson said that the backcourt of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry was the best of all-time, he wasn’t joking. Oh, and Mr. Curry can also dish it with the best of them. (Lucas Frankel)

9. Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs (84 Points)
The perennial Rodney Dangerfield award-winner (we love you Tony!!!). We all know the popular names who come to mind when the “golden age” of point guards is discussed, but other than a healthy Rose, I’m taking this guy every time. He can’t be guarded, and he’s become a victim of his market and the perception of the Spurs in general. Let’s also not forget that though he was a little dinged up last year, Mr. Parker was as quick as ever at age 30 after 12 years in the league. He also shot an utterly ridiculous 52 percent from the field. (Max Yavarone)

8. Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets (69 Points)
Howard was criticized a lot last season, but you can’t really blame him for his troubles in LA. The Lakers were a mess, but Howard still managed to put up a double-double season with a bad shoulder and being the second, sometimes third, scoring option behind Kobe Bryant. Now in Houston, Dwight can enjoy himself with James Harden and excel in the pick-and-roll offense that the Rockets run. (Josh Dhani)

7. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder (60 Points)
Last season’s playoffs proved how important Westbrook is to the Thunder. Always deemed as not a traditional point guard or many other things, it was shown that Kevin Durant had an awfully tough time trying to do things as the main guy. Case in point, Westbrook is needed and KD can’t win a championship without him. (Josh Dhani)

6. Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks (56 Points)
Carmelo Anthony is that guy in your YMCA league that puts his team on his back every game, for better or worse, and literally can beat any team in the league by himself as well as lose to anyone on an off night. He’s the best isolation player in the NBA, which is a nice way of saying no one is better at hogging the rock and producing points on his own than Melo. He has stretches of cold shooting that drive fans, analysts and teammates crazy. However, he’s also the only player on God’s Green Earth (including Kevin Durant) that can look LeBron in the eye, say “I’m going to kick your ass tonight,” and then go out and do it if he gets hot enough. He’s a polarizing player, a scoring whiz and a true franchise player saddled with a supporting cast that doesn’t alleviate any of his weaknesses (defense, floor spacing via low post presence). Carmelo deserves better than the Knicks he has around him. (Jack Andrade)
He's baaack!
5. James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets (51 Points)
The Rockets pulled off one of the biggest steals in NBA history when they acquired James Harden from the Rockets before last season began. Just 24 years old, Harden is set up to be a top 5 player in the league for years to come, and may already be the best shooting guard in the NBA. In his first year as a starter, he averaged 25.9 points per game and helped lead the Houston Rockets back to the playoffs. With the addition of Dwight Howard, Harden may be in a position to put up even bigger numbers this year, as the Rockets could be a dark-horse team in the Western Conference. (Lucas Frankel)

4. Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls (45 Points)
The best player in the NBA makes his return this year, and will be the difference in why LeBron dosen’t get his third ring. This year is about vengeance, and the 2011 MVP is all about it this year. In 2013, Rose will re-establish himself as not only the league’s best point guard, but MVP too ... only this time he will not lose to LeBron James and the Heat in the playoffs. Rose is here at No. 4 only because he is coming off an injury. When healthy, he should be even higher. (Brendan Taylor)

3. Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers (21 Points)
Few players in the NBA exemplify the term “Floor General” better than CP3. The guy is a Hardwood Patton. It doesn’t take CSI to figure out that he has his fingerprints on everything the Video Clip Show (when you consider that DeAndre and Blake Griffin are on this team, that is an apt nickname for this team) does on offense. I’m not a traditional stat type of dude, but when you look at the fact that he was second in the NBA in assists and led the league in steals and assist/turnover ratio while also dropping 17 points per game, you know right away that this guy plays quarterback and free safety for your team at the same damn time. However, APBRmetrically, Paul is a beast too. The man finished third in PER, third in win-shares, sixth in estimated-wins-added, fifth in simple-rating, third in wins-produced and second in wins-produced-per-48-minutes. The only thing holding Paul back is the fact that his knee doesn’t have a meniscus, and because of that, his coaches watch his minutes. However, when he’s on the court, there’s no doubt that he’s a top 3 difference maker in all of basketball. (Hasib)

2. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (15 Points)
The top two of this draft were pretty simple, and they’re the same that you’ll see on any credible power rankings. Durant is unarguably the second-best player in the league, and he’s only getting better. I’d say that he’s the best shooter, but that’s not all that he can do. He’s a solid passer, he’s not a ballhog like you’ll see with a lot of the scorers of his caliber, and he’s getting better and better on defense. It’s only a matter of time before he tops this list. (Brian Rzeppa)

1. LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat (8 Points)
This wasn’t even really a debate. LeBron James IS the best player in the NBA. Last season, LBJ averaged 26.8 points, eight rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game en-route to his fourth MVP award and his second NBA Championship. LeBron can do things on the basketball court that very few people in the history of the NBA could do, and he makes it look easy. On any given night, LeBron has the ability to drop 50 points, or if he’s feeling generous, can score an easy 20 while dishing out 15 assists and grabbing 12 rebounds. The scariest part about LeBron’s game is that he still has room to improve. (Mike Lucas)

What do you think of our rankings? Agree/disagree? Comment below!


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