Ranking the Top 15 Players in the NBA Entering the 2016-17 Season

Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony

Ranking the Top 15 Players in the NBA Entering the 2016-17 Season

We have Melo higher than 15.

Published October 13, 2016

Carmelo Anthony took issue with SLAM ranking him as the 15th-best player in the NBA on its top 50 list entering this upcoming 2016-17 season.

And we can't blame Melo for feeling slighted. Despite the New York Knicks' nine-time All-Star forward entering the twilight of his career, at 32-years-old he remains one of the best scorers in the league, delivering buckets to the tune of 21.8 points per game last year.

No wonder he thinks Slam is playing themselves, placing him No. 15.

Melo's clapping back at the magazine motivated BET.com to put together our own rankings. Here, we present the NBA's top 15 players entering this season ... and we must say that we have Melo ranked higher. 

Did he crack the top 10, though? See below.

  1. Kawhi Leonard
    MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 09: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs drives during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 9, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    A back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year winner who still puts up 20-plus points per game (21.2)? Yeah, the "Claw" is in the top tier of the league — no doubt.

  2. Chris Paul
    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores off of an inbound steal to Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder as Kevin Durant #35 and Dion Waiters #3 look on during a 100-99 Thunder win at Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

    Still being the consummate floor general at 31 years old, averaging 19.5 points and 10 assists per game — as he did last season — is nothing to scoff at nor take for granted. We see you, CP3.

  3. Kyrie Irving
    CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 10:  Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the second half against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    Can anybody in the league stand in front of Kyrie Irving's slippery handles for days and stop the Cleveland Cavaliers' point guard? Well, we know from last year's NBA Finals that Stephen Curry can't. After draining the winning shot of the Finals, we expect Uncle Drew to come back that much nicer this season. Wait for it ...

  4. DeMar DeRozan
    TORONTO, ON - MAY 23:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball in the second half of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 23, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

    Still sleeping on DeMar DeRozan? Well, the 23.5 points per game he dropped last year should be a reason for you to wake up. The Toronto Raptors' All-Star shooting guard continuously finds ways to get buckets.

  5. Paul George
    TORONTO, ON - MAY 01:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers goes up for a dunk in the first half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 01, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

    Paul George didn't show any signs of that gruesome August 2014 compound leg fracture last season, averaging 23.1 points per game for the Indiana Pacers.

  6. Carmelo Anthony
    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 05:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks drives against Thabo Sefolosha #25 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on January 5, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    We thought long and hard about what Carmelo Anthony's true ranking should be entering this season. In the end, we gave him the slimmest edge over Paul George to crack the top 10. At 32, Melo is still a scoring machine ... and that's not too shabby.

  7. Klay Thompson
    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 27:  Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors goes up for a layup gainst Dante Cunningham #44 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the NBA season opener at ORACLE Arena on October 27, 2015 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    Sharing the same back court as back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry makes it easy to sometimes overlook how good Klay Thompson is. But don't ever play yourself. The Golden State Warriors All-Star shooting guard is capable of catching fire better than anybody in the league — including Curry — as evidenced by his unreal shooting displays last postseason. Eleven 3-pointers in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals? Are you kidding? Light 'em up, Klay!

  8. Damian Lillard
    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28:  Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles the ball during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 28, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    Talk about the best point guard in the NBA and Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul will probably be the names that come out your mouth first. As they should. But Damian Lillard's 25.1 points and nearly seven dimes per game with the Portland Trail Blazers on his back shouldn't be overlooked.

  9. Anthony Davis
    NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 04:  Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans takes a shot during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Smoothie King Center on February 4, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    With time, Anthony Davis could be the best baller in the league, period. For now, 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and two blocks per game has the New Orleans Pelicans' power forward just looking into the top 5 on our ranking.

  10. DeMarcus Cousins
    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 21: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings dunks against the Chicago Bulls
at the United Center on March 21, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

    Boogie is one bad, bad man. Nearly 27 points per game with 11.5 boards and 1.4 blocks? Franchise center, indeed.

  11. James Harden
    HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 04:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in action during their game against the New York Knicks at the Toyota Center on October 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

    On a late-game isolation, we want the rock in the hands of James Harden. Buckets upon buckets. Fear the "Beard" ... a perennial threat to win the scoring title.

  12. Russell Westbrook
    PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 08:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Thunder defeated the Suns 122-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    There's not a player in the league who goes as hard and is as relentless as Russell Westbrook. The back-to-back All-Star MVP with the busiest motor in the NBA — as evidenced by his 18 triple-doubles last year — should even play with a bigger chip on his shoulder since Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City to join Golden State. We could be looking at a 2016-17 season, in which Russ wins the MVP.

  13. Kevin Durant
    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors in action against the Los Angeles Clippers during their preseason game at ORACLE Arena on October 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    KD averaged damn-near 30 points per game last year. Playing with three fellow All-Stars should have him that much more in his bag in what could be the best season of his career — not to mention that elusive first title he's been chasing.

  14. Stephen Curry
    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 11:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors runs down court during the finals seconds of their win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    The back-to-back MVP returns after leading the league in scoring (30.1 points per game) and making the Golden State Warriors the most-winning team in NBA history with a 73-9 record, coming up just one game shy of clinching another title. The pressure's on, but guess who isn't gonna crack? Pardon, but Chef Curry had to laugh at that.

  15. LeBron James
    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 02:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second half against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 2, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    King James had to fly into the frame during Game 7 of the NBA Finals and block Andre Iguodala to seemingly remind everyone that he's the best player on the planet. Willing the Cleveland Cavaliers to a championship by averaging a near-triple-double didn't hurt his cause either. Bow down to King James.

Written by Mark Lelinwalla

(Photos from left: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, Al Bello/Getty Images)

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