My Top 2 Point Guards left: Steph/Payton
My Top 2 wing/forwards left: Durant/Pippen
My Top 2 Centers left: Artis/Dwight - as much as I hate watching the guy, he probably is next up of the Centers.
Kevin Durant is great and getting him in sooner hasn't been as easy as I thought.
Some of the general critiques:
1) Questionable RAPM.
His RAPM hovers around 10th or higher every year except starting in '12 when he led the league in minutes - and in general when you see someone with crazy high minutes you have to start using the stat with a grain of salt, otherwise we don't have enough "off" data.
2) His '13/'14/'16 playoffs have been criticized as "under-performing". If his bar is so high that these numbers are defined as under-performing, then he should've been in long ago:
2013: 31-9-6 12.7% TO, 57% TS
2014: 30-9-4 12.7% TO, 57% TS
2016: 28-7-3, 12.1% TO, 54% TS
3) Suspect Defensive Impact
He's generally been getting 2+ blk/steals since '10
His DRAPM #'s aren't elite - but their solid
GSW improved defensively to -4.8 from -2.6 this year; that's material
Double digit or better Rebounding % #'s for a while now - since '10, and he's been at 12.7+ each of the last 2 years
I'm not saying he's Kawhi or anything - but he's certainly not a Melo/Dantley type on that end either. He's good - he's been very good the last couple years.
4) I don't feel like people think he peaked all that high based on some of the critiques I've been reading
-He won an MVP over Lebron
-He has 2 of the 25 highest WS years ever
-He's co-best player on arguably the GOAT Team (Higher WS/48 than Steph, was the best player in the only series where they were even a little threatened, Steph didn't miss time and was better over the 1st 3 series in aggregate as Durant shook off some rust - I call it a wash)
-He's 14th in MVP Shares - everyone else ahead of him is in already.
Steph: Right with Durant, he has the potential to be an all time Top 10 player. Every metric that you'd want is there. He's the only multiple time MVP and best player on best team left (sorry Daniels, your Pacers weren't the best team in Pro Hoops, and you weren't the best player in Hoops those years either), he's also co-best player of arguably the GOAT Team. The case for Steph is pretty straight forward - and how you feel about him getting in here reflects how you feel about the importance of longevity.
GP (I'll be voting for him before Pippen & the A-Train): Very underrated, imo. I'll lead off with an outstanding elimination/closeout track record (which is far superior to Nash's).
22.8 PPG, 5.8 reb, 8.0 ast, 1.8 stl, 0.2 blk, 2.7 TO, 55.3% TS - all stats from '94-'03.
Had a knack for outplaying other strong point guards when it mattered because of his outstanding defensive presence and is one of very few point guards whose defensive impact is highlighted that he's the only one to win DPOY. A true all around player who averaged 21-8-5 during his prime while bringing elite defense and averaged 24-8-5 during the playoffs and had a tendency of showing up when it mattered. Has more Win Shares & VORP (the latter by a lot) vs. Nash even though one of Payton's best seasons ('99) was a lockout shortened one.
GP isn't getting any other sort of traction, so I should probably address the two issues likely to crop up:
1) The Denver series. There's no justification for it. It really is indefensible. 3 of those games are in my elimination/closeout records and his 2 worst performances in those types of games were in the Denver series (Games 3 & 5).
1A) The '95 LA Series. Van Exel out played him. Between '94 & '95 these were two years where a Title was in play for Seattle and they didn't just take a dump on the bed, they got up and smeared it on the wall as well
That said - those series did factor into the overall playoff and elimination record I showed above - and the overall track record is strong. It's unfortunate that he peaked later than a lot of other point guards did - and by the time he peaked the talent on him was not championship caliber to say the least; if you consider '99 or 2000 his peak, it was an outright dumpster fire situation.
2) His RPAM numbers are not as good as they could be. I'm not a huge fan of +/- stats but I can't ignore them either.
'97 & '98 are very strong - '99 for some reason isn't great - but I suspect team context (middling overall record, was out there for virtually all meaningful minutes - 2,010 minutes in a 50 game season is a ton) - even though 2000 bounces back. '01-'03 are basically flat even though WIn Shares & VORP remain at very high levels in '01 & '02 in particular. I don't think his '03 season has tremendous impact - and I think his defense was starting to slip in '01 & '02. It was probably still good - but not necessarily warranting the All D honors he received either.
I'm OK with this wart because I don't think RPAM stats do a great job of explaining elite players' impact who play huge minutes on basically .500 teams - it feels like a "blind spot" for the model - moreso in the years I'm referencing than some of the later years. The inconsistency from '99 to '00 in the metric is odd even though his other performance indicators are fairly comparable and I've read some of the multi-year work in this area - which makes me trust the '99 number less. I'm definitely aware of the flaws in the '97-'00 data vs. other years, but I do think it's important to at least speak to the wart.
If anyone has questions on why I picked Pippen or Artis over competitors in those spaces, I'm more than happy to address - but I won't be voting for them in my Top 30, so I'm not going to write too much yet.
--------------------------------------------1st choice: Kevin Durant
Alternate Selection: Steph Curry