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Sports Illustrated ranks James Harden and Chris Paul in top 10

Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated released their final rankings of the top 10 players in the NBA, and the Rockets very own James Harden and Chris Paul made the list.

The Houston Rockets are officially an elite team, because they have two of the top ten basketball players in the world, according to Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA Players Rankings.

The Rockets are one of two teams in the NBA that have two top ten players. The Golden State Warriors have Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green filling out the top ten and Klay Thompson in the top 20.

Chris Paul placed No. 7 on SI’s list, just edging out Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo with Green in the tenth spot. Paul’s lengthy reputation probably earned him the benefit of the doubt over AD and the Great Freak.

Paul is the ultimate floor general and pick-and-roll maestro. He understands how to find that delicate balance between keeping everybody happy and shouldering the scoring load himself. CP3 can finish at the rim and is nearly automatic from the free-throw line, and his floaters are a sight to behold. Paul has a lethal mid-range pull up jump shot and he can punish you from beyond the arc as well. Truly, there isn’t really a weak spot in his offensive game.

James Harden and the rest of Houston’s crew are due for a boost in efficiency with Paul at the helm. Paul is one of those special players that sees the game in slow motion and is always three steps ahead of the competition. Remember, superstar point guards play chess, not checkers.

With that being said, a legitimate case can be made that Anthony Davis should’ve placed ahead of Paul. Now that Chris Paul is 32 years old and will play second fiddle to James Harden, this could be his final year in the top 10.

James Harden finishes in the top 5.

Speaking of James Harden, the MVP runner up finished fifth in SI’s rankings. Harden just edged out Russell Westbrook, who placed sixth. Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James rounded out the top four, and deservedly so.

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James Harden’s numbers of 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 11.2 assists were absolutely otherworldly, even if they were outshone by Westbrook’s triple-double average. James led a Rockets team, with no other All-Stars, to the third best record in the NBA. And when Harden faced Westbrook’s Thunder in the first-round, there was no doubt as to who had the better team.

Harden is a more efficient player than Westbrook. He’s a better passer, better shooter and maximizes his teammates value in a way that Westbrook can’t match. Harden scores the ball primarily from 3-pointers, layups and at the free-throw line. And he does all three of those things better than Russell Westbrook.

Those are the areas where Harden separates himself from Westbrook, but the reigning MVP is neck and neck with James nevertheless.

Next: Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson in SI’s top 100

Its great that the Rockets have two of the NBA’s elite players, but it takes a team to win a championship. The Houston Rockets have the right pieces, but now they have to figure out how to put the puzzle together.