Currently, there has been a lot of talk about who the best player is in the NBA right now. We often hear the names Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antentokounmpo, LeBron James, and Nikola Jokic thrown around when it comes to this topic. But what do former NBA players think? Their opinion has great value, coming from people who have experienced the NBA and have extensive knowledge.
The Athletic surveyed 118 NBA players who retired before the 2021-2022 season began, and multiple questions were asked. One of these questions was who they though the best player in the NBA is right now. Kevin Durant was the name that most players answered, with 44.4 percent of the interviewees voting for him. LeBron James, who was second, got 31.6 percent of the votes, with Antentokounmpo and Curry coming in at third and fourth, with 13.6% and 3.5% of votes respectively. Joel Embiid tied with Nikola Jokic at 1.8%. The last four players all tied with 0.9%: Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Zion Williamson, and Russell Westbrook.
Moreover, Durant was also the front-runner when the players were asked which current NBA athlete they would trust the most to shoot the final shot to win the game. He racked in 48.9% of votes, with Curry being second at 33.2%, and 7% chose Damion Liliard.
Furthermore, the players were asked who they thought be the best player in the league in 5 years time. Antentokounmpo received the most amount of votes. He received 28.2% of the votes. However, an overwhelming 20.2% of players said they didn’t know. 16.4% of voters chose Luka Doncic. Despite his relatively old age of 33, Durant got 5.9% of votes.
The players were also asked who they enjoyed watching the most. Curry easily won this one, with 32.7% of the votes, yet KD still ranked high at 16.8% of voters choosing him. LeBron James achieved 11.1% of votes. These results somewhat match another question that was asked, which was whether or not they think the increased amount of 3-point attempts in the league was a positive or negative thing to be introduced to basketball. 34.7% of voters said it was very positive, whereas 15.3% thought that it was a very negative aspect of the game. However, 30.5% of the voters said it was a slight negative. There were a lot of mixed opinions for this particular question.
Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr got the most votes for who the players would most want to be coached by, getting 24.1% and 20.3% respectively, followed by Doc Rivers who received 13.2% of votes.
The rules of the game have evolved over the years of the NBA and the game has changed dramatically. Wilt Chamberlain used to be allowed to dunk his free throws. Players used to be able to hand check on defence. There was no such thing as a gather step in the past. The retired players were asked which rule change they would like to see the most. Here are there responses:
In addition, the players were asked who they think would win in an NBA series. The current champs, the Milwaukee Bucks, or the 1986-87 champions, the Showtime Lakers. It was extremely lopsided, as the Lakers received 95.7% of votes, leaving the bucks with 4.3%.
As many would expect, the NBA players thought that the quality of the current NBA play is worse than when they played:
Finally, a majority of the players responded that they would be more successful in the NBA if they played right now compared to when they played. 40.6% responded that they would be much more successful, 30.5% said they would be somewhat more successful, whereas 8.5% said they would be somewhat less successful and 4.2% said they would be much less successful. 11.0% responded that there would be no difference.
How would the results look if the players were asked right now, instead of before the season? Would Durant still have the most votes for the best player in the league? How come Nikola Jokic only received 1.8% of votes if he’s the reigning MVP? Are Greg Poppovich and Steve Kerr truly the best coaches in the NBA? There are many questions that can be asked about this new interview. It’s fair to say that these retired players have a great variance in their thoughts on the current league.