Kobe Bryant took home the title of the NBA All-Star Game's leading vote-getter, ahead of the likes of Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, but while many would argue that Black Mamba is the game's best clutch player and best winner, few would say that he still holds the konch as the best player in the league.
Most would give James or Durant that honor, but who would you want to build a franchise around if you had the chance?
Durant is probably the easiest answer. He is the NBA's scoring leader, carries himself with high character, and is just 22 years old — far from reaching his ceiling. James, questions about his jump shooting and mental makeup aside, is still pretty young at just 26 years of age and is the game's most dominant force — and biggest star. Conventional wisdom for generations has been to start your team with a great big man, and the 25-year-old Howard certainly fits that bill. Still, while he is the game's best center, few would say he is the game's best player.
A couple of other names have entered the conversation this season, as Derrick Rose has taken the jump from promising young star to top-five player. His jump shot is massively improved, as is his defense — making him a truly complete point guard. He's also just 22. One year younger than Rose, however, is Blake Griffin, the sure thing to be the NBA's Rookie of the Year. Griffin already plays with the intensity of Kevin Garnett with an athletic ability akin to James' and has proven to be a far better technical player than anticipated to boot. Already, Griffin is one of the game's biggest stars — and biggest YouTube phenom.
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