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Ranking Paul Pierce

BOSTON - The NBA season begins tonight in Boston, where the Celtics will raise Banner No. 17 and receive their championship rings after completing the greatest single-season turnaround in league history. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen proved that "anything is Possss-ahh-buuuullllll!" when superstar players are willing to sacrifice for the good of the team.

Pierce was the other major turnaround involving the Celtics. He was an under-appreciated six-time all-star and a prolific scorer for his entire career. Unfortunately, Pierce was also on some really bad teams, which unfairly gave him a reputation for padding meaningless stats to his resume. But he moved into the discussion of the NBA's upper-echelon players through an impressive postseason run -- he scored 41 points against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and bested league MVP Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals.

Pierce just turned 31, which puts him on the tail end of his prime, but he still plans to build on a season in which he won the Finals MVP after (miraculously) healing from a right knee injury in Game 1 of the series. I asked Pierce a few weeks ago about how he got up from a wheelchair and led his team to the title. Pierce, not realizing I was half-joking, was a bit defensive. "It wasn't a script," he said. "It wasn't like somebody wrote it. It's the way it happened and that was it."

Pierce shocked some this summer when he told reporters in Spain that he, not Bryant, was league's best player. Asked to explain, Pierce said, "I really don't care what people think of me as a player. I'll sit back and worry about that when my career is over. I'm going to try to go out there and be the best player I can be and everybody is going to have their opinion anyway."

My question to you is, after his performance last season -- which included taking fewer shots and playing better defense -- where would you place Pierce? Top five? Top 10? Top 20? Tell me what you think.

By Michael Lee  |  October 28, 2008; 4:44 PM ET
 
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Comments

Pierce is probably top 10 after that clutch performance in the championship run. Before that, I'd probably have said mid-to-late teens. He was definitely a victim of some bad teams prior to Ainge bringing in Allen & Garnett. He plays at both ends. His J is pure, he's not afraid to drive, moves well without the ball, gives effort when defending, rebounds, hits free-throws and is willing to step up and take tough shots. I slept on the guy coming out of Kansas but he's a beast.

Posted by: gregskins | October 28, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

paul pierce is a top 20 player...and he is definitly not kobe bryant...

Posted by: jasonma1 | October 28, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Pierce is probably top 20. He did have an outstanding post season last year and has always been a threat when the Wizards played the Celtics, even when they were horrible. I'm sure he was under appreciated but there are still quite a few better players in the league. I would actually put Garnett ahead of him, Pierce probably got a lot more open shots and driving lanes due to defenses swarming KG last year. Even though its subjective I think the players I would take before Pierce would be Paul, James, Bryant, Howard, Wade, Anthony, D. Williams, Bosh, BUTLER, J. Johnson, A.I.(As old as he is), West, and Boozer even.....

Posted by: RudysWay | October 28, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Pierce is definitely top 20 but I can't make him higher than the top 10 players as I see it in the league.

Them being(in no particular order):
Kobe, KG, Duncan, CP3, LBJ, Amare, Dirk, Wade, Dwight, and Nash(although maybe I'll have to take him off this season but eh).

After those guys I see a hosh posh of really good players like Pierce, Yao, Bosh, DWill, Gilbert, AI, etc who still are the cream of the crop but I think the top 9 or 10 guys are extremely unique and distinguished.

Pierce doesn't fit in that category no matter what he thinks of himself. Although I give him props, every star needs to step on the court with that confidence so good for him.

Posted by: mfkrnnktb | October 28, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

If he comes into the season playing the kind of ball he did in the playoffs, he's easily top ten. He was near-dominant at both ends of the court, and that's all a team can ask for from it's franchise player.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 28, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

No offense, but I don't think many/any on this blog give a crap about PP unless he's playing Les BouleS, where Caron has been eating his lunch like Joey Chestnut eats Nathan's hot dogs.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 28, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Yes, your mistake, which is why you're getting fined...dope.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3667938

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 28, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Pierce is not top 10, 15, or 20. He is a middle of the pack player who got hot during the finals. Austin Croshere got hot during the finals. Tyronne Lue got hot during the finals. Are they top 20 material? He acted like he single handedly stopped Kobe. Like he single handedly stopped Lebron (who still dropped 48 ON HIM in game 7). Pierce isn't even top 10 at his position.

Posted by: CBell29 | October 28, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah he looked real middle of the pack when he basically dropped 30 on LeBron tonight... give me a break man. Pierce is top 10, dude get's whatever shot he wants.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | October 28, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

pierce is kobe...hit some 3s, drive the lane to get fouled and pump fake then jump into your defender. yeah hes good but on a given night 25 to 50 percent of his points come from FT. thats not game thats being a girl. bronbron dunks from the freethrow line every nite, michael redd shoots the lights out and amare and dhoward play rough down low. lets celebrate real game and give them some love

Posted by: formerlylove | October 29, 2008 1:35 AM | Report abuse

"pierce is kobe...hit some 3s, drive the lane to get fouled and pump fake then jump into your defender. yeah hes good but on a given night 25 to 50 percent of his points come from FT. thats not game thats being a girl. bronbron dunks from the freethrow line every nite, michael redd shoots the lights out and amare and dhoward play rough down low. lets celebrate real game and give them some love

Posted by: formerlylove | October 29, 2008 1:35 AM "

What you described though, is basically Gilby's game too. Gilby gets a lot of his points from the FT line.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/stats?playerId=974

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 29, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Is Pierce one of the ten most clutch players in the league? Yes, based on his playoff performance last year. Is a Top Ten player who can carry a franchise? No, he's not even the most important player on his own team; KG is the reason that Boston played such tough D and gave them an inside threat that loosened things up on the perimeter for Pierce and Ray Allen.

I watched Pierce face off against CB3 in back to back games in January when both were healthy, and Caron came out on top in both games individually and his team won. I look at both of those guys as Top 20 players who can raise their level of performance if playing with a strong team. I could name another 3-4 guys that can play the 3 including Joe Johnson, Vince Carter, and Tracy McGrady who are equally as talented as Pierce but haven't had the same supporting cast. Would Pierce have done as well in the playoffs playing on Houston or Atlanta? I doubt it.

Pierce played 10 years in the league and never was regarded as a top all around player and it's not true he always played on bad teams. His first few years were spent playing with Antoine Walker and they never advanced beyond the conference finals before that team was broke up after going to the playoffs 3 or 4 times.

Posted by: wizfan89 | October 29, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

But, let's give credit where credit is due.

Whether KG is the MVP on the team or not doesn't matter.

What matters is that team with 3 all stars won a championship.

Les BouleS with 3 all stars can't even get out of the first round.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 29, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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