Sports Illustrated Players Poll: They chose LeBron to build around first

Sports Illustrated polled 137 NBA players, asking them who they would choose first if they were starting an NBA team from scratch. The final tallies included 15 players, with LeBron James ranked number one overall. Right here is where I’d insert a joke about those players not asking the Cleveland Cavaliers how it worked out for them when they actually did chose James first and built their team around him, but I won’t do that.

Miami Heats' LeBron James is introduced to the crowd before playing the Atlanta Hawks in an NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida March 7, 2012.

The fifteen player list included many of the usual suspects, and it is not surprising that James went number one to be fair. Andrew Bynum was 15th, Rajon Rondo 12th, Pau Gasol 11th, Deron Williams 10th, Blake Griffin 9th, Dwyane Wade 7th, Chris Paul 6th, Derrick Rose 5th, Kevin Durant 3rd, Dwight Howard 2nd, and then James. The polled players also picked 30-somethings Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant 8th and 4th respectively though, which is an interesting way to build your team for the future. What was also interesting was to see Ricky Rubio making the list at 14th, and Eric Gordon doing so as well at 13th.

I had no idea that Eric Gordon commanded so much respect amongst his peers to be honest, and even more respect than Carmelo Anthony does these days. Anthony didn’t make the list at all, and neither did his teammate Amar’e, Kevin Durant’s teammate Russell Westbrook, or Wade and James’ teammate Chris Bosh. I think you gotta have Russell Westbook on there though. The players who would pick Eric Gordon and Steve Nash over Westbrook right now should actually be identified and never allowed to work in an NBA front office. Neither should those who think Rubio is better than Kyrie Irving either, because he is not.

Anyways, that was the list. I’m not sure how SI selected the 137 NBA players that they did question, but they asked them, and this is what they said.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.