I was sitting here thinking about the NBA elite and was considering how many "great" players there are--star players! Then I considered how many actually make a difference in the win column. How many of these stars can strap a team on their backs and force wins even when they are surrounded by marginal talent.
The list I came up with is short. Granted, some players have not had to prove they can do that since they have always played with other talent (Steph Curry). Here's what I came up with:
Harden (he's done it multiple years with multiple squads)
Kemba Walker (seriously, go look at his rosters over the years. Now, ask yourself how many W's do they get without him? I know there are losing seasons in there, but this would be a top lottery team every year without him)
Russell Westbrook (This one is tough. Does Oladipo count? He was average at best in OKC. How much does Steven Adams count? I don't know, but I feel like he counts...)
Notable players who are intentionally not on this list:
D-Wade (correct me if I'm wrong here, but I don't think he had to ever drag a bad roster on his back and succeeded.)
Players who are excluded due to circumstance:
Kawhi Leonard (One could argue he belongs up top...we just haven't seen it)
Oladipo (we'll see...)
Fox/Hield (I think there is a bright future here, but not sure either could carry a team alone)
Devin Booker (still young...we'll see)
I recognize this is HIGHLY subjective--which is part of the fun. What does everyone else think?
My point is it is a very short list of guys who can just step on the court with just about anyone and crank out wins. Somehow, Kemba Walker is one of them and is quietly wasting away in Charlotte.
Conclusion: if we can get Westbrook, Walker, James, and Harden on one team we would never lose.