It’s half the season behind us in the 2013-2014 NBA Season, which is a good opportunity to check out the rankings for the best players in the league so far with no surprises coming from the top as it’ll be LeBron James and Kevin Durant till the bitter end of the MVP race.
There are players who deserve consideration as well: These are special seasons for LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul George, Kevin Love and like always Chris Paul. However, the two small forwards are a step ahead of the competition; something that will probably continue this season and in the near future.
Number 10 – Dirk Nowitzki
A comeback year of sorts for the best European player in NBA history. Nowitzki is averaging 21.6 points per game with 6.2 rebounds while hitting 48.3% of his shots (best in three years), shooting a lot more from long distance (1.6 three-pointers a game) than in the last decade. He’s helping the Mavs to a 26-21 record which is barely enough right now for 8th in the West. He’s not his MVP-self from a few years ago, but remains one of the truly unique and versatile scorers in the NBA, having a lot of fun on an enjoyable team to watch, mostly because of him.
Number 9 – Anthony Davis
Davis might not have been the immediate franchise changer some thought he’d be when he came out of the draft, but the Pelicans got the complete package with the big man out of Kentucky, showing a sign of improvement in pretty much every aspect during his second season. He’s averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and a league-best 3.3 blocks per game, doing very well on both ends of the floor for an improving team.
Number 8 – Paul George
Well, George isn’t the MVP of this season despite his great start or playing on the best team in the East. However, it’s impossible to ignore his improvement from season to season on both ends of the floor, and willing to take on more offensive responsibilities in terms of finishing and directing the play. He’s averaging 23.3 points with 6.3 rebounds per game, doing a lot more in terms of trying to get to the basket, shooting 84.8% from the line while attempting a career high of 5.8 shots a game.
Number 7 – LaMarcus Aldridge
The big difference with Aldridge has a lot to do with the team itself, suddenly one of the best in the Western conference, but the veteran power forward himself has taken his offensive game into another level, enjoying the faster pace and wider spread of the offense. He’s averaging 24.3 points and 11.6 rebounds while taking more shots than ever before, which is usually very good for his team.
Number 6 – Carmelo Anthony
The Knicks are terrible; that’s impossible to hide. However, Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have as much to do with it as the rest of the players assembled around him, and he’s probably the reason they still have a shot at making the playoffs (only one game behind 8th spot). Anthony is averaging 27.1 points with a career high 9 rebounds per game, with the Knicks usually doing better when he’s playing the power forward position.
Number 5 – DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins might not be your classic team leader and still has a lot to aspire to in terms of his behavior, but he’s turning into the best offensive big man in the NBA, and the scary thing there’s still room for improvement. He’s averaging 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds while shooting a career high 48.8% from the field. A bit more leadership, a bit more sense and a bit more effort on defense and he’ll be an All-NBA kind of player for more than just one season.
Number 4 – Kevin Love
No broken bones getting in the way, so Love is once again one of the more reliable double double machines in the NBA, averaging 24.9 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, showing quite an affinity for passing this season, or at least more than in the past with 4.1 assists per game which is almost double his career average. It’s not helping the Timberwolves in the very difficult and crowded West, but it takes more than one All-Star player to make the top 8.
Number 3 – Chris Paul
The Clippers are doing pretty well without Paul for almost a month now, but the best point guard in the NBA is an impossible man to replace. He’s averaging 19.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and a league-best 11.2 assists per game, looking a lot more like the aggressive scorer he was during his first season with the Clippers, who rely on Paul for more than just numbers, bringing the leadership on both ends of the floor when he’s playing well.
Number 2 – LeBron James
The only player in the world who pulls off a 26.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists stat line and hears everyone talking about how he’s actually coasting. The expectations are that high from him and his team. James has been the one constant on the Heat this season who are struggling showing the dominance from last year, although it was about this time 12 months ago they were hitting their stride, building a 27-game winning streak. James is reaching new heights in terms of efficiency, hitting 58% of his attempts from the field.
Number 1 – Kevin Durant
It’s too early to say with confidence that this is the year the Oklahoma City Thunder win the NBA championship, but after beating the Miami Heat it’s safe to say that this is the season of the Slim Reaper or whatever nickname he goes by these days. He was doing pretty good before his crazy 12-game 30-point streak, but his recent form is simply in the historic zone. Overall, he’s averaging a league-best 31.3 points per game while making 51% of his shots and 42% from beyond the arc.