Lebron James, Kevin Durant And The Top 5 NBA Players At Each Position
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Now that the 2012 NBA season has officially come to an end, it's time to sort out who had the biggest impacts at their individual positions.
From point to center, guard to forward, each player is given ultimate scrutiny in order to ensure that each spot is awarded to the most deserving star.
It is going to be a duke-it-out battle between Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard, a free-for-all between the Durantula, Kevin Durant, and the King, Lebron James. Will The Mamba be blinded by Flash, or will the seventh-best player retain his rightful place?
In the end, the awards will be handed out, and the results will stand.
You thought the Pacquiaou-Bradley bout was controversial?
You haven't seen anything yet!
Okay, maybe that's a little overboard, but this is sure to have some fans enraged. But regardless of agreement or disgust, here are the top five individual players at each NBA position.
Damn, talk about B/R bragging rights.
The Centerpiece: The Top 5 NBA Centers of 2012
Andrew Bynum (left) battles Dwight Howard for the rebound.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
5. DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Without a doubt, DeMarcus Cousins is the most promising center in the NBA, and this year he showed us why.
With averages of 18 points and 11 rebounds per game, the sky is the limit for this young prodigy. With only two seasons under his belt, he led the league in offensive rebounding.
Yes, you read that right.
He beat out the Chandlers, Bynums and Howards on the offensive glass. His only downside thus far has been his attitude problem, but with more years and maturity, this kid is going to be among the best for many years to come.
4. Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns)
Having just completed the strongest showing of his career, Gortat has earned a place among the best centers this year.
While you can attribute his efficiency to the brilliance of Steve Nash, Gortat has done nothing but excel on the offensive and defensive ends.
With season postings of 15.4 points per game and 10 rebounds, this under-the-radar center defied all expectations by accomplishing and going beyond anything he had previously done.
He was also one of the most efficient big men this season, shooting 55 percent from the field.
It remains to be seen if Gortat can keep up these kind of numbers should Nash decide to suit up in different colors next year.
But one thing is certain: Marcin Gortat left his mark this season.
3. Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)
After a remarkable season, Marc Gasol may be the younger brother, but it certainly does not make him the worse of the pair.
He led a hard-nosed Memphis Grizzlies team into the playoffs, despite the absences of key teammates throughout the season.
Like every past season, Gasol in 2012 continued to elevate his game to new heights.
With averages of 14.6 points per game and 8.9 rebounds, the numbers do not begin to describe the value Gasol brings to his team.
He is the gorilla to the glue; he gels it all together.
He demonstrated his superb passing skills this season, averaging 3.1 assists per game, excellent for a big man.
For the first time in his career, Marc was selected to the NBA All-Star Game, and if he keeps this up, you can sure he will be back.
2. Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers)
If there were ever a definition for potential and promise, Andrew Bynum would fit the script perfectly.
But now, after seven long years, that potential and promise have finally come to fruition.
Andrew Bynum's potential sky-rocketed through the roof this season. He was a monster at both ends of the floor, earning a double-double almost on a nightly basis.
Averaging nearly 19 points per game to go along with 12 rebounds, Bynum has become a threat to every team in the league.
For the first time in his still-young career, he was selected to be a starter in the NBA All-Star Game.
Recognition and prestige come with consequences, though.
As the league took notice of what was unfolding, Bynum became a target for hard double-teams in the paint. As a result, he has had to learn how to pass from the post.
And when he perfects this skill, watch out!
Having been hurt for the majority of his career, Bynum missed only one game this past season due to injury.
If he can hone in on his slippery attitude, focus and consistency, Bynum is sure to be the No. 1 dominant big man in the coming years.
1. Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
Superman gets this year's nod—but by a narrow margin.
In the post-Shaquille O'Neal era, Dwight Howard has been the most dominant big man on the planet, until now. His closest rival, Andrew Bynum, has pushed Howard's dominance to the edge.
Having said this, Howard still put up remarkable numbers in 2012, to the tune of 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per outing.
Dwight Howard's freak-of-nature body enables him to demolish the opposition on the glass and destroy anything that challenges him in the paint.
If it were not for the late-season injury he suffered, the fiasco that ensued revolving around his ex-coach Stan Van Gundy and his ever-changing trade demands, Dwight Howard would be much further ahead in the race for being the league's best centerpiece.
Stopping Power: The Top 5 NBA Power Forwards of 2012
Blake Griffin goes up for a monster-dunk against power forward rival, Kevin Love.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
5. Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
One season removed from an NBA championship and finals MVP, Dirk Nowitzki has begun to show signs of decline.
But, while his numbers are down across the board, he is still putting up stats that rival those of his colleagues.
Dirk Nowitzki was robbed in the sense that Mark Cuban gutted the core of his championship team before the season began. As a result, arguments can be made that chemistry was lost for both Dallas as a team and Dirk as an individual.
He still put up exceptionally strong numbers, posting averages of 21.6 points per game to go along with nearly seven rebounds a contest.
You know you are witnessing a special talent when his "down season" will still land him in the top five.
The heart of a champion lies deep within the Germanator.
Rest assured that next season he will be back, hungrier than ever before.
With some championship hardware newly added to Chris' collection, he is no longer simply another face in the crowd.
Still, much can be said about a player who has sacrificed personal statistics for the glory of winning.
Chris Bosh has complemented James and Wade perfectly, as he actively looks to fill the voids needed in order to win.
Despite being the third option, he was selected by coaches to participate in this year's NBA All-Star Game and posted averages of 18 points and 8 rebounds per game during the season.
Being the consummate professional that he is, Bosh has earned his spot among the best due to of his outstanding work ethic, efficiency and production.
3. Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
This placement is sure to have many Clipper's fans enraged, but after many debates and analytical comparisons, Griffin is a lock for the No. 3 spot—at least this year, anyway.
Chris Paul complemented Griffin perfectly in the sense that 'Lob City' lived up to all its hype, plus some.
But, until he develops a consistent perimeter jump shot from 15 to 20 feet, his inabilities will continue to hurt the Clippers offense.
During the 2012 Western Conference semifinals, we witnessed San Antonio completely collapse the paint due to the lack of floor-spacing caused by Griffin's inability to knock it down from outside.
Their offense went from Lob City to Brick City (with apologies to Newark), as the entire team was forced to rely on outside shooting.
S-W-E-E-P was the end result.
I am looking for Blake Griffin to add this essential missing element to his game, and if he does, don't expect to see him at No. 3 next year.
2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trailblazers)
It's hard not to feel sorry for LaMarcus Aldridge when you recount the events that happened to his Portland team.
Brandon Roy, the franchise cornerstone, retired early due to chronic knee problems. Greg Oden was released due to yet another medical setback. Aldridge underwent surgery for a heart condition from which he has since recovered. Coach Nate McMillan was fired in the middle of the season. Both Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford never lived to expectations, and Gerald Wallace was traded away for a pick in this year's NBA draft.
Despite all of these factors, volumes can be said about a man who has chosen to stick by his team and show faith in the franchise that drafted him.
The team went from contention to lottery, promise to rebuild, but Aldridge still played this season as if every game were his last.
While both he and Blake Griffin put up similar numbers this year, Aldridge gets the nod, as he showcased a game that is much more polished and fundamentally sound than that of Griffin's.
And, if you teamed Aldridge up with a guy named Chris Paul, you can be sure that his numbers would jump in every offensive category.
Posting season averages of 21.7 points and eight rebounds per game, LaMarcus Aldridge has been spectacular on a nightly basis.
1. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Kevin Love has absolutely crushed all expectations that were placed on him when he was drafted, in 2008.
The former UCLA Bruin has turned into an NBA stud.
Offensively, he was off the charts this year, averaging 26 points per game while shooting lights out from three-point range.
And, it only gets better.
Defensively, he was a rebounding monster, as he grabbed 13.3 boards per game. If not for rookie sensation Rick Rubio's season ending injury, Love would have more than likely been playing in the postseason this year.
It is scary to think that this man has only been in the NBA four seasons.
He is only going to get better, and you can expect him to challenge for this No. 1 spot for many years to come.
Standing Tall at Small: The Top 5 NBA Small Forwards of 2012
This is becoming a classic rivalry right before our eyes. Kevin Durant (right) backs down LeBron James.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
5. Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies)
The Memphis Grizzlies featured a cluster of talent this year, and Rudy Gay, along with Marc Gaol, was at the helm, leading this team to win after win.
Gay brought everything to the franchise you could ask for, including excellent offense, hard-nosed defense and clutch performances. On the way to averaging 19 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, he was extremely efficient and played to win.
Although his team was knocked off in the first round of the playoffs, he led a team that was feared by the entire Western Conference.
Nobody wanted to face the Grizzlies in the first round, and Rudy Gay had a lot to do with that.
4. Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
When the season started, the critics and naysayers had nothing but negative things to throw Boston's way.
But, after the All-Star break, this squad came together and shut the critics up for good with outstanding, championship-level basketball.
Paul Pierce had a lot to do about that.
The Truth still remains relevant, as he was one of the best small forwards in the league, averaging 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
He was the go-to man in fourth quarters, and he often carried the Celtics through. Pierce buried the go ahead three-pointer against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
His squad pushed James to the brink but came short in the seventh and final game of that series.
Now, Paul Pierce is waiting to shut the doubters up again next year.
There are so many positive and negative things to be said about Anthony's game.
Individually, Carmelo is one of the most unstoppable offensive threats in the NBA. GIve him some space, and he will shoot over you. Play him tight, and you will be in the hospital due to broken ankles while he is hanging out above the rim.
Unfortunately, the knock on Carmelo has been that he might have neither the drive nor the willingness to win.
Does he value his personal agenda and spotlight more, or is he hungry for a title?
Despite all of these questions, there is no doubting Carmelo's pure basketball talent. He is, by far, one of the best players in the game and will remain so for many years to come.
Now is the time for him to decide what his priorities are. These next few seasons will determine his legacy.
Was he just a great scorer, or did Carmelo have the drive of a champion?
2. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
It is extremely unfortunate that Durant has to share this position with his rival LeBron James.
There is not enough that can be said to describe this kid's talent, attitude and desire to win. He is the indisputable leader of this young Thunder team, which features one other superstar, Russell Westbrook, and two coming-of-age All-Stars in James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
Kevin Durant has captured the heart of the basketball world with his clutch performances, highlight-reel ability and lovable personality.
He was voted in as a starter in this year's NBA All-Star Game, won the league's scoring title and took his young team all the way to the NBA Finals.
He met his match when LeBron James' previous finals experience was just too much for Durant and the Thunder to handle.
During the season, Kevin Durant was phenomenal, posting averages of 28 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting an extremely efficient 50 percent from the field.
Is there anything this kid cannot do?
He has only been in the league for five years and is 24 years old. It is scary just thinking about the unraveled potential we will witness in the coming years.
The world is anxiously waiting.
1. LeBron James (Miami Heat)
The King has finally taken his throne.
What else can you say?
It is almost as if there exists a human-controlled robot under his skin. He does anything and everything you could ever expect from a basketball player with an added cherry on top.
From filling up every stat line to winning MVPs and finally his first championship, the real King James has at last stood up.
We have been waiting nine long years for this coming, and yes, it is finally here!
Hail to the King, hail to the King!
The Sharpshooter: The Top 5 NBA Shooting Guards of 2012
Kobe Bryant (left) shoots over the out-stretched arms of arch-rival, Dwyane Wade.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
5. Monta Ellis (Milwaukee Bucks)
After years of being the Golden State Warrior's franchise player, Monta Ellis was shipped to Milwaukee in a mid-season trade involving Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.
Ellis had the reputation of being a high-volume shooter throughout his career with Golden State. In Milwaukee, he has the opportunity to grow with a team hungry to go far in the playoffs.
While Ellis averaged 20.4 points per game, his scoring took a dive with the Bucks because of the balanced talent that fills the roster.
If Monta improves his efficiency level and becomes more assertive on defense, his team will greatly reap the benefits in the win column.
4. Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks)
At the age of 30, Joe Johnson is still proving he can get it done.
He orchestrated a very solid year for himself, averaging nearly 19 points per game while shooting almost 39 percent from the three and 45 percent from the field.
He was the leader of his team, guiding the Hawks to the playoffs, from which they were eliminated in the first round.
3. James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder)
James Harden made an absolute name for himself this year, winning sixth man of the year and providing the Thunder with stable offense and pesky defense.
The Beard not only improved on his play from last year, but he also left little doubt that he will be an All-Star for many years to come.
There is no questioning the talent of an individual who put up a solid 16.8 points and shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from the three-point line, all while coming off the bench.
His feel for the game goes far beyond his years in the league thus far, and his savvy is that of a seasoned pro.
A real class act and on the up-and-up, we have seen only the beginning of what should be many great years to come.
2. Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
Wade has to be one of the happiest men on earth right now.
Fresh off of winning his second NBA championship, he has been the quintessential ingredient that has brought his Miami team to the finish line.
With a bright, winning future ahead of him, Flash has been nothing short of professional, showing frequently his willingness to sacrifice his game for the team's greater good.
After having yet another impressive showing this season, he proved that not only does he perfectly complement King James, but he is also still able to impose his will whenever necessary to win games.
He averaged 22.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor.
The NBA may very well be Flashed for a second consecutive year in 2013 as Wade and the Heat defend their title.
The Black Mamba reigns supreme for yet another year.
Critics love to point at his low field-goal percentage and the volumes of shots he attempted this season, but many people forget that Kobe had to deal with a number of issues when the season started.
Not only was he forced to become acquainted to a new coach and offense minus the all-important NBA training camp and preseason, but he was also hammered with an early-season wrist injury.
Despite these factors, Kobe still showed us why he is one of the NBA's greatest players of all time.
Even at the age of 33, Kobe is still taking the young guns to school.
While he was busy dropping 27.9 points per outing, he still had the time to orchestrate 4.6 dimes per game to go along with 5.6 rebounds.
He surpassed Michael Jordan for most career points in the NBA All-Star Game. And, as the season wore on, he passed the likes of players such as Shaquille O'Neal and Moses Malone in his quest for the most points in NBA history. (He currently holds the fifth position.)
When Father Time comes calling, Kobe Bryant will be remembered as an all-time great.
This season was just another chapter in his fairy-tale storybook.
Right on Point: The Top 5 NBA Point Guards of 2012
Tony Parker attempts to pass the ball against Rajon Rondo's stingy defense.
It's almost too painful to watch Deron Williams squander the prime of his career with such an awful team.
The fact that he still managed to average nearly nine assists per game to go along with 21 points speaks volumes for a player whose squad was considered lottery-bound before the season even began.
What's even more depressing is the fact that he is actually considering signing a new contract with Brooklyn.
And, for what exactly, Deron?
You are too good and in the prime of your career. For the sake of basketball and its fans, we want to see you work your magic with a competitive team!
When your management thinks that it is wise to trade the No. 6 pick in a deeply stacked draft class for a possible rental in Gerald Wallace, you know it's about that time to go looking for a new home.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to be Deron Williams' thought process.
So, while he gets all the kudos for being a perennial All-Star, it's still mortifying to witness all his talent go to waste.
4. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Russell Westbrook is one of four studs for the Oklahoma City Thunder and has evolved into an NBA superstar.
While many will point out his occasionally poor shooting habits, most would agree the positives he brings on a nightly basis completely outweigh all the criticism he has received.
He is an ultra-dynamic second-option scorer who can seemingly light up the scoreboard at will.
With season averages of 23.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists, Westbrook provides the complete package—plus some.
With a little more in-game maturity and polishing, Westbrook is sure to excite basketball fans for the next decade.
3. Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics)
Rajon Rondo was absolutely spectacular in leading an underdog Boston team through the regular season and into the Eastern Conference finals.
Watching him this year was truly special. He stands at 6'0", yet he can dominate a game without scoring a single bucket.
He provided every intangible the team needed, from passing and getting the entire team involved, to rebounding on both ends, all while scrapping for loose balls.
He made triple-doubles seem ordinary, as though he had an off-game if we did not witness 14 points, 10 rebounds and 17 assists.
The two knocks on his game have been his lack of an outside shot and poor free-throw shooting.
If he can become a consistent shooter, Rondo will undoubtedly be considered the best point guard in the league.
2. Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)
At the age of 30, Tony Parker, had by far the best season of his storied career.
He led the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA-best 50-16 record, which included an 18-game winning streak.
At one point, the Spurs looked unbeatable, feasting on their opponents in blow-out wins.
With incredible efficiency, Parker averaged 18.3 points per game to go along with 7.7 assists and finished fifth in the regular-season MVP race.
He was the anchor that gelled the Spurs offense together; it was mind-blowing watching basketball chemistry at its absolute finest.
Many people wonder how long San Antonio can keep up this winning pace, but with Tony Parker running the ship, you can never count this old dog out.
1. Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
Chris Paul was brilliant this year, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot during fourth quarters while keeping the team focused with his outspoken and winning personality.
When CP3 was aggressive, the Clippers were at there best.
He led them to their best season in franchise history and into the second round of the NBA playoffs, from which they were ultimately ousted by the San Antonio Spurs.
Unfortunately, during the end of the season, Paul was hampered with injuries that hurt the play of the overall team. One can argue that this team would have gone on an even deeper playoff run if not for these setbacks.
There is no other point guard in the NBA that possesses as much all-around talent and championship drive as Chris Paul.
He is exceptionally special to watch.