Updating the Top 100 NBA Players at the First-Quarter Mark of the 2012-13 Season

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

Updating the Top 100 NBA Players at the First-Quarter Mark of the 2012-13 Season

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    It's amazing how much talent is present in the NBA, especially when you take a look at the top 100 players in the league.

    I can almost guarantee it right now: When you're looking through the rankings, you'll stop and scratch your head over the low ranking of one or more stars. Then you'll keep ascending up the leaderboard and quickly realize that the league is deeper than you thought. 

    That's what happened to me, over and over. 

    Then again, this shouldn't be too surprising. This is the NBA. It's where amazing happens. 

    The 100 players that will be presented over the ensuing slides were not ranked solely on their production during the 2012-13 season. After all, the sample size is far too small for that to be a viable method. Instead, the rankings are based on a combination of early-season performances, expectations and success in the past. Proven players do receive some advantage. 

    The rankings are admittedly subjective, as it's absolutely impossible to rank players in an entirely objective manner. Basketball stats can tell us a lot, but each one has its own flaws—and defense, for example, is impossible to truly quantify. 

    Feel free to leave a note in the comment section telling me where you agree or disagree, but remember to keep it civil.

     

    Note: All stats are current through Monday, Dec. 11. 

Injured Players

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    The following players would almost certainly be present in the top 100 if injuries didn't exist (listed in alphabetical order):

    Andrea Bargnani

    Andrew Bogut

    Andrew Bynum

    Eric Gordon

    Danny Granger

    Kyle Lowry

    Steve Nash

    Dirk Nowitzki

    Derrick Rose

    Ricky Rubio

    Amar'e Stoudemire

    John Wall

100. Jason Terry

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    Team: Boston Celtics 

    Position: SG

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 13.29 PER

     

    Jason Terry has struggled adjusting to some new scenery in the TD Garden—come on, the parquet floor would throw you off, too!—but he's still been an effective marksman from the perimeter. 

    That's actually a bit misleading, though, as the splits show that Jet has been far more effective at home than on the road. In Beantown, the shooting guard has shot 52.3 percent from downtown, far better than his 22-percent efforts on the road. 

    Most importantly, though, Terry's turnovers aren't climbing. The trend was a bit disconcerting over the past few seasons, but he's showing a level of care for the ball that we haven't seen from him in a while. 

99. J.J. Redick

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    Team: Orlando Magic

    Position: SG

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 14.88 PER

     

    J.J. Redick wasn't supposed to be this effective without Dwight Howard present in the Orlando Magic lineup. The dominant center's presence opened up plenty of spots for Redick's sharp-shooting abilities to shine from. 

    Well, Howard is gone, and Redick's shooting isn't. 

    The shooting guard has been the third-leading scorer on a Magic squad that hasn't been nearly as disappointing as many expected going into the season. 

98. Kris Humphries

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.4 steals, 15.02 PER

     

    Kris Humphries' minutes with the Brooklyn Nets have been shrinking as the 2012-13 season has progressed, and he's more of a role player than ever before. 

    That said, the power forward is an incredible role player because of his physical play and willingness to crash the boards at all times. He remains one of the more effective rebounders in basketball, even if he's not on the court often enough to record particularly gaudy totals. 

    Humphries is also one of the few players capable of stopping Rajon Rondo from recording 10 assists in a single game. 

97. Patrick Patterson

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.6 steals, 15.45 PER

     

    Patrick Patterson doesn't have the most stellar track record in the NBA, but he's lighting it up during his third season of professional basketball. 

    The former Kentucky Wildcat is an efficient forward with back-to-the-basket moves and range on his jumper that extends out to the three-point arc. If Patterson keeps translating his physical abilities into effective defensive play, he'll only keep rising. 

96. Marcus Thornton

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    Team: Sacramento Kings

    Position: SG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 14.70 PER

     

    Marcus Thornton hasn't been able to find the same level of success while coming off the Sacramento Kings bench that he achieved while in the starting lineup. 

    He's still a scoring stud when his shot is falling, but that's happening less often lately. It's been hard for Keith Smart to give Thornton too much playing time while he's in a prolonged slump and failing to find open teammates with any semblance of consistency. 

    The shooting guard is undoubtedly a talented scorer, but he needs to turn things around soon to avoid falling further down the rankings. 

95. Robin Lopez

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.1 blocks, 0.7 steals, 19.56 PER

     

    The young big man has been more involved than anyone would have thought in the New Orleans Hornets offense during the first quarter of the 2012-13 season, but that's largely due to the conspicuous absence of Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis. 

    With the exception of his passing, Robin Lopez has contributed positively in just about every area of the game while maintaining an impressive level of efficiency. 

94. Klay Thompson

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: SG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.5 steals, 11.94 PER

     

    Klay Thompson has rediscovered his shot in recent weeks, but he's still feeling the ill effects of his cold start to the season. 

    The young shooting guard is still potent from the perimeter. Now he just has to show that for a longer period of time before he can truly establish himself as one of the NBA's young studs. 

    Finding some consistency with his shot and cutting down on the turnovers would go a long way. 

93. Andray Blatche

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: PF

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.0 steals, 24.63 PER

     

    Just one year ago, it would have seemed rather blasphemous to include Andray Blatche in the top 100. Quite frankly, he might not have belonged in the top 300. 

    Blatche was viewed as a clubhouse cancer for the Washington Wizards, but the Brooklyn air and the Jay-Z music pumping through the speakers at the Barclays Center have done wonders for his game. 

    Still only 26 years old, the 6'11" power forward has played a prominent role in the Brooklyn Nets' solid start to the season with his offensive prowess and rebounding abilities. 

92. J.J. Hickson

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.7 steals, 19.66 PER

     

    J.J. Hickson is still prone to the occasional slip-up between his ears, but he's an incredible basketball talent. The Portland Trail Blazers have recognized that, giving the athletic 24-year-old some serious run. 

    Hickson has made the most of his opportunity, averaging a double-double and providing the Blazers with a steady dose of athleticism while never messing with the flow of the offense. 

91. Eric Bledsoe

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.6 steals, 23.77 PER

     

    Eric Bledsoe has been a bona fide stud off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers. 

    The biggest thing holding this athletic marvel of a point guard back is his playing time. He's showing that he could start for quite a few NBA teams, but there's not a chance of him jumping into the starting five while Chris Paul is still a member of Lob City. 

    Mini-LeBron is only going to keep getting better as he gets more and more experience. 

90. Jordan Crawford

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    Team: Washington Wizards

    Position: SG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.5 steals, 17.76 PER

     

    I'm just going to go ahead and put it out there. I'm not typically a fan of volume scorers who miss far more shots than they make. 

    However, Jordan Crawford is starting to become an exception, as he's volume shooting out of necessity thanks to the dearth of quality scoring options on this Washington Wizards team.

    The young man who once embarrassed LeBron James with a much-talked-about dunk was one of the least effective players in the NBA during his first two seasons out of Xavier, but he's taken a massive step forward now that he's in a featured role for Randy Wittman's team. 

89. Carl Landry

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PF

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.3 steals, 20.07 PER

     

    Carl Landry doesn't do much besides score and provide the occasional rebound, but he fills those roles fantastically. 

    The former Purdue standout still plays Boilermaker basketball. He's always physical, possibly because he needs to be to make up for his undersized frame. 

    Whether he's hoisting up mid-range jumpers or abusing defenders down low, Landry is always capable of putting the ball in the basket. 

88. Jason Richardson

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: SG

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.8 steals, 16.67 PER

     

    Jason Richardson isn't supposed to be playing at this level now that he's on the wrong side of 30. His game is dependent on two things: athleticism and a deadly shot from downtown. 

    Despite his declining hops, J-Rich still brings that three-point shot to the table, taking 5.6 attempts per game from long-range and hitting 38.9 percent of them. 

87. Arron Afflalo

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    Team: Orlando Magic

    Position: SG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 steals, 13.18 PER

     

    Arron Afflalo was the prized return in the trade that sent Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers, but he hasn't played like it so far. 

    Make no mistake, Afflalo still has talent. He's especially potent on the defensive end of the court, where he has the ability to morph into a perimeter stopper at the drop of a hat. 

    However, the former member of the Denver Nuggets is still having trouble becoming a go-to option on offense, as evidenced by his 45 percent shooting from the field and 2.2 turnovers per contest. 

86. Jason Kidd

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: PG

    Age: 39

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.9 steals, 20.76 PER

     

    Jason Kidd is no longer the superstar he used to be, but he's made the transition into a role player quite well. 

    Even if Kidd never has another game like his performance against the Brooklyn Nets in the second matchup of the burgeoning rivalry—18 points, six rebounds, six assists and the game-winning three-pointer—he's still going to remain an effective player and locker-room presence. 

85. Glen Davis

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    Team: Orlando Magic

    Position: PF

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.9 steals, 15.76 PER

     

    Glen Davis has been the best player wearing an Orlando Magic uniform during the 2012-13 season. And that's exactly why they've already fallen well below .500. 

    A tough player who will threaten 20 points and 10 rebounds on any given night, Davis is a bit prone to overshooting. He loves hoisting up contested mid-range jumpers and typically fails to meet the efficiency requirements that come with stardom. 

    Ideally, Davis would be a third option on offense, but he's stuck on a Magic roster without too much established talent, so he's doing the best he can. 

84. JaVale McGee

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.9 blocks, 0.2 steals, 23.80 PER

     

    Only seven players have posted a better PER than JaVale McGee during the first quarter of the 2012-13 season. 

    Although he hasn't moved past Kosta Koufos in the Denver Nuggets' starting lineup, he's playing only two minutes less per game, and he's been far more effective. 

    JaVale is still prone to the occasional mental mistake, but he's put his athleticism and size to terrific use thus far. 

83. Luis Scola

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 17.88 PER

     

    Luis Scola might have been amnestied by the Houston Rockets, but he's proving to have a lot of value on the Phoenix Suns. On a squad without much chemistry, he's emerged as a solid player despite his lack of a consistent starting gig. 

    Scola continues to be a skilled low-post scorer, much as he's been throughout his career, and he's just as effective on defense as he's ever been.

82. George Hill

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: PG/SG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 15.85 PER

     

    The Indiana Pacers handed over the reins at point guard to George Hill just before the 2012 postseason, and it's clearly been the right decision. 

    Hill is a great slasher and can capably defend both guard positions, but he has a few weaknesses that need correction before he can elevate up the ranks of floor generals.

    Right now, he's too weak as a passer and tends to look for his own shot far before he finds an open teammate, depressing both his field-goal percentage and his assist totals.  

81. Chris Kaman

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    Team: Dallas Mavericks

    Position: C

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.3 steals, 17.82 PER

     

    Don't expect Chris Kaman to continue to be this effective on offense when Dirk Nowitzki finally returns to the Dallas Mavericks lineup. 

    The seven-footer might maintain his 53.9 percent shooting from the field, but he's going to be far less involved once his German counterpart starts demanding touches. 

    Once that happens, his value is going to be limited to the defensive end more than it has been through the first quarter of the season. 

80. DeMar DeRozan

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    Team: Toronto Raptors

    Position: SG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 15.01 PER

     

    I like to think that I don't end up with my foot in my mouth too often, but DeMar DeRozan is starting to change that. 

    He's improved his outside shot enough that defenses have to at least respect it, which has made his athleticism even more valuable as he blows by opposing players. DeRozan is not only averaging more points per game than he did during 2011-12, but he's also doing so with a marked jump in shooting efficiency. 

    Plus he's just fun to watch. 

79. Wesley Matthews

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.3 blocs, 1.8 steals, 15.40 PER

     

    Wesley Matthews—before he hurt his hip, at least—was finally healthy, and the difference was palpable for the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    A sharpshooter from downtown, Matthews is maintaining his barely-under-40-percent shooting from behind the three-point arc, but he's doing so on more attempts than ever as he becomes even more featured in the Portland offense. 

    That said, it's Matthews' passing improvement that has been particularly impressive thus far. 

78. Tony Allen

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: SG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.6 blocks, 2.0 steals, 11.12 PER

     

    Say hello to the lowest-ranked member of the Memphis Grizzlies' starting five. And you were wondering how they've suddenly become true contenders in the tough Western Conference. 

    Tony Allen is never going to be mistaken for an offensive powerhouse, but it's tough to argue with his value. The shooting guard remains one of the league's premier perimeter defenders, and he may still be the absolute best out on the wings. 

77. Danilo Gallinari

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.7 steals, 14.87 PER

     

    Danilo Gallinari is a potent offensive player. We all know that. 

    His well-rounded game on the glamorous end of the court allows him to knock down three-pointers on one possession and then use his size and underrated athleticism to crash to the rim and finish through contact on the next. 

    However, Gallo hasn't been able to hone in his deep ball quite yet, shooting 28 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Once that starts to fall, the rest of his offensive game will follow. 

76. Chandler Parsons

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.1 steals, 14.69 PER

     

    Don't be fooled by Chandler Parsons' 44.9 percent shooting from the field. The small forward with the messy hair is playing through a shoulder injury that has clearly been affecting his shot. His 48.9 percent shooting during November should be much more telling. 

    Fortunately for Parsons and the Houston Rockets, scoring is by no means all this former Florida Gator brings to the table. 

    He's one of those guys who is solid, albeit unspectacular, in just about every facet of the game. 

75. DeAndre Jordan

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 1.9 blocks, 0.8 steals, 17.44 PER

     

    When DeAndre Jordan is on the court alongside Blake Griffin, it gives the Los Angeles Clippers an unfair amount of athleticism. Chris Paul might as well just loft the ball up near the rim on every play and just let his big man go get it. 

    As has always been the case, Jordan remains an efficient but limited player on offense. His set of moves is growing—the jump-hook looks better than ever—but he is by no means a go-to player on offense. 

    Jordan's defense continues to be overrated because of his sparkling block totals, though. According to 82games.com, the seven-footer has allowed opposing centers to post a PER of 15.6—a good, but not great number. 

74. Gerald Wallace

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.7 steals, 13.55 PER

     

    Gerald Wallace is still attempting to get back in the swing of things after an ankle injury knocked him out of the lineup for seven games. 

    Although Crash has struggled at times as a tertiary—or worse—option in the Brooklyn Nets offense, he's been able to focus on the little things. Although those don't show up in a box score or manifest themselves in his PER, they're valuable aspects to the Nets, and they don't go unnoticed. 

73. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Team: Charlotte Bobcats

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 19

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 17.41 PER

     

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gives us our first rookie sighting in the top 100. 

    Although he hasn't been asked to fill much of a role for the Charlotte Bobcats on offense, he's thrived while focusing his talents on hustling at all times and playing lockdown defense. MKG knows that he isn't an offensive threat from the perimeter, and he plays accordingly. 

    The former Kentucky Wildcat drew comparisons to Gerald Wallace while coming out of college, but he's already looked better than Crash through the first quarter of his rookie season.

72. Carlos Boozer

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: PF

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 16.79 PER

     

    Carlos Boozer might get hated on by a lot of fans, both in Chicago and outside the Windy City, but that's lately because of his contract and the presence of Taj Gibson on the bench. 

    Whether you love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that the power forward is a supremely talented offensive player. He's also a guy who's been stepping it up on the boards this season, falling just a 10th of a rebound shy of a double-double through the first quarter of the season.

    Boozer is still almost invisible on defense, but he's been quite impressive on the other end of the court.  

71. Roy Hibbert

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 3.0 blocks, 0.7 steals, 14.49 PER

     

    What a huge fall for a guy who just received a max contract and was supposed to look like a top-20 player during the 2012-13 season. 

    Roy Hibbert cashed in during the offseason and then promptly forgot how to shoot a basketball—38.2 percent from the field is bad for a perimeter-oriented guard, much less for a big man who plays predominantly with his back to the basket in the paint. 

    No matter how good his defense and rebounding have been, the Indiana Pacers need to get more offensive contributions out of the seven-footer. 

70. Ray Allen

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SG

    Age: 37

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 17.48 PER

     

    Ray Allen hasn't exactly fared poorly since making the transition to full-time role player off the bench for the Miami Heat. 

    While he's not asked to do much more than knock down three-pointers (four of his 8.4 attempts per game come from behind the arc), he's doing it with remarkable success.

    The league's all-time leader in treys is shooting 47.4 percent from downtown; a number that appears to be very sustainable based on the ridiculous amount of space LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can generate for him. 

69. Nikola Pekovic

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Position: C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.8 steals, 16.07 PER

     

    Nikola Pekovic has continued to be a bruising, physical presence in the paint on both ends of the court for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he's also managed to remain out of foul trouble for the most part. That's allowed him to stay on the court for a longer period of time during his third season in the NBA. 

    The big man will need to adjust to playing alongside Kevin Love as the season progresses, especially if his passing continues to be absolutely putrid.

    It's going to be hard to justify throwing the ball into the post to Pekovic too often if he either shoots or turns it over every time. 

68. Raymond Felton

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: PG

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 16.61 PER

     

    I think it's safe to say that Raymond Felton is enjoying his return to the New York Knicks. Back in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden, he's playing almost like he did before he was shipped out west. 

    Felton still possesses the frustrating tendency to shoot teams out of games, but he's a stellar offensive player when he maintains some semblance of control over his shot. 

67. Lou Williams

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: PG/SG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 1.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 19.91 PER

     

    Lou Williams has been one of the most important players for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2011-12 season, coming off the bench to provide a serious scoring punch in a lineup in dire need of consistent scoring. 

    He's a threat from anywhere on the court, and his yo-yo handles usually allow him to get to that spot. As impressive as his scoring is, though, it's not the best part of his game. 

    Lou must hate turning the ball over, because he almost never does, despite having the ball in his hands so often when he's on the court. 

66. Marcin Gortat

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.0 blocks, 0.7 steals, 16.75 PER

     

    The question of whether Marcin Gortat's success was due to Steve Nash has been answered. 

    While he's still a great big man and a powerful finisher, the pick-and-roll game hasn't been the same since Nash left for the Los Angeles Lakers lineup/inactive list.

    For proof, just look at his numbers from the 2011-12 season and compare them to the ones listed above: 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.0 blocks, 0.7 steals. 

65. Joe Johnson

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: SG

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.5 steals, 13.28 PER

     

    It's taken awhile for Joe Johnson to become accustomed to his new surroundings in Brooklyn. In fact, he's still getting settled. 

    A career 44.3 percent shooter from the field, Joe has only managed to hit 41.6 percent of his shots during the first quarter of his first season with the Brooklyn Nets.

    He was supposed to be incredibly potent from behind the three-point arc because of the attention that Deron Williams and Brook Lopez command, but that hasn't happened yet. 

    Joe is still a great shooter and a capable passer from the shooting guard position, but he's got to turn it up a notch or two. 

64. Paul George

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 steals, 15.49 PER

     

    Paul George was a popular pick to break out before the start of the 2012-13 season, but he has yet to fully realize his potential in the Indiana Pacers lineup. 

    The lanky small forward has been able to provide across-the-board production for his squad, but he's struggled from the field and racks up turnovers on a consistent basis. 

    Defense has also been slightly problematic, as George gambles a bit too frequently and allows his man to wreak havoc in the interior of the half-court set.  

63. Omer Asik

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 13.49 PER

     

    Omer Asik might not be much of a offensive presence, but he's an incredible defender and a constant threat to pull down a ridiculous amount of rebounds on any given night. 

    It's pretty hard to average a double-double with more rebounds than points, but that's exactly what this seven-footer has been doing. And he might continue to do that for the rest of the season. 

62. Jeff Teague

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.8 steals, 16.15 PER

     

    The Atlanta Hawks are going to go as far as Jeff Teague can take them during the 2012-13 season. And a lot of that will depend on whether Larry Drew can get over his inexplicable tendency to keep the talented young point guard on the bench for large portions of fourth quarters. 

    Teague's efficiency has waned as the year has progressed, but he remains a great player on both ends of the court, running Atlanta's offense pretty well for a second-year starter. 

    Now he just needs to start cutting back on the turnovers. 

61. Ty Lawson

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: PG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.0 steals, 15.19 PER

     

    At various points throughout the season, I've felt like Ty Lawson is letting me down personally. After all, I had such high hopes for him during the season, fully expecting him to become one of the five or six best point guards in the NBA. 

    Yeah, that hasn't happened yet. 

    Lawson is shooting an uncharacteristically poor 42 percent from the field, and his 3.0 turnovers per game mark the third straight season in which his mistakes have risen. 

    His December splits show that he's starting to turn it around, but we're still dealing with a very small sample size. 

60. Evan Turner

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 steals, 15.50 PER

     

    Could Evan Turner finally be living up to his lofty No. 2 spot in the 2010 draft class?

    The point-forward for the Philadelphia 76ers (really, though, I have no idea what exactly to call the position that Turner plays) has stepped up his game during his third season in the league, providing that versatile set of contributions that so many of us expected. 

    He's also been unconscious from behind the three-point arc and is actually shooting better from downtown than he is from two-point range. 

59. Tyreke Evans

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    Team: Sacramento Kings

    Position: PG/SG/SF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 steals, 17.76 PER

     

    It's a shame the Sacramento Kings still haven't been able to figure out what to do with Tyreke Evans. He's so talented that he might have been able to parlay his rookie season into superstardom by now if there had been any consistency in the lineup and on the sidelines. 

    Then again, he also would have had to learn how to shoot from the outside for that to happen. 

58. Andre Iguodala

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.1 steals, 13.14 PER

     

    Andre Iguodala has struggled to meet expectations since putting on a Denver Nuggets jersey for the first time. 

    With the exceptions of blocks and turnovers (3.0 per game), all of his per-game numbers have gone down since leaving the Philadelphia 76ers. The blocks are a good thing. The turnovers, not so much. 

    Iggy is also struggling to find his shot, shooting a career-worst 43.1 percent from the field. 

    He's too talented to keep producing at this disappointing level, but it's hard to use any adjective other than "disappointing"—or a synonym—at this point. 

57. Ryan Anderson

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.4 steals, 20.88 PER

     

    Remember what I said about J.J. Redick? The same applies to Ryan Anderson, although the power forward pulled a Dwight Howard and also was traded away from the Orlando Magic, just without nearly the same level of drama. 

    Anderson has thrived as the primary scoring option for the New Orleans Hornets, firing away from downtown whenever he wants to. When he does fire, he tends to knock it down. 

    2011-12's Most Improved Player of the Year is by no means a one-hit wonder. 

56. Mo Williams

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: PG

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.2 steals, 17.88 PER

     

    The return to the Utah Jazz has been good to Mo Williams, who hasn't gotten to play home games in Salt Lake City since his rookie season in 2003-04. He continues to prove that the Jazz's acquisition of his talents was one of the more underrated moves of the offseason. 

    Williams has been particularly impressive shooting the ball, hitting from all areas of the court and rarely, if ever, missing from the charity stripe. He's knocked down 94.6 percent of his freebies while shooting 2.1 per contest. 

    His 7.2 assists per game also leave an indelible impression upon viewers of his dual-threat nature. 

55. Thaddeus Young

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.7 steals, 17.95 PER

     

    Thaddeus Young is going to be scary good one day if he keeps developing at this pace. 

    Despite playing a much larger role in the Philadelphia 76ers offense and taking an extra 1.7 shots per game, Young has increased his field-goal percentage from 50.7 percent to 53.0 percent. If you let Young get going to his left, you might as well give up. 

    Plus, he's doing that while still crashing the boards with ferocity and making a concerted effort to play solid defense. 

54. Jamal Crawford

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PG/SG

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 18.34 PER

     

    Jamal Crawford is averaging a career-low in assists and has actually recorded more turnovers than dimes through the first quarter of the 2012-13 season, but he's still put together a fantastic offensive campaign. And that's even after cooling off from his torrid pace to start the year. 

    Crawford can shoot the ball with the best of them, and his handles are top-notch. 

    Surprise, surprise. 

53. David West

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.7 steals, 20.65 PER

     

    David West is finally making the Indiana Pacers look good for spending so much money on him during the 2011 offseason. It just took a year for everything to fall into place. 

    Without Danny Granger in the lineup, West has looked incredible on offense, threatening 20 and 10 every night while making just over half of his shots. 

    Although he's not a threat on defense, his willingness to work hard and compensate for his lack of athleticism does at least make him a viable player in the post. 

52. Pau Gasol

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.5 steals, 15.00 PER

     

    Even before his knees knocked him out of action, Pau Gasol was having a largely forgettable season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Now he's back in the trade rumors once again, and that won't change in the foreseeable future unless he either changes teams or learns how to coexist with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. 

    Pau has just flat-out struggled throughout his action on the offensive end of the court. His scoring and his efficiency are both down, and he just hasn't looked comfortable in any of the sets. 

    Gasol is a top-20 talent, but that talent won't manifest itself until he's in the right system. 

51. Manu Ginobili

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: SG

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 18.32 PER

     

    Manu Ginobili's shot hasn't been falling with the same frequency that it typically does, but the crafty Argentine shooting guard has compensated in other ways. 

    His distributing has been particularly effective for the San Antonio Spurs, especially when coupled with his knack for minimizing the amount of times he coughs up the ball to the other team. 

    Ginobili is definitely starting to decline—Father Time has to affect at least one member of the Spurs—but he's still playing at a high level. 

50. Damian Lillard

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.1 steals, 17.33 PER

     

    While Damian Lillard hasn't been having a rookie season like the one Kyrie Irving put together a year before, he's still been incredible during his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    The point guard's offensive game is already quite advanced, partially aided by the amount of experience he racked up at the collegiate level. He shows no hesitation to pull the trigger, but also fills the massive playmaking hole that Portland had been dealing with before drafting him. 

    Lillard needs to work on his defensive game before he can join the true elites at his position, but he's not that far off. 

49. Monta Ellis

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Position: SG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, 16.39 PER

     

    Monta Ellis has been a solid contributor for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he hasn't exactly meshed too well with Brandon Jennings and the rest of the players on the roster. 

    The shooting guard still plays a fantastically entertaining style of basketball, but he's shooting the worst percentage of his career from both the field of play and the free-throw line while showing a bit of a drop in his assist figures. 

    That said, he's stepped up his defensive efforts during the 2012-13 season, gambling for steals less and staying in front of his man more. The result has been impressive. 

48. Anthony Davis

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 19

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 2.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 26.52 PER

     

    So far, the only things that have been able to slow down Anthony Davis are injuries. An ankle injury and a concussion have kept The Brow out of the lineup at times, but he's been marvelous when on the court. 

    Davis is just a different breed, with the size and athleticism to dominate on the interior, but the ball skills and versatility necessary to pose a threat from the perimeter. 

    Truthfully, he's the toughest player to rank because we only have a single-digit sample size to base the ranking on. He could either plummet or continue his ascent in the coming weeks. 

47. Rudy Gay

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: SF

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.5 steals, 16.43 PER

     

    Rudy Gay has suffered through a prolonged shooting slump during the 2012-13 campaign, although that hasn't really deterred him from hoisting up quite a few shots per game. The 41.8 percent that Gay is shooting is the worst percentage of his career. 

    The small forward doesn't offer much in terms of facilitation, so he's had to rely on his defense to help out his production. Fortunately for the Memphis Grizzlies, he's done that, holding opposing small forwards to a PER of just 12.8, according to 82games.com. 

    Gay is too talented and offensively versatile to stay in this slump for too much longer. 

46. Paul Pierce

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: SF

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 18.27 PER

     

    It's hard to believe, but age is finally starting to catch up to Paul Pierce. Although his points-per-game average is in line with the last few years, his efficiency is dramatically declining, in large part due to his ineffectiveness from three-point range. 

    For the third straight season, The Truth's field-goal percentage has plummeted. It went from 49.7 percent to 44.3 percent in 2011-12 and has dropped to 41.5 percent in 2012-13. 

    Paul's saving grace is his stellar defensive play, though. He continues to be one of the league's most underrated defenders. According to 82games.com, he's been holding opposing small forwards to a PER of just 12.8 thus far. 

45. Goran Dragic

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: PG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.0 steals, 20.06 PER

     

    Goran Dragic is not Steve Nash, but he's proven to be a fantastic replacement for the long-haired point guard in the desert. 

    Although he's not able to promote the success of his teammates to the same extent that his predecessor could, he's certainly a capable distributor. And he's quite the scoring threat, posing problems everywhere on the court when his shot is falling. 

    Dragic has been one of the few bright spots on the Phoenix Suns during the 2012-13 season. 

44. Kevin Martin

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: SG

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.1 steals, 18.64 PER

     

    Kevin Martin has been absolutely fantastic for the Oklahoma City Thunder, quickly helping to minimize the ill effects of losing James Harden to the Houston Rockets. 

    The shooting guard has thrived off the bench, even if his lack of ball-handling skills and defensive presence have been felt at times. He's truly excelled from the perimeter, though. 

    Martin is shooting a scorching 47.9 percent from behind the three-point arc; a number that may prove to be unsustainable as the season progresses. Then again, it might not, as he's offered protection from defensive attention whenever playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. 

43. Nicolas Batum

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: SF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.7 steals, 17.06 PER

     

    A back injury has proven to be problematic for Nicolas Batum's shooting and all-around play, but it doesn't detract too much from the phenomenal start to his 2012-13 campaign. 

    The small forward has truly started to take the next step in his development; one that he'll resume once fully healthy again. 

    He's a defensive ace on the perimeter, using his lanky arms and athleticism to great success, but he's also a potent threat in all facets of the offensive game. 

42. Greg Monroe

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    Team: Detroit Pistons

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.6 steals, 17.85 PER

     

    After an absolutely fantastic sophomore campaign, Greg Monroe has taken a serious step backward in the Detroit Pistons frontcourt. Although his assists are up, his turnovers are too, and his field-goal percentage dropped from 52.1 percent during the 2011-12 season to 45.1 percent during the first quarter of the subsequent one. 

    Of course, Monroe has still been quite valuable to Lawrence Frank's squad. He's the most consistent producer, and the most talented one (although Andre Drummond could eventually have something to say about that). 

41. Paul Millsap

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.37 PER

     

    Paul Millsap continues to thrive as one of the more underrated players in basketball. Playing for the Utah Jazz just hasn't given him the attention that his play has merited throughout his career. 

    The undersized big man has struggled with his shot at times during the 2012-13 season, but he's compensated for that by working his way to the free-throw line and knocking it down at the charity stripe at a 71.3 percent clip. 

    Millsap hasn't been quite as good as he's been in years past, but he's still playing at a remarkably high level for a guy who once fell to No. 47 in the 2006 NBA draft. 

40. Andrei Kirilenko

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.7 steals, 18.76 PER

     

    If you want to talk about a stat-sheet stuffer, here's Andrei Kirilenko. The Russian forward has been one of the league's premier contributors across the board for the Minnesota Timberwolves during his return to the NBA. 

    AK47's first foray into a jersey other than the Utah Jazz threads he's always worn has been largely successful. He plays intelligent basketball on offense, and his versatile defensive contributions have been particularly crucial to the Wolves' start. 

    Kirilenko hasn't received nearly as much recognition as he should have during the first quarter of the 2012-13 season. 

39. Mike Conley

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: PG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.6 steals, 18.69 PER

     

    Mike Conley has continued to improve throughout his NBA career and now resides squarely in the realm of the elite point guards. You're going to see a lot of floor generals ranked above the defensive whiz, but that's more a testament to the explosion of incredible point-guard play than anything else. 

    Conley racks up a lot of steals, but he also stays in front of his man with the best of them and can play terrific perimeter defense. The Conley-Tony Allen tandem is absolutely terrifying to opposing backcourts. 

    He's shooting better than ever while upping his scoring average as well. 

38. David Lee

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PF

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.71 PER

     

    David Lee has put up fantastic numbers during the 2012-13 season. There really can't be any doubt about that, as he's averaged a solid double-double while maintaining his shooting efficiency. 

    However, there's plenty of room for improvement. 

    Lee must cut down on his turnovers, and he has to establish himself as something other than a sieve on the defensive end of the court. I've heard some buzz for Lee making the All-Star squad this season, but he's not quite ready for that yet.

37. Luol Deng

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: SF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 14.92 PER

     

    This Chicago Bulls small forward has helped make up for the lack of Derrick Rose in the lineup by increasing his level of offensive output. He's averaging a career-high 17.8 points per game and hasn't had to sacrifice too much of his field-goal percentage to do so. 

    Turnovers have been problematic for Luol Deng, but the same can't be said about his defense. 

    As always, the lanky wing has been a consistent source of defensive prowess for Tom Thibodeau. 

36. Kemba Walker

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    Team: Charlotte Bobcat

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 0.5 blocks, 2.0 steals, 19.16 PER

     

    Ladies and gentlemen, if you're looking for the breakout star of the 2012-13 season, look no further. If you're searching for the reason that the Charlotte Bobcats don't even resemble last year's putrid squad, search no longer. 

    Just one year removed from a disappointing rookie season, Kemba Walker has turned it up quite a few notches. 

    The former Connecticut standout has upped his shooting efficiency dramatically while playing a much larger role in the Charlotte offense. He's looked much better in every aspect of the game. 

    Through the first quarter of the season, Walker has made a very convincing bid to be named an Eastern Conference All-Star for the first time.

    Speaking of which, he also leads off the tier of players who should actually be considered for a spot in the All-Star game. If you're Walker or rank above him, you're deserving of a little award hype right now. 

35. Tyson Chandler

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: C

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.7 steals, 22.60 PER

     

    It's hard to overstate just how good Tyson Chandler has been during the 2012-13 season. 

    The big man has played with his trademark offensive game—limited but extraordinarily efficient—while holding down the interior of the New York Knicks' defensive sets whenever he's on the court. He remains one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the Association, and the Knicks are 10.7-points-per-100-possessions better when he's on the court (per NBA.com's advanced stats). 

    I can't move him any higher than this because of his lack of ability to create for himself, but Chandler has truly been stellar in his role. 

34. Josh Smith

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.4 steals, 17.63 PER

     

    When you talk about the stat-sheet stuffers, the conversation must include Josh Smith. After all, the combo-forward for the Atlanta Hawks does just about everything on the basketball court. 

    His shot selection is still notoriously poor, but honestly, we need to just give up on that front. It's pretty apparent that Smoove is never going to stop taking those long two-point jumpers that leave Philips Arena in a nervous hush. 

    With Smith, you just have to take the mental lapses with the ridiculous amount of positive plays that he can make on both ends of the court. 

33. O.J. Mayo

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    Team: Dallas Mavericks

    Position: SG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 19.76 PER

     

    It's pretty tough not to be impressed by what O.J. Mayo has done during his first season with the Dallas Mavericks. Just a short time removed from spending his days in the Memphis Grizzlies doghouse, Mayo has lit it up in the featured role for the Mavs.

    Juice has been so hot that we might need to find a new word to describe him. He's shot 53 percent from downtown; a number that will unfortunately be almost impossible to sustain throughout the duration of the 2012-13 campaign. 

    Still, sustainable or not, Mayo has proven that he's a bona fide stud in this league. 

32. DeMarcus Cousins

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    Team: Sacramento Kings

    Position: C

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.4 steals, 19.65 PER

     

    Suspensions have cast a negative light on DeMarcus Cousins' third year in the NBA, but they've been one of the few problems with the former Kentucky Wildcat's 2012-13 season. 

    His shooting efficiency is even lower than his sophomore campaign's 44.8 percent, and that's clearly something he needs to work on, but he's helped make up for the decline with an increased level of facilitation, better free-throw shooting and a number of turnovers consistent with the previous season. 

    Once he reins in what sits on top of his shoulders, he'll be able to become a superstar. 

31. Kenneth Faried

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 steals, 18.76 PER

     

    It's tough to find a better energy guy than Kenneth Faried. 

    I'm convinced that it's absolutely impossible to turn off the Manimal's motor. He simply doesn't have an off-switch. 

    Faried might be fairly limited on the offensive end at this stage of his career, but it's not for a lack of effort. The big man makes up for his limitations with that constant hustle, relentless effort on the boards and desire to be a consummate professional at all times. 

30. Brook Lopez

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 2.5 blocks, 0.5 steals, 23.72 PER

     

    Brook Lopez is still playing like the offensive stud that we all know he is, but he's also doing other things at this point. And he's avoided a major injury, although a sprained foot has knocked him out of the lineup for a stretch. The stars must be aligning. 

    The seven-footer whose brother also worked his way into the rankings has made a concerted effort on the defensive end of the court and on the boards. He hasn't been too effective against opposing centers, but hey, at least he's trying. According to 82games.com, Lopez has allowed the other teams' big men to post a PER of 20.7 against him. 

    He's played like an All-Star on offense thus far, but he's still a one-side-of-the-court pony. 

29. Brandon Jennings

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Position: PG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.6 steals, 18.27 PER

     

    Brandon Jennings is always going to be a volume scorer with a low level of efficiency on offense, but that doesn't stop him from being a valuable player for the Milwaukee Bucks. 

    The lefty point guard has provided a tremendous balance of scoring and facilitating in a loaded backcourt. He also knocks down enough triples to help make up for his inordinate number of missed two-pointers. 

    Plus, Jennings has emerged as one of the better thieves in the Association.

28. Al Jefferson

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 steals, 21.14 PER

     

    Despite his lack of elite athleticism, Al Jefferson continues to play like one of the best centers in the game should on a nightly basis. 

    He doesn't offer much in the way of defense—outside of a few blocked shots now and then—but his offensive game is superb. Jefferson's footwork in particular is spectacular and should be required watching for all young big men. 

    When he gets the ball on the left block, it's just about over. 

27. Kevin Garnett

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 36

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.8 steals, 21.12 PER

     

    Kevin Garnett has been fantastic for the Boston Celtics, even in his advancing age. He's moving farther and farther from the basket, but he continues to thrive on that devastatingly effective mid-range jumper he's honed over the years. 

    The big man's efforts on the glass have been disappointing, especially given the hustle he always plays with, but that's about the only knock on him thus far. 

    If the season ended after just 20 games, KG would have averaged more points than he had since his first season in Celtic green while posting the highest shooting percentage of his entire career.  

26. Stephen Curry

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.0 blocks, 1.7 steals, 19.42 PER

     

    Oh hey, look at what Stephen Curry can do when he's actually healthy. 

    Now that his glass ankles aren't causing trouble, Curry is tearing through the rest of the league with his incredible shooting ability, creativity on offense, top-notch passing skills and youthful desire for greatness. 

    I've been watching this video on repeat for the last few days, and I highly recommend that you check out Curry doing what Curry does best. 

    The young Davidson product also hasn't been quite as much of a liability on defense for the Golden State Warriors during the 2012-13 season, and that's a major reason for his ascent up the rankings. 

25. Serge Ibaka

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 3.1 blocks, 0.2 steals, 20.10 PER

     

    Lost in the frantic analysis immediately following the James Harden trade was the fact that Serge Ibaka was more than capable of picking up the scoring slack. 

    That's exactly what the shot-blocking power forward has done. His mid-range game has been simply sublime. According to Hoopdata.com, Ibaka is shooting 48 percent from 16-to-23 feet and a staggering 66.7 percent from 10-to-15 feet. 

    The result has been 14.3 points per game on 59.2 percent shooting; huge increases from the 2011-12 numbers. And he's done all this while becoming more of a great defender and less of a shot-blocker who rotates poorly. 

24. Jrue Holiday

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, 18.22 PER

     

    It's tough to argue with these numbers. 

    Jrue Holiday has passed every test with flying colors as he's taken over as the lead player on the Philadelphia 76ers. He's kept the team afloat after the departure of Andre Igudoala and during the prolonged absence of Andrew Bynum from the lineup. 

    The point guard continues to blossom, showing off a nifty scoring touch that's complemented perfectly by his ability to distribute the ball to his talented teammates. 

23. Joakim Noah

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 18.27 PER

     

    Last time I ranked the top 100 players in the NBA, I drastically under-ranked Joakim Noah. I'm perfectly willing to admit that now, especially since every day sees him force me to eat my words—or in this case, my ranking, because my words were rather complimentary—more and more.

    I'm not going to make that mistake again.

    Noah has proven his value in Derrick Rose's absence. He's improved his offensive game quite a bit, showing off some scoring chops while making it possible to run the Chicago Bulls offense through him thanks to his passing skills.  

    All the while, he's remained one of the better defensive players in the game, a tremendous rebounder and a nearly perfect glue guy in the Windy City. 

22. LaMarcus Aldridge

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.35 PER

     

    Four straight double-doubles boosted LaMarcus Aldridge's elite-player candidacy during the beginning of December. The big man had been struggling with his efficiency and scoring throughout his latest campaign, but the last month of the year has begun to change that. 

    Aldridge hasn't been able to control the ball in the post as much as he's used to because the Portland Trail Blazers finally have an elite playmaker: Damian Lillard. However, he's finding success as the chemistry grows between the two top-50 players. 

    The 27-year-old remains one of the NBA's elite scoring big men. 

21. Al Horford

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.8 steals, 19.45 PER

     

    Al Horford will never put up particularly glamorous numbers for the Atlanta Hawks, but he will keep his production at a steady level. And that level is remarkably high. 

    The former Florida Gator is the anchor of this surprising Hawks squad and can be counted on for a double-double on almost a nightly basis. Moreover, those 16 points and 10 rebounds usually come in an efficient manner. 

    Horford has also been a solid defender in the post for Atlanta, part of the team's overall stellar defense, and his passing skills enable Larry Drew to run plays that go through the blocks or elbows when Horford is in the game. 

20. Zach Randolph

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: PF

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.7 steals, 20.27 PER

     

    Zach Randolph has been absolutely fantastic for the Memphis Grizzlies, even if he hasn't been the team's best player through the first quarter of the 2012-13 season. 

    The big power forward has attacked the glass with ferocity on both ends of the court, and a scorching start to December has seen him reach a level of offensive efficiency that he's rarely attained during his NBA career. 

    Z-Bo is showing no signs of slowing down. 

19. Deron Williams

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: PG

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.0 steals, 18.15 PER

     

    Deron Williams has struggled with his shot tremendously, but that hasn't kept him from maintaining his status as an elite point guard. 

    The big floor general is having trouble from downtown in particular, as he's connected on only 27.2 percent of his attempts from behind the three-point arc. As is often the case, the other parts of the floor will start to look more like hot spots once he finds his range from deep. 

    Despite his prolonged shooting slump, D-Will does have the Brooklyn Nets offense playing at a high level and is a huge reason for the team's 12-9 start to the season.

18. James Harden

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: SG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 24.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.7 steals, 20.69 PER

     

    James Harden got off to a blazing start during the 2012-13 season and hasn't looked back since. 

    His numbers have declined since the historically great beginning to his first campaign with the Houston Rockets, but they're still astounding. For all those who somehow thought Harden was on the bench in Oklahoma City because he wasn't good enough to start, well, it's safe to say that you were wrong. 

    The bearded lefty has thrived as a primary ball-handler and go-to option while wearing red, and he's quickly become one of the league's most dangerous scorers. 

17. Anderson Varejao

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Position: C

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 14.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.5 steals, 22.91 PER

     

    Through the first quarter of the season, Anderson Varejao led the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage and finished second to Reggie Evans in both defensive rebounding percentage and total rebounding percentage (per Basketball-Reference.com).

    Unlike Evans, Varejao actually plays offense and excels at finding open teammates from the blocks. 

    Need I say anything more?

16. Marc Gasol

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.7 steals, 20.81 PER

     

    Marc Gasol makes it five of five Memphis Grizzlies to find themselves in the top 100. The Portland Trail Blazers are the only other team that can lay claim to a similar achievement. 

    This seven-footer just does everything well on the basketball court. It's almost impossible to find a glaring flaw in his game. 

    The Grizz have tried to find that flaw and failed, if their tendency to use Gasol in just about every situation possible is any indication.

15. Kyrie Irving

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Position: PG

    Age: 20

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.1 steals, 21.23 PER

     

    It's a good thing that Kyrie Irving is healthy again, because the NBA is better off when he's creating highlights in the Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt. His presence will also take plenty of pressure off both Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters, who can go back to thriving as secondary offensive options. 

    Now, we just have to hope that Uncle Drew can stay healthy. Perhaps acting like an old man a few times has made him, well, rack up injuries like an old man. 

    When all the various parts of his body are working, Irving is one of the league's must-watch players. He's only 20 years old, and he might already have the best handles in the game.

14. Blake Griffin

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, 22.22 PER

     

    Blake Griffin is dangerously close to becoming an all-around basketball player, and he still doesn't turn 24 until March. 

    If you listen carefully, you can hear the sounds of Los Angeles Clippers fans and YouTube aficionados rejoicing. 

    Griffin is a tremendous scorer and rebounder, especially now that he has a consistent face-up game from mid-range and a few go-to moves in the post. He's also one of the league's best passing big men, and he's actually starting to play some defense. 

    According to 82games.com, Griffin is holding opposing small forwards to a 17.4 PER. He fares much more poorly against centers, but that should come as no surprise for the same reason that Griffin doesn't block many shots: He has T-Rex arms.

    There's still plenty of work to be done on Griffin's game, particularly when it comes to preventing points, but he's a bona fide stud. 

13. Dwyane Wade

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.1 steals, 21.59 PER

     

    Given the amount of negative attention that Dwyane Wade has received from the media during the first quarter of the 2012-13 season, you might think that he'd been absolutely awful. Admittedly, Wade hasn't been himself, but let's not overlook how impressive that stat line is. 

    Injuries and poor performances have just trumped all of the good that this shooting guard has done thus far in the minds of far too many people.

    After an 11-of-13 performance against the Atlanta Hawks that has to be considered one of the best shooting exhibitions of Wade's illustrious career, No. 3 is over 50 percent from the field and averaging 20 points per game.

    Just imagine what he'll do if he's ever fully healthy again.  

12. Tony Parker

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: PG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.8 steals, 22.52 PER

     

    Doesn't it seem like everything happens quietly in San Antonio until the Spurs are making a devastating run through the postseason? 

    Tony Parker has been sensational at the point for Gregg Popovich's squad, yet he hasn't received nearly enough credit for a season that looks like it could end up being one of the best years of his storied career. 

    He's posted the first triple-double of his career and is knocking down over half of his attempts from the field while distributing the ball just as the Spurs' system demands. 

11. Chris Bosh

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.6 steals, 22.11 PER

     

    Chris Bosh is enjoying an incredible season with the Miami Heat thus far. 

    His mid-range game is humming along, allowing him to averaging 18.3 points per game while shooting a career high 53.4 percent from the field. He's also knocked down 84.1 percent of his charity shots, which would trail only his 2007-08 campaign with the Toronto Raptors if the pace was maintained until the postseason rolled around. 

    It's pretty clear that Bosh has confidence right now, and that's showing up in his offensive play, allowing him to edge out his teammate for the final spot in the teens. 

10. Dwight Howard

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.6 blocks, 1.0 steals, 20.72 PER

     

    Usually when you watch Dwight Howard, you feel absolutely blown away. Unless you're watching his free-throw shooting, because then it feels like you're watching a train wreck. 

    During the 2012-13 season, though, D12 hasn't displayed that same level of dominance. He's making an enormous impact on both ends of the court, but that "it" factor just hasn't been present thus far. At times, he seems almost unenthused. 

    Of course, he's hitting a three and displaying the pure, unadulterated joy of an innocent child at other times. 

    Despite his struggles—and there have been struggles—Dwight remains the top pure center in the league and will continue to hold down that spot for the foreseeable future. 

9. Kevin Love

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Position: PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.2 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 22.37 PER

     

    Kevin Love only played in nine games during the first quarter of the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but it's already been abundantly clear that he's having a positive impact on the team's success. 

    Since the calendars turned to December, the Wolves have won three of their four games. Love has dominated on the boards in the process, but he's still struggling to find his shot. 

    Once that happens, the results are going to be scary. Love isn't going to shoot below 40 percent from the field forever. 

8. Rajon Rondo

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: PG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 12.8 assists, 0.2 blocks, 2.0 steals, 20.46 PER

     

    Rajon Rondo's ability to rack up double-digit assists has been truly astounding. Only a brawl and an ejection, as well as the subsequent suspension, have been able to keep the point guard from forcing the box score to contain two digits in the assist column during every game of the first quarter of the 2012-13 season. 

    That said, you all already know about Rondo's otherworldly passing skills. 

    What not everyone is aware of is the improvement in his mid-range game; one that has forced defenders to respect the jumper at least a little bit. 

7. Russell Westbrook

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 2.0 steals, 22.95 PER

     

    Russell Westbrook's field-goal percentage has been low throughout the 2012-13 campaign, but he's made up for it with a concerted effort to facilitate more for his teammates. Kevin Durant in particular has benefited from Westbrook's willingness to pass. 

    Not only has Westbrook averaged three more assists per game than he did during the 2011-12 season, but he's also seen a reduction in turnovers, averaging "only" 3.4 per contest. 

    The former UCLA shooting guard has continued his trend of improving during every year spent in the NBA, although the results certainly aren't being displayed in the over-glamorized points-per-game category. 

6. Tim Duncan

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 36 

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 25.70 PER

     

    Tim Duncan continues to bite his thumb in the general direction of old age.

    The greatest power forward of all time—yes, he's been playing power forward and center for the San Antonio Spurs lately—has put together one of the most impressive seasons of his career, even at the spry young age of 36. 

    Playing with remarkable consistency on both ends of the court, Duncan has been a force to be reckoned with on offense. He has routinely tortured less experienced players with his incredible footwork and deadly bank-shot. 

    Duncan's continued excellence has been one of the best stories of the season's first quarter, bar none. 

5. Carmelo Anthony

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, 25.28 PER

     

    Carmelo Anthony has been simply magnificent during the 2012-13 season. There's simply no other way to describe it. 

    He's been an offensive juggernaut, hitting shots inside and out as he's carried the New York Knicks to win after win with his scoring. And that's not even the most impressive part of his game. 

    'Melo has finally put the physical tools he's been blessed with to good use on defense. He's actually trying. 

    According to 82games.com, the MVP candidate has held opposing small forwards and power forwards to PERs of 12.0 and 15.2, respectively. He's played far more power forward than small forward, though, so don't be too blown away by the former. 

    Other forwards have posted similar, or better, defensive numbers, but this is a huge improvement for Anthony.

4. Kobe Bryant

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: SG

    Age: 34

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 29.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.6 steals, 25.96 PER

     

    Please, don't try to blame Kobe Bryant for the Los Angeles Lakers' awful beginning to the 2012-13 campaign. There's a lot of fault to be levied around, but virtually none of it should rest on the shoulders of the Black Mamba. 

    Bryant has been absolutely sensational during his 17th season in the Association, averaging 29.2 points per game on 48.8 percent shooting. His three-point shot in particular looks to be improved. 

    If you want him to pass more, who exactly do you want him to pass the ball to? And why is it not already impressive that he's averaging 4.8 assists per game?

3. Chris Paul

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 0.0 blocks, 2.7 steals, 25.31 PER

     

    Chris Paul just continues to prove that he's the best point guard in the game. Despite the greatness of Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and the rest of the elite floor generals in the game today, CP3 stands head and shoulders above the rest. 

    The 27-year-old displays a certain mastery over the court that only comes with a rare combination of skill and experience. Much like a chess master, he sees the court at least a few moves before everyone else. As a result, every movement has a purpose. 

    Paul might not put up gaudy scoring totals, but his well-rounded offensive game and ability to function as a defensive stopper on the perimeter make him truly special.

2. Kevin Durant

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, 27.69 PER

     

    Kevin Durant just continues to become more of an all-around basketball player as his career progresses. 

    He's been every bit the scorer he's hyped to be during the first quarter of the 2012-13 season, showing off more post moves and playing with an increased level of accuracy from around the floor. His scoring average of 27.0 points per game might be down and leave him trailing people for a change in the scoring race, but he's also hitting over half his shots from the field for the first time. 

    In fact, Durant is making a strong challenge for the 50/40/90 club, averaging 50.6 percent, 44.0 percent and 89.5 percent from the field, three-point range and the charity stripe, respectively. 

    Additionally, he's crashing the boards with vigor and making his defensive presence felt more than ever before. The gap between him and the No. 1 player in the world is still a sizable one, but Durant is at least narrowing it. 

1. LeBron James

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.4 steals, 29.15 PER

     

    I don't think anyone is going to be shocked to find LeBron James holding down the No. 1 spot in the top 100. After all, it's been years since anyone other than LeBron has had a legitimate claim to this position. 

    Even though the Miami Heat are struggling, it's tough to point a finger at LeBron. While his teammates have alternated having bad nights and some of the role players have struggled, the forward has been a steady producer in the lineup. 

    LeBron is a true walking, talking, living, breathing triple-double threat. Although he doesn't reach all three thresholds at once with alarming frequency, he challenges them on a nightly basis. 

    Plus, his versatility and ability to guard multiple positions makes him at least a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award every year. 

    LeBron reigns supreme once more as his career continues to leave him in a constant ascent up the historical ladder of all-time greats.