We have entered January, just over one-third of the way into the NBA season. Who has played the best thus far? Several players have stood out above the pack to reveal themselves as MVP candidates.
Where do they stand in the NBA player power rankings?
A player’s power ranking hinges on his current statistics, the effect he has on his team’s win-loss record and his overall fan buzz.
For an example, “Player X” can average 20 points and haul seven rebounds per game. Is he playing on a winning team, or are they empty statistics that he collected on a losing team? Normally “Player X” would not receive any recognition, but if he is loved by the fans, that is power. If “Player X” puts “butts in seats,” that will not be denied.
10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, Power Forward
Blake Griffin is a major key to the success of the Los Angeles Clippers. His defense could use some more improvement, but as long as the Clippers are winning—their 27-8 record is tied for most wins in the NBA—no one will complain.
His flaws on the defensive will only serve as a footnote. His raw power always ignites the fans.
9. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, Guard
Russell Westbrook is the second part of the two-headed monster in Oklahoma City.
While Westbrook does not get as much acclaim as his Thunder teammate Kevin Durant, the Thunder do not win without his strong play.
8. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets, Point Guard
Fans either love Deron Williams or hate him, but either way they respect his game.
The rumors were that he campaigned for the ousting of former Brooklyn Nets head coach Avery Johnson. No one can prove that, but if it is true, that is power.
For now, I suggest that a lack of team chemistry doomed Johnson, as a recent post from The New York Times point to.
7. James Harden, Houston Rockets, Guard
James Harden seemingly wanted out of Oklahoma City and the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Who are we to complain?
The results of his exodus: He is fifth in the NBA in scoring (26.3 PPG) and has the Houston Rockets on pace to make the playoffs.
Harden would be ranked higher if the Rockets were within a couple of games of the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs.
Dwight Howard has looked slow as he has tried to bounce back from season-ending back surgery. Even at 70 percent, Howard makes an impact.
On the basketball court, though, he has barely made his mark. The Los Angeles Lakers stumble into this week with a 15-17 record.
5. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, Forward
Kevin Durant is enjoying his best season thus far.
Statistically, though, this is not his best year. Durant has had a higher scoring average than his current 28.3 points per game in recent years. His rebounding, at 7.8 boards per contest, is slightly down from 8.0 in the 2011-12 season.
But his leadership has evolved.
When the Thunder are shooting ice cold from the field, Durant demands the ball. His aggression is the new addition to his repertoire. His newfound “no, we are not losing” attitude is the stuff that champions are made of.
4. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Shooting Guard
I wish that I could stop with the fact that Kobe Bryant is leading the NBA in scoring, at 30.5 points per game, but I cannot. I have to mention that he is 34 years old and that he does not appear to be slowing down.
Unfortunately, Kobe’s scoring prowess has not translated into wins (15-17). After all, winning is what matters most.
Nevertheless, Kobe is doing what he can to help the Lakers, and he is the lead NBA All-Star vote-getter thus far.
LeBron James is the best professional basketball player in the world! At least that is what many of the experts are saying.
Every year, lofty expectations follow LeBron out of the gate. The Miami Heat are expected to defend their NBA crown. LeBron is expected to be in the MVP discussion.
This time out, LeBron is somehow flying under the radar. This is despite the Heat having the best record in the East and LeBron is playing at his usual level.
“New York, New York, The Big Apple!” Things are looking up for the New York Knicks, who are playing good basketball.
The primary reason is Carmelo Anthony.
The Association’s second leading scorer has put the Knicks on his back, and in the process, he has vaulted them into the title picture.
'Melo has doing whatever the Knicks coaching staff has asked him to do, whether it be scoring, defending, rebounding or making the extra pass.
This has become his best year to date.
1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, Point Guard
Chris Paul is the leader of the Clippers' “Lob City” brigade. His slick dimes and alley-oop passes captivate audiences instantaneously.
Very few players can affect the outcomes of basketball games without scoring 20 points a game.
Paul is one of those players.
Everyone knows that Paul is the engine that makes the team go—just do not tell him that. He would rather look to put his Lob City teammates in the best position to score, thus keeping himself out of the spotlight.
All statistics were taken from ESPN.com and are accurate as of Jan. 6, 2013.