Updated Rankings of the Top 5 NBA Players at Every Position

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Updated Rankings of the Top 5 NBA Players at Every Position

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    It's quite the honor to be called one of the top five NBA players at your position, but that's an honor that each of the 25 featured players in this article has earned. 

    Stop and think about what that means for a second. 

    The NBA is the highest level of competitive basketball, and each of the 30 ultra-exclusive rosters in the Association carries at least two players at each position. So to be called a top-five point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center is quite impressive. 

    So, did your favorite player make it into these rankings? How did they change since the preseason edition?

    Read on to find out. 

     

    Note: All stars, unless otherwise indicated, are current through Jan. 20. 

No. 5 Point Guard: Rajon Rondo

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 11.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.9 steals, 18.41 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 3

     

    Rajon Rondo still holds onto a spot among the top five NBA point guards, but his grasp upon that ranking is becoming tenuous as a number of young floor generals are now charging at him. The Boston Celtics 1-guard has been great, but not quite as great as we've come to expect. 

    A lot of that is due to the struggles of his teammates. Other than Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, not too many members of the C's have been able to maintain a consistent level of offensive performance. 

    For a point guard dependent on his teammates due to his own offensive limitations, that's problematic. Even though he's undeniably more effective as a scorer, he'll never be mistaken for a go-to option in any offensive system. 

    Rondo's incredible passing skills, defensive abilities and knack for hauling in the boards have kept him at No. 5, but he can't rise any higher. 

No. 4 Point Guard: Kyrie Irving

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Age: 20

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.7 steals, 21.80 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    Kyrie Irving might still be just 20 years old, but he's already asserted himself as one of the premier point guards in the Association. He's been one of the few brights spots on the Cleveland Cavaliers, even if he hasn't been able to spark the Cavaliers to anything but a rather pathetic record. 

    Just in his second professional season, Irving has become an unstoppable force on the offensive end of the court. 

    Despite the lack of offensive options surrounding him, the former Duke Blue Devil has racked up assists while establishing himself as an elite scoring threat. His 45.9 percent field-goal mark might not seem that special, but it looks a lot better when coupled with 40.0 percent shooting from downtown on five attempts per game and 83.4 percent shooting on a nearly identical amount of freebies per contest. 

    Once Irving starts asserting himself more on the defensive end of the court, he has a chance to challenge the rest of the point guards above him. 

No. 3 Point Guard: Tony Parker

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 22.82 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 5

     

    Tony Parker just barely beat out Kyrie Irving for the No. 3 spot, and there's a solid chance he could fall behind the younger point guard by the end of the 2012-13 season. As it stands, though, Parker is having one of the best seasons of his career. 

    At 30 years old, the French floor general has become a true master of Gregg Popovich's offense. He rarely disrupts the flow of the game, choosing instead to run the system to perfection and always get the most out of each play. 

    As if Parker's 19.7 points and 7.3 assists per game weren't impressive enough already, he's putting up those numbers on 51.9 percent shooting from the field while spearheading a Spurs team that is near the top of the Western Conference, much to the surprise of absolutely no one. 

    According to 82games.com, Parker has also held opposing point guards to a PER of just 13.0. It's not like he's just a one-way player, and that's what pushes him ahead of his counterpart on the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

No. 2 Point Guard: Russell Westbrook

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 0.3 blocks, 2.0 steals, 23.82 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 2

     

    At this point, Russell Westbrook has firmly established himself as one of the best scoring point guards in all of basketball. He's virtually impossible to stay in front of when he wants to get to the rim, and once he gets there, the iron almost caves in. 

    When Westbrook's mid-range shot is falling, he can't be stopped. You just have to accept that he's going to spend the night embarrassing you. 

    The problem is that he can be stopped when it isn't. Westbrook plays like he doesn't have any short-term memory, jacking up shots even when he's cold and turning the ball over far too often for Scott Brooks' liking. 

    The good still outweighs the bad, though. 

    What's made Westbrook truly elite during the 2012-13 season has been his increased level of facilitation coupled with his strides on the defensive end of the court. The 24-year-old has been dishing the ball out with more confidence then ever, often doing so with much more frequency and flashiness. 

No. 1 Point Guard: Chris Paul

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.6 steals, 26.62 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 1

     

    Chris Paul basically stands alone in a class by himself at point guard. There's a rather large gap between him and the rest of the players at his position in the NBA, but a healthy Derrick Rose and a constantly improving bask of sub-25 point guards could soon change that. 

    His per-game numbers might not jump off the page, although they're undeniably impressive. It's the efficiency with which CP3 plays that makes him so great. 

    Just look at that 26.62 PER that he's posted during the 2012-13 season. Or take a gander at his 47.8 percent shooting from the field and minuscule 2.2 turnovers per contest. 

    And it gets even better when you remember that Paul plays elite defense, swipes the ball away at a higher rate than anyone else in the league and is essentially a coach on the court. Always jawing, the point guard is in complete control of the unfolding action at all times. 

     

    Point Guard Apologies to...Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Deron Williams

No. 5 Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo

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    Team: Dallas Mavericks

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 16.79 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    O.J. Mayo burst onto the scene at the beginning of his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks, quickly putting his days with the Memphis Grizzlies well behind him. 

    The shooting guard simply couldn't miss, especially from behind the three-point arc. He established himself as one of the better scorers in the NBA, even while playing one of the league's notoriously weak positions. 

    While Mayo's shooting in the early portions of the 2012-13 season was unsustainable, he's still settled in as a top-five 2-guard while his numbers experience an unfortunate regression to the mean. 

    His December splits should be pretty indicative of how he'll play for the rest of the season, especially with the protection offered to him by the return of Dirk Nowitzki: 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 44.0 percent shooting from the field and 38.9 percent from downtown. 

No. 4 Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.2 steals, 17.04 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 4

     

    It didn't take long for Eric Gordon to convince the New Orleans Hornets that he was worth both the exorbitant contract he signed and the wait as he recovered from what seemed like a never-ending knee injury. 

    Since Gordon has returned to the shooting guard spot in the Hornets lineup, the team has gone 7-3. Without him, New Orleans could only muster up a 7-24 record. It took the Gordon-led Hornets only 10 games to win as often as they did in 31 contests without him. 

    And the scary part is that we're nowhere near seeing the best that the 24-year-old 2-guard can play. He's shooting less than 40 percent from the field as he works his way back to form, and his shot from the outside has been particularly suspect. 

    Still, it's abundantly clear just how dynamic Gordon is, even in his recovering state. 

No. 3 Shooting Guard: James Harden

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.9 steals, 22.25 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 3

     

    Offensively, James Harden has been the second-best shooting guard in the Association. However, his defense has been holding him back as he's spending all of his energy helping the Houston Rockets put up points, leaving little in the tank for the other end of the court. 

    Harden has been good on defense; he just hasn't been great. According to 82games.com, he's allowed opposing 2-guards to post a PER of 14.7. NBA.com's advanced stats show a similar story, as the Rockets allow 0.9 points fewer per 100 possessions when he's on the court. 

    Again, that's good but not great. 

    It's hard to argue that he's been anything but spectacular on offense, though. He's been an efficient player, even with his low shooting percentage from the field and 3.8 turnovers per contest, mostly because of his ability to knock down the three-ball and get to the line with alarming frequency. 

No. 2 Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade

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    Team: Miami heat

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.4 steals, 23.07 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 2

     

    The rumors of Dwyane Wade's demise have been greatly exaggerated. James Harden might be close to overtaking him for the No. 2 spot among shooting guards, but there's no doubt that Wade is elite. 

    While playing incredible defense—even if his per-game block and steal numbers don't really show it—Wade has remained a potent option on the offensive end of the court for the Miami Heat. While keeping his scoring contributions over 20 points per game, Wade has shot a career-best 50.6 percent from the field. 

    Credit an increasingly potent shot from the outside and a continued ability to slash into the interior of the defense for that. 

    Wade isn't playing at an MVP level anymore, but he's most assuredly playing at an All-Star one. 

No. 1 Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Age: 34

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 29.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 steals, 23.93 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 1

     

    Even at 34 years old, Kobe Bryant remains squarely affixed at the top of the shooting guard rankings. The Los Angeles Lakers might be struggling to stay afloat, but it's hard to fault Bryant much, although he is trying to take the blame.

    Bryant is enjoying one of the best offensive seasons of his illustrious career, leading the league in scoring while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. That's a mark he's only topped during the 2001-02 campaign, in which he lofted up 2.1 fewer shots per game. 

    Even more impressively, he's almost matching that level of efficiency from over a decade ago while taking 6.2 three-pointers per game. In 2001-02 he took only 1.7 per contest. 

    Kobe's off-ball defense could stand to improve rather dramatically, but his ability to shut down the man he's guarding while absolutely eviscerating opposing defenses is nothing short of astounding. 

     

    Shooting Guard Apologies to...Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Joe Johnson

No. 5 Small Forward: Paul George

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.8 steals, 17.40 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    One of the biggest breakout players of the 2012-13 season, Paul George is finally starting to live up to the massive expectations that were heaped onto his shoulders. 

    His long arms and athletic ability have been crucial as the Indiana Pacers have developed into one of the more potent defensive units in recent memory. He's a lockdown perimeter defender and can still harass the passing lanes with his ridiculous wingspan. 

    George has held opposing small forwards to a PER of just 11.1 and has enjoyed similar success against shooting guards, although he lines up at the 2 a little less often (via 82games.com). 

    This versatility applies to the offensive end of the court as well. And he just keeps getting better and better.

    During December, George put up 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. In the first nine games of the new year, though, the swingman averaged a sensational 20.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.3 blocks and 2.8 steals per contest. 

No. 4 Small Forward: Paul Pierce

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 steals, 19.36 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 4

     

    Paul Pierce is starting to slow down a little bit as he enters the second half of his 30s, but he's still an elite player on both ends of the court. 

    While playing underrated defense at all times, Pierce has continued to function as the primary scoring option for the Boston Celtics. He's well short of the top three small forwards at this stage of his career, but you have to be impressed by his ability to challenge the 20-point barrier on a nightly basis at 35 years old. 

    The Truth is shooting more from behind the three-point arc than he has in over a decade, but he's doing so with the same level of effectiveness that he's played with for quite some time. This bump in potency from downtown has allowed him to overcome a subsequent decrease in overall efficiency. 

No. 3 Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 29.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, 25.56 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 3

     

    Even though Carmelo Anthony has been playing a lot of power forward for the New York Knicks, he's still a small forward. And that's unfortunate for him. 

    Between his 29.2 points, deadliness from the outside, increased willingness and ability to pass, leadership abilities and sudden desire to play defense as well as offense, Melo has established himself as one of the NBA's five best players. It's just too bad for him that the two best players in the world also line up at the same position as him. 

    If you were to fill out an MVP ballot at this point in the season, though, Melo would have to be near the top. 

No. 2 Small Forward: Kevin Durant

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 29.03 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 2

     

    Kevin Durant just keeps getting better and better. 

    While committing himself more to defense and becoming a threat in the passing game, Durant has only increased his offensive potency. He's just a scoring juggernaut, even when you throw a lanky, made-to-guard-someone-like-Durant defender like Andrei Kirilenko or Nicolas Batum at him. 

    Much has been made of the three-time scoring champion's quest to join the 50/40/90 club. Now that you've seen him shoot 51.6/40.4/90.9 this far into the season, is there anything to suggest that he won't eventually reach that elusive set of milestones?

    Durant is firmly embroiled in the midst of one of the greatest offensive seasons we've ever seen, and he still can't work his way any higher than No. 2. 

No. 1 Small Forward: LeBron James

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.7 steals, 30.30 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 1

     

    The best player in the world is obviously going to hold down the No. 1 spot at the position he plays. Such is the case for LeBron James at small forward. 

    Let's put it this way: LeBron averages 26.3 points per game while shooting a mind-boggling 55.1 percent from the field, and he doesn't even take the majority of his shots from right around the basket. Despite the insanity of that sentence, scoring isn't what makes LeBron special. 

    It's just part of his excellence. 

    You can't forget about his work on the boards, his unbelievable court vision and passing skills, his perimeter defense and his ability to guard multiple positions. How many guys can guard Al Jefferson on one possession and then dribble the ball up the court on the ensuing offensive one? 

     

    Small Forward Apologies to...Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gay, Andrei Kirilenko

No. 5 Power Forward: David Lee

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 20.20 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    If defense didn't exist, David Lee would be able to have quite a few gripes about his placement at No. 5 in the rankings of NBA power forwards. However, since it does, he should be thankful that he's barely managing to hold off a number of great big men just chomping at the bit and waiting to take his spot. 

    Lee might be a liability on defense, but he more than makes up for it with his terrific play on offense. He and Stephen Curry have been the biggest reasons for the Golden State Warriors' ascent up the Western Conference standings. 

    Another guy who can finish around the rim or knock down mid-range jumpers, Lee has threatened 20 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis while making far more shots than he's missed. 

No. 4 Power Forward: Zach Randolph

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 19.52 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    While David Lee's game is more glamorous, Zach Randolph's is more physical. If he's not banging up against some other player on the court, he's probably a little bit disappointed. 

    Z-Bo has become a force to be reckoned with in the paint, hauling in more rebounds per game than any player who doesn't wear a headband and trailing only one who does. Between that and his offensive game on the blocks, Randolph has been a key contributor to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

    His shooting percentages have been declining recently, though, which could be problematic if the trend continues. 

No. 3 Power Forward: Chris Bosh

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 21.27 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    Chris Bosh hasn't been a standout defender for the Miami Heat, but he's at least been a competent one as he attempts to play out of position and corral opposing centers. 82games.com reveals that he's allowed centers to post a 17.0 PER against him, which isn't great.

    That, along with his rebounding deficiencies—which stem more from playing too far from the basket than from fundamental problems in his technique—keep him from rising any higher than No. 3, despite his offensive prowess. 

    Bosh is a terrific shooter, especially for his size. His mid-range shot is particularly potent and helps spread the court for the Heat, allowing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to slice into the interior of the defense. 

    Miami can always count on efficient offense from this big man, and he's shooting a career-best 54.5 percent from the field. 

No. 2 Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.9 steals, 19.58 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 2

     

    LaMarcus Aldridge has been the driving force that has kept the Portland Trail Blazers in playoff contention despite a complete lack of support from the bench. Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard, J.J. Hickson and Wesley Matthews have all been impressive, but it's been the power forward who has stood out. 

    You just can't poke holes in Aldridge's game anymore now that he's developed into a solid defender. I'd hesitate to call him a plus-defender, but he's at least solid. According to NBA.com's advanced stats, the Blazers allow 0.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when No. 12 is on the court. 

    Aldridge is still an offensively driven player. There's no doubt about that, although Portland could stand for him to increase his field-goal percentage as the 2012-13 season progresses. 

No. 1 Power Forward: Blake Griffin

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.4 steals, 22.12 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 3

     

    Without Kevin Love healthy and in the Minnesota Timberwolves lineup, Blake Griffin ascends to the top of the power forward rankings. 

    He might have developed a reputation as a flopper who doesn't do anything but dunk, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Blake may be prone to attempting to sell calls a little too often, and he may dunk a whole hell of a lot, but he's become quite the well-rounded player. 

    According to Hoopdata.com, Griffin has shot 39 percent from 16 to 23 feet on nearly four attempts per game. His mid-range game has continued to get more and more deadly, and defenders have to be constantly aware of his potent spin move and increasingly dangerous set of post moves. And of course, there's still the dunking. 

    Plus, Griffin has become a solid defender. 82games.com's statistical databases show that Griffin has allowed opposing power forwards to post a PER of 16.2 during the 2012-13 season.

    Critics may point to his declining per-game stats as evidence against Griffin's greatness, but they conveniently overlook his dramatically decreased minutes per game—resulting from the Los Angeles Clippers depth, not his talent—as well as his passing skills, drop in turnovers and efficiency.  

     

    Power Forward Apologies to...Kenneth Faried, Serge Ibaka, Dirk Nowitzki

No. 5 Center: Joakim Noah

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 17.09 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    Joakim Noah's numbers might not blow you away, but the long-haired center with the funky free-throw motion is one of those players whose worth just can't be captured by the stats we keep track of. 

    If you're going to come up with something like VBTITPG (vein bulges that inspire teammates per game) and track it, we might get closer. Noah's value lies in more than his defensive greatness and offensive versatility. 

    The passion he brings to the game really can be inspirational, and you know you aren't going to see him stay on his feet throughout the duration of a game. He will end up on the court. 

    If you're looking for the reason that the Chicago Bulls are still near the top of the Eastern standings without anything from Derrick Rose, look no further than the former Florida Gator. 

No. 4 Center: Brook Lopez

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 2.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 25.61 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    I have to admit that I'm a late-arriving passenger on the Brook Lopez bandwagon. I've been particularly harsh when evaluating this particular seven-footer in the past because of his infuriating tendency to play soft, refusal to crash the boards and disappearance on the defensive end of the court. 

    During the 2012-13 season, Lopez has done none of the aforementioned things. There must be something in that Brooklyn air.

    He still won't be mistaken for a defensive ace or a glass-eater in the same vein as Dwight Howard, Anderson Varejao or Reggie Evans, but he doesn't need to be in order to be a great center. 

    Why? Well, Lopez also won't be mistaken for a good offensive big man. That's because he's an undeniably great one. 

No. 3 Center: Marc Gasol

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.36 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 4

     

    In addition to recognizing his steady and versatile offensive play for the Memphis Grizzlies, we should be touting Marc Gasol as a bona fide Defensive Player of the Year. 

    He might not have the block or steal totals that go hand-in-hand with a DPOY selection, but defense is about so much more than those play-ending stats. Gasol extends possessions by getting in the way and rotating properly, forcing opposing teams to make an extra pass or settle for a worse shot. 

    Credit for that won't show up in the box score, but it certainly will be present in the Grizzlies' win-loss total. 

    Gasol is never out of place and always plays with cerebral excellence. That also manifests itself in the perimeter defense of his teammates, as they can settle in more and know that Gasol is going to be able to pick up the pieces in case of a breakdown. 

No. 2 Center: Tim Duncan

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Age: 36

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.8 blocks, 0.8 steals, 24.63 PER

    Preseason Ranking: Unranked

     

    If what Tim Duncan is doing at 36 years old isn't making your jaw drop, then you should schedule a doctor's appointment to make sure your lockjaw isn't caused by tetanus. 

    Despite his advancing age, Duncan is playing great defense and flat-out dominating offensively when he's on the court. Now in his 16th season, the greatest power forward of all time simply doesn't make too many mistakes. 

    Instead, Duncan is maximizing his minutes by shooting over 50 percent from the field, crashing the boards with a vengeance, limiting his turnovers despite making plays with his passing and providing leadership at all times. 

    If you're curious why he's listed as a center here, it's because he's played far more center than power forward for the San Antonio Spurs. He might still be called a power forward, but he's not at this point in his career. 

No. 1 Center: Dwight Howard

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 20.33 PER

    Preseason Ranking: No. 1 

     

    Even in his clearly limited state, Dwight Howard is still the cream of the crop at the center position. 

    Yes, his back is still affecting his mobility and forcing him to play defense with his hands more than his feet. Well, Dwight's instincts and injured abilities are still good enough for him to play solid post defense and not-quite-elite help defense. He's still holding opposing centers to a 14.2 PER, according to 82games.com.

    Howard isn't as involved on offense and doesn't dunk everything in sight anymore, but he's still averaging 17.3 points per game while shooting over 58 percent from the field. 

    D12—although he's been more like D8 during the 2012-13 season—has still been the best player at his position in the league. The gap just isn't as wide as it used to be. 

     

    Center Apologies to...Tyson Chandler, DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe