Miami Heat's LeBron James
This Sunday, the NBA's stars will align at center court in Houston, Texas. The 2013 All-Star Game will feature the league's best players, all gathered to compete for conference supremacy.
In power ranking this year's All-Star players, each was measured by the production that helped earn him a trip to the All-Star Game this season.
Despite being voted an Eastern Conference All-Star starter, Rajon Rondo was omitted from this ranking based on the season-ending injury that will unfortunately prevent him from participating.
Brook Lopez, who replaced Rondo on the roster, was included.
Each player was then ranked from 24-1 based on how he's played in the first half of the 2012-13 season.
Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I like to see NBA players rewarded for doing the little things.
That is the very reason Joakim Noah is going to the All-Star Game this season—because he does those little things better than anyone else in the league.
Noah plays defense with a relentless energy and appears to become physically ill at the notion of losing.
Despite the fact that he averages a double-double (11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game), the 11.9 points he's scoring do not particularly jump off the page.
What he has done, though, is helped the Chicago Bulls withstand the injury to Derrick Rose and kept them in contention with the All-Star Game approaching.
Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett can still play.
The Boston Celtics have struggled this season, Rajon Rondo has been lost for the year and speculation over whether or not Danny Ainge should start the rebuild now is rampant.
Amidst all of that, Garnett's competitive passion has remained a constant. At 36 years old, it's also helped fuel averages of 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
While Garnett is nowhere near the player he once was, he's could still start for any team in the NBA this season.
Starting on All-Star Sunday for the Eastern Conference only makes sense for the Hall of Famer because of all that he continues to do in this league.
Chicago Bulls' Luol Deng
The Chicago Bulls would not be in position for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs if not for Luol Deng.
Playing as the Bulls' primary option offensively while Derrick Rose works his way back to the floor, Deng has averaged 17 points per game to go along with 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
More importantly, he's managed this type of production while leading Chicago's attack on the perimeter from a defensive standpoint.
This Sunday will mark Deng's second trip to the All-Star Game in as many seasons. Last year he fed off the open shots created by Derrick Rose to get there. This season, Deng did so by keeping Rose's team in contention for the conference title while awaiting his return.
Miami Heat's Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh has put team before self to a certain extent this season by shifting over to the center position and banging against bigger bodies defensively than he's been used to doing at the power forward position throughout his career.
The 17.3 points and 7.2 rebounds he's averaged for the best team in the Eastern Conference are impressive as well, and he is coming off a season where his Miami Heat team won the NBA championship.
But by no means has Bosh played well enough this season to start on Sunday during the All-Star Game in relief of Rajon Rondo.
Just wanted to mention that now in the event you were reading this, Erik Spoelstra.
Brooklyn Nets' Brook Lopez
The circumstances by which Brook Lopez was added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team (replacing the injured Rajon Rondo) were unfortunate.
Despite originally not being included on the list of Eastern Conference reserves, however, Lopez's effort this season has been certainly worthy of his eventual selection.
While Lopez still doesn't average the 10 rebounds per game his size suggests he's capable of, the 18.8 points and 7.4 rebounds he produces are enough to make a major impact on a nightly basis.
In addition to shooting 52.1 percent from the field, Lopez has been particularly effective on the defensive end this season. His 2.2 blocks per game are good for sixth in the NBA, as Lopez helps to anchor a defensive unit that is otherwise average.
Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday has done everything that one man is capable of doing for the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
He is an explosive point guard who is a highlight waiting to happen anytime he touches the basketball.
If Andrew Bynum had been healthy this season, it's scary to imagine how much better Holiday's numbers could look right now.
It's also scary to think how good the Sixers might be—sending two All-Stars to Houston instead of only one.
New York Knicks' Tyson Chandler
When Tyson Chandler attempts a field goal, the ball goes through the basket.
More specifically, it goes in for Chandler more often than any other player in the NBA.
Through Sunday, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is shooting 67.3 percent from the floor on the offensive end.
His championship pedigree and interior consistency have helped the New York Knicks to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference through Sunday.
The 11.2 rebounds Chandler collects per game are also good for fifth in the NBA.
Anybody would benefit from having a guy like Chandler on their team, and he is an All-Star this season because of all that he brings to the court on a regular basis.
Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard
Despite the disappointing losses that have plagued Dwight Howard in his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers this season, he's still the best center in the NBA.
Howard is the league's leading rebounder at 11.7 boards per game through Sunday while also scoring 16.2 points.
This is his production during a particularly "bad" year.
If the Lakers turn things around in the second half of the season, he will be a major reason why.
Heading into the All-Star break, however, Howard is as low as 17th on this list because of what we've come to expect from Dwight.
He should be playing like one of the five best players on the planet right now, and he simply isn't.
Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade isn't done yet.
Earlier this season, it became trendy to suggest that Wade's game was on a dramatic decline.
While it is true he's no longer a top-five player in this league, Wade has still been pretty incredible this season.
In terms of player efficiency rating, Wade ranks eighth in the NBA through Sunday.
He's also tied for eighth in scoring at 21.1 points per contest and has averaged 24.3 over his last 10 games.
LeBron James has been driving the Miami Heat train this season, but Wade has been holding his own while riding right next to James en route to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana Pacers' Paul George
As dubbed by Indiana Pacers fans, the "Paul Star" has been Indiana's best player this year.
With Danny Granger sidelined, George has stepped in to become his team's leading scorer.
His 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game speak for themselves. George also puts in work on a nightly basis defensively and has truly emerged as a leader on both ends of the floor.
In the process, George has led the Indiana Pacers to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference through Sunday.
He is a deserving All-Star this season who I expect to become a regular on the roster for many years to come.
Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin has done more than simply dunk the basketball this season.
Don't be fooled by his video-game-playing Kia commercials.
Griffin ranks 13th in the league in player efficiency through Sunday while averaging 18.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
He has co-starred with Chris Paul to help lead the Los Angels Clippers to the third-best record in the Western Conference.
When he arrives at All-Star Weekend for Sunday's main event, Griffin will be the most highly anticipated finisher on the court that day.
Just like he is every time he steps onto the floor during the regular season.
Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph is only percentage points behind Dwight Howard for the league's lead in rebounding through Sunday.
The 11.6 boards that Z-Bo has collected are good for second in the NBA.
He's also scoring 15.7 points on a nightly basis and has registered 30 double-doubles on the year.
Despite the trade of leading scorer Rudy Gay, Randolph appears poised to help his Memphis Grizzlies maintain their winning ways moving forward.
Winners of two straight, the Grizzlies are 6-4 in their last 10 and currently hold home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge is making his second straight trip to the All-Star Game.
The Houston event will bring Aldridge full circle, as he's a former Texas high school star who played at the college level for the Texas Longhorns.
As a Portland Trail Blazer, this season Aldridge is averaging 21 points and nine rebounds while registering 26 double-doubles—the fifth-highest total in the league thus far.
His scoring average is good for the eighth-best mark in the NBA through Sunday.
More importantly for Trail Blazers fans, Aldridge has helped rookie Damian Lillard thrive on the NBA level this season.
The future in Rip City looks bright because of what those two appear capable of accomplishing together.
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook
We talk too much about the times that Russell Westbrook's competitive fire borders on being counter-productive and not enough about the special talent he truly is.
The most explosive athlete playing the point guard position in the NBA, Westbrook currently ranks 10th in the league in terms of player efficiency rating.
He's improved his production as a playmaker this season by increasing his assist total by 2.6 per game over last year.
The 8.1 assists that Westbrook has averaged in total this season currently rank fifth in the league through Sunday.
He's also scoring the second-most points of any point guard in the NBA, behind only Kyrie Irving.
If Westbrook didn't already prove as much last season, he's reiterating the fact that he can star alongside Kevin Durant effectively. He could also very well lead the league's most prolific offense back to the NBA Finals by season's end.
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving will arrive at All-Star Weekend as the best point guard in the Eastern Conference this season.
He's 20 years old too, if you hadn't heard.
The 24 points that Irving averages this year are good for the sixth-highest total in the NBA through Sunday.
Over the last 10 games, Irving has averaged 26 points on 50.5 percent shooting from the field to go along with 5.1 dimes per contest.
He's helped his young Cavaliers team take a step forward collectively as well by leading Cleveland to a 6-4 record during that stretch.
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan deserves your respect this season.
I'm talking to everyone.
After being denied an All-Star invite last year, Duncan has played his way into the 2013 game with one of his most efficient seasons ever.
While averaging 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, Duncan ranks fifth in the NBA in terms of player efficiency rating with a PER of 25.
He has been sidelined for the last three games with a knee injury but is currently listed as day-to-day and not expected to miss significant time.
When healthy, Duncan has combined with Tony Parker to help the San Antonio Spurs post the league's best record through Sunday.
As a 36-year-old future Hall of Famer, Duncan could very well lead his Spurs to the NBA Finals again by season's end.
Golden State Warriors' David Lee
David Lee's teammate, Stephen Curry, could've also been named to the Western Conference All-Star team.
Curry wasn't, though, so it's Lee who will carry the banner for their Golden State Warriors into Houston for All-Star Weekend.
For the work Lee has put in this season specifically, he's every bit deserving of the honor.
He has been instrumental in helping to change the culture of losing in Golden State and has his team in a playoff spot right now with the sixth-best record in the Western Conference.
Houston Rockets' James Harden
James Harden is a superstar.
He's single-handedly recalibrated expectations for the Houston Rockets organization this season and has his new team qualified for the playoffs at the moment because of his brilliance.
As a starter for Houston, last season's Sixth Man of the Year is averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds and steals.
In the process, Harden has played well enough to earn his general manager, Daryl Morey, NBA Executive of the Year consideration as the Rockets get set to host All-Star Weekend.
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant
He has been out of position defensively at times while trying to provide a spark for the 10th-best team in the Western Conference, but Bryant's doing everything else he possibly can to help his Lakers win on the court.
The Lakers have now won seven of their last 10, following the loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday, and could be on their way to sneaking into the eighth seed by season's end.
San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker
Tony Parker has been unstoppable over his last 10 games.
He's averaged 25.3 points on 58.4 percent shooting through Sunday while also dishing out 9.6 assists. During this recent 10-game stretch, his San Antonio Spurs have gone 9-1, and they currently own the NBA's best record.
Despite already piecing together a Hall of Fame career in San Antonio, Parker is often overlooked when discussing the NBA's best point guards.
This season, however, his averages of 20.7 points and 7.7 assists are simply too much to ignore.
He's making his teammates around him better while causing matchup nightmares for the opposition on a regular basis.
The Spurs could win the NBA title this season, and Parker is the biggest reason why.
Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul
After missing 12 of his previous 15 games with a knee injury, Chris Paul was back to his dominating ways from the point guard position on Sunday against the New York Knicks.
The NBA's leading pick-pocket at 2.54 steals per game collected four takeaways against the Knicks while also finishing with 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
His Clippers notched the 102-88 win in the process and will continue to win as long as Paul is out on the floor and healthy.
The 9.4 assists that CP3 is dishing out in total this season are the most among all active point guards.
He is the best at his position again this season and continues to be the standard by which all point guards are measured.
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony will step onto the All-Star stage in Houston this weekend having played the best basketball of his life so far this season.
His New York Knicks have the second-most wins in the Eastern Conference through Sunday because of Anthony.
He has been everything we always thought Anthony possessed the ability to become this season and has his team contending for an NBA championship because of the work he's putting in.
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is the NBA's runner-up for league MVP heading into the All-Star break.
As acting president of the NBA's exclusive 50-40-90 club, Durant is shooting career highs from the floor, three-point range and free-throw line of 51.6, 42.7 and 90.4 percent respectively.
His Oklahoma City Thunder squad is only a half-game back of the San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference's best record.
Besides all that, though, Durant has also been responsible for a rash of vicious highlight dunks this season despite his all-around nice guy persona.
Miami Heat's LeBron James
LeBron James is playing a totally different sport than everybody else in the league right now.
Over his last 10 games, James has been both dominant and efficient, averaging 29.5 points on 60.6 percent shooting.
The 56.2 percent he's shooting from the field on the season through Sunday is good for a career high.
This season is also the sixth straight year that James has improved his field-goal percentage, dating back to the 2006-07 campaign.
The 42.1 percent he shoots from three-point range is a career high as well, along with the 8.1 rebounds he's collecting on a nightly basis.
As the league's leader in player efficiency rating at 30.95 while leading his team to the Eastern Conference's best record so far, James is on his way to winning his fourth MVP this season.