Updated Rankings of the Top 5 Players at Every Position in Season's Second Half

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2013

Updated Rankings of the Top 5 Players at Every Position in Season's Second Half

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    We're bringing you fresh rankings of the top five NBA players at each position, but this time we're using a ratings system to determine the hierarchy.

    As the league's hottest stars embark upon the second half of the 2012-13 season, we rate them in each major category to compile an overall points standing.

    The point totals assess every player's current aptitude in the major areas, and here's how the scoring works:

    Each category is worth 10 points: (1) Scoring, (2) passing (for guards), (3) rebounding (for forwards), (4) defense, (5) winning and (6) value to team.

    We factor in production and efficiency in each category, except for the "winning" category, which is calculated by rounding off the team's current winning percentage (.512 winning percentage = 5 points).

    The player at each position with the most points out of 50 wins. Game on!

     

    *Small forwards include all 6 categories, so their point totals are out of 60.

No. 5 Point Guard: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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    Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry torched opposing defenses throughout the first half of the season. He also managed to facilitate (6.6 APG) at a high clip while raining all those triples.

    Better defense would have given him a better score and a higher ranking, but it's still a tremendous accomplishment to crack the point guard top five.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Passing: 6.5

    Defense: 5

    Winning: 6

    Value to team: 7.5

    Total: 33.5/50

No. 4 Point Guard: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    No one's stock increased more during the 2013 All-Star Weekend than that of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving. He deserved all the attention because he had a superb first half.

    He not only proved he could score and carry the Cavs offensively, but he also showed he can carry them when it matters most, in crunch time.

    Cleveland's poor record isn't the only thing keeping his rating modest; Irving also needs to work on his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) and his defense.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Passing: 6

    Defense: 6.5

    Winning: 3

    Value to team: 9.5

    Total: 33.5/50

No. 3 Point Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Russell Westbrook might be the best player to place third in his positional rankings.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder guard is blowing away opponents with his combination of skills and athleticism, but there are still signs that he's not as mature as he could be (occasional defensive lapses, turnovers, distracted attitude).

    His decision-making and ability to execute are absolutely crucial in OKC's quest to upend LeBron James and company.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Passing: 8.5

    Defense: 8

    Winning: 7.5

    Value to team: 8

    Total: 40/50

No. 2 Point Guard: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    What kind of point guard shoots 54 percent from the field and commits just 2.6 turnovers despite being the team's primary playmaker? Tony Parker.

    The San Antonio Spurs haven't posted the best record in the NBA because of one player, but their offense wouldn't be nearly as dangerous without Parker's knack for knifing through opposing defenses.

    There's only one point guard in the league who's better than him, and it's not by much.

    Shooting/Scoring: 9

    Passing: 8

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 8

    Value to team: 9

    Total: 41/50

No. 1 Point Guard: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    The 2013 All-Star Game pretty much encapsulated the first half of the season when it came to Los Angeles Clippers floor general Chris Paul.

    Lob City's traffic director exhibited his elite passing skills and scoring prowess, and it seemed like his sense of timing was a notch better than everyone else's.

    As long as his teammates are in the right places at the right time, they can be assured CP3 will get them the ball in a good position to thrive each game.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Passing: 10

    Defense: 8

    Winning: 7

    Value to team: 9

    Total: 42.5/50

No. 5 Shooting Guard: Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Folks talk about certain players "passing the eye test" in basketball, and Jamal Crawford passes the eye test for sure. He's got a move for every situation and a shot for every angle.

    Don't worry, the Los Angeles Clippers gunner has stats to back it up: He's shooting 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from distance. Defensively, L.A. gives up 4.1 fewer points when he's on the court compared to when he's sidelined, according to 82games.com.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Passing: 3

    Defense: 6.5

    Winning: 7

    Value to team: 5.5

    Total: 30.5/50

No. 4 Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks

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    O.J. Mayo's move to the Dallas Mavericks was an opportunity for him to demonstrate that he was a top-tier wing in the NBA. He took advantage and made it clear that he's a top-five No. 2 guard.

    Elite? No.

    But the Mavs don't really need him to be elite as long as the other pieces pull their weight. Mayo already does a hefty amount of driving, shooting and dishing every night, including shooting a career-high 4.8 threes per night.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Passing: 5

    Defense: 5.5

    Winning: 4.5

    Value to Team: 7.5

    Total: 30.5/50

No. 3 Shooting Guard: James Harden, Houston Rockets

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    There's a bit of a gap between the fourth-best and the third-best shooting guards, and rightfully so. The top three shooting wings are Olympians, and the others are not.

    James Harden instantly became the face of the Houston Rockets franchise when he was traded in October, and he lived up to franchise's expectations. He spearheads one of the most powerful offensive attacks in the league as a dual-threat guard.

    The only thing keeping him from the No. 1 slot is a pair of legends who are still fiercely defending their reputations.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Passing: 5.5

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 7

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 36/50

No. 2 Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    With apologies to Russell Westbrook and every other second option out there, no NBA team has a greater sidekick than the Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade.

    Injury fears surrounded the beginning of the 2012-13 season, but that seems like a distant memory since Wade has played brilliantly off LeBron James en route to 21 points and 4.8 assists per game.

    If he cleans up against the shooting guards in the East, Miami will enjoy smooth sailing to the Finals.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Passing: 5

    Defense: 7.5

    Winning: 7

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 36/50

No. 1 Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    In the most turbulent season of his 17-year career, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has tried a myriad of approaches in the frontcourt.

    Sometimes he's on a scoring spree, sometimes he conducts a passing clinic and sometimes he's an elite defender.

    The bottom line is that he's still dominant, relevant and more important than ever to L.A. considering the team's injuries.

    Shooting/Scoring: 9

    Passing: 6

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 4.5

    Value to team: 9.5

    Total: 36/50

No. 5 Small Forward: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

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    Speaking of relevant veterans, we kick off our small forward countdown with Boston Celtics icon Paul Pierce.

    He's still a player that opposing coaches have to game plan against, because if they're not careful, he can burn them. And not just on the offensive end.

    Pierce's production and leadership have been outstanding thus far, but he needs to be even better if Boston wants to hang onto its playoff spot.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Passing: 5

    Rebounding: 6.5

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 5.5

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 40.5/60

No. 4 Small Forward: Paul George, Indiana Pacers

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    Darren Collison's departure, Danny Granger's absence and Roy Hibbert's regression put the Indiana Pacers in a tight spot this fall.

    Enter Paul George, who took his game to a new level in 2012-13 as a playmaker and stopper. He makes better use of his athletic ability, court sense and polished skills to the tune of 7.8 rebounds and four assists to accompany his 17.6 points.

    Can he outdo Luol Deng and Carmelo Anthony in the postseason on the road to LeBron James?

    Shooting/Scoring: 7.5

    Passing: 5

    Rebounding: 7

    Defense: 8

    Winning: 6

    Value to team: 8

    Total: 41.5/60

No. 3 Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    Carmelo Anthony is probably one of the top five players in the NBA right now, but he's still third on the league's small forward depth chart.

    He's shooting just as much as he always has, but the difference is he's taking better shots within a better system. 'Melo has embraced the new cast surrounding him and become a more efficient weapon.

    LeBron's torrid pace has astounded us and damaged Anthony's MVP hopes, but let's not forget the incredible season 'Melo's having.

    Shooting/Scoring: 9.5

    Passing: 4

    Rebounding: 6.5

    Defense: 6.5

    Winning: 6.5

    Value to team: 9

    Total: 42/60

No. 2 Small Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    America's favorite 50-40-90 boy is still the Oklahoma City Thunder's giant hope for a league crown.

    Kevin Durant is pouring in points at the second-best clip of his career, all while playing some of the best defense of his career. His OKC squad is second in the West and will have a major say in who advances to the NBA Finals.

    Durant has an extra chip on his shoulder this season, and that should scare the rest of the Western Conference.

    Shooting/Scoring: 9.5

    Passing: 5

    Rebounding: 7

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 7.5

    Value to team: 9

    Total: 45/60

No. 1 Small Forward: LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    Climbing to the top of the small forward rankings isn't easy, as it's a loaded group. But topping this list is the least of LeBron's accomplishments or worries, as he's far more invested in earning multiple rings and dominating the world in the process.

    So far, he's right on schedule. King James entered the All-Star break with a head of steam and won't stop his 6'8", 250-pount frame until June.

    Shooting/Scoring: 9.5

    Passing: 7.5

    Rebounding: 7

    Defense: 8.5

    Winning: 7

    Value to team: 9.5

    Total: 49/60

No. 5 Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Previously thought to be the third-best power forward in basketball, LaMarcus Aldridge sank to fifth in our points system.

    The Portland Trail Blazers' big man can fill up the hoop with his deft shooting touch, but he also surveys the floor and plays tough defense.

    With limited options behind Aldridge, Terry Stotts has no choice but to lean on him night after night.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Rebounding: 8

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 4.5

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 36.5/50

No. 4 Power Forward: Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Two-time All-Star Zach Randolph is one of the main reasons the Memphis Grizzlies have the fourth-best record in the West (and if they were in the East, they'd have the second-best record).

    His relentlessness on the glass puts constant pressure on opponents, and he wears them down by grabbing offensive boards and making them work on defense again.

    The Grizzlies' new roster isn't a championship bunch, but Randolph's power and craftiness alone are worth a couple playoff wins.

    Shooting/Scoring: 7.5

    Rebounding: 9

    Defense: 7.5

    Winning: 6.5

    Value to team: 7.5

    Total: 38/50

No. 3 Power Forward: David Lee, Golden State Warriors

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    Golden State Warriors star David Lee has never been in the playoffs during his career. Now that the top-three power forward has enough talent around him, he'll be able to put off vacation a few more weeks.

    Lee's shot-making skills and ceaseless court sense allow him to stay involved in the Dubs' offense even when he's not posting up or squaring up for an isolation.

    When he brings that acumen to the postseason, Golden State will be a tricky matchup for anyone.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8

    Rebounding: 9

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 6

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 38.5/50

No. 2 Power Forward: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

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    The expansion of Blake Griffin's offensive repertoire is manifested in his net point differential.

    According to 82games.com, the Los Angeles Clippers score 113.5 points per 100 possessions when Griffin is on the floor. When he's not, L.A. is a mere 103.4.

    Will it matter if he runs into the No. 1 power forward in the Western Conference Finals?

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Rebounding: 8

    Defense: 7

    Winning: 7

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 39/50

No. 1 Power Forward: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

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    San Antonio Spurs mainstay Tim Duncan is playing the 2012-13 season as if his NBA resume isn't good enough.

    His 24.9 PER is his best since 2006-07, his 2.8 blocks per game are his best since the 2002-03 season and his 82 percent free-throw shooting is a career best.

    The fact that he remains the No. 1 power forward today is remarkable.

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Rebounding: 9

    Defense: 8.5

    Winning: 8

    Value to team: 9

    Total: 43/50

No. 5 Center: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Just because Marc Gasol wasn't a part of the 2013 All-Star action doesn't mean he's not having a good season.

    The Memphis Grizzlies pivot man doesn't haul in rebounds like his low-block teammate, but Gasol can score from several angles and pass the rock well.

    He's even more trouble defensively, as his strength and focus helps Lionel Hollins run one of the best defenses in the league.

    Shooting/Scoring: 7.5

    Rebounding: 8

    Defense: 8

    Winning: 6.5

    Value to team: 7.5

    Total: 37.5/50

No. 4 Center: Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks

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    Now that he's finally an NBA All-Star, Tyson Chandler's wall of fame includes the full array of basketball accolades.

    His work on the glass and in the pick-and-roll has been invaluable to Mike Woodson's squad. Chandler is snatching 12.4 boards per 36 minutes while terrorizing opponents with lobs and post defense.

    It's a tight race at the center position, so his efforts only get him fourth place.

    Shooting/Scoring: 7

    Rebounding: 9

    Defense: 7.5

    Winning: 6.5

    Value to team: 9

    Total: 39/50

No. 3 Center: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

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    With ferocious defense, consistent rebounding and assertiveness on offense, Joakim Noah has led the Chicago Bulls safely into the playoff picture without Derrick Rose.

    Noah always takes care of his assignments defensively, while keeping an eye out to help others. On the other end, he makes up for poor skills with heaps of effort and the willingness to pass the ball from the high post.

    Shooting/Scoring: 7

    Rebounding: 9

    Defense: 8.5

    Winning: 6

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 39/50

No. 2 Center: Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Back and shoulder issues have turned Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard from unrivaled explosive megastar into a mortal man fighting for his place in the league.

    The on-court chemistry issues haven't helped his season, but Howard takes care of a task that he can control: rebounding. He pulls down nearly a dozen per game, and that helps him stay involved offensively.

    Does he have what it takes to put all the distractions, doubts and injury worries aside and simply win?

    Shooting/Scoring: 8.5

    Rebounding: 9

    Defense: 7.5

    Winning: 4.5

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 39/50

No. 1 Center: Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets

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    With 19 points and 52 percent shooting in 30 minutes per game, Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez has emerged triumphant atop the center power rankings.

    His first career All-Star appearance was a fitting reward for his outstanding first half, in which he carried the Nets offensively while Deron Williams and Joe Johnson figured themselves out.

    To start the 2012-13 season, we weren't sure he was the best center in New York, much less the entire league. Lopez raised his game and helped put Brooklyn back on the pro sports map.

    Shooting/Scoring: 9.5

    Rebounding: 7.5

    Defense: 7.5

    Winning: 6

    Value to team: 8.5

    Total: 39/50

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