Top 100 Players in the NBA

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 15, 2013

Top 100 Players in the NBA

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    Every NBA player strives both to win a championship and to be better at basketball than everyone else in the world. Only one player can make the latter a reality each year, though. The rest are left fighting for the other 99 spots in the Top 100. 

    Through incredible scoring feats, jaw-dropping athletic accomplishments, terrific defensive play and countless other contributions, these 100 standouts have emerged in the 2012-13 season as the best that the Association has to offer. 

    Next season—and potentially even the 2013 playoffs—will shake up the rankings once more, but for now, these are the true alpha dogs of professional basketball. 

    Did your favorite player make the cut? How many of the Top 100 come from your favorite team? 

    Let's check it out. 

     

    Note: All stats are current through Friday, April 12, and come from ESPN, NBA.com, Hoopdata.com, Basketball-Reference.com and 82games.com. 

Non-Qualifed Players

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    These rankings are based off the 2012-13 season, so if a player didn't suit up in at least 40 games during the season, he was declared ineligible for the Top 100.

    That disqualifies the following players, who would almost certainly be included otherwise: Danny Granger, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Amar'e Stoudemire, Anderson Varejao and Lou Williams.

100. Tobias Harris

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    Team: Orlando Magic

    Position: SF

    Age: 20

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.6 steals, 15.88 PER

     

    As soon as Tobias Harris transitioned from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic, the world was his oyster. Those season stats up above might not look too impressive, but take a gander at these splits: 

    Team MPG PPG RPG APG BPG SPG FG%
    Milwaukee Bucks 11.6 4.9 2.0 0.5 0.3 0.3 46.1
    Orlando Magic 35.9 16.9 8.8 2.0 0.9 1.4 45.4

    The increased playing time has certainly helped Harris make a name for himself, but his per-36 numbers saw a corresponding rise—his success hasn't solely been a result of the extra minutes on the court. 

    Quite a few people—myself included—were doubting Rob Henningan's managerial skills the summer before this 2012-13 campaign, but the Orlando GM has continued to find gems previously hidden in the rough. 

99. Kyle Korver

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: SF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 13.81 PER

     

    Kyle Korver's value on the basketball court stems largely from his marksmanship behind the arc, but his three-point shooting isn't the only positive attribute on his résumé.

    For example, the 32-year-old rarely gets credit for his passing ability, mostly because he's not often asked to serve as a facilitator and gets the job done without much Maravichian flair. But if you watch Atlanta Hawks games, you'll notice that Korver rarely makes bad decisions with the ball and is quite adept at feeding the post with his entry passes.

    Now, Korver's three-point shooting...How many of you knew that this small forward trails only Jose Calderon in three-point field-goal percentage? And he's done that while shooting the 14th-most attempts in the league from downtown.

    Korver meshes together volume and accuracy tremendously, and he's not afraid to take shots with the final seconds ticking away.  

98. Marcin Gortat

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: C

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.6 blocks, 0.7 steals, 15.52 PER

     

    Hopefully the Phoenix Suns remember the beginning of the 2012-13 season, or else they're going to be even more disappointed in Marcin Gortat's performance. 

    After recording five rejections in the opening game, Gortat looked like a defensive force to be reckoned with. That didn't last for too long, as the Polish Hammer quickly lost some of his value on that end of the court. 

    Steve Nash's brilliance running pick-and-rolls made it seem like the big man was going to be one of the league's better offensive centers, but now it's apparent that the 2011-12 campaign was more of a mirage than anything else. 

    Gortat's size helps him out, and he's a solid finisher when the ball is in his hands around the hoop, but this season has been one full of struggles. 

97. Arron Afflalo

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    Team: Orlando Magic

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.6 steals, 13.01 PER

     

    This isn't the player that the Orlando Magic were hoping to get when they wrested him away from the clutches of the Denver Nuggets. The 27-year-old shooting guard was supposed to be tracking toward elite shooting guard status in the Association, but he's gotten lost along the way. 

    Arron Afflalo is still a valuable player—his appearance in the Top 100 should speak to that already—but not even his calling card has been able to make up for his inefficient offense during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    Known as a bit of a defensive specialist, Afflalo has held opposing shooting guards and small forwards to PERs of 11.6 and 13.2, respectively (per 82games.com). Those are terrific numbers, but they're devalued when Afflalo struggles to exceed them with his own PER.

96. Luis Scola

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 16.62 PER

     

    Luis Scola certainly doesn't seem like a player who deserved to be an amnesty victim, but he's also not the dominant post player he once was. 

    The long-haired Argentine big man has struggled to adjust to being a legitimate offensive option for a team without many quality scorers, and his age is probably going to prevent him from ever regaining his old form.

    That said, he's still valuable. Particularly on the block—where he's made a name for himself throughout his professional career—Scola hasn't lost a step. Take a look at this shot chart, and you'll see just how concentrated his shots have been around the area. 

    As long as he continues playing to his strengths, he'll retain the value he still possesses. 

95. Andre Miller

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: PG

    Age: 37

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 15.85 PER

     

    If we found out that Andre Miller falsified his birth certificate and he was actually 49, I wouldn't be all that shocked. He'd look awfully young for his age, but I have no doubt that Miller can play basketball at a high level for as long as he'd like. 

    The Denver Nuggets have taken to playing Dr. Miller at the end of close games because of the ultimate trust they can place in his decision-making. Years under Miller's belt may have sapped any remaining athleticism, but his post-ups and lobs are still delightfully on point. 

    Young point guards should make a point to tune into Nuggets games just so they can learn from this particular veteran. They may never be able to see the court in slow motion like Miller does and their athleticism might surpass his by a large margin, but there's certainly a lot to be learned.

94. Gerald Henderson

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    Team: Charlotte Bobcats

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 16.62 PER

     

    Yes, even members of the Charlotte Bobcats are eligible for the Top 100. 

    Despite being dragged down by the rest of his offensively challenged teammates—save Kemba Walker—Gerald Henderson still manages to put up some pretty solid scoring numbers. He doesn't produce gaudy totals all that often, but he can be depended on for a double-digit total every time he's in the lineup. 

    Interestingly enough, the 6'5" shooting guard has been much better defensively when lining up at the 3. Although he has to guard bigger opponents, his athleticism is enough to make up for the difference, allowing the Bobcats to squeeze more offensive backcourt members onto the court alongside him. 

    Mike Dunlap has experimented with Henderson in a lot of different spots, but small forward seems to be the one that should stick. 

93. Andre Drummond

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    Team: Detroit Pistons

    Position: C

    Age: 19

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.6 blocks, 0.9 steals, 22.09 PER

     

    It's a bit scary to think about how much further along Andre Drummond would be in his development if a back injury hadn't knocked him out of action for a prolonged period. As it stands, he's already one of the few players whose PER is greater than his age. 

    Even scarier is the dramatic change in the public perception of the Connecticut big man. 

    Going into the 2012 NBA draft, Drummond was viewed as a big-time bust candidate. His game was ridiculously raw and he was, at best, going to be a long-term project. I was one of those guilty parties who helped contribute to that perception. 

    Welp. So much for that. 

92. Jimmy Butler

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: SF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.9 steals, 15.40 PER

     

    Is there anybody left who doesn't enjoy watching Jimmy Butler take court for Tom Thibodeau's Chicago Bulls? Lately, he hasn't much left the hardwood, recording at least 37 minutes in every game since Joakim Noah's injury.

    He even hit the 50-minute mark in an overtime victory against the streaking New York Knicks, putting up 22 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, three blocks and three steals in the hard-fought affair. 

    With his athleticism and youthful energy, Butler brings a certain freshness to the Bulls, as well as more than his fair share of highlights. His defense stands out as well.  

    The Marquette product is going to accumulate some stellar, well-rounded numbers whenever he gets the opportunity to do exactly that. 

91. Ricky Rubio

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.4 steals, 16.04 PER

     

    Can you imagine how effective Ricky Rubio will be when he actually develops a workable jumper? 

    The 22-year-old Spaniard can't score the ball efficiently to save his life, but he still manages to dish it out to his teammates with alarming frequency. Rubio records assists on 39.2 percent of his possessions, a number that leaves him trailing Chris Paul, Greivis Vasquez, John Wall, Tony Parker and Jose Calderon, but still well within the realm of elite distributors (according to Basketball-Reference.com). 

    That's not bad company to be in, especially when you consider the complete lack of scoring ability from the outside. Defenders can attempt to anticipate Rubio's passing lanes, but his creativity and unparalleled passing skill—yes, I'm going there—allow him to negate that advantage with just a flick of his wrist.

    Rubio is also one of the best thieves in the Association, but let's not make the mistake of equating stealing ability with overall defensive play.

90. Wesley Matthews

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: SG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 14.11 PER

     

    Wesley Matthews finally entered a season healthy, and as a result, he's used the 2012-13 season to improve across the board. The 26-year-old has been one of the more consistent sights in the Portland Trail Blazers' lineup, even if he's the worst of all five starters. 

    That's not meant to be an insult, as Rip City possesses one of the better five-man cores in the Association. Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson are all high-quality players.

    The Blazers just don't have a bench. 

    Between his presence from the perimeter and his ability to lock down opposing players in that same area, Matthews consistently performs at a high level for Portland. Now he just needs to figure out how to parlay his skills into effective shooting from inside the three-point arc. 

89. JaVale McGee

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: C

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 2.0 blocks, 0.4 steals, 21.06 PER

     

    It might seem weird to see a player with a 21.06 PER slotted all the way down in the 80s, but JaVale McGee has only played 18.2 minutes per game. George Karl just can't take his shenanigans for more than that, and the asthma doesn't help things either. 

    For every dumb play McGee makes on the court, he also makes a few great ones.

    Few players possess the same level of lankiness and height, and that allows the 7-footer to make some jaw-dropping above-the-rim plays. 

    Potential still abounds in McGee's body, and he's been able to put it together in small doses. It's the size of said doses that prevents him from rising up any higher in the rankings.

88. Jarrett Jack

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PG

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 15.93 PER

     

    A strong contender for Sixth Man of the Year, Jarrett Jack has had tremendous value coming off the bench for the Golden State Warriors. While Stephen Curry, David Lee and the rest of the starters have helped the Dubs out quite a bit, Jack's role has been rather crucial. 

    His production has been slipping lately, though. 

    Despite playing nearly 30 minutes per game, his shot hasn't been falling and he's been significantly less involved in Golden State's offense. Maybe that's a product of Stephen Curry's ridiculously hot shooting from the outside. 

    Jack has long been one of the more undervalued floor generals in the Association, but he's taken to this reserve role nicely. He'll bounce back from this slump, although the Dubs need it to be sooner rather than later. 

87. Ersan Ilyasova

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 18.53 PER

     

    Ersan Ilyasova was a strong contender for Most Improved Player during the 2011-12 campaign, but that seemed rather fluky after his putrid start to the follow-up season. 

    As it turns out, it just took a while for the Turkish big man to get going. 

    After the All-Star break, Ilyasova has been playing terrific basketball, averaging 17.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per contest. He's also shot markedly better from all areas of the court. 

    The combo-forward's value stretches beyond the numbers he puts up on a nightly basis. His ability to expand the court helps out his teammates quite a bit. 

86. Jeremy Lin

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.7 steals, 15.05 PER

     

    Jeremy Lin's career arc has been remarkably unique. 

    After playing for Harvard, going undrafted and bouncing around from team to team, Lin got his shot with the New York Knicks due to a rash of injuries. He capitalized on that in rather exhilarating fashion, inspiring the whole "Linsanity" trend and cashing in during the ensuing offseason. 

    At that point, Lin was pretty overrated by the general public. Then he started laboring away in obscurity for the Houston Rockets, struggled to adjust to his new role at the start of the season and quickly became underrated once more. 

    Now that he's properly adapted, Lin is playing quality basketball while being overshadowed by James Harden and James Harden's beard. 

    A full season alongside the ball-dominating 2-guard has done wonders for Lin's development, as he's realized how to play effectively without controlling the rock. He's also learned to take care of the ball more when it actually is in his hands. 

    Don't be surprised when he reasserts himself as an upper-tier point guard in 2013-14. 

85. Carlos Boozer

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: PF

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 17.01 PER

     

    There's a reason that Chicago Bulls fans and basketball viewers in general tend to bash Carlos Boozer and suggest him as a possible amnesty-clause candidate. He might put up stellar per-game stats, but his defense is virtually nonexistent and he's lost a good deal of efficiency. 

    We use " X > " on Twitter a lot, but let's switch it up. Carlos Boozer's defense — Adam Fromal (@fromal09) April 14, 2013

    Boozer's 47.5 percent shooting from the field is easily the worst mark of his career, and it's not like he's making up for that relative ineffectiveness with his performance from the foul stripe or three-point arc. 

    Boozer's deadly mid-range jumper ensures that he still possesses some scoring value, and his numbers are affected by the lack of protection in the Bulls' rotation. Despite his decline, Boozer would rank much higher if only offense mattered. 

    Alas, defense does too. 

    Per NBA.com, Chicago has allowed 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions when Boozer sits, and that's no fluke. 

84. Gordon Hayward

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 16.91 PER

     

    Gordon Hayward has emerged as a quality scorer for the Utah Jazz during his third season out of Butler, although his efficiency has gone a bit downhill. 

    Even though he's playing fewer minutes per game than he did during his sophomore campaign, Hayward has upped his points per contest from 11.8 to 14.3. It's his increased effectiveness from downtown that has led to this uptick, as the swingman is now shooting 41.4 percent from downtown on 3.5 attempts per game. 

    The 23-year-old also no longer blindly puts his head down and drives to the basket, instead choosing to keep his eyes open and search for alternative solutions. Given that he has the purest passing skills on the Jazz, this is undoubtedly a positive development. 

83. Wilson Chandler

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.1 steals, 16.56 PER

     

    The Denver Nuggets would not have been able to overcome that pesky little injury imp if Wilson Chandler hadn't shown up to play. 

    The swingman's role started to increase in February, and he's steadily earned more and more run as he's proven that he can handle every challenge George Karl throws at him. During five games in April, Chandler has averaged 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest. 

    His incredible size and length allows him to terrorize smaller players on both ends of the court. That 6'8" frame is something Chandler has finally realized he should be taking advantage of, and the results have been spectacular in the Mile High City.

82. Ray Allen

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SG

    Age: 37

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 15.19 PER

     

    Ray Allen's transition from go-to scorer to glorified role player was a swift one. 

    Coming off the bench for the Miami Heat, Allen has filled his role quite well, but he's even more of a one-trick pony than he's been in the last few years with the Boston Celtics. The all-time leading three-point shooter has made his fair share of bombs.

    He's just not doing much else. 

    To be fair, it's not like the Heat need him to do much more. 

    Allen has done a remarkable job finding his way to the most efficient shot on the court: the corner three. The concentration of shots in those corners is staggering, and Allen tends to hit those looks more often than most other players out there. 

    Also, let's take a minute to appreciate the combined age of the players in the picture up above. 

81. Avery Bradley

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: PG/SG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.3 steals, 8.77 PER

     

    Avery Bradley has struggled to fill Rajon Rondo's shoes on offense, but his defensive presence is just unbelievable. 

    Most players only worry about covering opponents on roughly half the court. They might press now and then, but usually they only concern themselves with the half-court sets. 

    Bradley treats all 82 feet the same way: with unabashed intensity. When No. 0 is covering you, you better pay attention to everything, even the entry passes thrown in after a made bucket. 

    The combo guard needs to develop quite a bit on the more glamorous end of the court, but he does manage to make defense significantly more exciting than normal.

80. J.J. Hickson

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.6 steals, 20.00 PER

     

    J.J. Hickson was on his way to becoming a career journeyman, flaming out with multiple teams despite his immense physical talent, but it seems like he's found a home with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    The 24-year-old loved spending time shooting mid-range jumpers in the past, and more often than not, they clanged off the rim. Much as he loved lofting up those shots, they just wouldn't drop for him. 

    This season, those shots have actually gone in. 

    From 10-to-16 feet, Hickson has converted his attempts 47.7 percent of the time. From 16-to-23 feet, he's actually made 50.7 percent of those attempts. Of course, there haven't been all that many. 

    Even still, Hickson's ability to hit the mid-range jumper this season has opened up the rest of his offense and allowed him to consistently pose as a double-double threat. 

79. Jeff Green

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: SF

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.7 steals, 15.01 PER

     

    As expected, it took about a year for Jeff Green to fully recover from his heart surgery, but the results have been fantastic now that the 26-year-old is ready to go once more. 

    Green is ridiculously athletic. He just needs to develop some modicum of consistency to take that next step. His crests tend to balance out the troughs, but the Boston Celtics wouldn't mind a bit more regularity in his output. 

    As it stands, Green has averaged 21.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals on 53.5 percent shooting from the field in 15 games as a starter.

    He might also have had the best game of his career. 

    It's going to be awfully hard for the forward to top his game against the Miami Heat, seeing as he carried the C's with a Twitter-breaking 43 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and two steals. 

78. O.J. Mayo

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    Team: Dallas Mavericks

    Position: SG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.2 steals, 14.40 PER

     

    Is there anybody out there who remembers O.J. Mayo's hot start to the season? You know, the one that convinced us this shooting guard might be one of the top five players at his position. 

    The regression to the mean has been a terrifying one. 

    Mayo was never going to keep up his torrid shooting from the outside, but he's struggled to mesh with Dirk Nowitzki now that he can't have almost complete control of the basketball each and every night. 

    Since the All-Star break, the 25-year-old has averaged only 11.5 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. He's had to convert into more of a facilitator, and it's a transition he's struggled with. Mayo's turnover numbers are down, but he's failed to balance out his dip in scoring with a subsequent increase in assists. 

77. Tony Allen

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: SG

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, 13.26 PER

     

    Ranking Tony Allen is always a difficult endeavor because he's such a specialized player. 

    You'll never confuse the 31-year-old for a viable offensive option, but his perimeter defense is just on another level. Only a few other players across the league come anywhere near shutting down their opponents as often as Allen does. 

    According to 82games.com, the Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard has held opponents to a 12.6 PER, and NBA.com's stats show a similar trend. 

    When Allen sits, the Grizz allow opponents to score 101.2 points per 100 possessions. But when the grizzly-bearded veteran steps onto the court, Memphis only allows 94.2 points per 100 possessions. Given that the Memphis defense as a whole is pretty stingy, that's a remarkable improvement. 

76. Jose Calderon

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    Team: Detroit Pistons

    Position: PG

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 18.82 PER

     

    Jose Calderon's quest for a 50/40/90 season hasn't exactly gotten as much attention as Kevin Durant's, but let's not sell the point guard's efficiency short. 

    His 49.1 percent shooting from the field leaves him a bit shy of the necessary requirements, but his 46.1-percent mark from downtown is just ridiculous. That number paces the league, and Calderon is doing it on 3.9 attempts per game. 

    As for his free-throw shooting, the Spaniard is shooting exactly 90 percent at the moment. 

    He's going to have to shoot the lights out in the final few games of the season if he wants to make history.

75. Eric Gordon

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: SG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 15.75 PER

     

    Well here's a guy I completely missed on before the start of the 2012-13 season. 

    I expected Eric Gordon to thrive as the go-to player for the New Orleans Hornets, scoring enough points in enough ways that he left little doubt he was a top-20 player in this league. He was almost certainly going to become one of the standouts at his position. 

    Gordon has scored in bulk for the soon-to-be Pelicans, but he's truly struggled to stay healthy and efficient. He only barely qualified for these rankings, and his 40.7 percent shooting from the field depressed his spot rather significantly. 

    Now, instead of treating Gordon like a franchise player, the Hornets are expected to place him on the trade block during the 2013 offseason. 

74. Manu Ginobili

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: SG

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.4 steals, 19.31 PER

     

    Even when he's been healthy—which is going to end up being 59 games out of a possible 82—Manu Ginobili's minutes have been doled out rather stringently by Gregg Popovich. The 35-year-old shooting guard has played only 23.4 minutes per contest, which limits his impact no matter how efficient he's been. 

    Ginobili hasn't been able to shoot the ball as effectively as normal, but his passing has been on point. Ricky Rubio is coming for the veteran's crown, but Ginobili is still the master of using the five-hole. 

    When you line up against this Argentine, you better watch the spot of ground in between your legs. Manu won't hesitate to use it if you don't. 

73. Jamal Crawford

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PG/SG

    Age: 33

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 16.75 PER

     

    Jamal Crawford is a scoring machine, but he's running into the ground a bit now that the years have started to add up. With 33 of them under his belt, Crawford doesn't quite have the same explosiveness he possessed in his younger days. 

    He can still dazzle with his dribbling moves, though. 

    There aren't many players more adept at creating shots than Crawford, even if he hits them only 43.8 percent of the time. 

    The combo guard has been a valuable contributor off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers, and he's helped mask Vinny Del Negro's coaching deficiencies in half-court sets simply by blowing up the play and still managing to convert at the basket. 

72. Chandler Parsons

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 steals, 15.09 PER

     

    Chandler Parsons has never truly excelled at any one facet of the game, but he's always been good at each one. During the 2012-13 season, he's been better than good. 

    The accumulation of those above-average tools has led to the Florida product developing into quite the useful player for the Houston Rockets. He can score from all areas of the court, possesses a good deal of springiness that he never hesitates to use and is skilled enough to involve his teammates effectively. 

    To take the next step, Parsons needs to develop a true go-to move or blossom into a lock-down defender. As indicated by the 14.5 PER he's allowed opposing small forwards to accumulate, he's already a good point-stopper.

    He's just by no means elite. 

71. Kevin Martin

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: SG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 16.07 PER

     

    Were Kevin Martin a baseball player, he'd be a guy who dealt exclusively with these three outcomes: home runs, walks and strikeouts. 

    After all, the shooting guard only seems to like shooting three-pointers and working his way to the charity stripe. He does everything else in small doses. 

    Martin's shot chart is a thing of beauty, simply because he focuses so heavily on shooting from the perimeter—especially from the left side—and at the rim. He attempts to minimize the mid-range shots, knowing that they're the most inefficient shots out there. 

    You know what else is a thing of beauty, though? 

    Opponents' offensive performances when guarded by Martin.

70. Steve Nash

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: PG

    Age: 39

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 15.99 PER

     

    Steve Nash is threatening the 50/40/90 club for the fifth time in his career, currently sitting just 0.3 percent shy of the necessary field-goal percentage needed for qualification. 

    Despite his trademark efficiency and stellar shooting ability, Nash isn't firing away as often. His role has been rather diminished on the Los Angeles Lakers, and at times, he's served as nothing more than a decoy. Turning Nash into a spot-up shooter instead of a primary facilitator was...um...an interesting decision. 

    Even in his advancing age, Nash has retained his stellar passing skills. He just hasn't had as many opportunities to use them during his second go-around under Mike D'Antoni. 

69. Kawhi Leonard

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: SF

    Age: 21

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.7 steals, 16.74 PER

     

    Kawhi Leonard and his massive hands have convinced the San Antonio Spurs that he's a big part of the team's future. 

    The San Diego State product's versatility has been staggering at times, and he's often able to make plays happen in just about every aspect of the game. Need a defensive stop? A three-pointer? A drive to the basket? A big rebound? 

    No problem, just ask Leonard. 

    The sophomore doesn't truly excel in any one area, but he's good enough across the board that he has some staying power for the Spurs.

68. Kyle Lowry

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    Team: Toronto Raptors

    Position: PG

    Age:  27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, 17.73 PER

     

    Kyle Lowry hasn't been all he was cracked up to be for the Toronto Raptors. He was absolutely terrific at the start of the season, but after injuries knocked him out of the lineup, he just hasn't been able to regain that level of dominance. 

    The 27-year-old point guard's value stems from his ability to contribute in multiple areas, but he needs to start shooting the ball more efficiently. 40.6 percent on the season isn't going to cut it, and 39.1 percent after the All-Star break isn't exactly a step in the right direction. 

    He knocks down a number of three-point shots and usually avoids turning the ball over too often, but until he can avoid letting the misses add up, he's not going to take the next step into elite-dom.

67. Tristan Thompson

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.8 steals, 16.15 PER

     

    I'd highly suggest opening up the next two links in separate windows or tabs, because it's a terrific example of how a player can work hard and improve dramatically. 

    Here's Tristan Thompson's shot chart during the 2011-12 campaign, and here's the one from the current 2012-13 season. 

    The big knock on Thompson when he was coming out of Texas was his limited range. If the big man wasn't in the paint, he wasn't going to be even remotely effective. You can see that reflected in the first shot chart, as Thompson's looks are all concentrated right around the basket. 

    An offseason of work has allowed Thompson to expand his range quite significantly, and he's now a much more dangerous player on that end of the court. 

66. Joe Johnson

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: SG

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.7 steals, 14.21 PER

     

    Joe Johnson hasn't played like an All-Star during the first post-Atlanta season of his career. He's still been an effective scorer in isolation and a solid defender, but his efficiency has declined and he's now a tertiary offensive option for the Brooklyn Nets. 

    Still, Johnson can produce highlights and game-winners. 

    No play stands out more than this absolute evisceration of Paul Pierce. Johnson didn't just embarrass him; he tortured every fiber of his being. 

65. J.R. Smith

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: SG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.2 steals, 17.69 PER

     

    J.R. Smith receives a lot of credit for his offensive prowess, and deservedly so. He may be prone to shooting a bit too often while forgetting that passing is an option, but he's a stellar shot-maker who can do things that leave normal people scratching their heads. 

    However, Smith is actually a solid defender. And that's something that can easily get overlooked. 

    The 27-year-old has held opposing 2-guards to a 12.9 PER during the 2012-13 season, per 82games.com. Mike Woodson's defensive systems have also been markedly better with Smith on the court. 

    When Smith plays, the New York Knicks allow 3.4 fewer points per 100 possessions than when he's riding the pine, according to NBA.com's stats.

64. Nicolas Batum

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.2 steals, 15.78 PER

     

    Halfway through the 2012-13 season, it seemed like Nicolas Batum was ready to assert himself as an All-Star-level player for the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    Well, that didn't last for too long. 

    After the midseason break, the Frenchman has only averaged 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the field. His versatile offense and stellar defense are both valuable in Rip City, but Batum doesn't look like the dominant small forward he was on track to become. 

    It's hard to believe that he's only 24, though. Don't give up on his elite potential quite yet.

63. Goran Dragic

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: PG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.6 steals, 17.48 PER

     

    I'd like to see what Goran Dragic could do with some other premier offensive options in the lineup alongside him. Michael Beasley certainly doesn't qualify, and Marcin Gortat was the only other member of the Phoenix Suns to make it into the Top 100. 

    Dragic is a creative and dynamic scorer, but he also possesses some elite passing skills. He'll never be Steve Nash in the passing department, but he's still on the more positive end of the spectrum. 

    The situation in the desert is a lot like the one John Wall dealt with during his rookie season in Washington: Talented as Dragic may be, he just can't overcome the lack of talent surrounding him on the court. 

62. Nikola Vucevic

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    Team: Orlando Magic

    Position: C

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.8 steals, 17.60 PER

     

    You might recall that I wrote the following on Tobias Harris' slide: 

    Quite a few people—myself included—were doubting Rob Henningan's managerial skills the summer before this 2012-13 campaign, but he's continued to find gems previously hidden in the rough. 

    Obviously that statement was directly referring to Harris as a gem, but I was also looking ahead to Nikola Vucevic, who Hennigan landed in the Dwight Howard trade. 

    The 7-footer from USC has quickly shot up the ranks of big men with his improving offensive game and incredible work on the boards. Offensive and defensive rebounding are separate skills, but Vucevic has proven to be proficient on both types of glass. 

    According to Basketball-Reference.com,Vucevic ranks 17th in offensive rebounding percentage, fifth in defensive rebounding percentage and fourth in total rebounding percentage. 

61. Ryan Anderson

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.5 steals, 18.20 PER

     

    Ryan Anderson is a pretty darn good three-point shooter. 

    Only Stephen Curry has made more shots from behind the arc than this stretch-4 on the New Orleans Hornets. Then again, only Curry has taken more shots from long range. 

    Usually players excel from one or two spots around the perimeter, but that's not the case with Anderson. He thrives all the way around it. 

    If you look at this heat map, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, there's only a single spot around the three-point arc that isn't red. Apparently Anderson struggles a bit from below the break on the left side of the court when he isn't directly in the corner. 

    How's that for needing to pick nits to find flaws with his outside shooting?

60. Rudy Gay

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    Team: Toronto Raptors

    Position: SF

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.5 steals, 15.19 PER

     

    Rudy Gay has been slightly better offensively since joining the Toronto Raptors midway through the season, but his value has still largely stemmed from his defensive play. 

    The following are his per-36 numbers, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

    Team Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Turnovers FG%
    Memphis Grizzlies 16.9 5.8 2.5 0.7 1.3 2.4 40.8
    Toronto Raptors 19.7 6.5 2.9 0.7 1.8 2.9 41.5

    Don't be fooled by Gay's gaudy point totals, because quality offense is about far more than just scoring points. If you can't score them efficiently, your team might be better off without you shooting the ball. 

    Believe it or not, Gay has actually earned minus-0.3 offensive win shares during the 2012-13 season, including the parts of it that he's spent with each team.

    Gay's offense has actually hurt his team, even though he's averaging 18 points per game. 

    Fortunately, he's developed into a fantastic defensive player, which has allowed him to retain a relatively high spot in the Top 100. 

59. Omer Asik

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 15.02 PER

     

    You'll never confuse Omer Asik for a quality offensive player, but fortunately for the Houston Rockets, he won't either. 

    It's a wonderful thing when a player is aware of his limitations and plays to his strengths. Of course, it's important to keep improving, but not pushing the boundaries of your talents on the court is a valuable commodity. 

    Asik knows that he's a tremendous glass-eater and defender, so that's where he spends the bulk of his energy. Only Nikola Vucevic and Dwight Howard have pulled down more rebounds per game, and Asik trails only Reggie Evans in total rebounding percentage. 

    According to NBA.com, the Rockets allow 5.5 fewer points per 100 possessions when Asik is on the court. Considering Houston's perimeter defense has more holes in it than the plot of The Game, that's an impressive feat. 

58. George Hill

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: PG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.1 steals, 16.74 PER

     

    It's time that George Hill starts getting a little bit of credit for something other than his Dwight Howard-esque shoulders. 

    Perhaps most impressive, even more so than his multifaceted contributions on offense and stellar defense, is Hill's ability to limit his turnovers. The point guard rarely coughs the ball up to the opposition, especially given the amount of time he spends on the court each game. 

    Hill's turnover percentage is a minute 8.34 percent during the 2012-13 campaign, and that makes it three seasons in a row that the number has declined. According to Hoopdata.com, no point guard in the Association playing more than 20 minutes per game has been better at limiting turnovers. 

57. Larry Sanders

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.8 blocks, 0.7 steals, 18.75 PER

     

    Other than athletically finishing alley-oops and recording some put-back slams, Larry Sanders doesn't offer all that much on offense. He can knock down the occasional short-range jumper or hook shot, but that's about it. 

    Sanders' value stems from his defense. He passes the eye test even if you take out his ridiculous shot-blocking abilities, and all metrics point toward his effectiveness on that end of the court. 

    The 24-year-old struggles against the bigger players he faces, but he thrives when playing against power forwards. As a whole, the Milwaukee Bucks allow 6.9 fewer points per 100 possessions when Sanders is on the court. 

56. Tyreke Evans

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    Team: Sacramento Kings

    Position: PG/SG/SF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.4 steals, 18.15 PER

     

    Tyreke Evans continues to be quite adept at getting to the rim, but he's struggling to finish the play when he gets there. And that's depressing his value, as well as the quest for superstardom that he started while just a rookie. 

    Despite taking fewer attempts at the rim and using assists more often than he did last year, Evans' 64.1 percent shooting at the rack is slightly down from 2011-12's 64.6. 

    Part of the problem lies in the organization that Evans plays for. 

    I've listed the dynamic 23-year-old as a point guard, shooting guard and small forward, but in reality, I have no clue what position he should play. Unfortunately, neither do the Sacramento Kings, and they keep shuffling him around in an ever-changing lineup. 

    Some consistency might do wonders for the former Memphis standout. 

55. Andrei Kirilenko

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.5 steals, 17.74 PER

     

    Is there anything on a basketball court that Andrei Kirilenko can't do? Other than throwing a good-looking fist pump, of course. 

    The 32-year-old forward contributes across the board on offense, filling any role that Rick Adelman asks, and he can guard a number of players, regardless of where they line up. Whether you need to slow down a quick small forward or a big power forward, AK47 can get the job done. 

    After a year's hiatus, Kirilenko is putting up better numbers than he has in a long time. The Russian is averaging more points, rebounds and steals than he has since 2005-06, and his field-goal percentage is currently the best mark of his career.

54. Roy Hibbert

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.6 blocks, 0.5 steals, 17.51 PER

     

    During the first half of the 2012-13 season, Roy Hibbert couldn't put the ball in the basket if the size of the rim was expanded to hula-hoop dimensions. He managed to shoot a putrid 41.4 percent from the field before the All-Star break. 

    That's bad for a guard, much less a 7-footer who plays pretty close to the basket. 

    Fortunately for the Indiana Pacers and their hopes of having a workable offense, Hibbert remembered how to shoot the basketball after the break. Since the midseason classic, the 26-year-old has knocked down his attempts 51 percent of the time, and he's shooting more often. 

    Even an average level of offensive output coupled with Hibbert's stellar defense makes him a borderline top-50 player. 

53. Monta Ellis

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Position: SG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.5 blocks, 2.1 steals, 16.15 PER

     

    Monta Ellis occasionally knocks down a crucial jumper or completes a ridiculous circus shot, but more often than not, his shots don't drop. 

    The 2-guard is only hitting 41.4 percent of his shots on the season, and that mark would be considerably worse if it weren't for his 48 percent shooting during March. Dynamic as he may seem out on the court, Ellis' value is severely limited by his ability to control his penchant for hoisting the ball up in the general direction of the basket without a second thought. 

    There are certainly some positive aspects to Ellis' game—his passing in particular is phenomenal, especially when he's caught in the air—but he absolutely must convince himself that he can't shoot from the perimeter. 

    Among players who, on average, spent at least 20 minutes on the court, Ellis takes the sixth-most shots from 16-to-23 feet. That leaves him trailing only LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Jefferson, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony

    Since he makes only 36 percent of those attempts (per Hoopdata.com), that's problematic. 

52. Thaddeus Young

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.7 steals, 18.13 PER

     

    Thaddeus Young has quickly become one of the more underrated players in the league, primarily because of his ability to play to his strengths while laboring away on a putrid Philadelphia 76ers squad. 

    The Georgia Tech product knows that he excels right around the basket, so he makes it his sole intention to get to the rim whenever possible. Whether playing in a half-court set or in transition, Young often acts like a homing missile with its target set right on the tin. 

    The combo forward has finished at the rim 280 times during the 2012-13 campaign, and he's managed to dunk the ball home 80 times on 83 attempts. Young's athleticism can be staggering, which is good since he's never afraid to use it. 

51. Nikola Pekovic

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    Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.7 steals, 20.27 PER

     

    This season has been one to forget for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Nikola Pekovic has been able to assert himself as the dominant force on this injury-ravaged squad. 

    Seeing as Kevin Love is the best player on the team, the fact that the stretch-4 is missing from the Top 100 should basically sum up why it's been a season to forget. 

    Pekovic dealt with some injuries of his own and took a while to get going, but he's been quite the physical presence in the post since the All-Star break. The 27-year-old big man was impressive enough during March, but in April he's averaged a stellar 20.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on 54.5 percent shooting. 

    The statistical part of my mind requires that I warn you about small sample sizes here, but Pek still looks like he's made a bit of a jump now that he's been given the opportunity to excel. 

50. Anthony Davis

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 20

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals, 21.78 PER

     

    Anthony Davis hasn't been quite as dominant as many expected going into his rookie season, but he's still been an extraordinarily valuable player for the New Orleans Hornets when healthy. 

    The Unibrow has an ever-expanding offensive arsenal, one that's already significantly more full than it was when he first stepped onto a professional court, and he's already a menace on the boards.

    Transitioning to the Association has been difficult for Davis defensively, but he still possesses the instincts to be a dominant force on that end. NBA big men are just much more advanced than collegiate ones, so Davis has struggled at times. 

    Despite the steep learning curve, the 20-year-old has still managed to post a PER that's higher than his age.  

    More importantly, Davis had been getting significantly better recently before spraining his MCL. Most rookies run into the "rookie wall," but Davis climbed over instead and then used it to boost his performance. 

49. Greivis Vasquez

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: PG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 16.47 PER

     

    Greivis Vasquez isn't much of a scorer, and the New Orleans Hornets often have to hide the point guard defensively against quicker floor generals, but boy can he pass the rock. 

    Few players are better at racking up the dimes than this Maryland product. In fact, only Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul have averaged more assists per game, and CP3 is the only player with a better assist percentage than Vasquez's 45.1. 

    Think about what that number means for a second. Nearly half of the possessions Vasquez is involved in result in not just a made basket, but one assisted by his passing.

    The Hornets might be worse defensively when this point guard takes the court, but they also score an extra 5.3 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com.

48. Brandon Jennings

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    Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Position: PG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.6 steals, 16.37 PER

     

    Brandon Jennings has recorded double-digit assists in 13 games this season, and the Milwaukee Bucks are 7-6 in those contests. With Jennings failing to drop a dollar's worth of dimes, Milwaukee is just 30-37. 

    Let's break it down another way. 

    In victories, Jennings has averaged 7.8 assists, compared to the 5.6 assists he's put up in losses. That's a pretty sizable difference and should help convince the southpaw that he occasionally needs to cut back on his number of shots. 

    The floor general has great scoring instincts, but he can sometimes get a bit overconfident in his shot and shoot the Bucks out of games. 

    Jennings has had a few stretches where he's looked like a max-contract player, but he's a bit too inconsistent to earn that type of money yet. 

47. Zach Randolph

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: PF

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.3 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals, 17.77 PER

     

    Remember when Zach Randolph was just feasting on rebounds and making it clear that he owned the paint at the beginning of the season? 

    If you don't, I can't blame you. 

    Z-Bo hasn't exactly been doing his best to remind you of that dominance lately, and that's why he's slipped down in the rankings to the bottom portion of the top 50. 

    Still a physical presence who seeks out contact frequently, Randolph has been a valuable two-way player for the Memphis Grizzlies. His 46 percent shooting from the field isn't going to cut it, though, especially now that we're moving closer to the elite section of the Top 100. 

46. Jeff Teague

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.5 steals, 16.81 PER

     

    Jeff Teague can struggle with the turnovers every once in a while (it happens often enough that it might be "every twice in a while"), but he makes the offense run in Philips Arena with his deadly combination of scoring and passing. 

    The Atlanta Hawks floor general—to the best of my knowledge—hasn't been mentioned much as an elite point guard or even a vastly improved one, but he's taken quite a big jump during his fourth season out of Wake Forest. 

    Usually the players who have taken jumps benefit from an increase in minutes, but Teague's have actually declined by an average of six seconds per contest. Despite the decrease in run, Teague is averaging 2.1 more points and 2.3 more assists per game. 

    Teague in no way deserves to actually win any sort of award for his improvement, but a little recognition for the work he's clearly put in would be nice. 

45. Kemba Walker

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    Team: Charlotte Bobcats

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.4 blocks, 2.0 steals, 18.60 PER

     

    The burden of an increased role finally got to Kemba Walker, who hasn't been able to connect with the same frequency from the outside. 

    Kemba has never been the most efficient player in the Association, but his 28.2 percent shooting from downtown on 4.6 attempts per game after the All-Star break is pretty awful. He's got to either start making his shots or stop taking them. 

    Even though he is rather vertically challenged, his true strength lies in getting to the basket. That's something he should attempt to do more often, but only if his body can take the abuse that comes with venturing into the trees. 

    The second-year player out of Connecticut has done a nice job steadily improving, and it's clear that the Charlotte Bobcats have a player worth keeping for a long time. 

44. Pau Gasol

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.5 steals, 16.87 PER

     

    It took a looooong time for Pau Gasol to get going during the 2012-13 season, but the big man is rolling once more. That's perfect timing, since the burden falls on Pau's shoulders now that Kobe Bryant only has one functioning Achilles tendon. 

    Let's take a look at Pau's monthly per-game splits: 

    Month Games Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals FG%
    October 2 40.0 19.5 11.0 4.0 1.5 0.5 45.5
    November 14 34.5 11.7 8.6 3.6 1.2 0.5 41.7
    December 6 32.8 12.8 8.2 4.8 1.8 0.5 44.6
    January 11 30.0 12.8 6.4 3.1 1.1 0.4 49.1
    February 3 37.3 20.0 8.7 2.3 1.7 0.7 49.0
    March  5 33.4 10.4 7.2 3.8 0.6 0.8 47.2
    April 6 33.5 19.3 10.2 6.7 0.8 0.3 60.5

    Two things stand out to me here. 

    One is the inconsistency, both in terms of games played and his monthly performances. 

    The second is his recent play. Gasol has been a dominant force lately, and his passing from the high post has been a tremendous source of offense for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

43. Kenneth Faried

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 11.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 steals, 18.61 PER

     

    Kenneth Faried's energy is just contagious.

    I legitimately have no idea how you could find anything but enjoyment in your heart when watching the Manimal run up and down the court like his life depended on it. 

    The Morehead State product and all-time leading collegiate rebounder might not be a high scorer at this stage of his career, but he's a fantastic rebounder and an ultra-effective glue guy. Faried is willing to do all the little things, even if they don't show up in the box score. 

    He's also become a much better defender during his sophomore season. According to 82games.com, Faried is holding opposing power forwards to a 15.7 PER. He struggles against centers, succumbing to their excess size, but he also doesn't play much at the 5 since George Karl has JaVale McGee, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov at his disposal. 

    Denver is still slightly better defensively when using a two-center lineup, but Faried is making strides. While the Nuggets allowed 5.5 more points per 100 possessions when the Manimal played during the 2011-12 season, that number has dropped to 1.3 this year (per NBA.com). 

42. Andre Iguodala

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.7 steals, 14.70 PER

     

    Andre Iguodala has been getting some love as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate lately, and for good reason. Very few players have the same impact out on the perimeter that this swingman does on a nightly basis. 

    Let's use those same criteria that we just applied to Kenneth Faried's defensive play. 

    Iggy has played 58 percent of the Denver Nuggets' available minutes at shooting guard and eight percent at small forward. He's held those positions to PERs of 12.7 and 12.1, respectively, according to 82games.com.

    As for NBA.com's stats, they show that the Nuggets allow 3.9 fewer points per 100 possessions when Iguodala is on the court. And that's with a solid defender like Wilson Chandler backing him up. 

41. Paul Millsap

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: PF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 20.12 PER

     

    This frenetic forward has been quite effective for the Utah Jazz while laboring away in obscurity, but he hasn't taken that step forward that will convince his team to re-sign him long term in the offseason. 

    Paul Millsap's contributions exceed what he should be able to do with his 6'8" frame, but the little big man has never been one to use his relative lack of size as an excuse. Instead, he bullies bigger players in the post and uses his quickness to embarrass them on the perimeter. 

    The problem is that Millsap hasn't been too effective on defense. 

    While playing power forward, the 28-year-old has allowed opposing players to post a 16.5 PER against him, according to 82games.com. Millsap's porous perimeter defense also quickly put an end to the Jazz's experiments with him at the 3, thereby relegating Derrick Favors to a firm bench role for the time being. 

40. Serge Ibaka

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 3.1 blocks, 0.3 steals, 19.32 PER

     

    Serge Ibaka has always been a shot-blocking machine, but rejecting field-goal attempts doesn't necessarily make a player a great defender. The best example I can come up with involves Gorgui Dieng during March Madness. 

    The Louisville big man loved trying to swat everything, but he often put himself out of position by attempting to do so. More often than not, his efforts were detrimental, except for when he did manage to alter a shot. But even then, if he didn't make firm contact, he was out of position to box out, and putbacks were more common. 

    Ibaka has had the Dieng syndrome in the past, but not this year.

    He's improved his man-to-man defense against bigger players, and he's holding himself back on ill-advised block parties. The 23-year-old's rotations are also vastly improved. 

    Ibaka's blocks per game have declined—though not to the point that he'll fail to capture the category's crown—but his defensive value has risen rather significantly. 

39. Luol Deng

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: SF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 15.01 PER

     

    One of the great basketball mysteries is just how effective Luol Deng could be if Tom Thibodeau didn't try to run him into the ground. The small forward's 39 minutes per game pace the NBA, and as a result, the 27-year-old is almost always trying to fight through either fatigue or some various nagging injury. 

    What could Deng do if he was fully healthy and rested while operating under a more reasonable workload instead of a borderline abusive one? 

    As it stands, he already plays terrific defense and contributes positively in many different areas of the offensive game. Deng's shooting stroke could stand to improve, especially when he lets fly from the left half of the court, but there isn't too much protection in the Chicago lineup. 

38. Greg Monroe

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    Team: Detroit Pistons

    Position: C

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 steals, 19.30 PER

     

    Greg Monroe has failed to assert himself as a truly dominant center, but that doesn't mean he's avoided a lofty spot in the rankings. After all, the big man has still been a great player for the Detroit Pistons. 

    It's almost like he spent too much time working on his finesse moves and passing skills while failing to properly bulk up for the rigors of the NBA games. He's been bullied in the post at times, and that's resulted in fewer opportunities. 

    While Monroe's shooting percentage has dropped to 48.3, his points per game have jumped up ever so slightly to 15.9.

    Credit that to a simultaneous increase in minutes.

    Even without true improvement in the scoring column, Monroe's incredible passing gives him quite a bit of value. Few players are as adept at passing out of the post, and Detroit can often count on its offense running through the Georgetown product. 

37. Damian Lillard

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 16.44 PER

     

    Meet Damian Lillard, your newest Rookie of the Year.

    That hasn't been officially announced yet, but I don't think I'm jumping the gun here.

    The first-year point guard came out of Weber State ready to take on the best that the Association had to offer. He was already experienced, and he'd run a good deal of pick-and-roll sets during his collegiate career, so the learning curve wasn't quite as steep as it typically is for rookie guards.

    Lillard's offensive game is just phenomenal, and he has yet to shy away from a big moment. He's not afraid to take the final shot, nor is he terrified of a head-to-head duel with the one and only Kobe Bryant.

    Now if only we could get him to play defense... 

    I would talk about Lillard's defense here, but I can't. That would be an acknowledgment that it actually exists. 

36. Danilo Gallinari

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 16.77 PER

     

    It's always a shame when a player tears his ACL and is knocked out of action for months. Danilo Gallinari is no exception, especially because the Italian small forward was in the midst of such a stellar campaign for the Denver Nuggets. 

    Regardless of which type of forward he was covering, Gallo was proving to be a fine defender. He took major strides on that end of the court, especially against quicker players, as he no longer needed to foul as often to stay in front. 

    Even with that improved defensive play, Gallinari still stood out for his proclivity to take the most efficient shots out there. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Gallo's shot chart is beautiful. I've considered framing it.  

    The allure of the mid-range shot often tempts most players. However, Gallo has consistently proven quite adept at sticking to three-pointers and shots at the rim. 

35. Ty Lawson

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Position: PG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.5 steals, 17.64 PER

     

    Although Ty Lawson retained his blinding speed from baseline to baseline, it took him a while to get rolling during the 2012-13 season. Andre Iguodala's need to control the ball detracted from Lawson's ability to effectively run the offense, and his confidence wavered. 

    He got it going, though. Take a look at these per-game splits from before and after the All-Star game: 

      Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Turnovers FG%
    Before 15.8 2.6 7.1 0.1 1.6 2.8 44.5
    After 19.1 2.9 6.1 0.1 0.9 1.8 49.6

    Lawson's assists and steals may be down, but he's more than made up for it.

    He's rarely turning the ball over and coupling a dramatic increase in field-goal percentage with a significant uptick in points per game. 

    That's the Lawson many of us expected to see. It just took a while for him to get there. 

    His presence just outside of the top 30 speaks volumes about how the Denver Nuggets have excelled this season: through balance. He's the highest-ranked player on the team, but he's also one of seven Nuggets to find himself in the Top 100. 

34. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Team: Dallas Mavericks

    Position: PF

    Age: 34

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.7 steals, 19.55 PER

     

    I have nothing against the Dallas Mavericks, but I hope they never make it to .500 again so that Dirk Nowitzki is required to grow out his beard until he looks like a mixture of Gandalf and Dumbledore. 

    It looks fantastic. 

    So does Dirk's game, especially when he uses the one-legged flamingo fadeaway. The 34-year-old is proving that he's not done dominating basketball games quite yet, even if it took him a while to regain his pre-surgery level of play. 

    The problem is that the Bearded Flamingo's game is a bit more limited now. He's even more reliant on his jumper, and he's not too effective on the glass. 

     

    UPDATE: Monday, April 15 at 1:30 p.m. ET

    Unfortunately for all beard fans out there, Dirk shaved his off after the Mavs finally reached .500 with a win against the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night. 

    ---End of Update---

33. Kevin Garnett

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 36

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.02 PER

     

    Kevin Garnett's mid-range game is just fantastic. 

    That jumper from the baseline is phenomenal and never gets old, unlike the player who's utilizing it more often than ever. KG's finesse game has allowed him to remain a highly valuable player for the Boston Celtics, but it's also clear he isn't in his prime any longer. 

    More so than ever before, Garnett is straying farther from the basket, shying away from contact and failing to record many exemplary rebounding totals. That's only on offense, though. 

    You still don't want to tangle with The Big Ticket when he's trying to prevent you from putting the ball in the basket, even if you're in the paint. 

32. David Lee

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PF

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 steals, 19.23 PER

     

    David Lee's value is severely limited by his inability to play defense. Sometimes it doesn't even seem like the big man is trying to stop the opposition, but rather daydreaming about the next time he can score points. 

    Kirk Goldsberry put Lee on the chopping block at the Sloan Analytics Conference for his porous interior defense, and you can check out the full paper here.

    Golden State Warriors fans, stay away. It's not pretty. 

    However, if we were only talking about offense and rebounding, Lee would be a top-10 player. 

31. Paul Pierce

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: SF

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.06 PER

     

    Paul Pierce laughs in the face of old age. 

    While injuries have taken out what seems like every one of his teammates at some point during the 2012-13 season, the veteran small forward has played in almost every game. And, more impressively, he's been effective throughout the year. 

    Pierce's declining athleticism has prevented him from being quite the same scorer, but he's made up for that by hitting more often from three-point range and passing the ball better than ever. Although Pierce has always been a competent passer, his 25.2 assist percentage is the best mark of his career. 

    The small forward has also continued to play stellar, underrated defense. 

    According to 82games.com, Pierce has held opposing 3s to a 13.1 PER, but he never seems to receive enough credit for his abilities on that end of the court. 

30. Josh Smith

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.3 steals, 17.85 PER

     

    I wish I knew what went on in between Josh Smith's ears. That's assuming that anything happens, because sometimes it seems like his noggin is completely hollow. 

    Smoove's tendency to shoot long-range two-pointers and threes is just awful. Here's the link (NSFW) to Smith's shot chart during the 2012-13 season. It's filled with so much red and can inspire trauma among those with weak stomachs. 

    The forward has shot 19.3 percent from 10-to-16 feet, 32.1 percent from 16-to-23 feet and 30.2 percent from downtown. He's taken 57, 280 and 199 attempts from those areas, respectively. 

    Smith is such an incredible athlete and a ridiculously versatile player on both ends of the court, but until he realizes that he's hurting his team when he shoots jumpers, he's going to prevent himself from rising any higher in the rankings.

29. Al Jefferson

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 steals, 20.94 PER

     

    Al Jefferson has carved out quite a niche for himself, although he's pretty solid on all parts of the hardwood. Just don't mess with him when he's on the left block. 

    Using his drop step to great success, Jefferson has some of the best post moves in the game right now, and he's one of the few surviving back-to-the-basket big men. Talk about a dying breed.

    When Jefferson goes to work on the left side of the half-court set, he's awfully difficult to stop. 

    Although he doesn't often get credit as an elite center, Jefferson has firmly established himself among the best in the business. He'll get to make good on that and cash in during the offseason. 

28. Jrue Holiday

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.6 steals, 16.87 PER

     

    Jrue Holiday was a bona fide All-Star during the first half of the 2012-13 season, but he's slipped rather significantly down the closing stretch. The wear and tear of an NBA season coupled with the ridiculous workload he's taken on for the Philadelphia 76ers has finally worn him down. 

    His shot in particular has just completely deserted him. Take a look at these monthly per-game splits: 

      Points Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals FG%
    October 14.0 6.0 11.0 0.0 2.0 31.3
    November 18.5 3.4 9.3 0.5 1.3 46.2
    December 19.2 4.9 8.1 0.3 1.2 44.9
    January 20.9 4.2 8.9 0.4 1.9 48.0
    February 17.9 4.3 7.5 0.5 1.5 43.5
    March 16.3 4.8 8.2 0.5 2.1 39.4
    April 13.5 3.5 5.2 0.3 1.5 30.2

    In the midst of a prolonged slump, Holiday may have worn down, but he hasn't proven he's less than elite.

    Once the Sixers can offer a few more offensive options and give this breakout point guard a bit of help, he'll be able to achieve sustained excellence for an entire season.

    Until then, though, Holiday is doomed to a lower spot in the Top 100 than you might expect.  

27. Mike Conley

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: PG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 2.2 steals, 18.58 PER

     

    Mike Conley's defense is just phenomenal.

    Seriously, try keeping your eyes on this 25-year-old point guard next time you watch the Memphis Grizzlies. You'll see some fantastic perimeter defense, calculated jumps into passing lanes and terrific help defense.

    He's held opposing point guards to a 13.9 PER during the 2012-13 season, according to 82games.com. That's an impressive mark for any position, but as dynamic as point guards have become, it's even more extraordinary.  

    As good as Conley's defense may be, it's his offense that has him rising up the ranks of floor generals. He's been taking it upon himself to provide scoring for the Grizz, and the results have been largely positive. 

    Since the All-Star break, the southpaw is averaging 17.2 points, 6.4 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field. Those numbers are all improvements upon his pre-break marks. 

26. Chris Bosh

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.9 steals, 20.09 PER

     

    Can you imagine what Chris Bosh would do if he was still a No. 1 option? 

    Given the stellar numbers he's put up while playing beside two ball-dominating players—Dwyane Wade and LeBron James—the results might be staggering. 

    Bosh has his weaknesses, namely his lackluster defense and struggles on the boards, and those are exacerbated when he lines up at the 5 for the Miami Heat. However, the big man is still a dominant offensive player who more than makes up for his deficiencies. 

    The 29-year-old's jumper is still oh-so-pure, and he's never afraid to use it when the time is right. You have to watch out for his devastatingly tricky pump fake as well.

    Bosh is shooting 53.3 percent from the field during the 2012-13 campaign, and that's easily the best mark of his impressive career. 

25. Deron Williams

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: PG

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 0.4 blocks, 0.9 steals, 20.27 PER

     

    Deron Williams came out of the All-Star break as close to fully healthy as he's been in a long time, and the results have been extremely positive for the Brooklyn Nets. Between the coaching switch to P.J. Carlesimo, the adjustment period that ensued and the injuries, D-Will shouldn't even worry about the first half of his season. 

    Since the break, the massive floor general has been utterly fantastic.

    In 26 games, Williams has averaged 23.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 47.9 percent from the field, 42.3 percent on his three-point attempts and 86.5 at the charity stripe.

    How's that for reassuring everyone that he's still one of the best in the game at his position? 

24. Tyson Chandler

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: C

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 18.88 PER

     

    If you're looking for the textbook example of a player who knows how to stick to his strengths, look no further than Tyson Chandler. He might be the most self-aware player in the Association. 

    Chandler isn't a great offensive player, but he's valuable on that end because he's so potent finishing alley-oops and rolling to the basket after setting a screen. His dunking ability is threatening enough that his presence alone manages to open things up for the rest of his team. 

    It might come as a bit of a surprise, but Chandler actually finished 11th among all qualified NBA centers in terms of total offense created earlier in the season.

    And offense isn't even his forté. 

    That would be defense, and few players are better at that aspect of the game. Whether he's guarding players in the post or slowing down pick-and-roll sets, Chandler lives off preventing points. 

23. David West

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: PF

    Age: 32

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.0 steals, 20.17 PER

     

    David West has truly thrived on both ends of the court during the 2012-13 season, and he's shot up the rankings as a result. 

    The Xavier product's toughness is readily apparent on the defensive end of the court, where he's helped the Indiana Pacers put together the league's most potent unit. Indiana's defensive rating of 99.6 paces the league, and West has been a huge part of that. 

    Well, a 6'9" part of that, I suppose. 

    His jumper and ability to finish around the basket have also helped the Pacers offense maintain some semblance of respectability. When West is on the court, Indiana puts up 105 points per 100 possessions, but when he sits, the number plummets to just 96.3. 

22. DeMarcus Cousins

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    Team: Sacramento Kings

    Position: C

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assist, 0.7 blocks, 1.5 steals, 20.27 PER

     

    Can you imagine what DeMarcus Cousins would be able to do if his head was screwed on straight? 

    When Boogie is locked in, he's an absolutely dominant center. The problem is that he's not always mentally engaged and seems to spend a lot of time either griping to the zebras or yelling at people and getting suspended. 

    Cousins has all the physical tools necessary to be the next great big man. He's in possession of a surprising amount of finesse and passing skills, especially considering he's so adept at just overpowering the opposition. 

    The rest of the league is hoping that the Sacramento Kings' best player never puts it all together, but it's still looking like he eventually will. 

    We just haven't reached that point yet. 

21. Brook Lopez

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: C

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 2.1 blocks, 0.4 steals, 24.88 PER

     

    Brook Lopez has always been a talented offensive center, so there's no point in going over that again here. I'd rather focus on the three primary ways that the 7-footer has improved and become a legitimate All-Star. 

    First, there's the obvious one. Lopez has stayed healthy for most of the 2012-13 campaign after playing only five games during the lockout-shortened season. It's hard to dominate unless you're on the court. 

    Lopez has also become a competent rebounder and defender. "Competent" is an important word there because he still has a long way to go before excelling in either of the aforementioned areas. 

    The Stanford product's total rebounding percentage has risen to 13.4 percent, which is more in line with the percentages he posted at the beginning of his career. It's still not a good mark for a big man, but at least it's an improvement. 

    As for his defense, Lopez has become a great shot-blocker, and his rotations have improved rather dramatically. His 105 defensive rating is easily the lowest mark of his career, and the Brooklyn Nets have actually allowed 1.8 fewer points per 100 possessions when he's on the court. 

20. John Wall

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    Team: Washington Wizards

    Position: PG

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.3 steals, 21.02 PER

     

    Since John Wall made his debut for the Washington Wizards in a 93-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the one-time bottom-feeders in the Eastern Conference have looked like a legitimate playoff squad. The Wizards have gone 24-23 with Wall in the lineup. 

    How's that for a turnaround? 

    Even though the Kentucky product's jumper is a bit embarrassing, he's so quick and shifty with the ball in his hands that he remains a potent offensive option. When Wall decides he's going to the basket, he's going to get there. 

    His passing is also fantastic, especially when he's on the move. 

    I've been critical of Wall throughout his years in the Association, going so far as to suggest that the former No. 1 pick had become a fairly sizable bust, but he's taken a massive step forward lately. The point guard's ability to make his teammates better is nearly unparalleled, both because of his distributing skills and his constant threats attacking the basket. 

19. LaMarcus Aldridge

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: PF

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.8 steals, 20.23 PER

     

    At times, LaMarcus Aldridge has looked like the best power forward in Kevin Love's absence, but he's ultimately been a little bit too reliant on his mid-range jumper. Remember, this is the guy who thought he could beat Michael Jordan in a mid-range contest. 

    Despite having that type of confidence, Aldridge has only shot 34.7 percent from 16-to-23 feet. He's much better served spending time in the paint with his back to the basket, and he's not going to take the next step until he convinces himself of that. 

    Aldridge has made some strides on defense, and his facilitating has improved as well. I'm particularly impressed by the big man's ability to limit his turnovers, even when he's ultra-involved in Rip City's offense. 

    He just has to stop with the irrational confidence from mid-range. 

18. Blake Griffin

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.2 steals, 22.80 PER

     

    Blake Griffin has been uncharacteristically unengaged during the closing stretch of the Los Angeles Clippers' season, but he's still managed to dominate when he can get his head in the game. 

    It's too bad, because Blake was starting to look like he could be a borderline top-10 player at the conclusion of this season. 

    The critique that Blake can only dunk is now a laughable one made by people who clearly haven't watched or analyzed the power forward's game in over a year. He's a terrific dunker, but that's by no means his only skill. 

    I'd love to hear those detractors explain how Griffin has developed a potent mid-range shot from the left side, how his spin move is virtually unstoppable even when it's easy to predict, or how he's shot 53.5 percent on his 114 hook shots during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    Those same detractors often avoid the fact that Griffin's passing is top notch for a big man.

    Facts. Psh.  

    Because, you know, he only dunks... 

17. Al Horford

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    Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.81 PER

     

    Al Horford may not break past 20 points as often as many of the guys surrounding him in this section of the rankings, but there's nothing on the basketball court that this big man can't do. 

    He's a physical presence down low, fighting for rebounds with the best of 'em, and his finesse game is nearly unsurpassed by other centers around the Association. So much of the Atlanta Hawks offense flows through Horford, whether he's knocking down mid-range jumpers, going to work in the post or passing out of the block. 

    According to NBA.com, Atlanta allows 101.9 points and scores 98.2 per 100 possessions when Big Al is taking a breather, good for a minus-3.7 margin. 

    With Horford playing, the Hawks outscore opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions, netting 104.8 and allowing only 101.5. 

16. Paul George

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    Position: SG/SF

    Age: 22

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.8 steals, 16.93 PER

     

    Paul George's ascent has been meteoric, and something tells me that he's not done developing. By the All-Star break of the 2013-14 season, we might be talking about this swingman as a borderline top-five player. 

    George is already one of the better stat-sheet stuffers out there, and he still manages to make an impact in ways that don't show up on those sheets. I'm talking about the desire to get every 50/50 ball, the creativity to throw through-the-legs passes between defenders in transition and the willingness to fill any role Frank Vogel needs him in. 

    This 22-year-old's knack for taking charge with the ball in his hands has overshadowed even his stellar defensive ability, as he's been a major part of the effort to keep the Indiana Pacers offense afloat. 

15. Joakim Noah

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    Team: Chicago Bulls

    Position: C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.2 blocks, 1.2 steals, 18.34 PER

     

    No picture is better at summing up Joakim Noah's game. Well, maybe one in a red jersey would do the trick, but you get the point. 

    The big man spends a lot of time on the ground because he's never afraid to sacrifice his body for the Chicago Bulls. He may have a longer way to fall, but he's willing to hit the floor hard in his unrelenting quest for any loose ball. 

    Noah also loves to make the veins pop on the side of his neck. If he doesn't scream, he can't possibly be happy. 

    When healthy, Noah has been an absolute menace on the defensive end of the court, and his offensive game is quite unique. He might not have much of a jumper, but he's a solid finisher and possesses guard-like skills, especially when he leads the charge on a fast break. 

    As you'll soon learn, Noah leads off a nice trio of centers who are all vying for supremacy but are ultimately falling short of a certain ageless wonder. 

14. Marc Gasol

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.54 PER

     

    If I had an official vote for Defensive Player of the Year, I'd be supporting Marc Gasol's candidacy. 

    Every middle school and high school basketball coach should be forcing his or her big men to watch tape of Gasol so they can see how to rotate perfectly and ensure that they're always making the right decisions. Gasol might not make the glamorous blocks as often as some other players, but that's because he only attempts to reject shots when it's the proper call. 

    Hell, Gasol even uses his shoes to play defense when the moment calls for it! How's that for using your feet instead of your hands?

    I still wish that Gasol would assert himself more as a scoring force, but it's not like he's bad at distributing the ball to his teammates. 

13. Dwight Howard

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.42 PER

     

    Dwight Howard hasn't exactly had the smoothest ride during the 2012-13 season, his first wearing purple and gold. He struggled immensely at the beginning of the year as he adjusted to his new teammates and tried to recover from a back injury.

    The big man lacked his trademark explosiveness on offense and played lackluster defense, choosing to use his hands instead of feet.

    Lately, though, that hasn't been the case. Instead, Howard has reasserted himself as one of the league's top centers, dominating the glass like he's the only one fighting for rebounds and becoming a force on both ends of the court.

    Since we hit March, D12 has averaged 18.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.6 blocks per game while shooting 57.8 percent from the field. He's also rotating more effectively—though he still has to improve in this area to regain his former level of dominance—and using his feet to defend.

    With Kobe Bryant out for the year, it'll be up to Dwight to carry this team down the stretch and through the playoffs, assuming the Lake Show gets to play more than 82 games.  

12. Stephen Curry

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PG

    Age: 25

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 21.19 PER

     

    In NBA history, only four players have topped 45 percent from downtown while firing away at least five three-point attempts per game. Two more will enter that group when the 2012-13 campaign concludes. 

    Dana Barros was the first to meet the requirements, hitting 46.4 percent of his 5.2 deep looks per game in 1994-95. Two years later, Glen Rice joined him by lofting up 5.6 three-balls per contest and making them at a 47 percent clip. 

    During the 2011-12 season, both Ray Allen and Steve Novak joined the club. Allen shot 5.1 threes per game and Novak took 5.2. Their field-goal percentages were 45.3 and 47.2 percent, respectively. 

    This season, Kyle Korver and Stephen Curry are set to make their marks on the record books. The Atlanta Hawks sniper has made 45.4 percent of his 5.6 attempts per game, and his counterpart on the Golden State Warriors has knocked down 45.3 percent of his 7.6 looks per game from downtown. 

    Of all those numbers, which stands out the most? 

    The percentages are all in the same realm, but each game, Curry has taken an extra two three-point tries. That's just ridiculous. 

    Usually there's some sort of trade-off between efficiency and volume, but not for this baby-faced assassin. 

    The scary part is that he's not just a sniper. Curry excels in a number of other areas on the court. 

11. Kyrie Irving

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Position: PG

    Age: 21

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.5 steals, 21.92 PER

     

    Kyrie Irving has a lot of work left to do on his defensive game, but his offense is fantastic. To be fair, "fantastic" is probably selling it a bit short. 

    Uncle Drew has the best handles in the league, even at the ripe young age of 21. Jamal Crawford might be flashier, but I'll take Irving's ability to treat the ball like it's a yo-yo any day of the week. His spin moves, crossovers and double-team splits are just unmatched. 

    While Irving's ROY followup campaign was filled with injuries, he was undeniably effective when on the court. Now we just need him to stay healthy for an entire season. 

10. 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, 2.7 blocks, 0.7 steals, 24.51 PER

     

    No player in the NBA has been more impressive than Tim Duncan during the 2012-13 campaign. He hasn't been the best player in the world, but for him to earn a top-10 spot at 36 years old is simply phenomenal. 

    Duncan is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and his wily veteran savvy has helped him embarrass players more than a decade younger than him. Whether he's banking the ball in from mid-range or going to work on the post, the 36-year-old has been effective. 

    When The Big Fundamental finally pulls the plug on a remarkable and long-lived career—assuming he doesn't just play until he's 70—we'll have to start talking about a different top-10 spot. He's certainly earned the right to be considered for that exclusive category of all-time greats. 

9. Tony Parker

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: PG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.8 steals, 23.52 PER

     

    Tony Parker rarely blows you away when he runs the show for the San Antonio Spurs, but he's established himself as one of the three best (healthy) point guards in basketball. 

    The Frenchman is very smooth with the ball, and that doesn't allow him to stand out with ridiculous feats of athleticism or show-stopping three-pointers. He just quietly goes about his business and runs Gregg Popovich's offense to perfection. 

    As good as he is on offense, Parker has also emerged as a superb defender. 

    According to 82games.com, the floor general has allowed opposing players to post just a 13.2 PER against him during the 2012-13 campaign. 

8. Russell Westbrook

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.8 steals, 23.99 PER

     

    Russell Westbrook's defense is vastly improved, but it still can't top Tony Parker's. It's the offense of Westbrook that elevates him one spot past the San Antonio Spurs point guard. 

    Although Westbrook does have an unfortunate tendency to call his own shot a bit too often, he still more than makes up for his mistakes with the positives that he brings to the table for the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    Let me turn once more to total offense created (TOC), the metric that Kelly Scaletta and I developed. 

    When I last calculated TOC for the point guards of the Association in early March, Westbrook came in at No. 2 with a 20.40 TOC. Parker was back in fifth with a score of 17.72. 

    Since then, Parker has continued to deal with injuries while Westbrook has upped his level of play. And that's only talking about how effective the point guards are at creating offense. If we look at pure finishing ability, Westbrook's offense pushes ahead by an even larger margin. 

7. James Harden

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: SG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.8 steals, 23.20 PER

     

    James Harden's level of efficiency is something that every guard should strive for. At first glance, it may not seem too impressive, though. 

    The bearded shooting guard shoots only 43.9 percent from the field. He just more than makes up for his misses with his potency from both long range and the charity stripe. Harden is a quality shooter from the outside, but his bread and butter is driving to the rim with reckless abandon and finishing the play at the foul line. 

    Harden's 60.4 true shooting percentage (a metric that meshes together field-goal percentage, free-throw shooting and proficiency from downtown) leaves him at No. 14 in the NBA.

    The only guards ahead of him are Steve Nash, Danny Green, Ray Allen, Kevin Martin and Jose Calderon, but all five of those guys specialize more in three-pointers and don't assume the same workload that Harden takes on each night.

6. Dwyane Wade

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SG

    Age: 31

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1.9 steals, 23.87 PER

     

    How many other players as talented as Dwyane Wade could truly accept being the second fiddle? 

    Wade has accepted that the Miami Heat are now LeBron James' team, and he's adjusted his game accordingly. The results have been fantastic. 

    Instead of jacking up shots left and right, Wade has been more selective with his attempts. As a result, he's shooting 51.9 percent from the field, easily the best mark of his career. This was supposed to be the season that Wade showed off a new and improved stroke from the perimeter, but he's refrained from doing so. 

    In fact, he's taken only a single three-point attempt per game, refusing to hoist up shots that he knows don't fall in line with his true strengths. 

    While adapting and thriving on offense, Wade has continued to play fantastic defense as well. Any rumors of a decline were simply fictional. 

5. Carmelo Anthony

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 24.88 PER

     

    It's looking increasingly likely that Carmelo Anthony will take down Kevin Durant as the NBA's scoring champion, and it's a fine honor for what's been a brilliant offensive season. 

    Melo has struggled to stay efficient at times during the 2012-13 campaign, but he's been the unquestioned go-to player for the New York Knicks. It's a responsibility he hasn't taken lightly, and he's thrived for the most part. 

    Few players can score in as many ways as Anthony. Whether he's knocking down long-range bombs or going to work in the post, the dynamic forward has the tools to dominate even the best defenders.

    What's truly allowed Melo to jump into the next tier of players, though, is his effort. 

    In the past, he's been content to score and then go through the motions elsewhere. This year, he's crashing the boards with relentless fury (even averaging double-digit rebounds in April) and actually putting forth a concerted effort on defense. 

4. Chris Paul

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.4 steals, 26.58 PER

     

    If you give Chris Paul a task on the basketball court, he's going to find a way to get it done. 

    With the relatively unimportant exception of blocking shots, CP3 simply does everything at a high level. He can score in volume while maintaining efficiency (but only when the Los Angeles Clippers need it), distribute the ball fantastically, get to any spot on the court with his near-flawless handles, swipe the ball away and play lock-down defense. 

    It's tough to find the right superlatives for Paul because he's been the class of his position for a while now. Without him, the Clippers would be a lottery team, much like the New Orleans Hornets fell out of playoff contention as soon as he left. 

    At this point, it's better to compare CP3 to the historical greats at his position rather than his contemporaries. Until Derrick Rose returns to his old form or Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook or another young gun takes a major leap, Paul will remain the NBA's premier floor general. 

3. Kobe Bryant

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: SG

    Age: 34

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 23.09 PER

     

    I hate to torture Los Angeles Lakers fans by bringing up the already infamous game against the Golden State Warriors, but it paints such an accurate picture of Kobe Bryant. 

    The Mamba was having a great game before he blew out his Achilles tendon, finishing with 34 points, five rebounds and four assists. It wasn't one of his truly legendary box scores, but you have to look at how he recorded those numbers. 

    Kobe put his body on the line over and over. He refused to sit down despite taking hard fouls and hurting what seemed like every part of his body. No matter what he tweaked, he was going to keep willing the Lakers to victory. 

    Even after the most serious injury, the one that's going to require quite a bit of rehab, Kobe limped to the free-throw line and drained two freebies before making his way to the locker room. I have no idea how he could even get to the stripe, much less drain the shots. 

    That's just what Kobe does, though. Love or hate him, you can't possible deny that the Mamba is an absolute warrior who will do whatever it takes to win.

    I'm loath to use the "he does what it takes" argument, but Kobe pretty much forces my hand. 

    Throughout the entire 2012-13 season, tumultuous as it may have been, Kobe was the driving force behind the success. He constantly adapted his game to what was going on around him, and only his off-ball defense kept him from truly challenging for the penultimate spot in the Top 100. 

2. Kevin Durant

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.4 steals, 28.17 PER

     

    Kevin Durant may not look like he's going to successfully defend his scoring title, but that doesn't bother the 24-year-old superstar. He's much more concerned with improving his overall game and earning wins for the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    Plus, he's marvelously efficient. Let's compare Carmelo Anthony and Durant when it comes to a few per-game scoring stats: 

     

    Player FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% PPG
    Kevin Durant 17.7 50.9 4.1 41.3 9.3 90.7 28.1
    Carmelo Anthony 22.2 45.0 6.2 38.1 7.7 83.0 28.7

    Melo may win the final category, but please look at that table and convince me that he's a better scorer. I can't for the life of me. 

    Durant's 50/40/90 quest, one that looks like it'll be successful, has gotten a lot of publicity, and it's overshadowed the other strides he's made out on the hardwood. His passing has become impressive instead of just mediocre, and he's finally turning that lankiness into a body that can effectively guard other talented offensive players. 

    Once a pure scorer and not much else, Durant is becoming a complete player. 

    And remember, he's only 24 years old. 

1. LeBron James

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.7 steals, 31.75 PER

     

    How many of you honestly expected to see anyone other than LeBron James in the No. 1 spot? 

    That alone should speak volumes to the gap James has created between himself and the rest of the basketball world. He didn't just have a better 2012-13 season than anyone else.

    He had one of the greatest regular seasons of all time. 

    James' 31.75 PER is historically excellent, and it can't even do justice to the forward's greatness on the basketball court. Kevin Durant is nearly three points shy of LeBron, and he's in second place there.

    As it stands, only Wilt Chamberlain's 31.82 PER in 1962-63 can top LeBron's current mark. 

    There can be a lot of debate about the other spots in the Top 100, but there shouldn't be any controversy here.