Kevin Durant has recently gone down with an ankle injury, but luckily it does not appear to be serious. When someone as valuable as Kevin Durant goes down, it makes you wonder. How good would the Thunder be without Kevin Durant?
Just about every team has that one player they cannot live without. For some teams it is a distributor that keeps their offense in motion. For others it is that key scorer that carries his team in the fourth quarter.
The players on this list are the ones whom their team cannot live without. The heart and soul of their team.
At first I wanted to give this spot to Al Horford, but Joe Johnson does too much for his team to go unnoticed. Johnson is the leading scorer, averaging 19.2 points per game and he also leads the team in assists with 5.3 per game.
Johnson is the pulse of Hawks and the face of the franchise. He always takes the big shots and he controls the flow of the offense.
The Hawks showed they were committed to Johnson this off-season as well by signing him to a six-year contract worth $119 million.
Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are all great players, but they cannot run the Celtics like Rajon Rondo does.
Rondo is averaging 11 points per game and a staggering 12.2 assists per game. He is the Celtic that keeps the offense in rhythm.
One may argue that Allen, Garnett and Pierce make Rondo the player he is, but I believe that it is the opposite.
The “Big Three” are all on the decline on their careers, Rondo makes them better then they are.
Stephen Jackson is the only player on the Bobcats that can take over a game. Now that Gerald Wallace has been traded to Portland, the Bobcats will have to rely on Jackson to be a prolific scorer.
He is currently averaging 19.2 points per game and is shooting 41.7 percent from the field.
The only other person who could have this spot on the list is Michael Jordan. Without Jordan, nobody would ever hear about the Bobcats. He is the only thing this franchise has going for them.
Derrick Rose might be the favorite to be the leagues MVP this year. He brings so much to his team and has quickly become one of the best point guards alive.
He is averaging 24.6 points per game and 8.2 assists per game.
He is the teams best scorer by far, but he also sets up a lot of shots for other people. Without Rose, the Bulls would rely heavily on Carlos Boozer to carry the team. He is most valuable player to wear a Bulls uniform since Michael Jordan.
This selection is based on how Ramon Sessions has done in the last month. During February, Sessions has averaged 19.9 points and 8.8 assists per game.
Due to his recent success and the departure of Mo Williams, Sessions will probably continue to start at point guard.
Antawn Jamison is going to be out for five to seven weeks, so Sessions is going to have to carry the team for that time. He may not be a superstar, but he is the best the Cavs have.
Is this even a question? Dirk Nowitzki is the best, most talented and most well-known player on the Mavericks.
He is a dead-eye shooter from anywhere on the court, and he is arguably the hardest player to guard in the NBA.
This season Nowitzki is averaging 22.8 points per game along with 6.7 rebounds per game and a three-point shooting percentage of 42.4 percent.
Dirk is one of the best players alive and the face of the Mavericks franchise. He is great in clutch situations and never shies away from taking the big shot.
It is hard to say who the most valuable player on the Nuggets is right now because they just traded away their superstar, Carmelo Anthony.
I think that Danilo Gallinari will need to emerge as a big time scorer if the Nuggets want to stay in the playoff race. He is young, athletic and has one of the purest jump shots in the NBA.
The talented 22-year-old has shown flashes that he can be a prolific scorer. If he can become more consistent, Gallinari could be a star in this league.
The Pistons have a dreadful mix of has-beens and young players that do not make for a strong team. The best and most valuable player is easily Rodney Stuckey.
Stuckey is one of the better young point guards in the NBA. He is averaging 15.5 points and 4.6 assists per game, both team highs.
The Pistons are an awful team and it wouldn’t make a huge difference if you took anyone from their squad. Stuckey is the only player that seemingly makes any difference at all.
Monta Ellis might be the most underrated scorer in the NBA. He is currently averaging a team high 24.9 points for the Warriors.
Ellis is in range as soon as he steps on the court, he can make any shot.
Not only is Ellis a stud on offense, but he also has a knack for getting steals. He is currently third in the NBA with 2.2 steals per game.
Without Ellis the Warriors would be forced to rely heavily on young guard Stephen Curry to manufacture most of the offense. Ellis is valuable because he can create his own shot and set up shots for his teammates.
Martin is very similar to Ellis in that he is a very underrated scorer. He is averaging 23 points per game and is shooting 40 percent from behind the arch.
The two next best scorers on the Rockets are Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry. They are both fine players, but neither can take over a game like Martin can.
Without Martin, the Rockets would likely be blown out in most games. Every team needs that go-to scorer at the end of the games, Martin is that guy for Houston.
Granger is nightmare of a matchup. He stands 6’8” but his the agility and quickness of a 6’2” guard.
Granger can do it all. He can shoot, drive, rebound, dish and plays tough defense. In a way, he is like a “poor man’s” Kevin Durant.
He is averaging 21 points per game along with 5.5 rebounds per game.
He has the ability to score big and to carry a team. He might not be quite as dominant as scorers like Durant and James, but he shows flashes of greatness.
Blake Griffin is the hottest topic of the 2010/2011 season. Whether he is jumping over cars if slamming home alley-oops, Griffin has built the reputation of being a human highlight reel.
He is averaging 22.8 points per game, good enough for second on the Clippers. However, he has an even bigger impact on the boards. He is averaging 12.5 rebounds per game, which is fourth in the NBA.
Guard Eric Gordon is often overshadowed by Griffin, but they are both unbelievable players. Griffin’s ability to finish and rebound just gives the Clippers more national attention than Gordon’s outside shooting.
Was this even a question?
Kobe Bryant is often considered the best closer in the history of the game, and he may even be the best player ever.
Kobe is unstoppable. He can make any shot on the court, is the best passer on his team and has a knack for winning championships.
Bryant is currently averaging 25.1 points per game and 4.8 assists per game, both are the best on the team.
Although I cannot stand him, I do believe that Kobe is still the best player in the world. There is not a player in NBA history I would rather have take the last shot for my team than the great Kobe Bryant.
I am a big Zach Randolph fan. He plays hard, tough and with a bad attitude.
Currently Randolph is averaging 20.2 points and 13 rebounds per game. He has been so good this season that Randolph earned his first ever all-star selection this year.
Unlike most of the players on this list, Randolph isn’t usually the guy that takes big shots at the end of games for his team. That role is given to Rudy Gay.
However, I feel Zach Randolph is the most valuable player on the Grizzlies, because he provides so much for his team. He is incredibly skilled for a big man and opposing defenses have to focus their schemes around Randolph’s dominance in the paint.
The answer of this had to be either Dwayne Wade of LeBron James.
I know that Wade is the better closer and that most people still consider the Heat his team. However, LeBron James does more for the Heat than Wade does.
LeBron is the Heat’s best distributor, a stronger rebounder than Wade and he is the most versatile player in the NBA.
He has the ability to play and defend any position on the court. The combination of his size and speed is the most amazing that the league has ever seen.
The Bucks are the worst scoring team in the NBA and that is because Brandon Jennings is their only big time scorer on the squad. Jennings is currently averaging 15.5 points per game and 5.5 assists per game.
Jennings is one of the most promising young player in the league. Not only is he a great scorer, but he also runs his team's offense.
If Jennings goes down with an injury, the Bucks would be left with Earl Boykins at point guard. He missed one month this season, but I am sure the Bucks are happy to have their point guard back now.
Are you addicted to Love? At this point, I don’t think that there is anyone who is not crazy about Kevin Love.
He has had a double-double in every game since November 22. He averages 20.9 points per game this season and a league best 15.7 rebounds per game.
His effort on the glass is what makes the Timberwolves the best rebounding team in the NBA. Unfortunately other than Kevin Love and forward Michael Beasley, the T’Wolves have nobody else.
Without Love, Minnesota would probably be the worst team in the NBA.
Deron Williams is arguably the best point guard alive and although he has only been with New Jersey four games so far, he is obviously the most important player on their team.
Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and also a staggering 14.5 assists per game through 4 games with the Nets.
Not only is Williams valuable on the court, but he is also the most important person in the organization off the court. If the Nets want to bring more players to the Nets, they will need to use Deron Williams as a selling point. He might just be the savior of the franchise.
Paul might not be having the same success he had in the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 seasons, be he still runs the show in New Orleans.
He averages 15.9 points and 9.6 assists per game in the 2010/2011 season.
Although he is not as dominant as he was in the past, he is still playing well enough to get his team in the playoffs this season.
The Hornets will go as far as Paul takes them. He is the face of their franchise and the leader of their team. If he was not with the Hornets, then they would be a very different squad.
It is hard to say who is the hardest player to live without on the Knicks because their team is so different now.
I had to choose Stoudemire because he has been “the man” all season for the Knicks. He might not be as great of a scorer as Carmelo Anthony, but he still has the ability to take over games.
Another reason for choosing Stoudemire is that he is the top rebounder on the Knicks. If New York wants to compete with the elite Eastern Conference teams, they will rely heavily on Amar’e to rebound the ball.
Stoudemire is averaging 26.2 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game this season for the Knicks. With numbers like this, Stoudemire is a reasonable candidate for the NBA MVP award.
Kevin Durant has developed into the best pure scorer in the NBA. He is absolutely unstoppable and can carry his team every night.
According to Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns, “You just can’t guard him.”
Durant is averaging 28.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Without Durant, the Thunder would be a sub-.500 team. Although Westbrook is very good, he cannot carry a team like Durant does. He makes everyone around him better and can score on the best defenses in the NBA at will.
With Dwight Howard on your team, you will always have a chance to win games. Howard might be the most dominant post player since Shaquille O’Neal’s days on the LA Lakers.
Howard is averaging 23.1 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.31 block per game.
The Orlando Magic have built their team around Howard. He is surrounded by excellent role players like Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson, and Hedo Turkoglu.
Without Howard, the Magic are a team without a star. They would probably still be decent, but Howard gives them a shot at the title every season.
Elton Brand is not playing anywhere near as well as he did in his glory days with the Clippers. However, Brand is a major reason why the Sixers will probably end up with a low playoff seed in the East.
Brand is averaging a solid 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
He is so valuable to the Sixers because he is really their only skilled rebounder. He leads the team in rebounding, in second place is shooting guard Andre Iguodala with 6 per game.
If the Sixers want to upset a team in the playoffs, they will need Brand too not only score, but to dominate the boards as well.
Steve Nash probably means more to the Suns than any single player does to their team. Their offense is designed around the two-time MVP and they are totally dependent on how Nash plays.
The two-time MVP is currently averaging 16.1 points and 11.3 assists per game, numbers that are not far off from his MVP seasons.
When Nash has ten assists or more in a game, the Suns record is 26-13. However when Nash has less than ten assists in a game, the Suns record is 5-12.
Nash makes everyone on his team better and is absolutely necessary if they Suns want to make the playoffs this season.
Aldridge has always been a good player for the Trail Blazers, but he has broken out this season. He is currently averaging 22.2 points and nine rebounds per game.
Last season I would have wrote the Brandon Roy is the player on the Blazers that they cannot live without, but this year Aldridge proved himself.
Throughout the season Aldridge has shown time and time again that he can play with the best post players in the NBA. The Blazers look to be a playoff team with Aldridge playing like he is now, the question is how far can he lead them?
Unfortunately for the Kings, they are being forced to play without Evans right now. In the last eight games without Evans, the Kings have only won twice.
Sure, the Kings might not even be a great team with Evans, but at least they can compete. Evans gives the Kings a fighting chance. He is the only person in their lineup that can intimidate other teams.
Without Evans leading the Kings, they are as poor as any team in the NBA.
This was probably the toughest team to say who the most valuable player on the team is.
Tony Parker runs the offense and uses his speed to keep opposing defenses off balance. Manu Ginobili hits outside shots and is the master of the flop. However, Duncan is the security blanket for the Spurs.
In previous seasons the Spurs have done just fine when Parker or Ginobili have been out with injuries. The consistent variable in this equation has been Duncan.
Whenever things get tough for the Spurs they rely on Tim Duncan to carry the load.
This season Duncan is averaging 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
I realize that Andrea Bargnani is Toronto’s leading scorer by six points per game, but did any of you really know or care?
I feel that DeMar DeRozen would be the biggest loss for the Raptors because he is the only player on the Raptors that is fun to watch.
Leandro Barbosa is a sixth man whose best days are behind him and Andrea Bargnani is the softest center in the NBA. While DeRozen is a young talented swingman who is known for having monster dunks.
Some might say that Al Jefferson is more valuable and that it is too soon to give so much credit to Devin Harris. However, Harris is absolutely vital if the Jazz want to stay in the playoff race.
Al Jefferson is consistent and will give you around 18 points and 9 boards every night, but he is not a huge game changer.
Devin Harris on the other hand is the floor general and will have to be a key scorer for Utah. He has a smooth jump shot and is one of the most athletic players in the game.
Harris is averaging 17.8 points and 7.8 assists for the Jazz in four games. If he can raise his scoring average a little, the Jazz can remain playoff contenders.
Why John Wall? Because most NBA fans cannot name any other players on the Washington Wizards.
Wall isn’t just a big name though, he has actually had a very good rookie campaign. He is averaging 15.4 points and 8.9 assists per game. His assists total is very impressive considering the talent that he is surrounded by.
Wall has the potential to be a real superstar in the NBA. Give him a few seasons and he might be in the discussion of the best point guards in the league.