NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the 50 Best Players Today

Shane DePutronCorrespondent IApril 4, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the 50 Best Players Today

0 of 50

    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    When attempting to formulate power rankings for the NBA's best players, one must first recognize that, ever since Michael Jordan's initial retirement, the title of the NBA's best player has been a hotly-debated topic.

    And in a league where superstars are extremely visible, are playing in various different circumstances and can be extremely polarizing, this should come as no surprise.

    So, by all means, there is no perfect system of ranking players.

    Nevertheless, taking into account player statistics, team performances, history, efficiency ratings, talent and skill, the following slides are my attempt are ranking the 50 best players in the NBA today.

No. 50: Nene

1 of 50

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Nene has been one of the few constants for the Denver Nuggets as they have appeared in the playoffs every year since 2003.

    Nevertheless, he has often been overlooked while playing alongside big-name stars.

    But now on a relatively starless roster, Nene has been able to make even more of a name for himself, putting up points, grabbing rebounds and playing solid defense, all while holding his own against the better centers in the NBA.

    And as a true center who is one of the league's most efficient scorers (61.9 field goal percentage), Nene is undoubtedly one of the league's better players.

No. 49: Gerald Wallace

2 of 50

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Although his numbers are down a bit from his All-Star campaign last season, Gerald Wallace has still proven to be one of the one of the better NBA players.

    He is among the league's best rebounders and defenders at his position, and by no means is scoring a weakness.

    Moreover, he plays the game with a reckless abandon rivaled by few playing in the history of basketball.

    And as he continues to become better acclimated with his new Portland Trail Blazer teammates, expect Wallace to excel heading into the postseason.

No. 48: Chauncey Billups

3 of 50

    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Now in his 14th NBA season, Chauncey Billups is still managing to perform as one of the NBA's better point guards.

    Moreover, with his ability to hit big shots, regularly get to the line and patiently run an offense, Billups has begun to help the New York Knicks get back on track.

    And when one considers that the former Finals MVP has not missed the playoffs since 2000, and that both Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have attested to his mentoring abilities, it's clear that he is able to make his teammates much better.  

No. 47: David Lee

4 of 50

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Even though he has encountered a drop in production since joining the Golden State Warriors, David Lee has still managed to post some solid numbers.

    And while his scoring average has dropped to a bit over 16 points per game while playing alongside the high-scoring duo of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, Lee still grabs about 10 boards per game, shoots a high percentage and can distribute the ball. 

    Furthermore, now that he doesn't need to defend the center position as much, Lee is a much more efficient defender, allowing him to be one of the all-around better player in the league.

No. 46: Andrei Bargnani

5 of 50

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Despite being regularly chastised for not living up to his hype as a No. 1 overall draft selection, Toronto Raptors center Andrei Bargnani has still managed to carve out a niche as one of the NBA's better scoring big men.

    So using his diverse offensive arsenal, the Italian-born player has been able to effectively stretch the floor for his squad, while posting an impressive 21.8 points per game—good for 15th in the league.

    And since scoring is the name of the game, Bargnani's scoring certainly helps to make up for his inefficiencies on the boards and on defense.

No. 45: Rudy Gay

6 of 50

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Prior to going down with a season-ending shoulder injury, Rudy Gay was putting up some impressive numbers for the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Nevertheless, he should be able to return at full strength next season, bringing back his upper-tier athleticism and solid, all-around game.

    And even though he may not be worth the huge contract he signed during the offseason, there is no doubt that Gay is a standout performer.

No. 44: Luis Scola

7 of 50

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    After Yao Ming went down with another injury early this season, Luis Scola was given the opportunity to step in and become the Houston Rockets' go-to guy inside.

    And he has relished in this role, posting stat line just above 18 points and eight rebounds per, on about 50 percent shooting.

    Moreover, the Argentinian forward-center has been instrumental to his team's playoff push, as his Rockets are gaining rapidly gaining ground on the lower-seeded Western Conference playoff teams and look like they will continue to do so. 

No. 43: Joakim Noah

8 of 50

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    On of the biggest reasons for the success of the Chicago Bulls this season has been the play of Joakim Noah, when healthy.

    The fourth-year forward-center has been a force on the interior, grabbing 11 boards per game, while performing as one of the NBA's best frontcourt defenders.

    Moreover, he has shot a high percentage from the field and served as one of the emotional leaders of his squad—things which will likely pay dividends come playoff time.

No. 42: John Wall

9 of 50

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    In his rookie season with the Washington Wizards, John Wall has regularly displayed the potential which made him the top selection in the 2010 NBA Draft.

    Furthermore, besides his low shooting percentage and high turnover average—both of which the 20-year-old should be able to improve—Wall has posted impressive totals of 16.1 points, 8.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest.

    What's more, the young guard has done this with a regularly changing roster, as a result of a big trade and numerous injuries.

    Consequently, as he settles in, gains experience and becomes more familiar with his teammates, Wall should drastically improve his already-high level of play.

No. 41: Paul Millsap

10 of 50

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Despite playing as an undersized power forward, Paul Millsap has still managed to be one of the NBA's most tenacious players inside.

    And even though he has to share the interior with teammate Al Jefferson, Millsap has been able to post a nice stat line of 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.9 blocks per game—all while shooting over 53 percent from the field.

    Moreover, the former second-round pick has helped the Utah Jazz to overcome the departure of Carlos Boozer during the offseason.

    Consequently, the 26-year-old forward has firmly established himself as one of the better players in the league, and it's evident that he will be an instrumental part of the Jazz's post-Deron Williams rebuilding efforts from here on out.

No. 40: Andrew Bynum

11 of 50

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Although only 23 years old, Andrew Bynum has been an essential contributor to the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

    And even though his stats look a bit low, it's largely due to his average of only about 27 minutes per game, as a result of sharing frontcourt time with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.

    So when one looks at his numbers per 48 minutes, Bynum's interior dominance is evident. 

    Therefore, there is no question that, when on the court, the pure center is a force to be reckoned with, and he is certainly one of the better pivots in the NBA.

No. 39: Ray Allen

12 of 50

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    In his 15th NBA season, Ray Allen has barely lost a step for the Boston Celtics—due in large part to his outside shooting prowess.

    Nevertheless, his percentages are inflated to some extent because of all of the open looks he receives due to his talented teammates and elite-level point guard.

    But by converting on most of these attempts, scoring nearly 17 points per game and still performing adequately in a number of other areas, Allen's performance still makes him one of the NBA's better players.

No. 38: Danny Granger

13 of 50

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Throughout his career with the Indiana Pacers, Danny Granger has proven to be a solid all-around performer.

    So although his scoring average is down from his mid-20s averages of the past couple of seasons to just 20.5 points per game, Granger has finally managed to lift his team into playoff contention for the first time since his rookie year.

    And with the ability to score in a variety of ways, while proving an apt defender, the 27-year-old Granger is certainly a standout performer.

No. 37: David West

14 of 50

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Before tearing his ACL and being forced to sit out the remainder of the season, David West was putting together another solid season for the New Orleans Hornets.

    West was shooting above 50 percent from the field, scoring about 19 points and grabbing nearly eight boards per contest, all the while notching around a steal and a block as well.

    Moreover, he was playing a large part in the Hornets becoming a major player in the Western Conference playoff picture.

    And now that New Orleans is missing one of the NBA's better players, they may be hard-pressed to hold on to their playoff spot.

No. 36: Tony Parker

15 of 50

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    As the point guard for the league-leading San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker has played a vital role in his team's success.

    And although his numbers aren't eye-popping, he is his team's second-leading scorer, and he manages to dish out 6.6 assists per game.

    Moreover, the former Finals MVP has shot 51.9 percent from the field, while only missing a couple of games on the year.

    Consequently, it's evident that his substantial contributions have been instrumental to the success of the NBA's best team, and therefore, Parker must be one of the league's better players.

No. 35: Eric Gordon

16 of 50

    Harry How/Getty Images

    After spending time with Team USA over the summer, Eric Gordon returned to the Los Angeles Clippers as a vastly improved player.

    He has displayed improvements in nearly every statistical category, and even though he experienced a few injuries during the course of this season, Gordon has proven to be one of the best young players in the NBA.

    And by racking up 22.9 points per game, along with an average above four assists, then it's clear that 22-year-old guard even ranks among the leagues top overall performers.

No. 34: Josh Smith

17 of 50

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Throughout his career, Josh Smith has regularly done it all for the Atlanta Hawks.

    And this year is no different, as Smith has posted per-game averages of 16.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 blocks, 1.3 steals and 0.7 threes.

    Moreover, his unique combination of size and athleticism make him a rather threatening presence on both ends of the court.

    Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Smith, at only 25 years of age, can hold his own among the NBA's best.

No. 33: Carlos Boozer

18 of 50

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The acquisition of Carlos Boozer has proven to be a huge one for the Chicago Bulls.

    Now sitting atop the Eastern Conference, the team has excelled since Boozer returned from an early season injury.

    What's more, the big Alaskan has been able to put up a lot of points at an efficient rate, while managing to grab a his fair share of boards.

    And as he gains more and more experience playing with his team, Boozer will likely be able to perform even better.

No. 32: Al Jefferson

19 of 50

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Al Jefferson has adjusted rather well to joining the Utah Jazz, as he has posted averages of about 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

    And by shooting a hair below 50 percent from the field, the 26-year-old center has shown that he can consistently perform on teams that aren't among the worst in the league.

    Consequently, Jefferson ranks among the NBA's top inside players, and with further development, he could easily get even better.

No. 31: Lamar Odom

20 of 50

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Lamar Odom has been a crucial piece to the Los Angeles Lakers successes in recent years, as his skill level is rarely found possessed by a player of his size.

    And his averages of 14.4 points (53.5 percent shooting), 8.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.8 threes, 0.7 blocks and 0.6 steals per game in only 32 minutes are certainly impressive.

    So given the importance of his contributions, along with the fact that his stats would likely be much higher if he were playing on an inferior team, then it is clear that Odom is one of the better players in the NBA.

No. 30 Brook Lopez

21 of 50

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The New Jersey Nets having a promising young core heading forward, due in large part to their 22-year-old center Brook Lopez.

    In only his third NBA season, Lopez is scoring a hair shy of 20 points per game, while blocking shots and grabbing rebounds at a decent rate.

    Moreover, the seven-footer has a promising future ahead of him, as he is far from a complete product.

    Therefore, although he is already one of the top true centers in the NBA, he has the potential to be even better.

No. 29: Al Horford

22 of 50

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford made his second-consecutive All-Star appearance this year after proving to be one NBA's most talented young bigs.

    Furthermore, he has maintained that level of production, posting season averages of 15.6 points (56 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 blocks and 0.8 steals per game.

    And the fact that he did this for a 44-33 team makes that all the more impressive.

    Therefore, the 24-year-old forward-center is certainly one of the NBA's top players.

No. 28: Stephen Curry

23 of 50

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Stephen Curry has followed up his outstanding freshman campaign with an equally impressive sophomore season, posting per-game averages of 18.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 threes and 1.5 steals.

    Moreover, with his lightning-quick release and high-shooting percentage, he should be able to continue to perform for years to come.

    And given that he is only 23 years old and sharing time at the point, Curry certainly looks like one of the best young guards in the NBA, with lots of room to improve.

No. 27: Joe Johnson

24 of 50

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    After being rewarded by the Atlanta Hawks with a huge contract in the offseason, Joe Johnson has stumbled a bit this year.

    Nevertheless, the highly-skilled wing has still scored 18.6 points per game while dishing out about five assists.

    And this is even more impressive when one considers that he had to undergo midseason elbow surgery.

    Moreover, before and after the injury, Johnson has performed as the leader of a talented Hawks squad, leading them to the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference and proving his worth among the league's top performers.

No. 26: Kevin Martin

25 of 50

    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Kevin Martin is frequently underrated as a player, likely due to his lack of size and versatility.

    However, the thing that the Houston Rockets guard can do at an elite-level is perhaps the most important thing of all—score.

    Currently, Martin is dropping 23.4 points per game and he gets to the line with ease, making more free throws than anyone in the NBA.

    And as long as he can continue to score at such a high level, Martin will continue to be one of the better players in the NBA.

No. 25: Manu Ginobili

26 of 50

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    As the top scorer on the best team in the NBA, Manu Ginobili has certainly carved himself out a place among the league's best.

    Moreover, he is by no means one-dimensional, as he also averages five assists and 1.6 steals per contest.

    And he does all of this despite only playing in less than 31 minutes per game.

    So as arguably the best player on the San Antonio Spurs, the Argentinian wing is undoubtedly one of the NBA's top performers.

No. 24: Rajon Rondo

27 of 50

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Rajon Rondo is having another solid year leading the Boston Celtics offense, averaging 11.3 assists per game (second in the NBA).

    Moreover, Rondo has been able to grab an average 2.2 steals, illustrating his defensive prowess.

    And while his assist number are somewhat inflated by his high-caliber teammates, and his 10.5 point per contest illustrates that he can be a liability when called upon to score, Rondo's point play for one of the NBA's best teams helps to establish him as one of the league's top lead guards.

No. 23: Zach Randolph

28 of 50

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Despite his subpar reputation in some circles, Zach Randolph has certainly proved to be a highly-effective player during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Averaging a just above a 20-point, 12-rebound (third in the NBA) double-double—all while shooting over 50 percent from the field—Randolph has helped to power the Grizzlies to a spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.

    And for whatever he lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for with size, skill and determination.

    Consequently, Randolph has finally earned a place among the NBA's best players.

No. 22: LaMarcus Aldridge

29 of 50

    Harry How/Getty Images

    After injuries have plagued many members of the Portland Trail Blazers, the team has had a constant presence inside in LaMarcus Aldridge.

    In a breakout campaign, the 25-year-old forward-center is posting per-game averages of 22.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals.

    Moreover, he has shot over 50 percent from the field and helped to boost his team to a 45-32 record.

    Consequently, Aldridge has proven that he can shoulder the load, and moreover, he has shown that he is among the NBA's elite performers.

No. 21: Monta Ellis

30 of 50

    Elsa/Getty Images

    After last season's breakout campaign, Monta Ellis is once again proving to be one of the best scorers in the league, notching an average of 24.2 points per game—good for eighth in the NBA—on 45.1 percent shooting.

    Moreover, he is posting a career-high average of 5.7 assists, despite sharing the point guard position with Stephen Curry.

    And be grabbing 2.1 steals per game, Ellis has proven that his quickness can allow him to excel on the defensive end as well.

    Therefore, the 25-year-old Golden State Warriors guard is undoubtedly one of the best in the league.

No. 20: Tim Duncan

31 of 50

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    As one of the all-time greats, Tim Duncan is certainly still one of the NBA's better players—despite his 34 years of age.

    And that was proven recently, when the league-leading San Antonio Spurs dropped four consecutive games when Duncan sprained his ankle.

    Nevertheless, Duncan is back and the Spurs have snapped their losing streak.

    So even though his stats are down due to his mere 28 minutes per game, Duncan was still named an All-Star, and he is still one of the best interior players when on the court.

No. 19: Kevin Garnett

32 of 50

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Kevin Garnett is another all-time great who has seen his skills diminish as he has reached an age of 34.

    Nevertheless, Garnett has still been instrumental to the success of the Boston Celtics.

    What's more, he has still posted some pretty decent stats, despite his average of 31 minutes per game.

    And as an efficient scorer, aggressive rebounder and one of the NBA's best all-around frontcourt defenders, Garnett is definitely still one of the best in the league.

No. 18: Chris Bosh

33 of 50

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Despite all of the criticism that that he has received this season, and despite his statistical drop in performance, it's hard to deny that Chris Bosh is still one of the NBA's premier big men.

    It was expected that his numbers would drop upon joining the Miami Heat, since he would now be a third option instead of a primary option.

    However, his averages of 18.7 points (49.3 percent shooting), 8.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks per game are not too shabby for being a third option.

    Moreover, he has been performing much better down the stretch, helping his team to get rolling, and his play inside will undoubtedly be instrumental to Miami's postseason success.

No. 17: Russell Westbrook

34 of 50

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Point guard Russell Westbrook has been a key competent to the Oklahoma City Thunder's increased level of play this season.

    So, as a result of his per-game averages of 21.8 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals, the Thunder have been able to firmly entrench themselves in the Western Conference's fourth spot, with a record of 50-26. 

    And although Westbrook struggles with an inconsistent jumper and turnover problems, the 22-year-old guard has clearly broken out as one of the NBA's best and most exciting players.

No. 16: Blake Griffin

35 of 50

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Rookie forward Blake Griffin has been one of the biggest stories of the NBA this year, regularly posterizing all of the opposition.

    What's more, he has posted numbers that a first-year player has no business averaging: 22.4 points, 12.1 rebounds (fourth in the NBA), 3.7 assists and 0.7 steals per game, while shooting over 50 percent from the field.

    And while he has shot below 65 percent from the line and so far failed to turn around his Los Angeles Clippers, the 22-year-old forward has certainly stood out as one of the best players in the NBA.

No. 15: Deron Williams

36 of 50

    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Deron Williams has continued to excel since joining the New Jersey Nets, even though he has had to deal with injury and a cold shooting stretch.

    In all, he has managed full-season averages of 20.2 points, 10.1 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.2 steals per game.

    And the 26-year-old's play will be instrumental to the Nets' moving forward, as they will him to continue to perform as one of the NBA's top point guards in their attempt to turn their franchise around after a few horrific seasons.

No. 14: Kevin Love

37 of 50

    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    In his third season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love has been a double-double machine.

    Moreover, he made headlines by recording the first 30-30 game since 1982, as well as posting 52 consecutive double-doubles.

    And while his per-game averages of 20.2 points and a league-leading 15.2 rebounds are very impressive, they are a bit inflated because he plays on the second-worst team in the league, and his team doesn't feature another significant rebounding presence.

    Nevertheless, despite his inflated stats and defensive limitations, Love's accomplishments make him undoubtedly one of the NBA's better inside presences. 

No. 13: Paul Pierce

38 of 50

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    For the last 13 seasons, the Boston Celtics have been led by All-Star forward Paul Pierce.

    And while he is currently 33 years old, his production has not yet dropped too much, as he continues to score efficiently, be an apt defender and make all of the big shots.

    Therefore, Pierce is still one of the top players in the league, as he looks to lead his Celtics on yet another run at the title.

No. 12: Pau Gasol

39 of 50

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Ever since acquiring Pau Gasol in 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers have been a much better team.

    Consequently, the squad has won the last two NBA Championships, and they currently have the third-best record in the league.

    What's more, his per-game averages of 18.9 points (52.9 percent shooting), 10.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 blocks have allowed him to stand out in one of the deepest and most talented frontcourts in the NBA.

    Therefore, there is not doubt that the Spanish forward-center is among the elite bigs in the league.

No. 11: Steve Nash

40 of 50

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Despite being 37 years old, Steve Nash continues to efficiently guide the Phoenix Suns' offense.

    Moreover, he has been able to lead the NBA is assists, with an average of 11.4 per game.

    And by scoring 15.3 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting as well, Nash has been able to maintain his all-around, high level of play on offense.

    So despite his defensive inadequacies, Nash still manages to be one of the NBA's best.

No. 10: Amar'e Stoudemire

41 of 50

    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Amar'e Stoudemire has had a fantastic season since joining the New York Knicks over the summer, helping to guide them to what will almost certainly be their first playoff appearance since 2004.

    And by posting per-game averages of 25.6 points (fourth in the NBA), 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 blocks and 0.9 blocks, all while shooting 50.5 percent from the field, he has also fought off the conception that he couldn't perform without a point guard like Steve Nash.

    Furthermore, given the fact that he was an MVP candidate earlier in the year, Stoudemire is absolutely one of the NBA's top players.

No. 9: Carmelo Anthony

42 of 50

    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Despite the New York Knicks struggling a bit after acquiring Carmelo Anthony, they appear to be back on track after three straight wins.

    And Anthony has played a large part in the team turning it around, as he has continued to be one of the NBA's best scorers.

    On the year, he has posted averages of 25.5 points (fifth in the NBA), 7.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 threes and 0.9 steal per contest.

    And the 26-year-old forward will need to keep that high level of performance up if he has any hopes of success in the postseason.

No. 8: Dirk Nowitzki

43 of 50

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Now in his 13th year with the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki continues to turn in some of the NBA's best performances.

    The German forward-center has put up 23 points per game on 51.8 percent shooting, while also grabbing an average of seven rebounds—all in only 34 minutes per game.

    And that's not all, as he has also propelled his Mavs to a 53-24 record.

    So even though he is not the best defender nor the toughest player inside, the 32-year-old Nowitzki has shown little-to-no signs of slowing down, meaning that he should continue to perform as one of the best players in the NBA for some time.

No. 7: Chris Paul

44 of 50

    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Despite his drop in statistical production this season, Chris Paul may very well be the NBA's top point guard.

    The 25-year-old still manages to post about 16 points, 10 assists and 2.5 steals per contest, but those numbers are hampered by his team's pace, which is second-slowest in the league.

    Additionally, Paul leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio by a wide margin, and he has almost-single-handedly pushed his New Orleans Hornets into playoff contention.

    Consequently, while it may seem like CP3 is having a down year, he is still undoubtedly one of the NBA's best players. 

No. 6: Dwyane Wade

45 of 50

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Since being joined on the Miami Heat by LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade's numbers have taken a hit, but nevertheless, they still remain solid.

    At this point, Wade is posting per-game marks of 25.7 points (third in the NBA), 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks.

    Moreover, he has shot 50 percent from the field and helped to lead his team to a record of 54-23—good for second in the Eastern Conference.

    However, Wade will need to continue to show that he is one of the NBA's top few players if he hopes to prove all of his doubter wrong and lead the Heat on a title run. 

No. 5: Derrick Rose

46 of 50

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    In only third NBA season, Derrick Rose has become the front-runner to take home the MVP award.

    And this is for good reason, as Rose has led his Chicago Bulls to an East-best 56-20 record, while putting up averages of 25.2 points, 7.9 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.1 steals per contest.

    So even though his shooting percentage and turnover numbers have been troublesome, the 22-year-old point guard has firmly established himself among the NBA's elite players.

No. 4: Dwight Howard

47 of 50

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    As the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard is the NBA's most dominant force in the interior.

    And he is more than just a threat on D, as evidenced by his 23.2 points per game on 59.7 percent shooting.

    So when that scoring efficiency is coupled with his Orlando Magic's 48-29 record, along with his per-game averages of 14.2 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.3 steals, there is no question why Dwight Howard is also drumming up some MVP talk.

    And even with his sub-60 percent shooting from the line, Howard is obviously still one of the very best players in the NBA.

No. 3: Kevin Durant

48 of 50

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Despite being only 22 years old, Kevin Durant is currently looking like he will lead the NBA in scoring for the second consecutive season.

    With an average of 27.7 points per contest, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward has led his team to a record of 50-26.

    Additionally, he has been able to post 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 threes, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks—showing off a solid, all-around game.

    And heading into the playoffs, Durant will look to emerge as an outstanding postseason performer, to go along with his already-evident regular season greatness.

No. 2: Kobe Bryant

49 of 50

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Kobe Bryant is the best player and clear-cut leader of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

    Moreover, his resume of success is unrivaled by any active player.

    So why is he second on this list?

    Well, at 32 years of age, Kobe's best days are behind him, as his athleticism and health have begun to decline, thereby holding him back to some extent.

    What's more, while he is a great scorer, he is neither the best nor the most efficient.

    Nevertheless, he knows his role on the Lakers, and he is able to play it as well as anyone could, posting averages of 25.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 threes and 1.2 steals, all while playing top-tier defense.

    And while his drive to win is second to none, there is still one individual who can claim to be a better player than Kobe.

No. 1: LeBron James

50 of 50

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    After winning the last two MVPs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James was largely vilified after departing to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.

    And while it was expected that his numbers would drop off considerably, LeBron has still managed to post an outstanding line of 26.6 points (second in the NBA), 7.6 rebounds. 7.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 threes per contest, all while shooting 51 percent from the field.

    Moreover, the 26-year-old forward's versatility and combination of size, skill and athleticism are rivaled by no one.

    And although his team has had their well-publicized struggles, James has led the Heat to a 54-23 record—good for fourth in the NBA.

    But when one considers that James has done this while playing alongside new teammates, the feat is all the more impressive.

    So even though he has yet to win an NBA championship—and let's face it, he didn't have a lot of help in Cleveland—and he most likely won't win this year, it seems as though it will only be a matter of time before LeBron and the Heat bring home a title.

    After all, Kobe and Shaq didn't win a title together until their fourth year, and it even took Jordan and Pippen the same four-year period before winning it all.

    And if you want any more reasons why LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, you can check out this article.