With all-star rosters out, I’ve decided it is time to release the third edition of my player power rankings. I encourage you to comment your thoughts on my selections, and share with anyone who think may enjoy my rankings. Without further ado, here they are.
- LeBron James- There is no reason to remove LeBron from the top spot, even with the Cavs struggling. Look for him to impress yet again in the playoffs.
- James Harden- This is where it gets difficult. I’m going with Harden once again at the 2 spot because of his transformation into an efficient triple double machine. He has quietly turned the Rockets (35-15) into a contender, and has yet to miss a game this season. Harden is the leading candidate in the MVP race for me, simply because he has the edge over Westbrook in assists, all categories of shooting, and defense.
- Kevin Durant- With the Warriors hitting their stride, it’s time to recognize Durant. He fits perfectly into their offense, and while the Warriors had to give up some defensive talent to get him, he makes them a much more dangerous team. Also, he gives the Warriors someone who can match up with LeBron, should they meet in the finals.
- Kawhi Leonard- Leonard is once again putting up a superstar level season, and getting zero recognition. He is carrying more of a scoring load than ever (25.4 ppg), but he’s also shooting 91 percent from the line and 48 percent from the field. And of course, the Spurs are still managing to win despite depleted talent.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo- The Greek Freak has completed his rise to the top of the league by getting a start for the East in the all-star game. If you have been a regular reader on this site, you know that I have been raving about Giannis recently. His size-athleticism-quickness combination is like no other in NBA history, and he hasn’t even reached his peak. Watch out.
- Chris Paul- I had no choice but to drop Paul a couple spots after he injured his thumb, sidelining him for 6-8 weeks. I was disappointed that he didn’t get an honorary invitation for the all-star game, but people pretty much stopped voting for him after he got injured. However, the biggest loser here is the Clippers. History shows that they do not win with just DeAndre Jordan, and 6-8 weeks is enough time for their season to slip away. But don’t underestimate them in the playoffs, especially if they have Blake Griffin and Paul back.
- Russell Westbrook- Westbrook really does have the potential to be a top 5 player, but the only thing he focuses on is stat-stuffing. He will put up as many shots as he wants to, and he will basically steal rebounds from his big guys to make sure he gets his triple double. As previously mentioned, he can’t do anything James Harden can’t do.
- Anthony Davis- Davis is toiling away on a bad New Orleans team that desperately needs more talent to become a contender. However, the 5-year deal that he recently signed will give the Pelicans more time to build around him. In my latest mock draft, I mentioned that New Orleans should draft Miles Bridges, in order to gain outside shooting and toughness.
- Stephen Curry- People are saying that Curry is having a down year, and I think there is some truth to that. He is shooting 40 percent from 3 compared to 46 percent last year. However, the fact that he has taken usage cuts for Durant is commendable, so you can look for him to remain about where he is in these rankings all season.
- Damian Lillard- Lillard is having a career year, and I’m glad he got in the all star game. I dropped him way too low (14th) in edition 2 of these rankings, and a lot of people got mad at me, so here he is. But actually, Dame might be having statistically his best season, so I will recognize him while I have the chance.
- DeMarcus Cousins- Boogie is another example of a very talented player in the wrong situation. For many reasons, Cousins and the Kings have not gotten along, despite him being literally their only reliable source of production. I think they should trade Cousins and Rudy Gay for some veteran talent, and start The Process.
- Jimmy Butler- Butler has flown under my radar for much of the season, but I am only now beginning to realize how good he really is. Even though he has a reputation of being a bad shooter, he is actually shooting 35 percent from 3 this year, and 82 percent from the line. I don’t respect the comments he has recently made about how the young guys on the Bulls don’t want to win enough, but there is no question that he is carrying that team.
- John Wall- Wall has the edge over Kyle Lowry because of his passing ability and physical tools, but the Wizards need to acquire some new talent if they want to compete in the East. Their weakest position is the power forward spot, so maybe they could attract Cousins away from Sacramento.
- Kyle Lowry- Lowry is the most important player on a Raptors team that may knock off the Cavs in the playoffs. He does it all for them, and seems to get more efficient with every season he is in the league.
- Joel Embiid- 29 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks. Those are the numbers Embiid would have if he were off his minute restriction. I wanted him in the all-star game this season, but there is no question that he has many more all-star games to come in his career. With Ben Simmons making his return, we will finally get to see what years of tanking has done for the Sixers.
Honorable Mention- DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, Draymond Green, Kemba Walker