If there were an award for great players or at least great seasons by players on unfortunately bad or run-of-the-mill teams, then guys like Minnesota’s Kevin Love and New York’s Carmelo Anthony would likely be leading the charge. Love would have to be slightly ahead due to the gaudier numbers and the fact that his Wolves have at least been competitive (.500 record) in the stronger Western Conference, but it is a shame that neither of these two are likely to receive much credit for their efforts this year.
#10 – Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs
2013-14 Averages: 17.8 points, 6.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 50.1 percent FG
Parker’s productivity, for whatever the reason, took a significant dive at a certain point this year, but not as a result of him declining as a player. The ‘scheduled’ DNP’s are about as predictable as the limited minutes throughout certain months. He appears to have returned to full strength for his Spurs at this point, and the Spurs are in prime position to hold onto the top seed out West with a relatively fresh Parker to lead the way.
#9 – John Wall – Washington Wizards
2013-14 Averages: 19.7 points, 8.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 43.0 percent FG
Wall and his Wizards are not only fighting off the Brooklyn Nets, but attempting to remain in the hunt for home court advantage in the opening round with teams like the Raptors and Bulls. Turnovers have been an issue for Wall of late, but part of that can likely be attributed to an increased effort to be a playmaker over his last five contests. He’s averaging 11.2 assists over that stretch, including double-digit totals vs the Sixers (16), Jazz (10), and Bucks (13).
#8 – Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
2013-14 Averages: 18.6 points, 11.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 46.1 percent FG
Paul continues to provide a superior level of leadership for fourth-seeded Clippers, but perhaps his greatest feat this year has been allowing Blake Griffin the space and opportunity to continue to emerge as both a player and fellow leader. Paul’s assertive style tends to lead to nagging injuries and ailments, but the savvy veteran is mature enough to share both the spotlight and responsibility not only for the betterment of the team; but for his own physical well being along the way.
#7 – LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trail Blazers
2013-14 Averages: 23.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 46.0 percent FG
If his last two performances (58 points, 29 rebounds combined) are any indication, Aldridge appears to have returned to relative health following a stint of being limited by a sore groin. Alongside Damian Lillard, the Blazers need Aldridge to put an end to the slide they’ve endured (1-3) since dropping a home game against the Lakers. His upcoming matchups with Zach Randolph, Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis, and David Lee should be great.
#6 – Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
2013-14 Averages: 24.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 53.4 percent FG
Griffin has been nothing short of phenomenal this season. While he enjoys the luxury of playing with a talented bunch of players led by none other than PG Chris Paul, Griffin has truly asserted himself and his game this season. The final question his critics maintain is whether he will “show up” in the big moments, and while the postseason is still over a month away, Griffin has given every indication he’ll be ready for the spotlight this time around.
#5 – Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
2013-14 Averages: 23.5 points, 8.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 46.1 percent FG
Curry’s Warriors are one of the hotter teams in the league, and part of the reason is because of how consistent the fifth-year point guard has been this season. The Warriors received a bit of a scare from what was described as a “tight quad” last week, but he was able to continue playing limited minutes in recent games. He squares off with the likes of Jose Calderon, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, and Damian Lillard this week. Might that be something you’d be interested in?
#4 – Paul George – Indiana Pacers
2013-14 Averages: 22.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 43.6 percent FG
Even though it may not be time to panic, the Pacers’ first four-game losing streak of the season is still cause for concern, especially when George is in the midst of some shooting struggles that appear to coincide with his lingering back soreness. George did look better in a losing effort against the Mavs in their most recent outing, but the Pacers will need their franchise player to be at (or near) top form throughout this final stretch of games.
#3 – James Harden – Houston Rockets
2013-14 Averages: 24.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 45.7 percent FG
Whether it is the 100 points he’s scored over the past three games, nine steals in the past two, or 8.2 RPG over his past five, James Harden has been doing a bit of everything for his Rockets. They’ve won five consecutive games and are fighting the Clippers off to maintain control over the third seed out West. After a few nagging injuries during the first half of the season, Harden appears to be healthy and growing stronger as the season progresses.
#2 – LeBron James – Miami HEAT
2013-14 Averages: 27.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 57.2 percent FG
Prior to “righting the ship” against the Wizards, both James and his HEAT appeared to struggle from some sort of hangover in the three games that followed his 61-point performance from week ago. He’s still managed to somehow lead his team to within a tie of the first place Pacers in the loss column.
#1 – Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder
2013-14 Averages: 31.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 50.8 percent FG
Durant’s Thunder are struggling at the moment. Even though his teammate Russell Westbrook will receive a majority of the blame for their 3-5 record since his return to action, there is a certain amount of leadership responsibility Durant must be accountable for. Whether fair or not, Durant seems to embrace this duty as a merely a price of pursuing greatness. Big stretch of games coming up: vs HOU/LAL/DAL before hitting the road for a showdown with the Bulls.
Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns), Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets), Al Jefferson (Charlotte Bobcats), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
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