NBA: 2012-13 Player Power Rankings # 10-1

10. Chris Bosh: Chris Bosh kicks off the top ten list, in at number ten. Yes production has dropped for Bosh since he joined forces with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, but he still a valuable part of the team on both sides of the ball (especially last night against the Denver Nuggets scoring 40). The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket has the ability to stretch the floor and plays tremendous defense. He’s a seven time All-Star (2006-12) and is the Toronto Raptor’s all-time leading scorer. Even though he has been criticized many times for his lack of play for the Miami Heat, Bosh can still do it all. He might be the third scoring option on the Heat, but still one of the best players in the league.

9. Kevin Love: The only white boy on the 2012 Olympic gold winning basketball team proves no matter what the color of his skin is, he can ball. Only 24 years old, Kevin Love has changed the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise. Maybe, he has even made people forget that there used to be another great young power forward who used to play in Minnesota (cough Kevin Garnett cough). Since entering the league in 2008, Love has averaged 17 points per game and 12 rebounds per game. Last year, was a career year for Love in which he averaged 26 points a game and 13.3 rebounds per game. That earned him some discussion in the MVP race. Love in 2012 also won the NBA three-point competition and was named to the All-NBA Second Team despite only playing in 55 games. If there is one “knock” on Kevin Love, it is the fact he struggles to stay healthy. As mentioned he only played in 55 games last year, and is already starting the season off on the injured list. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks after breaking his right hand. Still, when he is healthy he is arguably the best power forward in the game.

8. Russell Westbrook: Unlike most of the point guards that are on this list, Russell Westbrook is a shoot first point guard. Some argue he would be better suited as a shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Either way the Thunder has to be happy with the success he has had. Westbrook along with teammate Kevin Durant and former teammate James Harden help lead the Thunder to the 2012 NBA finals only to lose to the Miami Heat. Even though assists decreased for Westbrook points per game went up to 23.6 points per game a new career high. The great year Westbrook had earned him the honor of All-NBA Second Team. It will be interesting to see what Westbrook does this year, considering James Harden is gone. Will Westbrook, take on more of the scoring load? If so, will he be criticized for it, much like years past? Only time will tell.

7. Derrick Rose:  Derrick Rose can easily be a top three player on this list, but coming off an ACL injury in which we have no idea when the former MVP will return, is why he is ranked number seven on this list. Rose is one of the fastest in the NBA and always attacks the basket and is able to make difficult layups in traffic. As mentioned earlier Rose was the 2011 MVP at the age of 22, making him the youngest MVP in NBA history pasting Wes Unseld. Rose also joined Michael Jordan as the only Chicago Bull to win an MVP. Chicago fans and fans of the NBA patiently wait for Rose to hit the floor. When he returns, watch out. Not only do I expect Rose to return to MVP form, I think the Bulls will be the second best team in the East. Till then, it’s a long wait for fans in the Windy City.

6. Rajon Rondo: Originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns, Rajon Rondo was traded to the Boston Celtics after he was drafted in 2006. It would be a whole two years before Rondo finally made an impact for the Celtics. Since then, there has been no turning back. He’s been an NBA Champion, a three-time All-Star, four time NBA All-Defensive selection and has broken plenty of Celtics records which includes: Most assists in a single season with 794, most steals in a single season with 189, most assist in a playoff game with 20, most assists per game with 11.7 and most consecutive games with 10+ assists with 24.  In the postseason he is even more lethal. In 2012 alone he had the most assists (227), most assists per game (11.9) and most triple-doubles (4). Rondo will never put up the biggest scoring numbers (10.8 points per game), but he is the best all-around point guard and makes the ever aging Boston Celtics that much better.

5. Kobe Bryant: While a new generation of NBA superstars is being born right before our eyes, there is still a certain 34-year-old, who still can ball with the young bloods. Kobe Bryant has been the heart and soul of the Lakers since Shaquille O’Neal left. He hasn’t disappointed winning two NBA championships back to back in 2009 and 2010. The hardest thing to believe is Kobe has only won one MVP in his career. However, he has plenty of other accolades including five NBA Championships,  14 time All-Star, ten time All-NBA first team, two-time All-NBA second and third team and nine time All-Defensive first team selection. He has plenty of other accomplishments, to many to mention. I mean check out this list! If Kobe does retire in 2014, like he has hinted, it will truly be a sad day for basketball. With the new super power the Los Angeles Lakers have made, can Bryant get ring number six and possibly seven before he does retire? That my friend is a possibility.

4. Dwight Howard: I think with the whole year-long fiasco with Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic, people forgot how good Dwight Howard is. Yes, his egotistical side truly showed last season, but the Lakers are no fool acquiring the best center currently in the game. At the peak of his career Howard (26), has done so much. Six time All-Star, four time rebounding champion, two time blocks leader, five time All-NBA first team, three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (in a row), and a slam dunk champion in 2008. With the exception of last year Howard has been known to stay healthy and when healthy he is dominant on both sides of the ball. The Lakers had Shaquille O’Neil, now they have baby version Dwight Howard. If Bryant will get ring six, it will all fall on the shoulders of Dwight, who is in the hunt for his first ever NBA Championship.

3. Dwayne Wade: Did Wade really need LeBron and Bosh to win another ring? I don’t think so, but I’m sure he appreciates the help. The Miami Heat all-time leading scorer earned championship number two six years after his first. Wade has been a great player throughout his entire career, when healthy. He has suffered from so many, but has fought through many as well. He hasn’t missed a beat since adding LeBron and Bosh to his team. Last two years he has averaged 25.5 and 22.1 points per game. Accomplishments include an NBA scoring champion in 2009, an eight time All-Star, NBA Finals MVP, Sportsman of the Year (Sports Illustrated and Sporting News 2006) and seven time selection for the All-NBA teams. What impresses me the most about Wade is the fact he takes high percentage shots, which is why his career average is at 48 percent. Wade still has plenty of basketball ahead of him, and may be chasing Bryant and Jordan for the most rings in NBA history, five years down the line. For now, he is simply the heart and soul of the Miami Heat.

2. Kevin Durant: If I was starting my own basketball franchise and David Stern told me, you can choose any player to build your team around, give me Kevin Durant. The 2008 Rookie of the Year has accomplished a lot. Three consecutive times Durant has been honored/won NBA All-Star, scoring champion and All-NBA first team. Durant is also one of the most clutch players currently in the NBA. Durant is so valuable to the Thunder and is one of the biggest stars in the NBA. His stat line is crazy. Currently, Durant has averaged 26.3 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, 1.2 steals per game and a block a game. Simply put, he can do it all. The Durantula or Durant Durant (what I like to call him), will continue to be one of the biggest stars the NBA has to offer. Still, he has a long way to go before he can overthrow the next player as the best player in the NBA.

1. LeBron James: Finally, LeBron James got what he always wanted, an NBA Championship. The best player in the league and most hated, had himself a great year in 2012. Not only did he win an NBA Championship, he also won an Olympic gold medal, a MVP (his third), a NBA Finals MVP, and was named an All-Star, an All-NBA first team, and All-Defensive first team. Love him or hate him, there is no denying that LeBron James is truly the “King” of the NBA. Can LeBron win his second straight? Will someone take his throne as the best in the NBA? I think yes to the first question, no to the second. LeBron is just too good. As many say, let the haters hate and that is what exactly what LeBron wants.

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