LOS ANGELES — The All-Star break has arrived, and right here in a metropolis accustomed to fame, even these guys stand out. (That may occur if you end up 6-eight or so.)
However among the many stars themselves, some have stood out much more than others, particularly these days. For some, in reality, the final couple of weeks have been a close to catastrophe.
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With that in thoughts we set out to take a look at all 24 gamers who might be suiting up for the sport on Sunday — with apologies to the injured gamers who gained’t take part — and rank them in response to how this season has been going and the way issues are shaping up from right here.
1. James Harden, Rockets
Harden heads into the break because the clear favourite for the MVP award after ending because the runner-up in the final two seasons. He leads the league in scoring at 31.three factors per recreation and is third with 9.zero assists, making him by far crucial player on a group that has vaulted forward of Golden State for the top seed in the West.
Harden missed seven video games in early January with a hamstring damage, however since he has come again, the Rockets have gained 14 of 15, together with a 60-level barrage from Harden in a win over the Magic.
2. LeBron James, Cavs
It’s a small pattern measurement, however James seems like a rejuvenated player even earlier than the break will get underway. The Cavs are on a 4-recreation profitable streak going again to James’ recreation-profitable efficiency towards the Timberwolves final Wednesday, and through the streak, James has averaged 30.zero factors, thirteen.zero assists and 9.5 rebounds whereas capturing fifty five.three % from the sector and forty five.5 % from the three-level line.
In fact, in that span, he has performed together with his pre-deadline teammates, the skeleton crew that was left on the day after the deadline, and two video games with the brand new Cavs. If he continues to play at that degree, Cleveland has an opportunity to maneuver previous Boston and/or Toronto in the standings.
three. Kevin Durant, Warriors
Durant has been scoring together with his typical effectivity (26.zero factors per recreation), making fifty two.three % of his photographs and forty two.1 % of his three-pointers. The staff has been in a rut — by their requirements — going again to a 30-level loss to Utah on Jan. 30, however you’ll be able to’t blame Durant for that. He’s capturing sixty one.9 % from the sector in that span, and he had 50 factors towards Portland on Wednesday in a Golden State loss.
four. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
He’s nonetheless a three-level stroke away from being a respectable MVP candidate, however Antetokounmpo’s rise to NBA elite has continued, although he’s simply 23 years previous. He’s as much as 27.6 factors on fifty three.7 % capturing, with 10.four rebounds and four.7 assists. He, like the remainder of the Bucks, appears to be responding nicely to the firing of Jason Kidd. The staff is 9-three because the transfer, and Antetokounmpo has been main the best way.
5. Stephen Curry, Warriors
Curry has shot higher than forty one % from the three-level line in all 9 seasons he’s been in the league, together with this one. However because the Warriors have slipped to four-four in their final eight video games since Curry lit up the Celtics with forty nine factors, his shot has been off — he’s scoring solely 19.eight factors per recreation in these eight video games and making 32.9 % from the arc.
If he doesn’t flip it round, the unthinkable might occur: Curry might end the season under forty % from the three-level line.
6. Russell Westbrook, Thunder
He has new star-degree teammates, however Westbrook has been his standard self, eighth in the league in scoring (25.four per recreation) and first in assists (10.four), whereas nonetheless close to a triple-double common (9.four rebounds).
Oklahoma Metropolis has been wildly inconsistent this season, however one factor that’s clear: When Westbrook makes photographs at even an honest price, the Thunder are excellent. OKC is 24-12 when Westbrook makes forty % of his photographs or extra, eight-thirteen when he doesn’t.
7. Anthony Davis, Pelicans
In his sixth season, Davis has proven extra polish on his recreation than ever earlier than, averaging 27.four factors and 10.7 rebounds, however lastly extending his recreation to the three-level line with some effectiveness (he’s making 36.7 % of his 3s after making 29.zero % in his first 5 seasons).
He has needed to decide up appreciable slack following the damage to DeMarcus Cousins, and in the final seven video games, he has carried out that properly, topping forty factors 3 times and averaging 33.four factors. The Pels are in a troublesome battle for a West playoff spot, and will probably be as much as Davis to hold them by means of.
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eight. DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
DeRozan had a scorching begin, and for a short while, it appeared like he’d be an MVP candidate after turning himself into a top quality three-level shooter. Alas, his numbers have dropped since then, however he’s nonetheless averaging 23.7 factors and a profession-excessive 5.7 assists, a product of Toronto’s revamped offensive strategy.
His three-level capturing, even at a mere 33.zero %, continues to be the second-greatest mark of his profession. The break might be properly-timed for him, as he has averaged simply 15.eight factors on 38.1 % capturing in his final six video games.
9. LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
After a tough summer time in which rumors of a commerce abounded, Aldridge has had a terrific season, averaging 22.four factors and eight.four rebounds, main a Spurs staff that’s 35-24 even with out Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs are a younger group making an attempt to piece collectively a rotation round Aldridge, and he has been the glue holding all of it collectively.
The workforce has hit a tough patch simply forward of the break, although, dropping 5 out of six, two with Aldridge sitting out for a minor knee drawback.
10. Kyrie Irving, Celtics
Irving needed out of Cleveland final summer time in order to get a staff that was extra his personal, and there’s no query the Celtics are Irving’s group. However oddly, his numbers are nearly the identical as they have been in Cleveland — his minutes and photographs are down a bit, however his scoring is about the identical (24.7 factors), and his utilization fee has solely gone up a tick, from 30.eight final yr to 31.2 this yr. He’s out of LeBron James’ shadow, however his manufacturing has been the identical.
eleven. Paul George, Thunder
Regardless of enjoying with two excessive-quantity scorers, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, George has managed to maintain up his numbers and be efficient on the ground. He’s averaging 22.5 factors, and his three-level capturing has been wonderful, at forty three.2 % this yr.
He has additionally been a pressure on the defensive finish, main the league in steals with 2.2 per recreation. He comes into the break on a scorching streak, topping 25 factors in six straight video games (29.eight factors per recreation) and capturing forty nine.2 % from the three-level line in that stretch.
12. Joel Embiid, Sixers
Embiid has missed eleven video games, and the Sixers are three-eight with out him, which provides you an concept of his worth to this younger group. He’s averaging 23.7 factors, eleven.1 rebounds and three.1 assists, and he was the East’s Player of the Month for January. Earlier than enjoying simply 23 minutes towards the Knicks final week, he had recorded eight straight double-doubles.
thirteen. Karl-Anthony Cities, Timberwolves
Cities has had his offense scaled again a bit this yr, dropping from 18.zero photographs per recreation to thirteen.7, and seeing his scoring go from 25.1 factors to twenty.four. However he’s capturing fifty five.zero % from the ground, and his three-level capturing has spiked, making forty two.5 % on three.6 makes an attempt per recreation.
There’s nonetheless a way that Cities has much more to offer, on each ends of the ground, however nobody can complain a few 7-foot 22-yr-previous who’s averaging 20 and 12.
14. Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves
Butler has delivered what the Timberwolves wanted, not solely offering a veteran chief and defensive stalwart on the perimeter, however giving Minnesota an in a position scorer (22.four factors per recreation) from all elements of the ground. Butler is an effective midrange shooter, however he has developed the consistency from the three-level line that was lacking early in his profession, capturing 37.2 % from deep.
Butler leads the league in minutes performed, which is of some concern as a result of he has battled a nasty knee this yr.
15. Damian Lillard, Path Blazers
Lillard has had purpose to gripe about not making the All-Star staff in the final two years, however with the expertise-stocked West, it’s by no means straightforward. However he has been comparatively environment friendly this yr, capturing a profession-greatest forty four.7 % from the sector for his 26.1 factors per recreation. And he enters the weekend particularly scorching: In his final three video games, he has scored 50, 39 and forty four factors, capturing fifty five.three % in that run.
sixteen. Victor Oladipo, Pacers
No All-Star made fairly as huge a leap this yr as Oladipo, who has not solely turn out to be a bona fide No. 1 scoring choice with an expanded capturing vary, however has proven he can put a staff with restricted expertise on his again and put it in place to earn an honest playoff spot.
He has established profession-highs in scoring (24.four factors per recreation), rebounds (5.three), assists (four.1), capturing (forty eight.four %) and three-level capturing (38.1 %). He has scored 30-plus factors 17 occasions in his profession, together with 10 occasions this yr, and three in his final 5 video games.
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17. Bradley Beal, Wizards
The Wizards are 7-2 since John Wall went down with a knee damage on the finish of January, and Beal has gotten a blitz of defensive consideration in that span. His scoring (21.eight factors) and capturing (forty five.5 % from the sector) have dipped with out Wall, however he’s averaging 6.four assists and has completed a pleasant job overlaying for the shortage of a real playmaker.
Washington misses Wall, in fact, however Beal has softened the blow and stored the workforce in place for one of many top seeds in the East.
18. Andre Drummond, Pistons
Drummond has fastened the obvious holes in his recreation, engaged on his means to move out of the submit and racking up three.6 assists per recreation, which is up significantly from his zero.7 profession common earlier than this yr.
However the largest change has been the foul capturing, which is as much as sixty two.5 % for the yr after he made solely 38.6 % final yr. That’s allowed the Pistons to go away him on the ground in late-recreation conditions. He’s scoring 15.1 factors per recreation and main the league with 15.7 rebounds.
19. Klay Thompson, Warriors
Thompson’s scoring (20.zero factors per recreation) is down from the final three seasons, however he’s main the league in three-level capturing at forty five.5 %, and his forty nine.four % general capturing is a profession-excessive. Thompson nonetheless doesn’t have huge numbers outdoors of his capturing (three.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists), however he’s a top-flight perimeter defender in addition to his marksmanship.
20. Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Lowry’s numbers aren’t as spectacular as they’ve been in the previous, scoring sixteen.6 factors per recreation with 6.5 assists and 5.7 rebounds. However Lowry has sacrificed for the good thing about the Raptors offense, and the workforce goes into the break with one of the best document in the East.
Lowry continues to be able to placing up massive scoring numbers — he had forty towards Minnesota final month — however he’s snug with giving up the ball extra now.
21. Draymond Inexperienced, Warriors
Inexperienced is crucial defensive player in the league, a key to the best way the Warriors are capable of change, disrupt the passing lanes and canopy all the flooring with no area-consuming massive man down low. He has been horrible as a shooter, making solely 29.9 % from the three-level line, and that quantity has been shrinking — he knocked down 27.eight % in January and is simply at 18.eight % in this month.
Nonetheless, his protection and different numbers (eight.zero rebounds and seven.three assists) received him the spot on this group.
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22. Al Horford, Celtics
Like Draymond Inexperienced, Horford’s worth extends nicely past his scoring, which is modest (thirteen.three factors per recreation). Horford has averaged 5.1 assists and has been a knockdown three-level shooter at forty three.6 %. However he has additionally been the glue that has held collectively Boston’s robust protection, which ranks as the perfect in the league.
Horford has a cumulative plus/minus of plus-four.four, second on the Celtics solely to Jaylen Brown. Boston ranks seventh defensively throughout its final 15 video games — the Celtics misplaced 9 of these — and that wrestle pushes Horford down on this record.
23. Goran Dragic, Warmth
The Warmth have been a scorching workforce when Dragic was picked to exchange Kevin Love in the All-Star Game two weeks in the past, so there was some justification for his choice regardless of so-so manufacturing (17.four factors, four.7 assists per recreation). However the Warmth have dropped seven of their final eight, and Dragic’s spot now appears somewhat misplaced.
24. Kemba Walker, Hornets
Walker is averaging 22.9 factors and 5.eight assists per recreation whereas capturing simply forty two.three % from the sector. However the Hornets are 9 video games underneath .500, rendering his stats a bit meaningless. However the East area was wracked by accidents, so somebody needed to fill the spots. In all probability ought to have been Ben Simmons, however it’s Walker as an alternative.