As the NBA's biggest names convene in New Orleans for All-Star weekend, here's our best attempt at ranking the top 10 players of the season thus far.
Remember that these rankings are based solely on 2016-17, with no weight given to past performance or future projections.
Just missed the cut
While Lowry and Gasol have been mainstays in and around the top 10 all season, Wall has seen his stock rise as the Wizards catapult up the Eastern Conference standings. Washington's won 27 of its last 35 games, and Wall's averaging a career-high 22.8 points, 10.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.1 steals.
Paul's injury kept him outside our top 10 for the first time, while another rough month in Sacramento saw Boogie fail to receive a top 10 vote from any our seven NBA editors.
10. Jimmy Butler
The 2016-17 Bulls have largely been a mismatched, dysfunctional mess, yet Butler's mere presence gives them a fighting chance, keeping Chicago afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
|2016-17 Bulls||Record||ORtg||DRtg||Net Rtg|
|Butler on||27-24||106.6 (13th)||103.6 (6th)||+3.0 (10th)|
|Butler off||1-5||99.7 (T-29)||109.7 (28th)||-10.0 (30th)|
The perennially improving swingman is once again averaging career highs nearly across the board - 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, five assists - while shouldering as heavy a two-way burden as any player in the league. The only other players posting an Offensive Real Plus-Minus of at least plus-4 and a DRPM of at least plus-1 are Paul and Kevin Durant. - Joseph Casciaro
Give the little man credit: He's fought his way into the top 10 with pure basketball hubris. Nobody has scored more points in the NBA since Christmas, and he's leading a hot team that's now second in the East. Thomas currently has the same PER as Kevin Durant (27.5). - John Chick
There seems to be a catch-22 in Antetokounmpo's omnipotence. He leads the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks - it's clear that he can do just about anything on the court. However, that flexibility sometimes creates confusion. Even into his fourth year, it remains unclear whether Giannis should handle the ball like a guard, or work off the ball like a big. Finding the right balance, along with the right supporting cast, is key for Milwaukee. - William Lou
It's the same old story with Davis, whose incredible ability will continue to be a footnote until he gets some more help and his Pelicans become relevant.
In a vacuum, Davis has been about as impressive as anyone in the league this season. He's honed his inside-out game to the point that he's a threat from just about anywhere on the floor, he's rebounded like a maniac, and he's shown a renewed commitment to the defensive end of the floor. Better teammates are all that separate him from MVP consideration. - Joe Wolfond
The reigning MVP is outscoring his new Bay Area teammate for the second month in a row and third overall, which is noteworthy considering the way everyone assumes Durant is a hindrance to Curry's once-historic offensive output.
Replicating his 2015-16 numbers was never a realistic goal given the Warriors' roster changes. The Chef is still a fringe top 10 scorer, though, and the Association's most feared 3-point marksman to boot. - Chris Walder
5. LeBron James
"As long as I'm in the lineup, we've got a chance," James said earlier this week.
Fourteen years into LeBron's career, that remains as true as ever. The 32-year-old is averaging 25.9 points, a career-high 8.8 assists, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.4 steals, while scoring more efficiently than he has in three years - thanks in large part to the second-best 3-point percentage (38.9) of his career. - Joseph Casciaro
There are no more excuses left for anyone overlooking Leonard. He's the best individual defender in the league, he's putting up 30-plus points with regularity, and his Spurs are chugging along at a 60-win pace. Save for Durant, Leonard's two-way production is unparalleled. And, for the last time, this notion of Leonard as a system player is bogus - he creates most of his own offense while approaching 50/40/90, and his midrange game is second to none. - William Lou
He's earned some black marks - he averaged almost seven turnovers per contest in his last four games - but for the love of god, Westbrook is still averaging a triple-double at the All-Star break. So far he's scoring at a 33.3 point-per-game clip in February, along with 36.4 percent accuracy from deep - setting himself up for his best month of the season in those fields. - John Chick
2. Kevin Durant
Durant is the leading scorer and rebounder on the best team in basketball, owns a Real Plus-Minus that ranks fifth overall, and has done it all with the lowest usage rate of his nine-year career. His transition into the Warriors' schemes has been smooth as butter. It's truly a match made in heaven. - Chris Walder
1. James Harden
Harden continues to generate points - for himself and his teammates - at a ridiculous rate, as he almost single-handedly orchestrates the league's second-ranked offense.
He's third in the NBA in scoring and tops in assists, and leads the league in passes thrown and received per game. Between his own scoring and the scoring generated directly off his passes, he's creating 56.6 points a night - which, no surprise, leads the league by a not-insignificant margin. The Rockets are 40-18. They're nowhere without him. - Joe Wolfond
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)