NBA power rankings
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The NBA’s biggest rivals work out together in the summer and only play twice per regular season.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant are the best basketball players in the world, and if they didn’t prove it to you in leading their teams to the NBA Finals last spring, they have this season. James and Durant are having wonderfully well-rounded seasons and guiding their teams to the elite ranks of the NBA again.
But who’s better? Let’s start with the tale of the statistical tape (entering Monday’s games):
James averages 25.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 2.6 turnovers a game and shoots 54.1% from the field, 42.4% on threes and 67.5% from the line.
Durant averages 27.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.3 blocks and 3.3 turnovers a game and shoots 51.5% from the field, 43.9% on threes and 89.7% from the line.
Nope. Still not clear. But USA TODAY Sports’ NBA power rankings panel managed to sort through the numbers and determine player value, whether that comes from defense or teamwork or team success. And the result: If the season were to end today, we would dethrone reigning MVP James.
Here’s the voting (points on a 7-5-3-2-1 basis):
Also receiving votes were the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph (five points), Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (one) and Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (one).
Voting for the top team was less contentious; for the first time, every voter agreed. And Durant was on top again. Here’s a look at the top five teams in our 30-team power rankings (points on a 30-29-27-etc. basis):
The rookie of the year voting was similarly familiar and lopsided. … [For more on NBA power rankings: Has Kevin Durant surpassed LeBron James?, click here.]