<
>

Steph's now king, while LeBron, KD and others try to chase him down

play
Is Durant still better than Westbrook? (2:35)

Chris Broussard joins His & Hers to debate whether Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook is a better player. (2:35)

Sure, Stephen Curry has had the MVP award in a vise since January, but where do the league's other top players stack up in the race for second place?

Since you loved our #NBArank and All-Time #NBArank so much, we've decided to give you a weekly player ranking.

Each week we'll rank the 20 best players through the remainder of the season. Past history and future promise means nothing. Players out with long-lasting injuries (Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler) aren't included.

This is about who is playing the best basketball right now, this season -- and who, if anyone, can challenge Steph for the top spot?

Let's have that conversation.

Note: MVP odds from Ladbrokes.com


1. Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors
Pos: PG
RPM: 10.35 (No. 1)
MVP betting odds: 1-100

Last season he was the league's most valuable player, not necessarily its best player. Now, he's both.

He's the greatest shooter the game has ever seen, and his range isn't the only thing that's unparalleled. Because he doesn't dominate the ball like most of today's perimeter stars, his teammates are able to get their shots. even as he drops 30 a night. He's impacting the game like no one else.


2. LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers
Pos: SF
RPM: 8.30 (No. 5)
MVP odds: 30-1

The King hasn't been ranked this low since the decade began. But with his jump shot betraying him and his athleticism declining slightly, his undisputed reign over the game has ended.

Still, put him on any team in the league and the playoffs -- and in most cases, contender status -- are guaranteed. That can't be said of any other player, including Curry.


3. Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder
Pos: SF
RPM: 5.96 (No. 11)
MVP odds: 20-1

Somehow people are sleeping on one of the greatest, most unstoppable scorers in NBA history. People are calling him "Robin" or No. 2 to his running mate (see No. 4), not recognizing that he's still the top dog in OKC.

He's once again shooting better than 50 percent and grabbing a career-high 8.1 boards, numbers that should wake up the doubters.


4. Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder
Pos: PG
RPM: 9.22 (No. 2)
MVP odds: 28-1

An absolute force of nature who overwhelms not only opposing point guards but entire defenses with his incomparable athleticism. A nightly triple-double threat, Westbrook is the best rebounding point guard since Jason Kidd.

His February numbers were in Big-O territory -- 25.2 points, 12.2 assists and 8.6 rebounds -- even as he stands only 6-foot-3.


5. Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio Spurs
Pos: SF
RPM: 8.93 (No. 3)
MVP odds: 18-1

Think back to 2004, when for seven games Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) played like a bona fide MVP candidate -- locking up, and, in some cases, instilling fear in opponents, nailing 3-pointers at a high clip and lifting the Indiana Pacers to elite status.

Well, that's Kawhi Leonard, as he's leading the Spurs by playing at a legit MVP level.


6. Chris Paul

Los Angeles Clippers
Pos: PG
RPM: 7.26 (No. 6)
MVP odds: 100-1

Being the third-best point guard in the league now means you're better than all but a handful of players, period. With Griffin sidelined by injury (and thickheadedness), Paul has been forced to unleash the scorer within, and it has saved the Clippers' season.

If Steph weren't hitting shots from the scorer's table and Westbrook weren't an extraterrestrial, CP3 would still be the lead playmaker on this planet.


7. Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers
Pos: PG
RPM: 2.65 (No. 51)
MVP odds: 150-1

His shockingly low RPM notwithstanding, Dame D.O.L.L.A. is making folks pay for all sorts of snubs -- not recruiting him out of high school, leaving him off of top-five PG lists and, of course, failing to name him to the All-Star team.

With a chip on his shoulder the size of his hometown of Oakland, he's averaged 33.7 points since the All-Star break. More importantly, he's got the team everybody left for dead playing some of the league's best ball and in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.


8. Anthony Davis

New Orleans Pelicans
Pos: PF
RPM: 3.31 (No. 35)
MVP odds: 150-1

The shock of moving from Monty Williams' disciplined, defense-first approach to Alvin Gentry's high-octane system knocked Davis down a few pegs. He seems to be awaking from his slumber, though, posting more than 28 PPG and twice grabbing 20 rebounds in February.

With Steph's takeover, he might never own the league as we all thought he would, but perhaps he can put a lock on the mythical "best big man" status.


9. Kyle Lowry

Toronto Raptors
Pos: PG
RPM: 7.12 (No. 8)
MVP odds: 150-1

I've always liked Lowry and his toughness, but I've been hesitant to register him among the elite. No more. Now that Toronto is winning, the Raptors' best player must receive his props.

Upset with himself for his no-show in last year's playoffs, he dropped the extra weight he has always carried around and is getting stronger by the week. In February, he posted 43 on Kyrie Irving, 27 on Derrick Rose, 25 on Reggie Jackson and 30 on Lillard -- all but shouting, "Gimme my props!'' Point taken.


10. James Harden

Houston Rockets
Pos: SG
RPM: 4.97 (No. 17)
MVP odds: 40-1

Like Davis, Harden has lost some of his luster. His numbers still are ferocious, but the frequent losses, his absurd ball dominance and his inability to utilize Dwight Howard to the fullest has dropped Harden from annual MVP candidate to merely perennial All-Star status.

You just hope the past few years of his one-man show in Houston haven't taken away his ability to co-exist and play well with other top-flight players.

The next 10

11. DeMarcus Cousins | C | Sacramento Kings

I've never been one to hate on a rebel, so I like Boogie's streak of speaking his mind. But a little less belligerence and a little more discipline would have him knocking on the door of the top five, even in today's guard-happy league. His numbers are downright ridiculous, dwarfing those of every other center on Earth.

12. Paul George | SF | Indiana Pacers

Earlier in the season, PG13 was creeping toward the top five, but his field goal percentage has been plunging for the past three months. This brother has fallen head-over-heels for the 3-ball, which is a bit of a problem. Still, it's good to see him back and among the league's best.

13. John Wall | PG | Washington Wizards

He's the truest passer and set-up man of today's brilliant but shot-happy point guards. If his backcourt mate Bradley Beal could stay healthy, things would be different in the nation's capital. Expect even better play from Wall as he leads the Wizards on a push for the playoffs.

14. Draymond Green | PF | Golden State Warriors

Lots of folks have him in the top 10 now, and I won't hate. But for all his excellence, I still have my doubts about him playing this well on another team in another system. Doesn't matter, of course, because he's perfect for where he's located. Last week's 14-board, 14-dime, six-steal, four-block, two-point, 23-curse-words-at-halftime masterpiece summed up his brilliance.

15. Klay Thompson | SG | Golden State Warriors

I had to put Thompson right beneath Green because it would be unfair for Thompson to be viewed as a third wheel. He is outstanding, probably the second-best shooter (who's also an all-around complete player) in the league. I've said it before, but this brother is one-half of the best backcourt ever.

16. LaMarcus Aldridge | PF | San Antonio Spurs

His numbers are down, but Aldridge remains one of the league's best. He shouldn't be penalized for choosing winning over stats.

17. Dwyane Wade | SG | Miami Heat

He's still a maestro, a leader, a winner and the main reason the Heat are fighting for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference's first round.

18. DeAndre Jordan | C | Los Angeles Clippers

The only beef anyone can have with Jordan is his foul shooting. But with Wilt, Shaq, Dwight and other big men before him stricken by the same curse, it's hard to hate too much.

19. Pau Gasol | C | Chicago Bulls

Rose is always nursing some ailment and Butler is out for a while, so what does Gasol do? Pass the ball like a wizard by averaging six assists a game in February to go with 18 points and 11 boards.

20. Kyrie Irving | PG | Cleveland Cavaliers

If he were just a wee bit better than a traffic cone defensively, he'd be ranked higher. Still, he's an uncanny finisher at the rim, owner of the league's best handle and a scorer who can't be stopped.