|1||CARMELO ANTHONY, F, NEW YORK: So I wrestled with the question “Should I penalize him for the loss in Memphis?” And the answer I came up with was no, given that it was the second-night of a back-to-back that began with an outstanding fourth-quarter comeback victory at San Antonio, and it came against the best team in the NBA. The Knicks still go into Sunday’s matinee against Indiana with the best record in the East, and ‘Melo is over 23 ppg despite being held to 9 against the Spurs. But you know what else he did in that game? 12 rebounds, five on the offensive end. So he keeps his spot from last week.||1|
|2||LeBRON JAMES, F, MIAMI: He earned Tweet of the Night for what he spit out after arriving home from a 41-minute stint on an empty stomach in Phoenix that capped a 4-2 road trip. He and his teammates have a relatively easy week ahead of them (Bucks fans might disagree), then four straight days off before tilt vs Spurs Nov. 29. Has scored at least 20 in every game this season. Chris Perkins says this may be the best season we’ve ever seen out of ‘Bron.||2|
|3||ZACH RANDOLPH, F, MEMPHIS: There is a case to be made that he deserves a higher ranking, producing a double-double in every single game for the team with the NBA’s best record. Plus he gets bonus points here for the “Meet you at the bus” altercation with Kendrick Perkins. Those loading dock fights never actually happen, though I once covered Marcus Camby stalking the Spurs bus on Martin Luther King Day, looking to mix it up with Danny Ferry, who will vouch for that story.||3|
|4||TIM DUNCAN, F-C, SAN ANTONIO: Dammit Sheridan, if you’re just going to keep ranking guys in the same spot every week, why even bother? Since I know a bunch of y’all just said that to yourselves, relax. I’ll quote Jimmy Serrano: “Go have a cream soda. Have a sandwich. Drink a glass of milk.” (“Midnight Run” reference). The WTF Watch continues as Duncan is now 37-for-50 at the line. No way he keeps up the 74 percent clip, IMHO. I will be keeping a close watch on his next 50.||4|
|5||JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, L.A. CLIPPERS: Leading his team in scoring despite coming off the bench. Last guy to do that? Easy: Lou Williams for the Sixers last year — a team that made it to the second round of the playoffs but was not even half as good as these Clippers, who would be the talk of the league (except locally, where you couldn’t possibly compete with Jerry Buss, Phil Jackson, Mike D’Antoni, etc.) if they hadn’t had back-to-back losses to Golden State and Cleveland. JCrossover’s percentages: FGs: 52. 3s: 44. FTs: 92.||8|
|6||<||BRANDON JENNINGS, G, MILWAUKEE: Has a tattoo on his back that reads “Young Money.” And if you think this guy isn’t proving himself to be a max player, especially under a new CBA in which max money will be doled out more frequently, you are dead wrong. We’ll see what they can do against Miami this week, but Milwaukee (6-2) is 2nd in the East, percentage-wise. Jennings’ FG pct is up from 41 pct last year to 44. More notably, he is up 2.5 assists per game to 8.0. Also leads NBA in steals by a lot.||–|
|7||<||RAJON RONDO, G, BOSTON: Comes back from a one-game absence and drops 20 dimes against the Raptors. That’s 33 in a row with at least 10 assists, four games shy of tying John Stockton for the second-longest streak in NBA history for consecutive games with double-digit assists. Magic Johnson holds the record of 46. Only guy I enjoy watching more is Kyrie, aka “The Fonz.”||7|
|8||<||O.J. MAYO, G, DALLAS. If the “max player” theory espoused in the Brandon Jennings entry holds true, we’re looking at a guy who is increasing his value 10-fold. Shooting a sick 59 percent on 3s, more than 20 percentage points above his career average. Look for him tomorrow in our Most Improved Player rankings.||10|
|9||JAMES HARDEN, G, HOUSTON: Earned his way back on this list with a 30 and a 29 after a string of off-nights from the guy who may end up being the NBA’s highest-volume shooter. Only two-tenths of a point behind Kobe Bryant, who does not even appear on this list, for the league lead in scoring. Some nights, you get the idea Houston could be sneaky good — but that’s only when you are watching them play mediocre and bad teams.||–|
|10||KEVIN DURANT, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: Every year, there is a segment of the 126 national voters who use the “He deserves it. He’s never won one” argument to justify a first-place selection of a guy who may be overdue for an MVP award. (See: Malone, Karl). Durant’s scoring is down, but he has plenty of time to get heated up. Kevin Martin has been taking that burden away.||9|
DROPPED OUT: Chris Paul (5), Kyrie Irving (7).
TEAMS CONSPICUOUSLY UNREPRESENTED: Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats.
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