|1||LeBRON JAMES, F, MIAMI: This No. 1 ranking was in jeopardy last night as the Cavs, yes, the Cavs, were poised to knock off the Heat in Miami, leading by 7 with just under two minutes remaining. But the Heat hit the throttle hard from there, and James assisted on Ray Allen’s game winning 3-pointer. ‘Bron (6.5 assists) is still a long ways away from his career-high in dimes (8.6) in his final season in Cleveland, but in his case that would be nitpicking. Especially compared to ‘Melo’s assist average.||2|
|2||CARMELO ANTHONY, F, NEW YORK: Eventually the question will have to be asked: “Can he co-exist with Amar’e Stoudemire?” And despite the two being in their third season together with New York, we still have never quite gotten a satisfactory answer. Who knows: Maybe if a certain fire extinguisher was not located right outside the Knicks locker room in Miami in last year’s playoffs, we’d have a better read. But we don’t; and we won’t until after Amar’e returns in late December.||1|
|3||ZACH RANDOLPH, F, MEMPHIS: Some may say the team with the best record in the NBA deserves better than a No. 3 showing in these rankings, especially with Z-Bo posting a double-double in every single game. However … Rudy Gay is averaging more points, Zach’s FG percent is at .468 — down a smidgen from his career average, and he has yet to eclipse 20 points in a single game. That’ll get you Top 3, but not Top 2.||3|
|4||TIM DUNCAN, F-C, SAN ANTONIO: Averaging 18.9 points and 10.9 rebounds — heights he hasn’t reached in four years — and his FT percentage of .746 means he is encroaching on his career high of .799 during his fifth year in the NBA. If he finishes at 80 percent or better, I will move the SH home office to St. Croix and spend my summers hanging with the island’s most famous resident, Clyde Frazier. (I was once there, and I met TD’s old math teacher. She said he was an Apple geek.)||4|
|5||KEVIN DURANT, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: Kevin Martin has lost his shooting touch, and Durant has made up for it. Yes, the loss in Boston was a disappointment. That is a game the Thunder should have had circled. But Durant bounced back with a season-high 37 in Philly on Saturday night, and he is right behind Kobe for the league lead in scoring. Also worth mentioning: His 9.8 rebounds are easily a career-high, more than double what he produced as a rookie.||10|
|6||KOBE BRYANT, G, L.A. LAKERS: My El Lay tweeps were all over me last Sunday when Kobe did not make the Top 10, many of them not realizing these rankings went to press before Kobe went out and produced a triple-double later that day. Yes, his team is .500 — but they’re in a heck of a better place than they were 10 days ago. And this guy, not Dwight Howard, is far and away the best player on that team or in that city.||–|
|7||CHRIS BOSH F-C, MIAMI: If you took a poll prior to the season and asked 100 people who were the two most important players on the Heat, I’d reckon 95 of them would have said LBJ and D-Wade. But lurking behind window No. 2 has been Bosh in his new hybrid role as center/power forward, and the numbers don’t lie: Only 11 NBA players are averaging at least 20 points, and none of those 11 are shooting close to Bosh’s 56 percent (closest is James at 53.1). He’ll be tested the next two Thursdays against Tim Duncan and Tyson Chandler.||–|
|8||JAMAL CRAWFORD, G, L.A. CLIPPERS: We ought to kick this guy off this list after that 3-game losing streak in which he shot 7-for-18, 5-for-13 and 3-for-8. But that small slump still leaves the Clips with a record of 8-5 as the new week begins, and he’s still scoring more points per game — off the bench, no less — than Chris Paul or Blake Griffin.||5|
|9||O.J. MAYO, G, DALLAS. Eighth in scoring, still making more than half of his 3s, and still the No. 1 reason why the Mavericks are going to be a playoff contender the remainder of the season despite having to play the first two months without Dirk Nowitzki (unless an immediate 4-week swoon is on the horizon).||10|
|10||JAMES HARDEN, G, HOUSTON: There was a temptation to sub him out for David Lee, but we’ve already subbed Harden out (in Week Two, rather dramatically as you may recall), and he has done nothing to merit an exclusion, Far from it, actually, with 28 and 33 in his last two games.||9|
DROPPED OUT: Brandon Jennings (6), Rajon Rondo (7).
TEAMS CONSPICUOUSLY UNREPRESENTED: Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats.
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