#NBA2015: Who Are the Top Ten NBA Players Right Now?

The Golden State Warriors are the consensus best and hottest team right now. I mean, they’ve won 20 of their 22 games so far and, as of this writing, fifteen straight. Preseason favorite Cleveland, meanwhile, seemed to have settled into a groove until they lost to OKC a few days ago and to the Pelicans a night after that. As for the defending champion Spurs, they’ve won seven of their last ten, but remain quite inconsistent, which is why they’re perilously perched at the fifth spot out West.

The simple fact is this season has unloaded a lot of surprises already, and looking at the list of the top ten players right now wmay yield even more jaw-droppers. See for yourself.

Six of the best this season. 

Note: These rankings on simple Player Efficiency Rating (EFF) as calculated by HoopsStats.com.

10. Nikola Vucevic (ORL) - 18.6ppg, 11.7rpg, 1.9apg, 1.1bpg, 51.4 FG%, 23.1 EFF
- He is maybe the most underrated actually-good-big-guy in the league. Fourteen double-doubles in twenty games? Also, top five in rebounds?  Pretty awesome if you ask me, and definitely good enough to be among the top three centers in the league. Now, if only the Magic were better than their 10-16 record.

9. Marc Gasol (MEM) - 19.4ppg, 7.8rpg, 3.8apg, 1.1spg, 1.7bpg, 49.8 FG%, 23.2 EFF
- My easy pick as the best center not born in any of the 50 states. This Gasol is putting up career-best numbers in scoring while also ranking eighth among all centers in shot-blocks. Bottom-line? He is playing his best, and he is leading Memphis to the top of the division and second-best record in the entire Association. I guess he’s also the easy pick as the Most Valuable Non-American Player. 

8. Pau Gasol (CHI) - 19.5ppg, 12.1rpg, 2.2apg, 1.8bpg, 48.9 FG%, 24.6 EFF
- The last time this Gasol averaged at least 18 points and 11 rebounds in a season? The Los Angeles Lakers won a championship. The jury is still out on whether the Bulls will reach the same plateau by this season’s end, but all signs are pointing to an improved finish compared to their relatively early playoff exits the past three postseasons.

7. Russell Westbrook (OKC) - 25.6ppg, 5.6rpg, 6.7apg, 1.7spg, 50.0 FG%, 1.0 triples per game, 37.5 3pt%, 24.8 EFF
- Second-best scorer in the league? Check. Second among all NBA point guards (who’ve played at least nine games and who average at least 20 minutes per game) in field goal percentage? Check. Has scored 25 or more points in all but three games so far this season? Check. Five-game winning streak for OKC? Check. Is Westbrook really back? Should we still ask?

6. Chris Paul (LAC) - 17.7ppg, 4.6rpg, 9.8apg, 1.8spg, 50.3 FG%, 1.4 triples per game, 37.2 3pt%, 25.1 EFF
- No, he’s no longer the best PG in the Association, but, man, CP3 can still kill on the floor. I mean, he’s fifth overall in assists, tenth overall in steals, fourth on his team in threes per game, and still a very very good player in crunch time. Sure, the Clips have lost back-to-back, but before that they were hopping with eight straight Ws. Clearly, when push comes to shove, Paul still has the chutzpah to lift his team on his shoulders.

5. LeBron James (CLE) - 25.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 7.6apg, 1.4spg, 49.0 FG%, 1.6 triples per game, 36.7 3pt%, 25.7 EFF
- A recent article came out insinuating that LeBron James may have already started to decline. It’s still too early to make such a judgment, of course, but there have been more than a few times this season when I’ve had to make a double-take and think, “Did LBJ look a step slower in that play?” If age really is catching up to the King, then that’s just something he and the rest of the Cavs will have to punch through, but, hey, a year-older version of LeBron is still many times better than the myriad of young ‘uns out there anyway.

4. Steph Curry (GSW) - 23.2ppg, 5.1rpg, 7.7apg, 1.9spg, 48.5 FG%, 3.0 triples per game, 39.4 3pt%, 92.0 FT%, 26.0 EFF
- The other night I dreamt Curry hitting 8 triples in a game, and then I realized I wasn’t dreaming at all. Instead, I was watching the highlights of Golden State’s win over the Miami Heat last November 25. Eight threes in a game? Unreal, and yet so very real if you’re Curry, who has become the hands-down best point guard on the planet. Sure, his history dictates there will be times he will shoot the Dubs straight out of games, but we’re talking about a club that hasn’t tasted defeat since November 11, and to the Spurs at that. 

3. James Harden (HOU) - 26.3ppg, 6.4rpg, 6.7apg, 2.0spg, 1.1bpg, 2.3 triples per game, 33.8 3pt%, 89.1 FT%, 26.5 EFF
- Okay, nobody is talking about James Harden’s defense in a bad light anymore. Not now that he’s tied for fourth overall in steals per game and, get this, second among all shooting guards with 1.1 blocks per outing (Danny Green is tops, if you actually care to know). Oh, and did I mention how Harden is averaging career-bests in rebounding and assists, too? The Beard is playing the best basketball of his young career, and the results speak for themselves. And his team? The Rockets have a win-loss record better than any East team’s and are third overall.

2. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) - 23.5ppg, 12.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.1spg, 1.5bpg, 51.2 FG%, 27.9 EFF
- Boogie! I was so high on this guy last season and felt really bad he didn’t make the All-Star Team, but, man, if he still misses the cut this season then that would be absolute travesty. The Kings are two spots removed from the West’s top eight right now, but they actually have a record that’s better than majority of the clubs in the Leastern Conference. The main reason Sacramento has been viewed as a dark horse postseason gatecrasher? Cousins, who’s been on a tear. He has, in fact, logged eight straight double-doubles dating back to November 11. Wow.

1. Anthony Davis (NOP) - 24.3ppg, 10.2rpg, 1.5apg, 1.9spg, 2.7bpg, 57.4 FG%, 30.7 EFF
- Speaking of wow, what about Mr. Unibrow himself, who has been gathering supporters to put him in the MVP convo this season. If we’re going to base the selection purely in terms of individual stats, then there’s not even a contest. Davis is, without a doubt, the best player on Planet Earth right now (his current chest injury notwithstanding), but, unfortunately for the Pels, that hasn’t translated into as big a turnaround as the organization wants. Sure, toting a .500 record and sitting pretty at eighth place in the tough-as-nailz West was surely on every New Orleans Thanksgiving table, but with teams like Phoenix, Sac-town, Denver, and the now-complete Thunder breathing down his team’s neck, I’m not sure even this beast of a man can be up to the challenge.

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