Published On: Mon, Feb 12th, 2018

2017-18 NBA Player Power Rankings: February edition

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Welcome to the 2017-18 NBA Player Power Rankings, where theScore’s basketball editors cumulatively rank the league’s top 10 players on the second Monday of every month.

As a reminder, these rankings are based solely on 2017-18 performance, with no stock placed on prior history or future projections.

Honorable mentions

The following four players received at least one vote from our panel of nine editors but ultimately came up short of the top 10: Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George, Chris Paul.

10. Kyrie Irving

Courtesy: Getty Images

Irving has fully embraced his role as the No. 1 option on a team that’s spent most of the season atop the East. The explosive scorer – most impressively in crunch time, where he’s second in the league – has lifted the Celtics to more wins in tight contests than any other club. – Victoria Nguyen

9. DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan’s scoring has tailed off in recent weeks, but he continues to refine and expand his game. His defensive focus has ramped up, he’s grown increasingly comfortable shooting threes off the dribble, he’s been taking care of the ball with the attentiveness of a doting parent, and his ever-improving passing out of the pick-and-roll and out of double teams has been a huge reason the Raptors’ egalitarian offense continues to sing. (14 percent of DeRozan’s passes turn into assists, the sixth-highest mark in the league.) His game is as understated as they come, but his all-around brilliance has spoken volumes in the win column. – Joe Wolfond

8. Jimmy Butler

Courtesy: Action Images

Butler’s first month and a half in Minnesota was rather bumpy for his lofty standards, but the All-NBA swingman has bounced back better than ever, averaging 25.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.1 steals on 50-37-88 shooting since Dec. 1, making no mistake about the fact the Timberwolves are now his team.

Related: Butler, Gibson are helping Thibodeau set the tone in Minnesota

As a result, Minnesota’s well on its way to its first playoff berth in 14 years, and Butler – enjoying the most efficient offensive season of his career – is on his way to a fourth straight All-Star Game. – Joseph Casciaro

7. Russell Westbrook

It took a while to get it right, but Westbrook has established his dominance over his new teammates and OKC is rolling. The Thunder have solidified into a terrifying force on defense, while Westbrook leads the offense.

His relentless energy has allowed George to settle into a secondary role and Carmelo Anthony to yield for once in his career. Westbrook is also a couple boards away from averaging a triple-double, but it’s been quiet because greatness has a way of becoming boring, which is a damn shame.
William Lou

6. Anthony Davis

Courtesy: Action Images

Davis has been an absolute beast, ranking in the top 10 in points, rebounds, blocks, PER, and win shares for the eighth-place Pelicans. He’s stepped up even more after DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending injury, leading the league in scoring since then (29.1 points per contest) to try to keep his team afloat. – Nguyen

5. Kevin Durant

Like most of his Warriors teammates, Durant hasn’t quite maintained his ferocious early-season defensive intensity. And yet, he still ranks fifth in the NBA in blocks per game, has canned 49 percent of his 3-point attempts over his last 15 games, is racking up assists at a career-best rate, and is a handful of made free throws away from a second career 50/40/90 shooting season. Few players can impact a game in as many ways as he can. Few have ever made dominance look so casual. – Wolfond

4. Stephen Curry

Courtesy: Getty Images

The two-time MVP is quietly putting up a season similar to his unanimous campaign. It’s more fun to chase the latest narrative than it is to acknowledge that Curry is making the most positive impact out of any player in the league for a fourth straight season. He leads everyone in plus-minus, and he’s 0.6 percentage points away from a 50/40/90 season.

He’s doing all that while averaging 27 points per night and leading the best team in the world to a likely third title in four seasons. Again, greatness gets boring. – Lou

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo continues to be the man in Milwaukee, pacing his side in points (27.9), rebounds (10.3), and assists (4.7) per game. Rated fifth in the NBA in usage and third in win shares, the team’s lone All-Star has led the Bucks to triumphs in eight of 10 games and could help them secure home-court advantage in the playoffs. – Nguyen

2. LeBron James

After slogging miserably through one of the worst months of his career in January, James looks re-energized, and the Cavaliers look like they’re back on track. It started with his 37-point, 15-assist, overtime-buzzer-beating masterpiece against the Timberwolves, got a boost from a much-needed deadline-day roster makeover, and continued with two dominant subsequent wins – most recently over Irving’s Celtics – in which James and the Cavs looked unrecognizable on both ends of the floor. All told, he dished 44 assists in those three games to pad his career-best average. And he’s still yet to miss a game this season, while ranking second in the NBA at 37 minutes per contest. The man is indestructible. – Wolfond

1. James Harden

Remember when the talk before the season was how Harden would struggle to co-exist with another lead ball-handler like Paul? Those takes seem ridiculous in retrospect, as he leads the league in scoring while seeing his shooting percentages rise across the board from last year’s MVP-worthy campaign.

As it turns out, Harden can play with anybody since he’s such a devastating isolation player. He goes solo on 31.3 percent of his possessions – by far the highest rate of any player in the league – while scoring 1.24 points per possession. He’s the runaway favorite for MVP. – Lou

Rank Player January ranking
1. James Harden 2
2. LeBron James 1
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo 3
4. Stephen Curry 5
5. Kevin Durant 4
6. Anthony Davis 7
7. Russell Westbrook 6
8. Jimmy Butler 11
9. DeMar DeRozan 10
10. Kyrie Irving 9
11. Joel Embiid 12
12. Karl-Anthony Towns 14
13. Paul George Unranked
14. Chris Paul Unranked
15. DeMarcus Cousins (out for season) 8
16. Damian Lillard 19
17. Andre Drummond 15
18. LaMarcus Aldridge 13
19. Nikola Jokic 18
20. Victor Oladipo 20

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