Originally Posted by Marty Burns
All-Star Player Rankings
1) LeBron James - The best all-around player in the game. The 6-foot-8 small forward leads the NBA in scoring (30.3) to go with 7.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.1 steals. He also is shooting a career-best 48.4 percent while keeping his Cavs in contention for a top playoff seed despite injuries and contract disputes involving numerous teammates.
2) Kobe Bryant - Like LeBron, he has pretty much done it all for his Lakers. He ranks second in the league in scoring (28.0 points, on 45.7 percent shooting) and also is averaging 6.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals. He doesn't rebound as much as LeBron, but his experience and championship rings make him in many ways even more dangerous. How he copes with a torn ligament in his pinkie remains to be seen.
3) Chris Paul - The third-year point guard has taken his game to an elite level this season. He ranks second in the NBA in assists (10.9) while adding 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and a league-best 2.6 steals. He has led the Hornets to the West's best record and outplayed Steve Nash and Jason Kidd in head-to-head meetings.
4) Yao Ming - He has assumed the mantle of the best all-around center in the game. He ranks in the top 11 in scoring (22.2), rebounds (10.8) and blocks (2.1) while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 84.8 percent from the foul line. He also provides a huge defensive presence and is one of the best passing big men.
5) Dwight Howard - The 22-year-old has blossomed this season into the East's top center. He leads the NBA in rebounding (14.6) and ranks fifth in blocks (2.4) and 12th in scoring (21.7) while shooting an astounding 60.2 percent from the floor. Howard still needs to work on passing out of double teams and free-throw shooting, but he is on the cusp of greatness.
6) Kevin Garnett - He will sit out the All-Star Game due to an abdominal strain, but Garnett might be the MVP of the season's first half. Though not putting up his usual eye-popping numbers (he's averaging 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists), he is shooting a career-best 55.1 percent from the floor and anchoring the league's No. 1 defense. Basically, he's been the catalyst for the Celtics.
7) Steve Nash - The two-time MVP has shown few signs of slowing down. He still drives and dishes like no other player (a league-leading 11.7 assists), and his shooting touch is extraordinary (50.8 percent from the floor, 46.7 percent from three-point territory, 89.9 percent from the foul line). He is one of two players, along with the Magic's Howard, averaging a double-double for the fourth straight season.
8) Allen Iverson - Even at age 32, he still rates among the NBA's most dynamic players. The cat-quick guard ranks third in scoring (26.5), eighth in assists (7.3) and fifth in steals (2.2) while logging a league-leading 42.4 minutes. Iverson also has embraced more of a leadership role in Denver, though his team will need to advance in the playoffs to meet expectations.
9) Carlos Boozer - The Jazz forward has picked up where he left off a year ago, averaging 21.7 points (on 53.5 percent shooting), 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals. Though a bit undersized, he punishes foes inside. He's also been playing especially well of late, helping Utah win 17 of 20 games to head into the All-Star break as one of the NBA's hottest teams.
10) Amaré Stoudemire - The Suns' forward remains an absolute terror for foes, able to knock down jumpers as well as attack the basket for rim-rattling dunks. He ranks sixth in scoring (23.2, on 59.1 percent shooting) and 19th in rebounding (9.3). This season he has been blocking shots as well (career-high 2.3 per game, sixth in the NBA).
11) Carmelo Anthony - Voted a starter by fans for the first time, Anthony continues to develop nicely. His 26.2 points per game rank fourth in the NBA, and his 7.3 rebounds are by far the best in his five-year career. However, his defense remains a work in progress, and like Iverson, his season will be measured in large part by whether he can help the Nuggets reach the postseason and then win a playoff series for the first time since 1994.
12) Tim Duncan - Like his team, the two-time MVP seems to be pacing himself. Even so, Duncan continues to put up good numbers (19.9 points, 11.5 boards, 3.1 assists, 1.8 blocks) while shooting a high percentage (51.2). His rebounding and free-throw numbers are the best in four seasons. Come postseason, he'll be back right up at the top of this list.
13) Dwyane Wade - The 2006 Finals MVP is still scoring (24.3) and racking up assists (7.0). But he needed time to get going after offseason knee and shoulder surgeries, and when he came back in mid-November the Heat were already in the dumps. Now it seems as if he has lost some of his spirit. One scout recently said it looks as if he's going through the motions.
14) Caron Butler - He won't play Sunday because of a hip injury, which is too bad because he is one of the league's more underrated stars. The 27-year-old small forward scores (21.4), rebounds (6.8), dishes (4.5 assists) and defends (2.4 steals, third in the NBA). He plays hard at both ends, and that intensity sets the tone for the Wizards.
15) Paul Pierce - Pierce's numbers might be down in scoring (20.4) and rebounding (5.5), but his assists (4.8) are up as he willingly shares the spotlight with KG and Ray Allen. He has even drawn praise this season for his defense. While KG might be the league's MVP for his intangibles, Pierce is still Boston's best offensive weapon and its go-to guy.
16) Chris Bosh - Bosh started a little slowly due to some lingering injuries but has come on strong the past two months. The smooth-shooting lefty can score inside and out (he averages 22.5 points), and he hits the glass (9.2 rebounds). Plus, his All-Star campaign video -- in which he spoofs a used-car salesman -- was a hit on YouTube.
17) Dirk Nowitzki - Early this season, the reigning MVP appeared to be suffering a bit of a hangover from last spring's disappointing finish. Overall, his scoring (22.8) is down and his three-point shooting (29.1 percent) is the lowest since his rookie year. But Nowitzki's assists (4.0) are up, and he too could just be pacing himself for the long haul.
18) Jason Kidd - It seems kind of crazy to say a guy who is averaging a near triple-double (11.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 10.4 assists) isn't playing up to standards, but in this case it is true. Despite those impressive numbers, Kidd also has seen a steep decline in shooting and an increase in turnovers. More tellingly, he just hasn't had the same fiery passion -- though that could change if his trade to Dallas is completed.
19) Chauncey Billups - Don't be fooled by his relatively modest statistics. Mr. Big Shot remains the Pistons' low-maintenance, do-it-all QB. The 11th-year point guard isn't flashy like Nash or Kidd, but he scores (17.3), dishes (7.1), defends (1.4 steals), makes free throws (90.7 percent) and runs the Pistons' offense with uncommon efficiency (assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.64 to 1).
20) Brandon Roy - The reigning Rookie of the Year has built on his stellar debut season by raising his numbers across the board (19.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists). More impressive, Roy has proved a reliable go-to guy in the clutch for a young Blazers team. This could be the first of many All-Star appearances for him.
21) Richard Hamilton - After a slow start offensively, Hamilton leads the first-place Pistons in scoring (18.3) while shooting career bests from the field (50.0) and the three-point line (48.1). However, he has not hit the 20-point mark in his last eight games.
22) Antawn Jamison - Like Butler, he has helped keep the Wizards afloat through Gilbert Arenas' absence. The 10th-year forward is averaging 21.3 points and a career-best 10.4 boards. Jamison's defense has never been good, but this season he at least has been trying harder. The bottom line is that he's an All-Star scorer.
23) David West - A somewhat surprising All-Star selection, the unsung forward beat out the likes of Shawn Marion and Josh Howard for this honor. That's not to say the 6-9 West didn't deserve it. He is averaging 19.8 points (on 47.6 percent shooting) and 9.2 rebounds for the conference-leading Hornets.
24) Ray Allen - Selected to replace the injured Butler, he gives the Celtics a third All-Star to match the Pistons. Like KG and Pierce, Allen has sacrificed some of his stats (18.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists) for the good of the team. But he remains one of the game's best pure shooters, and he's tied for seventh in three-pointers with 112.
25) Rasheed Wallace - Picked as an injury replacement for Garnett, Wallace is nonetheless worthy. The 6-11 forward doesn't have great numbers (12.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks), but he is a key for the Pistons with his ability to score inside and out as well as defend the post. The only reason he doesn't rate higher on this list is because his focus isn't always there.
26) Joe Johnson - An All-Star for the second straight season, the 6-7 guard has impressive stats (20.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists). But Johnson's poor shooting (40.4 percent) and somewhat inconsistent play for a 21-28 Hawks team make him the East's most surprising selection.