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written by Zach Kempner on Feb 5th, 2013

NBA MVP Watch: The Top Players by the Numbers (2/5/13)

Kevin Durant's lucky that our analytics give no bonus points for high-five skills.

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Supposedly, the MVP award is wrapped up. It's going to be Kevin Durant or LeBron James. Anybody else who thinks they have a chance is merely kidding themselves.

This would normally be the point where I say something exceptionally witty like, "Not so fast!" (OK, maybe not so witty.) But by the numbers... the general consensus seems to be right. According to our nERD scores, which measures a player's overall contribution to his team based on efficiency, Durant and James are far and away the top two players in the league.

But that doesn't stop us from taking a look at the rest, especially because the fight to be the best after the top two is more interesting than the MVP race itself.

I decided to break it down for you, both by top ten and the best by position. Along with the names are some interesting stats about the top ten that explains just how good they are. Because anybody who has under 25 minutes per game likely would not reasonably be included in the MVP or All-League Team talks, I excluded them from these lists (sorry Tiago Splitter). And when they're taken out, we're left with two point guards and a center underneath the Top Duo.

Overall Top Ten

1. Kevin Durant - The key to Kevin Durant's offensive prowess is his beautiful jumper. 80 percent of his shots this season have been jumpers, and he's averaged an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of .534 on those shots. By comparison, LeBron's only shooting .498 eFG% and Chris Paul only .487 eFG% from jumpers.

2. LeBron James - For LeBron, less is more. His 26.6 points per game is his lowest since his rookie season, but that's not because he's playing less efficiently. His 122 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) is actually tied for the highest total of his career. However, James is attempting his fewest field goals per 36 minutes (17.4) since his rookie year.

3. Chris Paul - The Clippers' 2-5 record with Paul injured should be a big clue to how much they miss him. But so should this: Paul's 126.4 offensive rating ranks second in the NBA behind Tyson Chandler. Eric Bledsoe's 103 offensive rating, meanwhile, is seventh on his own team.

4. Tyson Chandler - Want to see how one player can single-handedly take over a game? Look at Chandler's line against Orlando last Wednesday. In over 32 minutes played, Chandler registered a 199 offensive rating for the Knicks. That means through his offensive play, he added 1.99 points per possession (or just about a bucket per possession) to his team.

5. Tony Parker - The newest addition to the top five, Tony Parker does just a bit of everything. He's top 20 in the League in eFG% (.549, 20th), assist percentage (40.4%, 7th), usage rate (27.5%, 14th), and offensive rating (116.6, 16th).

6. Blake Griffin - His 15.5 percent total rebound rate may be an career-low, but he makes up for that with a career-best 99.2 defensive rating (20th in the NBA) and a career-best 19.4 percent assist rate.

7. Marc Gasol - There's no questioning who is the star of the likely playoff-bound Memphis Grizzlies. Even before Rudy Gay's exit, Marc Gasol led the team in both offensive rating (21st in the NBA at 116) and defensive rating (10th in the NBA at 98).

8. James Harden - Want an efficient scorer? Harden's your guy. The last time that he scored less than 17 points was over two months ago, against the Lakers on December 4. Since that time, Harden has only scored under 20 points twice, in both ends of a back-to-back on January 18-19 against Minnesota and Indiana.

9. Kobe Bryant - Kobe Bryant's ranking has gone down since Steve Nash's return to the lineup. While his assist rate hovered around 35 percent for much of the early part of the season, it is now down to 26.8 percent of teammate's field goals on the year. Still, if maintained, that assist rate would be the second-highest mark of his career (28.4 percent in '04-05).

10. Tim Duncan - Duncan's 28.8 percent defensive rebound rate ranks fourth in the NBA. But that's not out of the ordinary for the Spurs center. Since the 1999-2000 season, Duncan has posted a defensive rebound percentage of 24.8 or higher every single year - and finished in the NBA's top ten in the category every year as well.

Top Five by Primary Position

Point Guard
1. Chris Paul (No. 3 overall)
2. Tony Parker (No. 5)
3. Stephen Curry (No. 14)
4. Russell Westbrook (No. 17)
5. George Hill (No. 23)

Shooting Guard
1. James Harden (No. 8)
2. Kobe Bryant (No. 9)
3. Dwyane Wade (No. 19)
4. Kevin Martin (No. 25)
5. Jason Kidd (No. 35)

Small Forward
1. Kevin Durant (No. 1)
2. Danilo Gallinari (No. 20)
3. Kyle Korver (No. 24)
4. Matt Barnes (No. 27)
5. Paul George (No. 31)

Power Forward
1. LeBron James (No. 2)
2. Blake Griffin (No. 5)
3. Carmelo Anthony (No. 11)
4. Kenneth Faried (No. 12)
5. David West (No. 13)

Center
1. Tyson Chandler (No. 4)
2. Marc Gasol (No. 6)
3. Tim Duncan (No. 10)
4. Brook Lopez (No. 15)
5. Chris Bosh (No. 16)

These numbers are based off of our Top 25 rankings provided by numberFire to Slam Online, which you can find there every Monday afternoon.

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In This Article

Tim Duncan
FC, San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker
PG, San Antonio Spurs

Chris Paul
PG, Los Angeles Clippers

Marc Gasol
C, Memphis Grizzlies

Kevin Durant
F, Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden
GF, Houston Rockets

Kobe Bryant
GF, Los Angeles Lakers

Blake Griffin
FC, Los Angeles Clippers

LeBron James
F, Cleveland Cavaliers

Tyson Chandler
C, Dallas Mavericks

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