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NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Top 15 Players Heading Into the Season

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Counting Down Best Players in the League Right Now

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Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

With the start of the NBA season less than two weeks away, it's time to start up the best players in the league discussion.

Basketball who's the best arguments are possibly the most strongly debated, likely due to the fact that one player can so drastically alter a contest. Like no other major American sport, the NBA superstars control the fate of their teams.

I'm certainly not downplaying the concept of team work here, because it takes many good players to win a championship, but we're talking about the NBA. You know, the league where defense doesn't always happen and where efforts are often questioned.

The NBA is a superstar driven league, it relies on big names to put butts in seats. There are some really bad teams out there that don't sell tickets. When the guys on this list come to town, people come to see.

We all know about the attendance records Michael Jordan helped set for the league back in the in it's glory days. Jordan sold out arenas all over this country.

That's why the best NBA player debate is so intense, the superstars have a huge impact on the game. Plus there's always the conversation about who the next Jordan will be, everyone is always rushing to a Jordan comparison way to soon. However the league's best in this strong era, should at least get some comparison to the greatest of all-time.

Let's take a look at the 15 best players heading into the 12-13 season:

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#15 - LaMarcus Aldridge

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Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

One of the more underrated players in the league, Aldridge finished 7th in scoring last season at 21.7 PPG. Playing power forward at 6'11" Aldridge is force to be reckoned with, but he needs to get more rebounds. He averaged 8.0 a game last year, far off the pace of the league's best. He doesn't need to be the best rebounder, but he needs to average a double-double this season.

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#14 - Tony Parker

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Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Parker is now the best player on an aging San Antonio Spurs team. Year in and year out this guy is one of the top point guards in the league, and I'm confident he will lead the Spurs back into playoff contention this season.

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#13 - Russell Westbrook

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Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

I chose a picture of Westbrook with an Official because it's a representation of how he spends a lot of his time on the court.

There's no denying how talented this man is, but he needs to just play the game. He must stop whining to the refs and just do his thing. He's not there yet, but all the potential is there with Westbrook. If he puts his mind to it, he could help his team hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy next June.

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#12 - Carmelo Anthony

NBA
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Melo's stock has fallen off in recent years, but I feel he's in the best position of his career in 12-13.

The New York Knicks are as good as they've been since the Melo trade, so this naturally will only benefit Mr. Anthony. With a couple of facilitators in the backcourt with Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, the ball will be taken out of Melo's hands coming up the court, which is a good thing.

I look for a much more balanced team in New York this season, which should put Anthony in better spots to make plays.

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#11 - Andrew Bynum

NBA
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Some call him the best center in the game. I'm not one of those people, but I feel there's a good case to be made for him as the best offensive center. Regardless of your stance, there's no questioning the talent that is Andrew Bynum.

I'm of the belief that Bynum plays hard only on his own terms, and I think it's fair to use the word immature to describe him in his first 7 years.

But, he's been given a chance to totally redeem himself with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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#10 - Kevin Love

NBA
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

The best true power forward in the game today is Kevin Love. Coming off a season where he averaged 26.0 PPG and 13.3 RPG, Love is in position to move his way even further up the ranks of the NBA's best.

My only concern lies in the performance of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Love expressed his feelings on wanting to play for a ring, so if the T-Wolves aren't a contender, will Love's performance decline?

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#9 - Dirk Nowitzki

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Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Nowitzki gets disrespected in power rankings all the time, well not on this list.

Dirk is arguably the best shooting big man in the history of basketball, and his post-season performance two years ago ranks up there with some of the all-time greats.

Yes the Dallas Mavericks came out flat last season, but I look for a much better effort this season, with Nowitzki leading them back to the playoffs again.

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#8 - Dwyane Wade

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Dwayne Wade is solid top 10 NBA player, and a guy who can score with the best of them.

While I don't think there's much of a question anymore as to who's team it is in Miami, I still want Wade taking the last shot if I'm Erik Spoelstra. He's more proven in the clutch than any other player they have, so even though his role on the team has changed, he's still just as important.

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#7 - Rajon Rondo

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The best pure point guard in the league. Rondo led the NBA last year with 11.7 APG, and once again showed what he's made of in the playoffs.

The Boston Celtics came up short, but with Rondo running the show again this year, they'll be back.

He's not the best shooter but he can make shots when he needs to, and when it comes to taking to rack, there's no better point guard in the game.

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#6 - Dwight Howard

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Howard better get used to all the media that will surround him in Los Angeles. If fans think he's been scrutinized the past couple seasons, just wait if he's not performing up to standards in L.A.

I actually think Howard will fit in nicely with the Los Angeles Lakers because of Steve Nash running the show. If the team had just added Howard and not Nash, I don't think a Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard 1-2 punch would work.

I'm expecting a great from season from Howard, and he could easily move his way up this list before the end of the year.

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#5 - Derrick Rose

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Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

While we're not sure if Rose will even step on a court this season, he still enters the power rankings as the fifth best player, mainly out of respect.

Now obviously as the season goes on without him, fans will forget about Rose and he will slide down the rankings while being inactive, but he will return. Rose is too good to not be a top 5 NBA player, and it's only a matter of time before he's back to being electric on the court.

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#4 - Chris Paul

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Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The best overall point guard in the game today. CP3 can do it all: pass it, shoot it, defend, you name it he's got the skills.

CP3 finds himself in good position to make a legitimate run in the postseason this year, and postseason success is the only thing limiting him to be considered one of the all-time greats.

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#3 - Kobe Bryant

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Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

There's finally been a changing of the guard from the top spot in the game. I still had Kobe as the league's best until this past season, but clearly Bryant has taken a small step back, and other elite players are now leading the way in the NBA.

However I do think it's straight up disrespectful to have Kobe ranked anywhere lower than the No. 3 spot. The man is one of the greatest to ever play, and can still go toe-to-toe with any one when it counts. When it counts, is when Kobe shows his greatness.

He's still without question the best closer in basketball, and that alone secures his spot in the top 3.

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#2 - Kevin Durant

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Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant is a couple plays away from being the No. 1 player on this list. But the reality is that Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder were not quite ready to be on top of the league last season.

All great players go through tough times early in their careers, and Durant's loss in the Finals was one of those times for him.

I'm confident KD will be back at least in the Western Conference Finals this season, with another chance to prove that he's the best.

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#1 - Lebron James

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Lebron James is the best basketball player in the world, it's that simple. It took him awhile he but he's finally at the top of the mountain.

Some have had him at the top for years, but in my book, you need a ring to be the best in the NBA. So not until the Miami Heat's victory last June did I finally declare James as the best. Certainly it's a point you can argue either way...

James has earned my respect, and while I still don't like him, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the way he's overcome all the hate.

Until someone takes out LBJ head-to-head on the grandest stage, he will remain the BITW.