PG Rajon Rondo (18.2 PER)
Rondo just underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. At the time he went down the mercurial point guard was enjoying a stellar season running Doc Rivers' offense. He led the NBA in assists and had already picked up five triple-doubles in the first half. His midrange shot was much improved too. The Celtics haven't skipped a beat without him despite losing Jared Sullinger and Leonard Barbosa as well, but they will miss him dearly come playoff time. One thing's for sure; Sunday's game will be a lot less interesting without Rondo's flashy passes.
SG Dwyane Wade (23.8 PER)
D-Wade got banged up early and started the season slow, leading some to wonder whether his days of performing at an elite level were over. Wade didn't take long to round into form and dispel such talk as premature. While his defense has taken a step back and he hasn't recovered the terrifying explosiveness he displayed so often in his prime, his offense has rebounded to typical Wade numbers: 21-5-5 with a field goal percentage north of 50 percent. Wade's always a risk to miss time, but when he's healthy (and he's only missed four games so far) it's hard to argue with that kind of production from your second best player.
SF Carmelo Anthony (23.8 PER)
Following a down season last year, 'Melo has rebounded with what is shaping up to be the finest season of his career while leading the Knicks to the second best record in the Eastern Conference. Granted, his scoring numbers are somewhat inflated by the fact that has the NBA's highest usage rate at 34.1 percent, but he's still pouring in 28.6 points per game (second only to Kevin Durant) while turning himself into one of the best three point shooters in the NBA.
PF LeBron James (31.4 PER)
The three-time MVP is at it again. Last Tuesday he became the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points and shoot better than 60 percent in six straight games and narrowly missed extending that streak to seven games in Thursday's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder (39 points on 58.3 percent shooting). On the season he's shooting a staggering 56.5 percent from the floor on 18.4 field goal attempts per game, a lethal combination of volume and efficiency. Traditionally an average three-point shooter at best, King James has been lights-out from beyond the arc so far by canning 42.4 percent of his treys. He's also the best finisher in the league and leads the Association in FG% from inside the restricted area at 77.2 percent.
C Kevin Garnett (19.5 PER)
KG will make his 15th and final All-Star appearance this weekend in Houston. The 36 year-old's numbers are down a bit so far this season, but he's still averaging a rock solid 15.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting better than 50 percent. His defense, while no longer elite, is still top-notch. Boston allows 95.3 points per 100 possessions when he's on the court but slips to 104.8 points/100 when he's on the bench.
PG Jrue Holiday (18.2 PER)
With Andrew Bynum out, Holiday has taken the leap from average point guard to borderline elite. The 22 year-old breakout is averaging 19 points per game and ranks fourth in assists per game (8.9) behind Rondo, Chris Paul and Greivis Vasquez. He's still developing and prone to making mistakes--Russell Wesbtrook is the only point guard with more turnovers--but the future looks bright for the young 76er.
PG Kyrie Irving (22.3 PER)
No sophomore slump for last season's Rookie of the Year, who's established himself as the sport's best scoring point guard at the tender age of 20.
SF Paul George (17.3 PER)
George has stepped up in Danny Granger's absence to become Indiana's top offensive weapon. His 42.2 field goal percentage is on the low side, but he's knocking down nearly 39 percent of his three point attempts. Terribly underrated, George does everything well. He even leads the NBA in Defensive Win Shares.
SF Luol Deng (14.9 PER)
Not sure what I'm missing here. Deng didn't deserve to be an All-Star last year, when he shot 41 percent from the field and boasted a league average PER, and he hasn't been much better this year. I can think of a bunch of players (Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Greg Monroe) that deserved to make the squad over him. His counting numbers look good because he clocks just under 40 minutes per game--most in the league--but he's struggled with his outside shot and hasn't been the same force on defense that he was during the previous two seasons. His 45.5 eFG% is the lowest among All-Stars.
PF Chris Bosh (21.4 PER)
Bosh's rebounding numbers continue to plummet, but he's compensated by improving his offensive efficiency. While his 7.4 boards per game would tie a career low, he's shooting a career-best 55.5 percent from the floor and leads the league in midrange field goal percentage. He's been deadly in the clutch too, going 18-for-21 from the field in crunch time situations.
C Tyson Chandler (20.4 PER)
Last season's Defensive Player of the Year owns the best field goal percentage and effective-field goal percentage in the league again, which probably has something to do with the fact that he attempts more than 90 percent of his shots from the restricted area. But the Knicks aren't paying him to score, so the 11.4 points per game he provides are pure gravy. He's piled up the most offensive rebounds in the league and is one of the best rim protectors around.
C Joakim Noah (17.0 PER)
With Derrick Rose still recovering from his ACL torn, Tom Thibodeau has leaned heavily on Noah. The rugged center is averaging 38.3 minutes per game, 26 percent more than last year, while helping keep the Bulls competitive without their star point guard. In addition to his trademark defense and hustle, Noah has also improved his passing game. More than one-fifth of his possessions end with an assist, the highest rate among All-Star forwards and centers.
C Brook Lopez (24.8 PER)
A last minute addition to replace the injured Rondo, Lopez is in the midst of his best season as a pro and has picked up the slack for slumping teammates Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson. The seven-footer has made a full recovery from the foot and ankle injuries that limited him to just five games last year. In addition to providing his typical stellar offensive production--19 points per game on 52 percent shooting--he's also become a much better defender. Lopez's 2.2 blocks per game rank him sixth, ahead of Noah, Josh Smith, and Marcin Gortat, while his 104 DRating represents a five point improvement over his career average.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and NBA.com's HangTime blog