For the regular season's final week, theScore's eight NBA editors cumulatively ranked the top 30 players of 2017-18 in a four-part series. These rankings are based solely on performance during the season in question, with no consideration of past achievements or future projections.
One of the NBA's most fascinating questions coming into the season was how good Embiid could be if he managed to avoid the back, foot, and knee issues that had plagued him in the past. The answer? Absolutely transcendent.
Before a late-season orbital fracture, Embiid was well on his way to 2,000-plus minutes and perhaps even 70 games played, with the big man averaging 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.8 blocks, and leading the 76ers to a 41-22 record in the 63 games he did suit up for. He also put forth a solid case for Defensive Player of the Year, as opponents shot 7.9 percent worse than average when guarded by Embiid - the top mark in the league - and he ranked second (among players who played at least half their team's games and minutes) in field-goal percentage allowed at the rim (52.4). - Joseph Casciaro
DeRozan has seen his role change within the Raptors' offense, but he's done so while taking a step forward, not back. While his points per game have dropped to 23.1 after last year's career high (27.3), DeRozan's assist rate has skyrocketed to 25.2 percent from 19.4 between 2013 and 2017. Despite having the ball in his hands less and playing the fewest minutes per game since his rookie campaign, Deebo boasts a career-best VORP (2.7), a testament to how the four-time All-Star has accomplished a higher quality of play per possession while leading the Raptors to the best record in franchise history. - Andrew Potter
It's funny how quickly the narrative can change, because Westbrook is about to average another triple-double yet there isn't nearly the same fanfare or MVP calls as there was last season. Blame it on failed expectations, blame it on voter fatigue, but just don't blame it on Westbrook's performance because he's been phenomenal as usual. OKC is the biggest threat to upset a higher seed in the West playoffs, and that's largely because Westbrook's peak performances are nothing short of elite. He played a monumental role in their six combined wins against Houston, Toronto, and Golden State this season. - William Lou
Big Game Dame ranks fourth in the league with 9.6 offensive win shares, and only James Harden and LeBron James - the presumptive MVP and runner-up - have averaged more points (26.8), assists (6.5), and rebounds (4.5) than Lillard this season. What's more, the Trail Blazers have surged ahead in the second half of the year with Lillard running the show. Since Jan. 16, Portland has gone 26-10 and have all-but-cemented their claim as the third seed heading into the playoffs. He won't win, but given his combination of individual excellence and team success, Lillard deserves to be a top-five MVP finalist this year. - Potter
Curry's five-year run of pristine health finally came to an end this season, but despite being limited to just 51 games due to a string of freak injuries, he still managed to be one of the league's most impactful players. When he played, the Warriors were special; when he didn't, they were decidedly meh. With him on the bench, they posted a 106.1 offensive rating and a 2.9 net rating, which is the profile of a middle-of-the-road playoff team, not a dynastic juggernaut.
In those 51 games, Curry had one of the greatest shooting seasons we've ever seen - going .495/.423/.921 for a league-leading 67.5 percent true shooting - to lead the Warriors to a 41-10 record. But without his insane pullup range and ball-handling wizardry scrambling defenses into oblivion, the Warriors don't generate nearly the same quantity or quality of 4-on-3s and swing-swing passing sequences that make their historic offense what it is. Here's a helpful chart to explain the effect he's had on his Hall of Fame teammates this year.
|Player||TS% w/ Curry on||TS% w/ Curry off|
Never doubt who the Warriors' most important player is. - Joe Wolfond
The top five: Thursday, Apr. 12
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)