1. James Harden, Houston Rockets

Last week: No. 1

That trade for Lou Williams looks particularly good after his wicked debut (27 points, 7-for-11 from deep) in a win over New Orleans. Giving Harden another relentless offensive weapon to unleash on the opposition just isn’t fair. Harden and the Rockets believe they can challenge the Warriors in the West. (26.6 points, 10.8 assists, 8.0 rebounds in his last five games).

2. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Last week: No. 2

The trade deadline brought some much-needed toughness (Taj Gibson) and additional scoring help (Doug McDermott) for Westbrook, who needs his entire supporting cast ready to go for the season's stretch run. A fortified bench will be crucial come playoff time in support of Westbrook (34.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 2.2 steals in his last five games).

3. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Last week: No. 3

Durant handled the drama surrounding he and Russell Westbrook like the pro that he is, both in Oklahoma City two weeks ago and last weekend in New Orleans at the All-Star Game. Durant is keeping his eyes on the bigger prize, as he should be (25.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals in his last five games).

4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Last week: No. 4

In his first game after the All-Star break and after the trade deadline, LeBron reminded everyone that the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the Eastern Conference with a smooth 18-point, 15-assist, 13-rebound triple-double. And that help he’s been looking for could be on the way in the buyout market (24.8 points, 9.2 assists, 6.8 rebounds in his last five games).

5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Last week: No. 5

Leonard went into the All-Star break on a tear, averaging 33 points in his four games heading into New Orleans. He’ll look to stay on that grind as the Spurs get back to business tonight in Los Angeles against the Clippers (10:30 ET, ESPN). No one is focusing on Leonard and the Spurs down the final stretch of this season, which is just the way the most underrated team and star in the league like it (25.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.6 steals in his last five games).

6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Last week: No. 7

Curry sparked the Warriors’ 50-point outburst in the third quarter as they rallied to blow out the LA Clippers yet again. He shot 6-for-10 from deep on his way to a 35-point, seven-rebound, five-assist, four-steal night against a team that fancied itself a rival before losing to the Warriors for the 10th straight time (21.2 points, 6.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals in his last five games).

7. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics

Last week: No. 6

The side-eye emoji didn’t work at the trade deadline for Thomas and the Celtics, who went into Thursday in the middle of all the juiciest rumors only to stand pat with the roster they have had all season. That’s still a formidable group heading into the final stanza of this regular season (28.0 points, 5.2 assists, 2.2 rebounds in his last five games).

8. John Wall, Washington Wizards

Last week: No. 8

Wall and the Wizards added the bench help they’d been searching for by acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullogh from the Brooklyn Nets. Wall and Bradley Beal have the Wizards cranked up and ready to make a serious run in the Eastern Conference playoffs, provided they can integrate their new pieces without issue (19.2 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals,1.2 blocks in his last five games).

9. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz

Last week: No. 10

Now that his first All-Star Game experience is int he rear-view mirror, Hayward can get back to the more important business of helping the Jazz nab homecourt advantage for a first-round playoff series. Getting guard Rodney Hood back from injury tonight against Milwaukee (8 ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS)will no doubt aid in that cause. But make no mistake, Hayward has to lead the way from here on out (20.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals in his last five games).

10. Paul George, Indiana Pacers

Last week: No. 9

George stayed in the trade crosshairs right up until Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline passing without anything going down. He’s made it clear that he wants to get back to the conference final-level play the Pacers made routine a few seasons ago. But as well as he’s played this season, his Pacers are still far off from being elite (16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists in his last five games).