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Kevin DurantLayne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Who is the hardest player to defend in the NBA? Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers says -- surprise, surprise -- it's Kevin Durant, calling the Oklahoma City Thunder star a taller, better version of George Gervin. Do you agree with Rivers? Where does LeBron James fall on the list? Click on the images below to set your rankings!

Hardest to Defend in NBA

LaMarcus Aldridge

Carmelo Anthony

Kobe Bryant

DeMarcus Cousins

Stephen Curry

Anthony Davis

Goran Dragic

Kevin Durant

Paul George

Blake Griffin

James Harden

Dwight Howard

Kyrie Irving

LeBron James

Al Jefferson

Damian Lillard

Kevin Love

Dirk Nowitzki

Chris Paul

John Wall

Russell Westbrook

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AP Photo/Don Ryan

Are Houston Rockets contenders?

If you ask most of SportsNation, there are three primary contenders for the NBA title: the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. But it's not unheard of for an unexpected champion to emerge, and one of those hopefuls plays Wednesday night on ESPN (10:30 p.m. ET): the Houston Rockets. Entering their road game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard, James Harden & Co. are jockeying for first-round home-court advantage with the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers. But do they have enough to be a real threat? Is Dwight Howard still a top player?

How will the Rockets fare in the playoffs?

  •  
    15%
  •  
    54%
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    23%
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    3%
  •  
    5%

Discuss (Total votes: 15,842)

  • Which of these teams is the biggest threat to the Thunder in the West?

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      27%
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      15%
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      37%
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      21%

    Discuss (Total votes: 103,289)

  • Is James Harden an elite player?

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      75%
    •  
      25%

    Discuss (Total votes: 13,955)

  • Where does Dwight Howard rank among the NBA's best players?

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      30%
    •  
      70%

    Discuss (Total votes: 31,787)

  • How many championships will Dwight Howard win?

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      58%
    •  
      42%

    Discuss (Total votes: 14,788)

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Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade exchanged words on Twitter recently after Durant questioned Wade's presence on a Sports Illustrated list of the top 10 players in the NBA. Durant believes Wade is taking up a spot that Durant's former teammate James Harden, now with the Rockets, deserves. Do you agree? While you're at it, rank your entire top 10 here.

Rank: Wade or Harden more Top 10 worthy?

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Knicks Forward

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

Heat Forward

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Lakers Forward

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Warriors Guard

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan

Spurs Forward/Center

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Thunder Forward

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol

Grizzlies Center

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

Clippers Forward

James Harden

James Harden

Rockets Guard

Al Horford

Al Horford

Hawks Center

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

Lakers Center

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

Cavaliers Guard

LeBron James

LeBron James

Heat Forward

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

Bulls Center

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

Mavericks Forward

Tony Parker

Tony Parker

Clippers Guard

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Clippers Guard

Derrick Rose

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade

Heat Guard

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Thunder Guard

Deron Williams

Deron Williams

Nets Guard

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The Houston Rockets won the Dwight Howard rally this offseason. Now, according to Bradford Doolittle's WARP-based calculations, the James Harden-led team also wins the title of best backcourt in the NBA. These rankings aren't without controversy, though; the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson Golden State Warriors didn't crack the top 10. Do you agree with the analytics? Click on the images below to set your rankings!

Best NBA backcourts

Clippers

Clippers

Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford

Heat

Heat

Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen

Lakers

Lakers

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks

Mavericks

Mavericks

Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris

Nets

Nets

Deron Williams, Jason Terry, Joe Johnson

Nuggets

Nuggets

Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson, Evan Fournier

Pacers

Pacers

Paul George, George Hill, C.J. Watson

Rockets

Rockets

James Harden, Patrick Beverly, Jeremy Lin

Spurs

Spurs

Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green

Thunder

Thunder

Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson

Timberwolves

Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Jose Juan Barea

Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Mo Williams

Warriors

Warriors

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Toney Douglas

Wizards

Wizards

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Glen Rice Jr.

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LeBron James has won four of the past five NBA Most Valuable Player awards -- Kevin Durant has placed second in three of those four years. Will this be the season Durant finally takes the crown as the league's best player, or is LeBron the favorite to become just the fourth player in NBA history to win three consecutive MVP awards? Where does the reigning scoring champion Carmelo Anthony fit in? Is young Kyrie Irving on your radar?

The NBA ESPN Forecast panel had their say, and now it's time for SportsNation to weigh in. Set your rankings below, then head to Twitter to join the discussion via #ESPNForecast.

NBA MVP candidates

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Knicks, F
2012-13: 28.7 PPG, 2.6 APG, 6.9 RPG

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Warriors, G
2012-13: 22.9 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.0 RPG

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan

Spurs, F
2012-13: 17.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.7 BPG

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Thunder, F
2012-13: 28.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 7.9 RPG

Paul George

Paul George

Pacers, F
2012-13: 17.4 PPG, 4.1 APG, 7.6 RPG

James Harden

James Harden

Rockets, G
2012-13: 25.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.9 RPG

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

Rockets, C
2012-13: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

Cavaliers, G
2012-13: 22.5 PPG, 5.9 APG, 3.7 RPG

LeBron James

LeBron James

Heat, F
2012-13: 26.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 8.0 RPG

Tony Parker

Tony Parker

Spurs, G
2012-13: 20.3 PPG, 7.6 APG, 3.0 RPG

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Clippers, G
2012-13: 16.9 PPG, 9.7 APG, 3.7 RPG

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

Bulls, G
2011-12: 21.8 PPG, 7.9 APG, 3.4 RPG

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