The league's most talented nutter, Arenas carried the Wizards at times last year, prodding a team beset by both injury and rotation issues to make a second straight playoff appearance. Gilbert averaged 29.3 points per game, got to the line 10 times per contest (hitting on 82 percent of his gimmies), and won't turn 25 until next January.
The 29-year old Celtics star is a step below the Wade/LeBron/Kobe triptych, but it's a small step. Pierce acted as the rock for a Boston team still desperately searching for an identity, setting career-best marks in points per game (26.8) and field goal percentage (47.1).
His team is going nowhere fast, but Iverson keeps getting better and better. Playing a startling 43.1 minutes a night, Iverson set a career-high by averaging 33 points while contributing 7.4 assists. AI's 45 percent mark from the floor was the second-best mark of his 10-year career.
Lost in another mediocre season from Orlando was the fact that Howard, at 20 years old, nearly led the NBA in rebounding with 12.5 per game. And the league's leader, Kevin Garnett, averaged just .2 more rebounds a contest while playing two more minutes a night.
Bosh exploded in his third season last year, staying on the court for 39 minutes a night while contributing 23 points and 9.4 rebounds a contest. The 22-year-old earns points off the court for keeping the fire for a Raptors team that has averaged just 31 wins a year during Bosh's fledging career.
The NBA's best offensive/defensive package at the game's most important position, Billups has come a long way from the first six years of his career, when he sat on the bench of six different teams. Chauncey averaged 18.6 points and 8.6 assists last year for the 64-18 Pistons.
At long last, a determined, productive season from the once-maligned Mr. Carter. Vince averaged 8.3 free throw attempts per game in 2005-06, easily the best mark of his career, while averaging 26.3 points and 11 combined rebounds and assists. Those marks should only improve in 2006-07, as VC enters a contract year.
Just about every team in the NBA would kill for a chance to feature the Diesel in their low post, even if they know he won't start to pick up the slack until after the groundhog starts searching for his shadow. Still, Shaq was a shadow of his former self in 2005-06, averaging career lows in minutes (30.6), points (20), and rebounds (9.2) per game.
The eyes of the league are squarely focused on this 10-year veteran, who has yet to win a playoff series and has been battling back issues for the last five years. T-Mac, who missed 35 games last year, averaged 24.4 points but shot a career-low (40.6 percent) from the floor.
All he does is score, but at the end of the day, what's more important than putting points on the board? Though his help in the Milwaukee rotation comes and goes, Redd still averaged 25.4 points per game in his sixth season. He shot the lights out, nailing 45 percent of his looks from the field, 40 from behind the arc, and 88 percent from the charity stripe. Better yet, Redd turned the ball over just 2.1 times in 39 minutes a night.
On the cusp: Jermaine O'Neal, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony