LeBron James

On the first full week of each month this season, I’m going to rank the top 10 NBA players at each position based on how I expect them to perform in the coming month. If a player is injured and is expected to miss most of the month, then they probably won’t make the list regardless of his value when healthy. I’ll rank the point guards on Monday, the shooting guards on Tuesday … you get the picture.  Your feedback is welcome, even if you want to tell me how incredibly, irredeemably clueless I am.

A whopping three new entries this month, while Richard Jefferson, Gerald Wallace and Andre Iguodala drop off from last month. Controversy: I court it!

10. (New entry) Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 32 GP, 30.5 MPG, 14.8 PPG, 2.5 APG, 4.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .524 FG%, .300 3P%, .829 FT%, 18.2 PER

It’s definitely remarkable that Grant Hill can play at this level at the age of 38, but it probably has something to do with the fact that he’s “only” played 31,527 minutes over his career. Dirk Nowitzki has played in 3,000 more minutes in his career and he’s just 32 years old. Anyway, Grant thinks he has another couple of seasons in him: “I’d like to be playing when I’m 40.”

9. (New entry) Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls — 2010-11 stats: 33 GP, 39.0 MPG, 18.0 PPG, 2.1 APG, 5.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .457 FG%, .375 3P%, .696 FT%, 14.9 PER

The Chicago Bulls are one of the top defensive teams in the league right now and Deng is a major reason for that. None of his individual numbers stand out, but he’s a solid all-around player and probably a top-five defender at his position.

8. (6.) Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers — 2010-11 stats: 31 GP, 36.7 MPG, 21.1 PPG, 2.5 APG, 5.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG, .416 FG%, .359 3P%, .842 FT%, 16.7 PER

Granger is dropping down these rankings because he’s just not shooting the ball particularly well this season. It’s becoming increasingly evident that he’s simply not cut out to be a first offensive option on a good team.

7. (New entry) Michael Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves — 2010-11 stats: 33 GP, 34.2 MPG, 21.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 6.0 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG, .476 FG%, .435 3P%, .745 FT%, 17.4 PER

There are a lot of NBA general managers with egg on their faces right now — Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo is cleaning off a whole damn omelette. To refresh your memory, Colangelo passed on the opportunity to acquire Beasley in the Chris Bosh sign-and-trade, allowing Timberwolves GM David Kahn to swoop in and snag Beasley for a couple of second round picks. Considering the ridiculous efficiency of his scoring and the fact that he’s only playing 34 minutes per game right now, we’re probably looking at a future 25 PPG player here — a player that apparently nobody wanted because of “off-court issues”.

6. (5.) Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies — 2010-11 stats: 33 GP, 40.2 MPG, 21.1 PPG, 2.7 APG, 6.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.2 BPG, .484 FG%, .423 3P%, .839 FT%, 19.3 PER

Gay’s field goal percentage is the best of his career even though his percentage of field goal attempts taken at the rim (22.8 percent) is the lowest of his five NBA seasons. Credit a massively improved jumper for that, as exemplified by his impressive success rate from beyond the arc.

Paul Pierce and Michael Beasley

5. (7.) Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks — 2010-11 stats: 34 GP, 34.7 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 1.8 APG, 6.5 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.5 BPG, .489 FG%, .386 3P%, .823 FT%, 18.5 PER

This is higher than a lot of non-Knicks fans would put him on this list, but his scorching of the Spurs for 31 points, nine rebounds and four assists last night made a believer out of me. For all the egregious errors Isiah Thomas made as GM of the Knicks, taking Chandler with the 23rd overall pick was his last great move.

4. (4.) Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics — 2010-11 stats: 33 GP, 35.6 MPG, 19.0 PPG, 3.7 APG, 5.3 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .503 FG%, .391 3P%, .870 FT%, 19.9 PER

Why is Pierce playing some of the best all-around basketball of his career in his 13th season? He’s reportedly in the best physical shape of his life, and that includes his previously balky knees. On Monday night in Boston, Pierce played in his 917th game as a Celtic to tie Bob Cousy for fifth all-time.

3. (3.) Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 26 GP, 35.2 MPG, 24.0 PPG, 3.2 APG, 8.5 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .432 FG%, .273 3P%, .820 FT%, 20.9 PER

After reportedly reiterating his unwillingness to re-sign with Denver after this season, it would seem the Nuggets have about a month-and-a-half (before the Feb. 24th trade deadline) to get some assets in return for a top-three player at his position. Meanwhile, Anthony has maintained his value by continuing to play hard and at a superstar level — he’s averaged 28.3 points and 10.2 rebounds over his past six games.

2. (2.) Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder — 2010-11 stats: 32 GP, 38.9 MPG, 27.9 PPG, 3.0 APG, 6.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 BPG, .462 FG%, .327 3P%, .880 FT%, 23.6 PER

Good news, everyone! KD is making his three-pointers again — after hitting them at just a 26.6 percent rate through the end of November, he’s made 39.2 percent of those shots since then. Considered in tandem with his league-leading scoring average, it appears he’s not going to give up his status as the NBA’s best offensive player anytime soon.

1. (1.) LeBron James, Miami Heat — 2010-11 stats: 37 GP, 37.4 MPG, 24.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .481 FG%, .358 3P%, .773 FT%, 26.0 PER

That face LeBron’s making at the top of this post? That’s for all the Heat-haters. If you want to hate on LeBron for anything right now, judge him for his lame “Heatles” nickname. You, sir, are not bigger than Jesus.

Comments (14)

  1. Well deserved Love for Will The Thrill. He’s having a tremendous season.

  2. Love the Beasley pick. He’s one of the most talented guys at the position and is absolutely killing it with the Wolves. I do think the change of scenery, to a smaller market with lowered expectations helped, but it’s also amazing just how quickly everyone in Miami, and around the NBA, turned on him. Really glad to see he’s gotten his game on track.

    Also, I was at the Wolves-Hornets game in MN on 12/27, and not only was Beasley on fore that night (had 33, I believe), but watching his interactions with the crowd and his teammates, he looks like he’s in a situation that really suits him.

  3. Yo, Hedo belongs on this list. Just because Toronto/Phoenix misused his skillset don’t mean he fell off. He’s been proving it since he came back to ORL.

  4. Sam: You’re not a top-10 player at your position if you’re only good when you play on a particular team that happens to feature the best center in the NBA. Hedo didn’t suck in Toronto and Phoenix because “they didn’t use him right”, he sucked in those places because he didn’t have Dwight to cover up for his crappy defense and rebounding.

  5. I might even put Grant at 8 or 9 because of his defense. He’s the Suns second option on offense and number one defense, guy has to guard LeBron one night and Blake Griffin the next.

  6. i think deng should be a bit higher… hes been playing amazing the last month

  7. I humbly submit dorrell wright as an option. He is having a breakout year, leads the league in made 3s. The dubs acquired him for his defense, which has been good but looks less stellar in the warriors marginal-effort-steal-the-ball-jump-at-all-pump-fakes defense. I love grant hill because he is awesome but I think Dorrell may well exceed him in the near future

  8. You get payed to write this crap or are you some nitwit intern? It’s the same way with anyone. If you aren’t used for doing what you’re good at you will “suck”. Smoke another one buddy!

  9. Ah hell, you’re Canadian AND you root for the Raptors son. I just realized that. I respectfully withdraw my disrespectful comments. You don’t deserve that. Your life sucks enough already…

  10. whoever that Sam guy is , he needs to shut his mouth and stop arguing

  11. Race: Dorell Wright is having a nice season compared to his previous six seasons, but he’s still the third best player (at best) on one of the 10 worst teams in the NBA. He’s certainly not better than Grant Hill or Luol Deng right now. Players can put up nice numbers on the Warriors because they play at a fast pace and don’t play much defense, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all that good.

  12. The Warriors pace is slower than in previous years. The average team’s pace is 95.0 and the Warriors pace is 97.7. That’s a small difference. They’re the 5th fastest team, but they are still very close to the average. They’re as fast as ATL is slow. If you want to talk players with big, pace inflated numbers on bad teams, try Michael Beasley. Beasley’s TWolves have the highest pace at 100.6, which is 5.6 possessions a game more than the average team and a full 2 a game over the next fastest team, which is Denver. The TWolves also have a worse record than the Warriors. If you really dig into Beasley’s stats, they aren’t that special. He scores a lot, but he scores at a below average efficiency. He’s an average rebounder for a small forward, but he gets about 40% of his minutes at the PF spot. He’s an awful passer.
    That being said, I don’t think Dorell is a top 10 SF. I really like him and his contract is a bargain. I would just like it if you would apply your logic consistently. Beasley is worse than Dorell and not a top 10 SF. He’s colossally overrated.

  13. Nintendo_Jones: Beasley puts up his offensive numbers as the first offensive option on his team while Wright is probably the fourth option on his. Neither of them are superstars but I don’t know anyone who thinks that Dorell Wright could average 20 points per game on 47 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range.

  14. You forgot Brook Lopez…

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