Kevin Love and Blake Griffin

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.

This was the hardest list I’ve had to compile yet this season. Instead of struggling to figure out who is actually good enough to be considered the 10th best player at his position like with my shooting guard rankings, I put myself in the unenviable position of deciding who has to be left off the top 10 rankings of what might be the deepest talent pool at any NBA position of my lifetime.

I can’t believe it’s come to this, but I had to cut Tim Duncan. He’s slowed down, he’s only playing 29 minutes per game, and he can’t really guard athletic big men very well anymore. Please understand that I’m well aware that not only is he still really freakin’ good, he’s also the greatest power forward in NBA history. It’s just that, well… read the rankings. Let’s not make this any weirder than it already is, OK?

10. (7.) Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 35 GP, 34.6 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 2.3 APG, 8.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .551 FG%, .571 3P%, .747 FT%, 21.5 PER

You wouldn’t know from his per-game average, but when I watch Millsap he seems to go for the block on defence more often than a player his size probably should. As a result, his rebounds per 36 minutes are lower than they’ve been in any of his previous four seasons. He’s still scoring well, though.

9. (3.) Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks — 2010-11 stats: 38 GP, 34.1 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 8.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.9 BPG, .473 FG%, .394 3P%, .715 FT%, 19.6 PER

Josh has gone from dabbling in three-pointers earlier in the season to becoming practically obsessed with them lately. He attempted seven three-pointers all of last season and he had 11 attempts from that range through the first 10 games this season. In his last 10 games, he’s jacked 26 treys and made just nine of them. Now I remember why Hawks fans and coaches get so frustrated with him. Can somebody ask the guy behind “Hey Larry Hughes, Please Stop Taking So Many Bad Shots” to set up a similar site for Josh Smith?

8. (New entry) Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls — 2010-11 stats: 19 GP, 31.6 MPG, 19.7 PPG, 2.4 APG, 9.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .536 FG%, .000 3P%, .704 FT%, 21.9 PER

He’s played about as well as you could expect to play in his 19 games back from injury, but there may be trouble on the horizon as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has taken to benching him occasionally when he has defensive trouble. One would assume this won’t be as much of an issue when Joakim Noah returns.

7. (2.) Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics — 2010-11 stats: 30 GP, 31.6 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 2.0 APG, 9.5 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .539 FG%, .000 3P%, FT%, 21.6 PER

He’s sitting out with a right calf strain at the moment, but KG is expected back on the court later this month. As a testament to his veteran craftiness in his 16th NBA season, his steals per game average and field goal percentage are both tied with previous career highs.

6. (8.) Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves — 2010-11 stats: 36 GP, 36.6 MPG, 21.0 PPG, 2.4 APG, 15.6 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .457 FG%, .432 3P%, .878 FT%, 24.0 PER

How can a guy with numbers like these only be sixth-best at his position? Again, it’s a deep group. With contract extension negotiations on the horizon after this season, Timberwolves GM David Kahn will have to ask himself if Love is worth max money if that’s what it will take to keep him in Minnesota. Maybe Shaq should be his agent after he said this about K-Love: “Guys like him come around once every 10 years.”

Dirk Nowitzki

5. (9.) Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers — 2010-11 stats: 35 GP, 37.1 MPG, 21.7 PPG, 3.3 APG, 12.7 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .520 FG%, .667 3P%, .590 FT%, 22.9 PER

Here’s how much Blake Griffin is beasting over the last month-and-a-half: He has 22 straight double-doubles with averages of 24.8 points and 13.9 rebounds in those games. If there’s anything to quibble about, his energy and stats seem to fade somewhat in the second halves of games. I don’t know, does he need to learn to pace himself better? Regardless, he’s well on his way to becoming the first rookie to average 20 points and 10 rebounds with a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) over 20.0 since Elton Brand in 1999-2000.

4. (5.) Chris Bosh, Miami Heat — 2010-11 stats: 37 GP, 35.4 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 1.9 APG, 8.2 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .511 FG%, .273 3P%, .797 FT%, 20.3 PER

Chris Bosh has figured out his role on the Miami Heat. He’s become as effective at defending the pick-and-roll as he has been at working it with LeBron or D-Wade on the other end. He probably won’t end up averaging double-digit rebounds on the season, but that’s not a problem since the Heat have the third-best rebounding differential (+3.38) in the league. As a Raptors fan, it was fun to see him struggle in the first month of the season, but there’s no denying that’s he’s putting it all together now and I don’t think LeBron, Wade or Pat Riley regret inviting him to join their band.

3. (New entry) Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks — – 2010-11 stats: 34 GP, 37.6 MPG, 26.4 PPG, 2.5 APG, 9.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 2.3 BPG, .521 FG%, .545 3P%, .772 FT%, 23.8 PER

He was ranked as a center last month but he’s back in this list now that Ronny Turiaf is starting for the Knicks. Some people (including Mr. Melas) keep waiting for the Knicks to settle back to around the .500 range but Stoudemire keeps putting up big numbers even against elite teams like the Spurs — who he dropped 28 and 9 on in the Knicks’ win on Tuesday.

2. (New entry) Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers — 2010-11 stats: 36 GP, 37.7 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 4.0 APG, 10.7 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG, .517 FG%, .000 3P%, .811 FT%, 23.1 PER

Now that Phil Jackson has worked Andrew Bynum back into the Lakers’ lineup as starting center, Pau is back to his natural power forward position and his rightful spot as the second-best player in these rankings. He should probably consider buying a new alarm clock, though. If he’s late for another film session, Kobe is totally going to yell at him.

1. (1.) Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks — 2010-11 stats: 29 GP, 35.4 MPG, 24.1 PPG, 2.4 APG, 7.4 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG, .545 FG%, .403 3P%, .879 FT%, 24.9 PER

Dallas had a 24-5 record when Nowitzki sprained his knee in late December but the Mavs have gone 2-3 while he’s been out. Anyone out there doubting his MVP credentials this season? Dirk should be back in the Mavericks’ lineup soon so he remains at the top of this ridiculously talent-rich list.

Comments (35)

  1. You screwed up this time. No LaMarcus?

  2. I’m a little disappointed that LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t on this list, his play has been lights out for Portland recently

  3. Here it comes:

    Millsap over LaMarcus?!

    Seriously, man, that’s just flat wrong. By any metric.

  4. no love for Zach Randolph?

  5. you gotta have aldrige in there. he is playing much better than both j.smith and millsap right now

  6. OK, here goes. This is not simply a list of who is playing the best recently. It’s more of a prediction of who I think will play better in January. And yes, you could put Aldridge at 9 or 10 on this list, but my rationale was that Smith is a better defender and playmaker, while Millsap is a much more efficient scorer.

    It wasn’t long ago that Aldridge was being labeled “soft” by his own fanbase. If he can keep up his recent play into January, it will be impossible for me to keep him off the February rankings.

  7. First time commenting on your site. There are omissions of course, I’d definitely drop J-Smoove off the list, for somebody like Randolph or Aldridge as mentioned, or even Scola. There seems to be a real lack of care for defense on this list as well. There was a recent analysis that described how KGs impact on defense along with his offensive efficiency should put him square in conversation for MVP. TD, who you had to cut, built much of his reputation on being a first team all defender. KG, before injury this year, was back to his form from 2007-2008. A bit too much premium is put on shooting the ball often.

  8. LA stats since the Dallas game in mid December:
    Games: 11
    MPG: 39.4
    PPG: 25.7
    RPG: 10.5
    APG: 1.3
    BPG: 1.7
    SPG: 1.2
    TOPG: 1.5
    FG%: 54%
    FT%: 75%
    6.5 FTA per game

    9 of our next 10 games are against teams with losing records – LA should be on here if you are considering who will be best in January.

    Having Bosh at 4 and LA not on the list is a joke. Does past seasons perfomance count of something? LA has been better than Bosh this year in every way except for FG%.

    Ugh

  9. LA stats since the Dallas game in mid December:
    Games: 11
    MPG: 39.4
    PPG: 25.7
    RPG: 10.5
    APG: 1.3
    BPG: 1.7
    SPG: 1.2
    TOPG: 1.5
    FG%: 54%
    FT%: 75%
    6.5 FTA per game

    9 of our next 10 games are against teams with losing records – LA should be on here if you are considering who will be best in January.

    Having Bosh at 4 and LA not on the list is a joke. Does past seasons perfomance count of something? LA has been better than Bosh this year in every way except for FG%.

    Ugh

  10. Oops, first one didn’t show up for me so I reposted. Delete me please!

  11. Bosh at #3 is a total joke… when even Lebron makes comments about how they need a guy like Love I think you look foolish to rank him that high. I want my PF to be a bruiser who plays D, protects the rim and is a beast in the post. Obv Dirk and Pau aren’t exactly that type but I think their other unique skills far outshine what Bosh is capable of. I would def rather have Griff, Love, and probably KG ahead of Bosh, maybe even some of these others, and I bet with a gun to their head, Lebron and D Wade would say the same thing.

  12. Major omission leaving Aldridge off the list. He has been a beast on offense and playing quite well on defense as well. His rebound numbers would be even higher if he wasn’t playing alongside Camby.

  13. Meant to say Bosh @4 not 3.. also agree with the LA supporters

  14. What LA have to do to get on the Power ranking…

    UGH

  15. You know what I think about this…

  16. Zach Randolph has got to be on that list……..hes been amazing for a while now after a show start……..should easily be ranked over millsap and smith

  17. coy0607: I think Zach presents a better case than LaMarcus. Portland’s and Memphis’ records aren’t all that different and Zach’s numbers are unquestionably better than LA’s. Smith and Millsap got the nods because they’re making significant contributions to a couple of teams that are each at least 10 games over .500.

  18. Good list but I also like the comments. After his strong start Milisap has disappeared a little in the last games, so I would also put Aldridge or Randolph in there. Bosh definitely too high, on #7 or 8 maybe.

    @CrazyH2182:
    I guess with a gun to their head Lebron and D Wade would say about everything you want them to. ;)

  19. Zach Randolph is easily as good as Bosh…

  20. The biggest mistake in these rankings has to be Kevin Love. The guy is averaging 21 and almost 16. That hasn’t been done in years! Definitely has to be in the top 3 or 4.

  21. Since we’re going to indulge in these stupid comparisons (boys just love to measure dicks, don’t they?)…

    Compare Blake Griffin as a rookie to Bosh as a rookie and extrapolate how good Griffin will be with 7 years under his belt (since this is moronic dick measuring, we’re going to assume he stays healthy)…and clearly Griffin is so much better than Bosh and everyone else on this list that these idiot comparisons start to lose their value…

    ..let’s also factor in what a player does to the profile of his team…i.e. Bosh affecting (nil) the profile of the Raptors and Griffin affecting (ON THE MAP) of the Clippers…

    Is a player a passive stat-padder who doesn’t make teammates better (Bosh) or a defensive anchor who intimidates (in a good way) teammates to be better (Garnett) or excites them into being better by being exciting and strong(Griffin)?

    There are a lot of factors that go into being “great’ or even special…

    blah, blah blah….

  22. @People complaining about LaMarcus Aldridge.

    Aldridge getting more touches because half his team is injured =/= Aldridge being better than Millsap and Smith

  23. Aldridge carrying his team without Roy and doing it on higher efficiency does make him better than Smith and Millsap, at least in the present.

    If anyone thinks LA won’t be a top 10 level PF this month, I don’t know what to say. His defense has been stellar too. He’s made a leap and arguments in here seem to ignore that it is more than just touches.

  24. this list is a joke!!! Millsap, Bosh, Josh Smith, Gasol (who is better but been playing MUCH WORSE) over LaMarcus Aldridge?!!?!?? just shows the incompetence of mr.Carefoot

  25. You forgot about Aldridge.

  26. wanted to post for my first time on this blog to tell you “you forgot lamarcus” but it seems as though many people beat me to it.

    still.

    you forgot lamarcus.

  27. Don’t know why nobody else has pointed this out, but you may have forgotten LaMarcus Aldrige.
    Seriously though, I’m fine with the rankings. Deal with it, Portland Soccer Moms.

  28. Man, do people take this thind too seriously!

  29. *this thing (rankings)

  30. @Breyzh…eh, it’s an NBA blog. Of course people care about this stuff, or else they wouldn’t seek out an blog about it.

    Bosh has been pretty great after a slow start this year, enough anti-Miami crap. I’ll go ahead and give it a shot. My criteria is who would I choose first for a team for this ONE YEAR, so this includes to some extent how well they’re playing, as well as how well I think they’d play by the end of the year. From 10 to 1:

    Zach Randolph
    LaMarcus Aldridge
    Tim Duncan
    Blake Griffin
    Chris Bosh
    Kevin Love
    Stoudemire
    Gasol
    Nowitzki
    Garnett

    And yes, I shed a little internal tear for TD’s drop off, but I still consider him good enough at defense and rebounding to be more valuable than Boozer, Smith, and Millsap. What he has occasionally are total drop off games on offense where he’s like 2 for 7, but I’d still put him 8th on my list. Garnett is there again for his impact on both sides of the court, and then I have the three best PF scorers in a row, before getting to the other guys.

  31. The LA supporters are somewhat right that Aldridge has played better over the last month, he’s still not an efficient scorer. Points per possession>points per game. On the season, his scoring efficiency is still shit. There isn’t a player on this list who I would take Aldridge over at any stage. I don’t want to pay $12 M a year for mediocrity.

  32. You can’t say there aren’t a lot of really good big dudes in the NBA right now. Big dudes out the wazoo, dude.

  33. [...] giants on the center rankings this month — Pau Gasol and Amar’e Stoudemire moved to the power forward rankings, Joakim Noah is out until February and Roy Hibbert is in a pretty bad slump at the moment.10. (New [...]

  34. Did you happen to see the job LaMarcus did on Bosh today?
    Gave him a bath.

  35. [...] this out of the way. I would like to apologize to Blazers fans for being so egregiously wrong when I left Aldridge off last month’s PF rankings. I didn’t believe that he could playing at that high level but in the 16 games since my [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *