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 will be my final positional power ranking of the 2010-11 NBA season. The thousands of hours of NBA-watching, Googling, blog-reading, and number-crunching I put into these posts were made worthwhile by the all the lovely, intelligent and charming commenters and Tweeters who interacted with me throughout the season — even the ones who questioned my mental facilities and cast aspersions on my ability to contain my saliva within my own mouth*. Let’s do this again next season, chill bros.
*This is a lie.
10. (10.) Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets — 2010-11 stats: 78 GP, 35.2 MPG, 20.0 PPG, 1.6 APG, 6.0 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.5 BPG, .488 FG%, .000 3P%, .785 FT%, 18.9 PER
Brook Lopez can be a top-five center in this league, there should be little doubt about that. It’s been a matter of consistent effort from game-to-game this season — the scoring is often there, not so much with rebounding and defense. If we keep in mind that he’s still just 23 years old, then we should continue to believe he has a bright NBA future.
9. (6.) Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 79 GP, 36.0 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 1.8 APG, 9.7 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG, .494 FG%, .000 3P%, .769 FT%, 20.1 PER
A lot of people in the comments of these rankings get confused or angry when high-scoring big men like Lopez and Al Jefferson are ranked behind much less gifted offensive players. Maybe I’m tainted by five years of rooting for a team with Andrea Bargnani in its frontcourt, but I’m much less impressed by big men who can score than I am by bigs who rebound, contain their man in the post and provide help on penetration. Utah’s end-of-season slide — particularly on defense — reveals the fatal flaw in starting two big men who are both below-average defenders. Again, as a Raptors fan, I speak from experience.
8. (5.) Tyson Chandler, Dallas Mavericks — 2010-11 stats: 70 GP, 36.0 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 0.5 APG, 9.3 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 1.1 BPG, .645 FG%, .000 3P%, .739 FT%, 18.4 PER
The timing of Chandler’s annual injury problems couldn’t be worse for the Mavericks. They’re a whole different team — especially on the defensive end — when he’s in the lineup. They’re 50-20 when he plays this season and 3-5 when he doesn’t. If Dirk is the straw that stirs the Mavs’ drink, then Chandler might be the ice that keeps the drink cool. (To be honest, that analogy makes less sense than I thought it would now that I’ve typed it out. Let’s just move on.)