Archive for the ‘Positional Power Rankings’ Category

Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum

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.)

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Dikembe Mutombo

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.

What kind of joke do you think Pau Gasol is telling Dirk Nowitzki in the photo above? Judging by the look on Dirk’s face, I bet it’s a dirty one.

10. (Last month: 10.) Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs — 2010-11 stats: 74 GP, 28.4 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 2.7 APG, 9.0 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 1.9 BPG, .501 FG%, .000 3P%, .722 FT%, 21.9 PER

Several other players could have landed in this spot (and I expect I’ll hear about them in the comments) but Timmy gets the nod for helping to lead the Spurs to a 60-win season. Question: If he wins his fifth championship ring this season, shouldn’t he enter the discussion along with Kobe for the greatest player of our generation?

9. (New entry) Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder — 2010-11 stats: 78 GP, 27.0 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 0.3 APG, 7.6 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 2.4 BPG, .546 FG%, .000 3P%, .741 FT%, 17.7 PER

Since the beginning of March, he’s averaged 11.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks on 52 percent shooting. The Thunder’s frontcourt of Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka is as defensively imposing as any in the NBA now that Perkins has defected from Boston. In continuation of Dikembe Mutombo’s standard of having an awesome full name if you’re from the Republic of the Congo, Ibaka’s full name is Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka. Leading the league in blocks likely looms for him next season.

8. (9.) Chris Bosh, Miami Heat — 2010-11 stats: 74 GP, 36.4 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 1.9 APG, 8.3 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .491 FG%, .240 3P%, .815 FT%, 19.3 PER

This will be the first season Bosh doesn’t average at least a block per game and his rebounding and free throw attempts per game averages hasn’t been this low since his rookie season as a 19-year-old in 2003-04. We all know he’s not cut out to be a tough guy on the court, but he’s going to have to be a lot less soft in the playoffs if the Heat are going to silence all their haters.

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LeBron James and Kevin Durant

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.

It’s always fun for me when I can introduce someone new to the position rankings, especially when it’s a guy as easy to root for as Jared Dudley. Meanwhile, LeBron reclaims his rightful spot at the top of the small forward rankings after a really, really good March.

10. (New entry) Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 77 GP, 25.7 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 1.3 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .476 FG%, .403 3P%, .754 FT%, 15.2 PER

JMZ plays the two, the three and the four but this seems like the most logical position to rank him in. Since he took Vince Carter’s place in the Suns’ starting lineup six games ago, he’s averaged 16.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 steals and shot 51 percent from the field. Unsurprisingly, Suns coach Alvin Gentry recently said, “If he continues to play like that, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be a starter.”

9. (New entry) Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 59 GP, 34.3 MPG, 15.9 PPG, 1.7 APG, 4.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .418 FG%, .356 3P%, .866 FT%, 15.8 PER

Since Gallinari returned to the Nuggets lineup from a toe injury, he’s shown why Knicks fans were so bummed out they had to include him in the Carmelo Anthony trade. He’s known as a three-point shooting specialist, but unlike most “pure shooters” he also gets to the free throw line quite often — specifically, 7.5 attempts per game with the Nuggets. The fact that he makes over 85 percent of those free throws is why he’s one of the more efficient scorers in the game.

8. (Last month: 7.) Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls — 2010-11 stats: 77 GP, 39.3 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 2.7 APG, 5.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .458 FG%, .341 3P%, .750 FT%, 15.4 PER

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau gets the lion’s share of the glory for his team improving their Defensive Efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) from 11th in the league last season to second overall this season, but Thibodeau assigns a lot of the credit to Deng. Thibodeau refers to him as “by far our best individual and team defender” and hopes he gets recognized on the All-Defensive teams this season.

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Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade

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.

Kobe or Wade… Wade or Kobe… You’ll need to scroll to find out which one finished the season at the top of the two-guard rankings, but I’m personally more excited about the fact that the terminally insane Tony Allen made the cut this month.

10. (9.) James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder — 2010-11 stats: 76 GP, 26.7 MPG, 12.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .438 FG%, .355 3P%, .847 FT%, 16.4 PER

No disrespect to Thabo Sefolosha, but it will be pretty hard to justify keeping Harden in his sixth man role beyond this season if his emergence in the second half of this season is legit — he’s scored in double figures in 22 of his past 23 games, and he scored eight points in 15 minutes in the other game. It goes to show that we should let young players like Harden get their NBA feet wet before we judge them.

9. (New entry) Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies — 2010-11 stats: 69 GP, 20.3 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 1.4 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG, .515 FG%, .190 3P%, .756 FT%, 19.0 PER

If you’re like most NBA fans and you don’t pay much attention to the Memphis Grizzlies, you might be wondering why a guy who has only averaged 20 minutes per game this season is on a list of the top 10 shooting guards in the league. Well, “Trick-or-Treat Tony” entered the Grizzlies’ starting lineup on February 22 and here are his averages in those 20 starts: 28.6 minutes, 14.1 points, 2.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 0.7 blocks and 55.8 percent shooting. On top of that, he might be the best perimeter defender in the game right now.

8. (7.) Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks — 2010-11 stats: 67 GP, 36.2 MPG, 18.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.1 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .445 FG%, .302 3P%, .800 FT%, 16.7 PER

It’s between Joe Johnson and Gilbert Arenas for this season’s M.U.P. award — Most Untradeable Player. Joe’s obviously a much better player but he’s owed $107 million over the next five seasons while Gil will “only” make $62 million over the remaining three years of his contract. We all know that Johnson deal was a bad idea at the time but… yeesh.

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Derrick Rose

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 is the final month of the 2010-11 NBA regular season, which means this is the last month I’m doing these rankings until whenever the next season begins. These have been as fun to do as they have been time-consuming and nerve-racking — I almost always feel bad that I had to leave a particular player off, and the exclusion of Andre Miller from my final point guard rankings is no exception. He’d be 11th, for what it’s worth.

10. (New entry) Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 74 GP, 26.0 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.0 BPG, .499 FG%, .382 3P%, .759 FT%, 17.5 PER

In the 19 games since Lawson took over the Nuggets’ starting point guard job on February 22, he’s averaged  13.7 points, 7.1 assists, 2.1 turnovers and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep. Those are impressive numbers, but not as impressive as the Nuggets’ 15-4 record over that stretch. This seems like a good time to remind everyone that Lawson was drafted 18th overall in the 2009 draft and five other point guards (Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday) were drafted before him. Only one of those players joins Lawson on this month’s PG rankings.

9. (Last month: 9.) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — 2010-11 stats: 69 GP, 33.5 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .474 FG%, .435 3P%, .934 FT%, 18.9 PER

The strongest case you can make for Stephen Curry not being a “true point guard” is that he’s too indecisive on pick-and-roll situations. He takes too long looking for his shot or a safe pass and he gives the defense too much time to react. He’s young and can obviously learn to be more aggressive in those moments, but it’s holding back his game and the Warriors’ offense right now.

8. (New entry) Kyle Lowry, Houston Rockets — 2010-11 stats:  73 GP, 34.1 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .432 FG%, .379 3P%, .763 FT%, 16.8 PER

I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t paid very much attention to Kyle Lowry’s career before this season. He always struck me as a tweener guard who wasn’t a good enough shooter to really make an impact as a sixth man. And yet here we are late in his fifth NBA season and it’s become pretty easy to make the case that he’s a top-10 point guard. He’s scoring more at a higher efficiency and with a vastly improved three-point shot, and he’s improved to the point that he’s an above-average playmaker who doesn’t turn the ball over often. It probably surprises many that Lowry is making 38 percent of his treys after he hadn’t made more than 27 percent of those shots in any of his past three seasons, but he shot over 50 percent on two-point attempts between 16 and 23 feet in the 2008-09 season (according to Hoopdata.com) so it’s not that shocking he was able to extend his range a few more feet.

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Dwight Howard warms up with a Shake Weight

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.

There are a whopping four new entries in this month’s center list. None of the players who got bumped are performing poorly, per se. We’ve just been seeing some excellent play from this position lately.

10. (New entry) Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets — 2010-11 stats: 63 GP, 34.9 MPG, 19.9 PPG, 1.5 APG, 6.0 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.6 BPG, .483 FG%, .000 3P%, .802 FT%, 18.9 PER

Do you think playing with Deron Williams has helped Brook Lopez’s game? Since Williams played his first game with the Nets on February 25, Lopez has averaged 24.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Somehow, Williams has helped Lopez remember how to rebound.

9. (5.) Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee Bucks — 2010-11 stats: 51 GP, 35.5 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 2.1 APG, 11.5 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 2.8 BPG, .479 FG%, .000 3P%, .413 FT%, 16.4 PER

Only two other players in NBA history have taken as many free throw attempts as Bogut (189) in a season at such a low percentage: Ben Wallace (twice) and Wilt Chamblerlain. Bogut’s still suffering the effects from last season’s fall that dislocated his elbow and broke his hand, as he can’t fully extend his shooting arm.

8. (6.) Nene, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 59 GP, 30.7 MPG, 15.1 PPG, 2.0 APG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .629 FG%, .200 3P%, .747 FT%, 21.0 PER

If you exclude Danilo Gallinari’s two games in Denver where he averaged 16 points per game, Nene is now the Nuggets’ leading scorer. He’s taken on a larger role in Denver’s offense since Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups left town — which I’m sure we can agree is a good idea, considering that he leads the NBA in field goal percentage. More importantly, the Nuggets are 6-2 since the trade.

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Dirk Nowitzki

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.

Amare Stoudemire has been moved to the center rankings since that’s where he’s playing most of his minutes right now, but this remains the most stacked position in the league. Damn good players like Carlos Boozer, Josh Smith, Paul Millsap and Luis Scola have all been excluded out of necessity.

10. (9.) Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs — 2010-11 stats: 64 GP, 28.7 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 2.8 APG, 9.1 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 2.0 BPG, .488 FG%, .000 3P%, .704 FT%, 21.2 PER

Timmy will still give you a double-double most nights if you give him enough minutes, but it doesn’t bode well for the playoffs that the Lakers have absolutely owned him this season. In their three matchups, Duncan averaged just four points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. The fact that the Spurs still managed to win two of those games shows how deep this team is.

9. (5.) Chris Bosh, Miami Heat — 2010-11 stats: 60 GP, 36.3 MPG, 18.1 PPG, 1.8 APG, 8.1 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .485 FG%, .273 3P%, .810 FT%, 18.7 PER

According to Hoopdata, 35.3 percent of Bosh’s field goal attempts last season occurred at the rim. This season, only 22.5 percent of Bosh’s shots are at the rim. I don’t know how much of his increased softness is because of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s gameplan and how much of it is because he has less muscle on his frame than he had last season, but this is not the Chris Bosh the Heat thought they were getting. Miami’s late-game struggles are an issue, but they need Bosh to rediscover his inner aggro in order to have a legitimate chance of making it to the finals this season.

8. (New entry) David West, New Orleans Hornets — 2010-11 stats: 65 GP, 34.9 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 2.4 APG, 7.6 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .505 FG%, .222 3P%, .808 FT%, 20.5 PER

It took a missed buzzer-beater by Dirk Nowitzki but without Chris Paul in the lineup, West had 16 points and 10 rebounds last night to lead the Hornets to a one-point victory over the Mavericks. From January 14 to March 2, West scored at least 15 points in 21 of 22 games — it doesn’t get much more solid than that.

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