Archive for the ‘Positional Power Rankings’ Category

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.

If you’ve been reading these rankings since I started doing them in November, you might have noticed that the player who is ranked first gets to have his photo at the top of the post. Since Mr. Durant is up there, that means the most talented player in the NBA isn’t number one at his position this month. Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past week, you probably know why.

10. (9.) Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 60 GP, 30.8 MPG, 13.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .485 FG%, .405 3P%, .843 FT%, 15.5 PER

According to Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, Grant Hill leads the NBA with 49 offensive fouls drawn. Is that because of his veteran savvy or because the refs call a lot of “50/50 moments” in his favor? I’d say it’s a little of both. Being a class act has its advantages.

9. (New entry) Gerald Wallace, Portland Trail Blazers — 2010-11 stats: 54 GP, 38.2 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 2.3 APG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG, .431 FG%, .339 3P%, .738 FT%, 15.2 PER

Free at last! After six-and-a-half seasons in Charlotte with just one playoff series appearance to show for it, Crash has taken his talents to the town where the ’90s never died. Wallace is surprisingly sour about his “betrayal” by the Bobcats management, but based on his renewed vitality on the court, his resentment is only inspiring him to play as hard as ever. I’m not entirely sure what Blazers coach Nate McMillan is thinking in bringing Wallace off the bench, but I assume he’ll come to his senses before the playoffs.

8. (10.) Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 57 GP, 31.9 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 3.0 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG, .477 FG%, .368 3P%, .774 FT%, 16.9 PER

It’s been flying under the radar with all the drama taking place in Utah these days, but AK-47 has been a bright spot as the Jazz struggle to adjust to life without Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams. Along with his career-high three-point percentage, he’s been blocking shots and grabbing steals lately like the fantasy monster he used to be.

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Kobe Bryant

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.

The two-guard ranks are a little depleted right now with injuries to Eric Gordon, Stephen Jackson and Tyreke Evans keeping them out of consideration for this month. On the bright side, these injuries provide me with an opportunity to introduce some sweet beard action up in here. Unfortunately — because of the wrath I might face in the comments — Wes Matthews got bumped this month due to the strong recent play of the two new entries.

10. (New entry) Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 64 GP, 34.7 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 2.4 APG, 3.7 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .501 FG%, .429 3P%, .854 FT%, 13.7 PER

Nuggets coach George Karl wants to start getting Afflalo more touches in the fourth quarter. This is a good idea because of his ridiculous shooting efficiency and his recent tendency for hitting big shots. This is one guy that could become a breakout star on the Nuggets now that Carmelo is gone. He’s already known for his strong defense, but he’ll be the Nuggets’ new “Mr. Big Shot” if he continues his recent exploits.

9. (New entry) James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder — 2010-11 stats: 62 GP, 26.3 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 2.1 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .432 FG%, .354 3P%, .844 FT%, 15.9 PER

No less of an authority than theScore’s Scott Lewis believes that James Harden has the best “non-playoff” beard in sports. I’m inclined to agree. Harden has accepted a bigger role in the Thunder’s offense lately, scoring in double figures in 13 of his last 14 games and averaging 15.4 points per game over that span. Most notably, he played outstanding defense against Kobe Bryant on March 1, holding the Lakers star to 8-for-22 shooting.

8. (Last month: 9.) Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks — 2010-11 stats: 63 GP, 32.0 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 4.3 APG, 1.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .451 FG%, .357 3P%, .844 FT%, 16.3 PER

The Jet is 112th all-time in career scoring with 15,278 career points right now, but he’s just 358 points away from passing Sam Cassell for 100th all-time. Sixers coach Doug Collins recently declared Dirk Nowitzki and Terry to be “the best 1-2 punch in the league in the fourth quarter scoring” and I think he’s probably right.

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Russell Westbrook

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 been a month of transition for the top NBA point guards — three of the players on this list were traded and the former undisputed (outside of Utah) best point guard in the league is enduring an inexplicable slump. More importantly, there’s a new “point god” at the top of the rankings for March.

10. (New entry) Devin Harris, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 58 GP, 32.0 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 7.6 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .427 FG%, .308 3P%, .836 FT%, 18.0 PER

Devin Harris loves playing for the Utah Jazz and the fans in Utah are loving him right back. He’s been described as being more “media-savvy” than Deron Williams, which is a polite way of hinting that Williams was apparently a bit of a dick.

9. (Last month: 9.) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — 2010-11 stats: 54 GP, 33.7 MPG, 18.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .485 FG%, .421 3P%, .933 FT%, 19.8 PER

Considering that his dad played three seasons in Toronto at the end of his career, I’m not sure why Stephen Curry has it in for the Raptors — his 32.7 points per game average in three games against that team is five points higher than his average against any other team. I suppose it probably has something to do with Jose Calderon “guarding” him.

8. (8.) Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets — 2010-11 stats: 55 GP, 32.3 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .434 FG%, .434 3P%, .920 FT%, 19.4 PER

Chauncey has never shied away from big shots and he’s flourishing so far on the big stage in New York, averaging 25.8 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds in four games with the Knicks. If he can keep this up, they won’t need to look elsewhere for a point guard to complete their own “big three.”

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Dwight Howard

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.

As you’d expect with this position, injuries have created a couple of new openings on this month’s rankings. Well, that and the possibility that Al Jefferson’s defense might have had something to do with Jerry Sloan saying, “F*** it! I’m outta here!”

10. (New entry) Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 48 GP, 20.2 MPG, 7.0 PPG, 0.7 APG, 6.2 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .554 FG%, 1.000 3P%, .731 FT%, 16.1 PER

The Polish Hammer! OK, he wouldn’t make this list if Joakim Noah, Emeka Okafor or Marcus Camby were healthy, but he’s taken to playing with Steve Nash like jelly takes to peanut butter. He’s probably not going to ever be an All-Star, but Suns fans are ecstatic that Gortat and Robin Lopez give them two decent legit centers on their team for the first time since Alvan Adams and James Edwards in the ’80s. (Lopez didn’t become decent until after Shaq left Phoenix.)

9. (New entry) Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers — 2010-11 stats: 49 GP, 27.2 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 2.2 APG, 7.8 RPG, 0.3 SPG, 1.8 BPG, .448 FG%, .000 3P%, .718 FT%, 16.4 PER

Have you been paying attention to how Hibbert and the Pacers have played since Frank Vogel replaced Jim O’Brien as their coach? They’re 5-1 and Hibbert is back to playing with the confidence and aggressiveness that made him look like a potential top-five center in November. Can he keep it up? My Magic 8-Ball says, “Cannot predict now” so I’m sticking him here in the rankings for this month.

8. (8.) DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings — 2010-11 stats: 49 GP, 26.8 MPG, 13.9 PPG, 1.8 APG, 8.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.0 BPG, .438 FG%, .273 3P%, .676 FT%, 15.0 PER

If Cousins can learn to avoid foul trouble, he will average 20 and 10 per game in the not-too-distant future. He’s only 20 years old and he’s already averaging 18.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. There are other youth-related issues he needs to overcome — he’s immature, he’s emotionally unstable, he turns the ball over too often — but the upside is high with this one.

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Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett

If you’re a fan of any of the players on this list besides Dirk Nowitzki, odds are you’re going to think I ranked your guy too low. What does that say about the depth of talent at this position? Of the top 20 in each category, here are the number of power forwards among these leaderboards:

  • Points per game: 6
  • Rebounds per game: 14
  • Blocks per game: 6
  • Player Efficiency Rating (PER): 6

When Josh Smith, Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap aren’t quite good enough to crack this month’s rankings, that’s a sign that there are a lot of really good NBA power forwards right now.

10. (New entry) Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies — 2010-11 stats: 50 GP, 37.0 MPG, 20.2 PPG, 1.6 APG, 13.2 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .487 FG%, .179 3P%, .754 FT%, 21.7 PER

Do you think Zach Randolph looks at his numbers and wonders why everyone’s making such a big deal about Kevin Love? Let’s just say that Z-Bo was probably a little more motivated than usual on defense when they faced each other on Feb. 2 — Randolph finished with 23 and 13 in a win while K-Love was held to 10 and 10.

9. (New entry) Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 29.0 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 3.0 APG, 9.2 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 2.0 BPG, .483 FG%, .000 3P%, .711 FT%, 21.5 PER

I left Timmy off my January rankings because of the widely-held belief that he’s slowing down and the fact that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is limiting him to 29 minutes per game. Then I saw him dominate the Raptors on the defensive end last night and looked up his per-36-minute averages this season to compare to his career averages, which are coincidentally on exactly 36 minutes per game. This season’s per-36-minute averages: 16.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.5 blocks. His career averages: 20.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 blocks. So Duncan doesn’t score as much as he used to but he sets up his teammates more and he’s still a dominant rebounder and shot-blocker. It’s not just out of sentimentality that Duncan is going to play in his 13th straight All-Star game — he’s still pretty damn amazing.

8. (6.) Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 36.8 MPG, 21.4 PPG, 2.5 APG, 15.6 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .471 FG%, .439 3P%, .879 FT%, 24.5 PER

The Kevin Love backlash has begun (“He only cares about his numbers!”) and the critics have a point that he’s not helping his team win games. However, if you put him next to a solid defensive bigman and teamed him with an elite wing scorer, he’s probably still going to give you 18 and 12 on a winning team. It’s true that the only numbers that really matter are wins, but Love’s a special talent that the T-Wolves can build around.

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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.

Michael Beasley dropped off this list because I’m not that impressed anymore that he’s a volume scorer on a horrible team, and Wilson Chandler fell off because he fell into a nasty funk in January.

10. (New entry) Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz — 2010-11 stats: 48 GP, 32.4 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 2.9 APG, 5.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.2 BPG, .456 FG%, .375 3P%, .795 FT%, 16.4 PER

Lest we forget, AK-47 was once one of the top 20 players in the NBA — a dynamic all-around player who averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and made three consecutive All-Defensive Teams. Then he got a massive raise and immediately transformed from the most underpaid player in the league to one of the most overpaid. Now he’s mostly noteworthy for his $17.8 million expiring contract, but he still shows flashes of what he used to be, such as his recent back-to-back, three-block games. He claims he’d be willing to sign for less money to stay in Utah beyond this season, but something tells me that Jerry Sloan might be sick of him after 10 enigmatic seasons.

9. (Last month: 10.) Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns — 2010-11 stats: 47 GP, 30.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 2.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .500 FG%, .390 3P%, .830 FT%, 16.6 PER

He’s arguably the classiest player in the NBA and he might be the only above-average defender in Phoenix. Thanks to the Suns’ renowned training staff, he might play into his 40s and the league will be better for his continued presence.

8. (9.) Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls — 2010-11 stats: 50 GP, 39.0 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 2.5 APG, 6.2 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .454 FG%, .347 3P%, .725 FT%, 15.2 PER

Luol Deng is a classic “glue guy” and your team is in really good shape if he’s your fourth-best player. There’s some talk he might get an All-Defensive Team nod this season, which isn’t one of the perennial All-Star Game appearances some Bulls fans expected from him but it shows that he might not be so overpaid, after all.

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Dwyane Wade, Howard Stern, Tracy Morgan and Magic Johnson

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.

If these particular rankings don’t seem to make much sense, it’s because I wrote this while  working from home with a sick three-year-old while Dora the Explorer played on a constant loop all day. Lesser men would have gone insane, so cut me some slack here. If you’re wondering why Eric Gordon isn’t in this list, it’s because he’s expected to miss most or all of the month healing from a wrist injury.

10. (New entry) Landry Fields, New York Knicks — 2010-11 stats: 50 GP, 32.3 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 1.9 APG, 7.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.3 BPG, .520 FG%, .391 3P%, .767 FT%, 14.3 PER

Knicks President/GM Donnie Walsh probably scoffs at Isiah Thomas’ reputation as a “draft night genius”. Walsh drafted Fields 39th overall in the 2010 draft and Fields has played more minutes this season than any other player from that draft. He’s also third in his draft class in points per game and second in rebounds per game. His 7.2 boards per game are notable because he’s a guard. I’m a Raptors fan and my freakin’ starting center doesn’t grab that many rebounds. Anyway, Blake Griffin has the Rookie of the Year Award on lockdown, but if there was an award for biggest rookie surprise, “Muddy” Fields (the nickname Spike Lee gave him) would be the unanimous winner this season.

9. (Last month: 10.) Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks — 2010-11 stats: 51 GP, 32.4 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .438 FG%, .327 3P%, .850 FT%, 15.5 PER

I know “cherry-picking” stats are mostly worthless, but they can be fun sometimes. For example, Jason Terry failed to score in double figures in just six games this season and the Mavericks are 1-5 in those games, compared to their 35-10 record when he scores 10 or more points. I’m thinking Mavs fans would agree that they need Jet to get buckets for them to succeed — too bad his three-point percentage is at its lowest since his 1999-2000 rookie season.

8. (New entry) Wesley Matthews, Portland Trail Blazers — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 33.6 MPG, 16.3 PPG, 1.9 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .441 FG%, .390 3P%, .835 FT%, 15.2 PER

Tas Melas threatened to fire me from the blog if I didn’t include Wes in this month’s rankings, so here you go. If I’m going to fawn over Landry Fields for his achievements as a second rounder, it’s only fair for me to point out that undrafted Wes Matthews is the second-best healthy player on a team that’s currently the eighth seed in the West. I thought the Blazers were crazy to sign Matthews to a five-year, $34 million contract this past off-season, but Portland’s Director of NBA Scouting Mike Born clearly saw a few qualities about Matthews that I didn’t. With the news that Brandon Roy intends to return to action within the next week, let’s see how Matthews adjusts if he ends up back in a sixth man role.

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