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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

NBA Leaderboard, Part XV

Dallas fell short in the quest for 70 wins, but clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Kobe Bryant scored 40-plus ppg in March, the fourth time that he has averaged 40 ppg in a month (no one other than Wilt Chamberlain has done it more than once); prior to Sunday's game with Phoenix he had the highest post-All-Star break scoring average that the NBA has seen in 43 years.

Best Five Records

1) Dallas Mavericks, 64-13
2) Phoenix Suns, 58-19
3) San Antonio Spurs, 56-21
4) Detroit Pistons, 50-27
5) Utah Jazz, 48-29

The top five has not changed since the previous leaderboard, but Detroit moved past Utah into fourth position and Houston is just hundredths of a percentage point behind the Jazz. Although Utah has already clinched a division title and the fourth seed, if the Rockets pass the Jazz then they would have home-court advantage when the teams meet in the first round.

Top Five Scorers (and a few other notables)

1) Kobe Bryant, LAL 31.2 ppg
2) Carmelo Anthony, DEN 29.0 ppg
3) Gilbert Arenas, WSH 28.4 ppg
4) Dwyane Wade, MIA 28.4 ppg
5) LeBron James, CLE 27.5 ppg

7) Allen Iverson, DEN 26.6 ppg

10) Vince Carter, NJN 25.0 ppg
11) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 24.7 ppg
12) Tracy McGrady, HOU 24.3 ppg

Agent Zero's hibachi has been snuffed out until next year but Dwyane Wade has returned from his wheelchair. Bryant's remarkable post-All-Star break scoring binge has all but clinched his second straight scoring title; assuming Bryant "merely" maintains his average in the last week of the season, Melo would have to average approximately 54 ppg to catch him--which means that if Kobe were chasing him, we couldn't quite say that the race is over but since it is the other way around it is safe to assume that Bryant has it in the bag. We hear so much about Bryant's scoring streaks that it bears mentioning that he averaged 35.4 ppg last year, the best average in nearly 20 years, and he is averaging over 31 ppg this year despite starting the season slowly as he recovered from knee surgery. He also averaged 30.0 ppg in 2002-03. At some point--and we seem to be well past it--Bryant has to be looked at not just as a player who has had some great streaks but as one of the best scorers in NBA history.

Top Five Rebounders (and a few other notables)

1) Kevin Garnett, MIN 12.9 rpg
2) Tyson Chandler, NOK 12.4 rpg
3) Dwight Howard, ORL 12.2 rpg
4) Carlos Boozer, UTA 11.8 rpg
5) Marcus Camby, DEN 11.5 rpg
6) Al Jefferson, BOS 10.9 rpg
7) Ben Wallace, CHI 10.7 rpg
8) Tim Duncan, SAS 10.7 rpg

10) Shawn Marion, PHX 9.9 rpg

23) Jason Kidd, NJN 8.0 rpg

28) Rasheed Wallace, DET 7.5 rpg

Garnett is on the verge of winning his fourth straight rebounding crown. That has not been done since Dennis Rodman captured seven in a row for three different teams from 1992-98. The only other players who have won at least four consecutive rebounding titles are Wilt Chamberlain (who did it on two separate occasions and likely would have won eight in a row if not for his devastating knee injury in 1969-70) and Moses Malone (five in a row, 1981-85). Four rebounding titles would equal Bill Russell's total (keep in mind that his career overlapped Chamberlain's) and trail only Chamberlain (11), Rodman (7) and Moses Malone (6).

Top Five Playmakers

1) Steve Nash, PHX 11.5 apg
2) Deron Williams, UTA 9.5 apg
3) Jason Kidd, NJN 9.2 apg
4) Chris Paul, NOK 8.7 apg
5) Baron Davis, GSW 8.1 apg

The NBA could have engraved Steve Nash's name on this trophy at the All-Star break. This will be Nash's third straight assists title but he has a long way to go to match the record in this category: John Stockton led the NBA in assists for nine straight years and in the first five of those he averaged at least 13.6 apg, 2.1 apg above Nash's best season. Bob Cousy led the league in assists for eight years in a row (1953-60) and Jason Kidd had a three year run interrupted by Andre Miller and then won two more assists crowns for a total of five in six years. Oscar Robertson had a two year streak broken by Guy Rodgers and then added a three year run after that, so he also won five assists titles in six years.

Starbury is still hanging on to the 20th spot (5.4 apg).

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com

posted by David Friedman @ 6:44 AM



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