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Monday, November 12, 2007

NBA Leaderboard, Part I

The inaugural edition of the 2007-08 leaderboard features familiar names atop the scoring and rebounding lists but a new name leading the charge in assists.

Best Five Records
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1) Boston Celtics, 5-0
2-3) Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, 6-1
4) Detroit Pistons, 5-1
5-8) New Orleans Hornets, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, 5-2

Obviously, it is very early but we see several "old reliables" are getting off to good starts, including the defending champion Spurs, conference finalists Detroit and Utah plus perennial contender Phoenix. You may have heard that Boston added a couple new players. Orlando and New Orleans also made the first Leaderboard last season. Houston has two healthy superstars plus a new coach.

Top Ten Scorers (and a few other notables)
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1) Kobe Bryant, LAL 30.4 ppg
2) Kevin Martin, SAC 28.0 ppg
3) Tracy McGrady, HOU 27.3 ppg
4) LeBron James, CLE 26.6 ppg
5) Carmelo Anthony, DEN 26.3 ppg
6) Richard Jefferson, NJN 26.0 ppg
7) Carlos Boozer, UTA 25.4 ppg
8) Baron Davis, GSW 24.8 ppg
9-10) Allen Iverson, DEN 24.0 ppg
9-10) Yao Ming, HOU 24.0 ppg
11) Paul Pierce, BOS 23.6 ppg
12) Steve Nash, PHX 22.9 ppg
13-14) Ray Allen, BOS 22.6 ppg
13-14) Kevin Garnett, BOS 22.6 ppg

16) Kevin Durant, SEA 21.7 ppg

32) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 19.8 ppg

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Kobe Bryant won the last two scoring titles and has to be considered the favorite this year as well; last season he got off to a slow start by his standards and he still won the title going away. The last scoring champion who three-peated was Michael Jordan, who did it in 1996-98; Allen Iverson won three of the next four scoring titles after Jordan retired. Kevin Martin is a rising star but his numbers figure to go down a bit after Ron Artest and Mike Bibby return. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming are the league's best one-two scoring punch, while Boston's Big Three are proving that there are more than enough shots to go around for the Celtics. Kevin Durant is the only player in the top 26 in scoring who is shooting less than .400 from the field; Gilbert Arenas, #27 at 20.3 ppg, is shooting .356 from the field, including .139 from three point range. Dirk Nowitzki is off to a slow start by his standards (19.8 ppg, .438 field goal shooting).

Top Ten Rebounders (and a few other notables)
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1) Kevin Garnett, BOS 15.8 rpg
2) Dwight Howard, ORL 14.7 rpg
3) Marcus Camby, DEN 14.3 rpg
4-5) Chris Kaman, LAC 13.5 rpg
4-5) Zach Randolph, NYK 13.5 rpg
6) Emeka Okafor, CHA 13.2 rpg
7) Zydrunas Ilagauskas, CLE 13.1 rpg
8) Shawn Marion, PHX 12.9 rpg
9) Carlos Boozer, UTA 12.6 rpg
10) Al Jefferson, MIN 12.4 rpg
11) Tyson Chandler, NOH 11.6 rpg

14-15) Drew Gooden, CLE 10.4 rpg
14-15) Yao Ming, HOU 10.4 rpg

17) Tim Duncan, SAS 10.3 rpg

29) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 8.2 rpg

32) Jason Kidd, NJN 8.0 rpg

39) Kobe Bryant, LAL 7.6 rpg

41) Shaquille O'Neal, MIA 7.5 rpg

Kevin Garnett has cornered the market on rebounding titles; he is going after his fifth straight, a feat not accomplished since Dennis Rodman snared seven in a row while playing for three different teams between 1992-98. Dwight Howard typically starts strong and fades slightly in this category. Chris Kaman's boardwork is a major reason that the Clippers have exceeded expectations so far. Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki rank a bit lower than usual. As usual, Jason Kidd outrebounds many starting frontcourt players. Kobe Bryant is picking up the slack on the glass that was created by Lamar Odom's absence; it is unlikely that he will outrebound the Diesel for a full season.

Top Ten Playmakers
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1) Chris Paul, NOH 11.8 apg
2) Jason Kidd, NJN 10.5 apg
3) Deron Williams, UTA 10.4 apg
4) Steve Nash, PHX 8.9 apg
5) Baron Davis, GSW 8.8 apg
6-7) T.J. Ford, TOR 8.1 apg
6-7) Allen Iverson, DEN 8.1 apg
8) Earl Watson, SEA 7.7 apg
9) Jason Williams, MIA 7.6 apg
10-11) Jamaal Tinsley, IND 7.5 apg
10-11) LeBron James, CLE 7.5 apg

Fueled by his career-high 21 assists on the road versus the Lakers, Chris Paul is the early leader in assists. Last season, the names did not change much on this chart; barring injury, that will probably be true this season as well. Perennial assists leader Steve Nash is scoring a bit more and distributing a bit less in the first few games, perhaps as a result of Amare Stoudemire's knee issues.

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:04 AM

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