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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NBA Leaderboard, Part III

The rebounding race will probably go down to the wire but the leaders in wins, scoring and assists may not change much during the season unless/until Kobe Bryant starts stringing together 40 point games.

Best Five Records
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1) Boston Celtics, 11-1
2) Orlando Magic, 13-3
3) San Antonio Spurs, 12-3
4) Phoenix Suns, 11-3
5) Utah Jazz, 10-5

The Boston Celtics still top the charts but the Orlando Magic handed them their only loss and are currently right behind them in the standings. The Spurs, Suns and Jazz are who we thought they were, with the Dallas Mavericks right behind them. Figure out what happened to the Chicago Bulls and how to fix it and you will win the Nobel Prize in the just created category for explaining phenomena that defy logic. One obvious answer is that the Bulls were built around the idea of a bunch of good but not exceptional players who played hard all the time and that this year they are not playing hard--but that just begs the real question: why has an entire team essentially quit?

Top Ten Scorers (and a few other notables)
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1) LeBron James, CLE 31.3 ppg
2) Kobe Bryant, LAL 27.3 ppg
3) Tracy McGrady, HOU 26.6 ppg
4) Carlos Boozer, UTA 25.3 ppg
5) Carmelo Anthony, DEN 25.2 ppg
6) Richard Jefferson, NJN 25.1 ppg
7) Michael Redd, MIL 24.5 ppg
8) Baron Davis, GSW 24.4 ppg
9) Kevin Martin, SAC 24.1 ppg
10) Allen Iverson, DEN 23.6 ppg

14) Dwight Howard, ORL 22.5 ppg
15) Paul Pierce, BOS 22.2 ppg
16) Yao Ming, HOU 21.9 ppg
17) Dirk Nowitzki, 21.4 ppg

19) Kevin Garnett, BOS 20.9 ppg

23) Ray Allen, BOS 19.6 ppg

27) Kevin Durant, SEA 18.9 ppg

James has a stranglehold on the scoring race at the moment and also seems to be determined to lead the league in triple doubles. Bryant got off to a similarly "slow" start (by his lofty standards) last year only to win the scoring title going away. If Bryant really wants the title or if the Lakers need him to start scoring 35 or 40 a night then his average will go up very rapidly. Kevin Martin and Richard Jefferson have never scored like this before, so it is reasonable to assume that their averages will fall to the 22 ppg range. Some 30-point games vaulted Howard to the threshold of the top ten. Like Shaquille O'Neal, he knows his range and does not attempt shots outside of that range. Neither Kevin Garnett nor Tim Duncan is the highest scorer on his team and Dirk Nowitzki only recently passed his Dallas teammate Josh Howard. It seems increasingly obvious now to everyone, but I said all along that Kevin Durant would struggle to even average 20 ppg this season--and he is not making up for his abysmal shooting percentage with his production in any other area.

Top Ten Rebounders (and a few other notables)
----------------------

1) Marcus Camby, DEN 15.0 rpg
2) Dwight Howard, ORL 14.4 rpg
3) Chris Kaman, LAC 13.8 rpg
4) Emeka Okafor, CHA 12.7 rpg
5) Kevin Garnett, BOS 12.7 rpg
6) Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cle 11.9 rpg
7) Shawn Marion, PHX 11.7 rpg
8) Carlos Boozer, UTA 11.5 rpg
9) Al Jefferson, MIN 11.0 rpg
10) Tyson Chandler, CHA 10.3 rpg
11) Andrew Bynum, LAL 10.2 rpg
12) Yao Ming, HOU 10.1 rpg

14) Al Horford, ATL, 9.8 rpg

18) Tim Duncan, SAS 9.1 rpg

21) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 8.6 rpg

24) Jason Kidd, NJN 8.4 rpg

26) Lebron James, CLE 8.3 rpg

33) Shaquille O'Neal, MIA 7.5 rpg

50) Kobe Bryant, LAL 6.2 rpg

Camby is doing his damage in just 33.6 mpg. He is certainly capable of maintaining this level of production if he can avoid injury but his track record indicates that he will miss at least 10 games during the course of the season. Whoever figures out the Chicago conundrum should then tackle the Kaman questions: What has gotten into the Clippers' center (other than some extra opportunities provided by Elton Brand's absence) and can he keep this up all year? Young Andrew Bynum is showing signs of improvement, though his mental lapse at the end of the recent Lakers loss in New Jersey ruined a last second play that Phil Jackson designed. Rookie Al Horford is a more productive all around player than Kevin Durant, contrary to what you may have heard/read/seen elsewhere. Jason Kidd's rebounding numbers are within shouting distance of Dirk Nowitzki's and Tim Duncan's, which is simply remarkable. Shaquille O'Neal has played better recently, while Bryant's rebounding dip can mostly be explained by Bynum's efforts and the return of Lamar Odom.

Top Ten Playmakers
----------------------

1) Steve Nash, PHX 11.0 apg
2) Jason Kidd, NJN 10.4 apg
3) Chris Paul, NOH 10.4 apg
4) Baron Davis, GSW 8.8 apg
5) Deron Williams, UTA 8.7 apg
6) LeBron James, CLE 8.1 apg
7) Jamaal Tinsley, IND 8.1 apg
8) Chauncey Billups, DET 8.0 apg
9) T.J. Ford, TOR 7.8 apg
10) Raymond Felton, CHA 7.8 apg

Not surprisingly, Nash took control of the assists portion of the leaderboad and he does not figure to relinquish that spot. Jason Kidd has a career average of 9.2 apg but he has not averaged double figures in assists since he was Phoenix' point guard.

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:10 AM

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