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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

NBA Leaderboard, Part XIII

Based on the All-Star voting, the fans and coaches consider the Celtics to be comprised of a Big Two, not a Big Three. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce certainly deserve their All-Star berths but Ray Allen was hardly "snubbed" considering that he is putting up his worst scoring and shooting numbers in quite some time. Early returns indicate that the MVP award is Garnett's to lose, as I predicted when Boston got off to a fast start. The media personnel who vote for the MVP are as predictable as they are wrongheaded. Yes, Garnett is a very good player who has helped to turn Boston around but that whole roster was revamped and he is playing alongside one All-Star in Pierce and a player who has All-Star talent in Allen. Garnett is not more valuable to the Celtics than Kobe Bryant or LeBron James are to their teams nor is he as skilled as Bryant and James nor does he have the postseason and/or clutch resumes that they have--but, despite all of those things, he will probably win his second MVP unless he and the Celtics completely fall apart down the stretch.

Best Five Records
-------------------

1) Boston Celtics, 36-8
2) Detroit Pistons, 34-13
3) Phoenix Suns, 34-14
4-5) Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, 32-15

The East is without question the weaker conference, even if the two best records in the league reside there. The L.A. Lakers still have the sixth best record in the league despite playing without Andrew Bynum for the past 10 games. The Lakers went 5-5 in that stretch but Boston, Detroit and Dallas only went 6-4 so it's not like the other top teams are running away with anything (other than Phoenix and Utah, which went 8-2 and 9-1 respectively in their last 10 games). The defending champion San Antonio Spurs are just a half game behind the Lakers and anyone who thinks that the Spurs will be an easy out in the playoffs is seriously mistaken.

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

1) LeBron James, CLE 30.1 ppg
2) Kobe Bryant, LAL 28.5 ppg
3) Allen Iverson, DEN 26.9 ppg
4) Carmelo Anthony, DEN 25.6 ppg
5) Dwyane Wade, MIA 24.2 ppg
6) Richard Jefferson, NJN 24.0 ppg
7) Michael Redd, MIL 23.0 ppg
8) Chris Bosh, MIA 22.7 ppg
9) Amare Stoudemire, PHX 22.6 ppg
10) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 22.3 ppg
11) Yao Ming, HOU 22.0 ppg

25) Paul Pierce, BOS 20.3 ppg

29) Kevin Durant, SEA 19.6 ppg

35) Kevin Garnett, BOS 19.2 ppg

40) Ray Allen, BOS 18.2 ppg

Last season around this time, Kobe Bryant ranked fourth in scoring and trailed the leader by more than 2 ppg--and he went on to win his second straight scoring title by posting the highest post All-Star Game ppg average in four decades. Bryant and LeBron James figure to have a dramatic battle down the stretch over this year's scoring title. Pau Gasol's arrival in L.A. might result in Bryant's scoring average going down as Gasol gets more touches than Kwame Brown did but it could also lead to Bryant scoring even more if Bryant gets more one on one coverage early in games because teams cannot ignore Gasol the way that they disregarded Brown.

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

1) Dwight Howard, ORL 14.8 rpg
2) Marcus Camby, DEN 14.3 rpg
3) Chris Kaman, LAC 13.9 rpg
4) Tyson Chandler, NOH 12.4 rpg
5) Al Jefferson, MIN 12.2 rpg
6) Tim Duncan, SAS 11.2 rpg
7) Yao Ming, HOU 11.0 rpg
8) Emeka Okafor, CHA 10.8 rpg
9) Carlos Boozer, UTA 10.6 rpg
10) Antawn Jamison, WAS 10.4 rpg

14) Kevin Garnett, BOS 9.9 rpg
15) Al Horford, ATL 9.7 rpg

26) Ben Wallace, CHI 8.7 rpg

28) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 8.7 rpg

33) Jason Kidd, NJN 8.1 rpg

Dwight Howard has faded down the stretch in recent rebounding races but he has a chance to become the youngest rebounding leader ever; he is also flirting with becoming a 20 ppg, 15 rpg, .600 fg% player, something few players have achieved in the past three decades. Tim Duncan has "quietly" moved into the top six in rebounding.

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

1) Steve Nash, PHX 11.8 apg
2) Chris Paul, NOH 10.9 apg
3) Jason Kidd, NJN 10.4 apg
4) Deron Williams, UTA 9.6 apg
5) Jose Calderon, TOR 8.7 apg
6) Jamaal Tinsley, IND 8.5 apg
7) Baron Davis, GSW 8.1 apg
8) LeBron James, CLE 7.2 apg
9) Raymond Felton, CHA 7.1 apg
10) Chauncey Billups, DET 7.0 apg

There is a long tradition of players who think that they have been unfairly left off of the All-Star team putting up big numbers around this time of year. For instance, Deron Williams just lit up Chris Paul, producing 29 points and 11 assists while limiting Paul to six points and six assists as Williams' Jazz obliterated Paul's Hornets, 110-88. I still think that Paul is the better overall player at this stage but Williams has consistently outperformed Paul head to head both individually (17.4 ppg, 6.1 apg, .573 field goal shooting compared to 13.8, 8.1 and .379 for Paul) and collectively (Utah has won seven of eight versus New Orleans).

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:06 AM

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2 Comments:

At Tuesday, February 05, 2008 9:24:00 AM, Blogger Melvin said...

Ray Allen does not really deserve the All Star this year

http://basketballnonsense.blogspot.com/

 
At Tuesday, February 05, 2008 11:58:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Melvin:

When I said that the fans and coaches are calling the Celtics a "Big Two" I was not disagreeing with that assessment; I was just making an observation. I agree that Ray Allen does not deserve to make the All-Star team this year; I said that in my earlier posts about who should make the squad.

My point is that he still has All-Star level talent--meaning that he can be very productive on a given night--and he has played a role in Boston's success, so it is wrong to reflexively give the MVP to KG just because Boston is winning a lot of games. KG deserves top five consideration but Kobe and LeBron should be 1-2 in the MVP voting.

 

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