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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

NBA Leaderboard, Part V

The Boston Celtics looked a bit listless after their Christmas Day loss to the L.A. Lakers but the Celtics have now righted the ship and currently own an 11 game winning streak that has helped them reclaim the best record in the league.

Kobe Bryant's dislocated right ring finger temporarily slowed his mounting challenge to Dwyane Wade's reign as this season's scoring leader, but after his record setting 61 point outburst at Madison Square Garden Bryant leaped to within 1.1 ppg of Wade, which amounts to a difference of roughly 50 points with 35 games to go.

Best Five Records

1) Boston Celtics, 40-9
2) L.A. Lakers, 38-9
3) Cleveland Cavaliers, 37-9
4) Orlando Magic, 36-11
5) San Antonio Spurs, 33-14

The Celtics have not only straightened themselves out but they are the only team in the league's top four that is not missing at least one starter due to injury (although Kevin Garnett is day to day with the flu); the Lakers (Andrew Bynum), Cavs (Delonte West) and Magic (Jameer Nelson) are all adjusting to the absences of key players who will be out for anywhere from a few more games (West) to possibly the entire season (Bynum, Nelson).

Meanwhile, the team that almost everyone considered dead and buried--the San Antonio Spurs--is holding steady with the fifth best record in the NBA and all of their key players healthier than they have been all season long.

Top Ten Scorers (and a few other notables)

1) Dwyane Wade, MIA 28.5 ppg
2) LeBron James, CLE 27.8 ppg
3) Kobe Bryant, LAL 27.4 ppg
4) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 25.8 ppg
5) Danny Granger, IND 25.5 ppg
6) Kevin Durant, OKC 25.0 ppg
7) Al Jefferson, MIN 23.2 ppg
8) Chris Bosh, TOR 22.8 ppg
9) Brandon Roy, POR 22.2 ppg
10) Joe Johnson, ATL 21.5 ppg
11) Chris Paul, NOR 21.5 ppg

16) Tim Duncan, SAS 20.6 ppg
17) Dwight Howard, ORL 20.6 ppg

23) O.J. Mayo, MEM 19.4 ppg
24) Paul Pierce, BOS 19.2 ppg

30) Ray Allen, BOS 18.0 ppg

43) Kevin Garnett, BOS 16.3 ppg

Call him "Three Finger Bryant," but neither an avulsion fracture to the pinkie finger on Kobe's shooting hand nor a dislocation of the ring finger on the same hand apparently will affect his ability to take and make a high volume of shots. With Andrew Bynum out of action for at least two months, someone will have to fill a scoring void for the Lakers and no one is more willing and able to do that than Bryant. I suspect that the race for the scoring title will become a lot closer in the next few weeks.

After averaging 25.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 2.9 apg in December, Kevin Durant averaged 27.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 3.7 apg in January. He is performing in almost total obscurity in Oklahoma City but it is obvious that switching him to his natural position of small forward has worked wonders. Durant will almost surely make the All-Star team next season and may become a fixture on the roster for years to come. As I suggested in the last Leaderboard, he was overhyped as a rookie when he had yet to prove anything but now he may very well be underrated.

Top Ten Rebounders (and a few other notables)

1) Dwight Howard, ORL 13.9 rpg
2) Marcus Camby, LAC 13.1 rpg
3) Andris Biedrins, GSW 11.8 rpg
4) David Lee, NYK 11.7 rpg
5) Troy Murphy, IND 11.4 rpg
6) Al Jefferson, MIN 10.6 rpg
7) Emeka Okafor, CHA 10.5 rpg
8) Tim Duncan, SAS 10.4 rpg
9) Chris Bosh, TOR 9.7 rpg
10) Yao Ming, HOU 9.5 rpg

13) Pau Gasol, LAL 9.1 rpg
14) Kevin Garnett, BOS 9.0 rpg

18) Dirk Nowitzki, DAL 8.3 rpg
19) Andrew Bynum, LAL 8.2 rpg

27) Rasheed Wallace, DET 7.5 rpg
28) LeBron James, CLE 7.5 rpg

31) Rasheed Wallace, DET 7.5 rpg

46) Jason Kidd, DAL 6.4 rpg

Marcus Camby vaulted up to second place on the last Leaderboard but he has cooled off recently, averaging just 6.8 rpg in his last four games. Most of the rest of this Leaderboard has remained pretty stable, though outside of the top 10 LeBron James moved up several spots as he shouldered more of Cleveland's rebounding duties in the wake of Zydrunas Ilgauskas' injury.

David Lee has been putting up some Dwight Howard-type scoring/rebounding numbers recently, averaging 19.8 ppg and 13.6 rpg in his last five games.

Top Ten Playmakers

1) Chris Paul, NOH 10.9 apg
2) Deron Williams, UTA 10.1 apg
3) Steve Nash, PHX 9.6 apg
4) Jose Calderon, TOR 8.6 apg
5) Jason Kidd, DAL 8.3 apg
6) Rajon Rondo, BOS 8.1 apg
7) Chris Duhon, NYK 8.0 apg
8) Baron Davis, LAC 7.9 apg
9) Dwyane Wade, MIA 7.1 apg
10) LeBron James, CLE 7.0 apg

The playmaking Leaderboard usually changes the least but there have been a few shifts: Steve Nash moved up to third after averaging 13.0 apg in his last five games and LeBron James entered the top 10 after a remarkable January in which he reached combined scoring-rebounding-assist plateaus that have not been matched in a month since Larry Bird in March 2007 (27.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 8.2 apg).

Note: All statistics are from ESPN.com

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:51 PM



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