Welcome to the second iteration of the NBA’s player power rankings. Now that we’re two weeks into the season, things are starting to smooth themselves out. We’re finding out who’s really going to produce and who was just a flash in the pan. Though that transition isn’t complete yet, we’re moving along rather quickly. Make sure you keep pace!
Moving out: Glen Davis, J.J. Redick, Kyle Lowry, Al Horford, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, Darren Collison, Mo Williams, Ray Allen.
Moving in: Anderson Varejao, Kenneth Faried, Paul Pierce, Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker, Russell Westbrook, Monta Ellis, Zach Randolph, Blake Griffin.
Moving up: Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Marc Gasol, Tim Duncan, Rajon Rondo, O.J Mayo,
1. Kobe Bryant
In the wake of what has been a tumultuous 10 game start for the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant has quietly been the best and most consistent player in the NBA. On the season he’s averaged 26.4 points, which leads the NBA, along with 5.4 assists per game and 5.7 rebounds.
The Mamba has been amazing shooting the ball. He’s on pace to have a career high in true shooting percentage which sits at 63% and he also has a usage rate of 29.3%. For those who were clamoring for Bryant to play efficiently and shooting wisely–including myself–he’s doing just that and showing us why there are some who still believe he’s the best player in the NBA.
2. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has been spectacular through the first 11 games of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s young season. He may not be leading the league in point totals just yet, but he certainly is in the running for MVP with the way that he’s rounded out his game.
Durant is scoring 24.5 points per game with 1.4 blocks per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 10.5 rebounds per game. He’s showing that he’s no longer a one trick pony with his scoring averages–Durant picked up his first ever triple double against Golden State on Sunday. He’s committed himself to being a facilitator, a rebounder, and an elite defender. Durant is only allowing 97 points per 100 possessions on the year. That would be a career best mark for him if he keeps it up.
3. Chris Paul
Someone yesterday said to me that by the end of his career Chris Paul could be the best thing we’ve seen at point gaurd since Magic Johnson. Now, I know that John Stockton does exist. But with the way that Chris Paul has played over the last few seasons its possible that he could keep this up.
Paul is averaging 16.3 points per game along with 10 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He has a PER of 26.4 and is assisting on 48% of his team’s shots. Paul’s offensive rating is through the rough once again as well. He’s putting up 128 points per 100 possessions with a usage percentage of only 21.9%. Talk about efficiency.
4. LeBron James
This just in: LeBron James is still doing LeBron James things. He’s been the best player in the NBA since about 2008 and it hasn’t really been much of a race to be quite honest. He won an MVP trophy last season along with his first Finals’ championship and he’s on pace to do just that once again.
LeBron has been under the weather as of late, but that hasn’t stopped him from running through teams like Denver and Phoenix. Miami hasn’t looked strong over the last few games, but that isn’t because of James’ lack of effort. He put up 27 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds against a good Denver team and dropped 32 points on the Rockets in the second half.
5. Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol has been the best all around center in the NBA. He’s got the Grizzlies sitting at 8-2 and it’s mainly because of his work on the elbow. Gasol has been the primary initiator of the Grizzlies offense, hitting guys off of cuts and playing high-low with Randolph exceptionally well.
The double teams that he’s taking advantage of He’s averaging 4.6 assists per game which is more than some guards can get and you can imagine how many hockey assists he actually has. He’s got the highest offensive rating in the league right now at 133 points per 100 possessions and the Grizzlies are winning because of it.
6. Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao, quite frankly, has been the best power forward in the game. He’s put up multiple double-double games already through this young season. His energy and effort plays have equated into some astounding performances for Varejao.
He put up 35 and 18 against a great rebounder in Krish Humphries and he also nearly put up a triple double against Washington. In his last five games he’s totaled at least three assists in each. His PER is a career high 23.2 and he’s obviously been the best player on a Cleveland Cavalier squad that needs him to play this way desperately.
7. Dwight Howard
A huge part of the Lakers’ turnaround from a 1-4 record was Dwight Howard’s defensive play. Through the first five games of the season you could tell that Howard wasn’t 100% back yet. He was rotating slowly to help on the weakside of plays, his shot blocking and rebounding was obviously hurting because of that.
Through the last five games Dwight has had double digit rebounds in all but one of them. He’s averaging 17.6 points per game along with 13.2 rebounds, 3 blocks, and he’s shooting 54% from the field.
8. Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony’s scorching hot start may be over, but he’s still putting up huge numbers. Also, the Knicks have the best record in the NBA–though they’ve only played 8 games thus far. Carmelo is putting up 23.6 points per game and he’s doing it at the power forward position.
Instead of isolating on the perimeter, he’s isolating closer to the basket which is always going to be a plus for anyone. He’s bullying the power forwards in the Eastern Conference because of the lack of size and post skill on both ends of the floor. Smaller line-ups are perfect for the Eastern Conference and Melo is taking advantage of that.
9. Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh has struggled on the defensive end of the floor at the center position, but as a scorer he hasn’t taken a misstep yet. He’s shooting a career high 55% from the field and is scoring 19.6 points per game as well. He’s spacing the floor extremely well for Miami and their space and pace offense is working to a tee because of Bosh’s ability.
I know he’s the third wheel on that big three in South Beach, but that’s a pretty good third wheel to have if you ask me.
10. Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is playing like a 25 year old version of himself. He looks spry running up and down the floor and helps set the pace for his team by doing that. He’s running underneath the rim and bullying the opposition under the basket for points. This isn’t the same Tim Duncan we’ve seen through the last two years. It seems as if he’s going through a renaissance of sorts.
Through 11 games he’s averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, and 2.4 assists per game. This is against some of the best competition that the Western Conference has to offer. This includes the Clippers, the Lakers, the Thunder, and the Knicks.
The Rest of The Best
11. Zach Randolph
12. Kenneth Faried
13. James Harden
14. Rajon Rondo
15. O.J Mayo
16. Jamal Crawford
17. Brandon Jennings
18. Kyrie Irving
19. Nicolas Batum
20. Kemba Walker
21. Kevin Martin
22. Blake Griffin
23. Russell Westbrook
24. Paul Pierce
25. Monta Ellis
Be sure to come back in another two weeks for a newly compiled list with even more surprises!