With the NBA preseason well underway, it’s time to start that yearly ritual wherein we read way too much into players’ performances, often ignoring a career’s worth of numbers. For some fans (Knicks masochist here…), it’s about as close to fielding a championship team as we’ll get for the rest of the season. But hey, don’t those fourth string shooting guards have shades of Jordan in them or is it just me? That three year 2.8 ppg and 1.1 apg averages must be an aberration.
For the sake of keeping up with the ESPNs, Bleacher Reports, Ringers, SLAMs, blah, blah, blah… We’ve compiled a players ranking list of our own. The way we’re doing it is according to position. We’ve included traditional career stats but also non-traditional numbers for last season, specifically player impact estimates (pie) and player efficiency ratings (per). Since we’re ranking with an eye on this season, we’ve weighted last season a bit more than previous. Also, a + alongside a per indicates that the number is above career average and a – indicates below. A double of either signifies a significant increase or decrease.
We’ve also included short summaries of player futures according to numerous sportsbooks we’ve used as sources. Most of it won’t surprise many people. Harden expected to win another scoring title. Antetokounmpo and Lillard posting close to 30ppg. Some interesting (but not altogether surprising) predictions have Luka Doncic having a career year in terms of scoring. Trae Young is expected to build on his scoring tear from last year.
The NBA season kicks off on Dec 22 and doesn’t waste any time bringing the drama. Kevin Durant and the Nets take on his former team, the Golden State Warriors. Considering the acrimony that developed between him and Draymond Green, it will be fun to watch whether the two butt heads during the game.
Also playing on opening night are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Let’s be honest here. One’s the champ, the other’s the chump. It hurts to say it, but it’s true. As a friend of mine often used to tell me, “You can’t call white, black.”
But as juicy as opening night looks, we’ve got the eyeballs firmly fixed on Christmas Day. It’s just stacked. You’ve got Zion vs Butler, Steph vs Giannis, Kyrie vs Tatum, Luka vs Lebron, and the Claw vs the Joker. It’s gonna be good. If you’re wanting a bit of insight into how the experts are calling the day’s matchups, check out the opening lines and spreads for NBA Christmas Day.
As a bitter and broken Knicks fan, it pains me to see the Heat favorites against the Pelicans. Mostly because I see Miami and wonder what could have been. Instead of championship rings and Larry O’Brien trophies, we got the Fax Man and Jimmy Sings the Blues. (Which brings to mind Bill Simmons’ spot on description of the Knicks’ woner, “James Dolan was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.”)
Anyways, rant over. Here are SCINQ’s Top 5s from best to 5th best.
- Chris Paul (PHX): 18.5 ppg | 4.5 rpg | 6.7 apg | 87 ft% | 37.0 FG3% | 15.3 pie | 21.7(-) per
- Kyle Lowry (TOR): 14.7 ppg | 4.3 rpg | 6.2 apg | 4.3 rpg | 80.9 ft% | 36.6 fg3% | 12.5 pie | 17.7(-) per
- Stephen Curry (GSW): 20.8ppg | 4.5rpg | 6.6 apg | 90.6 ft% | 43.5 fg3% | 13.3 pie | 21.7(+) per
- Russell Westbrook (WAS): 23.2 ppg | 7.1 rpg | 8.3 apg | 79.9 ft% | 30.5 fg3% | 14.5 pie | 21.0(-) per
- Damian Lillard (POR): 24.2 ppg | 42. rpg | 6.5 apg | 88.9 ft% | 37.3. FG3% | 16.8 pie | 26.9(+) per
- Honorable Mention: Kyrie Irving; Trae Young; Shaquille Harrison; DJ Augustin.
- Survey Says: Sportsbooks are predicting a big year for Lillard. Currently at -122 to score Over 29.5.
- James Harden (HOU): 25.2 ppg | 5.3 rpg | 6.3 apg | 85.8% ft% | 36.3 fg3% | 19.0 pie | 29.1(+) per
- Luka Doncic(DAL): 24.7 ppg | 8.5 rpg | 7.3 apg | 73.7 ft% | 32.1 FG3% | 19.4 pie | 27.6(+) per
- Duncan Robinson (MIA): 11.7 ppg | 2.9 rpg | 1.2 apg | 91.0 ft% | 43.7 fg3% | 8.2 pie | 13.1(+) per
- Jrue Holiday (MIL): 15.9 ppg | 3.9 rpg | 6.4 apg | 77.7 ft% | 35.4 fg3% | 11.5 pie | 17.0(+) per
- Joe Ingles (UTA): 8.3 ppg | 3.2 rpg | 3.6 apg | 75.1 ft% | 40.7 fg3% | 9.6 pie | 12.6(+) per
- Honorable Mention: Devin Booker; CJ McCollum; Donte DiVincenzo.
- Survey Says: Sportsbooks are predicting another league-leading scoring campaign for the Beard. Currently at -110 to score Over 33.5.
- Lebron James (LAL): 27.1 ppg | 7.4 rpg | 7.4 apg | 73.4 ft% | 34.4 fg3% | 19.8 pie | 25.5(-) per
- Kawhi Leonard (LAC): 18.7 ppg | 7.1 rpg | 2.7 apg | 85.5 ft% | 38.3 fg3% | 19.1 pie | 26.9(+) per
- Khris Middleton (MIL): 16.3 ppg | 4.6 rpg | 3.4 apg | 87.6 ft% | 39.2 fg3% | 15.4 pie | 21.1(+) per
- Zion Williamson (NOP): 22.5 ppg | 6.3 rpg | 2.1 apg | 64.0 ft% | 42.9 fg3% | 14.1 pie | 24.1 per
- Jimmy Butler (MIA): 17.0 ppg | 5.1 rpg | 3.7 apg | 83.5 ft% | 33.3 fg3% | 15.9 pie | 23.6(+) per
- Honorable Mention: Tobias Harris; Gordon Hayward; Davis Bertans
- Survey Says: James and Leonard are essentially neck and neck in player futures.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 20.1 ppg | 8.9 rpg | 4.3 apg | 72.2 ft% | 28.4 fg3% | 23.9 pie | 31.9(++) per
- Jayson Tatum (BOS): 17.3 ppg | 6.0 rpg | 2.2 apg | 82.9 ft% | 40.1 fg3% | 14.3 pie | 20.1(+) per
- Christian Wood (HOU): 9.5 ppg | 4.8 rpg | 0.6 apg | 73.4 ft% | 36.8 fg3% | 15.3 pie | 23.2 per
- Kristaps Porzingis (DAL): 18.4 ppg | 7.6 rpg | 1.4 apg | 80.3 ft% | 35.8 fg3% | 12.8 pie | 20.2(+) per
- Pascal Siakam (TOR): 12.8 ppg | 5.6 rpg | 2.3 apg | 76.4 ft% | 33.4 fg3% | 12.9 pie | 17.9(+) per
- Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant; Bam Adebayo; Anthony Davis; Danilo Gallinari
- Survey Says: Sportsbooks predicting Durant to score Over 26.5 ppg. (Teammate Kyrie Irving is expected to post similar numbers.) The Greek Freak leads the charge at this position though. Currently -110 Over 29.5.
- Nikola Jokic (DEN): 17.0 ppg | 9.6 rpg | 5.5 apg | 81.7 ft% | 33.8 fg3% | 17.9 pie | 24.9 per
- Rudy Gobert (UTA): 11.7 ppg | 11.0 rpg | 1.4 apg | 63.1 ft% | 0.0 fg3% | 15.1 pie | 21.7(+) per
- Joel Embiid (PHI): 23.9 ppg | 11.5 rpg | 3.1 apg | 79.3 ft% |31.9 fg3% | 19.4 pie | 25.8(+) per
- Danial Theis (BOS): 6.7 ppg | 4.8 rpg | 1.2 apg | 75.3 ft% | 34.4 fg3% | 10.8 pie | 17.9(+) per
- Brook Lopez (MIL): 26.8 ppg | 6.4 rpg | 1.5 apg | X79.3 ft% | 34.1 fg3% | 8.8 pie | 15.0(-) per
- Honorable Mention: Nikola Vucevic; Ivica Zubac; Karl-Anthony Towns.
- Survey Says: Joel Embiid leads the pack among big men. Towns is a close second, according to sportsbooks.
WORDS: Marc Landas