Ranking the Top 100 NBA Players Pre-All-Star Break: 10 – 1

0
873
Top 100 NBA Players: Pictured LeBron James
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 12: LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers licks his chops as the Lakers cruise to the finish line against the Denver Nuggets during overtime quarter of Los Angeles' 120-116 win on Wednesday, February 12, 2020. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

There have been delays, postponements, quarantines, and no fans in attendance, but the NBA has managed to make it to the half-way point of the season: All-Star Weekend. Despite the wildly unusual season, the league has still seen its fair share of star power and outstanding performances. Looking primarily at the numbers, we’ve ranked our Top 100 NBA players so far this season.

While it is understood that numbers don’t always tell the full story, we’ve taken several different stats into consideration along with our own version of the eye-test to determine our Top 100 NBA players ranking. While the obvious stats like PPG, APG, RPG, SPG, and BPG are considered, we also looked at their total accumulated stats on the season to form a better picture of who’s been both performing and consistently available. Along with traditional player stats, things like team win percentage, total games played, and a few advanced metrics such as PER, Win Shares, and Box Plus/Minus were considered.

Usage Rate is an interesting metric that we’ve implemented as a tie-breaker of sorts. If two players are averaging very similar stats but one has an extremely high usage rate, the player performing at a similar level with less usage will earn a slight advantage in our Top 100 NBA player rankings, though it is not being used to tank superstars with perennially high usage rates like James Harden, Luka Doncic, or Stephen Curry.

Keep in mind that many of the players that did make our Top 100 NBA players list will take a hit in the rankings due to time missed. Their per-game stats may prove to be elite, but this list is an attempt to encapsulate total availability and production so far this season.

Now that we’ve established an overview of our ranking model, let’s get straight to it.

Rankings

100 – 76 | 75 – 51 | 50 – 26 | 25 – 11

#10 Kawhi Leonard

An unfortunate collapse in the Orlando Bubble left the LA Clippers with only one guaranteed season left on Leonard’s contract. So far, he’s been making the most of it. Despite having one of the quitter personalities in the league, Leonard has stepped up into the role of on-court leader for the Clippers this season. He’s been mentioned in a few MVP discussions and has led his squad to a Top 4 seed in the West at the All-Star break.

Leonard is averaging 26.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 0.5 BPG on 51-39-87 shooting splits. He has done an excellent job at getting to his spots and making defenders pay with lethal midrange fadeaways and floaters. Leonard has also been a regular visitor to the charity stripe all season, ranking 13th in the league with 165 made free throws already. The most impressive part of his resume is Leonard’s advanced statistics. He ranks 16th in box plus/minus at 6.0, 8th in PER at 26.7, and 6th in Win Shares with 5.1 already this season.

#9 Bradley Beal

Beal, a now 3x All-Star, is once again leading the league in scoring, ranking 1st in both PPG and total points this season. He’s one of only four players this season to have already scored 1,000 prior to the All-Star break, and he’s done so in the fewest amount of games. Alongside new running mate, Russell Westbrook, Beal has leaned into his role as the clear #1 (and sometimes only) option. He rounds out his stat line with 5.4 RPG, 4.7 APG, and 1.4 SPG while shooting 48.2% from the field, 33.5% from distance, and 90.3% from the free-throw line.

The Wizards are desperately trying to avoid another bottom-of-the-league finish to their season. They’ve rattled off a few impressive win streaks thanks in large part to Beal’s all-around dominance. Even when they haven’t won, Beal is putting up monstrous lines night in and night out. He ranks below league average in only one stat this season: blocks per game. Beal’s PER of 24.8 is only that much more impressive when you combine it with the fact that he has the 3rd highest usage rate in the NBA this season.

#8 LeBron James

Does The King truly no longer reign supreme? We wouldn’t go that far, but so far this season he’s being outproduced on a per-game, total-stat, and advanced-stat basis but several other players. Even so, James is averaging 25.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.6 BPG across 36 games this season, missing only the game just before the All-Star break due to rest. Coming off of the shortest offseason in sports history, James is once again setting the example by nearly leading the league in games played at the midway point.

The biggest reasons LeBron is not higher on our Top 100 NBA players ranking are his shooting percentages. His 50.9% from the field is fine and his 35.8% from three is barely above league average, but his 69.2% free throw shooting is flat-out bad ranking outside the Top 300 players this season. Having average-at-best percentages with a Top 15 usage rate does not bode well in our model, but clearly, it didn’t knock King James fully off his throne. If there was one Top 10 player I’d want to avoid in the playoffs at all cost, it remains LeBron James.

#7 Stephen Curry

Curry remains the only unanimous MVP in league history, and this season presents him with a brand-new challenge. Kevin Durant no longer plays in Golden State, Klay Thompson is out for the season with another devastating injury, and Draymond Green is not the fringe All-Star he once was. Curry is currently tasked with helping to piece together a rag-tag group of streaky shooters and lengthy defenders into a playoff candidate. So far, he’s not doing too shabby.

Curry averages 29.7 PPG, 6.3 APG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.3 SPG while shooting 47.8% from the field, 41.1% from behind the arc, and 93.4% from the free-throw line. He lands above league average in every single stat considered aside from BPG and total blocks and ranks 1st in 3-pointers made with 169 along with 2nd in total points with 1,039. Advanced stats seem to love Curry as well, seeing as he ranks in the Top 15 in PER (14th), Win Shares (8th), and box plus/minus (6th). The Warriors remain in the playoff hunt, and Curry remains one of the best players in the league even without any All-Star assistance.

#6 Damian Lillard

Lillard is making his case for the best point guard in the league. Of course, he’s still got a few major names to compete with, but the numbers don’t lie. Lillard is averaging 29.8 PPG (3rd in the league), 8.0 APG (8th in the league), 4.3 RPG, and 1.0 SPG. Much like Curry, Lillard ranks above league average in every single stat aside from BPG and total blocks. He’s also got the 9th PER in the league along with the 4th most Win Shares.

The Blazers have seen their fair share of injuries this season as well, including Lillard’s two best running mates, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. While Nurkic struggled pre-injury, McCollum opened the season on an absolute tear. It makes you wonder just how good Lillard’s stats may have been at this point had he not deferred some extra scoring opportunities to McCollum during his hot-streak. Regardless, Lillard is showing yet again why he’s deserving of a Top 10 ranking on our Top 100 NBA players list.

#5 Luka Doncic

Doncic opens up our Top 5 players of the season so far. The 21-year-old point guard ranks among the Top 20 players in the league in several major stat categories and lands above league average in every single metric considered. He averages 28.6 PPG (8th in the league), 9.0 APG (4th), 8.4 RPG (20th), 1.0 SPG, and 0.7 BPG. Doncic also ranks 8th in total points, 7th in free throws made, and 5th in total assists, along with tallying 7 triple-doubles across 32 games so far this season.

Doncic is the Mavericks leader on and off the court, as well as one of the biggest faces in the league. The European phenom has already proven to be amongst the best players in the world, dominating two different leagues before turning 22 years old. Despite having the 4th highest usage rate in the league, Doncic remains one of the more efficient players in the league. His turnover numbers are not ideal, but he still ranks in the Top 15 with a PER of 26.2 at the midway point of the season.

#4 James Harden

A change of scenery did little to slow down Harden’s impressive production. He’s played in 31 games across his time in Houston and Brooklyn this season, along with averaging a league-leading 37.8 MPG. Harden also leads the league in APG and total assists with 11.1 and 345 respectively. The 31-year-old shooting guard has been labeled as a ball-hog and pure scorer, but Harden is proving once again that he is a more than capable and willing passer.

Along with his impressive assist numbers, Harden is averaging 25.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG, and 0.7 BPG while shooting 48.4% from the field, 40.1% from distance, and 85.9% from the free-throw line. He’s contributed 5.4 Win Shares so far this season, good for 4th in the league. Perhaps the most impressive part of Harden’s game is the fact that he’s putting up elite stats and league-leading assist numbers on the 47th highest usage rate in the league. He plays alongside two perennial All-Star players now in Brooklyn, allowing him to assume a lesser role than his ball-dominant role in Houston, but he’s still managing to be one of the league’s best facilitators.

#3 Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo is putting up another monster campaign coming off of back-to-back MVP seasons. His stat line is truly eye-popping consisting of 29.0 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.4 BPG, and 1.3 SPG. Numbers like this should land him right back in the MVP conversation, as well as defensive player of the year and many other potential award races. Antetokounmpo has played in 35 games this season and ranks in the Top 25 in nearly every total-stat metric used in this Top 100 NBA Player rankings including 21st in total assists, 15th in total steals, 9th in total blocks, 6th in total rebounds, 4th in free throws made, 3rd in total points, and 2nd in field goals made.

Antetokounmpo is once again the cornerstone piece of one of the best teams in the league. The Bucks front office did well in surrounding their superstar with more talent this season with the likes of Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, and DJ Augustin. While these veteran additions have made a difference for the championship-hopeful Bucks, Antetokounmpo remains the driving factor behind this team’s success. He ranks 2nd in Win Shares with 5.8, 4th in box plus/minus at 8.1, and 6th in PER at 29, all while boasting the 7th highest usage rate in the league.

#2 Joel Embiid

Speaking of an MVP-caliber resume, Embiid might just be the front runner for the award this season. Despite playing in only 30 of Philly’s 36 games, he ranks 2nd in per-game stats and 2nd in advanced stats. Embiid’s 30.2 PPG ranks 2nd in the league trailing only Bradley Beal’s 32.9 PPG. He’s also averaging 11.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.4 BPG, and 1.2 SPG while shooting 52.1% from the field, 41.6% from behind the arc, and 85.6% from the FT line.

Embiid has a PER of 31.1 (3rd in the league), helping his resume as one of the most efficient stars in the league this season. He has a Top 10 usage rate but maintains fantastic percentages and efficiency. He has also contributed 5.8 Win Shares, good for 2nd in the league, and posting a box plus/minus of 8.5, good for 3rd in the league. Embiid’s dominance this season should not go unnoticed. He has led his 76ers to the best record in the East with incredible performances and consistency, dominating nearly every player matched up against him.

#1 Nikola Jokic

The Serbian big man has been on an absolute tear this season. He’s averaging career highs in PPG (27.1), RPG (11.0), APG (8.6), and SPG (1.6) along with tallying nine triple-doubles already through 35 games played. Jokic is above league average in every single stat considered in this ranking, as well as being unprecedently excellent in a couple of major stats.

Jokic has accumulated 309 assists and 8.3 Win Shares compared to league averages of 53.2 and 1.1 respectively. For perspective, only three other players have 300 total assists this season, James Harden (345), Trae Young (321), and Chris Paul (300), and not a single player has above 5.8 (Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounpo) Win Shares.

Beyond the stat sheet, Jokic has been phenomenal this season. For the first time in his career, he’s attacking defenses with the confidence of a true superstar. Not that he hasn’t been capable of this type of production before, but The Joker has always been a pass-first player. By aggressively looking to score, he’s opened up even more assist opportunities for himself to get his teammates involved. Career highs in every major category, almost double the amount of Win Shares as the next closest player, the only positive double-digit box plus/minus, and nearly single-handedly carrying a team into the playoff race is a hard resume to beat. The Joker has earned his way into the top spot of our Top 100 NBA players so far this season.

For more on all your favorite players and teams, visit us at OvertimeHeroics.net and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Main image credit:

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here