Photo: Miami Heat's LeBron James reacts after failing to draw a foul against the Brooklyn Nets during an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in New York. Brooklyn won 101-100. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Here we go again.
The NBA, the best basketball league in the whole universe, is upon us. LeBron James and the Miami Heat are out to win their third straight championship amid a shaky start,m suffering painful losses to up-and-coming nemesis, the Brooklyn Nets, and young, rebuilding teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and, most recently, the Boston Celtcis courtesy of that buzzer-beating, dagger-in-the-heart, in-your-face, blame-LeBron triple by Jeff Green. Derrick Rose is back. Russell Westbrook has returned. And so is Andrew Bynum. Kobe Bryant remained injured but his comeback is imminent. So many more subplots. All exciting and not lacking in drama, welcome to the NBA.
Two weeks into the 2013-2014 season and we're back at ranking the top players on the planet based on statistics. Read my lips: S-T-A-T-I-S-T-I-C-S. We will be using the formula used in the fantasy basketball world. And I'm referring to the standard nine-category stats—field goal and free throw percentages, three points made, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and turnovers.
I have to warn you guys that the number of championships, individual awards, MVPs, Finals MVPs or scoring titles will have no weight in our computations. Nor this will be a popularity contest. So if you're idol is not here, don't blame me. Blame LeBron James. Oops. Slip of the tongue.
10. Stephen Curry, GSW
After a successful previous season where he missed just four of the 82 regular season games amid worries caused by his brittle ankle, Curry has continued to impress with eye-popping averages of 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.8 steals six games into the season. Curry has willed the entertaining Golden State Warriors to a nice 4-2 (win-loss) start. And if his ankles hold, expect brighter things to come.
9. Kevin Martin, MIN
Martin has ended a couple of years of struggles while hopping from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder and now the Minnesota Timberwolves with a strong, spectacular start. In six games, he has registered norms of 23.3 points on white-hot 46.7 percent field goal shooting, 56.7 percent three-point shooting and 90.2 percent free throw shooting he spiked with averages of 3.3 boards, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals. It was enough to help the Wolves get into rhythm and a solid 4-2 record.
8. Klay Thompson, GSW
Did I tell you that Stephen Curry is the Dubs' second banana? At least for now. Thompson is averaging a career-best 20.4 points on career-high shooting percentages of 51.4 and 46.8 shooting from the field and outside the three-point arc. He's also admirably shooting well from the free throw line where he was 86.7 from there and if he manages to hike it to 90 percent as the season progresses, he will join an elite cast of players who averaged in 50-40-90 (50 fieldgoal, 40 three-point and 90 percent free throw percentages) composed of guess who? Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.
7. Kyle Korver, ATL
If you're impressed with the aforementioned, you will faint in awe with Korver. I mean come on, he's literally shooting the lights out in the NBA. Okay, he's just averaging 14.3 points, 4.2 caroms, 3.3 dimes, 1.7 steals and nearly a block a game. That is an impressive line at first look. Dig deeper and you will see he's shooting at a torrid and efficient pace with percentages of 58.2-58.6-100. That's near perfect. So can I say wow now?
6. Al Horford, ATL
With Josh Smith shipped to Detroit, Horford has taken the cudgels. And boy, he's doing it on an exceptional pace with career-high averages of 18 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.7 blocks. He also passes the ball well averaging 3.2 assists a game. The only chinks to his armor are his free throw shooting (56.5 percent), turnovers (a career worst 2.0) and less triples (hitting just one of two attempts). Otherwise, Horford is a stud out there, fantasy or otherwise.
5. Paul George, IND
George has lived up to expectations and has normed career-highs 25.1 points on career-best percentages of 46.8 (FG), 42.9 (3PTS) and 84.8 (FT) and 7.9 rebounds he topped with 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals and some blocks here and there. Thanks to George and the team's suffocating defense, the Indiana Pacers have zoomed to the top and the only unbeaten team standing thus far with seven wins. Miami Heat beware.
4. Kevin Durant, OKC
After a stellar performance last year and getting the MVP snub, the Durantula is back with a vengeance and averaged 29.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, a career-high 2.0 steals and about a block an outing. His shooting has taken a hit though with percentages of 45.9, 37.3 and 88.6 after a Hall-of-Fame line of 51-41.6-90.5 a season ago. Blame it on the injuries to Westbrook and the absence of a third banana in the molds of James Harden and Kevin Martin. Westrbook is back and the Thunder is looking to fill the void left by Martin by committee.
3. Kevin Love, MIN
We all know Love can score, shoot and rebound. But can he pass? For now, yes. And he's passing at a high rate with his career-high 5.0 assists a game to compliment another career-best 27.2 points. Are we seeing another Larry Bird in the making?
2. Chris Paul, LAC
With more options to pass after some key pre-season additions, CP3 has proven why he's the No. 1 point guard and No. 2 player in the planet for now. He has averaged a career-best and league high 12.6 assists and spiked it with 21.3 points, 4.3 rebouinds and 2.7 steals per game averages. Did I hear you say "Point god?"
Photo: Memphis Grizzlies' Jon Leuer, left, defends against New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
1. Anthony Davis, NO
The Unibrow is in the house. I see raised brows everywhere but hear and listen to me first. Let me lay it down for you one by one--23 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.0 steals and an eye-popping 4.3 blocks a game. If Davis continiues to his hot shot-blocking pace, he'll have a shot at Mark Eaton records of most blocked shots in a season (456) and highest average block shots per game in a regular season (5.56) he achieved for the Utah Jazz in the 1984-85 season.
Postscripts: In case you're wondering where's LeBron on the list, he's No. 15 with norms of 24.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 8.0 assists. For the uninitiated, his scoring is his lowest since he averaged 20.9 during his rookie season. His turnover rate is off the charts being a career-worst. It will probably normalize sooner or later. Don't get me wrong, he's still one of the best players in this generation. It's just the competition has gotten better. Any thoughts, homicidal or otherwise?
Others in the bubble: James Harden, HOU (11th), Mike Conley, MEM (12th), Spencer Hawes, PHI (13th), Brook Lopez, BKN (14th), Wes Matthews, POR (16th), Paul Millsap, ATL, (17th), John Wall, WAS (18th), Damian Lillard, POR (19th) and Greg Monroe, DET (20th).
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