Blazers' Randolph jumps to top spot with prolific start
Posted: Friday November 10, 2006 4:13PM; Updated: Friday December 15, 2006 10:17AM
We're working in a vacuum here, and we're just fine with that. We know that players like Tim Duncan and Dwyane Wade are just about the best thing the NBA has to offer, but should their performances over the season's first 10 days leave them ranked among the league's top 20 players? Why should we pretend to know better, when it's so fun to throw a bit of exposure toward the players who have playing out of their minds? So, until orthodoxy rears its boring head, we present the second installment of the NBA Player Power Rankings (all stats through Thursday's games).
Randolph still has his brain locks. His poorly timed 60-foot heave with eight seconds left in the first quarter against the Lakers on Wednesday night missed wildly, allowing Los Angeles to corral the rebound and nail an open 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. And yet, you can't argue with the performance of a man who understands his role (score, often, and rebound too) and is performing to the peak of his abilities. He is averaging 28 points and 10.2 rebounds and shooting 51.6 percent from the floor and 91.5 percent from the line.
So far the 31-year-old has improved on his outstanding 2005-06 season, playing 44.2 minutes a night while leading an iffy Sixers team to three wins in its first five games. He is averaging 31.4 points, shooting 46.1 percent from the floor and adding 8.4 assists a game -- a mark that, if sustained, would be a career high. Iverson's not immune to the NBA's newish crackdown on palming violations, however, as he's averaging an unsightly 5.2 turnovers a game.
Arenas made believers out of us at Washington's home opener by wearing a boxing robe during introductions, then dropping 44 points on a Celtics team that couldn't guard Gerry Cooney. Though he's taking fewer shots this season and spreading the wealth a bit more (6.8 assists per game), Arenas is still averaging 28.8 points while adding nearly three steals a night.
With Bonzi Wells still rounding into shape, Shane Battier still struggling to make any sort of impact in Jeff Van Gundy's schemes and Tracy McGrady off to his usual slow start, Yao has been the Rockets' rock in the post. He is averaging 24.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in only 33 minutes, and hardly seems slowed by the foot ailments that cost him precious workout time last summer.
His numbers have been there, and though his Cavaliers impressed with wins over Washington, San Antonio and Chicago, they've dropped games to Charlotte and Atlanta, and James had a lot to do with letting those gimmies slip away. The loss to the Hawks was especially egregious: James tried to win the game from the perimeter. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Joe Johnson, continually took it to the rim while opening up driving lanes for Tyronn Lue. Nevertheless, James is averaging an impressive 2.8 turnovers in 41 minutes a game while his All-Star brethren rack up the traveling calls, and his production is there at 26 points, 8 rebounds and 6.8 assists a game.
The Raptors beat the Sixers on Wednesday with Bosh's last-second three-pointer, and they opened 2-2 thanks to his efficient marks. He's averaging 22 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.25 blocks in 32.8 minutes a game -- and even more incredibly, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell doesn't appear to be running as many plays for Bosh as he set up for the All-Star in 2005-06.
Garnett is the reason the Timberwolves had a chance to win all five games in their 2-3 start. Shooting 57.5 percent from the floor and 90.3 percent from the charity stripe, Garnett is offering the de rigueur 22.4 points and 11.2 rebounds while looking spry on both ends. What's better, Garnett's team is looking like it will be a tough out for the rest of the season -- which is good news, because we wouldn't trust Kevin McHale with another lottery pick.
In a welcome bit of good news for Suns fans struggling to cope with a 1-4 start, Nash is on pace to increase his numbers both in per-game statistics and overall efficiency for a third consecutive season. With Boris Diaw taking on less of a playmaker role, Nash has picked up the slack, notching 11.2 assists per game to go with 20 points on 53.7 percent shooting.
We'll let Bethlehem Shoals of the blog Free Darko handle the bulk of this one: "Jamison might be one of the few players in the league whose actions actually have a remotely 'jazzy' contour to them. The point, though, is that Jamison's kind of idiosyncrasy is rarely considered to be messed-up or broken." Jamison's flips and runners often seem to start at the wrong place, near the side of his hip or cocked behind his right ear, but the Wizards hardly seem to mind. He's averaging 24.3 points in 36 minutes a game and shooting 58 percent from the floor.
It's the best of both worlds for Paul: His Hornets won four of their first five games, which allows the sporting public to focus on just how much this second-year guard has improved. He is averaging 10.6 assists per game, up three from his rookie year, and he's turning the ball over 3.6 times (up from 2.4 last season). How good has Paul been? Tyson "Hands of Stone" Chandler is shooting 70 percent from the floor. Now, this hardly explains Peja Stojakovic's 35 percent mark, but let's try to stay positive, OK?