NBA Predictions 2012: Top 5 Scorers, Rebounders and More
It's a huge accomplishment when an NBA player leads the entire league in one of the main statistical categories: points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game or three-pointers made.
These players are all going to do so this year.
With stats updated through games played on Monday, January 8th, read on for my predictions on the top five finishers for each of the aforementioned statistical categories.
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1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (Currently No. 4)
25.7 points per game, 49.2 percent from the field/40.0 percent from the three-point line/78.7 percent from the free-throw line
Kevin Durant's free-throw percentage has plummeted this season, but expect it to climb back up and his scoring average to creep up near 30 points per game.
2. LeBron James, Miami Heat (Currently No. 1)
30.1 PPG, 60.1/0.0/79.7
Without shooting three-pointers, there's a chance that LeBron James could maintain his ridiculous percentage from the field. I doubt he's able to stay quite this efficient, though.
3. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks (Currently No. 3)
27.1 PPG, 45.3/36.6/82.4
This is about what you should expect from Carmelo Anthony during his first full season with the New York Knicks, but a healthy Amar'e Stoudemire and an eventually healthy Baron Davis may cut into his scoring output.
4. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves (Currently No. 5)
25.4 PPG, 47.1/40.5/77.8
Is there anything Kevin Love can't do? Just yesterday I called him the best power forward in the NBA and I'm not ready to back down from that statement.
5. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Currently No. 2)
27.6 PPG, 44.3/20.0/79.7
Kobe Bryant sure is enjoying a bit of a career renaissance this season. The shooting guard is calling his own number quite a bit (maybe a bit too often if you ask me) and he's scoring at a pace we haven't seen from him since the 2007-08 season.
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1. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves (Currently No. 2)
5.3 offensive rebounds per game/9.8 defensive rebounds per game/15.0 total rebounds per game, 15.0 offensive rebound percentage/26.4 defensive rebound percentage/20.8 total rebound percentage
I am ready to hand him the rebounding crown. That is all.
2. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic (Currently No. 3)
Dwight Howard is an absolute monster on the defensive glass, but he doesn't possess the same tenacity as Kevin Love on the offensive boards. That, and that alone, will keep him from ascending any higher on this list.
3. Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers (Currently No. 1)
Andrew Bynum is absolutely cleaning up on the boards so far this season, but he's also playing with fresher legs after serving a suspension to start the year.
As the notoriously fragile seven-footer keeps playing, expect his numbers to decline a bit.
4. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings (Currently No. 8)
To be perfectly clear, DeMarcus Cousins starts a new tier of rebounders as he's clearly not on the level of Howard, Bynum or Love.
Now that Paul Westphal is out of the way (can I say that? Is that okay?), Cousins has free reign to terrorize opposing rebounders.
5. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (Currently No. 6)
You can't teach size and Marc Gasol most assuredly has that. With Zach Randolph sidelined, his rebounding numbers may only go up from here.
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1. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (Currently No. 1)
10.5 assists per game, 51.7 assist percentage
Rajon Rondo just sees things that other players don't. With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen still looking like their old selves, Rondo is still going to rack up a league-leading number of assists.
2. Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns (Currently No. 3)
A list like this just wouldn't feel complete without Steve Nash at or near the top. With the best assist percentage in the league, Nash is going to be sticking around this spot for quite some time.
3. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (Currently No. 5)
If Chris Paul is putting up these kind of numbers while he's still adjusting to playing with his new teammates, just imagine what he's going to be doing when he's comfortable in the system.
4. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (Currently No. 6)
It's a true testament to the greatness of Derrick Rose that he remains an elite scorer while finding himself among the league-leaders in assists. There is no longer any doubt in my mind that the former Memphis floor general is now the best at his position in the NBA.
5. Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors (Currently No. 4)
This might not be the name you expect to see at No. 5 because he's not exactly universally known, but Jose Calderon lives to get assists, even when he's throwing them off his knees.
As the Toronto Raptors continue to improve, Calderon is going to continue to pile up the dimes.
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1. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (Currently No. 1)
2.8 steals per game, 4.1 steal percentage
Chris Paul has led the league in steals three of the past four seasons, so I see no reason to bump him down from the top spot, especially because he's currently leading the league once more.
2. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (Currently No. 14)
Remember how I said that CP3 led the league in "just" three of the past four seasons? Well his reign atop the standings was only interrupted by Rajon Rondo.
The Boston Celtics point guard hasn't equalled his previous numbers, but he's still playing well on the defensive end.
3. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets (Currently No. 4)
Have you ever seen how fast Ty Lawson runs up and down the court? Yeah...his hands might be even faster than his legs.
4. John Wall, Washington Wizards (Currently No. 14)
One of the few areas John Wall hasn't regressed in while making the transition from rookie status to sophomore status is his defensive numbers. His blocks are up and his steals have remained steady at 1.8 per game.
5. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks (Currently No. 3)
My preseason homer pick for this season's biggest breakout player, Jeff Teague has excelled at swiping the ball away from the opposition. He's already had a high steal percentage (2.5 percent in both of his first two seasons at the NBA level), but this year he's taken it to another level despite a huge increase in minutes.
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1. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder (Currently No. 5)
2.2 blocks per game, 6.6 block percentage
Last season's leader in total blocks, but not blocks per game, is up near the top of the rejection leaderboard once more. Serge Ibaka's minutes per game are down this season, but his block percentage is actually up from last year's stellar 6.5 mark.
2. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic (Currently No. 3)
Dwight Howard is always near the lead in this category. 2011-12 has proved to be no exception so far as Superman continues to swat ball after ball into the stands.
Now if only he could pull a Tim Duncan and tip them to his teammates for fast break opportunities on a consistent basis.
3. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (Currently No. 1)
DeAndre Jordan lives to be on the receiving end of alley-oops and to block shots on the other end of the court. He's doing both quite well so far this season, blocking enough attempts to tie for first in the league when it comes to blocks per game.
4. JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards (Currently No. 1)
The man with whom Jordan is tied happens to be JaVale McGee. McGee won't edge out Jordan in blocks, but he does win the more important category: capitalized letters in a name.
5. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks (Currently No. 7)
It may seem a bit weird to have a non-center in the top five for blocks per game, but that's just how unique a talent Josh Smith is.
J-Smoove is the youngest player in NBA history to reach quite a few blocked shot milestones and he's currently handing out rejections at the highest rate in his last four campaigns.
Top Three-Point Snipers
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1. Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic (Currently No. 1)
29 three-pointers made, 39.7 percent
This one came out of nowhere, but Ryan Anderson is here to stay. He's the only true scoring option the Orlando Magic have other than Dwight Howard and the power forward has shown no hesitation to just let it fly.
If D-12 gets traded, R-33 is going to shoot even more.
2. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics (Currently No. 3)
26 made, 63.4%
There's no way that Ray Allen can keep up his ridiculous shooting percentage from downtown, but the all-time leader in three-pointers made is always near the top in this category.
As the season wears on, expect him to loft up even more long-range bombs at the expense of more physical shot attempts.
3. Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks (Currently No. 4)
23 made, 45.1%
Just like Ray Allen, Jason Terry is shooting three-pointers at an unsustainable clip. His rate isn't quite as outlandish, but he also doesn't have the deep-threat pedigree to the same extent as the all-time leader.
4. Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs (Currently No. 1)
29 made, 58.0%
And here we have yet another pace that is going to drop. Forgive me, but I'm conditioned to thinking that Richard Jefferson is not very good at basketball anymore. This young season is making me question that evaluation, but I'm not sold yet.
5. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (Currently No. 7)
18 made, 40.0%
Don't bet against Kevin Durant when it comes to scoring the basketball.