2010-11 NBA Preview: Projecting the Top Scorers, Rebounders and More

Allen KimSenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2010

2010-11 NBA Preview: Projecting the Top Scorers, Rebounders and More

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    With the 2010-11 NBA season just around the corner, anticipation is at an all-time high.

    After seeing a drastic alteration in the NBA landscape occurring over the summer, the leader boards are expected to be shaken up as new and old faces alike look to claim their dominance.

Top Scorers

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    1.  Kevin Durant, OKC

    Kevin Durant should have no problem this year taking the scoring crown for the second year in a row.

    Playing in the same system with nearly all the same players, there shouldn’t be a difference in tempo and offense. However, with the development of the supporting cast, Durant may not surpass his numbers from last season.

    James Harden’s offensive growth should make the biggest impact on Durant’s numbers.

    Could he surpass his 30.1 average from last season? Easily. However, he may not have to shoulder the offensive load with all the weapons around him.

    2009-10 season average: 30.1 points per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 29.7 points per game

    2.  Carmelo Anthony, DEN

    Carmelo will be a man on a mission this year. With all signs pointing to him starting the season as a Nugget, he’ll be looking to prove his worth to potential suitors.

    If and when he does get traded, it would probably impact his numbers negatively for the short term, but there’s no reason to think he’ll stop doing what he does best, which is get buckets.

    Since this is a contract season, he’ll have his foot on the gas all year looking to demolish opposing defenses. This season may very well be a turning point in his career.

    2009-10 season average: 28.2 points per game 

    2010-11 projected season average: 28.7 points per game


    3.  Amar'e Stoudemire, NYK

    Now that Amar’e is the man in New York, he’ll have free reign as the main focus on offense. When he calls for the ball, his teammates would be wise to feed it to him.

    Over the summer and into the preseason, Amar’e has shown glimpses of a new weapon in his already burgeoning offensive arsenal: the three-ball. Being able to stretch the floor with deep range should do wonders for his offensive game.

    Playing with a chip on his shoulder, Stoudemire will look to prove all the naysayers wrong and show that he is still one of the most dangerous offensive forces in the league.

    2009-10 season average: 23.1 points per game 

    2010-11 projected season average: 27.2 points per game


    4.  LeBron James, MIA

    Now that LeBron finally has a competent cast of teammates to play with, he won’t have to bear the entire load on offense. Teams can no longer double and triple-team him as he’ll form arguably the most potent one-two punch with Dwyane Wade.

     Then, of course, there’s Chris Bosh lurking around waiting for those open spot-up opportunities.

    It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see James concentrate on playing the role of point guard, looking to set his teammates up rather than doing the damage himself.

    2009-10 season average: 29.7 points per game 

    2010-11 projected season average: 26.8 points per game


    5.  Kobe Bryant, LAL

    Father time is finally starting to catch up to Kobe Bryant.

    With a myriad of injuries, the Lakers will look to keep their leader fresh for the playoffs, and they would be smart to do so.

    It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Phil sits Kobe from time-to-time as they lean on the rest of the Lakers’ already stacked squad. There’s no reason to risk aggravating any of his ailing body parts during the regular season as there are no true threats to their stranglehold atop the Western Conference.

    2009-10 season average: 27.0 points per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 26.1 points per game 

Top Rebounders

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    1.  Dwight Howard, ORL

    Dwight has had little trouble claiming the rebounding title for the past three years and for good reason—he’s an absolute beast on the glass.

    That shouldn’t change this season, but he does have competition nipping at his heels.

    Howard will be coming into the season motivated and ready to battle for supremacy atop the East as he has some serious in-state competition to worry about.

    Plus, after taking lessons from the great Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight may be a bit more mature—or at least intense—for the season.

    2009-10 season average: 13.2 rebounds per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 13.7 rebounds per game


    2.  Kevin Love, MIN

    Kevin is finally getting an opportunity to show what he can do in Minnesota.

    After years of waiting behind Al Jefferson, Rambis will have no choice but to play Love as he should take on the role of franchise cornerstone.

    Love has been on a tear throughout the preseason, snatching up nearly every board that comes off the glass.

    Last year, in just under 29 minutes a game, Love averaged an impressive 11 boards. Per 48 minutes, Kevin came in at the No. 2 spot pulling in rebounds at an 18.4 rate, ahead of even Dwight Howard.

    2009-10 season average: 11.0 rebounds per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 12.9 rebounds per game


    3.  Zach Randolph, MEM

    Randolph continually gets overlooked for the production he provides on a nightly basis.

    Over the course of his career, Zach has been a double-double machine capable of putting up around 20 points and 10 rebounds on any given night. The expected growth by Marc Gasol is sure to negatively affect his numbers, but not by much.

    In the final year of his contract, Randolph will be motivated to play even harder as he aims to take Memphis into the post-season.

    2009-10 season average: 11.7 rebounds per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 11.3 rebounds per game


    4.  Marcus Camby, POR

    Even at the age of 36, Camby—when healthy—manages to get the job done every single night. He’s one of the most efficient front-court players and rebounding is one of his specialties.

    With Oden all but guaranteed to miss time this year, Camby will be leaned on to bring his tenacious defense to a Portland team looking to make some serious noise in the West.

    His front-court mate, LaMarcus Aldridge, is a mediocre rebounder for his size, and Camby will more than make up for his deficiencies.

    2009-10 season average: 11.8 rebounds per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 11.1 rebounds per game

    5.  David Lee, GSW

    Now that Lee will be playing alongside a legitimate center in Andris Biedrins, his numbers won’t be as inflated as they were in New York. He’ll be seeing the majority of his minutes at his more natural position in the power forward spot.

    This isn’t to say that he isn’t a capable rebounder, as he’s one of the best in the game today. Just don’t expect him to challenge the likes of Dwight Howard for the rebounding title.

    Also, with Don Nelson out of town, the Warriors’ pace should slow down a bit under Keith Smart, giving Lee even less opportunities to attack the glass.

    2009-10 season average: 11.7 rebounds per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 10.9 rebounds per game

Best Setup Men

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    1.  Chris Paul, NOH

    After an injury plagued season, Paul will look to come back strong and take back the crown of top point guard in the league from Deron Williams.

    Chris is one of the most competitive players in the league and he wills his team to victory. He has one of the highest IQs in the league and uses it to exploit defenses and find the open man

    As one of the top slashers in the league with a dribble drive that is near unmatched, he can break down defenses and draw multiple defenders. This will be vital as Marcus Thornton and Trevor Ariza are great knock-down shooters that will be sitting on the wings waiting for that open look.

    Also, you can't forget about the "17-foot assassin", David West. He has great chemistry with Paul and is one of the most reliable and efficient power forwards in the league.

    Even Emeka Okafor, with a full season under his belt in New Orleans, should be more effective this upcoming season.

    2009-10 season average: 10.7 assists per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 11.5 assists per game


    2.  Deron Williams, UTA

    The general consensus around the league appears to be that the Utah Jazz offense will not be as potent as it was in recent years. This is simply not the case.

    Carlos Boozer signing with the Chicago Bulls during the offseason? No problem.

    The Jazz front office went out and traded for Al Jefferson, a player that is not only younger, but has far higher upside. Deron told Al Jefferson over the summer that he intends to make him an All-Star, and I, for one, will take him at his word.

    However, it doesn't stop there. After coming off the bench for years, Paul Milsap is finally starting for the Jazz. While his offense is not as polished as Boozers—at least not yet—he will easily replace Carlos's numbers and make him an afterthought in Utah.

    Deron has mastered the pick-and-roll and he'll make even the best defenses in the league sweat as he creates havoc with his two big men.

    2009-10 season average: 10.5 assists per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 10.9 assists per game


    3.  Steve Nash, PHO

    Nash continues to defy expectations as he continues to be one of the elite point guards in the league, even at the age of 36.

    While Phoenix added some firepower over the summer, they lost their most devastating weapon in Amar'e Stoudemire. Make no mistake about it, Nash will continue to drop dimes, but they won't be as easy to come by.

    Still, in Alvin Gentry's up-tempo offense, Nash will continue to orchestrate the offense to perfection, but don't expect him to break that 11 assist barrier.

    2009-10 season average: 11.0 assists per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 10.4 assists per game


    4.  Rajon Rondo, BOS

    Rajon continues to get better and make a case for the top point guard in the league.

    He has wrestled control of this Celtics' team as he has forced the big three moniker out of the collective thoughts of those around the country. Now, calling the Celtics' team anything less than the big four would be an insult.

    With Kevin Garnett purportedly at his healthiest in two years, the Celtics will look to make another run at a title.

    This is arguably the deepest team the Celtics have had since their title run and Rondo has yet to reach his ceiling. Expect nothing short of a career season.

    2009-10 season average: 9.8 assists per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 10.1 assists per game


    5.  Jason Kidd, DAL

    Kidd has been one of the most productive guards in the league for the past 16 years and he is without a doubt a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

    This is arguably the most talented team he has ever been on, and now that the team has had a full summer to get their bearings, they will be a dangerous force in the West.

    Jason is likely to see a drop in playing time as the Mavericks look to keep their aging guard fresh for the playoffs. Even so, Kidd is as consistent as they come, and this nightly triple-double threat will continue to thread the needle as he racks up dimes.

    2009-10 season average: 9.1 assists per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 8.9 assists per game

Top Three-Point Shooters

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    1.  Danny Granger, IND

    While Granger had a solid season last year, he didn’t really improve upon his numbers from the season before. Injuries derailed a good part of his season and he’ll look to bounce back this year.

    The Pacers’ managed to steal Darren Collison away in a huge four-team deal over the summer. Now that the Pacers have a competent point guard to run the offense, it should open things up for Granger to knock down jumpers from beyond the arc.

    Granger is in line for a career season.

    2009-10 season average: 2.5 three-pointers made per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.8 three-pointers made per game

    2.  Aaron Brooks, HOU

    Aaron took home a well-deserved Most Improved Player award last season. Now that he’s in the final year of his contract with no extension expected to be offered during the season, Brooks will be playing extra motivated as he looks for that big pay day.

    With Trevor Ariza no longer in town, the entire Houston team will have far more opportunities on offense as Ariza took an inordinate amount of shots at an incredibly inefficient rate. As the man who orchestrates the offense, Brooks should be the main beneficiary of the extra touches set to go around.

    Yao Ming is also back in the lineup, which should give the Rockets’ young point guard even more open looks as Yao commands extra attention in the post.

    2009-10 season average: 2.5 three-pointers made per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.6 three-pointers made per game


    3.  Danilo Gallinari, NYK

    As the best three-point shooter on an offense predicated on spreading the floor, Gallinari will have the green light to shoot from deep all season long.

    Now that Amar’e is in town commanding constant double-teams in the post, it should open things up tremendously on the perimeter. Not to mention, the Knicks upgraded significantly at the point guard position, with Raymond Felton sure to make Danilo’s life easier as he dishes him the rock.

    Of course, the caveat with having stronger offensive options means Danilo will be getting less looks, but he should at least be more efficient this season. And again, this is a Mike D’Antoni offense, so Danilo will continue to shoot plenty of threes this season.

    2009-10 season average: 2.3 three-pointers made per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.4 three-pointers made per game


    4.  Mo Williams, CLE

    Mo Williams will be a huge part, if not the focal point of the Cleveland offense.

    Cleveland's new head coach, Byron Scott, knows how to utilize his point guards and it should be no different with Mo. It's no mere coincidence that the two best point guards Scott coached—Jason Kidd and Chris Paul—had their best years under his watch.

    Of course, you can argue that without LeBron James drawing so much attention that Williams will not have the same open looks, and you wouldn't be wrong.

    Nonetheless, he'll undoubtedly be playing a career high in minutes, and in turn, his attempts should go up too.

    2009-10 season average: 2.3 three-pointers made per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.3 three-pointers made per game

    5.  Rashard Lewis, ORL

    Offensively, Rashard has been getting worse and worse since he joined the Magic. However, he can always be counted on to do one thing, which is chuck up a lot of threes.

    Rashard's numbers took a dip last season, and the same should be expected of this season.

    The biggest culprit? Well, Rashard clearly takes the majority of the blame here, but the addition of Vince Carter and the expanded role of J.J. Reddick take a fair share too.

    Plus, his minutes have dropped significantly over the past two years and it wouldn't be surprising if it plunges even further this year.

    2009-10 season average: 2.3 three-pointers made per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.1 three-pointers made per game

Best Thieves

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    1.  Chris Paul, NOH

    Chris Paul is to steals as Dwight Howard is to blocks—he is head-and-shoulders above the competition. When healthy and motivated, he has no equal.

    Paul anticipates passes with near clairvoyance and he gets in front of the ball using his incredible speed. Also, with quick hands, it makes stripping opponents easy.

    He's an excellent defender, as evidenced by two selections to the All-Defensive First Team and one to the Second Team. His ability to steal the ball contributed largely to those selections.

    2009-10 season average: 2.1 steals per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.6 steals per game


    2.  Rajon Rondo, BOS

    Rondo finally received the recognition he deserves by being selected to the All-Defensive First Team last year.

    He has abnormally large hands for his size, and he uses them to pick the pockets of unsuspecting players everywhere.

    Possessing blinding lateral speed, Rondo is able to force turnovers relying on pure speed alone. Of course, it helps tremendously that he has great defensive instincts that allow him to strip the ball at an alarming rate.

    He may be the most effective guard at poking the ball out of the hands of slashing players.

    2009-10 season average: 2.3 steals per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.4 steals per game


    3.  Monta Ellis, GSW

    Monta is generally considered to be a poor defender, but he has a knack for stealing the ball.

    Many of Ellis' steals are largely attributed to his ability to get into passing lanes. Of course, he gambles far too often when he goes after the ball.

    He plays pressure defense—poorly I might add—but it leads to plenty of turnovers.

    2009-10 season average: 2.2 steals per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.1 steals per game


    4.  Stephen Curry, GSW

    Stephen was one of the top thieves during his time at Davidson.

    Like his back-court mate, Monta Ellis, Curry likes to play passing lanes. He hustles and that allows him to force turnovers.

    While at a physical disadvantage against bigger guards, Curry is aggressive in man-to-man defense and uses his good hands to force turnovers.

    2009-10 season average: 1.9 steals per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.0 steals per game


    5.  Dwyane Wade, MIA

    Wade ranks just behind Kobe Bryant for top honors as the best defender at the shooting guard position.

    On a team made up of mostly poor defenders, Wade led the charge to make them one of the most efficient and effective defensive teams in the NBA.

    Dwyane has an uncanny ability to anticipate passes and he uses his hands to actively poke the ball out of the hands of unwary players.

    Now that he has LeBron at his side, the two can cause havoc along the perimeter on defense as they both play off their strong defensive abilities.

    2009-10 season average: 1.8 steals per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 1.9 steals per game

Best Shot Blockers

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    1.  Dwight Howard, ORL

    As the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard earns that honor through his dominating defensive prowess. Howard can single-handedly impact the outcome of a game through his defense.

    Among his defensive tools, it's his ability to turn shots away at the rim that makes him such a fearsome force.

    With several sessions of direct tutoring from Hakeem Olajuwon—the all-time leading shot blocker—under his belt, Dwight can take his already strong instincts and make them legendary.

    This is the year he finally breaks the 3 blocks per game barrier.

    2009-10 season average: 2.8 blocks per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 3.2 blocks per game

    2.  JaVale McGee, WAS

    In 16 minutes, McGee managed to block 1.7 shots per game. His blocks per 48 minutes came in at a league high 5.01 clip last season—far and away the best in the league and much higher than Dwight Howard himself.

    Now that McGee is starting at center for the Wizards, he'll be given every chance to make a positive impression. However, he has a tendency to pick up fouls rather quickly, which would in turn, keep him off the court.

    While his man-to-man defense could still use some work, he's shown signs of improvement and he's great in help defense, where he gets plenty of openings for blocks.

    McGee's freakish athleticism and 7'6" wingspan affords him opportunities to swat shots that your typical NBA center could not dream of having. Whether or not he can take advantage of said chances will determine how effective he is this year.

    2009-10 season average: 1.7 blocks per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.6 blocks per game

    3.  Roy Hibbert, IND

    Now that Hibbert will be starting at center with no competition for minutes, he'll have the full set of starter's minutes available to him.

    After taking lessons from the great Bill Walton over the summer, Hibbert's defense should take an immense leap this season.

    Roy will get into foul trouble from time-to-time, but he'll still be a monster when it comes to blocking. He showed flashes of what's to come during the preseason and a breakout season is imminent.

    2009-10 season average: 1.6 blocks per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.4 blocks per game


    4.  Josh Smith, ATL

    As the most athletic power forward in the game, Josh takes advantage of his physical skills to bully opponents and deflect shots away.

    While LeBron catches all the attention for his chase down blocks, Smith is equally, if not more effective than James. In fact, you could make a lengthy compilation using footage of all his chase down blocks.

    If he gets beat off the dribble, Josh is great in recovery and coming from behind to crush his man. He's also great at weak side help on defense and blocks plenty of shots .

    2009-10 season average: 2.1 blocks per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.3 blocks per game

    5.  Andrew Bogut, MIL

    Even though Bogut's season ended prematurely last season due to a devastating injury, he really made an impact for the Bucks.

    As a former No. 1 overall pick, there were questions surrounding his ability to live up to his high draft pick, but he showed that he can be a true force on both sides of the ball.

    Bogut showed good timing and instincts last season in blocking shots, and it resulted in a career high mark of 2.5 blocks. It was by far his best season and it bested his previous high by almost a full block.

    However, Andrew will be expected to start the year slow as he works his way back to 100 percent. In due time, he may be able to return to form, but until then it would be best to mitigate expectations.

    2009-10 season average: 2.5 blocks per game

    2010-11 projected season average: 2.1 blocks per game