NBA Power Rankings: Big Baby Davis and the League's 10 Most Improved Players

Andrew BockCorrespondent INovember 10, 2010

NBA Power Rankings: Big Baby Davis and the League's 10 Most Improved Players

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    We are approximately 10 percent of the way through the NBA season, so it’s time to take an early look at the guys who are making a case to become the NBA’s most improved players.

    Unlike a lot of top 10 lists, I’ve created a scoring system to rank the players, thereby eliminating any arbitrary or biased decision-making.

    The system is simple.  I took the difference per game in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, and fouls from this season* compared to the last. Then I added up the total value of those averages.  

    It’s not foolproof.  I am adding averages together after all, but since we are only 10 percent of the way through the season, I couldn’t use total stats.  The results are as you might expect, so it appears to work.

    The following players were evaluated:

    Aaron Afflalo, DEN
    Daniel Gibson, CLE
    Darrell Arthur, MEM
    DeMar DeRozan, TOR
    DJ Augustin, CHA
    Dorell Wright, GSW
    Eric Gordon, LAC
    Glen Davis, B
    James Jones, MIA
    JJ Hickson, CLE
    Jrue Holiday, PHI
    Luis Scola, HOU
    Marco Belinelli, NOH
    Mike Conley, MEM
    Nicolas Batum, POR
    Paul Millsap, UTA (Used 08-09 season)
    Roy Hibbert, IND
    Serge Ibaka, OKC
    Taj Gibson, CHI
    Toney Douglas, NYK


    *Through Monday’s games

10. Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz

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    Once Carlos Boozer left the Jazz, fans immediately hopped onto the Millsap bandwagon.  But after an underwhelming preseason, some doubts may have loomed about replacing Boozer’s production.

    Millsap has proved everyone wrong and risen to meet his lofty expectations.  While he’s already established, he took a step back last year with a healthy Boozer around all season. But now he has crept back into potential All-Star status.

9. Toney Douglas, New York Knicks

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    We all knew Toney Douglas could score.  He averaged 21.5 points per game as a senior at Florida State and worked his way into the first round, being drafted by the Lakers in the 2009 draft.

    Playing in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system benefits Douglas tremendously, as he gets to exhibit the talents that have the Knicks looking like they knew what they were doing when they acquired him on draft night.

    Douglas is also chipping-in in the rebounding and steals department too, making him look like a mainstay in the lineup.

8. Darrell Arthur, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Already the list is flawed since Arthur, who filled in for the injured Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph at the beginning of the season, is back to bench duty.  

    Still, he filled in well during those few games, scoring 19, 14 and 18 in his first three games.

    It’ll take another round of injuries to any of the Grizzlies’ bigs, but after his early spurt, Arthur has shown he is ready to take on a bigger role.

7. Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

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    Hibbert’s improvements have been economical since he’s only playing about eight more minutes per game, second lowest on the list to Paul Millsap.  Still, he’s made vast improvements in his rebounding, which is precisely where his help is needed.

    The Pacers are still getting beat on the boards, but Hibbert has almost single-handedly been the difference maker for a team that was second-to-last in rebounding differential last season.

6. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Holiday is running the point full-time in the 2010-11 season for the Sixers. He has responded by increasing his scoring and assists total.

    It took him a few games to get going, but he’s averaging 8.0 assists per game and 18.3 points per game over his last four games, proving he is worthy of handling the rock for a full 82 games in Philly.

5. Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Boston Celtics

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    Davis is another guy who has benefited from early season injuries.  Regardless, he’s made his case for consistent playing time after averaging six more points per contest during the young season.

    Through the Celtics first eight games Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal have both missed time, which will also help in Davis receiving those consistent minutes.

    He’s a rapidly maturing player (he leads the league in charges taken) who is becoming a trusted option off the bench for the Boston Celtics.

4. James Jones, Miami Heat

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    Jones has never been much of a threat to opposing teams through his career.  He did manage a solid season in Phoenix back in 2005-06, but he has since fallen down the depth charts, playing for three teams over the next four seasons.

    Enter the new Big Three in Miami now.  James is playing a key role on the star-studded team, acting as their sharpshooting marksman while Mike Miller rehabs his injury.

    Jones has been lethal from the outside, since he is usually the open man while on the court.  Shooting over 50 percent from beyond the arc, while making the third most three-pointers in the league, proves Jones is a legit scoring option for the Heat that can help put other teams away early on.

    He also doesn’t have a turnover on the season, but all he has to do is catch and shoot.

3. Daniel Gibson, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    “Boobie” has really come along now that LeBron James is no longer in town.  His scoring is up 9.0 points per game while only playing four extra minutes per game.    

    Like fellow improved-teammate JJ Hickson, Gibson is one of the new leaders for the rebuilding Cavs, who have surprisingly turned some heads by playing .500 ball so far.

2. Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors

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    Wright has two things going for him this season that weren’t the case in his previous six seasons in Miami.

    1.    He’s playing in the ultimate up-tempo system.
    2.    He’s not stuck behind Dwayne Wade.

    And boy has he responded.  He’s currently averaging over 16 points per game, largely due to his increase in three-pointers made.  He’s also making over 50 percent of those shots as well.

    It’s too early to know if Golden State’s early success is for real, but Wright makes a great fourth option on one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league.

1. DJ Augustin, Charlotte Bobcats

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    Augustin struggled playing the point last season and, as a result, the Bobcats relied heavily on a supporting cast while he was on the court.

    With Raymond Felton playing in New York, DJ is getting his chance to prove his doubters wrong.  He’s dishing out four more assists per game than last season while increasing his rebounding and points to date.  

    Charlotte has struggled so far this season, so the jury is out as to whether he really is the most improved player thus far in the NBA. But he’s definitely on the right track as far as individual accomplishments go.

Results Of All 20 Players

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    Player       MP  TRB  AST  STL  BLK  TOV  PF  PTS TOTAL
    Augustin 17.7 2.7 4.0 -0.2 -0.1 -0.5 -0.3 5.6 28.9
    Wright 16.3 1.4 1.4 0.7 0.7 -1.2 -0.7 9.3 27.9
    D.Gibson 9.1 2.7 3.0 0.8 0.1 -1.1 -1.1 9.0 22.5
    Jones 12.7 1.0 0.5 0.1 0.3 0.3 -0.6 6.2 20.5
    Davis 13.1 0.7 0.3 0.6 0.0 0.1 -1.0 6.0 19.8
    Holiday 10.1 0.7 2.3 0.9 0.1 -0.2 -0.8 6.1 19.2
    Hibbert 8.1 4.3 2.2 -0.4 1.8 -0.8 -0.1 3.9 19.0
    Arthur 12.0 2.2 0.0 0.6 0.2 -0.8 -1.6 6.4 19.0
    Douglas 8.3 2.3 0.2 1.7 -0.1 -0.7 -1.4 7.9 18.2
    Millsap 6.4 2.6 1.5 0.2 -0.5 0.0 0.6 6.8 17.6
    Ibaka 10.6 2.8 -0.1 -0.1 0.4 0.4 -0.6 4.2 17.6
    Conley 6.5 2.4 2.7 2.0 -0.1 -0.8 -0.3 3.6 16.0
    Belinelli 11.0 1.1 0.4 -0.1 0.1 -0.4 -0.6 3.9 15.4
    Hickson 7.4 0.6 0.7 -0.1 -0.2 -1.4 -0.7 8.0 14.3
    Scola 1.4 3.7 0.4 0.0 0.4 0.7 0.3 6.3 13.2
    Afflalo 6.8 0.0 0.9 0.3 0.0 -0.5 0.6 4.3 12.4
    Derozan 8.3 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.2 -0.8 -0.7 4.0 11.8
    Gibson 3.3 -1.3 0.8 0.1 -0.1 -0.4 -0.4 6.2 8.2
    Batum 3.8 0.5 0.2 0.3 -0.3 0.1 -0.1 2.7 7.2
    Gordon 0.9 1.1 1.7 0.2 0.4 -1.1 -0.5 4.2 6.9
    Player MP  TRB  AST  STL  BLK  TOV  PF  PTS TOTAL
    Augustin 17.7 2.7 4.0 -0.2 -0.1 -0.5 -0.3 5.6 28.9
    Wright 16.3 1.4 1.4 0.7 0.7 -1.2 -0.7 9.3 27.9
    D.Gibson 9.1 2.7 3.0 0.8 0.1 -1.1 -1.1 9.0 22.5
    Jones 12.7 1.0 0.5 0.1 0.3 0.3 -0.6 6.2 20.5
    Davis 13.1 0.7 0.3 0.6 0.0 0.1 -1.0 6.0 19.8
    Holiday 10.1 0.7 2.3 0.9 0.1 -0.2 -0.8 6.1 19.2
    Hibbert 8.1 4.3 2.2 -0.4 1.8 -0.8 -0.1 3.9 19.0
    Arthur 12.0 2.2 0.0 0.6 0.2 -0.8 -1.6 6.4 19.0
    Douglas 8.3 2.3 0.2 1.7 -0.1 -0.7 -1.4 7.9 18.2
    Millsap 6.4 2.6 1.5 0.2 -0.5 0.0 0.6 6.8 17.6
    Ibaka 10.6 2.8 -0.1 -0.1 0.4 0.4 -0.6 4.2 17.6
    Conley 6.5 2.4 2.7 2.0 -0.1 -0.8 -0.3 3.6 16.0
    Belinelli 11.0 1.1 0.4 -0.1 0.1 -0.4 -0.6 3.9 15.4
    Hickson 7.4 0.6 0.7 -0.1 -0.2 -1.4 -0.7 8.0 14.3
    Scola 1.4 3.7 0.4 0.0 0.4 0.7 0.3 6.3 13.2
    Afflalo 6.8 0.0 0.9 0.3 0.0 -0.5 0.6 4.3 12.4
    Derozan 8.3 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.2 -0.8 -0.7 4.0 11.8
    Gibson 3.3 -1.3 0.8 0.1 -0.1 -0.4 -0.4 6.2 8.2
    Batum 3.8 0.5 0.2 0.3 -0.3 0.1 -0.1 2.7 7.2
    Gordon 0.9 1.1 1.7 0.2 0.4 -1.1 -0.5 4.2 6.9