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

Andrew Bock@andrew_bockCorrespondent INovember 10, 2010

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

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    PHOENIX - OCTOBER 19:  Dorell Wright #1 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball during the preseason NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on October 19, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images


    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Paul Millsap #24 of the Utah Jazz is blocked by Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in Los
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 04: Toney Douglas #23 of the New York Knicks, who scored a game-high 30 points, looks to pass against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on November 4, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Knicks defeated the Bulls 120-112. NOTE TO USER:
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 02:  Darrell Arthur#00 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket past Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter at Staples Center on November 2, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeate
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images


    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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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 15:  Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center on January 15, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    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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    DALLAS - NOVEMBER 30:  Guard Jrue Holiday #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers on November 30, 2009 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is con
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics and Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers battle for position on a free throw in the first half of Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, Cal
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 27: James Jones #22 of the Miami Heat in action during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 27, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    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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    CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 27:  Head coach Byron Scott of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks over a play with Daniel Gibson #1 while playing the Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena on October 27, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 95-87. (Photo by Greg
    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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    PHOENIX - OCTOBER 19:  Dorell Wright #1 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball during the preseason NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on October 19, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 08:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs tries to stop D.J. Augustin #14 of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 8, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    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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    NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 05:  Marco Belinelli #8 of the New Orleans Hornets shoots the ball over Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat at the New Orleans Arena on November 5, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Heat 96-93.  NOTE TO USER: Use
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images
    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