PER Power Rankings: Mid-season Edition

We’re half way through the season and it’s time to update The Dunkyard’s PER Power Rankings (minimum of 500 minutes played).

1. LA Clippers – 106.6

  • Paul – 27.4
  • Griffin – 22.2
  • Jordan – 21.0
  • Speights – 20.7
  • Redick – 15.3

Previous rank: 1 (111.1)

Paul’s injured, Blake’s injured and Redick’s dropped off a bit. The good news is that Jordan has lifted his game and picked up some of the slack. If anyone could provide a legitimate reason why Rivers is playing his son more than Speights (1,114 min vs 727 min), that would be swell.

PS: Crawford is playing terribly this season (9.9 PER, 48.6 TS%, 30.7 3P%). If he’s not hitting, he’s not helping so he better find his range fast. Wait a minute, scrap that: he signed a 3 year, $42 million contract at the start of the season. He don’t need to do fuck all.

2. San Antonio – 103.2

  • Leonard – 28.5
  • Aldridge – 20.0
  • Gasol – 19.1
  • Lee – 18.4
  • Dedmon – 17.2

Previous rank: 3 (106.1)

I reckon they could bring in Darko and he’d probably put up borderline All-star numbers on this team.

3. Milwaukee – 100.7

  • Antetokounmpo – 28.3
  • Monroe – 21.4
  • Parker – 19.6
  • Beasley – 17.2
  • Brogdon – 14.2

Previous rank: 17 (88.6)

The Bucks are this edition’s biggest movers and Antetokounmpo is officially a superstar. While Wiggins continues to clang fadeaway long twos, Parker has become a legitimate outside threat, a scary dunker:

…and a borderline All-star candidate.

Meanwhile, Brogdon has been the steal of the draft so far. His unexpected ability to play point guard at a starting-calibre level and shoot from outside (42.7%) has made a massive difference to the Bucks.

Word has it Middleton will be back soon which should give the Bucks another solid boost. Happy days.

4. Toronto – 100.6

  • DeRozan – 25.3
  • Lowry – 24.0
  • Valanciunas – 19.0
  • Nogueira – 16.2
  • Ross – 16.1

Previous rank: 6 (99.2)

I bet you didn’t think that Raptors have the league’s second best offense. Well, they do – and with nary a serious three point shooter in sight beyond Lowry and despite DeRozan being unable to hit a three to save his life. Take that pace and space!

Oh yeah, can somebody also please tell Dwayne Casey to fucking play Valanciunas. 27 minutes a game, are you seriously taking the piss?

Caboclo watch: 8 games, 23 minutes and 7.9 PER. Is he two years away yet?

5. Cleveland – 100.3

  • James – 25.9
  • Love – 22.7
  • Irving – 21.3
  • Frye – 15.6
  • Thompson – 14.8

Previous rank: 4 (102.9)

I’m not sure about the Korver trade. Can the Cavs really afford to have a 35 year old with awful defense and an 11.0 PER (8.7 PER so far with the Cavs) out there when it matters against the Warriors? Who does he guard? Steph? Klay? Durant? Green?

I’m sorry, but 2012-15 Korver (peak PER 14.8 and an insane peak true shooting percentage of 69.9%) ain’t coming back any time soon, no matter how many wide open looks LeBron gives him. That said, if he hits one big one when it matters most, then it’ll have all been worth it.

6. Golden State – 100.0

  • Durant – 27.9
  • Curry – 23.3
  • Green – 18.1
  • Thompson – 15.8
  • Pachulia – 14.9

Previous rank: 2 (107.5)

At the time of writing, the Warriors have the league’s best offense AND defense, even though they still appear to be putting things together. Shit.

JaVale McGee is also doing his best Bison Dele ‘witty, insightful big guy with no fucking clue how to put his natural gifts together on a basketball court, except when a championship team takes him under their wing and plays him limited minutes’ impersonation – and almost qualified for the team’s top-5 with a 22.1 PER in 305 minutes.

7. Houston – 99.7

  • Harden – 28.0
  • Harrell – 20.5
  • Capela – 19.8
  • Hilario – 15.9
  • Gordon 15.5

Previous rank: 11 (93.2)

Many people looking at the Rockets are suffering from ‘newcomer syndrome’ – where substantial and unexpected improvements in a team are often put down to the newcomers. While Gordon has been decent and Anderson has, ummm, contributed, the fact is that Harrell’s impersonation of Draymond Green and Capela’s seemless replacement of Howard deserve far more of the credit – particularly as they’re the only things (along with Ariza) holding the team’s 14th ranked defense together. Harden’s career year has also kinda helped too suppose.

It’s probably time to stop giving 15 minutes a game to Corey Brewer though. His 7.6 PER is simply awful.

8. Utah – 95.2

  • Hayward – 22.8
  • Hill – 22.6
  • Gobert – 21.9
  • Favors – 14.3
  • Ingles – 13.6

Previous rank: 5 (99.4)

Favors is completely undercooked as he recovers from injury and these guys still have managed to post the league’s 8th best record so far. If Hill can stay healthy and Favors can keep recovering, then these guys will make some noise come playoff time – mark my words.

After coming into the league as a 27 year old rookie and posting barely replacement level PERs for his first two seasons, 29 year old Ingles has actually turned himself into a handy bench-level player with his ridiculous three point shooting (46.0%). I’ll be damned. Either way, I’m doubling down and calling it a fluke and will enjoy it while it lasts.

Exum on the other hand is fast becoming a bust. My advice to Dante: get some confidence and at least go down swinging. Dropping off meekly is most un-Australian and it’s precisely what he’s doing right now.

9. Oklahoma – 94.3

  • Westbrook – 29.5
  • Kanter – 24.9
  • Adams – 17.7
  • Oladipo – 13.9
  • Lauvergne – 13.2

Previous rank: 9 (94.3)

How the hell does Westbrook not make the starting lineup in the All-star game?

Any why is Kanter only getting 22 minutes a game even though his efficiency is through the roof and the Thunder gave him a 4 year, $70 million contract?

10. Denver – 93.5

  • Jokic – 25.6
  • Faried – 20.4
  • Nurkic – 16.1
  • Gallinari – 15.7
  • Barton – 15.7

Previous rank: 22 (84.6)

Now that the Nuggets have realised that Jokic has franchise player potential – and that Faried isn’t chopped liver – they might actually achieve something. In related news, the Nuggets have snuck into 8th place in the West and are the second biggest movers in this edition of the PER Power Rankings.

11. Indiana – 92.6

  • Turner – 20.2
  • Teague – 20.2
  • George – 18.9
  • Jefferson – 18.1
  • Miles – 15.2

Previous rank: 8 (95.3)

I’m going to leave this one to Bill Simmons:

(George looks more miserable than Wall — like he’s a few more one-on-three Monta Ellis bricks away from walking off the court, getting into his car and just driving away.) If we threw the League Pass Awards and had a category for “Franchise Player Who Makes You The Saddest Every Time You’re Flipping Channels,” Anthony Davis would win — but Wall and George would definitely get nominated.

Meanwhile, Indiana has quietly managed to climb it’s way up to 6th in the East.

12. Chicago – 92.2

  • Butler – 25.9
  • Wade – 18.8
  • Felicio – 16.8
  • Gibson – 16.4
  • Lopez – 14.3

Previous rank: 7 (97.2)

This is what The Dunkyard said last time around: ‘The sooner the Bulls realise that Rondo doesn’t fit the better’. Thankfully, the Bulls are almost there, although they have inexplicably let him rejoin the lineup since his latest outburst.

It won’t be long now before he’s out of the league. Incredibly, Carter-Williams has actually managed to play even worse than Rondo, leaving the Bulls without a real point guard. Memo to Bulls management: try a point guard who can shoot for a change.

Meanwhile, Portis has gone from being a promising rookie, playing 18 minutes a game last season, to being frozen out on the bench (29 games, 12.0mpg). Is this some kind of Nebraska joke that Arkansas guys don’t get? Coz Bobby ain’t laughing.

It could be time for Fred to go.

13. Boston – 91.6

  • Thomas – 27.0
  • Horford – 18.7
  • Bradley – 15.7
  • Crowder – 15.3
  • Johnson – 14.9

Previous rank: 10 (94.3)

Thomas is playing better so far this season than Iverson ever did. There, I said it.

Boston fans should be praying that Ainge stays patient and doesn’t make any splashy trades with those Brooklyn picks – on my reckoning, there’s a 1 in 16 chance that Boston gets the next TWO number one picks. Barring that, they’re almost certain the get top-5 picks in the next two drafts.

14. LA Lakers – 91.3

  • Williams – 22.3
  • Black – 16.7
  • Randle – 15.9
  • Nance Jr – 15.8
  • Young/Russell – 15.4

Previous rank: 12 (91.3)

It was obvious that the Lakers’ early season form wouldn’t last and it hasn’t. On the positive side of the ledger, Randle has been solid, Robinson and Black have been great off the bench, Russell might just turn into a star point guard yet and Zubac has looked decent in his 106 minutes of action so far.

The Lakers will also get a very high draft pick in this year’s draft. However, the elephant in the room is Ingram. His 28 minutes per game so far have netted a miserable 8.0 PER. Unless he kicks things up a serious notch in the second half of the season, then he’ll qualify for the Adam Morrison Rule – a nasty black hole that nobody has made it out of so far.

15. New York – 90.3

  • O’Quinn – 20.4
  • Anothony – 19.3
  • Porzingis – 18.2
  • Rose – 16.6
  • Noah – 15.8

Previous rank: 18 (87.7)

It was easy for The Dunkyard to predict the impeding train wreck that New York’s season has turned into:

Dave:

Your feelings towards this team will hinge greatly on where you live. If you live in New York then you have just signed an ex-NBA MVP, an ex-NBA DPOY, a playoff-tested SG and Brandon Jennings.

If you live anywhere else besides New York then the Knicks have just signed a below league-average PG, with paper-mache knees who is facing gang rape charges, a 31 year old center with shoulders held together by scotch tape and a game that is becoming increasingly redundant in today’s NBA, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings.

Lloydy:

Yet again, the Knicks have opted to overpay suspect veterans rather than rebuilding sustainably. And for what? Any added wins the Knicks get this season out of Noah, Rose, Jennings and Lee probably won’t get them into the playoffs, won’t make them anything close to contenders even if they do – and will push them further down the order in next year’s deep draft where they have their own first round pick again.

If only Jackson could have stuck to the plan.

Now that the inevitable has been confirmed, it’s a question of what to do now. Melo can’t be traded without his consent, Noah still has another 3 years and $54 million left on his deal and Porzingis’ body is starting to show early causes for concern.

On the positive side, Rose and Jennings both have expiring contracts – which will add around $26 million to New York’s spending power next season. If they can nab a major free agent (cough, Chris Paul, cough) and score on their 2017 lottery pick, then there might just be hope for them yet next season – particularly if Porzingis can stay healthy (unlike most previous players over 7’2” with perennial foot and leg troubles, Porzingis is rail thin which puts a lot less pressure on his knees and feet). The supporting cast is pretty much in place with the likes of O’Quinn, Hernangomez and Kuzminskas.

16. Washington – 89.1

  • Wall – 24.0
  • Beal – 19.1
  • Porter – 18.2
  • Gortat – 14.7
  • Morris – 13.1

Previous rank: 14 (91.1)

Morris continues play like a bench player and the Wizards continue to have no production from their bench whatsoever. Despite this, Wall has carried this team on his his back to 5th in the East. Beal’s improved health and Porter’s under the radar shooting from outside (45.8% on 4.3 attempts per game) have also contributed mightily.

The big question is where it all goes from here. The Wizards could solidify around the 4th/5th positions – or they could just as easily drop out of the playoff positions altogether, especially if they get an injury or two. Take your pick.

17. Portland – 88.8

  • Lillard – 23.2
  • McCollum – 20.8
  • Plumlee – 19.0
  • Harkless – 13.1
  • Napier – 12.7

Previous rank: 19 (87.4)

Portland continue to suffer from the Plexiglass principle – where teams making unexpected large gains one season give large chunks of those gains back the following season.

It hasn’t helped that Ezeli hasn’t played a single minute for them yet due to injury – or that they don’t have a guy with anything close to a league average PER outside of Lillard, McCollum and the highly underrated Plumlee.

By the way, Crabbe is highly overrated (think the second coming of Nick Young) and should be traded before everyone realises. Packaging him with Lillard or McCollum in a roster balancing trade to snare a bigger bountry would be a very shrewd move. I have the sneaking suspicion that GM Olshey is onto it.

18. Memphis – 88.1

  • Conley – 22.0
  • Gasol – 20.6
  • Randolph – 18.7
  • Allen – 13.9
  • Green – 12.9

Previous rank: 20 (85.2)

For all the roster shakeups they’ve had over the last few years, the success of this team continues to hinge on Conley (29), Gasol (32) and Randolph (35). The team’s latest move, Parsons, looks to be a complete lost cause (an 8.7 PER and injury ravaged body) and no-one else on the roster is close to having a league average PER.

They might just have used up their chances to rebuild on the fly without needing a complete tear down. In the meantime, a low seeded playoff berth and first/second round exit beckons for another season or two.

19. Sacramento – 87.5

  • Cousins – 26.7
  • Gay – 18.2
  • Collison – 15.3
  • Koufos – 14.2
  • Lawson – 13.1

Previous rank: 24 (83.0)

Now that Gay has blown out his Achilles and lost whatever trade value he had left (not much by the way), the Kings find themselves completely bereft of anyone that can put the ball in the hole besides Cousins. Meanwhile, Lawson obviously still can’t put the bottle down, Afflalo and Barnes have been awful fits and McLemore is officially a bust.

For good measure, the only recent draft pick they’ve made with even the slightest hope of cutting it (Cauley-Stein), has worked a permanent ass-groove into the bench – barely playing 10 minutes a game. Oh, and their three rookies this year have played a grand total of 69 minutes.

Take a bow Sacramento.

20. Charlotte – 87.3

  • Walker – 22.2
  • Zeller – 17.1
  • Lamb – 16.9
  • Batum – 16.1
  • Hawes – 15.0

Previous rank: 13 (91.3)

There’s a lot of solid players on this roster, but none that can take a game by the scruff of the neck – except for Walker on some occasions. These guys will continue to punch above their weight under Clifford, but won’t be anything more than a fringe playoff team until a genuine second star comes along.

Five years into his career, Kidd-Gilchrist’s shot is officially beyond redemption. There’s broken jump shots – and then there’s this abomination:

21. Atlanta – 86.8

  • Howard – 22.4
  • Millsap – 18.3
  • Schroder – 16.9
  • Muscala – 14.8
  • Hardaway – 14.4

Previous rank: 16 (88.9)

Considering that Schroder is the team’s only real point guard, I’m stunned he’s only playing 30 minutes a game.

Word has it that Millsap’s on the trading block – which begs the question: that’s the long term strategy here and why does it involve a 31 year old Dwight?

While Howard’s play this season has been great, he’s a massive fluke rule candidate who’s almost certain to regress back to his Rockets and Lakers level of play next season and beyond.

NB: the fluke rule was created by John Hollinger. The rule is that any player over 28 years old whose PER improves by more than 3.0 over the previous season is due for a sharp fall the next season. While it’s not 100% accurate, the exceptions prove the rule.

22. New Orleans – 85.9

  • Davis – 28.2
  • Jones – 15.7
  • Holiday – 15.7
  • Frazier – 14.2
  • Galloway – 12.1

Previous rank: 15 (90.8)

The Pelicans have gone 17-18 since that 0-8 start, which gives some cause for optimism. However, the fact remains that this roster is a complete train wreck with no end in sight. It’s time to tank as chasing the 8th spot won’t produce anything of value and will reduce the longer term odds of keeping Davis.

If they can grab a high draft pick and if Hield can turn into a something resembling a star in the coming seasons, then they might have a chance of hanging on to Davis.

23. Detroit – 85.4

  • Marjanovic – 25.7
  • Drummond – 21.1
  • Harris – 16.6
  • Leuer – 16.4
  • Jackson – 16.4
  • Pope – 14.9

Previous rank: 23 (83.6)

The Pistons continue to hover near the .500 mark and have failed to take the next step many (including me) thought they’d take. While all hope isn’t lost, a 45-50 win season is definitely off the cards barring some miracle.

Query: why the fuck did the Pistons sign Boban! to a 3 year, $21 million contract, only to play him for a total of 141 minutes so far?

24. Minnesota – 82.8

  • Towns – 23.0
  • LaVine – 15.5
  • Wiggins – 15.0
  • Dieng – 14.7
  • Rubio – 14.6

Previous rank: 25 (82.5)

The Dunkyard couldn’t have gotten this one more wrong in its pre-season predictions.

I wonder if Towns and Davis go to the same therapy sessions?

It’s complete torture watching Wiggins take an obscene 26% of his shots as long twos (from between 16 feet and the three point line) – many of which are fadeaways. On top of this, he can’t pass, doesn’t rebound and his athletic metrics (steals + blocks) are worryingly low. The modern-day Latrell Sprewell isn’t what the Wolves had in mind when they traded Love for him.

25. Miami – 82.4

  • Whiteside – 21.7
  • Reed – 18.9
  • Dragic – 17.9
  • T. Johnson – 16.4
  • J. Johnson – 16.3
  • Ellington – 11.9

Previous rank: 26 (82.4)

Now’s the time for Miami to tank as the unprotected first rounders they gifted Phoenix in the Dragic trade will start rearing their ugly heads after this year’s draft.

That said, they really should be giving Willie Reed more than the pathetic 13.7 minutes a game they’re currently giving him.

Is anyone willing to come on board with me in saying that Winslow isn’t the star in the making that people seemed to think? His season ending shoulder injury aside, his play to date in the NBA has been poor to say the least and I don’t think a ceiling of ‘Bruce Bowen if you’re lucky’ is what you’d call a success for a 10th overall pick.

26. Phoenix – 81.2

  • Bledsoe – 20.9
  • Chandler – 16.2
  • Len – 15.3
  • Warren – 14.9
  • Booker – 13.9

Previous rank: 28 (75.6)

Phoenix now resides in the West’s cellar. With all the high lottery picks they’ve had – and still have coming – it really feels like this:

27. Orlando – 81.0

  • Vucevic – 18.5
  • Ibaka – 18.0
  • Payton – 16.4
  • Fournier – 14.5
  • Meeks – 13.6

Previous rank: 29 (74.2)

Like Detroit, these guys stubbornly refuse to turn the corner. While the team’s 27th ranked offense is an obvious cause for concern (and was entirely predictable), the team’s defense slipping from 7th to 21st since the last PER Power Rankings is far more worrying.

Until they get someone that even comes close to playing at a borderline All-star level, it looks like things will stay this way.

For now, moving Ibaka to center, playing Gordon at power forward and bringing Vooch and Biyombo off the bench together might be worth trying as Gordon simply cannot play small forward with his outside shot. While it would mean shifting the defensively challenged Fournier to the 3 and starting Meeks, it couldn’t produce worse than what we’ve seen so far… could it? (particularly as Meeks is far and away the team’s best three point shooter).

Tanking should also be seriously considered.

28. Dallas – 80.0

  • Powell – 18.7
  • Barnes – 17.9
  • Williams – 15.3
  • Curry – 14.3
  • Anderson – 13.8

Previous rank: 30 (72.0)

Dallas is finally bottoming out and can start rebuilding in earnest, rather than kicking the can the way they have since their championship in 2011. Let that be a lesson to never, ever, ever break up a championship core until they’ve proven that they can’t contend anymore (hint: that time is never, ever, ever, the season after you’ve just won the championship).

29. Philadelphia – 79.5

  • Embiid – 24.1
  • Ilyasova – 16.2
  • Okafor – 15.4
  • McConnell – 12.2
  • Rodriguez/Henderson – 11.6

Previous rank: 27 (78.4)

There’s nothing more heartwarming in the NBA than watching the 76ers turning the corner.

Everything about Embiid reminds me of Olajuwon – just with a three point shot.

The idea of adding Simmons to the mix and possibly working Noel (20.5 PER in his limited minutes) back into the fold are mouthwatering.

30. Brooklyn – 76.2

  • Lopez – 21.0
  • Booker – 16.2
  • Bogdanovic – 13.5
  • Kilpatrick – 12.8
  • Hamilton – 12.7

Previous rank: 21 (84.9)

Has anybody realised yet that the Celtics have the best chance to land the no. 1 pick in the draft this year? And next year?

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