DeAndre Jordan best big man?
Duncan sneaks onto barometer, and Drummond is surprising everybody
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
This week, the Big Man Barometer tallies up the performances of all the power forwards and centers across the league and ranks them using season-to-date WARP.
The missing name is Carmelo Anthony, who has played power forward for about 72 percent of his minutes during New York's five-game winning streak to start the season. Clearly, Anthony has been a big part of the Knicks' fast start. He has used 34.1 percent of the Knicks' possessions while on the floor, making him the highest-volume offensive player in the league. But New York has played just five games, and WARP is a function of both efficiency and playing time, and through no fault of his own Anthony hasn't logged as much time as other top players around the league.
Top big men from the last week are ranked by individual winning percentage, the rate stat component of WARP. Our exclusive schedule-adjusted projections use a combination of SCHOENE forecasts and season-to-date data. We'll be predicting the weekly numbers for NBA big men based on a Monday-to-Sunday schedule suitable for weekly head-to-head fantasy leagues.
By this method, SCHOENE is combined with actual results to product a new baseline forecast for each player. These are then adjusted for a player's upcoming opponents and how well those competitors have defended his position. The projections are compiled in a module of NBAPET, my system for projecting, evaluating and tracking the league.
For the week of Nov. 7 to Nov. 13; Players listed by winning percentage; Any player who played a total of at least 30 minutes at center or power forward last week is eligible for the rankings. Also included at the bottom are big man projections for next week.
1. DeAndre Jordan | Los Angeles Clippers (.892)
The emergence of Jordan is a major reason why the Clippers have exceeded expectations that were pretty high to begin with. Jordan was simply fantastic last week, highlighted by 20 points, 11 boards and four blocks against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. The next night, Jordan scored 20 against Portland, and in the two games combined, he shot 18-of-22 from the floor. Even more impressive for Jordan was that after missing his first six free throws this season, he made 7-of-9 from the line last week. For the season, he's shooting 71.4 percent from the floor. Sure, most of that is at the rim on dunks, but he's also hit 6-of-7 on shots between 5 to 9 feet, according to NBA.com/stats. He's simply getting better.
- LeBron James | Miami Heat (.875)
No matter what is going on around him, James just brings it every night. He has scored at least 20 points in every game this season and made at least half his shots in each game except one, when he went 8-for-17. He's reached double digits in rebounding in six of Miami's first eight games. Right now, he's averaging 9.4 rebounds per game. He has never averaged as many as eight, so it's clear James isn't shirking that aspect of playing power forward. His rebound percentages are at career-high levels at both ends of the floor. James is playing every bit as well as in his most recent MVP season of 2011-12.
- Anthony Davis | New Orleans Hornets (.856)
Davis got into just one game last week after missing time with a concussion, but he logged 37 minutes in that game to qualify for the Barometer leaderboard. He showed no ill effects of a head injury, recording 23 points, 11 boards and five blocks against Charlotte. Think Bobcats fans were having flashbacks to lottery night, when they hoped the reward for a 7-59 nightmare would be the chance to draft Davis?
- Andre Drummond | Detroit Pistons (.850)
Drummond has played with much more activity and confidence than anyone could have thought, though Lawrence Frank failed to use him for more than 22 minutes in any of Detroit's eight losses to start the season. For any Pistons fans wary of drafting a seemingly raw UConn big man, consider this: Drummond's 22 points against Oklahoma City last week were 12 more than Hasheem Thabeet has ever scored in an NBA game. The Pistons have been 4.8 points per 100 possessions less bad with Drummond on the floor, though surprisingly that's been primarily due to the offensive lift Drummond has provided. Can a full-time pairing of Drummond and Greg Monroe in the Detroit frontcourt be far off?
- Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (.791)
Duncan provided ample evidence of his rejuvenation in back-to-back road games last week at Sacramento and Portland. Against the Kings, Duncan had 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 12 boards and four blocks. The next night, he shot 7-of-12 against the Blazers and tallied 22 points, nine boards and three blocks. On a per-minute basis, Duncan is scoring more than he has in five years. Even more startling is what Duncan is doing on the other end. His block percentage thus far is the highest of his 16-year career. That's just not supposed to happen.
- Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets (.759)
Anderson had the best game so far for the Hornets, scoring 25 points and hitting five 3-pointers in a win over Charlotte; Davis also had a big game, and the ability of those two to share the floor and play off each other had to be exciting for New Orleans fans. However, it wasn't a matter of Davis or Anderson sliding over to the 3. The pair shared the frontcourt minutes with Robin Lopez and Jason Smith in largely traditional configurations.
- Dorell Wright, Philadelphia 76ers (.754)
The Sixers have scrambled for scoring this season, and the notion that Philadelphia was going to be one of the league's biggest teams is currently forgotten. With Andrew Bynum out and Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen coming off the bench, the Sixers have played smaller than all but New York and Cleveland in the early going. That's not just because of Thaddeus Young's presence in the starting lineup, either. Last week, Wright played more than a third of his minutes as a stretch 4 and was even coded as playing center for two minutes of one game. Whatever Wright played, he did it well, scoring 51 points in four games, hitting 12 3-pointers and picking up 11 steals on the other end.
- Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (.741)
Bosh had a particularly active week. Not only did he score 22 or more points in three of his four games, but he did it as more than a jump shooter. Bosh averaged seven foul shots per game last week. His work close to the basket resulted in more offensive boards than normal, a high shooting percentage and excellent bottom-line efficiency.
- Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers (.723)
Varejao is having an unbelievable season, ranking eighth among all players in WARP to start the season. He put up the league's most eye-popping stat line of the season on Tuesday, especially when you consider he was the one doing it. Varejao had 35 points on 16-of-21 shooting and grabbed 18 rebounds against Brooklyn in a performance that ought to permanently validate Brook Lopez's performance as a bad defensive center. The 16 field goals were six more than Varejao had ever made in a game, and he got all but two of those shots right at the rim. However, to mention Lopez is not to sell short Varejao's overall season to date. He is shooting 61 percent from the floor, and his scoring average of 15.9 is more than five points above his previous career best. He's also the best percentage rebounder in the league so far.
- Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz (.702)
Millsap capped a solid week with a great performance in a win at Toronto, scoring 34 points on 11-of-16 shooting. We've started to see more of the big lineup that the Jazz used so effectively late season, with Millsap playing the 3. He played 23 minutes at the position last week, and for the season he's logged 12.5 percent of his time there. Utah has outscored opponents by 24 points per 100 possessions with Millsap playing the 3. He's not in danger of losing his Barometer slot anytime soon, but it's a trend worth watching.
Three to watch
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
Davis has four games next week, including back-to-back contests against New York and Indiana that will provide two unique challenges. Against the Knicks, Davis will at times find himself matched up with Anthony, and from that we may get our first indicators of just how much positional versatility lies ahead in Davis' future. Can the rookie be the antidote to the Knicks' small lineup? Indiana has a traditional lineup and Davis will be tasked with defending the rugged David West. Later in the week, Davis will go against Phoenix and Denver.
Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
Boozer has struggled out of the gate, wilting from the challenge of stepping up his production to help compensate for Derrick Rose's absence. Instead, Joakim Noah has become more effective on offense, with much of the Bulls' half-court action running through Noah in the high post rather than Boozer on the low block. Boozer's poor shooting has been at the root of the trouble -- he had just a .483 true shooting percentage through Tuesday -- leaving him with about a sixth of Noah's WARP (1.62 to 0.25) and less value than even that of reserve teammate Jimmy Butler.
Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves
Pekovic is one player who has stepped up play in the face of injured teammates; his interior scoring has been a big reason Minnesota has been able to tread water with Kevin Love on the sideline. Pekovic is second on the team to Derrick Williams in usage rate and has been very efficient, with a .575 true shooting percentage. Pekovic isn't a great defensive center, which limits him to about 30 minutes per game. Minnesota's three opponents next week -- Denver, Portland and Golden State -- lack top interior scoring, so Pekovic's minutes and production could be at an apex.
Here are the top 25 big man projections for the week of Nov. 19-25 (all the players who qualified for this week's Barometer rankings).
Top 25 Big Man projections
PLAYER POS GP FG% 3M REB AST STL TO BLK PTS SCORE
LeBron James SF 2 .548 1.0 7.6 7.3 1.9 3.4 0.7 28.6 24.8
Kevin Durant SF 3 .467 2.3 7.4 3.6 1.5 3.2 1.0 28.3 21.1
Dwight Howard C 4 .598 0.0 12.9 1.9 1.5 3.0 2.1 20.2 18.0
Blake Griffin PF 4 .560 0.1 10.0 3.7 0.9 2.4 0.5 21.1 17.2
LaMarcus Aldridge PF 3 .492 0.1 8.1 2.2 1.0 1.8 0.7 21.8 16.2
Carmelo Anthony SF 4 .443 1.1 5.9 3.1 1.2 2.4 0.4 22.5 15.3
Josh Smith PF 4 .481 0.4 9.4 3.7 1.5 2.3 1.6 17.5 15.0
Brook Lopez C 4 .514 0.0 6.9 2.3 0.7 1.9 1.4 18.5 14.6
Pau Gasol PF 4 .522 0.0 8.8 3.6 0.6 1.7 1.3 15.8 14.6
Al Horford C 4 .572 0.0 8.7 2.8 1.0 1.4 1.2 14.8 14.4
Chris Bosh PF 2 .491 0.1 8.5 2.1 0.9 1.9 0.7 18.2 14.3
Al Jefferson C 3 .489 0.0 9.1 2.2 0.8 1.3 1.7 17.5 14.1
DeMarcus Cousins C 3 .477 0.0 10.0 2.4 1.4 2.6 1.0 18.4 14.1
Marc Gasol C 2 .527 0.0 8.5 3.3 1.0 1.9 2.0 13.9 13.4
Paul Millsap PF 3 .506 0.1 7.9 2.7 1.6 1.8 1.0 15.7 13.4
Greg Monroe C 3 .531 0.0 9.2 2.0 1.5 2.0 0.6 15.3 13.4
David Lee PF 4 .509 0.0 8.9 2.9 1.1 2.2 0.4 16.6 13.2
Zach Randolph PF 2 .479 0.1 10.5 2.2 1.0 1.7 0.3 15.7 13.0
Ryan Anderson PF 4 .422 3.3 6.8 1.0 0.9 1.2 0.6 17.1 12.7
Danilo Gallinari SF 4 .419 1.9 4.4 2.2 1.0 1.4 0.6 16.4 12.6