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Julian Wright ranked ahead of Kirk Hinrich? What gives?
Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again. Although the onset of fall typically gets people thinking more about football, around here the arrival of October means one thing — basketball season is right around the corner.
While the Kansas University football program’s recent success has helped push back people’s craving for college hoops, it’s not as if KU fans aren’t aware that the season is about to tip off. Late Night in the Phog is set for Friday, Oct. 16 and the opening exhibition game (Nov. 3 vs. Fort Hays State) is now less than a month away.
If the young guys are getting ready to tip off, that can only mean that their NBA counterparts are doing the same thing. In fact, NBA preseason camps opened last week and many teams already have begun to play preseason games.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve learned so far:
Drew Gooden might finally have found a home in Dallas. Although he didn’t start the Mavs’ most recent preseason game, Gooden did play 23 minutes off the bench, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting. I’d look for this to continue once the season rolls around. I doubt the Mavs will elect to start Gooden, but I’m guessing they’ll value him tremendously as a super sixth man of sorts. It’s about time somebody did.
Second-year Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers has picked up right where he left off. After finishing his rookie season fourth in the NBA in total steals (160), Chalmers swiped a pair in the Heat’s four-point loss to Detroit the other night.
It appears that Indiana Pacers guard Brandon Rush will in fact be given the opportunity to be the team’s full-time starter at shooting guard. In the Pacers’ preseason opener last week, Rush started alongside former Texas point guard T.J. Ford in the Pacers backcourt and finished 5-of-10 from the floor — including 2-of-4 from three-point range — for 13 points. He also added two blocks and four rebounds in 27 minutes.
I’m well aware of that fact that preseason games don’t exactly get the blood boiling, but this might. ESPN.com’s John Hollinger recently released his preseason player rankings for the upcoming season. In his blog, Hollinger ranked the Top 333 players in the NBA in a system he calls “Player Efficiency Rating.”
According to Hollinger, the PER measures each player’s per-minute productivity. In includes elements such as field goals, free throws, three-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, as well as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. It also accounts for each team’s pace of play and how that may or may not impact each player’s projected ceiling.
Anyway, enough about the particulars, let’s look at the players.
No. 1 on his list was none other than LeBron James. James had a PER of 31.76, a little more than double the league average of 15.0.
Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant came next, all with PER’s between 24 and 30.
Moving down the list a little, guess how low you had to go to find the first former Jayhawk. Twenty? Thirty? Thirty-five? Nope.
Try 66. That’s right, Boston forward Paul Pierce was the first former Jayhawk listed on Hollinger’s scale. Big surprise, right? In a way, it kind of was.
It’s been well-documented in this blog that I was a little critical of Pierce’s game last year. But to think that he’s just the 64th best player in the league is crazy.
Pierce’s 16.91 PER is less than two points above the league average and barely two points higher than that of Julian Wright (14.30), who has yet to play a single meaningful minute in an NBA game.
I like the formula and I love rankings, I’m just not sure that these PER numbers should be taken as the gospel for evaluating how important and/or productive a player is to his team. Just a look at the former Jayhawks alone shows that Hollinger may have missed the boat in a couple of areas.
Still, the rankings are fun to chew on while we wait for the season to arrive.
Here’s a look at Hollinger’s PER’s for the rest of the former Jayhawks in the Association:
117 - Drew Gooden, Dallas, 15.19
135 - Mario Chalmers, Miami, 14.44
140 - Julian Wright, New Orleans, 14.30
154 - Nick Collison, OKC, 13.90
161 - Kirk Hinrich, Chicago, 13.64
188 - Darrell Arthur, Memphis, 12.92
285 - Brandon Rush, Indiana, 9.26
Not Listed: Darnell Jackson, Cleveland and Raef LaFrentz, Portland.