Every week, we’ll rank the top 10 players from the previous week using game score as our starting point.
Created by former ESPN.com stats guru and current Grizzlies VP of basketball operations John Hollinger, game score measures a player’s productivity for a single outing based on the weighting of various box score statistics (for a more complete explanation, check out Week 1).
Now, on to the rankings.
Note: These rankings are for games played from Monday, Jan. 15, through Sunday.
Average game score: 25.1
In his last week to convince coaches to give him an All-Star nod, not only did Lillard finish atop our player rankings, but he also led the Blazers to a perfect 3-0 record. As our Chris Haynes spelled out last week, Lillard believes his resume is deserving of more All-Star love. I agree. Not only does he own the highest career scoring average in NBA history by a player with two or fewer All-Star appearances, he’s also one of just six players to average at least 22 PPG and 6 APG over his first six seasons. The others — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Michael Jordan, Tiny Archibald and Oscar Robertson — had on average five All-Star appearances through six seasons. Since the start of 2015-16, he ranks eighth in the league in scoring and is the only one among the top 15 who has not been named an All-Star over that span.
Average game score: 25.1
We dropped Booker to second due to his playing one fewer game than Lillard, though it’s by no means a slight, as he had an awesome week. Booker’s 36.5 PPG led the NBA and was his highest-scoring week of the season — no small feat, as the third-year guard continues to break out offensively. As we saw last season against Boston when he dropped 70, Booker has always been able to fill it up. Those he’s pumping in a career-high 25.3 PPG, perhaps the more encouraging development has been with the rest of his game. Last week marked the fifth time this season the 21-year-old averaged at least 4 APG and 5 RPG in a single week, something he did only once over his first two seasons combined.
Average game score: 23.1
The most interesting development for the Warriors last week wasn’t the loss to Houston. It was the experimentation that took place in the win over Chicago — namely when Steve Kerr rolled out a two-man game featuring Kevin Durant as the ball handler with Stephen Curry as the screener. According to Second Spectrum, the Warriors rolled that action eight times after not doing it more than once in any game this season. It’s the type of play you might not see Golden State run much until a big postseason series. The idea of Curry as a screener presents a unique wrinkle, as detailed by Ben Cohen in his piece for the Wall Street Journal leading up to that very game. That rings even more true when it’s Durant with the ball in his hands, as he ranks fourth among the more than 100 players in points per direct pick as a ball handler — regardless of screener — according to Second Spectrum.
Average game score: 22.6
Average game score: 24.2
We dropped Butler a couple of spots since he played only two games, sitting out the win over Toronto with a sore right knee. In the two games he did play, Butler was a two-way force (even if Minnesota went 0-2). He averaged a combined 5.0 blocks and steals per game — which led the league — shot better than 50 percent and turned it over just once in more than 80 minutes. Butler is in the midst of the best shooting stretch of his career, as his six straight games of making at least half of his shots is the longest such streak of his career.
Average game score: 22.3
Paul’s work on the glass was an understated part of Houston’s banner win over Golden State on Saturday. The 6-foot PG outrebounded every Warrior. Controlling the boards is a key ingredient to beating the Warriors, as they’ve been outrebounded in 21 of their 26 losses since the start of last season. In particular, it has been one area that Paul has excelled this season — he’s rebounding better than ever and has averaged at least 7 RPG in each of the past three weeks, the longest such streak of his career. All but one of his boards last week came on the defensive end. Over the past three weeks, Paul’s defensive rebound percentage of 22.3 is better than the season totals for Draymond Green, Tristan Thompson, LeBron James and Myles Turner, to name a few.
Average game score: 21.7
Average game score: 21.3
When New Orleans traded for Jrue Holiday in 2013, he had just turned 23 and was coming off an All-Star season in Philadelphia. Now in his fifth season in New Orleans, Holiday is quietly putting up numbers even better than in his lone All-Star campaign. Though most view the Pelicans as simply a two-star system, Holiday is averaging a career-high 18.8 PPG while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He ranks 19th in the NBA in ESPN’s real plus-minus wins (RPMW), making the Pelicans one of just two teams (Golden State is the other) with three players inside the top 20.
Average game score: 21.2
In a week in which both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were named All-Star starters, the impact each makes on their team was on full display. Lineup data is noisy with small samples, but when the sample acts as a caricature for what’s going on when taking a broader view, I’m game. Last week, the Pelicans posted a net rating of plus-22.7 in the 32 minutes they played with Davis on the floor without Cousins. Compared to a rating of minus-0.8 with both on the floor and minus-10.7 with Cousins sans Davis, it’s clear that Davis was stirring the drink. On the season overall, New Orleans is plus-8.9 with Davis on the floor without Cousins in 392 minutes compared to minus-3.1 in the 609 minutes Cousins has played without Davis. (Note: This does not include Boogie’s historic performance against Chicago on Monday. We’ll get to that next week).
Average game score: 20.6
It was by far the best week of the season for Anthony, who poured in 25.3 PPG with a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 31.5, both of which ranked as his best in any week with OKC. Anthony led the Thunder in scoring, snapping a streak of eight straight weeks in which Russell Westbrook was the team’s leading scorer. It was Team USA Anthony doing the damage, as he attempted 8.7 catch-and-shoots per game, tied with Klay Thompson for the second-most by any player last week and two more than he was averaging on the season entering the week.