As we head into mid-April and the players can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the NBA is gearing up for the playoffs. Contending teams have made roster changes and are tinkering with their rotations in preparation for the postseason. While some are playing for the postseason, others are just riding out the season hoping for the ping pong balls to go in their favor. As we start towards the stretch run, let’s look at some player rankings. We’re basing this week’s rankings off of some advanced analytics including player WAR and plus minus numbers. With that in mind, let’s get right to it so you can keep placing your bets against their NBA odds.
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1. Nikola Jokic
The Nuggets have been climbing up the Western Conference standings, and much of that has been due to the play of Jokic. Jokic has a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 11.6. He is the key to Denver’s success. He’s the best passing big man in the game, and he nearly averages a triple double. Now that Denver has acquired Aaron Gordon, the Nuggets are even better. We may see Jokic’s scoring numbers go down, but his assists will probably rise. Look out for the Nuggets come playoff time!
2. Kawhi Leonard
Leonard may be the best two way player in the league. Even though he may not be as tenacious on the defensive end as he once was, he can still stop some of the league’s top players. When Leonard is fully engaged, he’s capable of putting up 30 points. He’s also a monster on the glass, and he is also a very good passer. With a WAR of 8.0, it goes to show how valuable he is to the Clippers and their playoff hopes.
3. Stephen Curry
I know you may be wondering how a player on a bad team can be ranked this high? Curry has changed his game around this season. He is more of a traditional point guard this year, and the ball is in his hands a lot more than it has been in the past. He’s not just running off of screens like he has in the past, he’s doing more off of the bounce. He’s averaging nearly 30 points per game, with six assists. His WAR is 7.7, so just think of how bad the Warriors would be if he wasn’t playing?
4. Rudy Gobert
While Gobert isn’t a traditional scoring center, he’s very valuable to the Jazz and their meteoric rise this season. Gobert is a monster in the paint on the defensive end. He alters and blocks shots, and makes up for many of Utah’s defensive deficiencies. He has a WAR of 8, and much of that is due to his defense.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo
How can Giannis not make this list? He is the most athletic player in the game today. With a WAR of 7.3, he is a huge factor in Milwaukee being one of the top teams in the league. He’s a great scorer and rebounder, and he is becoming a better passer. If he could ever figure out his perimeter shooting game, he would be nearly unstoppable.
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