Top 50 Players In The NBA At The 2019-20 Quarter Pole

There is no exact science for determining who are the best players in the NBA. There will always be an element for subjectivity. For some, it will always be entirely subjective.

The following exercise is an effort to add a sprinkle of objectivity.

A “catch-all metric” is one of those NBA numbers that endeavors to combine all of a player’s production or impact into one single number. Think John Hollinger’s player efficiency rating of the early 2000s or ESPN’s real plus-minus of the last few seasons.

New attempts at the “catch-all” pop up seemingly every year. They all factor in and weight things differently. To try to level off the biases of each, I sort players in the league by the average of their ranks in a handful of the metrics.

With real plus-minus yet to be released for 2019-20, we’re working with just four catch-alls (as well as their cumulative variants).

  • RAPTOR Rating: “RAPTOR consists of two major components that are blended together to rate players: a “box” (as in “box score”) component, which uses individual statistics (including statistics derived from player tracking and play-by-play data), and an “on-off” component, which evaluates a team’s performance when the player and various combinations of his teammates are on or off the floor.”
  • Box Plus/Minus: “BPM relies on a player’s box score information and the team’s overall performance to estimate a player’s performance relative to league average. BPM is a per-100-possession stat, the same scale as Adjusted Plus/Minus: 0.0 is league average, +5 means the player is 5 points better than an average player over 100 possessions (which is about All-NBA level), -2 is replacement level, and -5 is really bad.”
  • Win Shares per 48 Minutes: “Win Shares is a player statistic which attempts to divvy up credit for team success to the individuals on the team.”
  • Game Score: “Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game. The scale is similar to that of points scored, (40 is an outstanding performance, 10 is an average performance, etc.).”

Believe it or not, a handful of NBA teams have already played 20 games of the 2019-20 season. The quarter pole feels like as good a time as any to see how these numbers view the league’s players.

Again, this isn’t a perfect science. It shouldn’t be considered definitive. It’s just another way to look at the debate.

So, with all that behind us, here is every player in the NBA with 200-plus minutes, sorted by the average of their ranks in RAPTOR rating (and RAPTOR wins above replacement), box plus/minus (and wins over replacement player), win shares per 48 minutes (and win shares) and game score per 36 minutes (and cumulative game score):

  1. Luka Doncic (with an average rank of 1.75)
  2. James Harden (2.25)
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (2.625)
  4. LeBron James (4.5)
  5. Karl-Anthony Towns (6.125)
  6. Anthony Davis (6.875)
  7. Jimmy Butler (9.75)
  8. Damian Lillard (10.25)
  9. Montrezl Harrell (12.125)
  10. Kawhi Leonard (23)
  11. Kemba Walker (24.5)
  12. Jarrett Allen (27.375)
  13. Bam Adebayo (27.5)
  14. Donovan Mitchell (27.875)
  15. Rudy Gobert (29.25)
  16. Pascal Siakam (29.5)
  17. Joel Embiid (30.375)
  18. Paul Millsap (32.125)
  19. Domantas Sabonis (33.75)
  20. Aron Baynes (34.375)
  21. Al Horford (36.75)
  22. Trae Young (38.375)
  23. Will Barton (41)
  24. Jonathan Isaac (41.25)
  25. Bojan Bogdanovic (42.75)
  26. Bradley Beal (42.875)
  27. Malcolm Brogdon (42.875)
  28. Kyrie Irving (43.5)
  29. Chris Paul (44.25)
  30. Ivica Zubac (44.5)
  31. Nikola Jokic (44.875)
  32. Andre Drummond (46.125)
  33. Nikola Vucevic (48.375)
  34. George Hill (50.25)
  35. Tristan Thompson (50.625)
  36. Hassan Whiteside (51.5)
  37. Danilo Gallinari (52)
  38. Fred VanVleet (53.375)
  39. Spencer Dinwiddie (53.375)
  40. Tobias Harris (54.125)
  41. Clint Capela (54.75)
  42. Kyle Lowry (55.375)
  43. Marcus Smart (56.625)
  44. Jamal Murray (57)
  45. Evan Fournier (57.375)
  46. Eric Bledsoe (59.875)
  47. OG Anunoby (60.5)
  48. JaVale McGee (61.875)
  49. Danuel House (66.25)
  50. Brook Lopez (66.375)

Check out the rest of the league here.

A few notes before we call it a day.

The top 10 here feels pretty accurate. You can quibble over the order here and there, and Harrell’s inclusion may be a surprise, but it’s not hard to like the results through 10 players.

Harrell’s spot emphasizes an issue you’ll find throughout the rest of the top 50. A couple of these numbers, especially win shares, tend to (possibly) overvalue big men. Shout out to Whiteside. Hopefully, the release of this season’s real plus/minus will help on that front.

Getting deeper into the season will help too. With only 20 or so games to work with, a three- or four-game hot streak can really prop a player up. Regression is coming for plenty of players.

In the meantime, feel free to add this list to your debates over who have been the NBA’s best players so far this season.

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