Top Scorers on Bad Teams

We are at a point in the NBA season where the contenders and the pretenders have established themselves.  Early surprises like the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies each own the top spot in their conference, each with the record of 11-2. On the other hand, teams like the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and (most notably) the Cleveland Cavaliers have been surprises for the opposite reason – being terrible.

At this point, an odd pattern has been exposed. Some of the best scorers in the league are members of some of the worst teams. 

The current league leaders in scoring are:

  1. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
  2. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
  3. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
  4. James Harden – Houston Rockets
  5. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

Of the guys mentioned above, only two play for a team with a winning record: James Harden (10-3) and Anthony Davis (7-5). And even crazier, only Harden and the Rockets would make the playoffs if they were to start today. (I know, the playoffs are a long way from now, but we always have to sepculate.) In fact, Davis and the Pelicans are at the BOTTOM of their divison – and he’s second in the league in scoring!

To add to this, the other three players on the list are on, well, pathetic teams.

Led by LeBron and his nearly 25 PPG, the Cavaliers have been the great surprise of the league this season. As early season championship favorites, the Cavs have fell to a dismal 5-7 despite having a roster containing three superstars. That is a whole other story. But at 3rd in the league in scoring, you would think LeBron would be on at least a winning team, right?

Adding to this strange trend is Melo and his Knicks. Carmelo has been an elite scorer since entering the league, and other than a 37-45 season last year, he has been on winning teams every season. Now his 4-10 Knicks are quite possibly the second-worst team in the NBA, in front of only the 76ers. Melo is averaging 24 PPG and shooting nearly 48% from the field, but yet his team still can’t win games. He dropped 46 against the Utah Jazz and they still lost!

At the top of the list in scoring and the bottom of the list in team record is Kobe Bryant. He currently leads the league at 26.7 PPG but has only won 3 games in 13 tries to open the year. Nobody expected the Lakers to be a playoff team this year, but yet nobody expected them to be this BAD. A lot of this can be explained by the fact that Kobe is knocking down only 38% of his shots (and only 28.6% from behind the arc), but still, he LEADS the league in scoring and can’t win any games!

On the other hand, the two best teams in the league – the Raptors and the Grizzlies – are led by guys putting in far fewer points each game.

DeMar DeRozan leads the Raptors with 20 PPG, but his team is still 3rd in scoring. A lot of this has to do with great contributions from Kyle Lowry (18.8 PPG), Terrence Ross (10.7 PPG), and Lou Williams coming off the bench (13.4 PPG). So while DeRozan significantly trails the league leaders in points each game, he gets much more help from his teammates.

Leading the other conference is Marc Gasol and the Grizz. Rather than beat their opponents on the offensive end, they prefer to win on defense. As a result, they don’t need a huge scorer, although Gasol is helped out by Mike Conley (16.2 PPG), Zach Randolph (16.1 PPG), and Courtney Lee (13.8 PPG).

It is obvious early on that basketball is in fact a team sport. Guys like Kobe and Melo can’t win just by being the only great scorer on their team. It takes multiple players to get it done on the offensive end (and even more so on defense). So until these guys can get another elite scorer (or two), it seems that they will continue to sit at the bottom of their respective conference and division. This doesn’t explain LeBron’s situation though, as he already HAS two other elite scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. They just downright suck on defense.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *