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Old 07-01-2007, 06:59 AM   #46
D-Fence
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Default Re: 2007-2008 Leading scorer?

First, the obvious options:

Kobe Bryant has won the last two scoring titles (35.4 PPG and then 31.6 PPG) But, his situation in LA is unclear now--if he were traded, if another quality scorer joined the Lakers, or if Bryant will ultimately be discontent in LA are all situations that would affect his scoring. Bryant's PPG average has fluctuated quite a bit during his career: 28.5 to 25.2 to 20 to 25 to 27.6 to 35.4 to 31.6. I guess that his PPG average is going to fall next season, perhaps, to below 30 PPG, which would be consistent with his career trend. That still could be enough to win the scoring title, though.

Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady won the last 5 scoring titles before Bryant's 2, but I would guess that both are done winning scoring titles. Iverson is now playing alongside another big scorer in Carmelo Anthony. Iverson averaged 24.8 PPG in 50 games for the Nuggets, and his FG attempts fell to 18.9 per game, while he had been taking 22 to 28 FG attempts per game the previous 8 seasons. I don't see him getting back to around 30 PPG. He's also going to be 32 years old soon.

Tracy McGrady has had some injury issues, but more important in respect to scoring title contention is that he's been playing alongside Yao Ming. Van Gundy is out of Houston, but the Rockets still aren't going to be able to play a fast-paced game. In his last two seasons with Orlando, McGrady averaged 32.1 PPG and 28 PPG. He began in Houston by averaging 25.7 PPG, but has averaged 24.4 and 24.6 PPG the last two seasons there. With a more offensive-oriented coach, McGrady might be able to boost his scoring back to about 26 PPG, but then again maybe not if Yao Ming stays healthy or becomes an even bigger scorer than he is now.

Carmelo Anthony came in second last season with 28.9 PPG, but his average fell after Iverson's arrival. There's only one ball, so it's not likely that Anthony's scoring will go up much if at all. That could still be enough, but I guess he won't have enough.

Gilbert Arenas came in third. He's another player whose situation seems unclear right now. Assuming he is content staying in DC, there's still the issue of who his teammates are going to be. His last season stats are already down a bit from the 2005-06 season (29.3 to 28.4, fewer minutes, but about the same amount of shots per game), which might be an indication that his PPG average has reached its peak. It sill could be enough, though.

LeBron James came in fourth, but he took fewer FG attempts last season than he did in his sophomore season, while averaging about the same PPG. I guess that he won't win the scoring title because he's one of the more unselfish contenders for the scoring title, and he probably cares more about building his teammates up for the playoffs.

Dwayne Wade averaged 27.4 PPG last season in 51 games, but didn't qualify. The previous season he averaged 27.2 PPG, though, so it's to be expected that he'll be back to at least similar numbers, unless injuries linger that is. I would guess he won't win the scoring title because of his high injury risk and, regardless, I doubt his PPG average will improve much if any.

Despite the uncertainty of the Kobe situation, he's still the best bet of the obvious choices.

Some dark horse candidates:

Michael Redd, who came in fifth, is a player who apparently isn't getting a lot of discussion as potentially winning a scoring title. Yet, his PPG average has increased every season of his career: from 11.4 in 2001-02 to 15.1 to 21.7 to 23 to 25.4 to 26.7. So, it'd be a good guess that he'll have around 28 PPG next season or more. That's won the scoring title before.

Joe Johnson has become a scoring machine in Atlanta. If he can improve upon the 20.2 and 25 PPG averages the last two seasons, he has a good chance. And, I don't see Atlanta changing strategy away from Johnson being a scoring machine.

How about a center? Yao Ming averaged 25 PPG in 48 games last season and his PPG averages, like Redd, have increased every season of his career. And now with a coach who's not Van Gundy, which can only mean the Rockets score more points, and Hakeem Olajuwon helping out, he has potential to raise that PPG average even more. I doubt he'll win the scoring title, but it's a fun possibility.

Of the dark horse possibilities, Michael Redd seems most poised to take the leap.
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