It appears a lock now that we will see a first-time scoring champion and assist king in the NBA this season, but we could have repeat winners in rebounding and blocks. Here's an updated look at potential winners of those four statistical categories.
Kevin Durant was your early-season favorite for this prop, but I mentioned then and have all season that Durant was going to miss too many games to qualify. And that's coming true. Durant is also averaging "only" 25.1 points, which would be his lowest since his rookie year.
This now looks like a two-man race between Houston's James Harden, who has been atop the scoring list for weeks, and Cleveland's LeBron James. I still like Harden, who is averaging 27.0 points. True, his total is down to 25.8 points this month entering Houston's game Wednesday. However, the Rockets are going to be without Dwight Howard for perhaps the rest of February. In my mind, that puts pressure on Harden to score even more to make up for the 16 points or so Howard scored every night.
I'm surprised LeBron is averaging so many points, 26.2 to be exact. I figured his scoring and rebounding (that has) would drop in Cleveland because the Cavs had two other capable scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, plus Love could worry about the rebounding. However, James has been on fire since returning from injury in mid-January. During Cleveland's season-high 11-game winning streak, LeBron is averaging an Eastern Conference-best 28.4 points. Irving, incidentally, is third at 25.8.
NBA Free Pick: James still has to share some shots. Harden is the clear No. 1 guy on his team so he wins his first scoring title.
For this statistic, I'm going with assists per game and not total assists. For example, Washington's John Wall led the NBA in total assists last year at 721, but he played all 82 games and that averaged out to 8.8 per game. Thus the Clippers' Chris Paul was considered the assist champion as he led the league with 10.7 per game. Paul played only 62 games, just making qualification, and had 663 total assists.
Wall currently leads the NBA at 10.2 per game, just ahead of Denver's Ty Lawson at 10.0. Paul is third at 9.6 and Rajon Rondo, the preseason favorite at sportsbooks, is fourth at 8.7. I liked Rondo on this prop on the last update about a month ago as I thought his numbers would spike since the trade to Dallas, but that really hasn't been the case. And now Rondo could miss weeks with an orbital fracture and broken nose.
NBA Free Pick: I'm going to go with Lawson here as my NBA pick, although he could be traded. He plays a few more minutes per night and Denver is more reliant on him than Washington is Wall only because the Wizards have better players.
The Clippers' DeAndre Jordan was the preseason favorite on NBA odds to win this title and he is atop the list at 13.6 per game. Jordan won his first rebounding crown last year with that exact number, while Detroit's Andre Drummond was No. 2 at 13.2. Currently Drummond is No. 2 again at 12.9
Back in the preseason I though Drummond would have a monster season under new head coach Stan Van Gundy and win this title. However, Drummond started somewhat slowly when Josh Smith was still on the Pistons as Smith apparently just brings everyone down. Since Smith has been waived, Drummond has played better, but I'm not sure he can catch Jordan. Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins (12.5) and Memphis' Zach Randolph (12.1) have too much ground to make up.
NBA Free Pick: Jordan repeats.
Like assists, this will be blocks per game instead of total blocks. The Pelicans' Anthony Davis won his first blocks title last year at 2.82 per game and he's No. 1 this season at 2.84. The guy has a wingspan like a pterodactyl so he should lead the NBA in this category and probably will for several more years. The Clippers' Jordan is No. 2 at 2.43 per game but has just three total blocks fewer. It's just that Jordan has played in 49 games entering Wednesday and Davis 43. So if Jordan were to sit some games out he might win this title. But the Clippers need to get as good of a seed as possible, so they won't just simply rest him. The Pelicans are desperately trying to make the playoffs so Davis will play every game the rest of the way as long as he's healthy and the game means something.
NBA Free Pick: Take the Brow.