2016 Basketball Ratings Preview

2016 Basketball Ratings Preview
By Glenn Guzzo
            You’ve been fired up since the instant-classic, seven-game NBA Finals. You’ve studied the stats for your draft league. You can’t wait to get your hands on the 73-win Warriors for your replay. But to be truly ready for Strat-O-Matic’s forthcoming Pro Basketball release, you need this annual ratings preview of carded players. 
            They sizzle. They glitter. They dazzle. They create the easy baskets for teammates. And for that, they get our attention.
            Once again, the Clippers’ Chris Paul sets the standard for playmakers, with 1-20 dazzlers in Normal passing and 1-16 on the Fast Break. Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio is next best at 1-18 and 1-14. But Memphis’ Mike Conley tops Rubio on the break with his 1-16 (only 1-5 Normal). Seven others are 1-14 on the break.
            Only 17 playmakers have double-figure dazzlers in both Normal and Fast Break passing. That makes Brooklyn an amazing case, with three of those guys, all point guards: Jarrett Jack (1-16 and 1-11), Donald Sloan (1-12 and 1-14) and Shane Larkin (1-12 and 1-12).
            Maybe more amazing: The top scorers who also Dazzle. Oklahoma City’ Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 54 points per game – more than half the Thunder’s offense – but also were the top passers. Westbrook’s 1-17 and 1-13 makes him elite. Durant’s 1-10 and 1-10 make him a special forward … Houston’s James Harden averaged 26.6 points per game, and he has 1-14 and 1-10 dazzlers to go with it.
            This year’s elite defenders look a lot like last year’s. These are the men with blank X columns:
            Outside: Cleveland’s LeBron James, Golden State’s Andre Iguodala and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.
            Inside (and Fast Break): Golden State’s Andrew Bogut, the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Utah’s Rudy Gobert.
            Penetration (and Fast Break): Boston’s Avery Bradley, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Houston’s Patrick Beverly, the Clipper’s Paul, Memphis’ Conley and Tony Allen, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Washington’s John Wall.
            Yes, that’s three Golden State players, representing every column.
            Only seven players have block ratings of at least 1-15, and three of them are in the extra-player set. But two have the dominant 1-20. Whiteside, the only player last year with that rating, repeats this time. He’s joined by Milwaukee backup power forward John Henson, a 17-minute player.
            Houston has a best-in-set three players with double-figure block ratings, and all are in the regular card set: Clint Capela (12), Josh Smith (11) and Dwight Howard (10).

            Always essential for realistic replays, the extra players this year include Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, Michael Beasley, Kendrick Perkins, Eric Bledsoe, Carl Landry, Alec Burks and several 2015 first-round draft picks.   Gotta have ‘em. 
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to download the 2015-16 Basketball Ratings Preview.