It’s been a few weeks now since the NBA tipped off its 2019-20 schedule — plenty of time for each team to play a few games, and for some themes to emerge from the new campaign. So with the season in full swing, we’re thrilled to roll out our current RAPTOR player ratings, which you can peruse in this fancy interactive. It allows you to keep track of who’s leading the league in RAPTOR (on offense, defense, overall and in terms of total value), in addition to breaking down every player’s performance by position or team.
So far, the wins above replacement leaderboard contains an interesting mix of familiar names (hello, Dame, LeBron and Giannis), breakout young players with star potential (Donovan Mitchell, Luka Dončić), and just flat-out weird surprises (Tristan Thompson?). Here’s the top 10:
In the interactive, you can also track who’s been contributing the most on each side of the ball, including how much of their value comes from measuring individual stats — what we call the “box score” portion of RAPTOR — and how much value we can infer from the team’s performance with them on the court — aka the “on/off” portion of RAPTOR. Here’s how those leaders look so far in this young season:
|Offensive RAPTOR||RAPTOR Offense|
|Defensive RAPTOR||RAPTOR Defense|
It’s still very early in the season, of course. On average, teams have played 7.4 games — or just 9 percent of a full-season schedule. Although teamwide stats will start stabilizing shockingly soon, it remains to be seen if some of the biggest early-season surprises on the player side will hold up as the long schedule grinds on. Here are the players whose performances have most over- (and under-) shot our projections from before the season:
|7||Larry Nance Jr.||F/C||CLE||+1.8||-7.4||-9.2|
The Suns and Lakers are maybe the two most improved teams in the league so far this year, so it’s fitting to see them represented on the “biggest surprise” player list. At the other end of the list, the Warriors and Rockets are among the least improved teams in the league, and a few of their players show up among the biggest disappointments. Some of these numbers will surely regress to the mean before long — or did you actually think Thompson and Will Barton will be All-NBA players this year? — but it will be fascinating to watch the leaderboards to see which aberrant performances do end up sticking by season’s end.
Whatever happens, as part of our rollout, we’ll now be updating player talent ratings in-season the same way we did last year — so players who show great improvement will have that factored into their RAPTOR projections as the season goes on. (And players who flop will be punished!) As a tweak for this season, we’ve changed the way we do in-season rating updates to account for a player’s age and experience in addition to his previous minutes, so young players will see bigger changes to their projections — and sooner — than they did last year.
As we wrote going into the season, we hope you’ll use RAPTOR as a resource all year long — whether to settle barroom debates about which player is better, or to figure out who is most responsible for your favorite team’s success.
Check out our latest NBA predictions.