Skip to main content
Menu
Who’s Up And Who’s Down In Our NBA Player Ratings

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:

RAPTOR’s most valuable players of 2019-20 (so far!)

RAPTOR wins above replacement leaders for the 2019-20 season

RAPTOR
Player Pos Team Gms MPG Off. Def. Total WAR
1 Damian Lillard PG POR 7 37.7 +10.4 -0.3 +10.1 +1.7
2 LeBron James G/F LAL 7 35.0 +7.4 +3.2 +10.6 +1.7
3 Donovan Mitchell SG UTA 8 34.1 +6.3 2.6 +8.9 +1.6
4 Luka Dončić G/F DAL 7 35.9 +7.1 2.8 +9.9 +1.6
5 G. Antetokounmpo F MIL 8 32.3 +6.5 2.1 +8.6 +1.5
6 James Harden G HOU 8 35.4 +10.4 -3.2 +7.3 +1.5
7 Kyrie Irving PG BRK 7 33.9 +10.9 -2.2 +8.7 +1.4
8 Jonathan Isaac F ORL 8 30.1 +0.7 7.9 +8.6 +1.4
9 Montrezl Harrell C LAC 8 29.4 +5.6 2.8 +8.4 +1.3
10 Tristan Thompson F/C CLE 7 33.7 +2.3 5.9 +8.2 +1.3

Stats are through Nov. 6, 2019

Sources: NBA ADvanced Stats, Basketball-reference.com

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:

Who’s been doing the most on offense and defense?

2019-20 NBA leaders in RAPTOR offensive and defensive (per-possession) ratings, minimum 110 minutes played

Offensive RAPTOR RAPTOR Offense
Player Pos Team Gms MPG Box On/Off Total
1 Kyrie Irving PG BKN 7 +33.9 +11.0 +7.6 +10.9
2 James Harden G HOU 8 35.4 +11.3 -1.2 +10.4
3 Damian Lillard PG POR 7 37.7 +10.4 +7.9 +10.4
4 Aron Baynes C PHO 7 24.4 +7.7 +18.9 +8.8
5 Karl-Anthony Towns C MIN 5 31.4 +7.6 +4.8 +7.6
6 LeBron James G/F LAL 7 35.0 +6.7 +13.8 +7.4
7 Kawhi Leonard SF LAC 6 30.5 +7.0 +9.0 +7.4
8 Malcolm Brogdon PG IND +8 34.5 +7.3 +4.2 +7.1
9 Luka Dončić G/F DAL 7 35.9 +7.6 -1.5 +7.1
10 Joel Embiid C PHI 4 28.0 +7.3 -2.3 +6.8
Defensive RAPTOR RAPTOR Defense
Player Pos Team Gms MPG Box On/Off Total
1 Alex Len C ATL 7 17.0 +10.0 +0.7 +9.5
2 Will Barton SG DEN +5 30.0 +7.7 +17.0 +8.6
3 Jimmy Butler G/F MIA 4 30.8 +8.4 +6.1 +8.4
4 Jonathan Isaac F ORL 8 30.1 +8.6 -2.4 +7.9
5 Moritz Wagner F/C WAS 7 18.3 +6.3 +14.9 +7.2
6 Rudy Gobert C UTA 8 34.0 +7.2 +3.2 +7.0
7 Anthony Davis PF LAL 7 34.7 +6.9 +5.2 +6.9
8 Bam Adebayo C MIA 7 30.4 +6.3 +8.9 +6.5
9 Mikal Bridges F PHO 7 19.6 +6.3 +7.7 +6.5
10 Mason Plumlee F/C DEN 7 17.0 +6.9 -0.9 +6.4

RAPTOR Box is based on a player’s individual statistics (including player tracking data). RAPTOR on/off is based on how a player affects his team’s performance while on the court. Overall RAPTOR combines both aspects into a single number.

Sources: NBA Advanced Stats, Basketball-reference.com

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:

RAPTOR’s biggest surprises — and disappointments

Biggest positive and negative differences between a player’s current 2019-20 total RAPTOR rating and his preseason projected rating

Most surprising RAPTOR
Player Pos Team Projected Actual Diff
1 Will Barton SG DEN -1.9 +12.5 +14.4
2 Dwight Howard C LAL -3.4 +8.6 +12.0
3 Christian Wood PF DET -2.5 +7.7 +10.2
4 Aron Baynes C PHO -0.6 +9.6 +10.2
5 Mason Plumlee F/C DEN -0.9 +7.9 +8.8
6 Tristan Thompson F/C CLE -0.6 +8.2 +8.8
7 Patty Mills PG SAS -0.3 +8.0 +8.3
8 Montrezl Harrell C LAC +0.4 +8.4 +8.0
9 OG Anunoby SF TOR -1.6 +6.3 +7.9
10 Jonathan Isaac F ORL +0.8 +8.6 +7.8
Most disappointing RAPTOR
Player Pos Team Projected Actual Diff
1 Eric Gordon G/F HOU -0.4 -12.0 -11.6
2 Myles Turner C IND +0.6 -10.7 -11.3
3 Luke Kornet F/C CHI -0.2 -11.2 -11.0
4 Jarrett Culver G/F MIN -1.3 -11.7 -10.4
5 Draymond Green PF GSW +3.8 -5.8 -9.6
6 Nikola Jokić C DEN +7.8 -1.7 -9.5
7 Larry Nance Jr. F/C CLE +1.8 -7.4 -9.2
8 Ky Bowman PG GSW -2.0 -9.5 -7.5
9 CJ McCollum SG POR +2.0 -5.2 -7.2
10 Kevin Huerter SG ATL -0.5 -7.7 -7.2

Stats are through Nov. 6, 2019. Players with a minimum of 110 minutes are included.

Sources: NBA Advanced Stats, Basketball-Reference.com

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.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

Comments