Editor's Note: These updates somehow got a bit buried, so we are posting a two-for-one special to get you caught up. Apologies to you all (and KUChief) on the delay.
So, it's been several weeks since my last update (I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath) New Years and a bit of time out of town conspired to get me off track. Regardless, the rankings are back. Sadly we've had a lot of injuries and few stunning performances from this lot in the holiday weeks, but the rankings go on:
1. Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) (LW: 4):
Mario has had some Achilles tendinitis of late, so he hasn't been involved in all of the Heat games within this timeframe, but he has been a solid contributor in nearly all those he has been able to play. Mario has shot 50% from the floor or higher in four of his last five, and the Heat have won the same number. He has fallen off the pace a bit in the steals department because of his injuries, but his Steal% is still top-5 in the league.
2. Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) (LW: 2):
Markieff wasn't particularly special in this window of games, but he continued his solid play and has been involved in a few highlight-worthy plays as the Suns went 4-3. Markieff is 4th on the Suns in Win Shares per-48 where Marcus ranks 6th.
3. Marcus Morris (Phoenix Suns) (LW: 3):
Struggles from the field plagued the last week or so for Marcus as they included back to back 0-5 and 0-6 performances, that being said, the Suns seem to get more wins when Marcus plays more minutes, even in those bad games earlier this week, when Marcus gets 21+ minutes... The Suns have gone 4-5 in games where Marcus has played less than 21 minutes and 17-8 when he gets more minutes. Part of that is likely related to his level of play, but when a bench player has that sort of impact with more minutes you can see how important his contributions are to the team.
4. Paul Pierce (Brooklyn Nets) (LW: 7):
The Nets have gone 4-2 in Pierce's games in this window, and he is contributing at about a 15-5-4-2 clip, which isn't half bad for the 36 year old. He would do well to cut down on the TOs a bit, but when you have the ball as much as he does for 36ish minutes per game a few are bound to happen. Also, there's no question that Pierce can still jump, at least a little:
5. Nick Collison (OKC Thunder) (LW: 6):
Nick has built on his previous stretch of solid games and has put up three of his most productive games by GameScore in the past couple weeks. Collison has hit 10 of his last 13 shots and has seen a recent minutes uptick. I'll let you know next week whether that uptick has been sustained.
6. Kirk Hinrich (Chicago Bulls) (LW: 8):
After coming back on Christmas Day Kirk has continued to play his role in helping the Bulls go 4-1 over the past couple weeks, he had a real stinker in the Toronto loss in that sequence, going 1-9, but outside of that he's been efficient in the few possessions he has used.
7. Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings) (LW: 5):
The minutes are still there for Ben, but he has had some trouble being assertive while also remaining efficient. Part of this is due to the problem I mentioned earlier this year, with Cousins, Gay, and Thomas all on the floor there just aren't many extra shots to go around. Marcus Thornton has been getting the starters' minutes lately, but it appears that may be simply to juice his trade value as the Kings are in talks with the Nuggets for Andre Miller. That trade could be really really good for Ben, even if he returns to the starting lineup, playing several minutes with a guy like Andre instead of a scoring point like Thomas could mean some more open looks and a chance for BMac to actually get into a rhythm once in a while.
8. Darrell Arthur (Denver Nuggets) (LW: 9):
The midrange game is a cruel mistress, it seems that the Nuggets realize that and have been giving Darrell about 20 minutes per game regardless of whether or not the shots are falling and he's had a solid run of form as a result. Shady hasn't had any issue filling up the stat sheet in those minutes, and his spacing is a valuable asset.
9. Xavier Henry (LA Lakers) (Last Week: 1):
Xavier has been out for the last week and a half with a strained right knee, so he only had about 2 games in this window, before his injury. At during those two games he was playing meaningful and productive minutes, which is more than can be said for some in these rankings in recent weeks. He should be back to the game soon
10. Brandon Rush (Utah Jazz) (LW: 10):
Five points in 15 minutes in a couple of games for Brandon having dealt with some lingering knee issues, this seems to be a season that will be all about getting healthy for him. Hopefully by season's end he'll be healthy enough to audition properly for a new contract, as it doesn't seem like a trade-deadline deal will be happening as anything other than a salary-mover.
11. Thomas Robinson (Portland Trailblazers) (LW: 12):
A disappointing lack of minutes has been the reality for Thomas since Terry Stotts decided to try Myers Leonard as the back-up big for a change. The results have been mixed. Leonard's stats aren't bad, but the team as a whole has underperformed a bit since the change, though there's no way to tell what of that is regression, and what, if any of it, is due to the lineup switch being detrimental to overall fit and team-play. However, on Wednesday night Thomas was able to come in and key a big Portland run against Orlando, so who knows what Stotts will do having seen the hunger TRob played with when given a chance once again.
12. Jeff Withey (New Orleans Pelicans) (LW: 14):
Basketball Reference finally acknowledges that Jeff Withey is indeed associated with the University of Kansas on their site now! This is a landmark day. Oh, and on the court it was 9 minutes in three Pelicans losses, so not terribly much to go on... BUT, his WinShares/48minutes stat is still an elite .233, so the #WitheyForAllNBA machine continues onward.
13. Cole Aldrich (New York Knicks) (LW: 11):
At least he got into two games... for less than a minute apiece. The Eastern Conference has been so abysmal that even mediocre teams are playing for now rather than seeing what will happen if they utilize them this season with a view toward the future. Whether or not that's wise is a judgment that's far above my pay-grade.
14. Tyshawn Taylor (Brooklyn Nets) (LW: 13):
14 seconds in two weeks of games... How fun for Ty.