Billboard charts record sales, the Nielsens gauge the popularity
of TV shows, and The New York Times best-seller list identifies
the hottest books. In that spirit SI wanted to come up with a
ranking of NBA players: Who's No. 1? Who's in danger of being
canceled (or benched)? Who are this season's one-hit wonders? To
answer these pressing questions, we crunched numbers--lots of
them. We started with each player's total points, then added the
following:

--Free throws made minus free throws missed, to reward players
who draw a lot of fouls (like Shaq) but penalize bad free throw
shooters (like Shaq);

--Three-pointers made, multiplied by two, minus three-pointers
missed;

--Field goals made, multiplied by two, minus field goal attempts
missed;

--Blocks (which usually save two points), offensive rebounds
(which often lead to two points) and assists (which lead to at
least two points) minus turnovers, all multiplied by two;

--Steals and defensive rebounds (both of which sometimes lead to
two points) multiplied by 1.5.

We then divided a player's total by the number of games his team
had played* (if he's not playing, he's not helping his team).
The results: Sacramento's Chris Webber (right) is The Man this
season. Just to make sure we weren't throwing up statistical air
balls, we ran last year's stats through our Who's Best? blender,
and Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and
Grant Hill finished 1 through 5, in that order. In other words,
it works! Here are the NBA's best this year:

--David Sabino

1999 1997-98 RATING
PLAYER RANK FINAL RANK POINTS

Chris Webber, Kings 1 12 60.8
THE SKINNY Boards leader is also in Top 10 in scoring, blocks
and FG%

Shaquille O'Neal, Lakers 2 9 60.5
[THE SKINNY] TOs and foul foul shooting keep him from going off
the chart

Allen Iverson, Sixers 3 14 58.4
[THE SKINNY] Move to off-guard has liberated his full offensive
arsenal

Karl Malone, Jazz 4 1 56.8
Steadily creeping back toward top of the list

Gary Payton, Sonics 5 8 56.8
[THE SKINNY] Mr. All-around--lots of points, lots of assists,
lots of steals

Jason Kidd, Suns 6 23 56.5
[THE SKINNY] King of the triple doubles suddenly has a decent
jumper

Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves 7 4 56.2
[THE SKINNY] Guess that $126 million wasn't so outrageous after
all

Alonzo Mourning, Heat 8 55 53.6
[THE SKINNY] Blocking more shots than Hasek and averaging 21.3 ppg

Tim Duncan, Spurs 9 3 53.6
[THE SKINNY] The Admiral's team now belongs to Duncan

Antonio McDyess, Nuggets 10 26 53.2
[THE SKINNY] Huge on the offensive glass

Top Rookie: Paul Pierce, Celtics 21 43.9 --
[THE SKINNY] Rates higher than the Dream, Pippen and Penny--for
now

High Riser: Kobe Bryant, Lakers 22 82 43.7
[THE SKINNY] Seven double doubles validates last year's All-Star
selection

Flop: Vin Baker, Sonics 69 15 30.3
[THE SKINNY] 29.7% foul shooting, 6.6 rpg and 12.9 ppg this year

*through Sunday

COLOR PHOTO: BARRY GOSSAGE/NBA
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)