Each Monday throughout the NBA season, ESPN Insider will investigate the latest trends in the league. Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton is keeping an eye on all the numbers and will have a first look at how players, teams and the league as a whole are evolving.
Trending player: Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic
Quietly, the Magic's center has been climbing the league's statistical leaderboards. Howard's 26.61 PER now ranks him just decimal points behind NBA leader LeBron James of the Miami Heat (26.78). By Basketball Prospectus' wins above replacement metric, Howard has been better on a per-minute basis this season, though James has provided slightly more total value because of his minutes advantage.