A Look at ESPN’s #NBARank

In a league of less than 300 players (not counting the G League) ranking the top 100 players can be a monumental task. ESPN took it head on leading into the 2017-2018 campaign by attempting to rank the top 100 in their #NBARank list. With a list that big there is a wide margin for disagreement about where certain players belong, and whether they are under or over valued. Let’s look into some of the rankings that pit players as either overrated, or underrated depending upon their position.

Overvalued:

#82 Greg Monroe

While I wasn’t surprised to see Monroe break in at the back-end of the top 100, some of the names he was ranked ahead of were perplexing to say the least. One name that stuck out to me was Derrick Favors at #94. Favors had a down, injury riddled season last year, but is expected to be healthy for the new campaign, and is definitely a better player than Monroe, especially defensively. Monroe can provide some scoring and is a solid passer, but he is not a great rebounder and is a minus defensively. I don’t hate Monroe being in the top 100, but think he is a little overvalued at 82.

#63 Lonzo Ball

Ball is an easy target for this list and has been scrutinized heavily over the last couple of days (through no fault of his own) for coming in at 63. It is lofty praise for a rookie, especially with some of the names that are slotted behind him on the list (we will get into that later). While I am high on Ball and his potential as an NBA player, placing him this high and having never played an NBA game is not something I agree with. He is still a rookie, he is still going to have to adjust to the NBA game, and he is still going to go through growing pains. He was terrific in the Summer League, and will be a cornerstone piece for the Lakers’ rebuild. It is just a little too early to place him this high.

#16 Nikola Jokic

Jokic is one of the best young big men in the league and his advanced metrics last season were off the charts. But 16 is a bit too high this early for the Center from Serbia. Jokic is an incredible young offensive talent. He can score at a high clip, he shoots it well and he is a tremendous passer. He definitely deserves to be mentioned with Towns, Porzingis and Embiid as up-and-coming big men. However, Jokic still needs to improve defensively. He is young and has the tools to become an effective defensive player, but he needs to take that next step. While he is a bit too high for the 2017-2018 campaign, Jokic is a budding superstar that will be a factor in the top 25 portion of these rankings for years to come.

Undervalued:

#64 Carmelo Anthony

It is easy to be blinded by all the negative hype Melo received this off-season, but being ranked 64th is a pretty startling injustice as far as NBA rankings are concerned. Melo is no longer the superstar he once was (if Silver lets him play in a Hoodie however we do need to revisit this), but he is still a very productive offensive player and is better than a number of names ranked ahead of him on this list. He averaged 22 points and 6 rebounds a clip last year for a tumultuous Knicks organization. Melo’s prime is nearing the end, but he is still well above the 64th best player in the league.

#25 Kyrie Irving

While being a top 25 player in the NBA is nothing to scoff at, Kyrie is underrated at the 25th spot on the list. While Irving is certainly far from a good defensive player, he is the best ball handler in the league and an elite offensive player overall. I would rank him ahead of at least Conley, Lowry and fellow Celtic addition Gordon Hayward, while a case could be made for him to be ranked even higher up the list. There are legitimate criticisms of Irving’s game and his ranking among the elite players in the league. However, there are not 24 better players than Kyrie Irving.

#60 Devin Booker

Booker is one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA in just his 3rd season. His 70 point outburst last season was one of the most prolific scoring games in recent memory. I would take Booker over numerous people ranked ahead of him, including almost everyone ranked 59-51. His Suns teams have been poor, but Booker’s leap from his rookie to sophomore campaign was nothing short of incredible. With a healthy Eric Bledsoe and the addition of Josh Jackson, the Suns should win some more games this season, and are trending upward. Booker is still improving, especially defensively, but having him outside the top 50 was an oversight on this list.

Those are some of the things that stuck out to me while looking over the top 90 names on the list, as the top 10 is slated to be released today. As I previously stated making a list of the top 100 NBA players is an inexact science and there are bound to be disagreements all over the place. I think that ESPN did a really good job all things considered, and believe that their NBA coverage is generally top-notch. If nothing else, it gives some room for NBA discussion only a couple of weeks out from the start of training camp.

P.S. Feel free to comment with some of the oversights that you found while reading the list, I am sure there are some ones that I missed.

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[…] with All-Star talent around him, I expect a rejuvenated player, one who is far better than the 64th best player in the league. He does come with flaws, but it was a move OKC had to make in an attempt to knock off Golden State […]

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[…] with All-Star talent around him, I expect a rejuvenated player, one who is far better than the 64th best player in the league. He does come with flaws, but it was a move OKC had to make in an attempt to knock off Golden State […]

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