Ranking the current NBA players from 1 to 100 is always a fun idea. I mean, it creates arguments among fans, which lead to grudges, which simmer into loathing, which creates mortal enemies and sparks feuds that last generations, but all in good fun, right?
Well, CBS is the latest to do this exercise, and I get to nitpick and second guess their work in my latest Read & React. Enjoy! (Note that they have blurbs for every player. I won’t copy/paste all of them because you can just follow the link. The thoughts below are my reactions to their placement of each player.)
9. Jayson Tatum
This feels about right (so far). Every player ahead of him is a legit MVP candidate. If Tatum can put together a full season similar to the 2nd half of last season, he’ll be right in the mix. A strong start would really help his narrative, but more importantly the Celtics need to be one of the top teams in the league.
19. Jaylen Brown
It is hard to quibble with the stars that are this list ahead of Jaylen (though Zion probably needs to prove he can stay healthy to earn the spot he’s in). What amuses me with this placement is all the guys that are behind Jaylen. For years he’s been involved in trade rumors and speculation centered on moving him to bring in a bigger star. Now he’s ahead of James Harden (21), Donovan Mitchell (22), Bradley Beal (30), and Kyrie Irving (31) - just to name a few. Turns out, having patience and waiting for the guy to develop was the right plan all along.
45. Marcus Smart
This is where I start to question the list a little more. Putting Ben Simmons and Andrew Wiggins ahead of Marcus is a bit odd. Both are top notch defenders in their own right, but Simmons in particular really needs to prove something before I’d put him in the top 50. Call me a stan if you like, but if I’m starting a roster from scratch, I’d want Smart over either of those guys.
56. Robert Williams III
This part of the list is pretty jumbled together. Lots of really talented, high-end players with specific roles are somewhat grouped together. Jarrett Allen and Desmond Bane are both ahead of Rob, which is tough to argue with. Williams is ahead of guys like newly maxed out Deandre Ayton and freshly signed near max guy Jalen Brunson. If Robert can get past his injury issues, his contract will continue to look like an absolute bargain.
62. Malcolm Brogdon
The newest member of the Celtics is probably only this low because of his own injury issues. In fact, the blurb indicates that he might have been on par with Marcus Smart without the injury concerns.
65. Al Horford
In a similar vein, I have a feeling that Horford would be quite a bit higher on this list if he was a little bit younger. Probably in the Robert Williams range. I would tend to argue that this ranking should be a point in time rather than a projection of what they’ll do in the next year, but whatever.
100. Grant Williams
The blurb gives “Batman” a lot of credit for slowing down Giannis, which might be tough to duplicate, in particular once he has a healthy team around him, but I digress. Grant sneaks into the back of this list by being a true 3-and-D big man. Which makes sense since the league puts such a premium on those kinds of players. I’ll note here that Derrick White doesn’t appear on this list. Just pointing that out.
All in all, not a bad list. Some quibbles, but I do appreciate the content and the conversation starter.