Over the last month or so, ESPN has slowly unveiled their ranking of the Top 500 NBA players (from Eddy Curry to LeBron James) according to a panel of 104 “experts.” For the most part, I’d say they’ve got it right, but the method they used to get there – arbitrarily rating each player from 0-10 – is a little ridiculous.
Nonetheless, regardless of whether the rankings actually tell us anything about the “current quality of each player,” as panelists were asked to judge the players on, given that so many high profile NBA media people and insiders were involved in the ranking, the list does, at the very least, give us a good indication of how each player is perceived heading into the 2012-13 season.
For the purpose of this blog, I’ve compiled a list of where each Raptor ranked in the panel’s eyes, and have included the player each Raptor is preceded by and followed by, to give you an idea of the kind of company each Raptor is keeping in these rankings.
In addition, I’ve included where five Raptors (Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas) rank by position and where Toronto’s three rookies rank among first year players.
So without further ado, here’s how 104 ESPN-titled experts see the 16 Raptors compared to the rest of the NBA:
Kyle Lowry – 51st Ahead of Nene, behind Ryan Anderson
Andrea Bargnani – 58th Ahead of David Lee, behind Marcin Gortat
Jose Calderon – 96th Ahead of Brandon Bass, behind Kawhi Leonard
DeMar DeRozan – 112th Ahead of Chris Kaman, behind Jamal Crawford
Landry Fields – 164th Ahead of Nick Young, behind Marvin Williams
Amir Johnson – 207th Ahead of Omri Casspi, behind Jonas Jerebko
Linas Kleiza – 217th Ahead of Jordan Crawford, behind Josh Howard
Ed Davis – 233rd Ahead of Jonas Valanciunas, behind Lavoy Allen
Jonas Valanciunas – 234th Ahead of Shannon Brown, behind Ed Davis
John Lucas III – 278th Ahead of Trevor Booker, behind Andre Drummond
Aaron Gray – 287th Ahead of Derek Fisher, behind Daequan Cook
Terrence Ross – 307th Ahead of Willie Green, behind Perry Jones III
Dominic McGuire – 376th Ahead of Andrew Goudelock, behind Royal Ivey
Quincy Acy – 448th Ahead of Justin Harper, behind Bernard James.
Jamaal Magloire – 451st Ahead of Lance Thomas, behind Jerome Jordan
Alan Anderson – 469th Ahead of Jerome Dyson, behind Lester Hudson
If we assume that the ideal scenario is to have a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas if and when Valanciunas proves he’s ready to start, then according to NBA Rank, the Raptors would be starting the league’s 12th-best point guard, 18th-best shooting guard, 30th-best small forward, 15th-best power forward and 35th-best centre.
As far as the Raptors’ rookies go, Valanciunas is ranked seventh among first year players, Ross is ranked 15th and Acy 44th.
A bit of discussion, why not? A healthy Bargnani should easily find himself in the top-50, and if Kyle Lowry has the kind of season that I think he’s capable of, I could see him jumping 20 spots on this list by next year. Having said that, as of right now, I can’t really fault anyone for not having a Raptor in the top 50. If anything, this list is yet another indication of how this Raptors’ roster is deep, has a couple of nice complimentary type players, but is still sorely missing a top-tier talent.
In the bottom half, all three Raptors rookies should make noticeable gains in terms of NBA recognition over the next year, and while we can expect more rookie contributions from Ross and Valanciunas, I actually see Acy making the biggest leap, just based on the fact that he’s ranked so close to the bottom right now.
Lastly, let’s finish with my own personal ranking of the 16 Raptors currently on the roster.
Just like the panelists were supposed to do, I’ll rank the players on their current quality, with no points given for their potential, future ceiling, etc. Before I reveal this list, however, know that I’m ranking these 16 players in terms of how I view them as overall basketball players, with no bias for offence or flash.
Here’s my “Raptors Rank”
1. Kyle Lowry
2. Andrea Bargnani
3. Jose Calderon
4. Landry Fields
5. DeMar DeRozan
6. Amir Johnson (Amir just narrowly edges Davis right now, but I believe that changes soon)
7. Ed Davis
8. Linas Kleiza
9. Jonas Valanciunas (If he adjusts to the NBA quickly, he could be top-three or four on this list next year)
10. Terrence Ross
11. Aaron Gray
12. John Lucas III
13. Quincy Acy
14. Dominic McGuire
15. Alan Anderson
16. Jamaal Magloire
That’s my take, what’s yours?