Sports Illustrated released the bottom half (Nos. 100-51) of its "Top 100 Players of 2016" ranking Monday, and the Los Angeles Clippers found themselves with a troika of representatives. Forward Josh Smith checked-in at No. 96 on the list, while J.J. Redick was ranked 93rd and veteran Paul Pierce comes in 71st.
You should read the whole list, because Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver are awesome, but here's the blurb for Smith, courtesy of Mahoney:
A certain amount of noise tends to follow Smith wherever he goes with most of it snark and sneering in regard to his obvious shortcomings. Smith will take certain shots he shouldn’t and throw passes out of bounds as if he were meeting some kind of turnover quota. Yet on balance he’s still the kind of player who made a good Rockets defense far better while diversifying Houston’s offense with his playmaking, finishing ability, and streaky shooting from beyond the arc (34.5% as a Rocket between the regular season and playoffs). There’s more than enough game here—punctuated by 16.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes—to warrant working through the headaches that Smith might induce.
And for Redick, again via Mahoney:
Redick just completed the best season of his career at age 30: An impressive campaign of intuitive offense and competitive defense that made him a perfect complement for stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The bulk of Redick’s work is done on the periphery. He leads his man on a full-speed chase around successive screens, if only to occupy a potential helper and buy himself an extra moment to shoot should the ball come his way. That Redick so seamlessly transitions from those curls and cuts into textbook shooting form is a testament to his preparation. Footwork and mechanics separate Redick from so many others who share his trade, enabling him to shoot 44% on three-pointers with a defender closing in and little time to spare.
And, finally, Pierce:
It seems impossible that a veteran, champion, and All-NBA mainstay would surprise anyone some 17 years into his NBA career. Yet Pierce—chock full of well-worn moves and fakes—will undoubtedly dupe defenders on a regular basis again next season. Something in his game might be so slippery as to be immortal.
Smoove's reputation took a major hit when he was unceremoniously released by the Pistons last year, despite still being owed over $35 million on his contract. The Houston Rockets were then able to opportunistically swoop in and nab Smith for pennies on the dollar, where he would go on to redeem himself a bit. He proved to be a vital bench cog in Houston's surprising run to the Western Conference Finals...as Clippers fans are unfortunately very aware.
Redick has been an excellent addition since coming to the Clippers from Milwaukee back in the summer of 2013. He's an underrated reason for LAC owning one of the league's most prolific offenses over that span, as he helps effectively space the floor and contort the defense around the likes of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
Pierce's best days are certainly in the rearview mirror, but the Clippers signed him in an effort to help stabilize the starting five as well as bring some much-needed leadership into the locker room. While he probably isn't going to be playing more than 25 minutes a night, we saw recently during the playoffs what kind of impact he's still capable of making on the court, as well.
In last season's rankings, Redick was again ranked 93rd, Smith was all the way up at 53rd, and Pierce was at No. 46.
SI also released a list of players snubbed from the top 100, which included Clipper guards Jamal Crawford and Lance Stephenson. They'll be divulging the rest of the 100 as the week goes on, which is where we can safely assume we'll be seeing DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.