On Monday, Sports Illustrated revealed the bottom-half of their annual "Top 100 NBA Players" list for the upcoming season, with Josh Smith, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce all making the cut. They then unveiled Nos. 50-31 on Tuesday, and Nos. 30-11 Wednesday morning.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, he of the fairly noteworthy summer, found himself ranked as the 29th-best player in the league, per SI.com's Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney. Here's part of what they had to say about D.J.:
Jordan’s return coupled with L.A.’s bench upgrades sets up the Clippers for serious title contention. With Jordan in the middle on offense, constantly looming as an over-the-top dunk threat, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have more room to work, and the Clippers’ wing shooters enjoy cleaner looks. His ability to draw attention in pick-and-roll scenarios and pound the offensive glass made him a critical component of L.A.’s No. 1 offense, even though he averaged less than seven shots a game and attempted just five shots outside the paint all season. With Jordan in the middle on defense, L.A. has enough interior integrity to make up for some of its weaker individual defensive pieces, it has a shot-blocking threat to dissuade paint attacks off the dribble, and it has a vacuum-like defensive rebounder to cut short its opponents’ possessions. Put together that entire package of skills and the Clippers bring back perhaps the most athletically-gifted center in the NBA, a player who ranked in the top 10 in Win Shares and WARP and in the top-25 in PER and Real Plus-Minus. No wonder Doc Rivers and company went by plane, train and automobile to make sure he stayed in the fold.
No. 29 feels about right for Jordan after being ranked 38th prior to last season. He's turned himself into the game's top rebounder in the two seasons he's played for Doc Rivers (the 15 boards he averaged last season were the most since Kevin Love in 2010-11), and he has emerged as a fearsome figure at the center of the Clipper defense.
As of now, he's likely a bit better than the centers listed just below him (Andre Drummond, Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez), while not being quite up to the individual caliber of some of the higher-ranked players at his position (Al Horford, Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins).
SI will release the top-10 players on Thursday, where my brilliant powers of deduction tell me we'll be seeing both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The only remaining drama is where they'll each be ranked.