With NBA preseason and training camps less than a week away, NBA coverage is finally ramping up. ESPN will release the list of their top 100 NBA players this week, with further installments following today’s reveal of the 100-51 best players in the league.
Interestingly enough, ESPN rated the Clippers almost identically to the Sports Illustrated rankings that came out two weeks ago. Pat Beverley placed at 79th (81st on SI), Montrezl Harrell at 72nd (77th), and Lou Williams at 58th (53rd). No other Clippers players made the list (same as SI), with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George assuredly scheduled to arrive in the top 10 section (or possibly 10-20 for PG) in the coming days.
There are a couple possibilities here. Either these rankings are approximately where most NBA media members think the Clippers should be placed, or writers might have different opinions, but subscribe to groupthink and prior information too heavily to shake things up. Simply, it’s hard to believe that the ratings for these players (and general thoughts on them) are so similar across the board, especially when the ESPN ratings come from a panel of voters. Again, I think all the Clippers are a bit low here, but none of them are egregiously off — it’s just weird that the rankings are as close as they are.
Two former Clippers, however, have somewhat controversial rankings. Stud point guard prospect Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is ranked at 64th, while Danilo Gallinari came in at 91st. I understand that these are projections for the future, but both these seem quite off to me. I’m a huge SGA supporter, and think he’s absolutely going to be a great NBA player with a massively successful career. That said, 64 seems quite high for him in his second season, even taking into account a nice improvement from last year.
More egregious is poor Gallo, who simply gets no respect here whatsoever. Danilo was the 2018-2019 Clippers’ best player, a devastatingly efficient offensive player who is a positive team defender due to his smarts and size. He was probably the 7th or 8th best forward in the entire NBA last year, the catalyst for a 48 win team in the Western Conference who spent the entirety of the season scorching nets. Yes, it’s possible he regresses somewhat from his career-best campaign, or that he’s less healthy in 2020. Still, having Jaylen Brown 40 spots above Gallo, and Brandon Ingram and Zach LaVine around 35 higher is an embarrassment. Gallo was so, so, SO much better than those guys last year, and it’s really just not reasonable to presume they’d come close to his impact this season. Gallo should, at the very least, be in the top 50 here, and he deserves far more appreciation in general. He’s tough, he’s hilarious, and he’s extremely good at basketball.
Anyway, what do you think of ESPN’s rankings? Are they better or worse than SI’s thus far?