The NBA is only a couple weeks away from starting training and it’s usually about this time of year things are slow and Sports Illustrated releases their Top 100 players NBA players for the coming year. This year three Blazers are bookended between Andrew Wiggins (#100) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (#1).
SI releases the list over the course of a week. On the first day of release, not a single Blazer was mentioned and then finally on day two and coming in at #78 was Jusuf Nurkic. The center seemed to come in a bit low for me coming off a career year. Yes, he is coming off a horrific broken leg, but he is still better than the like Domantas Sabonis, P.J. Tucker, Ricky Rubio, Harrison Barnes, Thaddeus Young, and Caris Levert. I agree with Montrezl Harrell being in front of him, but both Harrell and Nurkic should be ranked in the upper sixties.
It takes a bit before we come upon our next Blazer. The thing that jumps out to me is that Lou Williams is criminally under-ranked at 53. We see guys like John Collins, Danilo Gallinari, Myles Turner, and Marc Gasol ranked ahead of him. Sorry, but Lou Williams is much better than those guys and should be ranked in the low forties at the very least.
At #32 we reach CJ McCollum. Before having a knee injury at the end of the year CJ was on pace to have a career year. There was even some discussion of him being snubbed from the All-Star Game. He and DeMar DeRozan could have probably switched places, but CJ is pretty fairly ranked here.
We see a lot of guards popping up on the list now, guys like Mike Conley, Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Bradley Beal, Ben Simmons, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Kyle Lowry. We also hit a run of bigs with Pascal Siakam, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Draymond Green. We also get an appearance of Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook is ranked at #12 and Jimmy Butler at #11.
At #10 we finally come to Damian Lillard. This is a pretty fair ranking. I would argue that we could lift him up to #9 over Paul George, but you won’t get too much argument from me here. Lillard is one of the premier players in all of the league and it’s great that he is finally getting his just due.
The final eight are Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and the aforementioned Giannis. This is the first time in years that LeBron isn’t ranked at #1. I’m also really surprised that Zion Williamson didn’t get shoehorned into the top ten. He doesn’t even make the list.
What are your thoughts on the list?