SI.com released one-half of their annual rankings of the Top 100 NBA players today, and in addition to a few notable omissions, the placement of certain big-name players in the bottom half of the list is bound to raise some eyebrows.
The lists’ compilers, Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver, explain in the introduction that the “…rankings were assigned based on a fluid combination of subjective assessment and objective data, including per-game statistics and advanced measures like Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares, Real Plus-Minus, WARP, Net Rating and Synergy Sports data. ”
A list like this is always destined to spark some serious outrage among devoted fan bases, and the current rankings of two players in particular should result in considerable backlash: Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose are ranked 54 and 60, respectively. Here’s what the authors had to say about each:
“If this was a list of the NBA’s most famous players, or its most popular, or its richest, Kobe Bryant would be roughly 50 spots higher. But those aren’t the driving factors at play here, and the Lakers’ shooting guard no longer rates near the top of the NBA’s class on a value basis. Bryant is now 37 and coming off three consecutive season-ending injuries that have limited him to 41 games total since April 2013. Father Time is blowing into his hands and walking towards the scorer’s table.”
“At the peak of his powers, Derrick Rose’s ferocious off-the-dribble game was practically an offense in and of itself for the Bulls. In those days, Rose’s subpar outside shooting was an afterthought, as he could get anywhere he want on the court, finishing creatively at the rim, getting to the line and setting up his teammates for easy looks. Those days are gone, existing now only in flashes, as recurring knee injuries have sidelined Rose for more than 180 games over the last three years and neutered his offensive attack style. The 26-year-old former MVP’s quiet departure from USA Basketball this summer could be read as an acceptance of his new, less certain reality.”
When it comes to the toll that injuries have taken on both their careers the past few seasons, it’s hard to argue with either of those assessments, and at Bryant’s age, it seems increasingly unlikely that he’ll ever regain that MVP form. Even before his season-ending injury, he was having an absolutely dreadful year statistically. To be fair, some of that was a direct result of the Lakers’ dearth of quality players, and as they turn an eye toward the future and start developing their younger talent, that should mean a significant decrease in Bryant’s workload. But then again we are talking about Kobe Bryant here.
At age 26, it’s much more difficult to write Rose off entirely, even when you account for the devastating knee injuries that have threatened to derail his career altogether. Rose was still able to help his team make a relatively deep postseason run, even if it is the Eastern Conference and his numbers from this past season suggest he’s far from the player he was in 2011.
Where the rankings really start to get dicey is in the top half of the list, forthcoming Tuesday, when we’ll find out exactly who got ranked ahead of them. That’s when the conversation really gets interesting.