Tag:NBA Top 100
Posted on: August 5, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 1:14 am
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The EOB Elite 100, 71-80: Young and old alike

Posted by Ben Golliver

grant-hill-old

This is the third segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81

If you can play the game of basketball, the NBA will find a place for you, and this segment of CBSSports.com’s Elite 100 underscores that point in fine fashion.

This might blow your mind: Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, ranked No. 77, was born in 1990, just weeks before Phoenix Suns wing Grant Hill showed up on campus for fall semester as a freshman at Duke University. By the time Cousins was in kindergarten, Hill had won two titles as a Blue Devil and was a highly-touted pro prospect, drafted No. 3 overall in 1994. As Cousins finished up elementary school and entered junior high, Hill looked like another talented NBA player robbed of reaching his potential due to injuries. By the time Cousins emerged on the national scene as a highly-ranked high school prospect, Hill was finding rejuvenation in the desert, extending his career and re-inventing his game as a member of the Phoenix Suns. A month or so before Cousins was drafted with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Hill was a key piece on a Suns team that made the Western Conference Finals.

As of last season, Cousins was the sixth-youngest player in the NBA at 20 years of age; Hill became the second oldest, one day younger than Chicago Bulls forward Kurt Thomas, after Boston Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal retired earlier this summer.  

The two players contrast in so many ways. Hill graduated from Duke; Cousins went one-and-done at Kentucky. Hill has won sportsmanship awards; Cousins required a babysitter with the Kings and was suspended for fighting with a teammate. Hill hangs with United States President Barack Obama; Cousins has palled around with rapper Drake. Hill no longer has the explosive athleticism that was his calling card but has mastered every last veteran trick; Cousins possesses an incredibly rare combination of size, strength and quickness but has yet to harness his full potential.

Despite those differences both players have found their way to the NBA and to this list. Let’s take a look at who accompanies them here.

80. Grant Hill, F, age 38, Phoenix Suns

2011 Stats: 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, .8 steals, 48.4 FG%, 14.8 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 78, 73, 87 

The only modern equivalent for Grant Hill’s agelessness is Halle Berry. About to turn 39, Hill has missed just three regular season games in the last three seasons, a remarkable achievement considering he played just 47 combined games from 2000-2002. Hill never achieved his full potential as a player because of injuries, but his legacy won’t be stained because of that. His resolve, resourcefulness and consistency have made him a model teammate and league ambassador for as long as anyone can remember.

Hill still contributes in a variety of ways: scoring fairly efficiently, defending multiple positions and chipping in on the glass. His game is mostly floor-bound these days but that fact makes him potentially productive into his 40s.

79. Tyrus Thomas, F, age 24, Charlotte Bobcats

2011 Stats: 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 47.1 FG%, 18.25 PER

Composite rankings (random order):  95, 82, 61

Thomas is a bit of a forgotten man. That can be said for anyone that plays for the Bobcats but is doubly true in his case because he missed a fairly long stretch of last season with a knee injury.

A one-time high lottery pick, Thomas is a guy who is perpetually trying to figure it out. That fact didn’t stop the Bobcats from committing big dollars after acquiring him in a trade from Chicago and it hasn’t stopped him from being an excellent contributor on defense, where he blocks shots with abandon and uses his length to its full advantage. The Bobcats have cleared the decks for next season so Thomas should have every possibility to earn minutes and touches. Remarkably, he’s still just 24 and his best days are certainly ahead of him.  

78. Roy Hibbert, C, age 24, Indiana Pacers

2011 Stats: 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 46.1 FG%, 15.96 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 92, 91, 52

Hibbert is one of the last of a dying breed: A true back-to-the-basket center whose hulking frame and stiff game would probably have been a better fit in the 1990s. As is, he’s a solid, productive player who does what’s expected for a guy his size: rebounds, blocks shots and finishes plays around the rim.

Last season, Hibbert’s third, wasn’t all smooth sailing. He struggled with his shooting and confidence, and performed much better after Jim O’Brien was replaced as head coach by Frank Vogel. His lack of lateral quickness will likely remain an issue for the rest of his career. It’s unlikely Hibbert will ever develop into a star but he’s an excellent cog for a young, developing team like Indiana.

77. DeMarcus Cousins, F, age 20, Sacramento Kings

2011 Stats: 14.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, .8 blocks, 43.0 FG%, 14.62 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 84, 76, 72

Cousins was a top-10 knucklehead last year. He was benched for making a choke sign at an opponent during a free throw attempt. He was thrown off the team plane for fighting with a teammate. He was kicked out of practice. He was fined for undisclosed reasons. He was ejected from a game for shoving Martell Webster during a fracas. The list goes on and on.

There were two bigger concerns than all of that immaturity: turnovers and efficiency. Cousins committed 3.3 turnovers in just 28.5 minutes per game and shot just 43% from the field. It’s not unusual for young big men to deal with those issues, though, and improvement in both categories going forward is a virtual certainty, as Cousins learns how to adjust to the NBA game, NBA officials and figures out how to best use his huge frame and excellent instincts around the basket. Despite his many flaws, Cousins’ size and skill give him a chance to be a top-25 NBA player far more quickly than you might expect. The talent and potential are there, lurking beneath the surface.

76. DeMar DeRozan, F, age 21, Toronto Raptors

2011 Stats: 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 46.7 FG%, 14.52 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 80, 49, unranked

We’re supposed to keep the rankings anonymous but in this case I feel compelled to confess: I did not rank DeRozan in the top-100 nor do I think he belongs here. He was an inefficient scorer with no range playing on a terrible team last season, one of the least valuable things you can be.

Still, his presence on this list speaks to his upward career trajectory. DeRozan used his ridiculous leaping and finishing abilities to double his scoring average from his rookie year last season, putting up 17.2 points per game. He also boasts the physical tools – size, length, quickness – to be a plus-defender. He’s really held back by his lack of three-point range, though, and he will continue to be an incomplete offensive player until his spot-up shooting is at least passable. His highlight reel capability, solid personality and pure marketability make him a bright spot on a roster that needs them. His hard-working, positive approach on a day-in and day-out basis make him especially intriguing to watch develop over the next 3-5 years.

75. Shawn Marion, F, age 33, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 12.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, .9 steals, 52.0 FG%, 17.09 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 67, unranked, 58

2011 was such a dream season for Marion that he will forgive us for vastly underrating him on this list. A do-everything forward long known best for his unorthodox and downright hideous jumper, Marion was a crucial piece to the Mavericks championship puzzle.

Marion was big on both ends, using excellent shot selection and an underrated post game to get his points, while rebounding at a solid clip for his position. He shined brightest defensively as he was part of a corps of Mavericks defenders that limited some of the league’s elite scorers during the posteason: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, to name a few. His unwavering confidence was crucial, too, especially when the Mavericks fell behind the Heat in the Finals. He never gave up and neither did Dallas.

74. Anderson Varejao, F, Age 28, Cleveland Cavaliers

2011 Stats: 9.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 blocks, 52.8 FG%, 15.21 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 76, 56, 92

Varejao became a permanent starting player for the first time in his career after LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal departed during the summer of 2010. He rose to the challenge nicely, posting career highs in points, rebounds and blocks until a foot injury prematurely ended his season.

Best known as an energy guy, Varejao has double-double potential now that he’s in his prime age years and playing on a roster that needs every ounce of production that he can provide. Just about everyone would like to see him traded to a contender so his hustle, defense and heady play can impact postseason games. The Cavaliers, to their credit, realize the asset they have and seem to be hoping he can help lead their rebuild.

73. Danilo Gallinari, F, Age 22, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, .8 steals, 41.4 FG%, 15.71 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 99, 37, 86

The young Italian was a key piece in the package that landed All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony in New York. He’s a long, silky perimeter player with shot-making ability and a desire to deliver in the clutch. Given his height, 6-foot-10, his rebounding contributions are not overwhelming and he’ll need to continue improving to approach his ceiling as a player.

Gallinari is tantalizing, more than anything, given the fluidity of his play at his size. There are plenty of questions to be answered in Denver – especially concerning the future of Nene and J.R. Smith – but Gallinari’s youth provides hope should there be widespread defections in free agency. He won’t ever replace Anthony but he won’t cost nearly as much, won’t demand as many shots and he is unlikely to hijack the franchise for the foreseeable future. That package is worth something, for sure.

72. Devin Harris, G, Age 28, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 15.2 points, 7.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 42.2 FG%, 17.22 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 66, 69, 86

A big guard with a solid skillset, Harris needs to shake the “loser” label and questions about his durability that developed during his time in New Jersey. He was perceived as the best player on a 12-win team and that’s never, ever a good thing for a player’s legacy and reputation.

Still, Harris gets a fresh start in Utah, as he was traded to the Jazz in the deal that sent All-Star guard Deron Williams to the Nets. Utah is clearly in a rebuilding, find-itself phase now that Williams is gone and it’s no guarantee that Harris, who is theoretically entering his prime, is necessarily their point guard of the future. We will learn a lot about Harris in 2011-2012.

71. Jameer Nelson, G, Age 29, Orlando Magic

2011 Stats: 13.1 points, 6.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 44.6%, 15.47 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 72, 82, 66

Nelson has a lot going for himself. He’s tough, scrappy, productive, has three-point range and is on a reasonable contract. Nelson can beat his man off the dribble for the drive-and-kick or stretch the defense as a knock-down shooter. He isn’t a star, though, and that’s what Orlando needed last year. Indeed, a second star is what they need next year too if center Dwight Howard is to remain in town.

Nelson's turnovers and his lack of size and elite athleticism prevent him from really serving as a game-changer offensively and occasionally make him a liability defensively. Right now, Nelson falls into the fairly wide category of “too talented to dump, not good enough to get real value in return.”

Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 12:18 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 81-90: A bunch of upside

Posted by Royce Young
Rankings by EOB Staff



Moving right along in our top 100 NBA players, we're checking 90-81. Here's the thing about these type of lists: They only get tougher the further you go along. What makes No. 86 better than No. 88? What moves one guy up to No. 80 and drops another to No. 89. These are the tough calls we had to make and they're also the tough calls that you're likely to yell at us about.

Such is list making.

But we march on towards No. 1 with 90-81.

(Click here for 100-91)

90. JaVale McGee, C, age 23, Washington Wizards
2011 stats: 10.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 55 FG%,
Composite rankings (random order): 91, 94, 83

McGee's ceiling could either be the next incredible talent or the next incredible disappointment. He can swallow shots with one hand, finish an alley-oop from anywhere and really and truly tries hard. He lacks in consistently rebounding and mentally, he's a bit of a spazz.

He might very well be forever just a raw talent that never truly develops, but even if this is the player the Wizards will forever get, having a 7-1 athletic freak for John Wall to toss oops to isn't really a bad thing. It's just a matter of wishing and hoping he can become something more, which might be what McGee's future is.

89. Marcus Camby, C, age 37, Portland Trail Blazers
2011 stats: 4.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 39.8 FG%, 14.85 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 75, unranked, 92

Funny that Camby is right ahead of McGee because really, Camby is the goal for someone like him. Camby's finest hour might've been the impact he made in the 1998-99 playoffs as the Knicks made an improbable NBA Finals run. He blocked everything, rebounded, defended and scored.

Eventually Camby evolved into a quality but not great big man. Someone that could plug the middle, influence the paint defensively, rebound and sometimes step out and hit a little jumpshot. And that's still he is now. He's not a marquee big man but in terms of having a player that's going to consistently impact a game, Camby is still that even at 37.

88. Marcus Thornton, SG, age 24, Sacramento Kings
2011 stats: 12.8 ppg, 1.8 apg, 3.5 rpg, 43 FG%, 36.8 3P%, 16.52 PER
Composite rankings (random order): unranked, 71, 96

Did you know that in 27 games with the Kings last season Thornton averaged 21.3 points a game? On 45 percent shooting including 36 percent from 3? He even added 3.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds a game to that too. That's pretty darn good right there.

For whatever reason, Thornton found himself in Monty Williams' doghouse in New Orleans after having a good rookie season off the bench for the Hornets. He was dealt to Sacramento and because of Tyreke Evans' nagging toe injury, found himself with a heap of playing time. And he took advantage of every second, cementing himself as part of Sacto's scoring core. He's just 24 and will enter his fourth season next year. We know he can score but as he showed off with the Kings, he might be able to do a bit more than that too.

87. J.R. Smith, SG, age 25, Denver Nuggets
2011 stats: 12.3 ppg, 2.2 apg, 4.1 rpg, 39 3P%, 16.43 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 88, 98, 77

The way these rankings are unfolding is cracking me up. It wasn't intentional but just like McGee-Camby, Thornton and J.R. Smith really are similar players. Smith is the bench gunner that can either shoot you in, or out, of a game. He's an infuriating talent because honestly, there's no good reason Smith shouldn't be one of the five best shooting guards in the game. He's got every bit of ability needed to be that. He just can't keep his head straight long enough to do it.

He is still just 25 and there's time yet for him to really put a season together. He's likely to be moving on from the Nuggets and maybe that's what he needs. A fresh start and a new coach that understands how to manage his erratic talent.

86. Mike Conley, PG, age 23, Memphis Grizzlies
2011 stats: 13.7 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.0 rpg, 44 FG%, 36.9 3P%, 15.90 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 88, 89, 80

Remember that $45 million extension that looked really stupid at the time? Now it's looking almost somewhat good. Conley put together his finest year as a pro, leading the Grizzlies deep in the postseason while playing a steady, controlling point guard. He's not an outstanding point man by any means, but having a guy that can score, dish and shoot is pretty much the idea in today's NBA. The question with Conley however is, is this all there is? Can he go up from here or is he topped out? I don't really see a way for him to really leap ahead, but you never know. We all thought that extension wasn't a good idea and look how that turned out.

85. Wilson Chandler, SF, age 24, Denver Nuggets
2011 stats: 15.3 ppg, 1.7 apg, 5.7 rpg, 44 FG%, 34.9 3P%, 14.68 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 77, unranked, 79

Not that Wilson Chandler is going to be an All-Star small forward or anything, but the Nuggets definitely came out solid form the Carmelo Anthony mess mainly because they were able to add Chandler to the deal. He finished up scoring the ball really well even though he completely disappeared in the postseason. He's just 24 and has steadily improved since day one of his NBA career.

Donnie Walsh was a big fan of his in New York and almost didn't push the button on the Melo deal because he didn't want to part with Chandler. He's got the chance to be a really nice two-way 3 in the league and if he can figure out a role with whoever he lands with in free agency, he could maybe at least make a little All-Star noise one day.

84. Ben Gordon, SG, age 28, Detroit Pistons
2011 stats: 11.2 ppg, 2.1 apg, 2.4 rpg, 44 FG%, 40.2 3P%, 12.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 93, 78, 83

So evidently Ben Gordon wasn't really worth that massive contract the Pistons tossed at him. Hard to know that though, especially with the way he torched the Celtics in the 2009-10 playoffs. There was a time where Gordon, a 6-3 shooting guard, was maybe one of the toughest covers at that spot in the league. And really, he probably still is if he can just get his act together.

He shoots too much and often goes tunnel vision with the ball in his hands. But when he's cooking, there might not be a better short scorer in the league. His 2010-11 was very down, but this is a guy that averaged more than 15 points a game every year before he landed in Detroit, including two years over 20.

83. Andrea Bargnani, C, age 25, Toronto Raptors
2011 stats: 21.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 8.6 RR, 53.3 TS%, 16.50 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 96, 67, 87

If basketball had a defensive DH -- or in this case a DD, designated defender -- Bargnani would maybe be a top 20 player. He's almost everything Dirk Nowitzki is offensively, especially at the age of 25. He's seven feet, can hit from anywhere, puts the ball on the floor and can shoot over anyone. He's not Dirk in terms of efficiency -- or anywhere close -- but just for comparisons sake, he's similar.

It all falls apart in terms of rebounding and defense though. Basically any board Bargnani grabbed is a result of it just bouncing straight to him (his rebound rate was an embarrassing 8.6 last year). He's not aggressive and doesn't attack. His defensive rating was atrocious last season (115.0) and he basically has no idea how to move his feet on a pick and roll.

But on the offensive side, good. Defense, bad. Hence, No. 83.

82. Jrue Holiday, PG, age 21, Philadelphia 76ers
2011 stats: 14.0 ppg, 6.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 44.6 FG%, 52.5 TS%, 15.49 PER
Composite rankings (random order): unranked, 73, 74

You may have forgotten about Jrue Holiday, the 76ers 17th pick in 2009. You may have assumed he wasn't panning out, that he was just a forgotten mid-first-round pick. But really, he was pretty darn good last season. Nothing spectacular -- 14.0 points, 6.5 assists and a PER of 15.49 -- but if we're all in agreement Mike Conley had a fine year, then you've got to say Holiday did too.

And, he's a pretty fine defender at that as well. He's got really long arms and plays passing lanes well (1.5 steals per game last year) and isn't afraid to work. He's only 21 and there's a chance that Holiday is on the way to being a name thought of first instead of last when talking about good young point guards.

81. Raymond Felton, PG, age 27, Portland Trail Blazers
2011 stats: 15.5 ppg, 8.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 42.5 FG%, 35.3 3P%, 16.68 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 68, 84, 90

For a while there last season, Felton was a borderline All-Star with the Knicks. He was running Mike D'Antoni's show pretty well and was meshing really well with Amar'e Stoudemire in the pick and roll. He was finding his places to shoot and score, but knew when and where to play setup.

Then he got dealt to Denver in the Melo deal, found himself out of the starting five and while still finished strong with the Nuggets, wasn't exactly anything close to an All-Star level player. Not to say he didn't have a good year, because he did. Especially when you think about it being a follow up to what's probably his breakout season in 2009-10 with the Bobcats.

The Blazers picked him up on draft night for Andre Miller and there's a good chance he's going to return to that borderline All-Star level play now that he doesn't have Ty Lawson hogging minutes in front of him. That is if he can keep away from the cupcakes.
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 2, 2011 1:46 am
Edited on: August 2, 2011 10:49 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 91-100: Roy is Mr. Irrelevant



By EOB Staff


Who are the top 100 players in the NBA? It's a loaded question. It's a complicated question. It's a question you ask when you're stuck in the second month of a prolonged lockout and you desperately need content. But it's also an interesting question. And it's one we wanted to tackle. 

Starting with this post, we'll be bringing you the top 100 players in the NBA over the next few weeks. The objective was to determine the most valuable 100 players in the league, factoring how good they are right now, their age, their impact, and their limitations. The three of our crew ranked the players from 1 to 100 and then we broke down their scores. Players had to have votes from at least two of our three writers. We left open the definition of value to interpretation, and the process was absolutely brutal. Is a center right now more valuable than a guard, even if the guard is a better player? How much more valuable? Who's better, a pure shooter that can't defend or a rebounder who's an offensive liability?

This is not a perfect list. But it's our attempt at bringing order to a chaotic and disorganized world that in all honesty, requires context to provide any sense of it. So let the brutal commentary begin, as we kick off players No. 91-100. And we begin with...

100. Brandon Roy, G, age 27, Portland Trail Blazers.
2011 Stats: 12.2 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.6 rpg, .8 spg, .400 FG%, .491 TS%, 13.9 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 100, 100, 91

Now, this is just sad. Mr. Irrelevant in our list is a former All-Star, a former franchise player, a former superstar in this league. Brandon Roy would have been a top 20 player, unquestionably. But now he's simply a shell of himself. He cracks this list as a reminder of what he can be on those rare nights like Game 4 of the first round versus the Mavericks. When Roy is healthy enough on the night to get his run and space the floor, he's a shooter with range, a scorer with versatility, a defender with savvy. But too often he's simply not physically able to get up and down the floor, to stay in front of his man, to create the space to find his shot or to keep himself on the floor.

Roy continues to insist he can return to form, that he can overcome his limitations. Rich Cho's firing is rumored to have been influenced by his conflict with Roy. Roy's contract means he's in Portland either for a long time, or until a new CBA allows for an amnesty clause to remove him. His legacy has taken a major downgrade since the injury robbed him, and he's been resistant to face any hint of that downgrade being permanent. Roy seems intent on proving it's all eventually going to go away and he'll be back to his normal self. But that time appears over, and Roy's odds of cracking the top 100 next year seem incredibly low.

99. Marcin Gortat, C, age 27, Phoenix Suns.
2011 Stats (Phoenix): 13.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg, .563 FG%, 18.8 PER, 18.1% TRR
Composite rankings (random order): 90, 95, unranked

Marcin Gortat is tentatively here. And by that we mean, we could understand putting him about 30 spots higher, or leaving him off the list completely. His production in Phoenix was unquestionable, as evidenced by the 18.8 PER. But it took Phoenix's high octane offense and the court stylings of Steve Nash to draw that production from him, and it was in limited time. Gortat has a high level of... ah... confidence. He believes that he can be a top center in this league. But we haven't seen enough from him to be sure he can be a difference maker on a contender, nor can we believe his offensive arsenal is versatile enough to be a true featured player. 

His defense, however, earns him a spot on this list. Gortat is a smart defender with muscle who attacks the glass. He has little in the way of a mid-range game, but averaged over 1.2 points per possession in the pick and roll according to Synergy Sports. Gortat will either prove this ranking was foolish for underrating him, or foolish for buying into a small sample set. For now, he stays here, just on the edge. 

98. Udonis Haslem, PF, age 31, Miami Heat
2011 Stats: 13 games played, 8.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, .512 FG%, 18.2% TRR, 12.7 PER
Composite ranking (random order): unranked, 97, 86

Haslem is the most important role player on the Eastern Conference Champions, and was largely the difference in their run to the Finals. His appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals turned the series quickly and decisively. He is widely considered the heart and soul of the Heat (if there is such a thing) and the Heat were so committed to re-signing him last summer that Dwyane Wade convinced his other super friends to take more of a paycut to keep him. 

Haslem's mid-range jumper seems to become more and more unstable as the years go on, which is a shame, since it's an essential part of his offense. His defense remains stout, though, as he was so good Coach Erik Spoelstra let him go one on one against Dirk Nowitzki in the key moments of the finals. Granted, Nowitzki blew by him while Haslem was trying to defend the fadeaway, but still, one out of three ain't bad! 

Haslem's unlikely to appear again as the toll of his injuries and age starts to creep in, but it should be noted what a significant impact he could have had on the Heat's disappointing regular season had he not missed 69 games. 

97. Ron Artest, SF, age 31, Los Angeles Lakers
2011 Stats: 8.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, .397 FG%, .485 TS%
Composite rankings (random order): 94, 99, 89

Oh, Ron. Crazy, crazy, crazy Ron. Just a few years ago, Artest was the difference-maker in the Rockets finally getting out of the first round. He was a hero to the people. He was the big 3-point maker in the last Lakers championship. Then, just as mysteriously, the most likely scenario of Artest trying to fit in with Phil Jackson occurred: things came unglued. Artest registered a career low in nearly every statistical category and lost the confidence of his coach, who moved him further and further from his minutes. Artest enjoyed a career year for his image, winning the Walter J. Kennedy Award for Citizenship and having an art gallery open an exhibit inspired by him. But he never did find his location in the Triangle. 

His defense, however, didn't really slip much. He held opponents to 29.8 percent in isolation situations, and opposing small forwards averaged only a 13.8 PER against him. That should be enough to keep him on this list until we can see what Mike Brown can do with him.

96. J.J. Redick, SG, age 27, Orlando Magic
2011 Stats: 10.1 ppg, .397 3PT%, 59 games played
Composite rankings (random order): 85, unranked, 95

Can you believe J.J. Redick is 27-years-old already? That's what happens when you love college, I guess. Redick had a down year due to injury, immediately following his signing of a major contract as a restricted free agent (Bulls offered, Orlando matched). Redick saw a slight downturn in his shooting, and never really took control of the shooting guard spot, especially after the Magic acquired both Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas.

Redick's still a fine defender and has some years left, but it's starting to look like that break-out season may never come for the former Blue Devil. We'll have to see how he recovers from his late-season injury.

95. Tony Allen, SG, age 29, Memphis Grizzlies
2011 Stats: 8.9 ppg, 1.8 spg, .510 FG%
Composite rankings (random order): 93, 81, unranked

Did that just happen? Did Tony Allen really go from "Trick or Treat Tony" to playoff clubhouse leader and team emotional leader in the biggest upset since, well... 2007, but still?! To let you know how split we were on this one, one of us thought Allen was in the final ten, one in bottom twenty, and one off the list. Yet, there's Allen, leading the Grizzlies to their first playoff win, first playoff series win, and nearly into the Western Conference Finals. 

Allen is known first and foremost as the defensive wizard, but he allowed a 15.5 PER from opposing small forwards. According to Synergy Sports, he allowed just a 34.2 field goal percentage overall, though. He was at his best when the Grizzlies needed him most and his biggest players were in converting broken passes into transition opportunities. He still believes too much in his own isolation offense, but Allen is a force enough for a playoff team to earn a spot in the top 100. Barely. 

94. Greg Monroe, C, Age 21, Detroit Pistons
2011 Stats: 9.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, .551 FG%, 18.0 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 94, 96, 83

That Monroe cracked this list in his first year speaks extremely well of him, comparing the train wreck of a locker room he operated in, the depth in the Detroit frontcourt, and his coach's slow spiral of disaster. Monroe's young, so his 20.5 PER allowed can be overlooked, considering his efficiency minute-by-minute. 

Monroe showed himself to be the best young player for the Pistons to build around and Lawrence Frank would do well to make him the focal point. With the right defensive system, Monroe could skyrocket up this list in the next two years.

93. O.J. Mayo, SG, Age 23, Memphis Grizzlies
2011 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 12.6 PER, .499 TS%
Composite rankings (random order): 87, 97, 88

O.J. Mayo lost his way this season. He was suspended for violation of the banned substances policy by the NBA, was knocked cold on a flight after a card game dispute by Tony Allen, lost his starting job, and was nearly traded for Josh McRoberts. Then he went on to help the Grizzlies make the NBA playoffs and hit huge, timely 3-pointers against the Spurs and the Thunder in playoff wins. He showed his scoring touch and an improved defensive acumen. He remained on the bench thanks to the woeful scoring potential of the Grizzlies' bench.

He is likely to wind up somewhere else next season, and it'll be then that it will be sink or swim time for Mayo who only two years ago looked like a star player on his way to being a legit top scoring option for a team. The sun will come out tomorrow, right?

92. DeAndre Jordan, C, Age 23, Los Angeles Clippers
2011 Stats: 7.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 14.8 PER, 16.5 TRR
Composite rankings (random order): unranked, 93, 77

Jordan is expected to be one of the top restricted free agents when the lockout is resolved. Next to Blake Griffin, Jordan came into his own, as a defensive presence able to capitalize on his all-world athleticism for once. His numbers won't jump off the page at you, but Jordan wound up as a top 10 defender among the most active post defenders according to Synergy Sports. He has good defensive instincts and his per 36 numbers (10 points, 10 rebounds) extrapolate well for a larger role. Wherever he goes, even if he stays in La La Land, Jordan has a bright future as kind of "Tyson Chandler without the hype." His freakish athletic frame has been augmented by a considerable amount of weight lifting, and now the kid's a beast. 

At just 23, Jordan represents the hope that the great defensive center is not yet dead.

91. Kendrick Perkins, C,  Age 26, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 Stats (Oklahoma City): 5.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, .9 bpg, 18.4 TRR, 9.1 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 96, 90, 84

Perkins returned from injury, was traded, helped the Thunder make the WCF, and still wasn't the difference maker to put them over the top. Instead of trying to shut down Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, he wound up facing Dirk Nowitzki who worked him over in space, and Tyson Chandler, who uses his body and length to combat Perkins at his own game. He seemed to recover from his significant injury marginally well, but still didn't look nearly 100 percent, which is to be expected.

So at 26, which Perkins are we going to get? Pre-injury? Post-injury? Now outside of Boston's plodding system, is he too much of an offensive liability? That's what will determine if Perkins winds up earning his extension and proving the trade that brought him to OKC was Presti's final masterpiece on the way to a championship.

(For more on the Top 100 Players in the NBA, read Sports' Illustrated's version begun this week. Small world.) 

Honorable Mention:

Glen Davis: Great first part of his season, lousy second half, can't start, weight concerns, fell apart in the playoffs, uncertain role outside of Boston.

J.J. Barea: Short. A definitive roleplayer that can't be used just anywhere. Ill-suited to a feature role outside of Dallas. All speed, all heart. 

Andre Miller: Old. Extremely crafty and experience, knows how to play versatile and efficiently. Limited in athleticism and getting up there in age every day. 

Nick Young: Great scorer on a bad team. Help the Wizards go somewhere, kid's got a spot on the list.

Stephen Jackson: Past his prime and too much of a malcontent when he's not winning. Has already started chafing with Bucks management and he hasn't even arrived yet.

George Hill: Maybe Indiana will move him out of roleplayer with upside territory and into "legit starting playmaker" category.

Richard Jefferson: Does just enough things well to not make up for his faults.

Rodney Stuckey: Destined for Detroit Pistons Trivia Land.

Nick Collison: Great defender. Great teammate. Great contract. Still not good enough overall to be the difference maker, though he gave it his best shot against Dirk.

DeJuan Blair: Rebounds a lot. Too bad he can't defend anyone to force those rebounds. Or shoot. Or score. Or pass. But still. Rebounding. Lots of it. 

Jeff Green: No real reason to explain here, right? You either love or hate Jeff Green and you have great reasons for both. 

Andray Blatche: The fact that he was a big enough component of the Wizards the past two seasons to make the honorable mentions list for the Top 100 players tells you a lot about where the Wizards are at right now as a franchise. 

Aaron Brooks: Still underrated, and still overrated for being so underrated. Maybe he's just rated. But either way, can't do enough at both ends of the floor to crack the top. 

Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
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