Friday, October 7, 2011
Updated: October 13, 2:09 AM ET
#NBArank instant analysis: 36-40
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
ESPN.com's #NBArank project will creep inside the top 40 on Friday, which means the debates will only get more heated from here on out.
Whose rating is too high? Too low? Just right?
Whet your appetite after each player is unveiled with some wrangling between our five-man panel, and then let your voice be heard on Twitter.
1. Danny Granger at No. 36: Too high, too low or just right?
Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue And Gold: Too high. There was a point when I thought Granger could grow to become a legit No. 1 option for the Pacers, or the missing piece for a contender. Now, not so much. Granger dropped from 28th to 55th in PER last season while keeping a relatively similar usage rate.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Just right. Granger is a talented player, one constantly on the cusp of being an All-Star. But he isn't one. His ranking perfectly reflects that.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Too high. I like Granger a lot. But the simple fact is that there are at least 40 players better than him in the NBA. But there are not 50 that are better, so he's just 10 or so notches too high.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. If you split the difference between Danny Granger's last two seasons, this feels about right. Based on 2010-11 alone, it's difficult to place Granger higher than 36, and one wonders if his rank isn't overreaching, if only slightly.
Jeremy Wagner, Roundball Mining Co.: Too high. Granger showed promise as an all-around performer early in his career, yet somehow his solid rebound and assist rates as a rookie remain his career highs. He also showed the potential to be a lockdown defender, but he was seduced by the siren song of playing for scoring titles and threw away the chance to be Scottie Pippen Lite.
2. Tyson Chandler at No. 37: Too high, too low or just right?
Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue And Gold: Too low. Tyson Chandler is the reigning starting center of the defending champions. Recent history suggests that size wins NBA championships, and Chandler is a huge reason the Mavericks were able to outlast the Lakers, Thunder and Heat. He's not the most talented offensively, but his ability to anchor a defense will make him a hot commodity should free agency ever start.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Too high. I love Chandler. He was the second-best player in Dallas' playoff run, the anchor of its defensive machine. But as an individual talent, the 29-year-old with a rudimentary offensive game is simply not this good.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Too low, by just a few spots. Chandler has evolved into a great leader who knows exactly how to play to his strengths while giving his team exactly what they need. It's a perfect fit in Dallas, but he would send a host of other teams deep into the playoffs as well.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. Chandler is a great defender -- the kind of defender whose impact on games goes beyond simple quantification. Let the Mavericks' title run speak to his place in the top 40 and leave it at that.
Jeremy Wagner, Roundball Mining Co.: Just right. Finally, the run of one-dimensional guards who have never won anything has stopped! Chandler is nowhere near as skilled as the players listed around him, but he is a game-changing rebounder and shot-blocker. Size is still a prerequisite for contending and a skill that can't be taught.
3. Stephen Curry at No. 38: Too high, too low or just right?
Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue And Gold: Just right. I'm a big fan of Curry's game. While his numbers may be padded because of Golden State's pace, he's been much more efficient than other young guards like Evans, Wall and Jennings who all have similar usage rates.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Too high -- his offensive skills border on otherworldly, but his defense leaves far too much to be desired. Though I can't argue with the fact that his ranking is higher than the other guy in the Warriors' backcourt.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: A bit too high, but probably an accurate reflection of the future (is it possible to reflect the future?). He's not yet capable of controlling games thanks to his high-volume-shooting backcourt mate and a disjointed team concept, but that day is coming. And soon.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. At first glance, Curry at 38 seemed more like a vote for the player we expect Curry to be next season and less about what he's accomplished in his first two seasons. But a quick peek at Curry's PER (19.46) helpfully reminds me that he is already a borderline top-30 player.
Jeremy Wagner, Roundball Mining Co.: Just right. He has a great feel for the game and is an amazing shooter. When Golden State roars back from a 20-point halftime deficit at the Roaracle he is more often than not the catalyst. However, the other holes in his game play a part in why the Warriors fall behind by 20 so often.
4. Eric Gordon at No. 39: Too high, too low or just right?
Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue And Gold: Just right. Eric Gordon has the opportunity to become one of the league's better two-way guards. He became more comfortable last season throwing entry passes to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan while increasing his per-40-minutes scoring from 18 to 23 points.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Too high. Gordon is a great shooter and a good scorer, and he's not far off from this spot. But he needs to improve in areas other than scoring before he can justify a top-40 NBA ranking.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Too high. I have him in the mid-40s and rising. He's a fighter on defense, but is still largely ineffective thanks to his size. Gordon is definitely trending upward as an offensive player with the ball in his hands and as a shooter, but he is probably the worst starting 2-guard in the NBA at rebounding.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. Eric Gordon is something of a tease. He holds his own with that cluster of second- and third-tier shooting guards who aren't quite elite but who, nevertheless, are on the opposing coach's mind.
Jeremy Wagner, Roundball Mining Co.: Just right. He can fill up the basket, but he does not fill up the stat sheet. Feel free to nab a rebound or set a teammate up every once in a while, Eric. He should be able to post a respectable assist rate just by throwing a few blind lobs at the rim with teammates like Griffin and Jordan.
5. John Wall at No. 40: Too high, too low or just right?
Phillip Barnett, Forum Blue And Gold: Too high, but not by much. Wall had his ups and downs during his rookie campaign. Once he learns to control his speed and athletic ability in the way Derrick Rose has, he's going to be a problem for opposing guards in this league. In the meantime, Wall needs to work on taking care of the basketball and finding ways to put larger numbers in the wins column.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Just right. We may learn that it's too low very quickly. Only two other 20-year-olds in NBA history finished their rookie seasons with an assist rate over 36 percent and over 2,000 minutes played: Stephon Marbury and Chris Paul. I'd say his future lies somewhere in between those two.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Embarrassingly too high. Seriously, I'm almost concerned that some of our voters just chose guys based on popularity and speed (Wall would score well in both). There is no metric available that would rank Wall as a top-30 backcourt player. He's going to be great as he learns to modulate his speed and set players up in more complex ways; he's got All-Star potential, without doubt. But a top-40 player right now? No chance.
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: Too high. John Wall simply hasn't done enough to merit his ranking. Based on last season's play, he's a borderline top-10 point guard. I'd prefer to see any one of the five players immediately behind Wall rank ahead of him.
Jeremy Wagner, Roundball Mining Co.: Too high. I was surprised to see Wall this high in the rankings, and almost any stat you want to use supports my shock. Stats aside, there is no denying his raw talent. But this is a situation of buying the sizzle instead of the steak. I love his competitive spirit, and he will be an All-Star -- just not for a couple of seasons.