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|After losing to Memphis in the playoffs, can Tim Duncan push past Zach Randolph in #NBArank?|
The following five players have beaten out 96 percent or more of the league to make #NBArank's top 20. But which really deserve to be here?
See what our five-man crew has to say about players ranked 16-20 as we unveil their rankings and ratings:
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Too high. Love made a gargantuan leap into stardom last season, but is he better than Randolph (No. 20) or LaMarcus Aldridge (No. 23)? No. He can't carry a team -- or even an offense -- the way those two can, and his insane numbers are merely a reflection of his supporting cast.Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Just right. He's an all-world rebounder who possesses an offensive repertoire as diverse as can be for a big man. There just aren't many players in history who can grab 20-plus rebounds and drain five 3-pointers in the same game. Defense is a serious issue, but for a player as nimble and hardworking as the 23-year-old Love, improvement is inevitable, right?
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Too high. Any borderline top-15 player would, in my opinion, be able to propel his team to greater heights than the Timberwolves have reached. Love is one of the game's premier rebounders, and it won't be too long before he deserves this ranking. But not yet.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: Just a tad high. I've got no problem with Love garnering this kind of ranking, but in my mind, his limitations on defense push him just out the top 20. Still, with unparalleled rebounding and rapidly improving efficiency, Love will deserve a ranking this high soon enough.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Too high. Not outrageously high, but a shade north of where he should have landed. I think even Love would concede that he's closing in on the top 20 but isn't all the way there yet. I love his versatility and the steady improvement of his 3-ball, but Love still has some proving to do as a difference-maker ... even though, I grant you, he hasn't been on a team yet that was realistically ready to win.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Too high, but barely. His shooting percentage outside of 3 feet is embarrassing, his free throw shooting is abysmal for a point guard, and his defense has worsened the past couple of seasons. Still, he's the best Celtic, even if he's the most sensitive.Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Too high. Rondo's game is a land of peaks and disturbingly low valleys. No one can question his abilities as a playmaker, defender and rebounder. Unfortunately, what we do question is what we've questioned for years. Even if he never becomes a consistent shooter, his problems with finishing and with free throws are too glaring for such an outstanding penetrator.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. Some might argue that, given Rondo's limited shooting ability, this ranking is a bit high. But his defense is surreal and he has unexpectedly emerged as one of the game's most imaginative passers. In a golden age of point guard play, Rondo is still one of the best.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: Too high. Rondo is a tremendous player, but his one glaring weakness, his troubles with consistency, and the impressive leaguewide talent pool make him a better fit for the 25-30 range. Tough to find many better playmakers (or perimeter defenders) than Rondo, though.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Too high. His passing eye and willingness to play hurt are unquestioned. But Rondo's offensive limitations and oft-dour demeanor make it hard for me to embrace him as my kind of franchise point guard.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Just right. Although he's an old 34, Ginobili remains one of the league's best perimeter players. His ability to score from basically anywhere on the court goes unnoticed. When the game's on the line, there are few players you'd rather have with the ball in their hands (unless someone's wide-open -- right, Henry?).Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Just right. While he's entering his final act, Manu is still one of the most creative players in the league. Clutch may or may not be a thing, but Ginobili has a serious penchant for big shots. His injury history affects his ranking, but not by much. One of the most well-rounded performers of his generation.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Too low. It depends on how heavily you weigh his well-deserved reputation for being injury-prone. Does the fact that he's almost certain to miss some games each season factor in? Then he's ranked too high. But if we're talking about a fully healthy Manu? Then I'd argue the game's most inventive, fearless player deserves to be ranked higher.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: About right. Ginobili is the true star of the Spurs' offense, the invaluable middle between Tony Parker's one-man fast break and Tim Duncan's patient approach in the post. Ginobili has long been one of the league's best backcourt players, but the silver and black has a way of hiding all-world talent in plain view.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Just right. But only because of age and those nagging durability concerns. Based on sheer nightly impact, Manu could probably be higher.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Too high. Duncan sharply declined last season, enduring both the worst regular season and postseason of his career. He's still a double-double threat, but the days of 22 and 12 have been replaced by outings of 13 and 9. It's time we stop handing out lifetime achievement awards (like the 2011 All-Star Game). He's fringe top-30.Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Too high. Functionally, he is still the same old player -- no-nonsense, fundamentally sound, reliable. But the knees are starting to creak, and Duncan just can't be expected to carry as much of a load as he has in the past. It's scary seeing his minutes decrease. One day they'll drop to zero. That'll be a sad day.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. On both ends of the floor, Duncan's game has slid. But it slid from an all-time-great peak. He's still one of the NBA's great rebounders and has arguably the highest basketball IQ of any big man in the league.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: About right, but skewing a bit high. Duncan clearly isn't the player he once was, but his work on the defensive end still has few contemporary equals. Where he's really fallen off is on offense; Duncan is still a scoring threat, but no longer potent enough to serve as a singular offensive focus.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Just right. 'Cause this guy has been such a phenomenal leader and winner in all the years I've been lucky enough to chronicle that, I simply can't bring myself to boot him out of the top 20 yet. I know what the stats say. I've seen him dragging around on one good leg. But I'll let somebody else tell you TD's not young enough to be up here any more. Sue me.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Too low. Last season, Randolph became the leader and franchise player people once envisioned he'd become, as he took his stellar play to another level and led the Grizzlies to the second round of the playoffs. Randolph is arguably the NBA's most dominant low-post threat. He should be in the top 15.Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Too low. It's incredible to see how far Z-Bo has come since his arrival in Memphis. Has much changed since then? Not really. He's always been a double-double machine, but now the package comes with fewer headaches/long-range bombs. And for a player with all the talent in the world, honing in on his biggest strengths has made all the difference.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. Randolph is currently a better offensive player than some of the guys ranked in front of him. But if you take a hard look at both ends of the floor, it makes sense that he's a couple of spots behind the big men still to come.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: Too low. Randolph is a Dwight-esque rebounder and the most consistent scoring big this side of Dirk. The 2011 playoffs were a nice opportunity for Z-Bo to rebrand himself, but he's been very good for a very long time -- we've just been slow to catch on.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Too low. And if you were privileged enough to have the courtside view I had for the San Antonio series, you'd say the same. Fire away with all those old doubts about his reliability and leadership. Zach Randolph, to me, was one of the 10 best players in the league by the time last season ended. I'll grant you No. 15 as an extreme low, but this ain't right.