#NBArank debates: Last calls


We ranked every NBA player from No. 500 (Lavoy Allen) to No. 1 (LeBron James). Who was the most overrated and who was the most underrated?

1. Which top-50 player is most overrated in #NBArank?

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: Blake Griffin is probably a little high at No. 10, based on current performance. But highlights make big impressions, and Blake makes big highlights. Also, he jumped over a car.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 247: Dare I say John Wall? I'm legitimately worried that he will one day overtake CP3 and declare the point guard throne to be his, but I didn't see anything last season to declare him anywhere near a top-40 player quite yet.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Andrew Bynum (No. 30). If basketball existed in an injury-free vacuum, this ranking would be perfectly justified. Skill-wise, he's arguably the second-best natural center in the NBA. But in the past four seasons, Bynum has played in just 260 out of a possible 406 games (including playoffs), and major knee injuries don't magically go away for 7-footers.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: With all due respect, it's Tim Duncan at No. 19. He's arguably the greatest power forward ever, but right now he's looking up to LaMarcus Aldridge, who is ranked four slots behind him. Duncan can no longer be relied upon to lead the Spurs with his post game or cover as much ground as he used to on defense. His ranking was a gift from kind voters delivered out of sheer respect for his uncommon greatness.

Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Ray Allen. There is nothing I admire more than a shooter, and Ray sticks jumpers better than any man who has ever lived. What made him historically elite is that could do so much more, but he now lacks the versatility to be ranked above guys like Eric Gordon, Lamar Odom, Josh Smith and Danny Granger.

2. Which top-50 player is most underrated in #NBArank?

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: Tyson Chandler is ready to take on anybody who thinks four players were better than Dirk Nowitzki last season, and Chandler's a big dude. So I'll say Dirk.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 247: Zach Randolph strikes me as a guy who deserves to be higher than his ranking (20). He could very well be the best low-post scorer in the league. Combine that with his superb rebounding and he's a true double-double machine. How Love and Griffin are both ranked higher is beyond me.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Wing defenders, across the board. Guys like Gerald Wallace (No. 48), Luol Deng (46), Andre Iguodala (34), et al., are integral to their respective teams' defensive prowess but didn't garner as much respect as their offensive counterparts in the rankings.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Without question, Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba is still the second-best player in the game. It's hard for me to even look at a ranking that has Kobe at No. 7. Yes, he's 33 and dealing with a balky knee, but most players in the league -- the guys who know best -- will tell you Kobe is one of the two best players on this planet. If you need to win one game, there's no one I'd rather have than Bryant.

Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Zach Randolph. What more do you people want from Z-Bo? He is the most reliable two points in the game after Dirk, and during last season's playoffs he dropped 31/11 to close out San Antonio and posted games of 34/10, 21/21, 34/16 and 30/13 against Oklahoma City. There are 19 other guys in the NBA who can do that?

3. Which top-50 player will eventually rise highest in #NBArank?

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: Stephen Curry. A player at his age (23), who combines that shooting and vision, could quickly become incredibly important in the right setting. I'd love to watch a team built around him.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 247: John Wall will likely wind up in the top five or 10 within only a few years. Can't imagine anyone else from 40-50 doing that, so I'll go with Wall.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: John Wall (No. 40). By next year, he'll be in the top half of 50, and it's only a matter of time before his two-digit ranking becomes one.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Easily John Wall, who clocked in at No. 40. He's got the skill, talent and desire to become a top-five player in this league; end-to-end, Wall is the fastest player in the league and one of its five best athletes. Right now, he's plagued by the mediocrity that is the Washington Wizards. As Wall continues to grasp the concepts of leading a team and develops his outside shot, Derrick Rose will soon envy his game. In fact, two years from now he's ahead of Rose and Russell Westbrook in these rankings.

Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: John Wall without question. He will likely be in the top 10 within three years, but even if he falls short of that, it's hard to imagine Wall not at least matching the ascension of Russell Westbrook, who ranks 15th. Such a jump advances Wall 25 spots, and no one else in the top 50 is leapfrogging more players than that.

4. Which top-50 player will fall fastest in #NBArank?

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: Why oh why do you have to ask me this? I don't get enough hate mail already? How about Kobe Bryant, strictly because he is an older guy nursing injuries at an athletic position.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 247: Considering Steve Nash is 36 years old and ranked 14th, he's probably in line to fall the fastest. His shooting numbers were down last season, and they (along with his role) will probably continue to decline as he ages. Plus it's increasingly harder to even place him in the top five of his own position. That will hurt his future ranking.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Tim Duncan's arguably the greatest power forward of all time, the best player of this past decade, and the least volatile franchise player in NBA history. But his production dropped like a stone this past season, and at 35 years old, he's not learning any new tricks. With 1,053 regular-season games and 176 playoff games on his legs, the Big Fundamental may be reaching the end of the line.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: At 33, Dirk Nowitzki is at his peak as a basketball player -- it's all downhill from here. Our impression of him will change drastically when he doesn't win a championship and he will drop like a stone from his No. 5 spot. Dirk's game, while not based on athleticism, is the type that will drop off considerably in the next two years. Outside chance he'll be in the top 10 this time next year and only a prayer will keep him in the top 20 two years from now.

Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: Tim Duncan. He might still deserve a top-20 spot but he will not ease down this list gracefully. The wheels will fall off. And there he will be, sitting on cement blocks wondering how the best basketball player alive became an immobile, old man with a gray goatee and a wizard tattoo. Let's just hope there is no Hakeem-playing-in-a-dinosaur-jersey moment.

5. Who will finish No. 1 in next year's #NBArank?

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: LeBron James. Come on man, it's ESPN! The voters had no other choice! No, in all seriousness, his production is off the charts, and these voters respect production. He is the objective pick, and he'll be in his prime for a while.

Joe Gerrity, Hornets 247: I tried writing that Howard could overtake LBJ if he can win a title, or that Wade could theoretically sort of lead the Heat to a title as LeBron stumbles, but both just sound a little too far fetched to actually be my prediction. The King is far and away the best player in the league right now, title or not, and that will continue next season.

Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Put it this way: The only way it's not LeBron James is if Dwight Howard leads a team to an NBA championship in 2012. And I don't see that happening.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: LeBron James will repeat as the top-ranked player. He's entering his prime and, should there be a season, we'll never see more effort out of James than we'll see in 2011-12. Nothing will be more fun to watch than James proving he's still the best player in the game as he guns for the ring that will ultimately define him as a player. In time, the player who will supplant James will be Dwight Howard. When he does, he'll hold the top spot for half a dozen years.

Jared Wade, 8 Points, 9 Seconds: LeBron. Regardless of the jewelry he will or will not have, LeBron will still be the best player on the planet. At some point, if he can't overcome his mental lapses, we will have to reconsider whether the otherworldly talent he displays on a day-in, day-out basis supersedes his flaws. But that day isn't today. And it won't be 12 months from now.

ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Henry Abbott is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Chris Palmer covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine. Joe Gerrity, Devin Kharpertian and Jared Wade contribute to the TrueHoop Network.

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