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#NBArank debates: Players 16-30

Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports

The latest round of #NBArank is underway. With half of the top 30 in the books, our panel dives in and dissects our experts' ratings.

1. Which player ranked 16-30 should have been higher?

Bo Churney, HawksHoop: Chris Bosh. He is still a star in this league, even if his stats aren't flashy enough to reflect that. Playing with LeBron helps a lot, but he's also shooting 54 percent from the field. The 2012 playoffs should prove he's worth more than the 18th spot.

Michael Pina, Red94: Derrick Rose. He has yet to play a game this season, unequivocally making him the most difficult player to evaluate on this list. But 23 feels a bit low for someone who was the best player on a legitimate title contender when last seen healthy. Expect him to re-enter the top five next season.

Tom Sunnergren, Hoop76: Tyson Chandler. Despite missing 10 games with a neck injury, Chandler is 11th in the NBA in win shares, fifth in wins produced and might be the most disruptive defensive presence in the sport. His efficiency is also cartoonish. The NBA is blessed with an abundance of talent, but it doesn't have 23 players better than Tyson Chandler.

Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: Love. So he breaks his hand and now he can't play? Ripping Love is the flavor of the season, and I've heard execs and scouts do it too, even questioning whether he's capable of carrying a team. Maybe he's not a top-five player but he is certainly in the top 25.

Jack Winter, Warriors World: Bosh. Individual numbers don't do Bosh's profound influence on Miami's success close to justice, and his #NBArank doesn't either. In terms of two-way skill and effectiveness, there may not be a better big man in the game than Bosh. If the Heat demanded more of him offensively, we'd all know it.


2. Which player ranked 16-30 should have been lower?

Churney: I like John Wall, but 21 seems really high when you look at who is below him. He is averaging 20 points and eight assists on great shooting percentages since the All-Star break, but that's still not enough to warrant a ranking over Derrick Rose and Kevin Love, who have put up better numbers across full seasons.

Pina: Wall. His recent string of brilliance is surely the reason for him being ranked higher than both Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo -- not to mention Kevin Love or Tyson Chandler, for that matter -- but a few weeks of consistent play isn't enough to legitimize such worthy praise.

Sunnergren: Wall. As extraordinary as he has been these past few weeks, and as superlatively talented as he is -- next to LeBron James and Kevin Durant, there might not be a more physically gifted player in the sport -- I haven't completely shaken the memory of Wall's uneven first two seasons. Do it for 82 games, John, then we'll talk.

Windhorst: Wall at 21? I realize he has had a good month, but ranked higher than Rondo and D-Rose? I'm not saying Wall hasn't made a statement with his play, especially with his shooting, since returning from injury. Maybe a year from now he'll be a legit top-20 player. But I'm nowhere close to being ready to declare this sufficient evidence. A lot of people must've given him 8s, and I reserve that rating for All-Stars.

Winter: Paul George. No young wing in the NBA has a brighter future with respect to overall impact than George, who combines elite size and athleticism with rare shot-making skill and defensive versatility. But that doesn't mean he's Indiana's best player, let alone among the league's top 30. Wait 'til next season.


3. Whose drop made the most sense to you?

Churney: Rajon Rondo. I've never been as high on Rondo as others, so seeing him drop 10 spots seems right to me. Rondo isn't a bad player, but his days of being the "heart of the Boston offense" were sometimes forced; Rondo got his stats but it made the Celtics worse.

Pina: LaMarcus Aldridge. He's an underrated, consistent player who's perhaps the biggest reason Portland had a better season than most expected (and if they had a bench maybe the 8-seed would've been a reality). But given all the talent in the NBA today, not everyone can be a top-20 player.

Sunnergren: Kevin Love. This was the season that Love, one of the game's truly unique talents, was supposed to make the leap from ordinary stardom to that thing just beyond it. Alas, his hand, then knee, had other plans, holding him to 18 games of uneven play. Through no real fault of his own, he might have had the most thoroughly disappointing season in basketball.

Windhorst: Rose. We're just not sure how his game will be affected by an injury like this. It's not like breaking a hand; Rose is probably going to have to alter the way he plays and it may take him a while to transition. We just don't know. I ranked him higher, but I understand the drop because of the uncertainty.

Winter: Deron Williams. The Nets acquired Williams with a top-10 player in mind, but he has been supremely underwhelming for the vast majority of his Nets tenure. His fall from 10th to 17th deserves to be steeper, recent improvements notwithstanding; a month of good Deron shouldn't be enough to keep him among the game's true elite.


4. Whose rise made the most sense to you?

Churney: Steph Curry. He is probably the best shooter in the league and appears to have recovered from the ankle injuries that plagued him last season. He's seventh in the league in scoring, top-15 in assists, and has been the leader in Golden State's return to the playoffs.

Pina: Joakim Noah. Arguably one of the best defensive players in basketball, Noah's all-around game has grown every season he has been in the league, and after finally making an All-Star team in February his ranking was due for a bump.

Sunnergren: Curry. We're on the cusp of the era of the 3-pointer, and no player is better equipped to thrive than Curry. He has a ways to go, but just four seasons into his career, Dell's boy is already building a compelling case for best marksmen in NBA history. I think he gets there.

Windhorst: Brook Lopez. In a season where many of the top big men have had a hard time staying on the court, Lopez has really taken a step forward and become one of the few legit centers in the game. The Nets have experienced some degree of buyers' remorse with all their contracts they signed this past summer, except for Lopez. He has played like a max player this season.

Winter: Steph Curry. With apologies to Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Lopez, no player's ascent up the ranks is more warranted than Curry's. He has gone from a constantly injured question mark to generally healthy franchise cornerstone in less than a season, a meteoric rise the likes of which this league rarely sees.


5. Which top-15 player's #NBArank are you most curious to find out?

Churney: Tim Duncan. At the end of the month, Duncan will turn 37; there's also a chance that he might end up in the top 10 of this ranking. His per-36 numbers are higher than his career averages and he's still the anchor of the third-best defense in the NBA. It's hard to make an argument against him at this point.

Pina: Duncan. The most overlooked great player in basketball history, Duncan's season has been incomparable. At 37 years old, he's still the most important player on one of basketball's three best teams, and given all he does on both ends of the floor, it'll be interesting to see if his ranking can climb as high as No. 4.

Sunnergren: Dirk Nowitzki. I'm eager to see how voters reconciled their respect for the German's brilliant career with the vital facts of the present: In 2012-13, Nowitzki is 140th in the NBA in win shares, 73rd in win shares per 48 minutes, 35th in player efficiency rating, and, for the second year running, is struggling to get his club to .500.

Windhorst: Carmelo Anthony. Kobe Bryant is also an interesting case, and he's shown in the past that it's something he personally cares about. But Melo was ranked No. 17 by our panel last year and out of all the names in the top 15, I think he's shown the most maturation and development this season. I think he'll rocket up to the top. James Harden benefited from opportunity; Melo has gotten better by embracing a better approach and a different position.

Winter: Marc Gasol. How Harden ranks with respect to Dwyane Wade and Bryant will fascinate, but at least that study offers a real gray area. There's no doubt Gasol should rank better than Dwight Howard; the question now is whether or not he will, and how he compares to Tim Duncan thereafter.

ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Bo Churney, Micheal Pina, Tom Sunnergren and Jack Winter contribute to the TrueHoop Network.

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