Overall I thought that the 91 experts associated with ESPN did a respectable job ranking all 500 current NBA players (counting everyone drafted and anyone who played in a game last season). Just a few thoughts on the rankings…..
1. LeBron James at #1 was the complete and perfect choice. No question. I know during the season he struggled during crunch-time, and the Finals weren’t any better. However, when his team dismantled the Bulls people were hailing him as a closer all of the sudden, so obviously he has that ability in him. I also remember this shot. Skip Bayless can talk all he wants about the clutch gene, and while I think we shouldn’t underestimate intangibles, we’re talking about the best basketball player on the planet. LeBron is going to come through in crunch-time this year, I know it. Anyone who wants to call him Prince James or any of the other nicknames just needs to watch him play. He is the best scorer in the league and an elite defender, passer, shot blocker, and decent rebounder. The 8-point games and other failure in the playoffs are anomalies, and he will prove to everyone that he is the number one player this year. Does it scare anyone else that he’s only 26?
2. Kobe at #7 was a big mistake. Regardless of his age he is still as good as anyone. He definitely should have been ahead of Kevin Durant at #6 (although it’s not long before Durant will be #1 on this list) and I wonder if he should have been ahead of Dirk at #5 as well. Dirk obviously had one of the greatest post-season runs in the history of basketball, but is he consistently the fifth best player in the league? We’re talking about Kobe Bryant here.
3. Andrew Bynum at #30. I know he could be the most dominant player in the post if he refines his game and stays healthy, but the stats aren’t there and neither is he. You can’t be ranked that high if you never play. Also I would drop him out of the top 100 simply for the act of arm-barring Barea.
4. Raymond Felton at #80 is kind of a snub. There were a lot of other rankings that I disagree with more, but I think this is one people won’t think about. This guy played very well with Amare for the first half of the season in New York, and the second half of the season he had to share PG time with fellow North Carolina grad Ty Lawson. Now, as the starting point guard in Portland, he’ll soon prove he’s as good as a lot of guys ranked above him.