Dan Feldman and I were among the many TrueHoop Networkers rubbing (virtual) elbows with ESPN personalities in voting for ESPN’s annual #NBARank — an exercise that attempts to rank the top 500 players, incoming rookies and, in a few cases, free agents still on the market, in terms of their current quality right now. So things like upside, long-term potential, whether a player is aging, paid too much, etc. … those don’t really factor much into the voting, although the criteria is certainly flexible. It’s mostly an attempt to simply rank expected contributions of players this season and rank them. So with that overly complicated intro out of the way, ESPN has released Nos. 201-500 so far, with more names being announced each day. Below are the Pistons who have appeared so far. Feel free to discuss in the comments whether the rankings are too high/too low/just right:
- 206. Jonas Jerebko – Jerebko was actually ranked in the same spot last season, coming off a serious injury. Personally, I’d rate him a tad higher, but he’s also an energy type/role player, and those guys also tend to stand out less on bad teams. If the Pistons improve, Jerebko’s contributions will be more noticed.
- 221. Corey Maggette – Maggette fell from No. 162 last season, mainly due to his injury-plagued season in Charlotte. The analysis here is simple — if Maggette is healthy and the physical style he plays hasn’t taken too much of a toll on his body, he’ll easily out-perform this ranking.
- 241. Jason Maxiell – Maxiell fell two spots from No. 239 the previous season. Maxiell obviously had a bounce-back season last year, but his statistics still don’t jump out. Early 200s is probably his ceiling if he reproduces what he was able to do last season.
- 244. Will Bynum – Bynum fell from No. 188 the previous season. As much as I love Bynum and root for him, injuries and sporadic playing time combined for a really poor season out of him last year. He could bounce back — and the Pistons could certainly use a healthy Bynum considering they have questions at backup point guard — with a more consistent rotation spot and healthy season, but he is also getting up there in age a bit.
- 245. Austin Daye – Daye fell from 217 the previous season. To be honest, he probably deserved to fall further considering he was statistically one of the worst players in the league last season. Still, it’s hard not to love the potential of a 6-11 player with such a natural looking stroke, and that probably helped him in this year’s voting.
- 262. Charlie Villanueva – Villanueva fell from No. 191 the previous season. Like Daye, there’s some justification for saying he should be even lower based on his 2011-12 performance. But also like Daye, there’s also a case to be made that his performance last season was an aberration and he’s a more useful player than he showed.
- 277. Andre Drummond – As Dan Feldman pointed out in a previous post, #NBARank tends to be harsh on rookies. After all, it’s hard to evaluate the ‘current quality’ when there is no body of work to evaluate. This isn’t a bad showing for Drummond. He’s certainly in a range with other players who it’s not asking too much of a raw rookie to out-produce and he’s also certainly not high enough where the ranking would suggest there are outrageous expectations for him. And, incidentally, he did come in 18 spots higher than fellow rookie John Henson, who many scouts think will be better as a rookie than Drummond, albeit with far less long-term potential.
- 303. Ben Wallace – I’m not going to quibble too much with Wallace’s ranking. He’s not ranked high enough, particularly in relation to rookie players like Drummond and Henson. Wallace can’t do many things he used to do anymore, but he’s still a heady offensive player with his passing and offensive rebounding ability, he’s still a savvy defender and he’s still a very good defensive rebounder in a 15-20 minute per game role. Personally, I think he’s ‘better’ in terms of current quality than a lot of the players ranked in front of him and I certainly don’t think he deserved to fall from No. 227 last season. He was still a legitimate rotation big man last season. But hey, I’m incapable of rational debate when it comes to Wallace.
Dan already wrote about where Pistons rookies Khris Middleton, Kim English and Kyle Singler landed in the rankings. He also pointed out that although Slava Kravstov is signed, he didn’t appear on the roster yet when the rankings were done, so he’s not accounted for this season. So that leaves Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince as players who cracked the top 200. My guess is that they’ll be ranked Monroe, Stuckey, Prince, Knight, but I have no idea which part of the top 200 we’ll see them show up.
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