Earlier this week, ESPN.com released players #181-200 from their rankings of the 500 NBA players (The exercise is titled #NBArank) who are most valuable to their team for the 2012-13 season. One hundred and four different basketball experts ranked the players based on a scale of 0-to-10. Some of you may remember that prior to last season these same “experts” ranked Sixers forward Lavoy Allen as the very worst player in the NBA (#500), only to apologize to Lavoy during his incredible playoff performance against Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics.
With ESPN.com’s #NBA rank receiving a great deal of attention in its second year, we thought it would be a good idea to look at where some of the 76ers have appeared in the ranking so far and make a few predictions for where the remaining members of the 7-6 will be popping up on the list.
Below are the rankings for the Sixers players who have already appeared on the 2012-13 #NBArank list:
#182 – Forward, Dorell Wright, 30 spot dip from last year’s rankings
#232 – Forward, Lavoy Allen, 268 spot leap from last year’s rankings
#332 – Center, Kwame Brown, 28 spot dip from last year’s rankings
#375 – Guard, Royal Ivey, 43 spot leap from last year’s rankings
#400 – Forward, Arnett Moultrie, first year in the rankings
On the 0-to-10 scale, Wright holds a 4.54 value rating, Lavoy a 4.02 rating, Kwame a 3.02, Ivey a 2.74, and Moultrie a 2.57.
With seven more roster spots to rank, I feel as if this is some very high praise for the current Sixers roster by basketball experts. I believe rookie Arnett Moultrie was highly disrespected in his value. He was ranked one spot below Tony Battie who we all know is a shell of the defensive/athletic player he once was. Moultrie in my opinion has a ceiling as high as Allen’s last season and could propel over 100 spots in next year’s rankings. In my opinion, the other Sixers were rated fairly accurately.
Dorell Wright was ranked just above Vince Carter (#185) and Gerald Henderson (#184) in the rankings and I’m not too upset about it. The reason for my indifference is that I don’t really know how Doug Collins is planning on using Wright next year. I don’t see Wright filling in enough for Turner off the bench to receive 27 minutes a game again like he did last season. I see him getting more like 20 minutes and coming in as either a shooter or high energy/speed guy off the bench. I can see Collins going with a fast lineup of Jrue, Young, Wright, Thad, and Lavoy to give some rest to Richardson, Turner, Hawes, and Bynum.
Allen could actually be ranked a little higher, he comes in just under forwards Jason Thompson (#228) of the Kings and Patrick Patterson (#231) of the Rockets who I’d say are just about as athletically gifted as Allen. Thompson and Patterson may be better scorers, but Allen is a better defender then each of them and possibly a better rebounder if given enough minutes. However, I’m happy with the huge leap he made from “Mr. 500” in the rankings a year ago.
Kwame Brown sits one spot ahead of the Bucks’ Larry Sanders at #333 and three spots below the Blazers’ Meyers Leonard at #330. Sanders and Leonard are both considered projects at this point who have shown flashes of their potential, where as everyone knows what they’re going to get from Kwame at this point in his career. It’s also doubtful he’ll get much playing time for the Sixers this season as he’ll be competing for minutes with a pretty solid group of bigs (Something the Sixers have not had in a long time).
Royal Ivey will be looked at more than anything for defensive purposes and the occasional three-point shot, just like he did for the team three seasons ago when he shot 50% from deep.
So the question is, how will other Sixers rank amongst others in the coming weeks of the rankings? If it were up to me, here’s how analysts should round out the list:
1. Top 15- Center, Andrew Bynum
2. Top 40- Guard, Jrue Holiday
3. Top 60- Forward/Guard, Evan Turner
4. Top 60- Forward, Thaddeus Young
5. Top 100- Guard, Jason Richardson
6. Top 100- Forward/Center- Spencer Hawes
7. #101-150- Guard, Nick Young
N/A. Guard, Maalik Wayns- Will be cut before the season starts
That’s six players in the top fifth percentile of the League and one who’s just on the borderline. This folks is what you call a very deep and talented team and with how young this team currently is, it’s also a team that can handle fatigue and should be less prone to injury.
Bynum is obviously the best player on the team and one of the top talents in the NBA. He should make point guard Jrue Holiday’s job much easier next year and put him in elite point guard conversation among the NBA’s best.
The next tier of Sixers players are based on off-season progression. I believe Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young both have the potential to improve immensely on both ends of the floor next season. The departure of Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand will give each of them added minutes next season. So now it’s up to ET and Thad to capitalize on those additional minutes and have breakout season next year.
Rounding out my final three picks are Jason Richardson and Spencer Hawes, who I both believe should be in the top 100, and Nick Young who should at least make the top 150 cut-line. Richardson and Hawes each have the chance to play pivotal roles for the the Sixers next season. It’s assumed that Richardson will start at shooting guard and Hawes at power forward, so being a starter alone should give them more production than their bench counterparts (with the exception of Thad).
For Richardson it comes down to his shooting ability, defense, and leadership. He’s a big guard who’s currently the oldest player on the team. He’s shown throughout his career how much of a threat he can be from the perimeter if left open and he’s guarded nearly every type of guard you can imagine in his career. What will most likely take away from his minutes and production is his health and age. I believe Richardson still has some good years left in him and will be up for the challenge.
Hawes is the player I’m more worried about next season. He showed tremendous growth last season and proved to be a special talent at the beginning and end of the season, but that’s what worries me the most. Obviously his play can be attributed to his health, but he played very inconsistent when he returned from his Achilles injury and he was spotty at best on the defensive end all season. Bynum should help him on defense and give him more open mid-range looks, but I’m not just ready to say he’s the Sixers best option at power forward. For offense and rebounding yes, for defense and consistency I’d put Lavoy Allen in his place. The shooting guard and power forward positions are definitely the biggest question marks next season and Richardson and Hawes will be under a microscope from the start.
My final selection was Nick Young strictly based on his projected role next season. Young is expected to fill Lou Williams’ role as a scoring threat off the bench. He’s not a good defender, however Young has enough size where he could become at least a solid defender under Doug Collins. Unless he drastically improves on the defensive end, I don’t want Young to sniff a minute of crunch-time next year. Lou’s offense made up for his defense, but Young is not Lou and right now he’s too much of a liability. He has to prove himself before he can play that role on the team.
So Philadunkia nation, what do you think? How do you think this team should rank from top to bottom? Who do you think will make the Lavoy Allen-type jump next season?