Zach Lowe of The Point Forward has undertaken the difficult and sure-to-cause-controversy task of ranking the NBA’s top 100 players. Today, he unveiled Nos. 100-91 along with a few players who didn’t make the cut. First of all, it’s important to understand Lowe’s criteria:
That’s what these rankings are designed to do — spotlight the 100 best NBA players, regardless of salary or current team context, based on where they stand at this very moment, approaching the (still theoretical) 2011-12 season.
Ben Gordon didn’t crack the first 10 players Lowe revealed, but he wasn’t too far behind:
• Ben Gordon, SG, Detroit Pistons: He was the among the last three or four players cut, even though the memory of his insane shooting performance in Chicago’s first-round playoff loss to the Celtics in 2009 remains strong and scary. His minutes and shots dropped amid the “buffoonery” in Detroit, though his three-point percentage rebounded last season into elite territory. When Gordon’s not shooting, he’s not contributing much in the way of assists, defense or free throws, and two straight subpar seasons — not entirely of his own making — drop him out of this top 100, at least for now.
Which Pistons do you think will make Lowe’s top 90? I initially guessed Greg Monroe first, but then I read this teaser from Lowe:
Ranking sophomores proved especially difficult, and only two made the list. I sought a balance between rewarding the potential for growth next season and punishing bad play already on the record, and that balance tilted against players with only one NBA season to their names. I’m with the group that believes DeMarcus Cousins has a very bright NBA future, but the glaring, near-historic (for a big man) inefficiencies of his rookie season keep him off this list for now, since immediate improvement is uncertain.
The two sophomores almost certainly must be Blake Griffin and John Wall, which would exclude Monroe. I think that’s a mistake. Monroe has an excellent chance of becoming one of the NBA’s top 100 players next season.