Two Pistons make ESPN’s top 75 players list

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 5: Andre Drummond
AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 5: Andre Drummond /

As SI’s top 100 NBA player countdown is underway, ESPN got started with their own top 75 list. Two Detroit Pistons are represented in its ranks.

In comparison to SI’s top 100 list, ESPN’s top 75 isn’t that dissimilar in the way it ranks players from the Detroit Pistons. While SI’s list ranks four Pistons in its top 100, only two of them fall inside the top 75.

Tobias Harris is at 81, according to SI, and Reggie Jackson is 77 behind the strength of optimism that the Pistons’ rehab program will bring back some vestiges of the player we remember from two seasons ago. Avery Bradley checked in at 54 and Andre Drummond wrapped up the bottom 50 with a rank of 51.

As for ESPN, Tobias Harris appears nowhere in the top 75 (unless they plan to include him in Wednesday’s ranking where they tackle 26 through 50) and Jackson is also nowhere to be seen. The Pistons’ representatives are Avery Bradley at 61 and Andre Drummond at 53.

A year ago Bradley checked in at 54 on this list so this represents a small drop following a season in which he was snubbed from the All-Defensive teams. His defensive metrics struggled, but many of those are either team stats or influenced by teammates, and he played the bulk of his minutes with Isaiah Thomas who is among the NBA’s worst defenders.

ESPN addresses Bradley:

"Already considered one of the league’s premier on-the-ball defenders, Bradley now has a chance to showcase his offensive game in a contract year no longer playing alongside Isaiah Thomas and on a Pistons team lacking a clear-cut No. 1 scoring option. Bradley was the Celtics’ leading scorer last season in the six games that Isaiah Thomas missed, averaging 19.0 points per game."

Drummond had a precipitous drop compared to last season. ESPN ranked him 20th last year and his rank of 53rd was a punishing decline after a disappointing campaign for the Detroit Pistons.

ESPN assesses Drummond:

"Drummond is Exhibit A that simply amassing copious amounts of points and rebounds doesn’t necessarily lead to team success. Despite having a season not far off from his All-Star campaign of 2015-16, Drummond fell all the way from 20th to 53rd in our rankings, largely in part because his team was simply much better with him off the floor. The Pistons were 10.9 points per 100 possessions better with Drummond on the bench than on the floor in 2016-17."

This is a fair assessment of Andre Drummond. He plateaued more than regressed last season, and it wasn’t entirely his fault, but a player supposed to be a top-20 player in the NBA can’t put forth the kind of uneven effort he did last season. Nor can his team be almost 11 points better when he’s off than when he’s on.

Next: Andre Drummond makes SI's top 100 list

People will flock back to Drummond if he can prove the naysayers wrong this season, but it’s on him to show he can take one more leap forward.