Just two days after Tony Parker was voted the 28th best player in the NBA, the only two San Antonio Spurs remaining to be rated came in right behind one another on ESPN #NBArank.
First came Tim Duncan at number 19, that’s one spot ahead of Zach Randolph. It was definitely the worst year of Duncan’s career, but it says a lot when a guy has the worst year of his career by far and media members still called him the 19th best player in basketball. Perhaps it’s a lifetime achievement award as people like John Hollinger said, but even so, how low would you rank him? 25? 30?
Coming in at number 18 is Manu Ginobili, and it feels right to put him just a hair ahead of Duncan. Sure he’s injury prone, but can you name a better all around shooting guard than Manu in the league not named Kobe or Wade? Duncan is the Spurs’ leader on the floor and the general on defense, but Manu has been the team’s heart for some time. While I more or less agreed with this ranking when I mentioned it to Project Spurs’ head honcho Jeff Garcia, he quickly said it was too low and Manu should be closer to 15th. Who am I to argue with the boss?
Where it gets funny is who was ranked around Manu and Duncan.
Zach Randolph was put behind Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili despite absolutely taking over the playoffs for a couple of rounds. Ahead of the two Spurs are Rajon Rondo at 17 and Kevin Love at 16. Behind Randolph was Paul Pierce (21), Kevin Garnett (22), LaMarcus Aldridge (23), Chris Bosh (24) and Al Horford (25). I feel like everyone from Randolph to Horford, with the exception of KG, could all be put ahead of Rondo and Love. Maybe I’m underrating Rondo and Love, but either way this list seems a bit backwards from 16-25.
That means we’re down to 15 players. Royce Webb with ESPN tweeted the remaining 15 players. In alphabetical order, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams are left. I don’t write for ESPN, so I don’t have a vote. But if I did here would be my list from 15-1: Nash (who should be back in the 20’s), Stoudemire, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, LeBron James.
Time for your thoughts. Are Manu and Duncan too high, too low? What about my top 15? Who wants to rip me for keeping Dirk and Durant out of the top 5?