I love details. I am a detail fanatic. I have the details of my details. I can’t go a day without a list. Sometimes I complete a task and write it down just to find a list and cross it off. But I will break down.
The Ringer has compiled a list of the NBA’s 100 greatest players, ranked in order. This is not the first idea. In fact, I read and responded to the CBS Sports list a few months ago. Again, as I mentioned, I’m a stickler for details, so I’ll read and respond to this as well.
Here’s the full list on The Ringer and below are some of the highlights and my responses.
To save you time, here is the Celtics roster and where they are on the roster.
#6 – Jayson Tatum
#20 – Jaylen Brown
#57 – Marcus Smart
#63 – Robert Williams III
#68 – Al Horford
#79 – Malcolm Brogdon
#98 – Grant Williams
#99 – Derek White
It’s all about adding up. Basketball is a game of tension and release; Efficient goal scoring draws a defender’s attention and can punish him by passing when the defense is overwhelmed. Tatum’s isolation game, fed mostly by a diet of double-takes, is where a lot of that tension comes from. According to Synergy, he played alone in 19 percent of his possessions in 2020-21 and 2021-22, allowing him to develop his release game, which has gradually improved his assist numbers each season.
Out of the 5 players listed above, 4 are former MVPs and the other one, Luka Doncic, is sure to win MVP in the near future. So that’s an indication that he’s in the running for MVP and possibly even entering the “best player in the NBA” conversation.
The blurb above is a good quick explanation of why it’s in that conversation now. It just keeps improving the game. The defense tries to take advantage of it, so it adjusts and punishes in other ways.
Rather than focusing on what he can’t do, Brown’s impact is best understood once you accept who he is and what he does. It is wrong to ask him to make everyone around him better. It is very interesting to ask him to destroy everything in his way for 35 minutes. Fortunately, Boston—who traded for Malcolm Brogdon in the offseason—is now allowing Brown to focus on the back for some ball-handling, and the result could be another trip to the playoffs.
Brown broke the way I rate players. For the most part, you can tell what kind of ceiling a player has based on what their weaknesses are. Jaylen consistently broke any perceived ceiling he had.
There is some debate over the skill frame at this point. Some people (like Michael Pina in the quote above) talk about maximizing his skills and downplaying the things he’s still working on. Others prefer to see him as a star that is constantly growing and growing. This may be a cop-out, but I think both could be true. While maximizing his strengths, he can pick his areas to work on his weaknesses (which aren’t exactly many).
Either way, if this ranking reflects his position in the league at the end of the year, he has the best chance of being one of the top teams in the NBA. Very amazing.
You can rattle off valid rankings for Smart, Robb, Horford, and Brogdon, but they’re clearly in that “non-all-star solid to best rotation.” I think Robert Williams will release these lists if/when he gets healthy again, but that may be a year away.
Grant and Derrick sneaking into the back end of this list is just icing on the cake and I think there’s a chance it will rise even higher in the coming years.
Bonus link: Tatum ranks 12th in the league in passer rating (and I expect him to be very high in the trade value column when he’s released).
Your turn, what stood out to you about these steps?