In an ongoing feature piece on the Top 100 players in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns' dynamic backcourt trio of Eric Bledsoe (33), Goran Dragic (35) and Isaiah Thomas (90) all make an appearance. They are the only Suns to appear on the list, which ostensibly rates players based upon both their recent past performances as well as their likelihood to contribute at a high level this season.
I could spend an entire article discussing the merits of the ranking system SI uses...and I will!
In the grand scheme of things, I think slotting Bledsoe and Dragic around the 30s is probably fair. One can quibble with Bledsoe being rated more valuable than Dragic, given Bledsoe's inability to maintain his health, but both are borderline All-NBA players when they can stay healthy.
What I can and will quibble with are Dragic and Bledsoe's rankings relative to others. We can only make some comments about this, since the article has only released through player 21. But ahead of both Dragic and Bledsoe are Kyrie Irving (21), Damian Lillard (22), Derrick Rose (23), Kobe Bryant (24), Andre Iguadala (29) and Kyle Lowry (30).
Lets get the most obvious complaints out of the way: Kobe and Derrick Rose are not Top 50 players right now. There are too many questions about the health of both, and Derrick Rose looked improved, but not Top 50 as of the FIBA World Cup.
The other big problem I have with the rankings is Kyrie Irving's position. SI as much as admits that he probably won't have a dynamite season, exclaiming 'How insignificant does Irving's flat-line 2013-14 season seem in comparison to the promise of the next half-decade of Cavaliers basketball?' Well, it does kind of matter when you're discussing how to rate players. If anything, Kyrie's numbers are going to flat-line again this season, if not regress, with the majority of touches going to Kevin Love and LeBron James.
Finally, while I love me some Iggy as a UA alum, Iguadala is coming off arguably his worst season and might even be moving to a sixth man role this year. Its really hard to argue he was better than Dragic and Bledsoe last season, and even harder to make that argument this year.
Moving on to Isaiah Thomas' ranking, I feel quite firmly that he got hosed here. Thomas, who ended last season with 7.7 Win Shares and a PER of 20.5, falls behind guys like Jose Calderon (6.3 and 15.2), ranked 88, Ricky Rubio (5.9 and 15.4), ranked 87, Tyreke Evans (3.1, 18.4), ranked 84, Bradley Beal (4.0 and 14.3), ranked 74, and Monta Ellis (4.9 and 16.8), ranked 66.
Now, I can understand feeling like Thomas might decline a bit from his level of production from this past season given that he will now be a bench player, but to see him fall SO far is ridiculous. As the SI writers note, "...Thomas put up career-best numbers that rivaled those of just about everyone at his position." If that's the case, why is he so far behind other guys that put up worse numbers?
I'll let Thomas speak for himself as to why he needs a better ranking:
@Ronnie2K avg 20 & 6 last season lol only 6 other guys did that and they "Superstars" I think least 84 would be coo.— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas2) September 15, 2014
Alright, so he wasn't talking about his SI Ranking, but instead his 80 rating in NBA 2k15 (which is also too low, mind you), but the point stands. He put up numbers only matched by 6 other guys in the league last year. That is worthy of a little more respect than is currently coming Isaiah's way.
Anyways, that's my take. What do you all think?