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Three Suns make SB Nation Top 100... and what’s this about ranking NBA MEDIA?!

Players get ranked by media all the time. Now players want to turn the tables and see the media get ranked by players. Uh oh.

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

NBA players absolutely love to see where the media ranks them among their peers, especially before anyone’s played any games yet. Almost as rewarding for them as their NBA2K ranking. Almost.

Now that we have only a week before training camps begin for the 2017-18 season, it’s time for all your favorite websites to agonize over and publish rankings of the players you will see on your TV this year.

Who’s better between Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo? Or between Nicolas Batum and Jae Crowder? Inquiring minds want to know!

Our very own mothership, SB Nation, published a Top-100 list this week for 2017. And being that this is the mothership that pays my handsome salary (cough, cough, LOL), I can unequivocally tell you that they make the very best and most accurate ranking out there.

By the way, three of your hometown Suns have made the list for 2017.

Ranking Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker among the Top 36 players in the league is impressive. Until you consider that would make them bubble picks for 7th-team All-NBA, that is. Welcome to lotto-land, folks.

Poor T.J. Warren, with his #90 ranking, qualifies for something like 30th-team All-NBA, but at least he’s better than anyone else on the Suns roster!

Former Suns are on the list:

  • Robin Lopez made the Top 100 at #95, five spots behind T.J.
  • Markieff Morris, currently on trial for two counts of aggravated assault, sits at #65
  • Goran Dragic comes in at #43 (behind Bledsoe and Booker)
  • Isaiah Thomas comes in highest of all former and current Suns guards at #20 overall

The Suns franchise has never been associated with any other players inside the Top 20 of SB Nation’s Top 100 list for 2017. Meaning, the Suns don’t like working with players who could even make 4th team All-NBA, let alone 3rd team, 2nd team or first-team. This is true of more than just 2017. I can’t remember the last time a Phoenix Suns player snuck into any Top-20 ranking of the league’s players.

But hope dawns!

Thankfully, SB Nation doesn’t stop there. This week they are also rolling out their predictions for the Top 101 in the year 2021!

Where will Devin Booker land? Will he finally give the Suns a Top-20 player? Will Eric Bledsoe still be a Top-100 player four years from now? Will T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, or any other young Suns players be Top-100 material in 2021?

As of this publication, we have seen the Top 51 of 101 revealed, and only one Suns player has been mentioned.

Eric Bledsoe, who will 31 years old in 2021, still ranks at #56 overall on SB Nation’s Top 101 for 2021. I think that’s pretty good actually, considering he will be “over the hill” by then. But as I shared in the piece, I can see Bledsoe putting up 18/5/5 in a starting role for many years to come, and that should be good enough for 11th-team All-NBA.

How trustworthy are these future rankings?

SB Nation did this same exercise four years ago, in the fall of 2013 as the Suns were entering their first McD season, they predicted who would be the NBA’s Top 100 players in 2017.

And voila, it’s 2017 now.

Using the benefit of hindsight and the simple grading system we all accepted throughout our educational years, SB Nation would have to give themselves a failing grade for their future projections back in 2013.

The only Suns player listed in the their back-to-the-four-years-in-the-future list who is still considered Top 100 today and still on the Suns is Eric Bledsoe.

In fact, Bledsoe is one of only two Suns players on the current roster who even wore a Suns uniform in 2013. The number in parenthesis indicates that they predicted the 23-year old Bledsoe would be the NBA’s 46th best player in 2017.

At the time, they predicted rookie Alex Len would land in the Top 100 four years later (at 87th), and that Goran Dragic would not be a Top 100 player. Wrong on both counts there.

These rankings are all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Sticks and stones may bounce off us without a scratch, but words always hurt. Isn’t that the way the saying goes?

Is it fair to parse and dissect to the point that we really need to rank Zach Randolph one spot better than Will Barton? Or that a pair of former #4 overall Cavaliers picks are side-by-side at #68 and #69 in today’s Top 100?

I love that NBA players want to see the tables turned.

McCollum wants to join the media some day. He said in his pre-draft interview in Phoenix that he would move into broadcasting and journalism after his career is over.

So will Jared Dudley, most likely.

Check out C.J.’s timeline following his tweet. Other players quickly jumped in to offer their insights to the list as well, including Andre Iguodala and Jamal Crawford. It’s awesome.

For the record, I love that players want to fire back, and that journalists are already nervous about what they will say. The number of journalists who tweeted back to McCollum on the topic to defend the integrity of the profession is impressive.

However, I would look to point out the difference between McCollum’s proposed list and these preseason players rankings that players consume with a passion but hate to see.

The preseason rankings for players are based on observable basketball skillsets and on-court production. Not on credibility or integrity.

If we tried to rank players based on their personal integrity, that would be inviting lawsuits and costing people their jobs. No one is saying that LeBron James has the most integrity in the NBA. They are simply saying he’s the best baller.

McCollum’s tweet suggests he would rank journalists NOT on their journalistic talent but on their propensity to use unnamed sources that may or may not end up being correct in the long run. He’s barely coming up short of calling out “fake media”. To publish such a list would be slanderous and defamatory, and simply unnecessary.

I hope that McCollum, and Dudley, if they actually make a list of best to worst NBA media would base the list on observable writing and proven investigative journalism skills. Good investigative journalism includes how well you source your inside information, so they can still rate a media member’s track record on sources. But that track record can’t be the only criteria considered. And the list can’t be in reverse order, from worst to first. In fact, “worst” shouldn’t even be mentioned.

If I don’t see Zach Lowe, David Aldridge and the currently-unemployed Marc Stein very near the top of any media rankings, I’ll know there’s something ugly going on.

Here’s an offer to any and all NBA players.

If you want to put a list together of the best NBA journalists, and for some reason you don't want to use The Players Tribune as the medium, I’d be happy to publish that list on the Bright Side.

Just make sure it’s a skills and results rankings. And not a personal slander-fest.

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