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Booker, Durant, Beal rise/fall on Top Player rankings across the board

Let’s take a dive into eight different Top 100 player rankings

NBA: Phoenix Suns-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Every fall you see a new plethora of ‘Top 100 Player’ rankings across the league, which covers roughly the Top 20% ot talent. If player talent were perfectly balanced, each team would get three. The other 12 on each roster make up the rest of rotations and end of benches.

But talent is not evenly distributed. Some teams have 5 of these players while some have just one or two. Maybe even none. Often the rankings are influenced by recent play — check out rocket rise of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, and the slide of Chris Paul — while others hold steady year over year.

I spent a couple of multitasking hours recently to find a bunch of the lists (non-aggregated) to... erm... aggregate them for you with an eye on recent and current Phoenix Suns.

As you probably know (lol), the Suns made the 2021 NBA Finals with a young but deep team of up and comers. Many of those have moved on to bigger roles on new teams as the Suns have shifted their roster to maximize Devin Booker’s entire prime with the best possible talent

They now enter the 2023-24 with an established team that’s more top-heavy than deep, at least in terms of Top 100 players. Besides Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley, the closest the Suns have a fourth top-100 player is Jusuf Nurkic who popped into the 80-100 range a few seasons ago before missing a gobton of injury time.

Meanwhile, the Suns have recently traded away four players who have dotted most/all of the Top 100s this fall.

Here’s a rundown of current/recent Suns ranks across all the original lists.

Across 8 rankings, our own Kevin Durant and Devin Booker sit comfortably among the Top 10 players in the entire 30-team league. That’s a big deal. I did not rank all the Top 10s but I’d bet there’s no other team that got two in the Top 10 on aggregate. ESPN has Anthony Davis and LeBron James together on the ESPNRank, but it’s not across all of them.

Notes on Suns:

  • For some reason, several of these sites dropped Booker down a notch or two on their list BECAUSE of the addition of Bradley Beal. They say he’s less likely to dominate on such a high scoring team. Okay sure. Let’s forget all about the Warriors run why don’t we. I actually think Book will have a better year than ever, a la Steph Curry when surrounded by Durant and healthy Klay.
  • Durant stayed steady on the lists, maybe dropping a notch or two but not outside the Top 10. He’s still Kevin freaking Durant
  • And there’s Bradley Beal. When he was the top dog on the lowly Wizards, Beal was being ranked in the 20-30 range consistently by these lists. But this year, several of them dropped him down their rankings because he’s now third fiddle to a pair of Top 10s. I can, and cannot, see the logic on that. As a homer, I think a player should be ranked on his talent rather than his raw numbers (which probably will be low 20s).

Notes on former Suns:

  • Three young players got the ‘freedom’ bounce after leaving the Suns!
  • Mikal Bridges had one helluva run in 30 games after the All-Star break, and now vaulted himself from a steady 45-55-ranked guy into the 30s or even 20s! That’s what 26PPG will do for you. Good on ya, Mikal! He wasn’t going to get this kind of run with the Suns, ever, because all those great shots in his arsenal are basically the same (compliment to him!) as the ones Booker has been developing for a career. And now there’s Durant doing those shots too.
  • Here’s a question to ponder: would we rather than Mikal than Bradley Beal? After seeing what happens in the playoffs the last three years, I’d like to see how Brad does.
  • Cameron Johnson is now firmly in the back end of the top 100 lists after becoming a starter last year. That was supposed to be on the Suns, but he barely played due to the knee injury. That end of season run with Brooklyn showed he’s a 15-16 ppg player with great shooting and smart defense.
  • And now we get to our old favorite Deandre Ayton, who the Suns will play Thursday night in the preseason. Ayton has not quite gotten the ‘free from the Suns’ bounce yet, but he will probably rise the ranks next year after being the clear second option on offense on the young, rebuilding Blazers this year. After the 2021 Finals, Ayton had a couple straight years being ranked in the 35-45 range across the board, but these last two in Phoenix dropped him hard.
  • Chris Paul fell of a cliff! One on list, he was ranked 11th just a year ago (he was third-team All-NBA for the 64-win Suns after all) and now finds himself behind old teammate Ayton on most of these lists. oof.

The Suns clearly have the three best players among the 7 (though, as mentioned above, it’s close on Mikal vs. Beal), but it cost the Suns four players who are also Top 100 material to get there.

Now you guys talk about it. What do you think of the rankings!

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