Revisiting the #NBArank project
The #NBArank project that ESPN is running — and Tim Varner and I participated in — comes to a close today as the last five names are revealed. For those wondering, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade are the only names yet to be announced. I figured today was as good a day as any to take a look back at how the Spurs finished and explain my scoring. Also, if you want a good time-waster, go to the #NBArank hashtag on Twitter and check out people’s reactions to Kobe Bryant finishing seventh.
Here are how the San Antonio Spurs stacked up:
|Rank||Player||Score (Out of 10)|
For those wondering how Manu finished higher than Duncan despite having the same score, here’s ESPN’s tie-breaker explanation:
Score: Tiebreakers are first based on percentage points; scores have been rounded off. The second tiebreaker is based on John Hollinger’s estimated wins added for the 2010-11 NBA season (rookies were given an EWA of zero).
It’s interesting that Manu finished higher than Duncan. Partially because early last season, it seemed obvious that Ginobili was one of the top players in the league; Tim Duncan seemed to be cruising. The Spurs were running, Ginobili was thriving and all of the late game heroics were Manu’s. But there was still that little voice in the back of your head telling you not to forget how good Tim Duncan could be, even if he wasn’t showing it like before. Every time Duncan went down with an injury, folks held their breath, thinking that any Duncan injury torpedoed any chance at a championship. Maybe that was just me.
But here’s the thing. When the Spurs lost Game 1 of the Memphis series, and Manu Ginobili sat out with an elbow injury, fans believed that they would have won had Ginobili played. And they might have been right. Switch Duncan and Ginobili in that Game 1. Do the Spurs win with Manu in the lineup and Duncan behind the bench? Possibly. It’s a fun “what if” to ponder as we wait for the lockout to end.
Another player that piqued my interested was DeJuan Blair. Do you view DeJuan Blair as the fourth best Spur? I know I sure don’t. Blair started out strong last season in the starting lineup. Antonio McDyess eventually usurped that spot from Blair and DeJuan slid down the big man rotation, eventually splitting time as the fourth big with Tiago Splitter. At this point, though, would you take Blair in a game over any San Antonio big man?
Blair is a good rebounder, despite lacking in height, and he’s a good passer, particularly big-man-to-big-man. But besides that, is there anything he brings to the table that can’t be replaced by other big men on the team? Especially when his size becomes a detriment on the defensive end. Tiago Splitter has the same lack of a jumper that Blair possesses, but Splitter can bring to the table excellent defensive positioning and solid rebounding. Splitter also has a similar knowledge of spacing to Blair.
I think Blair’s high position in #NBArank speaks to his reputation in college, performance since falling to the second round and the slight over-valuing of Spurs role players outside of San Antonio. Don’t get me wrong, DeJuan Blair is a good basketball player and a key variable in the Spurs’ big man rotation this season. I just don’t think he’s the fifth best player on the team.
As #NBArank wraps up, I wanted to share how I scored players in the project, because I believe in transparency. Or something like that. I don’t have the scores I gave each player available, but I did use a sort of system to score players. For every player that I had never heard of or knew wore street clothes more often than a uniform, I scored them in the 0-2 range. For end of the bench players who rarely got more than garbage time burn, I scored them in the 2-3 area. Role players scored 4s and 5s with me. Players who were significant contributors and borderline All-Stars scored in the 6-7 range. Top players scored 8s. These were usually first or second options, depending on the team. The elitest of the elite scored 9s. If I remember correctly, I gave out just four 9s. And only one player scored a 10 with me.
So that was my scoring system. Not perfect, but I works when you’re grading 500 players. It was a fun project and something that killed a lot of the boredom during a summer league and free agency-less offseason. But now I’m ready to get back to basketball.