Revisiting the #NBArank project



Photo credit: The Brit_2

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:

RankPlayerScore (Out of 10)
434Cory Joseph2.14
421Danny Green2.22
401Da'Sean Butler2.34
363Steve Novak2.65
346James Anderson2.75
296Kawhi Leonard3.29
226Tiago Splitter4.13
213Antonio McDyess4.22
179Matt Bonner4.56
149Gary Neal4.85
130Richard Jefferson5.12
120DeJuan Blair5.23
28Tony Parker7.47
19Tim Duncan8.16
18Manu Ginobili8.16

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.

  • Tyler

    Honestly, I’d rank Blair after Tiago, which would put him 9th on the above list. And if Anderson and Leonard surprise?

    I love his motor and tenacity, but if he can’t keep his weight under control and expand his game, I can’t see the Spurs making a long term commitment to him. This could be a make-or-break off season for him.

  • Ayatollah

    Where’s Quinn? 

  • Andrew A. McNeill


  • Andrew A. McNeill


  • Ryan McShane

    I know you’re not counting George Hill, but he was #91 with a 5.69. I think Splitter had such a low score because of anonymity… as a result of his constant state of injury/relegation to the bench. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll go up. Neal was a better player than RJ but ranked lower for the same reason – anonymity.

    So that puts Blair around 5 or 6 instead of 4.

    But they whole thing is bunk – people (albeit informed people) just ranked players based on how they felt about them. There were no metrics that were truly depended on. If anything, it shows us where [super]fans of the game rank players and maybe whether or not a potential trade makes sense to those [super]fans.

  • AS

    Looking at the ranking, I think it´s a shame that Manu is ranked behind Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Rajon Rondo. None of them is capable of lead a team, or at least didnt show it yet.

  • Bob

    Blair was definitely a big part of that great start. But like you said he needs to control his weight. Ideally I think his best role is off the bench as a energy player. I think Splitter could then start to provide better defense in the starting five.

  • mac

    Dirk should have been higher… based on regular season winning percentage (and obviously the post-season as well), he was the single best player in the league. If not for injury, he was the real MVP last season… something he went on to prove throughout the playoffs. Surely he’s superior to the injury-prone Paul, for sure.  Even speaking of carreer playoff track-record … what has Paul done compared to Dirk?

    Heard Blair was cut in Russia… what’s the story there, guys? How did he perform during his stint?
    And speaking of lock-out filler… how about some analysis of the development of the international rights guys following the Olympic-qualifying tourneys in Euroland… are any of those guys looking like they’ll play for the S&B? Is Hanga the best of the bunch?

  • Ryan McShane

    Larry Coon wrote an interesting article on the most underpaid/overpaid players based purely on their #NBArank

    He looked at players as overpaid or underpaid based on their salary difference (which is fine). If we look instead at their proportions, we see that Gary Neal is waaaaay underpaid… 1/13 of what he “should” be making. (Actual: ~500,000, Expected (at 149) ~6,500,000 (using Arenas and Lewis as benchmarks)). 

    It would be interesting to base this on PER (I’m sure Hollinger is thinking about it). 

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  • guest

    “But now I’m ready to get back to basketball.”Please let the owners and players know cuz I dont think they are

  • Titletown99030507d

    I think everybody was a big part of that early run.

  • Titletown99030507d


  • Titletown99030507d