It’s the summer, the “Twitter Cycle” consists heavily of “news” that wouldn’t normally gauge interest and real basketball won’t happen for about another three months. In other words, it’s time to rank NBA players like every other publication.
The difference is I hate rankings.
Similarly, I’m not sure arguing which player is better when the two play the same position is productive, either. DeMarcus Cousins is probably a better player than Al Horford, but if the Hawks and Kings decided to trade the players for one another, the Hawks probably wouldn’t have reached the levels they did last year.
Each set of players will be judged differently. For the first group – the big men – they’ll be judged on six categories: usage percentage combined with true shooting percentage, rebounding percentage, Defensive Box Score Plus-Minus, opponents’ field goal attempts at the rim per game and opponents’ field goal percentage at the rim.
With that said, I’m going to rank the players in their respective positions, but with a slight twist. First of all, the players will be placed in tiers with similar players (in most cases), but the players will not be ranked in their respective tiers. Instead, the players will be placed into their tiers and then sorted alphabetically.
Second, the players won’t be placed into the five traditional positions because traditional positions are almost useless. While the NBA isn’t a position-less league, it’s a league in which positions are morphing. Serge Ibaka isn’t the center in most lineups for the Thunder, but he acts as the de facto center for the team in most situations defensively, and many offensively.
Finally, players will be ranked based on which player I’d prefer for next season. Andrew Wiggins won’t receive a boost over a better player based on what he could produce in future years, but only on what I believe he’ll produce next season.
And rookies don’t matter because most of them are terrible in the first year anyway.
With those factors in place, let’s start with the tiered ranking of the big men in the league.
All stats from Basketball-Reference.com or NBA.com unless otherwise noted.