Sports Illustrated has released the first 50 players on their Top 100 NBA players list, and at least two former Cats made the cut. Eric Bledsoe came in just under the wire at no. 95, while DeMarcus Cousins landed at the very debatable 53 spot.
According to SI writers Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney, “no single, definitive criterion was used to form this list. Instead, rankings were assigned based on a fluid combination of subjective assessment and objective data.” I barely passed STA 210 at UK, so I’m not really sure what that means, but it seems like a legit way to formulate the rankings. I think.
Here are the explanations for the two Cats:
95. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns (G, 23)â€¨
2012-13 stats: 20.4 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, 3.0 RPG, 20.4 MPG, 44.5 FG%
2012-13 advanced stats: 17.5 PER, 3.7 Win Shares, +1.7 RAPM
Bledsoe has star potential with his rare package of strength, speed and agility, but at the moment his talents are a bit too solvable to rank any higher than this. His tenacious on-ball defense, quickness off the dribble and furious cutting can be weaponized properly in the right situation, as was the case last season with the Clippers. But without ideal supporting parts (as will be the case this year in Phoenix), Bledsoe’s somewhat limited court vision and inability to shoot off the dribble become more problematic. He’ll surely improve in time, and he’s already made gains as a spot-up shooter. But his shortcomings will be in play in the interim, even as Bledsoe still gets plenty of mileage out of kineticism alone.
53. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings (F/C, 23)â€¨
2012-13 stats: 30.5 MPG, 17.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 46.5 FG%
2012-13 advanced stats: 20.2 PER, 4.4 Win Shares, +1.9 RAPM
Even in subscribing to the notion that Cousins will eventually be a great player, there’s just no evidence to suggest that he’s ready to make that jump this season. He’s planted his flag by putting up some monster scoring and rebounding numbers – averages that set him apart from many other elite prospects and bode well for an extraordinary career. But Cousins is an inefficient offensive player and a sorely lacking defender, a combination that makes him inferior on balance to all of the players yet to be ranked. Demerits for locker-room trouble, league-worst body language and rampant technicals certainly don’t help his case, either. The tools are in place for Cousins to crack the top 25 sooner rather than later, but he has much to get in order before starting to make that steep climb.
The rest of the list will be released throughout the week, and we can (most likely) expect to find the likes of John Wall and Rajon Rondo to be somewhere near the top of the heap. Hopefully they show those guys a little more love than they did Boogie.