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Breaking Down the Worst of ESPN's NBA Player Rankings Thus Far

Bryant KnoxFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 6, 2016

Breaking Down the Worst of ESPN's NBA Player Rankings Thus Far

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    ESPN and the TrueHoop Network have begun releasing their ranking of every NBA player (No. 500 down to No. 1), and while they’ve made a number of insightful selections, they’ve also swung and missed on a handful of players up to this point.

    As it’s explained by ESPN, a panel of 104 experts is asked to rate each player from zero to 10 based on “the current quality of each player.” The players are given an average rating, and are then ranked based on the score they receive.

    Ranking players is an imperfect science, but there are a few spots that should stand out as head-scratchers to NBA fans this offseason.

    *ESPN has made it through No. 51 as of Sept. 18 at 12:00 a.m. EDT.

No. 332—Kwame Brown

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    Reason: Too High

    Kwame Brown has been defined as a bust his entire career, and quite frankly, No. 332 might be too high for the 30-year-old center.

    The 6’11”, 270-pound big man came into the league as the No. 1 pick in 2001.  His numbers have been underwhelming at best, and his intangibles are arguably even worse.

    In Brown’s defense, he's had stretches where he hasn’t been as worthless as some make him out to be. He averaged 7.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and .6 blocks in the 66 games he played during the 2010-11 season.

    He’s had a couple of decent seasons, but unfortunately for him, they’ve all been surrounded by injuries, unmet expectations and downright horrible performances.

    Most of this year’s rookies fell below Brown on the list, and to say that you would take Brown before all of them is unfair to those who still have potential to be solid players.

No. 305—Jimmer Fredette

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    Reason: Too High

    If Jimmer Fredette hadn’t had such a polarizing college career—or have such a downright awesome name—he would be much further down the list of the NBA’s current players.

    The Sacramento Kings selected Fredette with the 10th pick in the 2011 NBA draft, and after just his rookie season, his future with the organization is already in question (according to HoopsWorld).

    Normally, 36.1 percent from beyond the arc is nothing to scoff at, but when you were brought in exclusively for your three-point shooting, your percentage must be higher.

    Fredette also shot just 38.6 percent from the field en route to 7.6 points per game last year.

    J.J. Redick is a prime example of how a collegiate legend can improve throughout the years, but a 6’4” frame and a three-point-happy team are two things Fredette won’t have in his favor.

    Fredette has the potential to move up this list as his career progresses, but the more likely scenario is that he continues to fall unless his production increases sometime in the near future.

No. 303—Ben Wallace

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    Reason: Too High

    Ben Wallace’s playing days are essentially over.

    The one-time forceful big man is down to less than 16 minutes per game, can’t impact the defensive end the way he once could and is currently a free agent with no team to call his own.

    Wallace has never dominated on offense, but 1.4 points on 39.5 percent shooting—34 percent from the free-throw line—makes him as big of a non-factor on that end of the floor as you’ll find in the NBA.

    Even his rebounds have dropped to half his career average and his blocks are down below one per contest.

    Ranking just outside the top 300 may not seem that impressive, but with so many players behind him who can do so much more on the court, whoever ranked him No. 303 needs to forget about the good ol’ days and think about what he can do on the court, should he see it at all next season.

No. 276—Nate Robinson

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    Reason: Too Low

    Nate Robinson may not be the most consistent player, but with fellow point guards Baron Davis, Steve Blake and Will Bynum higher on the list, you have to wonder if the current Chicago Bulls player isn’t a bit underrated.

    Coming off a bounce-back year in which he scored 11.2 points and recorded 4.5 assists per game, Robinson will take that momentum into the Windy City, where they desperately need help at the point guard position.

    The 5’9” guard is a bit of a risk-taker, but when he’s playing well, his energy can boost his production and keep his team up-tempo night-in and night-out.

    If Robinson can step in and play well in Derrick Rose’s absence, he’ll do wonders for convincing the good people of ESPN and the TrueHoop Network that he deserves higher placement in the rankings in 2014.

No. 211—Damian Lillard

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    Reason: Too Low

    While it’s true that rookie Damian Lillard has yet to prove anything in the NBA up to this point, it’s tough to believe that 210 players are ranked above him on ESPN’s list.

    Lillard enters the league as the sixth pick in the draft. He will be the Portland Trail Blazers’ starting point guard right away, and after arguably the most impressive Summer League performance of the offseason, he’s going to bring his scoring ability and playmaking skills to the team next year.

    Fans in Portland are hoping for their point guard of the future, and while it’s possible that he doesn’t pan out, he should prove to be an upgrade over Raymond Felton in 2012.

    We all know that Anthony Davis was the safest pick in the draft, so ranking him highly makes sense; but if he can make his way up to No. 62 before ever playing in a game, the next in line for Rookie of the Year (according to ESPN) deserves a little more recognition.

No. 178—Chuck Hayes

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    Reason: Too High

    Chuck Hayes had his best NBA season two years ago when he averaged 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds with the Houston Rockets.

    That being said, ESPN must have missed 2012 because his numbers dropped to just 3.2 points and 4.3 boards with the Sacramento Kings.

    Hayes, an extremely undersized 6’6” center/power forward, has always been a decent energy guy who can play physically with bigger bodies. He can make the hustle plays down low, but his career numbers aren’t worthy of being in the top 200 at this point.

    Hayes has shown promise in the past, but at 29 years old, it’s safe to assume that he—and his free-throw shooting—aren’t getting any better.

No. 148—MarShon Brooks

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    Reason: Too Low

    MarShon Brooks jumped almost 200 spots from last year’s rankings, but at No. 148, it can be argued that the second-year player deserves more love heading into the 2013 season.

    Having averaged 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his rookie season, the 23-year-old guard showed promise throughout a tough 2012 campaign for the now-Brooklyn Nets.

    The thing holding him back? Brooklyn will be giving much of Brooks’ minutes to newly acquired Joe Johnson.

    Johnson will be the starter, hands-down; but if Brooks is given the chance to really shine with the Nets, he has the potential to become a crucial part of their rotation and work his way up this list as his playing days continue.

No. 139—Derrick Williams

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    Reason: Too High

    Based off of potential alone, Derrick Williams is in a great spot on ESPN’s list, if not even a bit too low.

    However, based off of production and consistency, the sophomore player has been placed way too high as the 139th-ranked player in the NBA today.

    After being the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft, Williams failed to live up to expectations with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year.

    Part of the problem was the way he was used, but a lot of his troubles came from his lack of a true position and difficulty defending the ball.

    If Williams can put it together, he may someday live up to his second-pick status, but for now, he hasn’t done enough to deserve such a high ranking.

No. 59—David Lee

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    Reason: Too Low

    David Lee received a lot of attention when he was performing well in the New York spotlight, but since signing with the Golden State Warriors, he’s lost a bit of the flare that we saw when he averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds in 2010.

    That doesn’t mean he’s regressed, though, as his numbers are still up there with the best power forwards in the NBA.

    Having averaged 20.1 points and 9.6 rebounds last year, Lee is the perfect fit in Golden State’s up-tempo system.

    The problem? The guy doesn’t play a lick of defense.

    Lee’s ranking surely takes into account both sides of the floor, which explains why 58 players would be ahead of him; but as a near 20-and-10 player last year, you’d like to see him climb the list if the Warriors can make a push toward the postseason in 2013.

No. 56—David West

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    Reason: Too High

    David West fell 11 spots from his 2011 ranking, but following a year in which his stats dropped all across the board, you have to wonder what makes him more valuable than ESPN's lower-ranked big men David Lee, Andrea Bargnani and Brook Lopez.

    West was an important piece in the Indiana Pacers’ success last year, but his 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game weren’t exactly stunning.

    He’s never been a force on defense, and if his offense and rebounding are starting to disappear, his value will become less and less impressive with each passing season.

    West experienced a statistical drop-off following his departure from the New Orleans Hornets. While it may be a simple side effect of getting older, it's more likely a testament to how good Chris Paul can make his teammates.

    At 32 years old, West isn’t improving much at this point, and without one of the best facilitators to get him the ball, an 11-spot drop may not have been enough heading into the new season.

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