The Atlanta Tip-off club released its 50-player watch list for the Naismith Award on Thursday. This time of year would typically be way too early to get any sort of idea of who is and who will be deserving of the National Player of the Year award.
Even the voters will probably be forced to make edits to initial list. (Writers Note: These rankings were made before Thursday's watch list was revealed.) You'll see two guys in my top 10 and another five on the 10 to watch below who didn't make the cut.
It is easier this season to identify the real contenders.
Expect Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott near the top of the watch list all year.
Louisville's Russ Smith should probably be a mainstay as well once we get into the heart of the season, but Smith is on the outside of the top 10 looking in after the first few weeks. Not because he hasn't been good—he has—but others have been better and have been so against better competition.
So apologies to Russdiculous, who at least made the watch list below. Now let's get to ranking the Player of the Year candidates from a way-too-small-sample size of 12 days of basketball.
10 to Watch: Rodney Hood, Duke; Russ Smith, Louisville; Adreian Payne, Michigan State; Gary Harris, Michigan State; Andre Hollins, Minnesota; Anthony Drmic, Boise State; Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico; Nik Stauskas, Michigan; Aaron Gordon, Arizona; Nick Johnson, Arizona.
All advanced stats, unless otherwise noted, come from KenPom.com (subscription needed).