Introducing the FanRag Sports offseason top 100 player rankings

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, right, defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

One thing we in the NBA community love to do is debate player rankings, and our favorite time to do it is in the offseason.

Is LeBron James still the greatest player on the planet? Is Chris Paul still in the top 10? Where does Kyrie Irving rank?

Such debates have their upside and their downside. Last year, I tried some rankings that would highlight the former while negating the latter — at least to the degree that’s possible.

What I like about rankings is that they open a discussion more into the strengths and weaknesses of a lot of players, particularly for those who aren’t necessarily in the MVP race. A good rankings discussion can both elucidate and educate.

The downside is that we can get wrapped into pointless discussions of whether No. 38 is really better than No. 39.  Such conversations are unproductive because rankings are hardly that “hard.” You have to list players in an order and some calls are close.

To facilitate more discussion and less debate, I had a ceiling for every player which was the highest I expected that player could be ranked and a floor with the lowest feasible ranking. This made the rankings more of a soft ranking than a hard ranking and removed the rigidness from them. They give an idea of where a player should be considered but also allow for a bit of variance in opinion.

I also included an offense and defense section for each player. This included an explanation of his play on both ends of the court about why he is ranked where he is ranked. My goal was to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in his game, and I used both statistics and eye test analysis to that end.

As with most things in life, taking on a project like that came with its own lessons. There were two chief ones I took home from last year’s project.

First, no one’s rankings are perfect. There were players who I had initially ranked that after doing more research and scouting, I felt I didn’t even really agree with my ranking anymore. For that reason, I thought it would be beneficial to solicit a little more help in compiling them, so I asked fellow FanRag Sports writers Zach Harper, Nekias Duncan, Tom West and Jack Winter to offer their rankings as well.

There are a couple of notes on the criteria.

First, this is only veteran playersNo rookies were included because it is too hard to predict what they will do. Who had Malcolm Brogdon being Rookie of the Year?

Second, the rankings are projections for 2017-18. They are of that year only, not career achievement rankings. So certain players on the downside of their career (e.g. Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki) will be lower than they would in a greatest players-type ranking.

All five of us provided rankings through the top 120, and these rankings are the average of those. The other writers also provided explanations for some (though, not all) of their rankings. Those comments will be included in the rankings.

Over the course of the remainder of the offseason, each day I will release a new ranking, along with the full explanation of why they are ranked. This should take us through the remainder of the offseason, with the No. 1 player being released the day before the regular season tips off.

Bear in mind there are things that could happen between now and then that I’m not aware of right now. So these rankings are effective as of July 11.

As each player is released, they will be listed below. Check back here for a full list and links to each write-up as we progress.

FanRag Sports Offseason Top 100

100. Taj Gibson

99. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

98. Mason Plumlee

97. Lou Williams

96. Robin Lopez

95. Tobias Harris

94. Enes Kanter

93. J.J. Redick

92. Reggie Jackson

91. Jonas Valanciunas

90. Aaron Gordon

89. Jeremy Lin

88. Derrick Favors

87. Marcin Gortat

86. Rodney Hood

85. Seth Curry

84.  Joe Ingles

83. D’Angelo Russell

82. Patty Mills

81. Dennis Schroder

80. Tyler Johnson

79. Greg Monroe

78. Dion Waiters

77. Robert Covington

76. Trevor Ariza

75. Eric Gordon

74. Pau Gasol

73. Dwyane Wade

72. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

71. Cody Zeller

70. Nerlens Noel

69. Clint Capela

68. Jusuf Nurkic

67. Gary Harris

66. Victor Oladipo

65. Danny Green

64. Harrison Barnes

63. Patrick Beverley

62. Tristan Thompson

61. Devin Booker

60. James Johnson

59. Andrew Wiggins

58. Ricky Rubio

57. Nicolas Batum

56. Serge Ibaka

55. Andre Drummond

54. Jeff Teague

53. Dwight Howard

52. Danilo Gallinari

51. Jae Crowder

50. Steven Adams

49. Avery Bradley

48. LaMarcus Aldridge

47. Carmelo Anthony

46. Brook Lopez

45. Andre Iguodala 

44. Otto Porter

43. Jrue Holiday

42. Eric Bledsoe

41. Myles Turner

40. George Hill

39. Goran Dragic

38. Khris Middleton

37. Kemba Walker

36. Al Horford

35. C.J. McCollum

34. Kristaps Porzingis

33. Hassan Whiteside

32. Bradley Beal

31. Kevin Love

30. DeAndre Jordan

29. DeMar DeRozan

28. Paul Millsap

27. Joel Embiid

26. Kyrie Irving

25. Isaiah Thomas

24. Damian Lillard

23. Klay Thompson

22. Mike Conley

21. Kyle Lowry

20. Marc Gasol

19. Blake Griffin

18. DeMarcus Cousins

17. Nikola Jokic

16. Gordon Hayward

15. Rudy Gobert

14. Karl-Anthony Towns

13. Paul George

12. John Wall

11. Jimmy Butler

10. Draymond Green

9. Chris Paul

8. Giannis Antetokounmpo

7. Anthony Davis

6. Russell Westbrook

5. James Harden

4. Stephen Curry

3. Kawhi Leonard

2. Kevin Durant

1. LeBron James

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