‘Twas the night before the 2016-17 NBA season, and all through the net, basketball websites were ranking, even Today’s Fastbreak had a set.
Here, we’ve compiled the individual rankings of every player from Bleacher Report, FiveThirtyEight (both stat-based), Sports Illustrated, BBALLBREAKDOWN and Today’s Fastbreak. Then, we averaged the rankings from each source to get a composite for every player in the league. And finally, the average ranks were averaged into each team’s top three, five and 10 players. The results are your ultimate guide to preseason rankings.
In this piece, you can find team rankings, as determined by each player’s average rank. Follow the links for the Atlantic Division, Central Division, Southeast Division, Northwest Division, Pacific Division or Southwest Division to see their results.
*International rookies may not be listed due to their absence from any of the five outlets’ rankings.
**Bleacher Report’s rankings are the only ones in this exercise based on 2015-16, rather than on 2016-17.
TEAMS SORTED BY AVERAGE RANK OF TOP 3 PLAYERS
Shocking, right? The Warriors have the best “Big Three” in the league. And it’s not even close. That’s what happens when you have two of the three best players in the NBA in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
And, oh, their third guy is no slouch either. Draymond Green’s average rank of 9.2 makes his composite ranking eighth in the NBA.
The trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love coming in just behind Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin is a bit of a surprise.
Call it a testament to the development of Jordan from one-dimensional offensive player who gets empty stats on the other end, to devastating pick-and-roll finisher who’s a legitimate defensive anchor.
TEAMS SORTED BY AVERAGE RANK OF TOP 5 PLAYERS
Once again, I’m guessing you could see this coming. When you expand three to five, the Warriors add Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to the bunch.
And that’s a lineup that will likely play plenty of minutes together this season. That so-called “Death Lineup” everyone liked to talk about last season? This one could blow it out of the water.
The Utah Jazz coming in ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers here is borderline crazy. The Cavs are the defending champs and have LeBron. But J.R. Smith’s average rank of 104 was just low enough pull Cleveland behind Utah.
The Jazz may not have a superstar, but with three guys around the top-30 range (Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert), and the next two between 50 and 70 (George Hill and Rodney Hood), they have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.
TEAMS SORTED BY AVERAGE RANK OF TOP 10 PLAYERS
This one could double as a “Biggest Surprise” section. Utah’s next five players after the previously mentioned starters are Joe Johnson, Alec Burks, Boris Diaw, Jeff Withey and Joe Ingles.
Names like Withey and Ingles don’t jump off a page, but when they’re your ninth and 10th guys, you’re in good shape. Ingles only played 1,241 minutes, while Withey logged just 658. Still they finished 152nd and 170th, respectively, in Value Over Replacement Player (a cumulative stat).
What may be even more surprising than Utah’s top-10 composite is that of the Chicago Bulls, who came in third.
There’s a lot of doubt surrounding this Bulls team, but I suppose if you completely ignore fit (as these tables do), there’s something to be intrigued about.
TOP 100 PLAYERS BY AVERAGE RANK
Andy Bailey is on Twitter @AndrewDBailey.