Not so top 10: examining Sports Illustrated’s list of best NBA players

Over the past month, Sports Illustrated has been releasing portions of its top 100 players in the NBA for the 2013-14 season. These are all projections based on a number of statistical categories, half of which the average fan has absolutely no use for.

Just recently, the top 10 was revealed and, needless to say, there were some huge discrepancies.

I want it to be known, as a disclaimer, that I absolutely despise player lists and rankings. They are not an accurate assessment of the player’s ability, and despite what the “experts” say, they are very subjective.

The biggest discrepancy in this list centers on an innocent response turned social media feud between Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade.

Wade is listed at No. 8, a placement Durant disagreed with.

Trust me, he’s not the only one.

Durant, ranked No. 2, argued that Wade’s slot should have been given to former teammate and current Houston Rocket James Harden. It is debatable whether Harden deserves that position.

It is not debatable that Harden should be ranked ahead of Wade.

This list, supposedly, takes an objective look at all of the players in the league and determines who will be most effective individually. Key word here: individually.

We can compare Wade and Harden in one of two ways.

For you number junkies, let’s crunch some basic stats.

Last season, Harden produced averages of 26 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Wade’s stats are a bit lower but comparable. He averaged 21 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Harden is 24 and healthy. Wade is 31 with knee problems.

The other measure is simply the eye test. Wade is on the decline and is the beneficiary of many easy buckets due to the depth of his team. Harden was the defensive focal point night in and night out and still produced those numbers. He can only be expected to get better, and the addition of Dwight Howard should ease some of the pressure.

Regardless of the obvious, Wade decided to take to social media:

“9-24-13: Kevin Durant said James Harden should replace me in the Top 10 … Note to self: Make him respect your place in history… again…”

That quote is courtesy of Dwyane Wade’s Instagram page.

While Wade is searching for respect, a former MVP is currently being disrespected.

Noticeably absent from the top 10 is Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.

The first argument that arises is that he hasn’t played in 16 months and no one knows and so on and so forth. While that may be true, why even rank him at all?

Rose sits at No. 12 on this illustrious compilation.

What’s the argument for Rose being top 10? There are two very different approaches here.

Let’s look at Rose’s positives. He has a completely rehabilitated knee, and from all confirmed reports, he is as or more explosive than ever. There is no reason to suspect he will not return to top form. Top form, for those that may have forgotten, is MVP and the leader of a team with the best record in the NBA during his MVP season.

Now let’s look at the deficiencies of the list. The aforementioned Wade nomination is possibly a biased selection (as is Chris Bosh being ranked No. 17).

Dwight Howard being ranked as the seventh most effective player is also a red flag the size of Texas.

As far as I’m concerned, he might as well have joined Rose on the sideline last season. He was absolutely atrocious and his offensive game, or lack thereof, was put on display for America to see.

Aside from Wade and Howard, I did not have a problem with the players listed. The order, however, was highly questionable. LeBron and Durant were one and two. I’m sure the most casual basketball fan could agree on that.

After that, it takes a turn for the worse.

I can totally understand the thinking behind slotting Chris Paul at No. 3. He has Doc Rivers and was shipped a truckload of new weapons.

Chris Paul may be the best point guard in the game for 44 minutes.

He is a great point guard, but he does not have the ability to put a team on his back when it counts most. Not like Tony Parker, who was selected No. 4.

Russell Westbrook was ranked No. 5. That’s fair enough, considering his mind-blowing combination of game-changing plays and boneheaded decision-making. Regardless, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Tim Duncan comes in sixth. I sense desperation on the part of the staff to slip a traditional big man into the top 10.

It seems like a halfhearted attempt to savor what is left of how the NBA game used to be played. Timmy is top 10, just not top 6.

Our peace has been made with Nos. 7-8, Wade and Howard.

In maybe the most blatant show of disrespect, the list is rounded out by the Black Mamba Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.

I’m not completely sure what these individuals have been watching for the past 10 years, but even at this stage of their careers, Bryant and Anthony are better than their designation.

Carmelo may be the most versatile scorer in the game.

Kobe is Kobe.

The NBA season begins Oct. 29. Hopefully a new top 10 surfaces after the stars take the court.

Spencer is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]