Sports Illustrated released the first part of their annual Top 100 NBA Players on Monday, revealing players 100-51, and a couple of Raptors made an appearance. You can read the full list here.
They also released a list of 25 ‘biggest snubs’, which seems an odd way to word things given they’re the ones making the list in the first place. But anyway, ‘snubs’ seems more like ‘honourable mentions’ as it’s used here.
Let’s have a look and see where SI places your favourite Dinos.
There was no comparative ranking within the snubs list, but for frame of reference, this list usually includes three types of players: aging veterans who don’t quite cut it anymore (Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford, Tony Parker), up and comers who haven’t quite made the grade yet (Nikola Mirotic, Patty Mills, Jabari Parker) and effective role players who got squeezed out in a numbers game (Tony Allen, Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner), plus this year, Derrick Rose, who might somehow be all three. Joseph clearly fits into the latter of these three categories.
Although the phrase “third guard” tends to conjure up images of a scoring-minded, combo-sized, instant-offense creator, Joseph represents a different and more useful archetype. Toronto’s back-up point guard is pesky enough to harass opposing ball-handlers, committed enough to switch on to bigger players, and unselfish enough to play alongside high-usage lead options without batting an eyelash...More importantly, Joseph makes a demonstrable impact on his team’s defensive rating and has no problem shadowing the opposition’s star guards. In short, Joseph is a hard player to keep off the court and off our list.
73. DeMarre Carroll
DeMarre Carroll somehow jumped up eight spots on this list from last season, despite a fairly disappointing first year in Toronto. For frame of reference, he’s the fourth small forward listed so far, ahead of Kent Bazemore (90), Rodney Hood (85), Trevor Ariza (81) and Rudy Gay (80), and just behind Andrew Wiggins (67), Jae Crowder (53) and Chandlers Parsons (51). I’d personally have Wiggins a bit higher and Parsons lower, but the order of the players, at least, seems about right.
Let’s go ahead and give DeMarre Carroll a mulligan. Last season was the nightmare after the dream: The good vibes from his 2014–15 career year in Atlanta and the expectations that built with his cash-out contract with Toronto came crashing down thanks to a season-altering knee injury...Carroll can handle multiple positions on the defensive end and relishes the dirty work. Assuming he’s back to full health, Carroll should have every opportunity to reestablish himself with the Raptors.
They go on to note that while he missed extensive time last season, he still rated as an ‘Excellent’ spot-up shooter, per Synergy Sports. He also rated outside the Top 100 in PER, Win Shares and Real Plus Minus last season. It seems like most Raptors fans, SI is giving Carroll a good faith pass, and hoping for bigger and better things in his sophomore season north of the border.
62. Jonas Valanciunas
The man known as JV Nasty jumped 15 spots on this list, after ranking at number 77 last season. It seems a fair number for an up and down season from the 24 year old big man. The up was whenever he was on the floor (and getting touches) the down was pretty much entirely injury related. The Raptors did a much better job giving Valanciunas the best opportunities to succeed on defense last season, and his offensive game continued to grow and impress.
Valanciunas is a scoring factory around the basket, feasting on close-range shots he creates with his bulk, second-chance opportunities he generates by pounding the glass and free throws he earns by being too much to handle for non-traditional centers. Toronto’s offense ranked in the top five last year so it’s hardly broken, but the timing seems right to feature Valanciunas in greater doses. While Valanciunas must take a step forward as a rim-protector and in pick-and-roll situations, Toronto’s thin frontcourt rotation suggests that this year will be sink-or-swim time for the Lithuanian 7-footer.
At 62, Valanciunas ranks second among traditional centres on the list so far, notably ahead of Mason Plumlee (93), Bismack Biyombo (91), Enes Kanter (88), Andrew Bogut (83), Robin Lopez (82), Clint Capela (79), Nikola Jokic (78), Ian Mahinmi (76), Nikola Vucevic (75), and behind only Marcin Gortat (55). Other notable hybrid power forward/centres on the list include Nerlens Noel (84), Kristaps Porzingis (68), Greg Monroe (63) and Tristan Thompson (52). Raptors fans should be pleased to see the progress of the former 5th overall draft pick, as he trends in the right direction— that is, towards stardom.
We’ll return later in the week with a look at the rest of the list as it’s published. One would assume DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are still yet to make an appearance, and it will be interesting to see where they land.