NBA ESPN Player Rank: Breaking down the Top 30 Forwards and Centers not named LeBron James, and why you can't sleep on Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

ESPN's NBA Player Rankings are a committee deal with committee type of results. I break it down with numbers.

Okay, let's get some things out in the open. The Miami Heat 's LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. He can play every position. There's no point in looking into his stats. ESPN is the most popular Sports organization in the World, and their website attracts a lot of talent. They used a committee of over 100 "experts" and came up with a ranking for every player in the NBA this off-season. While you can't argue against LeBron or look into it, you can look into the committee results.

According to the ESPN rankings there are like 30 guys better than Utah Jazz bigs Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Well, not exactly, but they are not highly regarded compared to other forwards and centers. Big Al is our best player, and ranked #44 over all, and #25 out of this group of forwards and centers. Paul is ranked #53, and #30 respectively. Guys like Nene, Ry Anderson, and Deng are apparently better. No, personally, I like numbers. These rankings are feelings, and I don't think there is much value to them because not everyone used their damn brains when making their rankings.

Science, and quantitative measurements are better than some misremembered glory years. As a result, there are a lot of people who make these rankings who are pretty damn dumb. These aren't all-time rankings either. These are rankings for the 2012-2013 season. And the quantitative measures to use are the statistics from the 2011-2012 season. I think that performance means more than either preference or perception. We feel things, but we can feel wrongly about things.

A huge part of performance is on court production. And as a result, if we're using on court production as a metric of ranking who is better than someone else -- you are an absolute idiot, ignorant, or basketball novice if you sleep on Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. And their ESPN ranking reflects that bombastic statement fully. Based on the on court production from last year, if you think a dude like Hibbert, or Ibaka, or Deng, or Nene are better than BOTH Big Al and Sap then you are an idiot. I love Hibbert, Ibaka, and them all . . . but I live in reality. And reality is based upon observed and measured facts with a frame of reference. And if your ranking has these two Jazz players near the bottom then your ranking - and very idea and concept of reality - is flawed and useless.

Again, this is based upon on court production from last year - the one major, quantitative metric we have with which to rank these players with. If you love one guy over another because of some TV Ad, or dunk, or poem then that's fine. You are allowed to be wrong. But at least know you are wrong.

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All of the God-damn Numbers:

Here are a lot of numbers, but I said there were going to be numbers in this post. I don't think you can argue against K-Love here. He was a statistical beast. The rest of the Top 10 though? All great players, but perhaps more great in perception, than production. And again, this entire rant is based upon production, not some misremembered values of how great you think a player is from their play in previous seasons, or shoe Ads or whatever.

ESPN Rank Player Team G MPG PER . PPG RPG APG SPG BPG . FG% PPS USG% ORTG DRTG WS
1 7 Kevin Love Timberwolves 55 39.0 25.4 26.0 13.3 2.0 0.9 0.5 44.8% 1.35 28.8% 117 104 10.0
2 11 Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks 62 33.5 21.7 16.7 6.8 2.2 0.7 0.5 45.7% 1.30 29.2% 110 103 7.6
3 13 Andrew Bynum 76ers 60 35.2 22.9 18.7 11.8 1.4 0.5 1.9 55.8% 1.41 23.8% 112 100 8.0
4 14 Blake Griffin Clippers 66 36.2 23.4 20.7 10.9 3.2 0.8 0.7 54.9% 1.34 26.6% 113 104 9.2
5 15 Pau Gasol Lakers 65 37.4 20.5 17.4 10.4 3.7 0.6 1.4 50.1% 1.23 22.1% 112 103 8.3
6 17 Carmelo Anthony Knicks 55 34.1 21.1 22.6 6.3 3.6 1.1 0.4 43.0% 1.21 31.8% 106 102 6.2
7 18 Chris Bosh Heat 57 35.2 18.9 18.0 7.9 1.8 0.9 0.8 48.7% 1.27 24.2% 109 100 6.9
8 20 LaMarcus Aldridge Trail Blazers 55 36.3 22.7 21.7 8.0 2.4 0.9 0.8 51.2% 1.26 27.0% 113 106 7.0
9 21 Kevin Garnett Celtics 60 31.1 20.4 15.8 8.2 2.9 0.9 1.0 50.3% 1.22 24.9% 106 94 6.9
10 24 Tyson Chandler Knicks 62 33.2 18.7 11.3 9.9 0.9 0.9 1.4 67.9% 1.97 13.0% 130 99 9.5
ESPN Rank Player Team G MPG PER PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% PPS USG% ORTG DRTG WS
11 24 Marc Gasol Grizzlies 65 36.5 18.4 14.6 8.9 3.1 1.0 1.9 48.2% 1.29 23.1% 111 99 8.2
12 27 Tim Duncan Spurs 58 28.2 22.5 15.4 9.0 2.3 0.7 1.5 48.2% 1.22 26.2% 108 99 5.9
13 29 Paul Pierce Celtics 61 34.0 19.6 19.4 5.2 4.5 1.1 0.4 44.3% 1.33 28.1% 106 99 7.0
14 30 Al Horford Hawks 11 31.6 19.0 12.4 7.0 2.2 0.9 1.3 55.3% 1.32 17.9% 116 100 1.3
15 31 Josh Smith Hawks 66 35.3 21.1 18.8 9.6 3.9 1.4 1.7 45.8% 1.13 28.4% 101 96 6.8
16 32 Rudy Gay Grizzlies 65 37.3 17.8 19.0 6.4 2.3 1.5 0.8 45.5% 1.15 25.1% 104 102 6.0
17 34 Zach Randolph Grizzlies 28 26.3 17.9 11.6 8.0 1.7 0.8 0.1 46.3% 1.14 22.4% 106 101 2.1
18 35 Roy Hibbert Pacers 65 29.8 19.3 12.8 8.8 1.7 0.5 2.0 49.7% 1.25 21.1% 109 101 6.2
19 36 Joakim Noah Bulls 64 30.4 19.6 10.2 9.8 2.5 0.6 1.4 50.8% 1.33 15.8% 120 96 9.0
20 37 Luol Deng Bulls 54 39.4 14.1 15.3 6.5 2.9 1.0 0.7 41.2% 1.10 19.8% 105 100 5.8
ESPN Rank Player Team G MPG PER PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% PPS USG% ORTG DRTG WS
21 39 Danny Granger Pacers 62 33.3 18.6 18.7 5.0 1.8 1.0 0.6 41.6% 1.23 25.9% 111 104 6.7
22 41 Serge Ibaka Thunder 66 27.2 19.0 9.1 7.5 0.4 0.5 3.7 53.5% 1.23 15.7% 113 98 6.2
23 42 DeMarcus Cousins Kings 64 30.5 21.7 18.1 11.0 1.6 1.5 1.2 44.8% 1.16 29.7% 102 104 4.2
24 43 Amare Stoudemire Knicks 47 32.8 17.7 17.5 7.8 1.1 0.8 1.0 48.3% 1.26 25.4% 104 101 4.1
25 44 Al Jefferson Jazz 61 34.0 22.8 19.2 9.6 2.2 0.8 1.7 49.2% 1.12 25.7% 112 103 7.5
26 45 Andrew Bogut Warriors 12 30.3 14.9 11.3 8.3 2.6 1.0 2.0 44.9% 1.00 20.6% 94 100 0.5
27 49 Greg Monroe Pistons 66 31.5 22.0 15.4 9.7 2.3 1.3 0.7 52.1% 1.30 23.6% 110 102 7.0
28 50 Ryan Anderson Hornets 61 32.2 21.2 16.1 7.7 0.9 0.8 0.4 43.9% 1.29 21.2% 124 105 8.9
29 52 Nene Wizards 39 28.4 18.6 13.7 7.5 2.1 1.1 1.0 53.7% 1.36 22.6% 105 103 2.7
30 53 Paul Millsap Jazz 64 32.8 21.8 16.6 8.8 2.3 1.8 0.8 49.5% 1.23 23.2% 113 102 7.8
Thirty Player Averages: 55.9 33.1 20.1 16.5 8.5 2.3 0.9 1.1 49.0% 1.27 23.8% 110 101 6.5

The people I really have a problem with, who are ranked better than Big Al are: Amare, Serge, Danny G, Luol, Noah, Hibbert, Z-Bo, Horford, The Truth, Marc G, Chandler, LMA, and Bosh. You could argue that as a no-defense playing scorer, maybe better than Melo too. It's criminal to suggest that Ryan and Nene are better than Sap. And Sap is better than a number of guys higher than Big Al too. If you think I'm wrong that's fine, but at the very least accept these two facts:

According to ESPN NBA Player ranks, Sap is the lowest guy on this list. And by his stats, he's at the very least AVERAGE (check out his numbers vs. the averages) in everything -- which means he should be between #15 and #16, not #30. If you choose to disagree with those two statements (that ESPN has him ranked lowest out of these 30 guys, and that his numbers indicated that he is average, and not last) then you probably failed math and logic and reading comprehension too. And this blog probably isn't for you, you should go watch some Honey Boo Boo. Using your brain is beyond you.

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Player Efficiency Rating

Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is one of the most important "new" statistics in basketball that have been developed over the last few decades. No website champions PER like ESPN does. And the 104 experts at ESPN aren't even smart enough to look at the pet stat of the network . . .when you rank the players by PER (from highest to lowest) you get some hilarious results.

Rank by Player Efficiency Rating

Player

Team

PER

ESPN Rank

1 Kevin Love Timberwolves 25.4 7
2 Blake Griffin Clippers 23.4 14
3 Andrew Bynum 76ers 22.9 13
4
Al Jefferson
Jazz
22.8
44
5 LaMarcus Aldridge Trail Blazers 22.7 20
6 Tim Duncan Spurs 22.5 27
7 Greg Monroe Pistons 22.0 49
8
Paul Millsap
Jazz
21.8
53
9 Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks 21.7 11
10 DeMarcus Cousins Kings 21.7 42

Player

Team

PER

ESPN Rank

11 Ryan Anderson Hornets 21.2 50
12 Carmelo Anthony Knicks 21.1 17
13 Josh Smith Hawks 21.1 31
14 Pau Gasol Lakers 20.5 15
15 Kevin Garnett Celtics 20.4 21
16 Paul Pierce Celtics 19.6 29
17 Joakim Noah Bulls 19.6 36
18 Roy Hibbert Pacers 19.3 35
19 Al Horford Hawks 19.0 30
20 Serge Ibaka Thunder 19.0 41

Player

Team

PER

ESPN Rank

21 Chris Bosh Heat 18.9 18
22 Tyson Chandler Knicks 18.7 24
23 Danny Granger Pacers 18.6 39
24 Nene Wizards 18.6 52
25 Marc Gasol Grizzlies 18.4 24
26 Zach Randolph Grizzlies 17.9 34
27 Rudy Gay Grizzlies 17.8 32
28 Amare Stoudemire Knicks 17.7 43
29 Andrew Bogut Warriors 14.9 45
30 Luol Deng Bulls 14.1 37

Let's take a look at this on a graph . . . by rank it works for Kevin Love as he's #1 in NBA Rank for this group of 30, and #1 in this group of 30 in highest PER.

Espn_player_rank_sf_pf_c

Looking at just the Top 10 in PER, almost half of them are at the bottom of the ESPN rankings, while Dirk is wildly overrated statistically. I guess that's what winning championships get you. Perception vs. Production. Also, note that both Big Al and Sap are Top 10 here, but Bottom 10 in ESPN rank.

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Some people hate PER

PER is not PER-fect. I agree. What about production, raw production? I don't know if Pure Production Rating is a real thing. I made it up. PPR is the sum of your PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, and BPG divided by your MPG. If you re-rank these 30 guys by PPR guess what you get?

Rank by Pure Production Rating*

Player

Team

PPR

ESPN Rank

1 DeMarcus Cousins Kings 1.095 42
2 Kevin Love Timberwolves 1.095 7
3 Tim Duncan Spurs 1.025 27
4 Josh Smith Hawks 1.003 31
5 Blake Griffin Clippers 1.003 14
6 Carmelo Anthony Knicks 0.997 17
7
Al Jefferson
Jazz
0.985
44
8 Andrew Bynum 76ers 0.974 13
9 Greg Monroe Pistons 0.933 49
10 LaMarcus Aldridge Trail Blazers 0.931 20

Player

Team

PPR

ESPN Rank

11 Kevin Garnett Celtics 0.926 21
12
Paul Millsap
Jazz
0.924
53
13 Paul Pierce Celtics 0.900 29
14 Pau Gasol Lakers 0.896 15
15 Nene Wizards 0.894 52
16 Roy Hibbert Pacers 0.866 35
17 Amare Stoudemire Knicks 0.860 43
18 Zach Randolph Grizzlies 0.844 34
19 Chris Bosh Heat 0.835 18
20 Andrew Bogut Warriors 0.832 13

Player

Team

PPR

ESPN Rank

21 Danny Granger Pacers 0.814 39
22 Marc Gasol Grizzlies 0.808 24
23 Joakim Noah Bulls 0.806 36
24 Ryan Anderson Hornets 0.804 50
25 Rudy Gay Grizzlies 0.804 32
26 Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks 0.803 11
27 Serge Ibaka Thunder 0.779 41
28 Al Horford Hawks 0.753 30
29 Tyson Chandler Knicks 0.735 24
30 Luol Deng Bulls 0.670 37

Yes, Big Al is Top 10 here, and Millsap is barely out of the Top 10 as well, he's in-between two HOFers in Garnett and Pierce. Does that make Sap a HOFer? No. But his production last season was similar to that some pretty elite people. Dirk sucks here too. So do a ton of people who were ranked over Big Al and Sap.

But this is just a rate based upon the idea that they'll play equal time. This is not the case. The best player play more than average players. The best players help their teams win. So let's look at win shares.

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Rank by Win Shares

At the end of the day, the best players help their teams win the most games.

Rank by Win Shares

Player

Team

WS

ESPN Rank

1 Kevin Love Timberwolves 10.0 7
2 Tyson Chandler Knicks 9.5 24
3 Blake Griffin Clippers 9.2 14
4 Joakim Noah Bulls 9.0 36
5 Ryan Anderson Hornets 8.9 50
6 Pau Gasol Lakers 8.3 15
7 Marc Gasol Grizzlies 8.2 24
8 Andrew Bynum 76ers 8.0 13
9
Paul Millsap
Jazz
7.8
53
10 Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks 7.6 11

Player

Team

WS

ESPN Rank

11
Al Jefferson
Jazz
7.5
44
12 LaMarcus Aldridge Trail Blazers 7.0 20
13 Paul Pierce Celtics 7.0 29
14 Greg Monroe Pistons 7.0 49
15 Chris Bosh Heat 6.9 18
16 Kevin Garnett Celtics 6.9 21
17 Josh Smith Hawks 6.8 31
18 Danny Granger Pacers 6.7 39
19 Carmelo Anthony Knicks 6.2 17
20 Roy Hibbert Pacers 6.2 35

Player

Team

WS

ESPN Rank

21 Serge Ibaka Thunder 6.2 41
22 Rudy Gay Grizzlies 6.0 32
23 Tim Duncan Spurs 5.9 27
24 Luol Deng Bulls 5.8 37
25 DeMarcus Cousins Kings 4.2 42
26 Amare Stoudemire Knicks 4.1 43
27 Nene Wizards 2.7 52
28 Zach Randolph Grizzlies 2.1 34
29 Al Horford Hawks 1.3 30
30 Andrew Bogut Warriors 0.5 45

Wow, Sap is #9, and Al is #11? Not bad for the #25th and #30th best bigs last year. But what the heck is a win share? Bobby ESPN Intern and Uncle Dale haven't heard of Win shares. Let's keep it simple, egg head.

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Flat out averages:

I don't understand rates. I don't understand advanced statistics. I don't know what "an analytic" is. The only think that matters is points. But I love the Thunder and Ibaka, so blocks count too. And I love the T-Wolves and Love, so boards are important as well. Okay, whatever. If you are using statistics, the only ones that matter are Fantasy Sport averages. Clearly this will justify ESPN NBA Player rank, and show just how pathetic and accurately ranked Big Al and Millsap are!

PPG + RPG + APG + SPG + BPG

Player

Team

PRASB/Gm

ESPN Rank

1 Kevin Love Timberwolves 42.7 7
2 Blake Griffin Clippers 36.3 14
3 Josh Smith Hawks 35.4 31
4 Andrew Bynum 76ers 34.3 13
5 Carmelo Anthony Knicks 34.0 17
6 LaMarcus Aldridge Trail Blazers 33.8 20
7
Al Jefferson
Jazz
33.5
44
8 Pau Gasol Lakers 33.5 15
9 DeMarcus Cousins Kings 33.4 42
10 Paul Pierce Celtics 30.6 29
11
Paul Millsap
Jazz
30.3
53
12 Rudy Gay Grizzlies 30.0 32
13 Marc Gasol Grizzlies 29.5 24
14 Greg Monroe Pistons 29.4 49
15 Chris Bosh Heat 29.4 18
16 Tim Duncan Spurs 28.9 27
17 Kevin Garnett Celtics 28.8 21
18 Amare Stoudemire Knicks 28.2 43
19 Danny Granger Pacers 27.1 39
20 Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks 26.9 11
21 Luol Deng Bulls 26.4 37
22 Ryan Anderson Hornets 25.9 50
23 Roy Hibbert Pacers 25.8 35
24 Nene Wizards 25.4 52
25 Andrew Bogut Warriors 25.2 45
26 Joakim Noah Bulls 24.5 36
27 Tyson Chandler Knicks 24.4 24
28 Al Horford Hawks 23.8 30
29 Zach Randolph Grizzlies 22.2 34
30 Serge Ibaka Thunder 21.2 41

Hmm. So they are #7 and #11 here too? Not #25 and #30? I don't believe it. Ibaka is better. So is Deng. Dirk is a champion. Even the simplest stats must lie.I only care about perception, not production or on court performance.

I was wrong to read this far down. ESPN always has the best experts. Just not the ones who use stats. Stats are the devil. Because stats show that it's wrong to sleep on Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap -- and they are better than some of my favorite players, my favs who are better because of implied ability and media popularity. Also LaMarcus is an All-Star big and better than Big Al numerically by producing less on the court except for this last set of values. Deng is not over rated statistically either! The Jazz suck! Everyone on their team is a white guy and they are boring! Hee hee hee. Oh, Honey Boo Boo is on. Got to go!

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Last thing: Paul Millsap is THE WORST PLAYER OUT OF ALL OF THESE PLAYERS! ESPN NBA RANKINGS ROOL!

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