This week, Sports Illustrated is dropping its Top 100 list of players for the upcoming NBA season. It’s basically an excuse to promote discussion, as every fan base will inevitably want to argue that one or more of its players was ranked too low. So...let’s do just that!
Thus far, SI has released spots 100-11, and with Joel Embiid’s absence, we can safely assume he is nestled somewhere within the top-10. Prior to Joel, the Sixers also have their four other projected starters in the top-71 of the league. Below, I’ve listed where each player fell, along with the two players flanking them and a portion of their ranking summary.
Josh Richardson #71 (Harrison Barnes #72, Thaddeus Young #70)
The baseline for Josh Richardson begins with his All-Defense-worthy credentials, deployable across three positions. Whichever opponent handles the ball most will find Richardson embedded deep in their personal space.
Tobias Harris #49 (Danilo Gallinari #50, Gary Harris #48)
Given enough time, Harris has the tools necessary to find his way in any system. The Sixers seem to agree, having bet $180 million on the prospect.
Ben Simmons #23 (Pascal Siakam #24, Bradley Beal #22)
There’s just nothing conventional about Simmons, nor the way his passing can change a game. By virtue of having an enormous playmaker running the offense and pushing the break, certain parts of the game will be made easy. Yet in relying on a player who has categorically refused to take jump shots, what should come easily is made far more difficult.
Al Horford #18 (Blake Griffin #19, Draymond Green #17)
When you run into Giannis Antetokounmpo or Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis, you need someone on your team who understands the mechanics of defense at a foundational level. You need a veteran who can internalize a scouting report and maintain a team concept. In short, you need Al Horford.
Notable former Sixers include (as referenced above) Thaddeus Young #70, JJ Redick #67, Robert Covington #64, Lou Williams #53, Jrue Holiday #25, and Jimmy Butler #11.
Personally, I find these rankings to be low on Richardson and Harris, slightly high on Horford, and just right on Simmons. Horford over Simmons feels like something Philadelphia fans would have gotten very heated about six months ago. We’ll see where Embiid falls, but I could see an argument for him anywhere in the top-10 given the associated meteoric talent vs. staying healthy conundrum. I won’t have any problem wherever he lands.
What do you think? Are any of these rankings way off for these Sixers (or anyone else)?