The 2020-21 NBA season is less than two weeks away, which means it's time for bold predictions/takes on how teams will perform and where certain players rank in the league's hierarchy.
ESPN is in the process of releasing its annual ranking of the top 100 players in pro basketball. Players from No. 50 to No. 11 were announced Wednesday, and four members of the Boston Celtics were among them.
Here's a recap of the C's players from the latest unveiling of ESPN's list:
No. 48: Kemba Walker, PG
No. 37: Marcus Smart, PG/SG
No. 32: Jaylen Brown, SG/SF
No. 11: Jayson Tatum, SF
A couple things stand out with this list. One of them is Jaylen Brown should be higher. He's a very good defender and took his offensive game to another level last season by averaging a career-high 20.3 points and shooting 38.2 percent from 3-point range.
A strong case could be made that Brown deserves a higher ranking than Ja Morant (No. 31), Kyle Lowry (No. 30), Brandon Ingram (No. 28), CJ McCollum (No. 27), Rudy Gobert (No. 26) and Pascal Siakam (No. 24).
Brown did jump quite a bit in ESPN's rankings over the last year, however. He was ranked No. 51 before last season.
Tatum at No. 11 is a sign of respect based on how well he played last season. The No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft led the Celtics with a career-high 23.4 points scored per game, while also earning his first All-Star Game selection and an Eastern Conference Player of the Month award for February. Tatum is on the cusp of superstardom and already ranks as one of the premier young players who teams would want to build a franchise around.
ESPN had Tatum ranked No. 35 before the 2019-20 season, so he jumped 24 spots in one year.
The Celtics didn't have any players in the No. 100 to No. 51 portion of ESPN's ranking, and they won't have any in the top 10 unveiling, either. It's definitely possible Tatum could vault into the top 10 soon if he takes another step forward in his development this season.
The Celtics are scheduled to begin the regular season Dec. 23 against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden.