The Sports Illustrated’s list of the Top 100 players in the NBA is a great discussion starter for those of us who are anxiously awaiting the start of the regular season.
Phoenix guard Devin Booker, one of the best pure scorers in the game, coming in (only) at No. 50?
Toronto backup Fred VanVleet (No. 94) ranked ahead of Dirk Nowitzki (No. 96)?
While there’s plenty of debate about where players are stacked on the list, the one thing that is clear.
The NBA is in great shape talent-wise for many years to come, with several players just a few years into their careers on the list.
And one of the teams with lots of on-the-rise-talent is the Boston Celtics, who have six players on the Top-100 list (and they really should have had a seventh with Marcus Smart).
But none of the six Celtics will be in the top-10, with the highest ranked player being Al Horford (No. 16) who came in one spot ahead of teammate Kyrie Irving (No. 17).
The only team that will have that many players when the list is completely revealed, is Golden State which currently has four players on the list.
SI’s Top 10 has yet to be revealed, but it’s a given that both Steph Curry and Kevin Durant will be there. Others likely in the top 10 include Houston’s James Harden and Chris Paul; Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James; Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo; Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid; Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook; New Orleans’ Anthony Davis; and Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler.
The idea that the Warriors would have so many players on the list, is no surprise.
They’re the two-time defending NBA champions, having taken home the Larry O’Brien trophy in three of the last four seasons with the same core primarily intact aside from the addition of Durant two years ago.
Golden State is the standard by which all teams in the NBA are measured against, the blueprint for what every team is trying to build.
And as you look across the NBA landscape, no one right now has done a better job of building themselves in the mirror image of the Warriors than the Celtics.
Boston has added elite scoring power with trading for Irving and signing Gordon Hayward who despite missing all but five minutes of last season, came in at No. 25 on the list. Boston has the game’s ultimate glue-guy in Horford. There’s young depth on the rise such as Jayson Tatum (No. 39), Jaylen Brown (No. 47) and Terry Rozier (No. 82) who all cracked the Top 100 list.
It is that kind of elite, well-respected depth that gives Boston and its fans every reason to be optimistic that they can get to the NBA Finals and hold their own against the basketball juggernaut known as the Golden State Warriors.