Each year, Sports Illustrated releases a ranking of the Top 100 players in the NBA. The first 70 names on the 2016-17 list have been revealed and included three Wizards players: center Marcin Gortat, shooting guard Bradley Beal and center Ian Mahinmi.
Mahimni, Washington's newest big man, came in at No. 76 on the SI list after being unranked the season before. Here's an excerpt from writer Rob Mahoney's profile of the Frenchman:
The new iteration of Mahinmi is both a player capable of steadying one of the top defenses in the league and helping an offense nudge an offense along.
His strengths are listed as his hook shot in the high paint and his defensive efficiency, while his poor post-up skills, erratic jump shot and tendency to rack up fouls are drawbacks to his game.
The next highest ranked Wizard is Beal at No. 58. He rose from No. 62 last season. Mahoney had this to say:
Projecting forward, the likelihood of Beal missing further games has to be priced into his ranking relative to other high-level players. The Beal who does make it to the floor is a nice shooter and competitive defender who hasn’t fully fleshed out his game.
Beal is lauded for his young age and perimeter shooting, but takes knocks for energetic but ineffective defense and occasionally settling for bad shots.
I'd add here that much of Beal's ranking seems to be derived from his skill set and potential, rather than actual production.
Mahoney doesn't factor in the troubling flatline of his numbers across the board. In a player as young as Beal, there should be steady year-over-year improvement in core statistics like scoring, rebounding and assists. There hasn't been.
However, Beal has shown major progress in those fundamental areas when playing in the postseason. He averaged 23.4 points per game in the 2014 playoffs, around 8 points better than in the regular season. That's encouraging after the team re-signed him to a max contract this summer.
And last, but highest ranked, is Gortat at No. 55. He jumped up from No. 63 on last year's list. Mahoney had very positive words for the Polish big man.
Gortat rates as a solid finisher, interior defender, roll man, rebounder, screener and even post scorer which at a position short on balance makes him one of the more preferable options out there. Breadth of skill matters.
The veteran gets credit for being in the top 20 in rebound percentage and execution of the pick-and-roll. His shortcomings aren't that serious, either. Gortat is faulted for being not mobile enough to carry a defense single-handedly and for potentially sacrificing some minutes with Mahinmi's arrival.
I'd note that the Polish big man can go through slumps of days to weeks where his rythmn is off (December and January of 2014-15 was especially rough). Because Washington has relied so heavily on him for rebounding and the pick-and-roll, those slumps cost them.
On the flip side, Gortat's ability to keep up with guards allows the Wizards to employ the uptempo offense they want to use.
I'll have to assume All-Star point guard John Wall's absence from this list means he'll be included in the top 30.
Four Wizards players in the Top 100 would be a respectable number for a team whose biggest offseason acquisition was Mahinmi. But more striking were some of the players that they ranked ahead of.
Centers Mason Plumlee (93), Bismack Biyombo (91), Enes Kanter (88), Andrew Bogut (83), Robin Lopez (82), Clint Capela (79) and Nikola Jokic (78) all fell behind both Mahinmi and Gortat.
Joakim Noah, Nene, Al Jefferson and Tyson Chandler didn't rank at all.
Beal ranked above fellow shooting guards Devin Booker (100), Manu Ginobili (97), J.R. Smith (96), Evan Fournier (95), Wesley Matthews (92), Victor Oladipo (74), Avery Bradley (72), Kyle Korver (70), Danny Green (69) and J.J. Redick (59).
Tony Allen, Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Evan Turner didn't make the cut.
Two other surprise snubs? Derrick Rose and Harrison Barnes.
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