As they do at every offseason’s low point for NBA news, ESPN is rolling out their wildly wrong annual ranking of the best 100 players in the NBA.
This year’s most ludicrously insulting ranking went to Carmelo Anthony. Not only did the New York Knicks star drop 33 spots from No. 31 in 2016 to No. 64 this year, but he also landed one slot behind a rookie—Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball.
Carmelo is 33 years old and averaged 22.4 points per game a season ago, an increase from the year prior despite his playing fewer minutes. He posted a player efficiency rating of 17.9. As a rookie in 2003-04, LeBron James posted a PER of 18.3. ESPN is apparently banking on Lonzo’s immediately being almost as good as James was—or an enormous step back for Carmelo.
Even ESPN’s analysis of the ranking contradicts itself, basically saying Melo is washed right before uttering his name in the same breath as Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
Entering his 15th season, Anthony’s days as a top-50 player might be finished as he comes in 33 spots below last season’s ranking. His drop is tied for the largest by anyone that finished in the top 35 a season ago. The only players in NBA history to average at least 20 points per game in each of their first 15 seasons are Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a club Anthony could join in 2017-18.
Ooookay. And here’s what they wrote of Ball, the son of permanently open mouth LaVar Ball:
Ball is the highest-ranked rookie and it comes on the heels of a MVP summer league performance in Las Vegas. While it’s dangerous to put too much stock in a handful of offseason games, it’s impossible to cast aside his infectious play as simply noise. Ball averaged more assists and rebounds in summer league than Stephen Curry, John Wall, Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook did as rookies, while his 9.3 assists per game were a Las Vegas Summer League record.
Yes, ESPN, apparently without irony, cited Ball’s summer league performance (and his all-important rebounding from the point guard position) as justification. Other summer league MVPs include career backups Tyus Jones, Kyle Anderson, and Glen Rice Jr., as well as Josh Selby, who isn’t even in the league any more.
The Las Vegas summer league has only been handing out MVP awards since 2012.