I don't know why people care about it so much, but the controversial ESPN NBA Player Rankings for the upcoming season are out. People's knickers get twisted in a bunch over this every year, and they have this year as well, mostly with Kobe being ranked at 25 and Carmelo Anthony ranked at 15, etc.
I don't care about those guys. And besides, it's not an exact science. A whole bunch of ESPN staffers score players from 1-10 based on overall performance for the upcoming season (using vague considerations such as quality and quantity of expected contributions), and the score is then averaged out into a single score.
Naturally the rankings will be all over the place in some instances. Take Kobe for example. Some people still think he is one of the top 5 or even top 3 players in the NBA, but he's recovering from a torn Achilles and nobody knows when he will actually play again, how effective he will be, and so forth. So you see how opinions will vary.
As for the Pacers, most of the player rankings improved, which is a good sign, but I still think some of the players are being underestimated while others are being overrated.
Here is the rankings list for the team (parenthesis denotes last year's ranking) and what I think of them:
13. Paul George (75) — expected leap for the MIP and All-Star, but I think it's a little high. A lot of it has to do with his play on the defensive end, which is probably why he ranked higher than Blank Griffin (14) and Carmelo (15). I'm hoping PG24 proves me wrong and shows that he belongs by taking another big leap forward this season. I've liked what I've seen so far in the preseason but he needs to show more.
22. Roy Hibbert (35) – also a little high. Roy gets here primarily because of his defensive capabilities, but this ranking is predicated on the assumption that his offensive output this season will be nearly as good as it was in the playoffs last season. I don't see that happening, but I do hope he gets votes for DPOY.
44. David West (56) — too low. I think DWest should be on the fringe of the top 30, if not in it. His rank improved because his numbers improved, but when you need a basket he is still the one the Pacers will count on the most.
69. Danny Granger (39) – probably about right, because even I have no idea where Granger should be on this list. His reputation is what keeps him on this list, but I fear his productivity will be a lot lower than what it used to be. I'm not sure if he can be a consistent double-digit scorer any more.
85. George Hill (87) – this ranking makes me think Granger is probably ranked too high. George Hill will definitely be a more important member of the Pacers this season and with higher productivity. Despite making strides last season as the starting PG, Hill only went up by 2 spots. Underrated.
121. Lance Stephenson (405) – potentially too low, despite making the biggest leap by far of anyone on this team. He was supposed to be in danger of losing his job last year, but instead turned out to be the X-factor. If he was on a crap team he'd have a lot more opportunities to rack up big numbers, but because he's on the Pacers he'll have to pick his spots.
129. Luis Scola (68) – way too low. There is no way Scola is not a top 100 player in the NBA. His minutes will be limited this season as a backup but they won't be worse than last season on a tanking Phoenix team. He'll be motivated.
188. Chris Copeland (NR) — watching his preseason performances I have a feeling it might be about right, but I think he is closer to a top 150 player. Just a feeling.
238. C.J. Watson (230) — way too low, especially considering the guy he replaced in the lineup, DJ Augustin, was ranked ahead of him by a few spots. From the first few games of the preseason there could be an argument that he deserves to be ranked ahead of Copeland.
271. Ian Mahinmi (251) — about right, probably. Ian has disappointed a little. He's serviceable but he needs to be more to give the Pacers a stronger chance of contending against elite teams.
383. Solomon Hill (NR) — rookie, anyone'se guess.
418. Orlando Johnson (462) — too low. Given the opportunity he has shown that he belongs in the league. Unstoppable in garbage time.
486. Donald Sloan (480) — has been a fringe NBA player for a while, so probably about right.