Before every season, ESPN releases their rankings of the Top 100 players in the NBA based on what to expect during the upcoming campaign. As with pretty much any list determined by a panel of voters, there are plenty of places where one might raise a red flag, and that is especially true if you are a fan of the Atlanta Hawks.
At this point in my tenure as a lifelong Hawks fan, I’m numb to the fact that the national media outlets would overlook a player from Atlanta. It’s become clockwork, and to be quite honest, it doesn’t even bother me. I mean, what have the Hawks done to garner any respect? I don’t think I need to answer that, especially recently, as they’ve picked inside the top-six in each of the last three drafts.
Before this Hawks team or their players are going to receive any recognition, they must win games and make the playoffs. However, that kind of disrespect can only be taken so far. At a certain point, you may as well admit that you haven’t watched a Hawks game in three years… because ESPN’s most recent unveiling of their Top 100 players is utter blasphemy from start to finish.
The first Hawks player to appear on the list is the newly acquired Danilo Gallinari. He came in at #85, which I think is a little too low, given what he’s been able to do with the Clippers and Thunder the last two seasons, but that’s not at all where my gripe is. A spot ahead of him comes the second Hawks player — John Collins.
Now, there are two parts about Collins place on this list that make no sense. First, are the players ahead of him. Not all of them… but Josh Richardson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dennis Schroder, Myles Turner, P.J. Tucker, Lonzo Ball, and those are just a few of them. No disrespect to any of these guys; they have all carved out nice NBA careers for themselves, but John Collins is an All-Star caliber player. If not for his 25-game suspension last year, he might have been an All-Star in just his second year as a starter, and if he stays healthy next season, I fully expect him to earn his first nomination. None of the players I just mentioned above, who are ahead of Collins on this list, can make that claim.
The third-year power forward improved in every aspect of his game. His points per game and rebounds per game saw slight spikes thanks to improvements in his shooting, especially from behind the arc, where he shot over 40%. However, his positive adjustments as a defender were perhaps even more impressive. Collins is doing things nobody has ever done in their first three seasons in the league, and while I expect the average fan to overlook such things, isn’t this panel of voters supposed to be considered experts?
Secondly, the free-fall of Collins down this list makes next to no sense. He came in at 47th on this very same list a year ago, and as I just mentioned above, he improved in every aspect of his game. Collins probably shouldn’t have dropped at all but moving him anything more than a few spots is unexplainable. There is just no other way to put it — simple disrespect.
One Hawks player that I did feel received some love on this list was the newly acquired Bogdan Bogdanović. The shooting guard came in at #62. Not that I don’t love Bogdanović and what he will bring to Atlanta this season, but ahead of John Collins? That has to be a joke.
The last Hawks player to land on the list was, of course, Trae Young. I still think that is a little low, given that he nearly averaged 30 points and 10 assists last season; however, at least in Young’s case, I can give enough credit to the players around him to understand the voter’s decision-making. Young has already proven to be an electric scorer and playmaker, but until he can start turning those stats into wins, there will always be people that are afraid to put him in the top echelon of players in the league.
In short, this just proves that it’s nearly impossible to put together a panel of voters and come together with a list that accurately portrays the Top 100 players in the NBA. I mean, there is so much wrong with these rankings from top to bottom; guys that should barely be cracking the Top 100 that are somehow nearing the Top 50, and vice versa. As a whole, ESPN needs to come together and figure out a better way to come up with a more accurate list of the top players in the NBA. Because a lot of this is just blatant oversight and favortism.