S.I.’s Top 100 and the Golden State Warriors Snubs
Sports Illustrated recently unveiled their list for the NBA’s top 100 players over at the Point Forward and a couple of productive Golden State Warriors players did not make the cut.
The rankings are based on the projections of player performance heading into the 2013-14 campaign. The authors attempted to evaluate the players with the help of data (traditional and advanced metrics) and the eye test.
Because past performance in the professional ranks is somewhat indicative of future production, rookies were left out of the process altogether. That helped create a thorough breakdown of the NBA’s best players.
At some point, we will look at the Warriors that made the list, but today we will merely focus on those that were omitted.
Andrew Bogut is unquestionably one of the best centers in the league by virtue of his defensive brilliance as well as his rebounding ability. The Golden State Warriors would not have been able to dispatch the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2013 playoffs without the Aussie’s contributions.
David Lee was injured early in the series and thus Mark Jackson was robbed of an important frontcourt player. Bogut allowed Golden State to downsize their lineup by anchoring the paint and making the basket area a living hell for Nuggets players.
However, the former Milwaukee Buck was mostly a no-show during the course of the 2012-13 season. He missed 50 games and when he finally returned to the lineup, he torpedoed the defense because he was far too rusty.
His absence during the majority of 2012-13 forced the Point Forward to omit the big man from the top 100. It makes sense considering that Golden State has been getting close to nothing from Bogut offensively when he participates in games.
His inability to dominate at both ends of the floor coupled with his prolonged absence make him an easy snub on the top 100.
On a positive note, Bogut has stated that he is now a 100 percent healthy and thus he should be better moving forward:
The most important thing is not having a trainer or coach tell you that there are restrictions on what you’re doing. I can come in here and do what I want. I can come in here and run. I can condition. I can lift. I can shoot. I can play five-on-five and nobody can tell me I can only do one set or play 20 minutes. I have none of that right now and I’m not going to have any of that during the season.
If such is truly the case, the Australian center will get a good shot at making the top 100 provided that he is productive with the minutes he is given. That seems like relatively safe bet, but the same optimism was somewhat in place in 2012-13.
Harrison Barnes was not only a snub on Sports Illustrated top 100 list, but he also failed to make the list of notable omissions. Warriors fans might view this as a travesty of the highest order considering the way the former North Carolina Tar Heel played during the 2013 playoffs.
Barnes averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on 44.4 percent shooting from the field in his first postseason appearance. With David Lee injured, the Dubs’ swingman was thrust into the role of stretch four for Golden State in an experiment that paid huge dividends.
Barnes was electric at times during his 13 playoff games and that created some hype around his play. Naturally, expectations are now through the roof. Mind you, simply ignoring his regular season output is misguided given that it provides the larger sample size.
He appeared in 81 games and posted a plus-minus rating of plus-0.9 per NBA.com. That hardly sounds worthy of top-100 honors. Part of that stems from the fact that Barnes provided little outside of scoring during the 2012-13 season.
Furthermore, he occasionally floated in and out of games and gave his teammates not much of anything during those stretches.
Kevin Pelton echoed these very same sentiments over at ESPN.com (Insider) when he profiled the Warriors:
Barnes never looked out of place or overmatched as a rookie. At the same time, the starting role was problematic because it allowed Barnes to drift to the perimeter and become a bystander on offense for extended periods, interrupted by highlight-reel dunks.
With that in mind, his absence from the vaulted top 100 makes sense. The playoffs certainly helped propel him into the national spotlight, but his regular season production was perhaps more important than his postseason showing.
With that said, the 2013-14 season will be crucial for Barnes because it gives him a stage to show that he belongs. His scouting report now includes his play as a stretch four and he will have to adjust to the new ways teams are defending him.
His ability to evolve and adapt will determine whether or not he makes the cut in 2014 when S.I. does this exercise all over again.
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