SALT LAKE CITY — Who are the top 100 basketball players in the NBA, heading into the 2019-20 season?
That was the question that Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney set out to answer and as of Monday, he’d answered half of it.
SI released its sixth annual list of the Top 100 NBA Players, counting down from No. 100 to No. 51, with the top 50 to follow in short order.
A pair of current Jazzmen made the cut, as did a trio of players who used to call Salt Lake City home.
One of the current Jazz players was fan favorite Joe Ingles, who was ranked No. 65.
“The best role players aren’t just doing a job, but defining it. Utah might not have explicitly planned for Joe Ingles to be an essential secondary creator — it just turned out that way because he was too savvy a pick-and-roll player to be waiting in the wings. So Quin Snyder turned Ingles loose over the past few seasons to find just how far his creativity would stretch. There are clear limits. In a first-round loss to the Rockets, Ingles was stifled into five of the worst games of his career. The Jazz frankly needed more than he could give; Ingles was sapped as a playmaker by defensive switches, and stuck when his three-point shot abandoned him. One of the best things about Ingles is that he knows exactly who is as a player. There is no delusion to his game. If there’s no opening, he won’t shoot. If there’s no angle, he won’t drive. That kind of restraint—born of the fact that Ingles isn’t exactly quick enough to blow past anyone—can be inhibiting at times, though it’s far more often a blessing than a curse. Let the stars be stars. Ingles will fill in where he can to make their lives simpler.”
Ranked 13 spots ahead of Ingles was a newcomer to Utah, forward Bojan Bogdanović.
Bogdanović was ranked No. 52 on the list, barely missing out on a top 50 spot.
“We really can’t say enough about the fact that following Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury, the Pacers yoked their offense to Bojan Bogdanović and made it to 48 wins. Their season was a collective triumph, but everything would have fallen apart had Bogdanović not been able to scale within his role. It’s easier said than done. Even some of the best perimeter shooters in the league can be limited by overplaying defenses. Bogdanović has the counters needed to work around that sort of pressure: the backdoor cuts, the step-through moves, and the handle to turn a potential three into a downhill drive. That full suite of skills allowed Bogdanović to fake his way as a first-option scorer for a time, but he’s more comfortably cast in the kind of supporting role he’ll find in Utah. In that regard, it’s nice that Bogdanović isn’t just a shooter. Indiana’s coaching staff held Bogdanović accountable on defense and brought his coverage up to their standards. The fact that Bogdanović can run a pick-and-roll gives him added appeal as a secondary creator, perfect for when another star is crowded or doubled. The same qualities that enabled Bogdanović to stretch his role for the Pacers give his game some elasticity across the board.”
As for the former Jazzmen, Ricky Rubio, now of the Phoenix Suns, came in at No. 73.
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, meanwhile, was ranked as the 59th-best NBA player, while New Orleans’ Derrick Favors was considered the 55th best basketball player in the world.
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And finally …
In case you missed it, Gobert wished Mitchell a happy birthday over Twitter Saturday afternoon, with the promise that they’d see each other soon.
Was he alluding to the FIBA World Cup game that is to be played between the U.S. and France Wednesday morning?