After analyzing the players ESPN underrated in their recent top-100 list, and giving the case for each one climbing the ranks, it’s time to look at who ESPN overrated. From forcing Devin Booker into their top-10, to placing rookies ahead of established contributors, several came in way too high on ESPN’s list. Let’s take a closer look at who those players were.
Paolo Banchero (82): With their yearly rankings being framed as projections for the upcoming season, ESPN allows themselves the ability to place rookies with zero career games on their top-100 list. While this Banchero ranking is less ambitions than ESPN’s prediction for a rookie Zion Williamson a few years back, it still feels premature to project a rookie to make this type of splash. Being selected first-overall, it’s clear that Banchero possesses the tools necessary to quickly ascend up the league’s ranks; however, expecting that jump in year-one is certainly optimistic. That said, if it happens, it will be fun to watch.
Bam Adebayo (23): Underwhelming in last year’s postseason, Bam Adebayo was unable to overcome a Boston Celtics defense that made him a non-factor at times in the Eastern Conference Finals. Had he performed at the level expected of him, Miami probably wins that series and advances to face Golden State in the NBA Finals. While different analysts place different value on postseason play, those games are ultimately what separate the good from the great. Until he maintains his regular season production in the playoffs, it’s hard to justify ranking Bam Adebayo as a top-25 player in basketball.
Chris Paul (21): While his playmaking ability continues to serve as the engine for a Phoenix Suns team that dominates the regular season, Chris Paul’s diminishing scoring juice and defense prowess has become glaring. That was front and center in last year’s postseason, as Phoenix suffered an early exit at the hands of Dallas. Still living off his reputation, Paul nearly cracked the league’s top-20. He is far from that level of player at this stage in his career, and with ESPN’s rankings technically being projections, there’s reason to believe that Paul will continue to decline.
Rudy Gobert (18): One of the best rim protectors in NBA history, Rudy Gobert’s one-dimensional game has often put a ceiling on his team’s title hopes. It’s not just Gobert’s lack of an offensive arsenal that has inhibited his team’s chances, but his inability to move laterally on the perimeter as well. This is not a direct indictment on Gobert, as truly nobody at his size moves great on the perimeter. That said, when discussing top-20 players in the entire NBA, it’s hard to make a case for Gobert, given his limitations.
Devin Booker (10): While most players have their playoff collapses held against them, Devin Booker got awarded with top-10 honors after one of the most embarrassing Game 7 performances in recent history. Even without that Game 7, Booker was undeservedly forced into MVP talks last season, solely due to Phoenix’s record. An undeniably great talent and perennial All-Star, Booker and the Suns seem to be living off their fortunate run to the Finals in 2021.
Any other issues with the Top-10?
Aside from Steph Curry being undeniably too low at number five, and Booker being overrated at number 10, it becomes incredibly difficult to argue against any of the players ESPN had in their top-10. That’s not to say there isn’t a case for some shifting around in that group, but every player listed has stamped their mark on the NBA, and could be primed for even greater heights this season.