Where does PDX rank?
ESPN recently conducted its annual ranking of every player in the NBA, ordering them from No. 500 (Eddy Curry) to No. 1 (LeBron James).
No. 460: Victor Claver
As a rookie from Spain, Victor Claver’s spot in the ranking is fair at this point. His natural position is somewhere between small forward and power forward, and his game may or may not translate to the NBA level.
No. 422: Elliot Williams
Elliot Williams has the potential to be ranked much higher, but three season-ending surgeries in three years have pushed him down the list.
No. 409: Will Barton
Heading into his rookie season, Will Barton probably deserves to be higher than No. 409, but having slipped into the second round of the draft, you have to wonder if the Blazers got a steal, or if they simply took a chance no one else was willing to take.
No. 401: Luke Babbitt
Depending on which half of the season you watched, Luke Babbitt could range anywhere from the top 300 to the worst player in the entire NBA. He must improve to earn his time, but with the strides he took in 2012, you have to wonder if he deserves a slightly better spot.
No. 373: Ronnie Price
Ronnie Price was a free agent pickup for the Trail Blazers this season. His athleticism has helped him find a small amount of success, but with a poor jump shot and a high foul rate, ESPN may have been a bit generous with their ranking.
No. 357: Sasha Pavlovic
Sasha Pavlovic improved his ranking by 66 spots from 2011 to 2012. His decent shooting touch could earn him some minutes, but it will be in a catch-and-shoot role tucked away in the corner.
No. 338: Nolan Smith
Nolan Smith showed during the Las Vegas Summer League that he has the potential to be a very good player at the NBA level. At this point, however, that potential is still bottled up inside, making you wonder if he’ll let it out in 2013.
No. 330: Meyers Leonard
While No. 330 may seem a bit low for the 11th overall pick in the NBA draft, Meyers Leonard has a lot to do to prove he can bang with the bigs down low. His athleticism and mid-range game are good, which will keep him in the running for the starter position in his rookie season.
No. 268: Jared Jeffries
Jared Jeffries is one of the newest additions to the Trail Blazers roster, and quite frankly, he is ranked way to high on ESPN’s list. His ability to draw a charge will remind some of Kurt Thomas, but that’s about the only good trait he’ll bring with him this season.
No. 211: Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard has yet to play a game in the NBA, but there is no way there are 210 players who should be ahead of him on ESPN’s list. It’s possible that Lillard faces speed bumps throughout his rookie year, but with his skill set and work ethic both on his side, he deserves a higher spot on this list.
No. 202: J.J. Hickson
J.J. Hickson is another example of a player whose production has fluctuated over the last year.
For fans of the Sacramento Kings, his rating is probably right on par with what they saw night in and night out. However, Rip City saw production when they needed it most, leaving fans to believe he’ll earn a much higher spot if he carries that momentum into the new year.
No. 109: Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews is the type of player who has proven in the past that he can affect the game on both sides of the floor.
His three-point shot is deadly, he’s willing to attack the rim and his quick hands and defensive positioning disrupts opponents on a regular basis.
Whether or not he’s a top-100 player is up for debate, but if he can continue to improve in 2013, the discussion should disappear by this point next season.
No. 63: Nicolas Batum
Nicolas Batum’s ranking at this point speaks much higher volumes to his potential than it does to his actual production.
The 23-year-old has been complacent at times throughout his first four seasons, but the prospect is there that he could become the team’s No. 2 option. If he can start to produce on both sides of the floor, his ranking could be even higher when 2013 comes to an end.
No. 20: LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge has improved his game drastically over the past two seasons, and ESPN recognized it heading into the new year.
Being a top 20 player is a compliment to any athlete in the NBA, but the fact is, Aldridge has outperformed a number of the power forwards who ESPN ranked above him.
The big man has become the leader of the franchise in Rip City, and he deserves a bit more credit for what he’s done up to this point.