For each of the past five seasons, Sports Illustrated has produced its prediction for who the top 100 players of the season would be. After a poor showing in 2016-17, it’s unsurprising that several Pistons players saw their ranking drop from the previous year.
Andre Drummond is the highest rated player at 51st, coming in three spots ahead of Avery Bradley who ranked 54th. Reggie Jackson comes in at 78th and Tobias Harris is ranked 81st.
The duo of Jackson and Drummond had the most dramatic drops, with Drummond falling 22 spots after being ranked 29th last summer and Jackson 24 spots after a 54th ranking.
While rankings like this are always abritrary and subject to the personal preferences, it’s a fair indication of the fall from grace for Drummond last season. His previous year rankings:
SI’s Ben Golliver writes about Drummond:
There’s been a whiplash effect when it comes to judging Drummond (13.6 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.1 APG), who followed up his first All-Star selection and postseason appearance in 2015-16 (No. 29 on our 2017 list) with a less-than-stellar 2016-17 campaign that felt like a step backwards. Is he a max-level franchise center capable of overwhelming opponents with his size and strength on a nightly basis? Or, is he doomed to disappoint because he reached his statistical peak at a young age and is now just another traditional center stuck adjusting to a league that increasingly prefers versatility over pure size? How should one weigh the value of his elite offensive rebounding against his indisputably poor defensive impact numbers and worse-than-atrocious free-throw shooting? What’s more trustworthy: His stellar PER or his middling Real Plus-Minus? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how much should any center be blamed when his starting point guard completely falls apart without warning?
However, if you’re a DBB regular, you’re probably aware that Drummond’s 2015-16 season and his year last year really weren’t that far apart from each other. His play has leveled out over the past three seasons as an inefficient offensive player, an ineffective defensive player, and an elite rebounder. It’s really not that tough to sort out. The biggest question is whether he’s able to make the adjustments to his game and mentality to be a consistently effective player.
So is 54th the right ranking? Sure. But that ranking does still suppose an amount of upside with Drummond. If he continues to play the way he has for the past three years, that ranking will continue to fall.
Tobias Harris seems to be consistently underrated by the ranking though. Harris was almost certainly the Pistons most effective and consistent player last season, yet was only the fourth highest ranked Piston.
Jackson may come off as too high and Golliver acknowledges that they’re weighing heavily his health last year.
Based solely on his play during an injury-hampered 2016-17 season, Jackson (14.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 5.2 APG) doesn’t belong in the NBA’s Top 200 or possibly even its Top 300. Dogged by a knee injury that cost him 30 games, the 27-year-old point guard was one of the league’s biggest disappointments, posting a team-worst -8.8 net rating as the Pistons finished with a bottom-six offense and slid back into the lottery.
Avery Bradley was the sole player who will be wearing a Pistons jersey to increase his ranking, moving up from 72nd last season.
So far SI has only released players ranked 51-100, with the rest of the list coming out over the remainder of the week - though unless someone out there really likes Ish Smith, there won’t be any Pistons representation in the top 50.
It’ll be curious to see how the positions shake out though and where Detroit’s players fall in each of their respective spots. It’s certainly a bit dour to figure how the Pistons will be a legitimate playoff team without any top 50 guys and would be even more worrisome if none are even in the top 10 at their position.
What are your thoughts DBB? Who would you have ranked higher or lower?