Four Pacers Ranked in Sports Illustrated's Top 100 NBA Players
With training camp just a few weeks away, Sports Illustrated has begun its annual exercise of ranking the top 100 players in the NBA.
They've revealed 70 players so far over the past two days, and four different Pacers make appearances in the rankings.
First up was big man Domantas Sabonis, who came in at 76th in this year's rankings, up three spots from a year ago. Sabonis is coming off a stellar year, where he set an NBA franchise record for single-season field goal percentage and led the league in double-doubles off the bench. He could be ready to make another leap this season, as he's expected to move into the starting lineup following the departure of Thaddeus Young in free agency.
"In the long tradition of super subs, very few have been as productive as Domantas Sabonis was for the Pacers last season," Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney wrote.
The next Pacer on the list is offseason acquisition Malcolm Brogdon. The 6-5 guard out of Virginia didn't crack the top 100 a year ago, but was slotted at 61st heading into the 2019-20 campaign after a stellar season with the Bucks, where he averaged 15.6 points and 3.2 assists and joined the exclusive 50/40/90 club (shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line).
"Certain players are combo guards because they lack something fundamental to playing either the one or the two," Mahoney wrote. "Malcolm Brogdon is a combo guard because he satisfies both positions equally, allowing him to be paired with a guard of almost any kind."
Another player making a major leap in this year's rankings was Myles Turner, who jumped 20 spots up to 47th. In his fourth NBA season, the 6-11 center firmly established himself as one of the league's best interior defenders, leading the NBA in blocked shots, and is currently playing a crucial role for USA Basketball in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
"This was a pivotal year for Myles Turner, who rounded the corner from blocking shots to properly anchoring a defense," Mahoney wrote.
The highest-ranked Pacer on the list is Victor Oladipo. Coming off his first All-Star appearance and winning the NBA's Most Improved Player Award, Oladipo soared up to 20th a year ago. But a ruptured quad tendon in January and an uncertain timetable for when he will be back on the court this season caused Oladipo to fall slightly in this year's list to 39th.
"Accounting for injury is the most delicate and subjective part of the Top 100 process, because it demands that we assign value not just to a player's work, but to incremental portions of their work," Mahoney wrote.
One additional Pacer earned honorable mention recognition from Sports Illustrated. Jeremy Lamb, who signed with the Pacers after averaging a career-high 15.3 points and 5.5 rebounds last season for Charlotte, is one of 25 players deemed the "biggest snubs" from the top 100.
"As a solid all-around wing, Lamb actually has a fairly credible case for the Top 100 — which speaks to just how far he’s come in the past three years," Mahoney wrote.
Two recent Pacers also cracked the top 100. Young came in at 70th, up six spots from a year ago. Bojan Bogdanovic, meanwhile, made his first appearance on the list after emerging as Indiana's go-to scorer following Oladipo's injury last season. The Croatian sharpshooter rocketed up to 52nd in this year's rankings.
Other former Pacers and/or local products in the rankings unveiled so far include Jeff Teague (87th), Jaren Jackson Jr. (83rd), Eric Gordon (63rd), Gordon Hayward (59th), and Gary Harris (48th). Former Pacer Paul George and Lawrence North star Mike Conley appear to be ranked in the top 30.
Be sure to visit Sports Illustrated's site for the complete rankings.