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Why Derrick Rose was left off SI.com's Top 100 NBA players of 2017
3:44 | NBA
Why Derrick Rose was left off SI.com's Top 100 NBA players of 2017
Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney
Monday September 12th, 2016

Creating a defined list inevitably leads to snubs, the likes of which run deep with our ranking of Top 100 NBA Players of 2017.

In some sense, stopping at 100 is an arbitrary end point. There isn't a dramatic difference between our final pick and those players who narrowly missed the cut, and one could make a compelling case for many of those omitted to claim one of the last spots. Beyond that, there are handfuls of relevant players who are well regarded but noticeably absent, unseated by the sheer number of qualified candidates. The list below is a combination of those two groups—a collection of 25 notable omissions, though not squarely a queue of those players next in line. In alphabetical order:

Tony Allen, Grizzlies

Allen stubbornly remains in the mix as one of the NBA’s most disruptive individual defenders. Exactly how the 34-year-old manages to thwart players taller, stronger, and quicker than him is a matter of mythical interest; there’s almost no reason to think that Allen could continue to give superstar opponents so much trouble save that he does, night after night, to triumphant effect. Unfortunately, Allen misses too many games and surrenders too much as a non-scorer to make a real run at Top 100 standing. The 64 games Allen played last season made for his highest total in three years. At the point where Allen is missing a solid quarter of the campaign, logging just 25 minutes when he does play, and gumming up his team’s spacing every time he steps on the court, even truly outstanding defense isn’t quite enough. — RM

Al-Farouq Aminu, Blazers

Things are trending up for Aminu, 25, who enjoyed a career year (10.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG) in his first season in Portland. A combo forward whose value was long limited by atrocious outside shooting and a lack of playmaking, Aminu made progress from deep (shooting near league average on a career-high number of attempts) and found a quality fit as a tertiary, catch-and-shoot option on a Blazers roster that relies on its backcourt for initiating. With his offense now approaching passable, Aminu was in a better position to shine defensively, as he has the versatility to switch on the perimeter, the toughness to defend most traditional power forwards on the block, and the ability to rebound well enough to get by in small ball looks. Look for Aminu to make a run at next year’s list if he can solidify his outside shooting (despite a stroke that looks like he’s flinging a grape with a rubber band) and continues to thrive as a power forward against spread lineups. — BG

Harrison Barnes, Mavericks

A target of frustration in Golden State for his deference and disappearances, the 24-year-old Barnes (11.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG) nevertheless cashed in on a max deal with Dallas this summer. To deliver on that contract and on the hype that followed him during his prep days, Barnes will need to take a big step forward as an overall offensive threat. A quality floor-spacer and high-flier who also is comfortable operating out of the post on occasion, Barnes must improve as a one-on-one option and foul-drawer if he wants to move up his team’s offensive pecking order. Although he was often overlooked among Golden State’s many excellent defenders, Barnes is very helpful on that end: he’s smart and committed, while being quick enough to handle perimeter assignments and sturdy enough to avoid getting bullied in the post. Put it this way: If Barnes doesn’t make next year’s Top 100, Dallas will probably be up a creek. — BG

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Tyson Chandler, Suns

The 2015-16 season was a hard fall for Chandler, who had a difficult time moving past his nagging injuries throughout a busted season. Chandler has always been prone to strains and tweaks, which together have cost him about 15 games per season on average. What’s changed over time is his performance in spite of those injuries. Where a younger, more athletic Chandler might have still found ways to contribute at a high level, the 34-year-old model can be undercut significantly by a hamstring injury. Chandler is already dealing with a natural decline in both his lateral mobility and vertical explosion. Even minor injury can be costly in those circumstances, diminishing the dunks, contested rebounds, and vertical defense that had made Chandler one of the best bigs in the league. All of those basic elements are still there. They were simply muted by age, injury, and circumstance in Phoenix last season, cumulatively to a point where it seemed that the fiery veteran might not have a place on this list. — RM​

Jamal Crawford, Clippers

When the man who has become synonymous with the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award signed a four-year, $21+ million contract with the Clippers in 2012, there was good reason to believe that serious decline would set in before the deal was completed. Instead, Crawford, now 36, did a remarkable job of maintaining his production, so much so that he earned a three-year, $42 million contract this summer. Crawford’s elite handles, fearless shot-taking and natural scoring instincts remain, but so too does his weak individual defensive performance and his glaring inefficiency in the postseason. At his best, when he’s launching a moonshot from deep or suckering a young defender into a four-point play, Crawford (14.2 PPG, 2.3 APG) remains one of the most thrilling entertainers in the league. But even a cursory look at the number—his substandard shooting, his limited all-around contributions and his extremely poor defensive impact grade—are enough to keep him out of the Top 100 conversation. — BG

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Monta Ellis, Pacers

What happens when a specialist’s primary skill abandons him? Ellis has long been a productive player, but the meaning behind his productivity was tethered to a single quality. Virtually all that Ellis contributed on the floor was predicated on his ability to blow past opponents and score in volume. He did both of those things at career-worst levels for the Pacers last season—deficits that made his lacking complementary game all the more painful. Ellis is helpful only so long as what he contributes on offense can eclipse what he sacrifices on defense. Without that counterbalance, Ellis went into freefall. He is a defender too clueless to be fully hidden and a chucker too determined to relent. The costs of reliance on Ellis are simply too great. — RM

Tyreke Evans, Pelicans

With good health, Evans would have been a shoe-in to make the Top 100 thanks to his downhill attacking style and strong all-around production. Although his ideal positional fit remains a bit nebulous after seven years, he’s a proven and physical bucket-getter who can get to the cup and attract defensive attention. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old Evans (15.2 PPG, 6.6 APG, 5.2 RPG)  is one of many Pelicans whose careers have been simultaneously derailed by injuries. The 6’6” wing played just 25 games last season and his status for 2016-17—his contract year—is up in the air as he recovers from yet another knee surgery. Will Evans ever recapture the promise of his Rookie of the Year campaign, or will this extended absence go down as a career turning point? — BG

Taj Gibson, Bulls

Chicago’s 6’9” power forward has crept onto SI’s Top 100 lists in years past thanks to his solid, complete game. A physical four who regularly finds points around the bucket and at the elbows, Gibson (8.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG) is best-known for his defensive versatility, his interior defense at his position, and his productive rebounding. At 31, Gibson’s offensive role has decreased for two straight seasons and his Real Plus-Minus numbers suggest he’s slipped out of the ranks of the elite defenders at his position. Given the NBA’s increasing reliance on spread fours, Gibson’s complete lack of perimeter shooting ability puts him in an increasingly difficult battle for minutes in Chicago and it might be time for a change of scenery. If the league continues its downsizing trend, perhaps Gibson can extend his prime by logging more time as a small-ball five, where he could make the most of his defensive ability without compromising his team’s offensive spacing.  — BG

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Eric Gordon, Rockets

Justifying a Top 100 ranking for a player who missed nearly half of his team’s games over the past five years would require some daunting mental gymnastics. Gordon just isn’t healthy often enough to be much of a contender—particularly when the range of his contributions is actually quite narrow. Shooting alone carries Gordon’s career at this point. Running a pick-and-roll isn’t completely beyond him, though Gordon can’t push past defenders like he used to and is better suited for a more passive role. The stubborn on-ball defense he played in his earlier days has been compromised by knee injury and undermined by his size disadvantage relative to other wings. Dynamism comes in short, muted supply; Gordon can make plays here and there against a defense caught in rotation but isn’t doing much to scare opponents once chased off the line. — RM

Jrue Holiday, Pelicans

Due to his indefinite absence, Holiday was removed from our list. This was not a statement on Jrue's game but an acknowledgment that his current situation overwhelms the nature of these rankings and made his return impossible to predict. We wish Holiday and his wife, Lauren, all the best and know he'll be in Top 100 consideration upon his return. — RM

Al Jefferson, Pacers

The NBA is gradually leaving Jefferson and those players like him behind. Size and interior scoring very much still matter. The trouble lies with bigs who score primarily from the low block who are neither great passers nor impact defenders. Jefferson very much falls in this range and has seen his standing fall to specialty player. Indiana offered Jefferson a contract this summer reflective of the fact that he will no longer be the crux of a team’s primary offense. That hard truth speaks to where Jefferson might now be most effective: working over second-unit bigs for the best possible scoring output in a rotational setting where his limitations as a defender won’t be so easily exploited. — RM​

Melissa Macjchzark/Getty Images

Joe Johnson, Jazz

It took forever, but Johnson is finally out from under the burden of the six-year, $123+ million contract that defined his disappointing tenure with the Nets. After a buyout and a brief playoff run with the Heat, the 35-year-old Johnson (12 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.6 RPG) has smartly signed up as a designated shooter for the up-and-coming Jazz. Now into roughly six years of decline when it comes to his scoring output and usage, Johnson should fit snugly into a narrow role that can make use of his perimeter shooting ability, traditional size, positional flexibility, and postseason experience. No longer a star and perhaps no longer even a starter, Johnson nevertheless would be a quality addition to any team with playoff aspirations, as he can contribute offensively without dominating the ball and fill minutes adequately on the other end. — BG

Cory Joseph, Raptors

Although the phrase “third guard” tends to conjure up images of a scoring-minded, combo-sized, instant-offense creator, Joseph represents a different and more useful archetype. Toronto’s back-up point guard is pesky enough to harass opposing ball-handlers, committed enough to switch on to bigger players, and unselfish enough to play alongside high-usage lead options without batting an eyelash. At the same time, the 25-year-old Joseph can step forward as a secondary playmaker when needed, operating out of the pick-and-roll and looking to attack the paint and collapse the defense. While Joseph (8.5 PPG, 3.1 APG) isn’t equipped to be a team's lead playmaker due to his shaky outside shot and limited creativity in traffic, he’s a strong complementary and catch-and-shoot option who generally plays to his strengths. More importantly, Joseph makes a demonstrable impact on his team’s defensive rating and has no problem shadowing the opposition’s star guards. In short, Joseph is a hard player to keep off the court and off our list. — BG

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets

One of the best defenders in basketball has played just seven games since March 2015. For as much as we prize what Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the game—and in particular his work against top wing scorers—he was nudged out of Top 100 contention because of his inability to play significant minutes over an extended term. When gauging the best players in the league over the next season, specifically, the fact that MKG lost a season-plus to multiple major shoulder injuries (each with their own surgery) docks him. So, too, does the fact that Kidd-Gilchrist was never able to return to the floor after his latest surgery and establish any kind of flow on the court. We’ve talked ourselves into ranking Kidd-Gilchrist in the Top 100 in previous seasons despite his incredibly raw offensive game because his defense and rebounding were so special. His recent injury history, however, is so hefty a piece of evidence that it tips the balance out of his favor. — RM

• SI Vault: Kidd-Gilchrist's jump shot, voice remain a work in progress (02.02.15)

Jeremy Lin, Nets

Lin has charted an admirable course as a role player since his Linsanity days and found ways to improve every season. What he gave the Hornets last season was vital to their success; Charlotte finally got its offense moving by having multiple playmakers on the court at all times and sustained that play by ushering in Lin as Kemba Walker’s natural backup. The arrangement made sense and Lin carried his role well—making him one of the league’s best reserve point guards and a reasonable free agent target for the Nets this summer. Omitting Lin from the Top 100 isn’t a slight or an oversight. It’s merely an acknowledgment that Lin’s offerings in the last year were both helpful and a cut below some of the league’s most impactful players. — RM

Nikola Mirotic, Bulls

Mirotic plays a wild game that the league around him, even after two seasons, is still trying to figure out. Opponents have already learned not to bite so hard on his preprogrammed pump fakes—the mechanism that had allowed Mirotic to get to the free throw line so often as a rookie. Opponents that have attempted to pick on Mirotic’s defense have found mixed results largely because he can sometimes move in ways that are wholly unpredictable. His is a frantic, haphazard sort of coverage that manages to catch both opponents and teammates off-guard. It’s an adventure, as is any possession in which Mirotic makes a catch with a chance to do more than catch-and-shoot. His accuracy from deep perked up last season (to 39%) and a full-time move to power forward helped to stretch the value of that shooting. Still, Mirotic’s jumper isn’t quite as trustworthy as some of the shooting bigs to make our list and his supporting game offers little in the way of an anchor. A fine player who doesn’t quite meet Top 100 standards but might soon. — RM

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Patty Mills, Spurs

With Tony Parker averaging a career-low in minutes and Cory Joseph in Toronto, Mills stepped into the largest role of his seven-year NBA career in 2015-16. The speedy Australian point guard, known for his boundless enthusiasm and quick trigger, responded by turning in a quality bounce-back campaign after shoulder surgery limited him in 2014-15. More of a one-dimensional scorer than an all-around playmaker, the 28-year-old Mills (8.5 PPG, 2.8 APG) is an efficient scoring weapon: he finishes creatively around the basket and is a trustworthy outside shooter in both off-the-dribble and catch-and-shoot situations. Although he is undersized and a bit jumpy on defense, Mills formed a strong backcourt pairing with Manu Ginobili that helped make the Spurs the NBA’s best bench unit in 2015-16. As he enters a contract year following a very strong showing at the Rio Olympics, Mills should get the opportunity to push Parker for more minutes and potentially demonstrate to outside suitors that he’s ready to captain his own ship. Not bad for the 55th pick in the 2009 draft. — BG

Nene, Rockets

Nene has essentially never been healthy since joining the NBA in 2002 and especially not since 2011. A pattern of injury has cost Nene 30% of his team’s regular season games over the past five years while capping his playing time and limiting his performance even when he was able to suit up. Such persistent absence is frustrating to Nene and his team alike—particularly when both know all that he does well. A healthy Nene is surprisingly graceful in space and punishing around the basket. His contributions were central to Washington’s sturdy defense in past years, though his slight decline and periodic unavailability also cost the Wizards a valuable piece of their infrastructure. A team can trust Nene’s game. It just can’t trust his body to hold up in a regular role over a full season, no matter what his play warrants. — RM​

Bryan R. Smith/Getty Images

Joakim Noah, Knicks

The Noah that took the court for the Bulls last season bore little resemblance to the player who garnered MVP attention and the Defensive Player of the Year award as recently as 2014. Shifted to the bench by coach Fred Hoiberg, Noah (4.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.8 APG) never found a groove, posting career lows in scoring and Player Efficiency Rating as his game seemingly fell to pieces. His Synergy Sports page reads like a truant’s report card, as he grades out “Poor” in virtually every offensive category. A skilled passer who was once a reliable finisher around the basket area, Noah was a non-threat on offense last season, struggling to finish at the rim and convert anything but the simplest of open looks. At 31, his defense impact is now behind what it was at the peak of his whirlwind powers, and he will need to prove that he can still handle pick-and-roll scenarios at a high level following two seasons that saw him miss significant time due to injuries. By signing a long-term deal with the Knicks this summer, Noah gets a welcome change of scenery and all the minutes he can handle. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear whether that opportunity will repair or do further harm to his basketball reputation. — BG

Jabari Parker, Bucks

The No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft is still waiting for his performance and impact to match his hype and name recognition. That’s no knock, as Parker (14.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG) is still just 21 and not far removed from an ACL injury that cut short his rookie season. In theory, Parker is a high-ceiling, multi-dimensional scoring threat who can pound smaller defenders in isolation, step out and face up when he’s mismatched against slow-footed bigs, and take off in transition for highlight reel plays. In reality, Parker is still getting his bearings as a go-to guy and has yet to find comfort beyond the arc. On the other end, Parker must continue to fine-tune his pick-and-roll defense and understanding of team concepts, as he ranked among the worst players at his position in Defensive Real Plus-Minus last season. Given his spot on the age curve, his physical tools, and his central role on a young Bucks team, Parker looks like an obvious breakout candidate. — BG

Tony Parker, Spurs

That old adage about small, quick guards falling off fast after they hit 30 is holding true for Parker, who just hasn’t been the same player since San Antonio’s sensational runs to the 2013 and 2014 Finals. Whereas Parker (11.9 PPG, 5.3 APG) once had takeover ability—whether by carving up defenders with slicing drives and ooh-la-la finishes or calling his own number for feathery mid-range jumpers—the Frenchman, now 34, has receded into a lower-usage role. That approach worked just fine last season, as the Spurs shifted the scoring burden to LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard and reeled off 67 wins, but it might prove problematic now that Tim Duncan has retired, Manu Ginobili is nearly 40 and San Antonio is sporting a new-look frontline. Parker’s postseason play in each of the last two years has been even more damning, as his inability to be a reliable night-to-night threat and his net-negative defense have both loomed large against younger elite point guards. With four rings and six All-Star appearances on Parker’s record, there’s no shame in noting that his best days are now quite a bit behind him. — BG

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Rajon Rondo, Bulls

There are maybe three other players in the league who can throw passes the way Rondo does and surely none who experience the game in quite the same way. Many of Rondo’s assists are impressive even in concept, taking some unusual angles, relying on heavy ball spin, or whizzing inches away from a defender at a moment of inattention. Rondo’s ability as a playmaker has never been in question. Almost everything else in his game unfortunately is. If a point guard’s purview is to shepherd an efficient offense, Rondo—due to his ball dominance and poor shooting—has largely failed most of the teams he’s played for. His teams have regularly finished near the bottom of the league in points per possession and at best tend to come in around average. The best creators in the league do better, in part because they’re willing to surrender some of their control and have the means to contribute off the ball. Rondo doesn’t fall into that camp and, to compound problems, rarely presents as much of a scoring threat. The pesky defense that once made Rondo so special has also given way to a strain of acute laziness. Rondo is capable of so much. It’s just as if he can’t be bothered to do many of the things that his team actually needs. — RM

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Derrick Rose, Knicks

Last season was a twisted mess for Rose, who despite a few impressive performances wound up submarining his team’s overall performance. The former superstar is a dangerous sort; the attributes that made Rose so effective early in his career have largely left him, yet still he operates and carries himself as if he were an MVP candidate. If Rose felt like taking a tough, pull-up jumper in the moment, he did. Whenever he felt like a moment was his, Rose would seize it by over-dribbling at the top of the floor and driving into traffic with no clear plan. Of all the players in the league to take at least 15 shots a game, only Kobe Bryant posted a lower effective field-goal percentage than Rose. He no longer gets to the free-throw line very often and last season he converted a career-low percentage of his shots within two feet. Were Rose a vital defender, maybe some of his oversteps and inefficiencies would be more tolerable. He isn’t. Defense at the point of attack was a lasting problem for the Bulls last season in part because Rose did such a poor job of keeping his man in front of him. The instincts and technique for keeping solid on the perimeter just aren’t there. Rose’s name and reputation were able to give him considerable cover last season. Yet ultimately, this was a point guard who finished 438th (!!) in ESPN’s real plus-minus because he couldn’t contribute positively to an offense nor fill passable minutes on defense. That, plainly, isn’t a Top 100 player. — RM

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Evan Turner, Blazers

What exactly is Portland getting for its $70 million off-season investment in Turner? That’s not the easiest question to answer. Turner, a former No. 2 overall pick, isn’t an alpha dog scorer, he isn’t an imposing athletic freak, he isn’t a lockdown perimeter defender, and he certainly isn’t a reliable outside shooter. At 27, he’s on his fourth team in seven seasons, he’s not a guaranteed starter, and he’s at or near his career apex despite relatively modest numbers (10.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.4 APG) and middling advanced stats. But Turner can claim to be a jack of many trades, even if he’s not necessarily a master of any. He’s a capable shot-creator and offense-initiator with good size, a willing passer, and a solid defender who has enjoyed remarkable durability throughout his career (he’s missed just seven total games in six seasons). Next season will be an interesting value test for Turner, who will need to find a way to complement Portland’s lead guards without cutting too far into their touches or shrinking the floor too much with his lack of three-point range.  — BG

David West, Warriors

The end is approaching for the 36-year-old West, who will take a second crack at ring-chasing by jumping ship from the Spurs to the Warriors this summer. A former All-Star who would fluster opponents with a physical and versatile inside-out game, West remained an effective rotation player in San Antonio even though he logged just 18 MPG and posted his lowest output in more than a decade (7.1 PPG, 4 RPG). Indeed, Golden State was smart to swoop him up, as West should earn his keep on a minimum salary by making defenses pay for leaving him open in the mid-range or for trying to defend him with undersized players on the block. Still a passable post defender overall, West can perhaps slide up to play some small ball five in a pinch. Although he wasn’t seriously considered as a Top 100 candidate due to his advancing age and limited role, West’s toughness, postseason experience, and willingness to do the dirty work represent valuable and underrated additions during a blockbuster summer for the Warriors. — BG

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