Another week, another NBA preseason player ranking from a reputable news organization. This week, our parent company Sports Illustrated is unveiling its list of the top 100 players in the league, as compiled by SI hoops scribes Jeremy Woo, Chris Herring, and Rohan Nadkarni. So now, the question of course becomes... did the Lakers' most expensive player, whom L.A. is actively looking to trade, make the cut?
Russell Westbrook, earning $47.1 million this season on the last year of a maximum salary deal he originally signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder (read: a while ago), missed the SI top 100!
Nadkarni explained the team's reasoning in a supplemental "snubs" piece.
While Nadkarni allows that Westbrook, even on the cusp of turning 34, still has some of the core talent that made him an MVP, he has struggled to really contribute to a winning culture during his various NBA stops lately. Nadkarni notes that Westbrook's lack of scoring efficiency and his reticence to adjust his game to his declining skillset were big factors in the writers' decision to omit him from their top 100.
In a funny twist, Westbrook, listed as one of the last cuts before the list, was beaten out by at least one familiar face: No. 100 Myles Turner, the 3-and-D Indiana Pacers center who has frequently been floated as possible trade target for the Lakers in a deal to get off Westbrook's contract. ESPN's own "NBArank" list sort of insanely puts Westbrook at No. 65... one spot above Turner.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James have yet to appear on the list, meaning the Lakers' two starts have cracked the top 30. The top 30 will be released tomorrow.
Unless the Lakers' actual third-best player, Patrick Beverley, is viewed as one of the league's 30 best, it appears increasingly likely that just two Lakers will make the new top 100.