Let the debates begin: the Top 100 NBA players of 2016.
SI.com is proud to offer our list of the Top 100 NBA players of 2016, an exhaustive exercise that seeks to define who will be the league's best players in the 2015-16 season.
Given the wide variety of candidates involved and the deep analytical resources available, no single, definitive criterion was used to form this list. Instead, rankings were assigned based on a fluid combination of subjective assessment and objective data, including per-game statistics and advanced measures like Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares, Real Plus-Minus, WARP, Net Rating and Synergy Sports data. This list is an earnest attempt to evaluate each player in a vacuum. As a result, future prospects beyond this season did not play a part in the ranking process, while the influence of team context was minimized to whatever extent was possible. Our sole concern was how players are likely to perform this season alone.
Injuries and injury risks are thus an inevitable component of that judgment, and chronic concerns or repetitive absences earned demerits. Past performance (postseason included) weighed heavily in our assessment, with a skew toward the recent. First-year players—including delayed rookies like Sixers center Joel Embiid—were not included for that reason, among others. A predictive quality also came into play with the anticipated improvement of certain younger players, as well as the possible decline of aging veterans. Salary was not taken into consideration, even in those instances below where a contract is mentioned. Otherwise, players were ordered based on their complete games—offense and defense both, along with everything in between.
Naturally, rounding out the top 100 included some tough calls. The list of notable omissions is dotted with players both well regarded and largely deserving, though lines ultimately had to be drawn somewhere—in many cases based on extremely minor differences. For those interested in understanding more about the ranking process and the limitations of this exercise in general, make a quick detour here.