In today's episode, Rohan and Michael introduce the first 70 players on Sports Illustrated's Top 100! They explain how the list was put together, break down snubs and players they wish were higher or lower, debate which fanbase will be the most upset, and so much more.
Michael Pina: Yeah, so let's get into what we value when we were putting this list together. Because you know there are particular skill sets, there are particular roles, there are positions, there are just different player types. It's like your favorite flavor of ice cream—everyone's different, it's all wonderful, everyone loves ice cream, but I like mint chocolate chip, you like ... What's your favorite flavor of ice cream, Rohan?
Rohan Nadkarni: Oh, God.
MP: Am I really putting you on the spot here right now?
RN: I mean, if we're going like a classic flavor that's not available at a boutique shop, it's probably chocolate chip cookie dough.
MP: OK, that's a respectable answer. Yeah, that's good, so exactly. So it's just everyone has different shades of what they want. So I'll throw it to you first. Just what do you value, broadly speaking, when you're trying to put a list like this together?
RN: So obviously, the top 20 is kind of irrelevant to this discussion because at that point, you just know who's who, what they can do, etc. It really is getting toward the latter part of this list. I think what I valued was, has this player played in the last three minutes of a playoff game? Can I trust them on the floor in the last three minutes of a playoff game? What is the scope of their abilities? But a guy like Andre Drummond or LaMarcus Aldridge, at this point in their careers because of the way the league treats centers, etc., I feel like they have a very narrow scope of how you can maximize them, right? So which players can be maximized in kind of a wide range of situations? That's something I've thought about a lot since the list came out, as we have Duncan Robinson higher than Jordan Clarkson. And I think that's because Jordan Clarkson kind of needs to have the ball in his hands, he has a narrower scope of maximization than someone like Duncan Robinson, you can put him on any team in the NBA right now. And we know immediately the value he's bringing, etc. And I've seen them play in the last few minutes of a finals game. I don't want to spoil where Devin Booker is—obviously he's on the list. I don't think anyone's surprised by that. But for someone like Devin Booker, even though we're trying to isolate these guys and what they would do on their own, etc. What if he wasn't playing with Chris Paul or Deandre Ayton? I do value the fact that he's proven he can lead a team to the finals and he can put up big numbers in the finals. So when you really get down to it and you have to separate two people who are very close, that's when I look at those factors. And that's why I'm moving this guy ahead of this guy because players are so close. You have to find that one thing that gives X an edge over Y, and those are some of the things that came into play for me.
MP: Yeah, and I think that we should say that eliminating context from this exercise is one of the hardest things about it. We'll use Duncan Robinson as an example. Once again, he's so great, he's just a great shooter of course. But would he be that type of shooter in a different system where Erik Spoelstra lets Bam Adebayo—who by the way, is a super rare individual, like singular talent, in that he's a big who can set screens and play that DHO game. Like if he didn't have Bam, if he wasn't in that system with Spo, is Duncan Robinson in the top 100? Is Duncan Robinson able to showcase what he's capable of? So looking at players who were not maybe in the greatest situations and being like, OK, but if this dude wasn't behind someone, or this dude was complemented a little bit better, just what would they be able to achieve? And I found that was a really difficult part.