The response to MAMBINO’s White American NBA Player Power Rankings post was stronger than we ever could have expected. Moreso than any other trivia question in the league (best foreign players, best player ever to come out of Duke University, best second round pick, etc.), finding the highest quality white American players is tougher than you can imagine.
As we got more and more feedback, we realized that the rankings not only had to be revised, but made over almost completely. Here we go:
Still, with a bullet. Now with a new 4-year deal in hand (with an opt-out after the third), the Wolves will be even more aggressive in trying to improve their team in order to convince what will then be a 27 year-old Kevin Love to try and stay. As Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio become more comfortable with their shots, I expect Love’s 25 ppg scoring average to go down, but for his assists to go up. Get used to the altitude Kev – you’re not leaving this power rankings perch any time soon.
2. Ryan “The Assassin” Anderson
OH YES. Just a week after I posted the inaugural rankings, I attended a Magic/Knicks game at MSG. Now, ignoring the fact that the 2012 Knicks couldn’t guard the Liberty, Ryan Anderson went absolutely bonkers in that game at the Garden – draining 7 for 12 three pointers and ending up with 30 points and 7 rebounds. He’s averaging 16.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, all while shooting 42% from beyond the arc. Anderson has become the second best player on this Magic roster, and one of the prime reasons why GM Otis Smith thinks his team is much better than they actually are. Besides Kevin Love and Joey Crawford, there’s no deadlier threat from a white American than Ryan Anderson right now.
3. David Lee
Not for lack of trying or a dip in numbers (still with 18.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game – both higher than his career averages), but David Lee has to take a back seat to The Assassin. If you ever watch a Warriors game, a lot of Lee’s points come from spot-up jumpers, put-backs and easy baskets. He’s a fantastic rebounder, which helps him clean up on the frequent misses from the unconscionable chuckers on his squad. However, when was the last time you saw D Lee play against your team and you left the game thinking “damn, Lee really destroyed us tonight”? In his 8-year career, I don’t think I’ve ever said that. I’ve already had 3 moments like that regarding Ryan Anderson this season.
4. JJ Redick
At that very same Knicks/Magic game, I had this conversation with a friend: “Did you ever think that JJ Redick would amount to anything in the NBA?”. He laughed, and as Redick torched the Bockers for 21 points, he responded “No. Never”.
In his first two seasons, Redick got more DNP-CDs than Renaldo Balkman, playing in only 72 games. He looked so stiff on the court, as if he was parodying his nonathletic white American brethren. He largely played in garbage time of blow-outs, thus making his numbers from those seasons somewhat unreliable. Redick looked scared every single night. It seemed like he felt what we were all thinking: “You’ll be wearing a Maccabi Tel Aviv jersey in a month”.
But something happened the last 3 seasons. Redick started playing over 22 minutes a night, in ever game. He began to shoot the ball with more confidence, playing within Stan Van Gundy’s system of inside-out ball movement instead of doing nothing but hinder it. Every year, his scoring has gone up, and staying steady with it was his famed three-point shooting.
Somehow, some way, JJ Redick regained the confidence that made him a National Player of the Year and gave him the relevance I never thought he would have. But more importantly, and what I would consider an even greater honor, he’s played his way into the White American NBA Player Power Rankings. Congrats JJ. I hate you.
5. Spencer Hawes
Though he’s been hurt the previous 5 games for the surprising 76ers, Hawes has finally started playing like his 7’1″ body would suggest he could. He’s turned into a much better rebounder and defender, doing exactly the type of things to get himself minutes from the very demanding Doug Collins.
Dropped out: Tyler Hansbrough, Kirk Hinrich, Chris Kaman
Honorable Mentions: JIMMER, Luke Ridnour, Chase Budinger, Chandler Parsons
Mentions: Gordon Hayward, Chris Anderson, Josh McRoberts, Steve Blakers, Byron Mullens, Mike Miller
Dishonorable Mentions: Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Steve Novak, Luke Walton, The Immortal Brian Cardinal, Brian Scalabrine
However, like any power rankings, there’s a world of difference between that and real-life basketball. Some teams may play hotter and some may be worse that week, but power rankings don’t always indicate which teams are most talented or capable of winning a title. They usually just point out which teams are playing best right now.
Similarly, the White American NBA starting five won’t be the same as our power rankings. In putting this team together, we had to decide the best five players that would best complement each other, rather than who was having the best season.
PG: Luke Ridnour
SG: JJ Redick
SF: Ryan Anderson
PF: Kevin Love
2nd Unit: JIMMER, Kirk Hinrich, Chase Budinger, Tyler Hansbrough, David Lee
Rounding out the 12: Chris Kaman, Chandler Parsons
I don’t think there’s a doubt about this lineup. Ridnour is the closest to a pure point that we’ll get with this squad. He can push the pace and make good decisions. Redick, Anderson and Love can all spread the floor, while Hawes can do the dirty work. The first subs off the bench would be Lee and Hansbrough, who can clean up the boards and kick to the squad’s many shooters. Hinrich can do a lot of the same things that Ridnour brings to the table, and JIMMER fills in as the JJ Barea-type with a deadly scoring punch. Kaman is on the team for big man depth, and Chandler Parsons, in the word of blog friend El Miz, is there to do a little bit of everything, as he’s shown he can do in Houston.
There you have it. Let the debate begin, again.