The purpose of this list is simple. These are not the 50 NBA players who will have the best numbers. Additionally, these are not the 50 players who will look best in their specific settings. These are not the 50 players who deserve the biggest contracts. Moreover, these are not the 50 players who, for this season only, are the most valuable potential components of a championship team.
They are ranked on their individual, present skill-sets and nothing else. A player being higher than another means that they are more helpful in pursuit of a championship. And we base that on which skills the NBA currently values. Plus, which weaknesses the playoffs most easily exploit.
These are the 50 best players in the NBA…
50. Blake Griffin
Why He’s Great:
There are three potential outcomes for Blake Griffin’s 2018-19 season:
- He barely plays, or plays at a level beneath his past performance.
- He plays an adequate amount of games at approximately the level he played last season in Detroit.
- He plays an adequate amount of games at approximately the level of his Clippers peak.
If he barely plays or does so at a lower level than he has previously shown, Griffin obviously doesn’t belong on this list. If he plays at the level he did last season, he is a top-50 player. He essentially averaged 20 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Pistons, is at least a league-average three-point shooter and is a passable enough defender outside of the playoff crucible.
Though Griffin fell below the 20-6-6 threshold by 0.2 points per game during his Detroit tenure, he can be given a pass considering the only two players in the NBA to cross it last season were LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. That is top-50 player material.
And of course, the player Griffin was in Los Angeles was well above that. Even on the downslope heading into the 2016-17 season, I ranked him No. 16. He was arguably a top-five player a year earlier. That odds of Griffin missing most of the season are greater than the odds of him returning to Clippers form, so that knocks Griffin down from around the higher end of the top-40 down to No. 50 overall.
But given how he played with the Pistons last year and the possibility that he could play better this year, he couldn’t be left off of this list entirely.
Why He’s Below No. 49 (Andre Drummond)
Griffin had the lowest effective field goal percentage in his career last season as well as his lowest rebounding average. His Detroit scoring average was lower than all but one of his Clippers seasons. His defense would be nightmarish in a playoff setting.
While it’s clear that Griffin is a useful player in the regular season, in his current state that likely wouldn’t translate to winning at the highest level. While Drummond may not either, there are at least archetypes he can lean on that are higher on this list like Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan and Steven Adams.
Oh, and Griffin has missed 107 games over the past four seasons. Not exactly a promising sign.