2016-2017 Top Players: 100-91

Welcome to the first installation of the Hardwired for Sports NBA Top 100 Players for 2016-2017 list! In this project, we have collected a group of writers to determine who the best players in the NBA will be this coming season. This list will take into account age, potential, prior performances, and team changes. A short stat sheet and player analysis has also been prepared for each player on the list. The NBA season is quickly approaching and we cannot be more excited.

This list will be released 10 players at a time every 5 days.

| 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1 |

100. SG Courtney Lee, New York Knicks

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 30 TOT 29.5 .454 .378 .518 .839 2.6 1.7 1.1 0.4 0.9 1.7 9.6

A fairly steady player for his entire career, the Knicks know what they are getting in Courtney Lee. He is a solid veteran presence that is a very capable shooter from deep, hitting 38.4% for his career. He has been quite the journeyman in his career, as New York will be his seventh team in eight years. Although his numbers are not flashy, Lee’s ability to knock down the open three and play solid defense makes him an ideal fit alongside Derrick Rose. The Knicks might not be among the favorites in the East this year, but they do have an interesting lineup that should make for a fun season. -Lukas.

99. SF Chandler Parsons, Memphis Grizzlies

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 27 DAL 29.5 .492 .414 .571 .684 4.7 2.8 0.8 0.3 1.6 1.9 13.7

Since being drafted in the second round out of Florida, Parsons has proven to be a solid starter in this league. Last year, the lengthy small forward posted solid numbers while shooting an impressive 41% from behind the arc. Now on his third team, Parsons is still looking to take the next step and join a higher tier of NBA talent. Becoming a more consistent scorer and a stronger rebounder would help him tremendously, and he should get plenty of chances to do just that in Memphis. -Mike.

98. PG Derrick Rose, New York Knicks

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 27 CHI 31.8 .427 .293 .448 .793 3.4 4.7 0.7 0.2 2.7 1.3 16.4

We all know that Derrick Rose went from Rookie of the Year to MVP to getting hurt again and again and again, but where will he be this season? Well, Rose is coming off a season where he played in 66 games (his most since his MVP season in 2010-11). The combination of a fresh start in New York and playing alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis may be just what the former MVP needs to jumpstart his career. Statistically, Rose’s passing and scoring numbers were fairly solid. However, the 2015-16 Rose’s PER was 13.52, a weak number among starting point guards. If injury free, I look for Rose to be the difference between the Knicks being a force in the East and them not even making the playoffs. -Adam.

97. SF Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 19 DET 23.1 .375 .307 .428 .784 4.2 1.6 0.8 0.2 1.6 2.4 8.1

With a strong rookie year behind him, Stanley Johnson has a serious chance to become a key player for Detroit this year. Johnson’s numbers might not jump off the page, but he does it all. He is a tenacious defender and has a fearless attitude towards guarding many of the league’s stars (see James, LeBron). He will have to continue to prove himself, though, if he wants to see more minutes as the Pistons are a rising team in the East. -Evan.

96. SF Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 23 GSW 30.9 .466 .383 .531 .761 4.9 1.8 0.6 0.2 0.9 2.1 11.7

Life changed quite a bit for Harrison Barnes this offseason. He went from getting serious minutes on the best team in the Western Conference to a mediocre Dallas squad. The switch may not cater toward his collection of NBA rings, but it will increase his individual stock. Barnes now has the chance to leave the shadows of being a productive role player and come into his own as a player. I don’t foresee him making the All-Star team this year, but I believe he will transform into a go-to guy for the Mavs. Barnes is a talented athlete with great measurables, seemingly making him capable of becoming that guy for the Mavs and his 94-million-dollar deal suggests that Dallas is banking on him to be just that. However, going from the No. 4 option in Golden State to the No. 1 option simply means he will be getting the opponents #1 defender. It will be interesting to see how Harrison Barnes handles the challenges of a bigger role in a new city. -Adam.

95. SF Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 20 ORL 23.9 .473 .296 .509 .668 6.5 1.6 0.8 0.7 0.8 2.0 9.2

This third-year player for the Orlando Magic shot his name into the NBA mainstream after his impressive debut in the 2016 Dunk Contest. Although he finished second in the competition, Aaron Gordon showed off his exceptional athleticism and ability to woo crowds with high-flying dunks. His performance boosted his game after the All-Star Break, averaging 12ppg., 7.3rpg, and 2.0apg, in addition to a slew of highlight jams. Gordon also pairs his athleticism with excellent body control, allowing him to box out other bigs and sky for boards. Defensively, Gordon uses his high motor and 7ft wingspan to fight around screens and hustles to recover where he is needed. He will be in charge of guarding the likes of LeBron James, Paul George, and Kevin Durant, making his freakish athleticism absolutely necessary to keep up with the best. Gordon does lack a jump shot, making his offensive game less versatile, but that does not change the fact that he is still a key player for the Magic, and one of the most promising young talents in the league. -Aaron.

94. PG D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 19 LAL 28.2 .410 .351 .478 .737 3.4 3.3 1.2 0.2 2.5 1.8 13.2

The lefty out of The Ohio State University had the task of proving he was worthy of the second overall pick last season and he did not disappoint. Dloading had 13p/3a/3r over 28 minutes per game of action, a solid set of numbers for any rookie. His 35% clip from behind the arc can improve, but the kid is still young. Really young. Russell has loads of potential packed in his 6’5 body, and if he can reach it, that would be a scary sight for the rest of league. Here’s to that wicked potential, and the hope we never hear about that weird Nick Young thing ever again. –Mike.

93. C Clint Capela, Houston Rockets

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 21 HOU 19.1 .582 .000 .582 .379 6.4 0.6 0.8 1.2 0.8 2.5 7.0

Although Clint Capela has not necessarily put up very impressive numbers thus far in his career, he is still in a position to have a monster year.  With Dwight Howard leaving Houston, Capela will become the starter and see significantly more minutes. This will give him the chance to use his freakish athleticism to be a solid defensive presence, control the offensive glass, and capitalize on more scoring opportunities. -Evan.

92. PG Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 25 MIN 30.6 .374 .326 .427 .847 4.3 8.7 2.1 0.1 2.5 2.6 10.1

In a shooting league, Rubio is definitely an exception in regards to the league’s top point guards due to his less-than-average career field goal percentage of 36.8%. His most notable attribute is his ability to distribute the ball and keep the Timberwolves’ offense flowing. As a pass-first guard, we’ll really only see his true success through Timberwolves as a whole when his teammates are able to capitalize on the numerous offensive opportunities he will create in this upcoming season. -Zach.

91. PG Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Season Age Tm MP FG% 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2015-16 21 BOS 27.3 .348 .253 .405 .777 4.2 3.0 1.5 0.3 1.3 3.0 9.1

Marcus Smart is an interesting character for the Celtics. They are a team that are just a couple of steps away from being a real title contender, and I think that Smart could turn into a solid back court piece this season, especially if he starts to shoot the rock with some consistency. On the defensive side, he is a tenacious match-up that will certainly make the opponent work to get their shots, let alone get their points. Clearly his primary tool is his defense, but he will be one of the best bench players in the NBA this year. -Lukas.

Stay tuned for numbers 90-81 on September 12th.

Photos courtesy of Memphis Daily News, USA Today, The Sports Post, Detroit Bad Boys, Mavs.com, AZ Central, Today’s Fastbreak, Hoops Habit, Space City Scoop, Hoops Rumors, and The Big Lead. All statistics are via Basketball Reference.
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