Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover released the first half of their annual ‘Top 100 NBA Players’ column on Monday morning, revealing who they believe to be the 100th-51st best players in the association. The Denver Nuggets are set to roll out a starting lineup of five players who should make this list in the 2018-19 season and two of those starters have already made the cut. Will Barton and Jamal Murray were included in Monday’s release.
Thrill was listed as the 70th best player in the league—one spot ahead of Miami’s Josh Richardson (71), and one spot behind Washington’s Dwight Howard (69). Nice.
The paragraphs that followed, which were written by Rob Mahoney, aptly described Barton as “a conduit” for “chaos” — his unpredictability serving as a double-edged sword that both helps and hurts the Nuggets. Ultimately though, the risks that Barton takes all add up to a player whose production is hard to match. As Mahoney notes, there was never any real debate as to who was the better player last year between he and Wilson Chandler. The Nuggets are poised to take another leap with the chaotic Barton in the lineup.
The Blue Arrow came in at 55—one spot ahead of Utah’s Joe Ingles (56), one spot behind Philadelphia’s Dario Saric (54), and 45 spots ahead of LA’s Lonzo Ball. Tell your friends.
The paragraphs that followed, this time penned by Ben Golliver, categorized Murray as one of those young guards in the mold of Steph Curry. With some improvement in his off the dribble shooting, particularly from deep, Golliver sees Murray as having the potential to climb into the 50/40/90 shooting club one day.
Golliver also has Murray pegged as one of the favorites for the 2019 Most Improved Player award and concluded his write up with this juicy sentence: “Aside from top pick Ben Simmons, he may have the highest ceiling of any player in the 2016 draft.”
When the full rankings are released, we can probably expect to see the rest of this Nuggets starting lineup included. Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic are certainly three of the league’s top 100 players, the only question is, where exactly will they fall?