While the main outcome of the annual ESPN NBArank is the endless fan-to-day discussion of pre-season, it serves to give a spectacle of the league trending into each season. The Lakers superstar pair, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, are high on the list, predictably, although there are a few surprises at that.
Davis came in at No. 20, 11 places lower than his ranking last season. It’s not a shock considering how much he has struggled with injury, which is a recurring trend for him. Dave McMenamin has included the following explanation for how he has outperformed his rankings this season, and of course, it depends on his health.
Davis has missed 78 of the 154 Lakers’ games in the past two seasons due to various injuries. Only with some good health and some good luck can Davis be able to and should influence the win the way he did in his first season in Los Angeles when the Lakers won it all.
While Davis’ rating wasn’t shocking, there was a bit of a surprise with LeBron. Despite the best scoring season of his career – while also struggling with injury – he is three points below LeBron in the NBA rankings. This is the given logic:
For the second time in four seasons as a Laker player, James missed the playoffs – that’s after only missing the post-season twice in his first 15 years in the league. James’s average of 30.3 points per game was unprecedented for the 19-year-old veteran, but the 26 games he lost due to various injuries and an ill-fitting roster around him made for one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
James has already redefined the concept of how long a preliminary player can last, so it would be foolish to write them off too soon, but it’s impossible to ignore that the Lakers had a negative net rating with James on the floor last season, which is reason enough to knock him out of the positions. Top five in the rankings regardless of his impressive offensive production.
Determining his net rating as the reason for dropping him three points is a bit like cherry-picking. Especially considering how well he’s doing in so many other aspects, like turning into a midfield or his ever-improving 3-point shot.
There’s probably an argument for LeBron in sixth place given the above names, but it doesn’t center around his negative net rating. But, again, this arrangement was made to encourage discussion among fans and probably shouldn’t really be considered anything other than that.
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