Sam SpiegelmanEarlier this week, ESPN Insider projected J.R. Smith to be a top-10 shooting guard in 2013-14. Now, the site has shifted its focus onto the forwards.
Projecting the top 10 power forwards for the upcoming season, analyst Bradford Doolittle placed Carmelo Anthony in the No. 10 spot. According to Doolittle, Anthony’s 11 WARP — the first double-digit offensive efficiency total — is combated by a poor defensive effort.
“His offensive efficiency spiked with his position shift, and his acceptance of the move,” Doolitte wrote. “The downside of the tweak is Anthony’s lack of defensive acumen. His defensive rebounding was fine when he was a 3, but one position over, it doesn’t look too good. Anthony does, without a doubt, score a lot of points. Make of that what you will.”
One potential reasons for this low ranking is that Anthony, like LeBron James, spent most of their minutes at power forward last season. Anthony moved to the 4 in place of the injured Amare Stoudemire, while Iman Shumpert shifted into his normal spot at small forward.
It’s understandable, but not completely logical. On ESPN Insider’s list of small forward projections, Anthony could conceivably — and probably should — rank in the top three. Kevin Durant is a sure bet to warrant one of the first spots, but Paul Pierce is a declining star while Kawhi Leonard is continuing to get to that elite status.
Leading the rankings, of course, is LeBron , who at any positional ranking of this sort would make a strong case to be No. 1. Rounding out the top five is Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Kevin Love and Tim Duncan.
Qualms — the biggest has to be Davis, who — to my knowledge — has not shown he’s capable of being a top five forward? I think not. And understanding these rankings are based on potential, Davis was injured for much of his rookie season and he’s ranked above the likes of ‘Melo and Love and Duncan, all of whom have proven to be better players.
But back to the point of potential — is Duncan going to be a top five power forward at age 37? Despite the name recognition, he should be lower on this ranking.
Nos. 6-9 include Ryan Anderson, Kenneth Faried, Josh Smith and Serge Ibaka, all of whom warrant being on the list but still cannot convince me they are superior players to Anthony.
Perhaps Ibaka warrants a higher ranking, but I can’t argue here too much.
Harris DeckerThis is confusing to me. While I completely agreed with the rankings for shooting guard, this seems illogical. Carmelo Anthony played power forward last year and whether or not that’s the plan in ’13-’14, how can you rank guys like Josh Smith, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis above the defending scoring champion? In fact, Anthony was left off of the small forward power ranking because of his minutes at the 4 last year. He’s clearly capable of playing either position, something that the aforementioned bigs cannot. It just feels weird to rank Anthony so low at a position that he dominated in ’12-’13. With him being left off of the ’13-’14 small forward rankings, ESPN is essentially saying that Anthony is either the 19th or 20th best forward in the NBA. Can’t say I agree with that line of thinking.