Each year ESPN comes out with a ranking of every player in the NBA; and quite a few players that hardly play at all. In as September begins to turn into October they get started throwing out the very bottom of the barrel. Usually there is very little deliberation or discussion involving the first couple hundred players ranked. However, then around comes Kobe Bryant and the internet goes into overdrive until the eventual release of LeBron James at number one.
This year Bryant, who ranked 40th last season, will probably slide even lower as he recovers from a separated shoulder. New Orleans Pelicans fans will be interested to see where a number of players end up. How far will Jrue Holiday (68th), Omer Asik (71st), and Ryan Anderson (80th) slide down the rankings? What about Tyreke Evans (98th) and Eric Gordon (110th) moving up?
I will be focused on where the bench players rank. Many folks have harped that the Pelicans did not improve much during the off season, electing to run it back. I think far too many forget just how dire the bench situation was last season on opening night, and how much it has improved already. Let's first take a look at the Pelicans opening night lineup.
That's not good at all. Beyond the first six players the Pelicans were terribly shallow according to most folks at the beginning of the season.
Now that's much better. The difference between the seventh best player being 300th and the ninth best player being 299th should be clear to almost everyone. New Orleans is far deeper than they were last season, even before counting the expected increases in rankings for both Ajinca and Babbitt due to their solid performance (considering their roles) during the 2014-15 season.
If I had to guess Ajinca will end up around 300 this season or even higher while Babbitt will climb out of the 400's. Holiday, Asik, and Anderson will all tumble down the rankings somewhat. Gordon might not move up much at all but Tyreke Evans should find himself on an upward trajectory. Anthony Davis will remain at 3rd overall behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant.