Analyzing ESPN's NBA Rank Top 20

October 3, 2012

By Jonathan Gordon


Last week, ESPN presented their top 500 NBA players.  They “asked 104 experts to rate each player on a 0-10 scale, in terms of ‘the current quality of each player’.”  Taking a deeper look at the top 20 players, how do the analysts’ picks compare to rankings based on advanced NBA stats, specifically win shares per game (WS/48).

*Win shares per game is an estimate of number of wins contributed to (both offensive and defensive) for 48 minutes of playing.




Kobe Bryant (LAL) - Bryant comes in 6th in the ESPN rankings, however is not in the top 20 for win shares per game.  Undoubtedly a popular icon and one of the best in the last decade, Bryant’s stock has continually dropped in the last three years.  After finishing with the 7th best WS/48 in 2010, Bryant has dropped out of the top 20 the last two seasons.


Russell Westbrook (OKC) - On the heels of a playoff run, Westbrook is vastly overrated at an ESPN ranking of 9.  Due to his high scoring ability, Westbrook is fun to watch and easy to applaud.   However, his attempts/game is often selfishly high and he has not ranked in the top 20 of WS/48 in any of the last three seasons.


Rajon Rondo (BOS) - A more complete version of Westbrook, however still overrated.  Despite having an ESPN ranking of 12, Rondo was not in the top 20 of WS/48.


Carmelo Anthony (NYK) - ESPN ranking of 17.  No top-20 WS/48 finish in the last three years.  2012 WS/48 ranking in the 50s.


Chris Bosh (MIA) - Sharing duties with Lebron and Wade, Bosh has seen his contribution dwindle.  Not found in the top 20 WS/48, Bosh still pulled in an ESPN ranking of 18.


Steve Nash (LAL) - ESPN ranking 19.  Flashy, unselfish, yet past his prime.  WS/48 nowhere near top 20.


LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) - ESPN ranking 20.  WS/48 ranking in the 40s.





The following players were ranked in the top 20 of WS/48, however not found in the top 20 ESPN rankings.  Players listed below, followed by their WS/48 ranking.


Tyson Chandler (NYK) - 8
Ryan Anderson (ORL) -
Carloz Boozer
(CHI) - 11
Ersan Ilyasova (MIL) - 12
Paul Millsap (UTA) - 15
Kevin Garnett (BOS) –




Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol both finished 2010 and 2011 in the top 5 of WS/48.  Howard finished 3rd and 4th, while Gasol finished 5th both years.  Last year, however, Howard only finished with the 16th best rating, while Gasol was nowhere near the top 20.  Howard battled back injuries, trade rumors, and a conflicting front office.  Gasol struggled on the court as he spent all season emotionally worrying about trade rumors, management, and fans.  With a new season, how will these two respond?  Will they revert back to their top 5 finishes or will their downfall continue?  Even more so, how will these two handle being on the same team?