ESPN’s yearly ranking of the top 100 NBA players, known as NBArank, was released this week in three distinct parts. The Dallas Mavericks featured three players on the list, in Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Grant Williams.
The methodology for this ranking is a bit odd; these days they ask nearly 150 reporters and analysts, editors, and producers to vote on player vs. player setups with the intent of answering which player would have a better 2023-24 season.
When taking a look at the total number of players by team, there are some oddities, like the Knicks having six different players, but none in the top thirty. The Blazers also somehow have five players on the list despite their projection to be a lottery team this year. The Mavericks ended up in a similar spot as the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Miami Heat with just three representatives each.
Grant Willliams moves up the list from 99 in 2022 to 97 in 2023. Voters finding his value unchanged is a bit interesting, considering how his role or at least his contributions, could change drastically compared to his time in Boston. He was the key off-season signing for the Mavericks and has a lot of opportunity to show increased value this season.
Kyrie Irving fell one spot, from 33 to 34, which is essentially unchanged from one season to the next. While many fans view this sort of ranking as disrespectful to a NBA All-Star starter, his recent unreliability for a variety of reasons plays into the rating. But that he remains unchanged is also a hedge in that voters clearly believe in his talent and what he could bring to the Mavericks for a full season.
Luka Doncic fell from 3 to 4, which much like Kyrie, is a bit of a hedge. I actually expected voters would punish Doncic more for the team’s fall. Voters moved league MVP Joel Embiid ahead of Doncic to three, but the write-up chooses to focus more on Embiid’s scoring ability rather than the fact that he was voted the best player in the league.
Overall, this ranking tracks with what we know about the Mavericks when discussing them colloquially. They have one of the best players in the league, an incredibly talented wildcard, and a cast of role players. Hopefully, other Dallas players make the case with their play this year that they should be on the list in 2024-25.