In the lull of news just before NBA training camps open, ESPN has taken on the task of using its 215-person panel of experts to rank every single player in the league, and a few free agents who are still just hanging on. The project is called, fittingly, #NBArank, and it takes place over several weeks, with ESPN unveiling a few players per day in hourly updates on its website.
In #NBArank, ESPN asked its panelists "to predict the overall level of play for each player for the upcoming NBA season" on a 0-10 scale.
Through the bottom 225 players in the NBA--or nearly half the exercise--#NBArank has assessed six Orlando Magic players. Their standings are embedded in a table in this post.
It's hard to quibble with too many of these rankings--when 215 people are surveyed on one subject, their respective biases tend to balance out--but it is curious to see Kyle O'Quinn fall slightly despite a strong rookie season. The 49th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft had a productive season and outperformed everyone selected after him, and several more players picked ahead of him. But objecting to matters of decimal points in a harmless offseason ranking exercise leads one to question one's life choices, so we'll hold off on going too in-depth on that front.
It can be useful to pay less attention to the exact ranking of a given player and more to the range in which he falls. With 15 roster spots available for 30 NBA teams, a player in the 420-450 range can be said to be 15th-man material. This way of thinking can lead one to conclude that Orlando has at least four 15th-man types on its roster.
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We don't yet know where this panel will rank the top players on Orlando's roster, but one suspects that Jason Maxiell might be the next Magic player named. I'm particularly curious to see what sort of stock the panel places in Tobias Harris' great half-season in pinstripes.
Elsewhere in offseason player rankings, Sports Illustrated named Magic center Nikola Vučević, the league's second-leading rebounder in 2012/13, the league's 100th-best player; he was the only Orlando player in SI's countdown, though Arron Afflalo got a shout-out as a "notable omission."
In August, a panel of five SB Nation NBA analysts got together to predict the league's top 100 players in 2017. Vučević (69), Victor Oladipo (44), and Harris (41) represented Orlando in that countdown.