The Plight of Rookie Rankings

As many of you readers have surely discovered, ESPN.com is doing a series ranking every NBA player and integrating it with Twitter using the hashtag #NBArank. The countdown is now down all the way from the starting point of rank 500 to now at 181-200. They recently posed the question of where some rookies should rank on this list. What we are concerned about here at FTS is obviously their opinions on Kyrie Irving's ranking, and while they have some pretty differing opinions, they tend to agree on one thing:  They never overestimate a rookie.

When looking at the NBA Draft of past years, one of the main recurring themes is the notion of "busts." NBA writers have now become so accustomed to the notion of busts and the scorn it incites within their readers that they will spend the majority of their time not writing to be right, but writing to not be wrong. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does leave the reader with a certain sense of longing. This longing feeling is derivative from the average writer's longing to not be wrong, thereby leaving them with no choice but to hedge their opinions and hopes with disclaimers. 

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not admonishing this particular facet of sports writing. I almost always hedge my opinions with disclaimers. The reason we do this is to not be seen as another Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, or Jason Whitlock. And yet, these personalities have huge followings. Why? Because they never hedge their bets. They throw their 100% assuredness into whatever opinion pops into their heads and don't back down unless they are definitively proven wrong, (and even then they often don't, but I digress). I don't want to admonish this style regardless of my misgivings about it, because people obviously enjoy a good, strong opinion. What I am trying to do however, is to explain the reasoning behind the different opinions on Kyrie Irving's #NBArank.

The specific rankings from the five contributors to the article were as follows: Top 125, low 80s, 191, 250-350, 150-200. My personal opinion is that he should be ranked around the 90s. I can't conceive of him being any worse than the 100th best player in the NBA last season, given that he will be getting the lions' share of the possessions, and that he is almost assuredly the best player out of his draft class, regardless of that class' weakness. 

I'm not here to pick apart and poke holes into other peoples' opinions on my franchise's point guard inherent. But can you honestly say that by the end of the season, or even going into next season, that Kyrie is only the 250th best player in the league? Or even the 191st? You know who is 191st? Charlie Villanueva. I'm sorry, but there is simply no argument in my mind that Kyrie is better than Charlie Villanueva. Kyrie Irving is better than Charlie Villanueva. That is all.

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