ESPN’s annual offseason tradition of driving the NBA Twittersphere absolutely bonkers with #NBARank is upon us, and The Worldwide Leader In Sports™ unveiled ranks 51-75. With it? Definitive proof that Lonzo Ball is a better basketball player than Carmelo Anthony.
Just a quick glance at the front page of ESPN’s NBA section seem to explain exactly that:
The headlines alone tell the story that needs to get out: Lonzo Ball > Melo. With or without a hoodie. In the sunshine of California or in the Mecca of Basketball™ itself. Just how much better is Lonzo than Carmelo? His brother, LaMelo, is already encroaching on snatching his own nickname from him.
As the dig gets deeper, we uncover that ESPN ranked these players as a panel this question: “‘Which player will be better in 2017-18?’ To decide, voters had to consider both the quality and the quantity of each player's contributions to his team's ability to win games.”
Scrolling down the list, which starts at the Also-Definitively-Not-As-Good-As-Lonzo-Ball rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. at No. 75, we arrive at Anthony at No. 64. How dire is that placement? It’s only one spot higher than Marcus Smart, for Pete’s sake!
The explanation provided by ESPN paints a clear picture: Carmelo Anthony is washed:
Entering his 15th season, Anthony's days as a top-50 player might be finished as he comes in 33 spots below last season's ranking. His drop is tied for the largest by anyone that finished in the top 35 a season ago. The only players in NBA history to average at least 20 points per game in each of their first 15 seasons are Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a club Anthony could join in 2017-18.
In comes Lonzo at No. 63, and an accompanying paragraph that paints a much brighter picture in contrast:
Ball is the highest-ranked rookie and it comes on the heels of a MVP summer league performance in Las Vegas. While it's dangerous to put too much stock in a handful of offseason games, it's impossible to cast aside his infectious play as simply noise. Ball averaged more assists and rebounds in summer league than Stephen Curry, John Wall, Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook did as rookies, while his 9.3 assists per game were a Las Vegas Summer League record.
Facts are facts. It’s only a matter of time until Melo isn’t even the best Melo in the NBA.