A little over halfway through ESPN’s rankings of the top 500 NBA players, and the Cavaliers have been represented 4 times, though mostly in the top of the bottom half (unsure if this is a good thing) with Cleveland rookie Carrick Felix being the only one falling lower than 315 (Sergey Karasev, another rookie, finds himself in the #314 spot) , taking the #472 position.
How any more Cavaliers will find places in the top 225 players left to be announced? We’ll start from the bottom (no Drake reference intended) and work our way up.
The highest ranked Cav thus far is Alonzo Gee, who is holding onto the #241 spot. An argument can be made for Earl Clark in the top 200, averaging 7.3 points and 5.5 boards last season, stats better than those of the next-highest ranked forward Chuck Hayes, who averaged a mere 3 and 4 last year. Jarrett Jack and Tristan Thompson will probably crack the top 200.
The combo-guard Jack averaged 13 points to go with 5.6 assists last season with the Warriors, and should see this mark stay the same, if not improve, next season. Thompson was a half a board away from averaging a double-double, and though Varejao is back and Andrew Bynum is new to the roster, Tristan’s (hopefully) improved shooting should make him a more dynamic (and better free-throw shooting) forward with the ability to hit the 15-footer.
Dion Waiters, who averaged almost 15 a game last season, should be the next Cleveland Cavalier represented in the top 200, probably in the top 150-100 range. He can only improve, and he should become a better defender under Mike Brown. An improvement in shot selection will only come with maturity and good coaching.
This is where Anthony Bennett might find himself as well. He might fall into the top 100 by being the number one pick, and his abilities do have the potential to make this a reality. All Bennett needs to do is prove himself. I bet he makes the top 50 in the next year or two.
Varejao should easily crack the top 100; he led the league in rebounding before succumbing to injury less than halfway through the season. His jumper improves every year
and his tenacity is always at 100%.
Andrew Bynum, who hasn’t payed a minute since the 2011-2012 postseason, has should be included in the top 100 merely off of the potential he has as a dominating NBA center, but his injuries might keep him out of the top 100. Once Bynum dresses out, though, he will make his way back into the top 5 centers in the league with the likes of Brook Lopez and Al Horford. A very optimistic view of Bynum might even have him competing with Marc Gasol, who some thought was the playoff MVP this past postseason.
Obviously Kyrie Irving will be in the top 20, but exactly where?
SI.com has Irving ranked at number 20, but I think he will fall around 15. Kyrie’s impressive offseason and constant maturity in the game will make Irving very special next year, specially with added talent surrounding him. Its really a toss-up between him and Stephen Curry, who has the SI.com number 15 ranking, as to who is the better young point guard. They both have their own distinctive, exceptional traits, and both have the ability to take over a game. I think Kyrie Irving is just as superb, if not better than the aging Dirk Nowitizki who shows up at 16 on this list.