Grantland was my favorite piece of literature to read. When I was assigned Shakespearean works in high school or ESPN was thrown in my face at home, I instead chose to read Grantland.
A featured article would come out every year (around the end of the regular season) called, Sports Guy’s Vault: NBA Trade Value (followed by the year). This list was unique because it wasn’t a boring list of the best players, but rather a list of the players that held the highest trade value. There are 4 rules that helped Bill Simmons determine who’s trade value was highest that I will employ in this article as well:
- “Salaries matter”
Would you rather be paying Dennis Smith Jr. $12 million for the next three years, or Mike Conley $130 million for the next 4?
- “Age matters”
Would you rather have Lebron James for the next five years or Anthony Davis for the next 15?
- Pretend there was no such thing as a salary cap (making any trade possible)
So if you could make any theoretical trade both sides could technically consider it.
- “Concentrate on degrees.”
If a call was made to that team, they would either hang up and throw the phone across the room, hang up and yell a profanity, hang up gently and shake their head, consider the deal, make the deal, and make the deal and celebrate. Basically, there are varying degrees to a response that dictates how legitimate the trade offer was.
For instance, I don’t think the Suns and T-Wolves would make a Devin Booker for Karl Anthony-Towns swap, but the Suns would at least sit there and think, “KAT is on the table?” while the T-Wolves would think, “No way we’re trading KAT for a one-dimensional shooting guard”. PS. this trade could end up happening (!!) because Tom Thibodeau is at the helm, overstaying his welcome like Harrison Ford in the movie industry.
I’m going to separate the players into tiers based on what kind of player they are and what kind of contract they possess. First, we’ll start off with the honorable mention and then count down to number 40.
I couldn’t really decide between the nickname “Jason Williams if he re-enacted ‘Into the Wild'” or “Jason Williams if he was the sketchy guy at Coachella.” Nonetheless, Rubio didn’t make the cut this year. Which is really unfortunate because he was the most hyped prospect to come out of Europe since Pau Gasol.
He’s patting himself on the back for not signing with the Mavs two offseasons ago.
Has anyone fallen off the map faster than Malcolm Brogdon in the past year? He’s going to go down as the most forgotten rookie of the year ever, alongside Ernie DiGregorio and Wood Sauldsberry. Technically, he got better, putting up 13-3-3 after 10-3-4 (how did that win rookie of the year?!).
This guy was gifted with Tracy McGrady athleticism and talent, yet he has the work ethic of a homeless dude. I mean does anyone look like more of an NBA player in warmups and play like a glorified Jamario Moon in the game? Also, his contract is the most untradeable in the league, 4 years $130 million remaining.
The Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies left a lot on the table. It’s almost impossible to follow the Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman movies and frankly, I don’t know why anyone tried. It had plenty of cringe-worthy scenes like when Andrew Garfield dared Flash to take the ball and then proceeded to dunk over him, leaving several cheerleaders in awe. Or when a kid got in the middle of a fight with ‘The Rhino’ even though police should have evacuated the city instead of standing 20 feet away from a fight between Spiderman and a crazy guy called the rhino who’s firing 100 bullets every 10 seconds. The movie had a lot of potential but fell short because its main character was too nerdy and didn’t have a lot of emotional substance coupled with the scenes being way too unrealistic (for a Marvel movie and that’s saying something). Andrew Wiggins has a lot of potential but in reality, he is a worse version of what he could have been.
It honestly makes me feel like a horrible person to put Mike Conley (ranks up there with J.J.Watt and Shane Battier as nice guys that also play a professional sport) in the honorable mention section. But his contract makes me question the Grizzlies management more than I question how Mike Conley is friends with both Kanye and Greg Oden at the same time. Now that’s a weird friend group…and an awful contract.
Griffin’s career has taken a nosedive. Once a dominant rebounder, he struggled to even grab 7 rebounds with Detroit. His career is a little like Adam Sandler’s comedy career, sure he made great movies like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and The Waterboy in a span of three years, but once he made Click, he started to make movies like Jack and Jill, Grown Ups, and The Ridiculous 6. Blake Griffin is washed up just like Adam Sandler’s humor (Fun fact: Blake Griffin is also a comedian).
Covington’s stock fell like Blockbuster video did once Netflix became a thing. He produced only 8 points on 32% shooting. The Sixers are looking to snag Paul George in free agency and no one should be surprised.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Just kidding. Hardaway Jr. the Knicks are hooked for three years and $54 million remaining. Maybe Tim Hardaway had some dirt on Phil Jackson’s overt racism, oh wait that was actually public news.
He didn’t make the Deron Williams trade as bad as a lot of people expected him to, but Favors has been solid in a backup role with the Utah Jazz. He’s on a lowkey bargain for the next three years.
Millsap might finally be overrated, he was expected to lead the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs, but instead, the Spurs (with Kyle Anderson as their third best player) made it in as the 8 seed. RIP underrated Paul Millsap, you will be dearly missed.
Probably wins the most underrated award. He was like the Marshmallow Mateys version of J.J. Redick’s Lucky Charms.
I really wanted to put Rozier in the top 60 but he’s going to have to prove Scary Terry isn’t a fluke.
Gary Harris would be the most underrated player in the league but was handed a 4 year $84 million contract in the Summer where everyone was overpaid $30 million.
Now let’s get started:
Where Do I Sign?
60. Otto Porter
In what world does a Trevor Ariza-lite get paid $85 million for the next 3 years. Leo Dicaprio was paid $26 million for his role in the 2016 movie, The Revenant, in which he won an Oscar for an actor in a leading role? Leo slept in animal carcasses, ate raw bison, and subsisted in subfreezing temperature. While Otto Porter shot worse from the field and barely improved as a scorer in a bigger role this season. Economically, Otto Porter should not earn the same amount of money as Leo Dicaprio did in The Revenant.
59. John Wall
For a while, Washington had something going. They had John wall signed to a bargain $19 million next year, then Ernie Grunfeld went full Ernie Grunfeld (note: never go full Ernie Grunfeld) and signed off on a 4 year $170 million contract through 2023. Wall will earn nearly $47 million in the 2022-23. Let that sink in. Wall will be the third highest paid player in the league even though, talent-wise, Wall was 11th in PER for starting point guards, 21st in true shooting percentage (lower than Reggie Jackson), and 16th in win shares per 48 minutes.
The yanny and laurel debate is something else. You’re not really sure what you’re hearing or why you’re even listening, but you keep hearing something different, first it’s yanny then it’s laurel in unsystematic order. With John Wall, you see glimpses of superstar talent, then you see obvious turmoil with Bradley Beal, and struggles down the stretch. It’s so on and off, you really never know what you’re getting. The Wizards went 15-11 without John Wall and moved the ball at a much higher rate (28.5 assists), does his case fall under the Patrick Ewing theory? Is the ‘John Wall headache’ worth Ernie Grunfeld’s time? Is the yanny and laurel debate worth our time?
Not sure what we have
58. Domantas Sabonis
Domantas has figured out his strengths, making him an extremely valuable 21-year-old.
47% of his shots came within 0-3 feet this season as compared to 28% last season. Sabonis’ 33% 3 point attempt rate fell to 5.6% this season, which led to his true shooting percentage skyrocketing to 57% (47% last season). His PER more than doubled to 17.5, win shares improved by 4, and his rebound percentage jumped 16%.
57. Taurean Prince
Demarre Carroll clone.
56. Spencer Dinwiddie
D’Angelo Russell could have had this spot. Then he lost it. Dinwiddie had fifteen 20 point games and fourteen 10 assists games. In the past three season, he had just one 20 point game and one 10 assist game. It was truly a breakout season for Dinwiddie.
I also feel like Dinwiddie’s nickname should actually be his last name. Doesn’t ‘The Dinwiddie’ sound like more of a nickname than a last name anyway?
55. Aaron Gordon
I’d put 100 bucks on the Magic screwing up this one and letting Gordon walk in free agency (probably to the Nets or the Suns).
Big Guys that Benefit from their Systems
54. Clint Capela
53. Andre Drummond
If he adds that three-point shot he displayed in that quick video on Twitter, Drummond could be the only legit defending, rebounding, jump-shooting, post-move having center playing in the NBA currently. Off the top of my head, I tried to piece together who could possibly join Drummond in this category. Karl Anthony-Towns can’t really defend, Jokic can’t defend (or really rebound), Joel Embiid is an overrated defender (Horford tore him up in the playoffs), Marc Gasol forgot how to rebound, and Anthony Davis (is a guy I should have added but I totally forgot about). Drummond could join AD as a legit defender, rebounder, jump-shooter, and an aficionado in the post, at the center position, unless that one jump shot posted on Twitter was on the 398th try (which it probably was, so don’t get your hopes up Detroit fans).
Bargain Role Players
52. Joe Ingles
Your substitute math teacher made this list. I’ve mentioned this before, but Ingles looks more likely to be Toby from the office, a substitute math teacher, or that totally forgettable college friend. It’s sort of hilarious. His game is also super awkward, reminiscent of the old guy that’s got about every move in his repertoire because he’s played in three different eras so he can do a skyhook one play and an elbow pass the next. Ingles is a guy you would love to have on your team, but hate playing against. He even shut down ‘Playoff P’ and might have solely altered the future of 2018 free agency. Ingles is a man of many hats. Plus his contract is only 3 years $39 million.
51. Eric Gordon
50. Lou Williams
If I could make a team fully comprised of players off the bench here’s what it would be: 2010 Tony Allen (best defensive and offensive season), 2007 Shane Battier (Glue guy and lockeroom guru), 2008 Eddie House (fan favorite), 2008 Brian Scalabrine (even bigger fan favorite), 2007 Manu Ginobili (best sixth man ever), 1983 Kevin McHale (why did he ever come off the bench?), 1988 Dennis Rodman (enforcer that could easily be a murderer), 2012 Brandan Wright (the ideal 14 minutes a game player), 2015 Andre Iguadola (Somehow won Finals MVP when the guy he was guarding put up 36-13-9), 1986 Vinnie Johnson (literally nicknamed The Microwave), 2011 Jason Terry (only player to outscore Lebron in the Finals), and 2011 J.J. Barea (If he’s 6 foot, I’m 7 foot). Lou Williams and Eric Gordon are on the outside looking in here.
49. Tobias Harris
Not many 25 year old borderline all-stars are traded 3 times. It could be because his defense is atrocious, he had a 110 defensive rating this past season. He played well with the Clippers, producing 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, leading the Clippers to an 18-13 record. The Pistons traded him when they realized the team was falling out of the race, when they were 22-26 and 9th in the east. They received Blake Griffin in exchange for Harris, Bradley, and the 12th pick. Honestly, at this point I would rather have Harris in a straight up trade for Griffin. Take a look at who leads in these categories:
Win Shares: Harris
True Shooting%: Harris
Offensive Rating: Harris
Defensive Rating: Harris
Advantage: Tobias Harris 5-3
Not to mention, Griffin is on the hook for the next 4 years for $134 million and Harris is on a bargain 1 year $14.8 million. If a Lambo is worth 200,000, Griffin is being paid 45 Lamborghinis more than Harris, even though half the cars are broken.
48. Josh Richardson
I could already see Richardson gaining fuel from the all-defensive team snub. He’s gonna have a “remember my name” season along the likes of post-malice at the palace Ron Artest (Metta World-War at the time), 2012 “My last team traded me for a bag of skittles and a hairy lollipop” (IE: Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb) James Harden. Richardson’s putting up 15-5-4 and making all-defensive first team for a 50 win Miami Heat team next season. Mark my words.
47. Dennis Schroder
Is Schroeder German Rajon Rondo or is he Terry Rozier on a bad team?
Rumors have surfaced that he would like to join either the Bucks or Pacers. I don’t like either of those fits, as Schroder is a ball dominant guard and joining teams that already have the likes of such, in Giannis and Oladipo, may prove as substandard fits.
Older Guys on Big Deals but are worth it
46. Kyle Lowry
45. Al Horford
44. Kevin Love
In Spiderman 3, Peter Parker discovers this black living goo and brings it his professor, who later warns him to not bring it home. Nevertheless, Peter Parker brought a sample home, allowing it to super creepily wrap around him in his sleep. Next thing you know, Peter Parker is hanging upside down on the empire state building in a black suit. It’s super cool because Parker, for the first time, sees a reflection of himself and is fully comfortable in his skin. Only, he later becomes this ignorant kid with corny dance moves and emo-hair. Kevin Love is a little like Peter Parker when he is entrapped in the venom symbiote. Peter Parker transformed into a villain, just like fat Kevin love transformed into Kevin Love on a diet. Fat Kevin Love loved the idea of himself on a diet, but once it happened the act got old real quick:
Fat Kevin Love:
Year 2 20.2 points 15.2 rebounds 88/211 3 pointers
Year 3 26.0 points 13.3 rebounds 105/282 3 pointers
Year 4 Injured
Year 5 26.1 points 12.5 rebounds 190/505 3 pointers
Kevin Love on a diet:
Year 6 16.4 points 9.7 rebounds 43.4% field goal 144/392 3 pointers
Year 7 16.0 points 9.9 rebounds 41.9% field goal 158/389 3 pointers
Year 8 19.0 points 11.0 rebounds 42.7% field goal 145/389 3 pointers
Year 9 17.6 points 9.3 rebounds 45.8 % field goal 137/330 3 pointers
Year 10 ???
First thought: fat Kevin Love was better at shooting than Kevin Love on a diet. Kevin Love on a diet, you’re good for nothing (except for getting crossed up, getting your shoulder ripped out of place, and getting shoved out of rebounding position)!
43. Demarcus Cousins
Stick with me on this one: I was a sophomore in high school, which was the peak of ignoring my parents and listening to rap music. So once Chief Keef moved into the same suburb as me and my friends, we were absolutely giddy. We couldn’t wait to meet the guy. What once sounded like a great idea, Chief Keef moving in as the neighbor; turned out to be a disaster, property value plummeted and the neighborhood was loud in more than one way (marijuana and obnoxious ATV riding). Demarcus Cousins going to New Orleans is like Chief Keef moving into the suburbs. He was in a less fortunate situation, Sacramento, but after years of that, he finally got a chance to play with a legitimate star, Anthony Davis, and rebuild his career. Cousins’ abided by the Ewing theory, injured his Achilles (basically death for a big man, especially one that uses so much agility), and proved Mirotic a better fit next to AD. To add, he’s also an unrestricted free agent this Summer. So Demarcus Cousins moving to New Orleans is like Chief Keef moving into the suburbs; it sounded like a great idea until it wasn’t.
Also, Isaiah Thomas retweeted a tweet that said, “I’m totally here for @boogiecousins and @isaiahthomas teaming up somewhere this offseason.” with a response that said, “Let’s do it lol.” This is my top rank for reunion pairings that would implode after an hour, alongside; Russ-KD, Chris Paul-Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant-Smush Parker, Kris Humphries-Khloe Kardashian, Lamar Odom-brothels.
42. Marc Gasol
He’s on the books for about $50 million for the next two years, which would be a bargain for prime Marc Gasol, but I think last year was his last year in that realm. He grabbed just 6 rebounds a game. I can honestly see why he performed worse, he played for a team that would barely win my rec league title. No seriously, this team is a collection of create-a-players in NBA 2k; Dillon Brooks, Deyonta Davis, Jamychal Green, Andrew Harrison, Marshon Brooks, Wayne Selden Jr., Jarell Martin, Ivan Rabb, Kobi Simmons, Omari Johnson, Myke Henry. Marc Gasol needs out.
41. Kemba Walker
Is Kemba a 22-5 guy on a 35 win team for the rest of his career or is there something else in the tank? He hasn’t really improved since his breakout age-25 season. Check out this:
Age 25-WS 9.9 BPM 4.0
Age 26-WS 8.1 BPM 3.6
Age 27-WS 8.5 BPM 3.2
Has Walker plateaued as a good player on a bad team or can he be a 3rd option on a championship team? Time for the Hornets to test the market and find out.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming later today for players 20-40 and even more cheesy movie references.