ESPN and SI player ratings-where are the Celts?

Marcus not even on SI's top-100 list-were the voters half asleep?

I will start with my man, Marcus Smart!. ESPN lists him at #65, and SI doesn't list him at all in their top 100. Doesn't make sense, does it? Even though SI snubbed him, here is a portion of what SI's Ben Golliver had to say about Smart:

"... hard-nosed on-ball defense, an endless stream of hustle rebounds in traffic, regular doses of opportunistic passing and, yes, many aggravating flops that helped him rank fifth in charges drawn last season. Smart (10.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.6 APG) also deserves credit for finding creative ways to use his wide, strong frame to his advantage, taking undersized defenders into the post on offense and muscling up against bigger opponents on defense. The Celtics will ask more from him on both ends after a flurry of offseason moves, setting up Smart for a possible breakthrough campaign."

Now that I got that off my chest (and back to the now-shaky SI list), how about Gordon Hayward at #16, Kyrie Irving at #21, Al Horford at #30. Okay, no major arguments there. But we don't see another Celtic on the top-100 list after Al. I already made my case for Smart, but how about Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum? D'Angelo Russell is there. Patrick Patterson, Rodney Hood and Patty Mills are there.

The ESPN ratings show Gordon Hayward at #20, Kyrie Irving at #25 (five digits below Hayward) and Al Horford at #40 (10 places below the SI rating). At least ESPN put Smart on their list at #65. But I am leaving the supposedly-real world of NBA ratings and heading to the Never-Never Land of pro basketball. We are looking at Yahoo Fantasy Basketball, their ratings, and my first of many fantasy drafts.

The following numbers compare the ratings of six Celtics players by two staffers for Yahoo Fantasy Basketball:
Kyrie Irving: #17 & #11
Gordon Hayward: #24 & #29
Al Horford: #52 & #38
Jayson Tatum: #77 & #183
Marcus Smart: #108 & #90
Marcus Morris: #120 & #172

Now we are getting somewhere. I somewhat understand the two ratings of Tatum being so far apart. He is a rookie. How about Horford? He is a long-time vet. The uncertainty about Morris' availability may account for the big difference there. Generally, there is more variance in the lower rankings, even between voters from the same organization, and certainly between different organizations.

When looking at player drafts in fantasy, you really have to look solely at the veteran leagues, particulalrly those that charge an entry fee and distribute prizes. The participants are usually pretty serious fans. Mine was one of those. I picked third and was focused on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was rated at number three. I still lament the Celts taking Kelly Olynyk in the draft while Giannis was still on the board. Don't we all. Can't blame Danny. Most knew very little about Antetokounmpo. But I digress. Anyway, some creep took Giannis at number two and I got James Harden at number three. Kyrie Irving went to someone else at number eight, and I got Gordon Hayward at #22.

I was happy to pick Marcus Smart at #99 (rated #65 by ESPN), and I took Tatum at #118 and Brown at #147 (my last pick). Of course, I was breaking one of the prime rules of fantasy basketball, namely don't choose players from your home team too readily or too often. Hey, I am a long-time Celts fan and write for CelticsLife. I didn't have to reach for Gordon or Marcus, and I often go for Celts in the final rounds, so why not Tatum and Brown, my Jay-Team.

The lesson here is that ratings are arbitrary. You look at past stats, projections, injury, supporting casts, playing time, chemistry and a lot of other factors come into play. If pro basketball writers were asked for a top-ten in no particular order, there would be a lot of similarity. If asked to rate them from one to ten there would be significant disagreement. A ranking of 51-100 in order would be all over the place. That's the way it is.

My next draft is tomorrow. I like Lebron James at number one. He lost Kyrie's production, and probably will step up. I put Antetokounmpo second because he does not have a great supporting cast, and being young, he will still improve. I will stretch for Kyrie, but so will everyone else. Kawhi Leonard is always a good pick if you can get him. The next best player on the Spurs is LeMarcus Aldridge, but it gets a bit thin after that. Wish me luck tomorrow. Antetokounmpo may slide to me. You always need luck.

Photo credit: Maddie Meyers/Getty Images North America
Rankings via SI, ESPN and Yahoo