NBA Expert Composite Rankings Roundtable + Bonus Chart

NBA Expert Composite Rankings Roundtable + Bonus Chart

This article is part of our NBA Draft Kit series.

Earlier in the week, the RotoWire NBA crew revealed its 2021-22 Expert Composite Rankings. After some time to check out everyone's rankings, the group participated in a roundtable discussion about the exercise.

In addition, at the bottom of this article is an extra rankings chart. It features each player's highest and lowest ranking, plus a variance score from all five participants' rankings. That can be read as how much, or low little, confidence the group has in that player.

1. This season we introduced a new ranking method -- picking players in a "who would you rather draft" format rather than adjusting players up and down a list. Which do you prefer?

Nick: In terms of the process itself, compiling the rankings with a "Player vs. Player" format was definitely easier than manually dragging them around in a spreadsheet. But at the same time, I would prefer to see my rankings in real time and be able to overrule what the computer spits out. 

Ken: While I enjoyed the exercise, the results have some odd outliers.  I would not rank LeBron in my Top 12 and Lillard should be a higher pick. I prefer the traditional method.

Gabe: I like the "who would you rather draft?" format because it simulates what it's like to be on the clock, where often enough we are torn between two players and forced to go with our gut.

Alex: I certainly enjoyed this method more. It was engaging, challenging and fun. However, it

Earlier in the week, the RotoWire NBA crew revealed its 2021-22 Expert Composite Rankings. After some time to check out everyone's rankings, the group participated in a roundtable discussion about the exercise.

In addition, at the bottom of this article is an extra rankings chart. It features each player's highest and lowest ranking, plus a variance score from all five participants' rankings. That can be read as how much, or low little, confidence the group has in that player.

1. This season we introduced a new ranking method -- picking players in a "who would you rather draft" format rather than adjusting players up and down a list. Which do you prefer?

Nick: In terms of the process itself, compiling the rankings with a "Player vs. Player" format was definitely easier than manually dragging them around in a spreadsheet. But at the same time, I would prefer to see my rankings in real time and be able to overrule what the computer spits out. 

Ken: While I enjoyed the exercise, the results have some odd outliers.  I would not rank LeBron in my Top 12 and Lillard should be a higher pick. I prefer the traditional method.

Gabe: I like the "who would you rather draft?" format because it simulates what it's like to be on the clock, where often enough we are torn between two players and forced to go with our gut.

Alex: I certainly enjoyed this method more. It was engaging, challenging and fun. However, it does produce some results that don't feel correct. I think a mix of "Player vs. Player" and then adjusting after that seems like the way to get the best results.

James: I thought it was an interesting alternative. I am so used to ranking players by moving them up and down a list that it's second nature to me, but I didn't mind switching it up.

2. With these essentially being "blind" rankings, who are some players whose rank surprised you in your own rankings?

Nick: I'm a longtime Robert Covington believer, but he came out a bit higher (52) than I expected. I was nearly a full round higher on him than his next-highest rank of 61. Conversely, Kyle Lowry came out lower (64) than I expected. Factoring in age and change of scenery, I do think Lowry takes a step back this season, but I have him roughly 16 spots lower than the composite number, which would obviously be even lower if it weren't for my rank.

Ken: I'm surprised I'm so negative on LaMelo Ball.  Typical cranky old man thinking, which I need to change. He has a ton of room for improvement over his rookie season.

Gabe: I'm surprised my rankings for Julius Randle (25) and Jrue Holiday (36) weren't reversed.

Alex: I feel like I'm the world's leading source of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hype, but I had him ranked the lowest (30) out of everybody. My ranks for OG Anunoby (80) and Tyrese Haliburton (77) are also significantly too low. 

James: Given that I submitted mine roughly two weeks ago, there are already so many things I'd change just by glancing. I think KAT is firmly 3rd or 4th for me now, but he was 6th in this iteration. I had LeBron higher (13th) than I'd have him now after getting a chance to battle test my rankings in a few NFBKC drafts. There weren't that many glaring surprises, which means the ranking method worked pretty well.

3. What are some surprising average ranks? Players you think the group may collectively be too high or too low on.

Nick: Collectively, I think we're just a tad high on LeBron James (12.4). I have him at 15, so it's not like I think he's a third-round value, but LeBron returning first-round value feels like an absolute best-case scenario at this stage of his career. We're probably a bit high on Joel Embiid, as well -- James' rank of 20th is probably more in line of where I would predict he finishes in total value. Obviously, the upside is there, but he carries significant health-related question marks. We may be a bit too high on Miles Bridges, who garnered a pair of top-55 ranks. The way he finished last season can't be ignored, but if P.J. Washington, Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre are healthy, it'll be tough for Bridges to reach those heights again.

Ken: We might be a bit too high on Karl Anthony-Towns.  After four seasons of rarely missing a game, he had a rough two-year span.  Were the absences freak issues that won't happen again, or has playing for a perennial loser softened his will to play? Two years ago he fought wrist and knee injuries. Last year he missed a bunch of games due to COVID-19 protocols. And his field goal percentage has been on a four-year slide.

Gabe: I think collectively we slept on Christian Wood (40.6) and probably overrated Fred VanVleet (19.6).

Alex: I'm surprised at how measured we were when it comes to Robert Williams (67). He's going in the 40s, if not the 30s, in some drafts. There are a lot of questions surrounding his workload and health, but clearly the upside is immense. Isaiah Stewart (86.6) is also someone that I think we all like but have muted expectations for compared to the extreme optimists. Good luck drafting him after the sixth round.

James: Obviously I think the group is too high on Julius Randle, as I'm the big outlier on him. I just think last year was a clear career year for him that he won't be able to repeat. I think the group is too high on Domantas Sabonis, as I just don't think Rick Carlisle will let him post up enough to justify the cost of a center who doesn't block shots going in the second round of drafts. The group is too low on Michael Porter Jr., Jalen Green, Jaden McDaniels and Ivica Zubac.

4. The following players had at least one ranking outside the Top 100 and at least one ranking inside the Top 60: Robert Covington, Ben Simmons, Chris Boucher, Buddy Hield, Jusuf Nurkic, Jalen Green, Jonathan Isaac, De'Andre Hunter. Who is the most surprising player on this list?

Nick: It's probably Covington. Most of the other names have some well-known risk factors, whereas Covington's defensive production gives him such a high floor in fantasy basketball. He was really struggling for much of last season but still finished inside the top 40 in total value (8-cat). 

Ken: I can see why those players have a wide array of opinions.  Covington is the safest bet amongst that gang. He'll get crazy minutes in Portland and continue to snag 3's and Stocks. Somehow I'm the one with Covington in the 100's, which is a complete mistake on my part. He's another example of why I prefer the traditional method.

Gabe: Surprisingly optimistic: Isaac (who I ranked 59) and Hunter (60). Surprisingly pessimistic: Covington (109).

Alex: First, I think this is a great list of polarizing players. Debating these guys could be a whole article. But, I digress. I'm just a Covington guy. Give me Covington before pick 75 every year. He always reaches that value as a steals and blocks monster. If you play in NFBKC leagues, especially two-center ones, he's even more valuable since he qualifies as a center. I'd rather jump the gun than be late in that format.

James: I'm surprised Jonathan Isaac got ranked inside the top 60. He's without a timetable for game action, his workload will be managed when he does come back, and he's a decent bet to get hurt again. I'm always running away from players like this.

5. We had nine players earn at least one ranking in the Top 5: Jokic, Harden, Curry, Giannis, Doncic, Towns, Durant, Lillard. If forced to kick one player out of that group, who are you choosing?

Nick: Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kevin Durant, but I'll go with Giannis. This is a really tough question, and I wouldn't have an issue with taking Giannis in the top-five, but his free throw shooting makes his path to finishing that high in eight-category leagues really difficult. Durant's health/load management concerns are also a major factor, but if those turn out to be overblown, he could cruise to a top-five finish. 

Ken: Towns is probably the first guy I'm kicking out, for the reasons I explain above. I'd probably bump out KD next, due to injury risk.

Gabe: Hindsight, maybe Giannis? The fact that his knee is still bothering him is not ideal.

Alex: Durant. Obviously, his upside is through the roof. But I just have a hard time dealing with his recent injury history combined with his age and height. If I had to win one single basketball game, I'd pick Durant, but I don't trust him to play more than 65 games this season.

James: Damian Lillard. He started to wear down in the Olympics, and he's the most likely of those players to show signs of not being in his absolute prime anymore. 

PlayerLOWESTHIGHESTVARIANCE
Nikola Jokic110
Stephen Curry420.5
James Harden320.2
Giannis Antetokounmpo835.2
Kevin Durant1047.7
Karl-Anthony Towns943.3
Luka Doncic842.2
Damian Lillard1159.2
Trae Young1579.8
Paul George1579.7
Jayson Tatum1273.3
LeBron James1586.8
Anthony Davis18910.3
Joel Embiid201113.8
Bradley Beal16114.3
Fred VanVleet291334.3
Zach LaVine351467.7
Bam Adebayo22159.3
Julius Randle5616250.8
Domantas Sabonis331650.3
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander301630
LaMelo Ball4617135.7
Zion Williamson381758.7
Jaylen Brown301827.8
Nikola Vucevic461996.3
Michael Porter391956.7
Brandon Ingram342040.2
Rudy Gobert5021128.3
Devin Booker332123.3
Jimmy Butler322124.7
Kyrie Irving (pre-vaccine stuff)7023357.3
John Collins422455.2
Russell Westbrook6125170
Donovan Mitchell402533.8
De'Aaron Fox32257.2
Myles Turner502692.7
Khris Middleton482681.7
Pascal Siakam452740.8
Jrue Holiday422729.7
Tobias Harris482863.5
Christian Wood473044.3
Clint Capela6131117
Chris Paul443227.2
Deandre Ayton553366.3
Dejounte Murray6834218.8
CJ McCollum523455.7
Ja Morant513547.8
Malcolm Brogdon563758.3
Kyle Lowry6438101.3
Tyrese Haliburton7739211.7
Lonzo Ball7039157.2
OG Anunoby8040414.3
Robert Williams7741221.5
Caris LeVert8743287.8
Draymond Green8544250.7
Jaren Jackson654482.3
Richaun Holmes584440.7
Miles Bridges9247427.7
Mikal Bridges9247377.3
Kristaps Porzingis7448110.5
Anthony Edwards695048.2
DeMar DeRozan685058.2
Kevin Porter9851366.7
Robert Covington10952497.7
Terry Rozier675239.5
Ben Simmons11053846.7
Mike Conley8653204.2
Chris Boucher10254360.8
Cade Cunningham755465.7
Jonas Valanciunas655513.2
Buddy Hield10856435.2
Darius Garland675626.8
Jusuf Nurkic10457360
Collin Sexton805781.2
Jerami Grant725826.8
Jonathan Isaac176592015.3
Jalen Green10759470.8
De'Andre Hunter13660789.8
Jarrett Allen886099.7
Marcus Smart11262363.3
P.J. Washington10563298.8
Derrick White10463231.3
Gordon Hayward8863101.7
Keldon Johnson866391.7
Spencer Dinwiddie9264104.2
Harrison Barnes10069127.7
Devonte' Graham9870162.7
Andrew Wiggins937066.7
D'Angelo Russell10673172.7
Dillon Brooks10273142.7
Reggie Jackson14474821.2
Malik Beasley12575379
Isaiah Stewart977570.3
Bogdan Bogdanovic867520.8
Daniel Theis14076693.8
Jae'Sean Tate160771072.5
Kawhi Leonard198782300.2
Norman Powell11178183.2
Jordan Clarkson12281269
Nerlens Noel13382369.2
Brook Lopez998348.7
Evan Mobley14184471.3
Bojan Bogdanovic12984351.7
Kelly Oubre12784313.5
Kemba Walker11385133.3
Chuma Okeke14686609.7
Saddiq Bey13487357.5
Nickeil Alexander-Walker14288510.3
Ivica Zubac13188348.7
Al Horford13789434.3
Jakob Poeltl12289148.5
RJ Barrett11690141.8
Kelly Olynyk15791758
Kyle Anderson12091130.7
Wendell Carter1099155.7
Seth Curry13392388.3
Patrick Williams15593502.2
Will Barton12093106.7
Khem Birch14794487.7
Dennis Schroder12394107.2
Maxi Kleber14795419.2
Tim Hardaway12195338
Jalen Suggs1069520.3
Kevin Huerter12796144.7
Monte Morris17597824.5
Luguentz Dort12297312.5
Mitchell Robinson14398438
Daniel Gafford15299390.2
Aaron Gordon12099109.3
Tyler Herro119101162
Joe Ingles1861021045.8
T.J. Warren149102369.5
Thaddeus Young13110594.3
Larry Nance12610569.3
Lauri Markkanen160106454.7
Evan Fournier144108324.3
Jaden McDaniels145109196.3
Dorian Finney-Smith149110343.5
Royce O'Neale170111508.7
Thomas Bryant163113343.7
Terrence Ross170116561
Aleksej Pokusevski183117690.8
Steven Adams167118302.7
Cameron Johnson162120882
Talen Horton-Tucker168122318.7
Josh Hart162125684.5
Derrick Rose150125104.7
Rui Hachimura1771261300.5
Jae Crowder198127721.7
Cam Reddish163127648
Donte DiVincenzo1811281404.5
Markelle Fultz179128468.3
Nicolas Batum153129102.3
Andre Drummond15513084.7
Klay Thompson148131144.5
Goran Dragic156132288
Joe Harris14013324.5
Gary Trent13913412.5
Kyle Kuzma152135144.5
Duncan Robinson14513550
Isaiah Roby189136406.3
Marcus Morris161137288
Kevin Love192138630
Coby White178138800
Isaac Okoro199141613.8
Doug McDermott15014140.5
Eric Bledsoe14914412.5
Mason Plumlee15814672
Cole Anthony172147312.5
Kenyon Martin184148648
Danilo Gallinari1961491104.5
Darius Bazley187151648
Blake Griffin15915132
Matisse Thybulle180154338
De'Anthony Melton174157144.5
Brandon Clarke179158220.5
Jalen Brunson180159220.5
Josh Richardson16716118
John Wall17416450
Davis Bertans1661642
Ricky Rubio197165512
Kira Lewis188168200
Derrick Jones190169220.5
Scottie Barnes18216984.5
Devin Vassell18517198
Danuel House1731712
Killian Hayes196172288
Mo Bamba18417360.5
Justin Holiday18717572
Malachi Flynn18117612.5
T.J. McConnell199178220.5
Otto Porter18818218
Marvin Bagley19218340.5
Bobby Portis19118518
Nemanja Bjelica1911892
Victor Oladipo20019050
Jamal Murray1971938
Danny Green1951932
Franz Wagner20019418
Rudy Gay1971944.5

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Gabriel Allen
Gabriel Allen is a tennis professional and freelance journalist whose work has been published in the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated, among other places.
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
Ken
An early RotoWire contributor from the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Ken is a two-time FSWA award winner and a co-host on the RW NBA Podcast. He's also the 2016 Champion of the prestigious RW NBA Keeper League and the 2019 Champion of the RW NFL Ottoneu Keeper League. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.
Nick Whalen
Now in his 10th year with the company, Nick is RotoWire's Senior Media Analyst, a position he took on after several years as the Head of Basketball Content. A two-time FSWA award winner, Nick co-hosts RotoWire's flagship show on Sirius XM alongside Jeff Erickson. He also co-hosts RotoWire's Football and Basketball podcasts. You can catch Nick's NBA and NFL analysis on VSiN and DraftKings, as well as RotoWire's various social and video channels. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @wha1en.
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