Sports Illustrated released their annual NBA Top 100 list for the 2016-2017 season. The countdown, produced by Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney, features four players from the Toronto Raptors as well as a few Canadians.
One notable snub was Raptor’s guard Corey Joseph, who was given an honourable mention in the report but failed to crack the top 100. Joseph joins Derrick Rose, Tony Allen, Evan Turner and Jabari Parker in the group of notable players who didn’t make the cut. The article notes that Joseph “is pesky enough to harass opposing ball-handlers, committed enough to switch on to bigger players, and unselfish enough to play alongside high-usage lead options without batting an eyelash.”
The lowest player on the list with Canadian affiliations is Bismack Biyombo at the 91 spot. Biyombo had an incredibly strong season with the Raptors last year as they made their way to the Eastern Conference Finals and the big man translated that success into a huge contract with the Orlando Magic. Biyombo averaged 5.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game last season in a backup role with the Raps, but really shined on the defensive side, helping Toronto’s defensive efficiency rating improved almost four points, jumping to #11 in the league last year.
Toronto shooting forward DeMarre Carroll landed at the 73 spot, despite coming off an injury plagued season. Carroll still averaged 11 points and 4.7 rebounds per game over 26 games and was on the sidelines for three months before coming back for playoffs.
— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) September 12, 2016
Carroll never got the chance to really click with the rest of his team, but despite all this Sports Illustrated remains optimistic about the return of a healthy Carroll, and the 30-year old even jumped up eight spots this year from the 81 spot.
Andrew Wiggins ranked in at the 67 spot, a major jump up from last year’s 91 ranking. Despite that, SI notes that Wiggins has been heavily criticized during his short time in the league, with his Minnesota squad struggling to find success despite having a young core of talent. The Thornhill, Ontario native still averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game last year, and has yet to have a coach to put everything in place for the Wolves. Hopefully Tom Thibodeau can organize things in Minnesota and help the young team achieve some success this year, and Wiggins can take his game to next level and continue in his role as a reliable scorer.
Raptor’s centre Jonas Valanciunas climbed to the 62 spot, up from 77 last year, and is expected to have an even bigger role this year. The big Lithuanian is a scoring monster, finishing with a high percantage around the rim while adding 12.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, and using his size and strength to overmatch non-traditional centres.
— Jonas Valanciunas (@JValanciunas) May 28, 2016
The guys at SI believe this year could be the Year of the Jonas, featuring the big man in a bigger role offensively with the departure of Biyombo and no real depth at centre.
— Tristan Thompson (@RealTristan13) August 26, 2016
Tristan Thompson was the highest ranked Canadian on the list, making his way up to the 52 spot. Thompson helped the Cleveland Cavaliers take home the 2016 NBA Championship, and was a star in his role with the Cavs. Thompson averaged 7.8 points and 9 rebounds per game, but really shines in fulfilling the role LeBron James laid out for him. Thompson bought in to the game plan James pitched to him, and it payed off for both parties in the end.
We have finally made our way up the list to Toronto’s dynamic duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. We did not have to climb very far from Thompson’s 52 spot though, to arrive at DeMar DeRozan, who landed at the 46 spot.
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) September 16, 2016
DeRozan was clearly sour about the low ranking, considering he was driving force in leading the Raptors to a Final Four appearance in a very competitive NBA. However, Sports Illustrated brings up valid points that until DeMar has really taking his role on the team to its peak until he can improve on his shooting range and defence. Regardless, DeRozan is coming off a stellar year (and got paid for it) and looks to carry Toronto’s momentum into another successful year, and if fans remember, DeMar has been ignored earlier in his career and will look to use this as fuel heading into the 2016-2017 campaign.
Don't worry, I got us…
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 29, 2010
Kyle Lowry soared up to the 14 spot, fresh off his success with Team USA at the Rio Olympics, and hopefully will translate this acknowledgement into another successful season with the Raps. Lowry made a huge jump from last year’s 34 spot, after a season which saw him average a tremendous 21.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.