Our friends at FiveThirtyEight have updated their ranking system. As expected, any good ranking system will show players like James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James at the top, followed by the “usual suspects” such as Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic and Anthony Davis.
The highest current Spur will surprise people who don’t read Pounding the Rock, or watch Spurs games — Jakob Poeltl, who the system ranks just above more highly regarded players such as Kyle Lowry, Jaylen Brown and Paul Millsap. Poeltl’s minutes are the third lowest of the qualifying Spurs, only ahead of Marco Belinelli and Trey Lyles, but his very high defensive ranking pulls him way up on the ladder. While this is great for Poeltl, it is telling that the Spurs’ highest ranked player is number 39 overall.
The second highest current Spur also will surprise fans who don’t watch them often, but will not surprise PtR readers. Patty Mills comes in just below Poeltl, but above players like Jamaal Murray and Pascal Siakam. Patty’s rank is especially impressive because, like Poeltl, his total minutes are much less than many of the other players ranked near him.
Somewhat surprisingly, ex-Spur Kawhi Leonard is ranked only 12th, partially because his minutes are low. Perhaps more surprisingly, ex-Spur Davis Bertans is barely below Kawhi, in 16th place — directly between all-stars Joel Embid and Nikola Jokic. Yet another reason to rue the failed Marcus Morris signing that led to Bertans’ untimely departure. (For the curious, Morris is well below Bertans in these rankings, with a 1.9 WAR compared to Bertans’ 3.3.)
I have placed the rankings of all qualifying Spurs below. The full list of all qualifying players, with an explanation of the ranking system, can be found here.
Both lists might make for interesting conversations at your New Year’s Eve party.