On Monday, a panel of SB Nation editors projected who the top 100 players in the NBA would be come 2017. The choices ranged from current high schoolers to present NBA players. In a way, it's encouraging to see that the general consensus is that the Bobcats managed to do well in the lottery with three selections on the list. Yet this may tells us something or nothing-- we don't really know yet. Nobody does. Still, it's fun, so let's take a look at what they said about the Bobcats that did make the list.
Near the beginning of the exercise, Tom Ziller chose Walker here. Ziller went on to say that he feels that Walker could emerge as one of the top three or four players from the 2012 and receive an All-Star selection as well. Despite being ranked just ahead of players like Otto Porter and Lance Stephenson, the rest of the panel -- including our very own Ben Swanson -- agreed, believing that he was likely ranked too low.
Mike Prada isn't sure about the All-Star nod and neither am I, but that has more to do with the quality of the league's other point guards than Walker. Given Walker's age (23) and the team's continuing improvement, Walker should keep improving as well. It's nice to not only see Walker get his due but the team get credit for making a good draft choice, too.
In short, the panel agreed that we were likely too hard on Zeller on draft night. This may be boosted by Zeller's encouraging summer league performance, but this would be an excellent thing for the Bobcats to connect on three top-100 players in three consecutive drafts. As Mike Prada noted, if he gets his jumper worked out, he could really be a tough matchup down low. Three players between 96 and 49 may not get you a championship, but it's a start, and a player ranked higher could always come along later.
In the same way the panel wondered if Walker's selection was a touch too low, they wondered if Kidd-Gilchrist's was most likely too high. Most of that is because of just how glaring his weaknesses are at this point, but as Fear the Sword's Conrad Kaczmarek points out, he doesn't turn 20 until the end of September and since he can contribute in other ways offensively, his jumper only ever needs to reach passable to justify his top-50 ranking. But as Ben pointed out, he would only be 24 years old in 2017 and not quite in his prime yet. Still, I thought that Kidd-Glichrist had a pretty good rookie season for the youngest player in the draft, so I don't think it's entirely crazy to think that he could reach this level by then.
On top of this, Kidd-Gilchrist is ranked ahead of Oklahoma City's Jeremy Lamb and New Orleans' Tyreke Evans, so he is (potentially) in good company there, while also still being younger than everybody.
Of course this list isn't any sort of a guarantee or in anyway intended to be definitive, but gives us a collective impression of the standing of players across the league right now and where they could one day be. While players have plenty of time to rise and fall in the next four years, this still gives us at least a rough idea of how people view the Bobcats' top prospects and players.
- Notably, newly signed center Al Jefferson did not make the list. This is a little surprising he is 28 years now and 32 in four years, but there are plenty of other early 30's players on the list, including big men. Likely his omission can be attributed to concerns of his playing style not aging so well, maybe his knee, and just an influx of talented big men. This isn't necessarily a slight.
- Bismack Biyombo did not make the list either, despite being very young. I'm not really surprised here. There are legitimate concerns of his offensive game ever truly developing. If someone like Joakim Noah gives his team just enough offensively to justify a starting spot on a playoff team, there are serious questions about Biyombo's ability to do the same. Otherwise, Biyombo is presently a good rebounder and defender, but still far too raw offensively to think that he can develop it enough in four years to be a top-100 player. And it's important to remember that he will be just 24 in 2017, so he won't even have reached his prime years by then.
- One of the longest-tenured Bobcats, Gerald Henderson did not make the cut either, which, again, isn't necessarily a slight. Henderson played very well last season, but other than that one year sample he was never even an average three point shooter and he continued to deal with nagging injuries. If he can continue to improve his efficiency like he has and curb his injury issues over the next couple seasons, he could very well develop into a Three and D player (A player that specializes in three point shooting and defense) that the panel feels has increasing value in today's NBA.
- I love Jeff Taylor. You love Jeff Taylor. We all love Jeff Taylor. But can you really see him as a top-100 player? Very, very few 2nd round picks ever get to be considered top-100 players and are usually lucky to get a second contract. However, I think Taylor will have a nice career in some capacity, but probably never as a top-100 player.
- Jeff Adrien: Just kidding.