The Houston Rockets excelled greatly in this year’s Washington Post ranking of The Top 100 Players entering the 2018-2019 season.
Those Rockets who made the list are:
James Harden at No. 4
Chris Paul at No. 12
Clint Capela at No. 21
Eric Gordon at No. 47
It was high time that James Harden sealed his rightful place as the fourth best player in the league. After years of fending off narratives that Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, or Anthony Davis held that spot, consequently knocking Harden down to fifth (hey, top five isn’t that bad), the reigning MVP cracked that wild card position.
The only issue that I had with his ranking, though, was who filled the top three. Typically, the top three always in discussion are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry. To me, and to a lot of NBA fans, those spots are locked and sealed, and the fourth is up for grabs. Instead, in a surprise twist, we have Davis landing in the third spot, and— wait for it— Steph Curry in the fifth spot.
Before you get upset, the reasoning is fair for dropping Steph back. He played in only 51 games last season. On the flip side, Harden and Davis played at least 72 games for their teams, put up massive numbers, and were their team’s most valuable players. Fifth is fair for someone who missed nearly half the season, and it definitely means there’s plenty of opportunity to get that third spot back.
Does The Brow have a case over The Beard? Well, yeah, but so does Harden likewise. Both had insane numbers last year, but Anthony Davis, per usual, completely dominated the defensive end. For Harden, he again put up a historic offensive season and led his team to a boat load of wins- also he was solid on defense. I believe Harden should be in front of Davis, but Davis absolutely has a case.
OK, that was my big rant of this list.
Chris Paul at No. 12 is a good pick. You can argue until you’re blue in the face if Damian Lillard deserves the spot in front of him, but he does. Lillard averaged 26.9 points and 6.6 assists per game. Chris Paul may be better on defense, but those are video game numbers. If anything, Paul being right behind Lillard is a testament to how good CP3 is to be ranked that high without the gaudy stats.
Clint Capela at No.21 might be the biggest surprise of them all- but also not really- but also, yes, a huge surprise. Capela is in the top 30 for sure, but you have to think of all the guys he beat out. In order, these are the players he’s directly in front of: Nikola Jokic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall. These are teams’ top options ranked behind him. Sheesh... I honestly don’t want to touch on what I think of this. This is something I’d love to see debated in the comments.
That aside, it’s a fun conversation to have Capela in front of Jokic. Because of their age and their position, these two guys are young talents who will be debated their entire careers.
Even though Jokic is a more versatile offensive talent, Capela is an extremely efficient scorer who plays his role better than anyone does in the league, and you can’t show numbers for that. Not to mention, Capela is a top-10 defensive talent, and Jokic is slacking on that end. Capela is better, for now, but there’s definitely no one that should be between them.
It’s great to see Eric Gordon in the top 50 at No.47. Simply knowing that this guy wasn’t close to being in this position two years ago in New Orleans says a lot about how Gordon has revitalized his career in Houston. The coaching and team personnel can take credit, yes, but it was all up to him to take over this role, and he’s nailed it. That’s it. I just want to say I’m happy for Gordon. Also, he beat out Lou Williams (No.48), and I just think that hilarious because those guys are 1A and 1B for sixth man.
What do you think of these rankings? Should Harden be in front of Steph? Did they get it right with Clint Capela? Also, did you see that Antetokounmpo and Embiid are ranked at No. 6 and 7, respectively, in front of No. 8 Russell Westbrook?