Blog Entry

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Posted on: August 17, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:57 pm

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.


This is the seventh segment of the Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31

Asking Boston Celtics fans and observers to rank the team's players top-to-bottom is a bit like asking a mother to rank her children. With Rajon Rondo ascending and the Big 3 maintaining, simply ranking the team's four All-Stars is a task in and of itself. That job takes on an added degree of difficulty when they face off against their competition around the league.

Three Celtics All-Stars -- Rondo and forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- made our top-30, but none made our top-20, a decision that speaks to the team's balance at the top but also the role that age has played in recent years. Once a perennial top-10 selection, Garnett has slipped a notch, although he still leads the way for the Celtics on this list. 

Without further ado, let's dig in.

30. Andre Iguodala, F, age 27, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 14.1 points, 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 44.5 FG%, 17.30 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 36, 36

After playing all but six games in his first six NBA seasons, injuries marred Iguodala’s 2010-2011 campaign, keeping him out of 15 games and limiting his minutes per game to the fewest he’s played since his rookie year. As a result, his numbers took a predictable hit pretty much across the board.  Iguodala’s reputation as a two-way player is well-earned; his size, strength, quickness and instincts are an exceedingly rare combination.

Persistent trade rumors swirled throughout the season, too, owing to Iguodala’s long-term, eight figure per year contract and his tweener franchise guy status: he’s paid to be “the man” but not quite transformative enough to pull it off. Until he is moved to a contender with an established top dog, Iguodala will continue to impress outsiders and let down those who expect him to deliver a team to playoff success.

29. Joakim Noah, C, age 26, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 52.5 FG%, 18.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 33, 32, 30

Perhaps Noah gets a friendly bump up in these rankings by virtue of playing in the vicinity of the Derrick Rose superstar glow, but he has done plenty to carve out a strong reputation for himself. It starts with doing the things most NBA players don’t like to do: crash the boards relentlessly on both ends, cover ground (while talking) on defense, hit the floor for loose balls, make the extra big-to-big pass and exercise restraint when it comes to shot selection.

Given his age, Noah should be a perennial double-double guy for the next 3-5 seasons. That, plus more than a block and a steal per game and 50+ percent shooting is excellent production from the center position.  

28. Tony Parker, G, age 29, San Antonio Spurs

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 6.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 51.9 FG%, 20.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 26, 31, 30

San Antonio’s early playoff exit might have caused you to forget that the Spurs were the league’s second most efficient offense during the regular season. Parker’s well-rounded game – basketball intelligence, shooting, decision-making, pick-and-roll skills, drive-and-kick skills, open court skills – served as the engine in that machine. The elite newer-age point guards boast size/strength combinations that Parker can’t match, but he currently inhabits a pleasant nexus between “savvy veteran” and “not yet tailing off physically”, so he gives as good as he gets against just about anyone at his position.

The Spurs will never be able to replace Tim Duncan, but they were wise to ride with Parker into the foreseeable future.

27. Paul Pierce, F, age 33, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 49.7 FG%, 19.76 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 38, 23, 22

The passing of the Eastern Conference torch from Boston to Miami went down in particularly cruel fashion, with Heat forward LeBron James unleashing a whirlwind to usher the Celtics into the past. Not being athletic enough to keep up with Miami is no real sin, though, as that label applies to 99 percent of the league. Pierce is slower, more ground-bound, less decisive and less explosive than James, but he’s still an elite producer at his position, upping his numbers in most categories last season. He can score in a variety of ways, shoots with range, gets to the line and cashes in his free throw opportunities, and is a hard-working defender.

With three years left on his contract, it’s certainly possible the Captain becomes a burden on the books. For now, he’s steady and solid as always, the same All-Star with the track record for winning, even if his team has finally been overtaken.

26. Nene Hilario, C, age 28, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 61.5%, 20.49 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 29, 23

Arguably the biggest prize in this year’s free agent crop, Nene has gotten overlooked to a degree in a crowded Denver frontcourt that always took a backseat to whatever Carmelo Anthony was doing. Now that Anthony is in the Big Apple, Nene’s uber-efficient scoring around the rim, high-energy play and overall athleticism look even better, especially if one considers what will be left of the Nuggets should he decide to find a new home.

25. Andrew Bynum, C, age 23, Los Angeles Lakers

2011 Stats: 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.4 assists, 57.4 FG%, 21.14 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 28, 22, 28

Nobody in the NBA causes more people to slap their foreheads than Bynum: he’s yet to approach his potential on the court, has a lengthy injury history and has repeatedly resorted to some of the dirtiest play seen anywhere in the modern NBA. For all his faults and immaturity, he has shown the ability to be the best center in the NBA not named Dwight Howard by simply overpowering defenders and playing over the top of them, finishing at the rim with an emphatic dunk or a soft touch. He doesn’t have ideal mobility but he is still a legit paint presence defensively, even able to control games at times. The progress he’s made in expanding his offensive repertoire gives hope for the future, as does his expressed desire to carry more of the load.

Bynum will likely see his ceiling stunted a bit by the final chapter of Kobe Bryant’s career, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being a perennial All-Star and top-10 player eventually. Only the injuries offer a legitimate roadblock to greatness.

24. Al Horford, C, age 25, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, .8 steals, 55.7%, 20.79 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 24, 24, 29

Horford is an interesting contrast with Bynum, in that he seems to have figured life out and come to terms with what he will be as an NBA player. An excellent defender whose offensive production doesn’t get enough run, Horford should be the centerpiece for the Hawks for years to come. He’s managed to improve his scoring numbers during all four seasons in the NBA while keeping his rebounding numbers near the magical double-digit mark. Horford is smart, consistent, has a winning mindset and provides zero distractions off the court. He can pass too.

At 25, he’s probably getting pretty close to his peak productivity and isn’t – and may never be -- a game-changing No. 1 option on offense.  Still, he provides stability and plenty to work around even if he is never able to carry the team out of the massive shadow cast by Joe Johnson’s contract.

23. Chris Bosh, F, age 27, Miami Heat

2011 Stats: 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 49.6 FG%, 19.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 25, 28

The planet Earth sure learned a lot about Bosh this season. Indeed, he probably faced a greater increase in scrutiny than any other NBA player, when he bounced out of Toronto to team up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in South Beach. Bosh’s game is predicated on outside/inside offensive versatility. He is equally able to knock down a jumper, get to the free throw line, finish a play above the rim and create a bit off the bounce. He’s more sinewy than beefy and that’s earned him plenty of criticism because he doesn’t hold the paint on defense and lacks a true nose for rebounding and dirty work.

Bosh wore goofy outfits, was rightfully cast as a third wheel, got tattooed, got married, and broke down crying in his first year with the Heat. Who knows what the sequel holds?

22. Rajon Rondo, G, age 25, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 47.5 FG%, 17.11 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 21, 25

Rondo may very well be the most magical point guard since Magic Johnson, his knack for fitting passes into tight spaces is uncanny and his vision is peerless. At his best, he conducts games rather than simply playing in them, weaving together his teammates in such a way that open shots result. His eye-popping wingspan is matched only by his gambler’s instinct, making Rondo an excellent on-ball and off-ball defender. Of course there’s the whole business about his shooting, which remains troublesome and limiting, but he compensates with a warrior’s spirit and a full understanding of his own limitations. He is the future.

21. Kevin Garnett, F, age 35, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 52.8 FG%, 20.67

Composite rankings (random order): 23, 21, 21

Over the past two years, a crop of younger power forwards have surpassed Garnett, whose prep-to-pros jump and heavy minutes as a franchise guy earlier in his career have taken their toll. His body doesn’t allow 82 nights of top-shelf performance a season -- it would be next to impossible to manage that at 35 -- but he’s still the most feared and hated player in the NBA. His length and understanding of positioning create endless problems for his opponents and his basketball intelligence and leadership making the game easier for his teammates. His trusty jumper has kept him an offensive force and he can be paired with all sorts of lineups – big and small – thanks to his face-up game, passing skills and mobility. While Garnett is no longer a player capable of carrying a team to a title, he’s still the last guy you want to play against.


Since: Dec 15, 2007
Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:11 am

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

So Derrick Rose has one great year and he is already top 5?  Guy choked in the playoffs.  One MVP doesn't make you top 5.  He needs a few more years at this level to be in top 5. 

Since: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: August 20, 2011 12:21 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Sounds like a disgruntal Denver fan here.

Of course he's a top 20, probably a top 10. He may not have played D for Denver, but he played better D for the Knicks, a team not known for playing defense the last few years. He rebounded, he dished out assists, and of course, he scored.

You want an all defensive top 100, Melo may not make that team but as far as an all-around talent, he's a top 10.

Sounds like a Knicks fan. You gave the perfect reason why he should not be in the top 10 all-around. You say he may not make the top 100 defensively. Well that is why he should not be in the top 10 all around. All around includes a playes defensive play. I think the 10 should be filled with players who are very good both offensively and defensively.

Since: Jun 21, 2011
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:52 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

No body on this list is better then Paul Pierce(maybe rondo but he is a liabilty scoring and points is the most important stat) Pierce is definitely a top 20 player, As far as Melo goes he is definitely a top 10 player in the league. I guaranteed someone like Chris Paul will be in the top 10 list or Deron Williams.(rightfully so) Melo has had more playoff success then both of them. So cause the nuggets sucked and the Knicks suck doenst mean Melo didn't play his part.

Since: Aug 18, 2011
Posted on: August 19, 2011 8:46 am

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Not a Denver fan, just someone that likes good basketball.  If you think Melo is a top 10, or even top 20 player, you don't know good basketball. 

To answer your question, if it was a close game against Sacramento in January, I might take Melo.  If it was a playoff game, I'd take just about anybody else.  He just doesn't show up when it counts.  He is an awful playoff performer.

Melo did not play D with the Knicks.  He also didn't pass well, or any other basketball skill except scoring.  There's always a place for guys like him in the league, because his scoring ability and talent is phenomenal, but he is not a well rounded basketball player, and he plays with no toughness or heart.  He plays for his stats, not for his team. 

Someone like that is not a top 20 player.

Since: Aug 7, 2011
Posted on: August 18, 2011 8:46 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

WOOOOOOOOOOOO....good thing theres gonna be a season..oops

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:37 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio


Melo is not top 40, let alone top 20

Sounds like a disgruntal Denver fan here.

Of course he's a top 20, probably a top 10. He may not have played D for Denver, but he played better D for the Knicks, a team not known for playing defense the last few years. He rebounded, he dished out assists, and of course, he scored.

And I'm not even a big Melo fan but the guy is a pure scorer. Who'd you prefer taking that last shot with your team doen 1 and two seconds left, Melo or Lebron?

You want an all defensive top 100, Melo may not make that team but as far as an all-around talent, he's a top 10.

Since: Aug 18, 2011
Posted on: August 18, 2011 4:17 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Whoever said that defense and toughness were irrelevant to making this list was dead on.

Melo hasn't been listed yet.  That is insane.  If you're looking at all around, Melo is not top 40, let alone top 20.  If he puts him in the top 10 I'll scream.  Great scorer, but worst defender in the league, no basketball IQ, horrible attitude, black hole on offense, chokes in the postseason, bad teammate.  This is obviously a list made from looking at Sportscenter highlights, without paying any attention to actual basketball.

Since: Aug 18, 2011
Posted on: August 18, 2011 3:33 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

what is this guy smoking ? Chris Bosh over Paul Pierce stopped reading after i saw that , little Ben has no clue about basketball !

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: August 18, 2011 2:41 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

I Agree that Bynum is overrated when he can't stay on the court long enough to help his team. Otherwise, where is Greg Oden on this list? Nene is also overrated, as some poor team will find out after paying him too much on his new contract.

Since: Feb 14, 2009
Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:28 pm

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Apparently defense and toughness have nothing to do with this list, or Nene wouldn't have cracked the top 200. If this is based solely on 2011, then Rondo belongs above Garnett. Based on career? Garnett probably breaks into the top 15 of active players.

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