Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN top 100 NBA player list ranks Al Horford behind two other Celtics

John Tomase
September 18, 2018 - 10:20 am

Because we get worked up about such things for whatever reason, Sports Illustrated's list of the top 100 NBA players touched a nerve with Celtics fans by naming Al Horford the best player on the team.

ESPN disagrees.

Though it has only revealed players Nos. 31-100 as it releases its list in stages, we've already seen enough to know that not one, but two, Celtics will come out ahead of Horford this year.

ESPN's list will likely include seven Celtics. Here are the rankings we know so far:

82 --  Terry Rozier
55 -- Marcus Smart (unranked by SI)
40 -- Gordon Hayward
37 -- Jaylen Brown
34 -- Al Horford

That leaves Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum unaccounted for, but certain to make the top 30. Here's what ESPN had to say about Horford:

"Average Al" led a Boston team that was less than six minutes from the NBA Finals, and his ranking reflects the respect our panel continues to have for him. But it also reflects the diminished value of big men, and it acknowledges that Horford is already 32 and likely to play a somewhat reduced role on a loaded Celtics roster.

The ESPN list is designed to predict who will have the 2018-19 better season, whereas the SI list leans more heavily on past performance. From a futures perspective, it's hard to pick against Tatum, one of the best young players in the game, and even better, someone who has already demonstrated an ability to elevate his level of play in the postseason.

The real question will be if ESPN has the guts to rate the 20-year-old ahead of Irving.