Carmelo Anthony is rightfully upset at ESPN’s latest top 100 NBA player rankings. Number 31 on the list last year, Melo is now just the 64th best player in the league, one spot above Lonzo Ball, the 63rd best player in the league.
— Carmelo Anthony (@carmeloanthony) September 12, 2017
The basketball wizards at ESPN, presumably led by Professor Trelawyney, posited that Lonzo Ball, who’s never played a minute in the NBA, is better than 10-time All-Star and bully ball legend Carmelo Anthony. It’s the height of absurdity if you take it at face value.
But these rankings aren’t about who’s the best. They’re a mechanism to stir up controversy — and what better way to do that than rate the league’s most hyped rookie since LeBron James above Carmelo Anthony?
ESPN NBARank is genius: Create subjective rankings. Watch NBA players flip out. Use flip-outs to feed 24/7 debate shows. Rinse. Repeat.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) September 13, 2017
No publicity is bad publicity.
We’re still over a month away from regular season tip off, yet here we are talking about a hypothetical comparison between a guy who’s never played in the league and one of the best players of a generation.
The NFL, for a league that only plays 16 games a year, has made pro football a damn near year-round event. You’ve got preseason, the playoffs, the Super Bowl, the NFL Combine, and the NFL Draft. No league is as lucrative as the NFL, and they realize that extending a 16-game season into a year-long cycle translates directly to money in their pockets.
The NBA, while not as profitable, is the most progressive league; and progress and money — well, they go hand in hand. It hasn’t been able to wriggle its tentacles quite as deeply into the American ethos as the NFL, but by golly, it’s trying.
Great Christmas games as usual for Christmas 2017! pic.twitter.com/KFV6L8nBXh
— NBA Stream Links (@nbastreamlinks) September 11, 2017
This offseason has been particularly juicy, from between the exits of franchise players Chris Paul and Paul George, the Isaiah Thomas-Kyrie Irving trade, and media sensation Lonzo Ball being drafted by the Lakers. Somehow, Markelle Fultz, the number one overall pick, has managed to stay out of the headlines, but that has more to do with an injury he picked up during Summer League than anything else.
The fact that we’re even talking about NBA basketball in September means that the NBA, and by extension, its broadcast partners, including ESPN (who put out these ridiculous rankings) have done a phenomenal job manufacturing hype for a season that’s still more than a month away.