ESPN ranks Clippers too high in Team Exec rankings

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Our favorite time of the year has arrived: ESPN is ranking things … again.

As we know, in the summer time, ESPN creates hell and havoc by ranking the 500 best players in the NBA. This time, ESPN is continuing its tradition of ranking front offices, beginning with top executives.

At the top? Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford of the San Antonio Spurs, to no one’s surprise. Further down the list, skipping over the likes of Daryl Morey (HOU), Pat Riley (MIA), Sam Presti (OKC), and Danny Ainge (BOS), rests Clippers president Doc Rivers who is ranked 23rd out of the 30 teams in the league.

Giving what Rivers has done in his two year stint, on the surface 23 feels fine. But digging deeper, 23 may be a few spots to high. Before answering why I feel this way, let’s take a look at those ranked below Rivers in the rankings:

  • 24 – Flip Saunders/Milt Newton (Minnesota)
  • 25 – Rich Cho/Michael Jordan (Charlotte)
  • 26 – Mitch Kupchak (Los Angeles L.)
  • 27 – Tim Connely (Denver)
  • 28 – Pete D’Alessandro/Chris Mullins/Vivek Ranadive (Sacramento)
  • 29 – Phil Jackson/Steve Mills (New York)
  • 30 – Billy King/Dmitry Razumov (Brooklyn)

Without thinking extensively on the matter, of those listed, Billy King, Pete D’Alessandro, and Mitch Kupchak deserve to be lower than Rivers, if factoring in moves made this season as well as the off-season — King is the worst GM in basketball, D’Alessandro and company have made a myriad of troublesome moves hampering the Kings’ immediate ceiling, and the Lakers are still suffering from their Dwight Howard/Steve Nash deal fiascos plus a bit more.

Everyone else is arguable.

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  • Phil Jackson has done little during his tenure as team president in New York outside of trading Tyson Chandler/Raymond Felton/J.R. Smith/Iman Shumpert — his real test will come in the off-season when books are cleared and New York has room to offer max contract space.

    Tim Connely has made solid moves dating back to the off-season: acquired traded one lottery pick for two in the draft (Nurkic, Harris Jr.), traded Timofey Mozgov for two first-round picks, and dumped Arron Afflalo on the Portland Trail Blazers for a pick and several young players.

    In Charlotte, the moves haven’t been glamorous, but dating back to the acquisition of Al Jefferson, the Hornets have made several solid moves to field a playoff team for the first time in years, though the Lance Stephenson move may create some recency bias when judging the quality of this front office.

    And Flip Saunders just traded his disgruntled, eventually-leaving superstar for Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.

    All of the above are much more impressive than the best Rivers has done in LA which may be signing Darren Collison (not sure Chris Paul re-signing counts here). And when speaking on the worsts? The list goes on and on:

    By doing all of the above plus more, Rivers may have done what the other teams aren’t in the position to do: hamper his team’s championship ceiling by consistently mismanaging assets.

    Of course, the Clippers could beat the odds and break through the Western Conference en route to a championship and Rivers could be pushed somewhere between 10 and 15 — or maybe higher — and this post and ESPN conversation become a thing of the past. But for now, it’s a matter of circumstances and up to this point, actions haven’t played in Rivers’ favor, hence the 23-of-30 ranking.

    Next up on ESPN’s front office rankings? Head coaching (hint: Doc Rivers may or may not be in the top 10 =D).

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