Clippers: Smith, Redick, Pierce appear in SI’s Top-100


Yesterday we looked over the ‘snubs’ of Clippers guards Lance Stephenson and Jamal Crawford from Sports Illustrated’s top-100 NBA player ranking (for what it’s worth, SI referred to their — and others’ — exclusion as snubs; not us).

Moving onto the actual list, though SI has only revealed the bottom 50 of the top 100, three Clippers players have made appearances: J.J. Redick, fresh off a career-best season, and free agent forward signings Paul Pierce and Josh Smith. As we did with Stephenson and Crawford, here is some of what the SI writers had to say about Pierce, Redick, and Smith, followed by some analysis.

Josh Smith – no. 96

"A certain amount of noise tends to follow Smith wherever he goes with most of it snark and sneering in regard to his obvious shortcomings. Smith will take certain shots he shouldn’t and throw passes out of bounds as if he were meeting some kind of turnover quota. Yet on balance he’s still the kind of player who made a good Rockets defense far better while diversifying Houston’s offense with his playmaking, finishing ability, and streaky shooting from beyond the arc (34.5% as a Rocket between the regular season and playoffs). There’s more than enough game here—punctuated by 16.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes—to warrant working through the headaches that Smith might induce. – R.M."

J.J. Redick – no. 93

"Redick just completed the best season of his career at age 30: An impressive campaign of intuitive offense and competitive defense that made him a perfect complement for stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The bulk of Redick’s work is done on the periphery. He leads his man on a full-speed chase around successive screens, if only to occupy a potential helper and buy himself an extra moment to shoot should the ball come his way. That Redick so seamlessly transitions from those curls and cuts into textbook shooting form is a testament to his preparation. Footwork and mechanics separate Redick from so many others who share his trade, enabling him to shoot 44% on three-pointers with a defender closing in and little time to spare. – R.M."

Paul Pierce – no. 71

"It seems impossible that a veteran, champion, and All-NBA mainstay would surprise anyone some 17 years into his NBA career. Yet Pierce—chock full of well-worn moves and fakes—will undoubtedly dupe defenders on a regular basis again next season. Something in his game might be so slippery as to be immortal."


Smith’s standing is fair. Like Lance Stephenson who was left out of the top-100, Smith is on show-and-prove status until further notice, which says more about his tendency to flare up and down as a player than his overall skill set, which, in a box, trumps numerous players rated above him. If he’s the player we saw in Houston in both the regular season and playoffs, he’s higher rated.

Here’s the fun argument, as it involves the always relevant, never-ending argument of taking a specialist over someone who can create his own shots (and eventual Hall of Famer); Pierce can, and while Redick can at times his contributions come from being the beneficiary of ball movement. Both players force teams to defend them on the perimeter, a positive, and both have a made long careers of making defenders pay for not respecting them for range. We as basketball fans have an affinity to lean towards the guys who remind us more of the Michael Jordan‘s and Kobe Bryant‘s of basketball than we do than those who remind us more of a Steve Kerr or random role player, though Redick is far superior to the best we’ve ever seen of Kerr. But my belief is Redick was better than Pierce last season and should be rated above the forward coming into the ’15-16 season. At least, unless there’s Pierce can enter the season continuing on as the forward we saw in the playoffs, where he averaged 14.6 points on 48-52-85 shooting splits and 4.2 rebounds per game. With Pierce, questions of how he’ll pan out defensively are the main reason why I’ll drop his rating. And father time; that’s a factor you can’t overlook, because Pierce isn’t getting any younger.

Some names I’d push Redick over going into the ’15-16 season? Isaiah Thomas (#88), Kenneth Faried (#86), Deron Williams (#83), and Ryan Anderson (#72). And in the process, would slide Pierce behind a Danilo Gallinari (#73), Tobias Harris (#78), and DeMarre Carroll (#81).

All-in-all, good list. I suspect DeAndre Jordan to make an appearance somewhere in the top-40, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to both be within the top-15, maybe top-10 with how the two played in the postseason.

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