Top 100 of 2017, 51-60: Time for the old geezers

USA TODAY Sports

Two 30-somethings are up first in the next edition of our Top 100 NBA Players of 2017 countdown.

We already mentioned Kobe Bryant, but he's hardly the only 30-something that should still be going strong in four years. Two men who played in the NBA Finals kick off the next edition of the Top 100 of 2017.

To get to know the panelists and read about what this whole list is about, see the Top 100 of 2017 index page.


60.  Dwyane Wade

I feel like I'm taking most of the old guys! We're all aware that people in their mid- to late-30s are productive members of basketball society? (You don't have to answer that, Paul.) I hope we aren't forgetting how freaking great Wade was before the injury this season -- he had a 24 PER! He remains one of the very best players in the NBA, and he'll be 35 in 2017. I think he's still a potential All-Star at that age. Injury is, of course, a concern, but if LeBron sticks around, Wade's minutes can decrease over the next couple of seasons. -ZILLER

O'DONNELL: Wade has made 32 three-pointers over the last two seasons, combined. His athleticism is already falling, even if he was still great during the last regular season. I don't see Wade being this good unless he really improves as a shooter.

FLANNERY: If he's getting halftime injections to make it through a February game against the Magic, then we'll know he's in trouble.

TJARKS: I could see Wade having a Ron Harper-like second act in his 30's. He needs to go to the Jason Kidd school of learning how to knock down spot-up 3's, though.


59.  Tony Parker

I do worry about small-ish guards who can't shoot as they age. That may very well be Parker when he's 35 years old in 2017. I'm not about to bet against him, though.

My main defense for this pick is that Parker has always been and will always be a special player, as simpleton as that may seem. Dude posted the highest mark of his career in Win Shares per 48 minutes last season, more than doubling what's considered averaged for an NBA player. He also set career highs in assist percentage and true shooting percentage and dominated the Western Conference playoffs. Tony Parker is good. I think he'll continue to be good. -O'DONNELL

ZILLER: Hey, another older guy. Good pick!

FLANNERY: I've heard of this guy. Parker has defied all of us for so long that I have no idea what kind of player he'll be at this point, but man, what a player.

PRADA: I'm convinced he's not actually human. Robot or alien?


58.  Jimmy Butler

Everyone loves Jimmy Butler, but how much do you love him? Barring injury, he'll be a very good player wherever he plays. Not a star, perhaps, but the kind of player every team wishes they had on their team. In the new CBA environment, which will be the old CBA environment as of this list, those kind of players assume greater value as long as their contracts are in line with their performance. -FLANNERY

PRADA: Where you rank Butler depends on how you think 3/D wings like him will be valued in four years. A lot of people think those players are scarce and therefore should be valued higher. I don't deny their importance to a team, but I think being a great 3/D player is more about nurture than nature. Great point guards and pristine spacing can turn good shooters into great shooters, and a coach's scheme can also make a wing look better defensively. Will there such a huge difference in the future between Jimmy Butler and, say, Gerald Henderson if the latter ends up on a good team?

TJARKS: Gerald Henderson is a career 27 percent three-point shooter. I get what you mean though. Reggie Bullock is another example of a 3/D guy who might thrive in the right situation.

PRADA: OK, maybe not the best example. Quincy Pondexter, then.

O'DONNELL: Butler shot 42 percent from three in March and 56 (!!) percent in April. His improvement late in the season was so stark that you have to wonder if it was a fluke. But even if he's merely a good (not great) three-pointshooter, he's so athletic and great defensively that I expect him hold down this ranking at the very least. Dude gave LeBron hell in the playoffs, earned ‘Kobe Stopper' chants in the regular season and has great character and work ethic. I think he's going to be a stud.

ZILLER: I feel like I woke up one day in the 2012-13 season and was presented with the idea of Jimmy Butler as super prospect. I thought it was a dream and went back to sleep. The dream lives on!


57.  Dante Exum

Exum put his name on the map this spring with great performances at the Hoop Summit and the U19 World Championships, where he carried Australia to the semifinals. An elite athlete with great size (6'6 and 200 pounds with a 6'9 wingspan) and a good feel for the game, he's one of the most exciting shooting guard prospects to come around in awhile. The one thing I want to see is how his shooting percentages hold up over the course of a season. He'll only be 23 in 2017, so he could be at No. 57 with a bullet on this list. -TJARKS

ZILLER: Totally stoked to find out who the Hades this is.

PRADA: I enjoyed him in the Nike Hoops Summit, and we need an Australian star after Andrew Bogut's injuries slowed him down. So I'm rooting for him.

FLANNERY: I once wrote a profile of Will Blalock, who wound up playing for the Townsville Crocs in the Australian League. Thus concludes my knowledge of Aussie ballers. Also, Andrew Gaze.

KACZMAREK: I think he's got a pretty sweet name. That's pretty much all I know about him. Excited to see him play though, maybe.


56.  Andrew Harrison

I chose Harrison over other young point guards like Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. McCollum, Marcus Smart, Tyus Jones and Exum as the most likely to knock on the door of the elite PG club. Harrison's a little wild sometimes, but has great strength, size and passing instincts that will be cultivated well at Kentucky. Think of him as a better, younger version of Carter-Williams. -PRADA

O'DONNELL: He didn't look particularly good at the McDonald's practices, but that might have been a case of Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle looking like superheroes and Jabari Parker looking like a pro already.


55.  Tristan Thompson

OK, let me try to defend this one.

Tristan is a monster on the boards and averaged 13.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per 36 minutes while just 21 years old. Mike Brown has already said that Tristan is one of the top five workers that he's ever been around, and this is a coach that has spent a lot of time around Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and LeBron James. I'm not saying Tristan is as talented as those players, but if he's working that hard and is already a double-double type of player, he could certainly be close to the Top 50 in 2017, right? -KACZMAREK

ZILLER: He'll definitely be one of the top 55 big men on the Cavaliers' roster. Definitely. (No, I like Thompson and think this is a reasonable projection.)

O'DONNELL: What I like about Thompson is he kills it on the offensive glass. He had an offensive rebound rate of 13.1 percent last year, which ranked him near the league leaders. I'm not sure if he's big enough to handle holding down center when he and Anthony Bennett are paired in the frontcourt, though. Whatever: having too many solid big men is never a bad problem.

PRADA: Thompson's definitely not bad, but he belongs somewhere in the 70s or 80s. He does not belong ahead of some of the bigs in the 60 range.

FLANNERY: Too high.


54.  Chandler Parsons

Maybe I got distracted by Chandler Parsons' handsomeness and accidentally ranked him higher than he should be. But he's got fantastic size on the wing and really improved his outside shooting since his rookie season. He's a little bit older than most second year players (already 24), but I can realistically see him developing defensively and becoming that ultimate do-it-all player that isn't quite a star.

He averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists last season. Ready for the list of guys who averaged at least 15-5-3 last season? Here goes: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, David Lee, Paul George, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, and ... Chandler Parsons. -KACZMAREK

PRADA: If Parsons could improve defensively, I think he'd deserve this ranking. Not sure he will.

ZILLER: Does Chase Budinger get royalties off of Parsons' career?

FLANNERY: Playing with James Harden and Dwight Howard will do wonders for Parsons' Q rating, but 54? Yeah, I don't see it.


53.  Ty Lawson

Possibly the fastest player in the league with the ball, a kid who had a great on-court mentor (Andre Miller) and sidelines mentor (George Karl) when younger and a dude with some real basketball skills. I don't think he's an All-NBA type player -- No. 53 in the league would be 11th team All-NBA -- but he's quite good and I see no reason why he won't continue to be quite good. -ZILLER

PRADA: A little surprised he's not higher, though I don't know if there's another gear for him to reach.

O'DONNELL: The start of Lawson's career has been great, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's actually lower than this by 2017. He's so small and plays the NBA's deepest position. Plus, I wonder about how good Denver will be moving forward. Things have unraveled pretty quickly post-Masai Ujiri.

FLANNERY: Lawson is the most underrated member of the Point Guard Class of 2009, but like everyone else, I want to see how he fares with whatever the heck it is that the Nuggets are doing.

KACZMAREK: I think Lawson is another great example of an established player that got overlooked for some younger, flashier prospects. Some guys ahead of him have higher potential, but we know that Lawson is a really good player. He'd probably get more love if he wasn't overshadowed by the huge number of amazing point guards.


52.  Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter's two-year NBA career has thus far been nondescript, but that should change next season. He's no longer stuck behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in Utah, as the Jazz are ready to turn to the team over to their young front line of Kanter and Derrick Favors. There's a reason why Kanter was the No. 3 overall pick in 2011: he's huge (6' 11 and 267 pounds), moves well, hits his free throws and already has some nice moves in the low post. He has all the makings of a top 50 player with just a little more seasoning. -O'DONNELL

ZILLER: Another reason Enes Kanter was No. 3 in 2011: that draft was incredibly bad. Kanter should be pretty good, though; he's possibly better than Derrick Favors, depending on (of course) defense.

KACZMAREK: I've never really seen anything from Kanter that made me think he'd be much more than a serviceable big man. Then again, I haven't really had much reason to watch the Jazz over the past two seasons. Between Kanter and Favors, at least one of them has to break out, right?

FLANNERY: Al Jefferson calls him ‘Big Turkey', and that's all I got.

PRADA: Remember when he used to eat the equivalent of a lot of big turkeys every day.


51.  Mike Conley

The ad infinitum argument against judging young players too harshly early in their career, Conley keeps improving in small increments year after year like a modern-day Derek Harper. He'll top off eventually and settle into a fine, productive middle age. Somewhere around 51, I'll wager. -FLANNERY

KACZMAREK: This is the least sexy pick on this list, but it's accurate. Mike Conley is good.

PRADA: Conley will be 30 on opening night in 2017. At age 30, Harper was the best player on a woeful Mavericks team. I think the same could happen to Conley, so I think this is a fair ranking.

ZILLER: The question is whether he'll try to go by "Michael Conley" by 2017, or if he gave that up for good when it didn't stick in 2007.

O'DONNELL: I think we can all get behind a Michael Conley and Anthony Allen ticket for 2016.

INTRO | TOP 99 OF 2015 REVIEW | 91-100 | 81-90 | 71-80 | 61-70 | 41-50 | 31-40 | 21-30 | 11-20 | 1-10

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