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Top 100 of 2017, 91-100: A time for taking flyers

Our first batch of the Top 100 NBA Players of 2017 countdown includes several unproven youngsters, much like the rest of this list!

Andy Lyons

We begin our countdown of the Top 100 NBA players of 2017 with a bunch of youngsters that everyone felt guilty about not picking earlier in the countdown. Also mixed in: a couple established pros and one player that is just now getting his learner's permit.

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

100.  DeAndre Jordan

He'll be 29 years old in 2017-18 and I doubt he'll be on speaking terms with his shot. But as long as his knees hold up, he'll still be a solid defensive center for 20-25 minutes a night and that's not a terrible place to be. I feel better projecting Jordan's value than some people I could mention *cough* JaVale * cough*. (Spoiler alert!)  -FLANNERY

PRADA: DeAndre is still young and he's never had a real coach, so I agree with this blurb.

KACZMAREK: I think I foolishly picked DeAndre to be Most Improved at the beginning of last season. But with Vinny Del Negro gone and Doc Rivers replacing him, I just might be foolish enough to pick him again this year.

99.  Isaiah Austin

The following things are true about Austin, a freshman at Baylor last season:

  • He's 7'1.

  • He can shoot threes (33 percent on 2.6 attempts a game).

  • He can put the ball on the floor.

  • He can rebound and block shots too, so he isn't Andrea Bargnani.

If he can ever put some meat on his bones (he clocked in at a painfully-skinny 220 pounds last year), he has the chance to be a very special player. Seven-footers just should not have Austin's skill-set. I guess I'm a Baylor apologist now, because I was pretty tempted to put Perry Jones III and/or Quincy Miller in this spot too. -TJARKS

PRADA: Let us all commend Tjarks' discipline to not take Austin any higher than this.

KACZMAREK: I've loved the potential of all these Baylor guys for the past several years now and they keep disappointing me. Maybe Austin bucks that trend. He certainly has the skill set to end up like a prime-Lamar Odom type of player.

98.  Lance Stephenson

Banking on Born Ready is a scary proposition, but if he can build on last season, he'll be this half-decade's Tony Allen, except with better offense. He'll only be 27 by now, and if you can defend like he can, you'll have a long NBA career. It'll be interesting to see if he gets more offensive responsibility once Danny Granger moves on. If he handles it well, this may end up being too low for him. -PRADA

O'DONNELL: I like this pick. Stephenson always had the pedigree, and he showed last season he could handle whatever was thrown at him (a starting role, the toughest perimeter assignment defensively many nights, a full playoff slate, etc.). Plus, the NBA seems to never be lacking for characters among its best players. Stephenson fits that role, for sure.

TJARKS: Just wanted to point out that it took "Born Ready" two whole seasons on the bench before he was ready to help an NBA team. What a phenomenal nickname. Never change, please.

KACZMAREK: I approve.

97.  Otto Porter

Leading up to the draft, I tabbed Otto as a guy with a pretty high floor, but a relatively low ceiling. He doesn't have great athleticism and his shot mechanics worry me, but I think he's going to contribute in a number of ways. The Wizards don't need to use him a ton this season since they have both Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza, which should let Porter put on some much-needed muscle and develop his game in practice. He has tremendous length and seems like a really intelligent player.

I don't think his numbers will ever jump out at you, but he figures to be a pretty effective player for a long time. -KACZMAREK

PRADA: I hope so! I was fully aboard the Otto train in the pre-draft process and still believe he'll be good, but Summer League worried me a bit. It's scary how skinny he is, even at his young age.

O'DONNELL: Good to see Prada has completely soured on the Porter selection before training camp after strongly being in favor of the Wizards picking him at No. 3.

This is a good spot for Porter. He might never score more than 15 points a game, but he should play great help defense and be able to knock down an open shot on offense. As someone who has spent the last 10 years appreciating Luol Deng, I can tell you it isn't a bad outcome.

PRADA: Oh I haven't completely soured on him, just a little concerned. Also, I was in favor of him over Anthony Bennett, but always preferred Nerlens Noel, who the Wizards passed on despite having two old starting big men.

KACZMAREK: I think it's hilarious/weird that Porter is 97th on this list and there are going to be guys that we haven't even seen play in college much, MUCH higher up than him. Porter was very productive in college and ended up going third in the draft. That counts for something, right? Right??

TJARKS: His Summer League performance wasn't the best, but if you liked a player coming into the draft, nothing that happens in Vegas should really change your mind about him. I still like the Tayshaun Prince comparison that Porter gave himself.

96.  Kemba Walker

I was surprised to realize Kemba Walker was still available all the way down at No. 96. I'm going to chalk it up to Bobcats. Kemba had a rather strong sophomore season, and though he's still not too efficient, he's only 23 and had an awful offensive supporting cast. There's a strong chance that he ends up as one of the top three or four players out of the 2012 draft and maybe gets an All-Star bid five years from now. -ZILLER

FLANNERY: Kemba slipped through the cracks, no question. There's a lot of really good young point guards ahead of him though.

PRADA: Probably should have been 20 spots higher. Negative on the all-star bid, though, not when Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams and John Wall are currently in his conference.

95.  Ivan Rabb

Rabb finished his sophomore year of high school just months ago; in 2017, he may have just finished his rookie season in the NBA, or possibly his sophomore year of college. Most drafts produce a top 100 player after one season, though, so this is my shot in the dark of pegging that player.

One of my good friends is a national AAU reporter who has spent all summer watching the high school Class of 2015, and he's told me Rabb is as good as it gets. He's tall, hyper-athletic and prone to dunking all over fellow 16-year olds. Rabb hasn't generated early hype like Andrew Wiggins, but there's plenty of time for that. It's likely someone from the 2016 draft class will be this good this soon, right? -O'DONNELL

KACZMAREK: I don't know who this is.

ZILLER: He just finished his sophomore year in high school. Active NBA players have kids older than him. Rabb is like four years younger than Ray Allen's daughter.

My issue isn't that a 20-year-old can't be among the top 100 players in the league -- it's that we have little clue how things will progress from here. This is how Shabazz Muhammad ended up at No. 81 in the 2015 exercise. (Note: I'm the one who picked Bazzy.)

PRADA: Is he even going to be in the NBA by 2017?

O'DONNELL: Breathe easy, Ziller: all Shabazz needs to do is average, like, 15 points per game on 45/37/80 shooting and he might (might!) be considered a top 100 player a year from now. It's unlikely, but it's looking better than the guy who took Austin Rivers, is all I'm saying.

PRADA: I'm never going to live that down, am I?

94.  Jeff Green

Nobody's sicker of the Jeff Green narrative than me. Well, probably Danny Ainge and Jeff Green. The issue is that he does things that make you go WOW and not a lot of the other things that really good players need to do when they're not driving hard to the right. That's OK, there's a lot of guys like that in the league, but the constant expectation game is a drag.  -FLANNERY

ZILLER: Pahl, you drahppin' Uncle Jeffy out of the top 20? Don't bawtha comin' back to the Gahden, you hea' me?

FLANNERY: That's the worst Boston accent since Alec Baldwin in the Departed. Seriously, what the hell was that?

PRADA: Even worse than Paul Pierce's?

FLANNERY: That never happened, Mike.

KACZMAREK: I cannot support this pick or this conversation.

93.  Terrence Ross

I was a big fan of Ross coming out of Washington, enough so that I'm not overly concerned about his underwhelming rookie numbers. He's got great size (6'7 and 200 pounds), he's a good outside shooter and he's a spectacular athlete. That's a solid foundation to build his game over the next few years. In 2017, he'll be 26, just coming into his prime. Getting minutes in Toronto may be tricky over the next few years, but I like him more than DeMar DeRozan, a shooting guard who can't shoot 3's. -TJARKS

ZILLER: Not to be a homer, but he got destroyed by an otherwise-overmatched Ben McLemore at Summer League.

PRADA: Our collective fetish for 6'7 players that can shoot is going too far. There's no evidence that Ross is any good, besides his measurables. Bryan Colangelo has a long list of screw-ups on his resume, but taking Ross over Andre Drummond has to vault high up the list, even if the Raptors already had Jonas Valanciunas.

TJARKS: Or has it not gone far enough? Basketball isn't a very complicated game. Big, athletic guards who can shoot are going to be useful for any team.

92.  Aaron Gordon

Gordon has a ridiculous amount of talent and should be several spots higher, but the collective concern of everyone else over high school prospects relegated him to this spot. I'm a little worried that Gordon's a player without a position -- he has the skills of a power forward that can't shoot, but the size of a small forward -- but he has plenty of time to develop those further. -PRADA

ZILLER: Good pick; one of the few high school kids I'd consider a sure thing at this point. He's a monster.

O'DONNELL: I saw Gordon at the McDonald's Game practices and he looks pretty great. I worry he's stuck in that 3/4 hybrid mold that killed Marvin Williams, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, etc., but if the league keeps pushing towards small ball, Gordon could be an ideal 4. He's handle and shooting stroke seemed far from finished to me, but you can tell the ability is there.

91.  Paul Millsap

Paul Millsap is really good. Like his new teammate, Al Horford, he has a game that will age pretty well. He's already 28 years old, but it's not like he relies on elite athleticism or quickness to be effective. He'll remain a pretty good rebounder for a long time, and if he ever fully develops his three-point range, he could end up being even higher on this list. -KACZMAREK

FLANNERY: The best player no one really knows anything about.

PRADA: He's a good regular-season player that feasts on teams that are tired and forget to pay attention to him, but when clubs are locked in to stop his tricky off-ball game, he can be taken away. I think he might be a little overrated now (though he's certainly a top 100 player) and probably won't be nearly as good when he turns 32. He wouldn't have made my Top 100 of 2017 list. Developing his three-point shot might save him, though.

INTRO | TOP 99 OF 2015 REVIEW | 81-90 | 71-80 | 61-70 | 51-60 | 41-50 | 31-40 | 21-30 | 11-20 | 1-10

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