Everyone's busy living in the past, naming their lists of top current players based on recent production. Let's talk about the FUTURE, where the Jetsons fly space bubbles, food comes in tablet form and basketball is played in zero gravity. Well ... maybe not that far into the future. Let's look to 2015, because that's a nice round number. Who will be the top 100 players in 2015?
We have three SBNation.com editors ready to answer that question. Only 100 isn't cleanly divisible by three, so let's go with 99. Presenting, then, SBNation.com's Top 99 NBA Players Of 2015, As Determined By Science And Faith And Voodoo In The Year 2011, Because The Lockout Is Totally Killing Us. Enjoy!
99-91 | 90-82
99. ANTHONY RANDOLPH
It's a funny thing, to consider the top 99 players in the NBA. Consider that there are only 150 NBA starters at any given point, and five of them play for the Bobcats. It's a shallow league with 400-450 total employees, which means we're scraping together the top 25 percent, which is actually a hefty chunk. There's room for flaws. So much room. (To get 100 players on the All-NBA team, you'd have to go 20 deep. Wouldn't that be awesome, though? "Wow, Spencer Hawes made 17th team All NBA!")
So by claiming that Anthony Randolph will be the 99th best player in the NBA in 2015, I'm not nominating him for a basketball Nobel or anything. (That's an intriguing idea though, an award to honor genius in basketball.) I'm saying that at some point, Randolph's considerable gifts (physical, mostly) will translate into something tangible and useful to the degree that he'll be among the top quarter of all NBA players. Will it be in Minnesota? Doubtful, considering the roster density at his possible positions. But I refuse to relinquish belief in this tangle of talents just because he hasn't found a guide yet. -- Tom Ziller
Mike Prada: You're telling me that a guy with Randolph's game, who nevertheless has been buried by the two most up-tempo coaches of our generation, can be one of the 100 best players in the league in four years? It's more likely he'll be one of the top 100 players in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Andrew Sharp: At some point, won't people just say "screw it" with him?
98. EVAN TURNER
Evan Turner will never be a superstar and he probably won't even ever live up to being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft. There were too many red flags coming out of college -- the lack of athleticism, the back injury, the poor jump shot, the fact that he only became elite when he was made Ohio State's point guard. People glossed over these things because Turner was so productive for Ohio State in college, but they forgot to consider what that production meant and how it would translate to the pros.
At the same time, Turner is quite the stat-stuffer. His horrendous rookie year with the 76ers has as much to do with his situation as it does with his talent. Early in the season, the 76ers visited the Wizards in D.C., and I got a chance to hear Doug Collins talk about Turner. He made the point that Turner always takes a while to get comfortable with his surroundings. It happened at Ohio State, and Collins thought it was happening with the 76ers too.
If Collins is right, then we should expect better things from Turner going forward. Maybe he won't be a superstar, but with his ability to make an impact in so many different areas, there's no reason he can't be an elite role player for years to come. -- Prada
Ziller: Turner as an elite role player is, for better or worse, a massive disappointment -- and disappointment has an unfortunate way of seeping into a player's production. Collins is a good coach, but even he can't protect Turner from the demons that will engulf Philly when DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe become NBA MVP candidates and E.T. is tweeting about chick flicks and flirting with 10-10-10 triple-doubles.
97. TONY WROTEN
Wroten totally should have gone in the top 50. Assuming he jumps to the league after one year at Washington, he'll probably have an up-and-down rookie year in 2013-14 and then start to put it all together in 2015. Think John Wall. Related: Here's Tony Wroten kinda busting John Wall's ass in summer league. Anyway, I forget where I chose Ricky Rubio, but I wish I substitute Tony Wroten for wherever I took him. -- Sharp
Prada: This is either way too low or way too high.
96. OMER ASIK
Of the three young Turks in the league, Asik shows both the most promise and fortune. A strong defender as a rookie, he's on track to caddy for Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer until one or both explode into balls of medical tape and Icy-Hot. No other contender is blessed with a more promising back-up big man (now that Serge Ibaka is a starter). The Bulls could also be forced to move Asik by 2015 in a quasi-Marcin Gortat scenario. The difference? They can do it before having to overpay for him due to restricted free agency. Also? Asik is not a jerk.
Either way, a mobile, smart, hard-working big man with some skills? I like his chances. -- Ziller
Prada: Asik is good, especially on defense, but he'll also be 29 in 2015 and a backup unless he gets traded. All in all, 96 seems fair, but if he's only playing 20 minutes a game, is he really making the 96th-most notable impact in the league?
Sharp: I'm pretty bummed I didn't pick Asik about 30 picks ago. He looked great at times last year, and you have to figure it's only a matter of time before he A) he gets traded and gets a shot at play 35 minutes a game, or B) he works his way into more minutes with the Jo-Booz-Taj mix in Chicago. Related: "Jo-Booz Taj" should the name of an athlete one day.
95. QUINCY MILLER
This one requires a bit of a leap of faith. Truth be told, someone like Miller is probably not going to be the 95th-best player in the NBA in 2015. He'll either be one of the 25 best players in the league or he'll be even further down the list. For now, let's just split the difference and put him here.
Nobody doubts Miller's potential. There's a reason the 6-foot-10 small forward is one of the top incoming recruits in the nation next year. Going to Baylor, though, will be an interesting experience for him. Not because Baylor is a basketball oasis, but because it means he'll be playing alongside Perry Jones, who is returning to college for another year and did not make this list. The two players have a lot of similarities in their games, so much so that you could argue the whole purpose of Scott Drew going after Miller was to replace Jones after he jumped to the pros. Instead, Jones returned to school, and the two will have to coexist.
How that works out will determine whether Miller ends up living up to the hype and it's a pretty impossible question to answer now. -- Prada
Ziller: Note to those of you laughing about us picking high school kids impossible to project in our Top 99: it's Wroten and Miller or it's current pros we know will be "meh." This is not an exact science.
Sharp: This has nothing to do with the list, but somehow I ended up following Quincy Miller on Twitter for the past six months (@qmillertime, whattup!) and he definitely tweets like a pro. Openly flirting with followers is promising, but it's motivational messages that tell he's destined for big things. "You can try to slow me down or curve my path, but you WON'T stop me from making it...that's a promise.." HI HATERS.
94. J.J. HICKSON
J.J. Hickson seems like the type of player who will be pretty good for bad teams throughout his entire career, and then 10 years from now, everyone except North Carolina State fans will forget he even played in the NBA. As far as his place in the top 100, he'll probably peak at no. 74 in 2013, and then we'll catch him on the way down in 2015. Related: Remember when Cleveland refused to part with Hickson as part of an Amar'e Stoudemire trade in the 2010 playoffs? #Yikes. -- Sharp
Prada: #Yikes indeed. I think Sharp hits the nail on the head with Hickson. Remember when he said that he was the best power forward in the league?
Ziller: I thik I'm contracually obligated as a Kings fan to hold my tongue on this one. He's definitely going to co-exist peacefully with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins each taking 20 shots a game! (Also? I'm pretty sure the Amar'e trade wasn't happening anyway.)
EDIT... Sharp: Ziller's right about that Amar'e deal. My bad, Cleveland.
93. RODRIGUE BEAUBOIS
Beaubois has had about as much NBA seasoning as Tony Wroten and Quincy Miller. As a rookie in 2010, he struggled to get off of Rick Carlisle's bench. When he did, though, he looked like one of the league's most promising scorers. The Guadeloupean guard then got injured playing for the French national team in 2011, and only played in 28 games (none in the playoffs) as a sophomore. His per-minute scoring and shooting percentages fell dramatically.
I'll bet heavy on a healthy Beaubois, though. When you're quick enough to get to the rim reguarly, athletic enough to finish there and skilled enough to hit threes at a good clip ... if you fit all three of those criteria, you're going to succeed in the NBA. It's just a matter of putting it together when healthy and earning Carlisle's trust. Roddy already has the faith of the Mavericks' power structure: Mark Cuban deemed him untouchable in trade talks last deadline. Dirk Nowitzki's the only other Mavs who can claim that title. -- Ziller
Prada: Mark Cuban deemed him untouchable because he was the only Mavericks player under 25, not because he was a future star. Anyway, I love Beaubois, but as long as Carlisle's coaching there, it's not happening for him. He needs a trade to reach his full potential.
92. JAMES MCADOO
Yup, another high-schooler. At least with McAdoo, though, there's probably less bust potential. McAdoo comes from a basketball family and he's going to a school that tends to recruit high-character guys who play well within a team setting (for better or worse). He certainly has the capability of playing well off others, and he'll get his chance teaming with Harrison Barnes next year.
Down the road, I could easily see McAdoo as the third- or fourth-best player on a good team, doing all the things teams need to win. I'm not sure I could say that for Quincy Miller, who feels like a star-or-bust kind of guy. Then again, I'm projecting 18-year old kids. What do I know, really? -- Prada
Ziller: Warning: it will be a running theme throughout this project that Prada chooses high school kids over established NBA players. Just wait until he picks Bryce Maximus James in the 30s. Meanwhile, as you will see VERY soon, our friend Sharp goes the other way ...
91. 40-YEAR-OLD STEVE NASH
Tomzilla seems overly skeptical about this. First of all, Nash has already proven he's pretty much immune to the aging process. Second, Nash will spend the next few years in Phoenix, and even after his current contract expires (at 37 years old in 2012), he may sign another two year deal to stick with the Suns. But after that, is there any doubt he'll sign a one-year deal to play backup point guard for a contender? Whether he's backing up Chris Paul in New York, Oklahoma City, or L.A. remains to be seen, but he WILL be backing up Chris Paul on a championship team somewhere, and 15-20 minutes of Steve Nash is still a Top 100 commodity in the NBA. -- Sharp
Prada: I'm with Sharp here. You could argue Nash had his best season ever at 36 (maybe). Why can't he be like John Stockton and be very effective going into his 40s? He certainly takes great care of his body.
Ziller: Here is a complete list of players who had a PER over 15 (league average) at age 40 or higher: John Stockton, Karl Malone, Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I know Nash is a two-time MVP and all, but given that decision-makers were concerned about his ability to stay healthy long-term seven years ago. And if he leaves Phoenix to string out his career, he'll be leaving the Fountain Of Youth they've built down there. I see him replicating peak Chris Duhon in New York in 2015. Not good.
Stay tuned for the next edition featuring No. 90 through No. 82 on Friday. Sharp might just pick Stockton himself!