There are various signposts that we as NBA fans pass each season between the NBA Finals ending, and the opening night of the regular season. These include big events like the NBA Draft, and also free agency.
Summer League is for the more hardcore out there who have likely have some sort of illness for the game – such is their love of the sport – while the FIBA World Cup was a nice distraction in the dog days of this summer.
One of the final checkpoints we hit before the action begins is also one of the more enjoyable, when ESPN release their annual top 100 list.
With the Phoenix Suns employing Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, interest was going to be particularly high to see where they landed this season. Durant, as expected, cracked the top 10, although Booker finding himself sitting in 11th spot is an egregious position that we will return to another time.
Suns fans would have also understood Beal coming in behind both of his superstar teammates, and that is exactly what has happened here. At a surprising 37th, Beal somehow fell 18 spots from last season, despite not taking a step back in any meaningful category. Here are three players he absolutely should have come in ahead of on this list.
3. Darius Garland – 36th
As is going to be the case with all three players on this list, they are all excellent individuals who have all been All-Stars. Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers is a brilliant floor general, and ensures his team are competitive each and every night.
Entering his fifth season in the league, he has put up over 21 points in his last two seasons, and last year was a scorching 41 percent from deep. At his best, he has averaged over eight assists in a campaign as well. Still only 23-years-old, there is no doubt he would have overtaken Beal on this list in the coming seasons.
But putting him one spot above the new Suns player now is premature. Just because Beal is now the third option on a contender, he should not be penalized for this. In fact, he’s the best third option in the entire league offensively. He’s put up over 30 points in a season before, and will take over this Suns team for stretches during the regular season.