Carmelo Anthony’s best days as an NBA player are almost certainly behind him, but that doesn’t mean he’s washed up by any means. So when ESPN released the 2017 edition of their player rankings and dropped the Knicks forward all the way down to No. 64, it caught the attention of, well, everyone.

As ESPN’s Chris Herring noted, this wasn’t a gradual slide. Anthony was a top 10 player in the 2013 ranking and still in the top 30 as recently as two years ago. Even though the Knicks might want to unload their aging centerpiece, he’s still freakin’ Carmelo Anthony, you know?

While Melo shot down the rankings, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has shot up them. After showing up all the way down at No. 334 in 2012 as a rookie, Green is now No. 10 on the list thanks to his efforts and contributions as part of the two-time NBA Champions. Green recently spoke with ESPN to discuss many things but the topic of that Carmelo ranking came up and Draymond was more than happy to remind people that Melo’s day isn’t done.

I think when you look at Melo, Melo has been a great player in this league for some time now. Obviously, I think no one thinks that he’s the Melo he was five years ago, and that happens to everyone. That’s just the nature of the career that we’ve all chosen. At some point, you start to slow down and you’re not who you once were. So, I’m not going to sit here and lie and act like he is the Melo he was five years ago, but the 64th-best player in the NBA? All right, five years ago he was maybe sixth. He ain’t f—ing 64 [now].

I’m a firm believer in guys earning what they get, and I know he’s earned more than a 64. And when you see rookies coming in who haven’t played a game, that’s just clear-cut disrespect. You’ve got guys who have given everything they had into this game and has proved s— year in and year out and then people just walk in and are ranked higher than someone? Let them get out there and prove something first. I’m a firm believer in that. Maybe I’m that way because I’ve never been given anything. Everything I’ve gotten in this league I’ve worked for and earned. So maybe I see it a little differently. That will never change for me. I can’t put you above guys who have done this year in and year out with the best of them and say you’re better. That’s just not me. I think it’s clear disrespect.

And like I said to start it off, I know Melo isn’t the Melo he was five or seven years ago, but he’s for damn sure not the 64th-best player in the league. I know that. There aren’t 63 players better than Carmelo Anthony.

In mentioning rookies, Green might be throwing some shade in Lonzo Ball’s direction. The much-ballyhooed Los Angeles Lakers rookie is rated No. 63, one spot ahead of Melo. Ball’s father has been outspoken about what he and the Lakers will accomplish in the upcoming season and you can imagine that rubs a veteran like Green the wrong way. Expect it to be a sticking point when the two teams face off.

[ESPN]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Neighborhoods.com, Curbed Seattle and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.

  • urgelt

    I think, for once, that we have in ESPN’s player rankings an actual case of fake news.

    Putting guys who haven’t even stepped onto an NBA court ahead of Anthony? Come on, man, that’s just dogging with us. Pure click-bait. There’s a learning curve, y’know? Youngsters will flounder until they find their bearings, and that doesn’t happen overnight, not for the best of them. Some, even among high draft picks, never will manage to adjust. The first year, the speed of play and decision-making in the NBA is simply terrifying to newbies. It’s like nothing any rookie has ever seen before he gets to the NBA and learns how to cope with it.

    The entire idea of ranking players sucks. Rank franchises, if you like. Wins in basketball are a team product, not an individual athlete’s, and it ought not to be surprising to most of us just how much of the effectiveness of a franchise is generated off-court. Tactics. Physical conditioning. Sports medicine. Nutrition. Locker room esprit de corps. Management competence. Roster-building and draft picks. Minutes management. Work ethic. Training facilities. Cap space management. We could go on and on. ESPN’s obsession with ranking individual players misses all of that, and in doing so, misses much of what is great about the sport of basketball.

    This is not an individual sport. Maybe individual rankings are something we should expect to see in single-player tennis or golf, but it’s pointless noise in a team sport. Cut it out.

    Even team rankings are iffy. There’s no accuracy in rankings; teams disappoint or surprise in every season. But we can tolerate that. We should not tolerate ESPN’s individual rankings in a team sport. Draymond is right, it’s a total crock.

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