FreeDarko Player Rankings 2011-12

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Back by popular demand, the FreeDarko inner circle recently convened to generate the third ever FreeDarko Player Power Rankings. It's been less than two years since the last list, which feels like an eternity when you consider all that's happened in the intervening year and a half: FreeDarko the blog died, Shoals procreated, the lockout happened, and NBA superstars started wearing eyeglasses with no lenses in them. But, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Rondo and Durant remain atop the list, although Rondo has ascended to the #1 spot, even as Durant takes center stage, which tells you all you need to know about FreeDarko's attitude toward winning and stardom. Basketball futurism was always an important component of FreeDarko-ness, and it remains so today. Witness the rise of Kenneth Faried and the fall of Rodrigue Beaubois. Time waits for no man. Without further ado....

  1. Rajon Rondo
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. JaVale McGee
  4. Russell Westbrook
  5. Ty Lawson
  6. Paul George
  7. Chris Paul
  8. Kenneth Faried
  9. Kobe Bryant
  10. Ricky Rubio
  11. Josh Smith
  12. DeMarcus Cousins
  13. Zach Randolph
  14. Derrick Rose
  15. Stephen Curry
  16. Jrue Holiday
  17. John Wall
  18. Kyrie Irving
  19. Dirk Nowitzki
  20. Danilo Gallinari
  21. Tyson Chandler
  22. Nicolas Batum
  23. LeBron James
  24. Steve Nash
  25. Serge Ibaka
  26. Roy Hibbert
  27. Tony Allen
  28. Brandon Jennings
  29. Monta Ellis
  30. Marc Gasol
  31. Amar'e Stoudemire
  32. Manu Ginobili
  33. Kyle Lowry
  34. LaMarcus Aldridge
  35. Kevin Love
  36. J.R. Smith
  37. Paul Pierce
  38. Andre Iguodala
  39. Nikola Pekovic
  40. Eric Bledsoe
  41. Michael Beasley
  42. Stephen Jackson
  43. Al Horford
  44. Avery Bradley
  45. Deron Williams
  46. Lamar Odom
  47. Joakim Noah
  48. Carmelo Anthony
  49. Andrew Bynum
  50. Brandan Wright
Players who landed just outside the Top 50 (in order): DeAndre Jordan, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and Pau Gasol.
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14 through 18 are madness and terrific

I know being a 28 year old rookie doesn't exactly associate well with the idea of "futurism," but I thought for sure Ivan Johnson would be on this list.

So FD to exclude James Harden.
No, I can't really explain.

Now, admittedly I am very late to the party, but what exactly does this list signify? What is the ranking/sorting criteria? I am delighted to have found a list that Rondo, the world's crankiest basketball artiste, tops but what does it all mean? And why is Lebron, the world's most fragile wrecking ball, down at number 23 wedged between Nicolas Batum and Steve Nash?!

I understand the rating of KD and Westbrook, except that they never seem to receive a deduction for (now willingly) working for Bennett and McClendon. (And that isn't about Seattle, which is bad enough, it's about fundraising for Bush43 and global warming.)

I'm also kind of struggling with Gallo and Beasley, though for different reasons? Gallo I straight don't get, Beasley just doesn't seem relevant enough any more (and I watched some T-Wolves games!).

wv: cxruu--crucified on a cross of uncertainty

aaa Gallo, the 6'10'' 225+ lbs PF who plays with a lithe finesse that contradicts his size. throw in the pretty boy, gelled-up, Euro look and I'm on board.

Beasley is close to my heart. He has the image: The "Super Cool Beas" tattoo that sprawls across back, the crazy hair styles, the on-court celebrations that even Michael Jordan's ego couldn't justify. He's a moron/headcase player but not a cancer to his clubhouse. He's a bonehead, but a jovial easy-going one. After every game, he trades his basketball gear to kids for bags of Skittles. That is because one of his (many) self-appointed nicknames is Skittles. I can keep going.

Besides all of the goofiness that is Michael Beasley's persona is his style of play. He's maddening. He can score 40 with the right minutes, but he'll always be a volume shooter. His terrible shot selection and out-sized belief in his own talent leave him a deeply flawed player that can't contribute to a successful starting rotation. Instant offense as the irrationally confident first-man-off-the-bench seem to be his ceiling unless he can figure it out.

Yet, this seems like his most FreeDarko trait. His greatest strength relies on his greatest flaw. Michael Beasley would be a great player if he could keep his seemingly unstoppable ability to score while losing the boneheaded shot selection/attitude towards defense. But that's Beasley. He's an amazing scorer because he's a bonehead. You can't change the type of player he is without changing WHO he is. A smarter, more mature Michael Beasley might play better defense, stop getting in (hilarious) off-court trouble, make his teammates better and cease to take long 18-foot jumpers with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. But that Michael Beasley would lose everything that makes Super Cool Beas special.

He won't be on the Wolves next year. I don't know what his future holds. But Beasley is one of my favorite players because he is a legitimately hilarious goofball and because every once in a while, when the shots are falling, Michael Beasley can look like the most natural scorer in the league. Which is to say that if you squint hard enough, you can see Beas like he sees himself.

Also, in terms of Beas' relevancy, he's only 23 years old and belongs in the league. As long as he doesn't get an indefinite drug suspension for being caught with a greenhouse of dope growing his backyard in 2015, he'll be in the league for awhile. He'll make an impact somewhere. The fact that we don't know in what capacity this will be (Starter? Sixth man of the year? Team-killer? Defendant in the drug policy-changing Beasley v National Basetball Association?) only supports his place on this list even more.

Don't get me wrong, Gallo has a nice game. But everything else about him we've seen before. The Euro steez alone doesn't seem to me to be enough to justify a top 50 raking.

My understanding of the FD Mathetmatics is that a mystical balance and potential and personality can keep you in the top 50 for a while, but eventually you have to produce (cf. competitive style). Perhaps I'm cutting B-Easy off too soon, but I think at this point we know what we're getting, and it's not enough to justify a top 50 ranking, even if he remains kind of fascinating as an individual. Maybe I'm also not ranking said personality highly enough. I mean, Brandan Wright is on the list but Anthony Randolph isn't, even though I'm sure it pained many in the FD crew to leave him off.

wv: 1xsye--one time, so you elevate

The Minnesota Timberwolves are the most FreeDarko team in the league.

Four of their most common starters in '11-'12 are on the list.

10. Ricky Rubio
35. Kevin Love
39. Nikola Pekovic
41. Michael Beasley

I guess it makes sense; Darko Milicic is on the team. FreeDarko indeed.

I think the Nuggets are even more FreeDarko, with three players higher than the T-Wolves highest player.

3. JaVale McGee
5. Ty Lawson
8. Kenneth Faried
20. Danilo Gallinari

I refuse to recognize this as fact until I get a Ty Lawson explanation. JaVale, Manimal and Gallo seem like obvious fits, but which of these things do not belong? It's Ty. Help me out on this one people.

Make me a case for Ty Lawson

Don't get me wrong, I love the guy as a player. He's got some of the most underrated speed in the league. But #5? Am I missing something about Ty? Should I have watched The Association on NBA TV this season? Besides his diminutive stature and blazing speed, I don't know anything about Ty that makes him stand out. Can somebody tell me why he's the fifth most FreeDarko player in the league? Does he get his own chapter in the upcoming Poor Richard's Microphenomenal Basketball Almanack?

RIP, sweet # 29. You were always my favorite argument against relevance, and now you are invisible, which either apotheosizes my point or annihilates it.

How is Rondo not every nerd's favorite? He's just so... unique. Since these things are up for debate, clearly, I'll take umbrage with Bron dropping. Guess reading books with characters named Katniss Everdeen can really lower your stock, tho reading itself should arguably raise it. Finally, glad to see Bledsoe get in here, tho he should always keep his hair in that "gully 93 Wu-Tang" style, the way he opened the season.