Utah Jazz: Buying or selling 3 more players’ rankings in ESPN top 100

Utah Jazz (Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports) /
2 of 4
Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. ESPN top 100 ranking: 48

Mike Conley Jr.’s name has become so synonymous with “underrated” that it’s difficult to avoid a knee-jerk reaction whenever he’s ranked in any sort of list. After all, this is a player who earned his first All-Star appearance 14-years into a storied career: realistically, he deserved at least one-or-two more trips to the league’s midseason dance.

Therefore, it’s somewhat ironic that the player ranked above him on ESPN’s top 100 is a 20-year-old point guard heading into his second NBA season with a tremendous amount of hype.

LaMelo Ball ranks 47 on ESPN’s list. The knees of Utah Jazz fans are jerking in such widespread unison that it’s audible in Charlotte. However, fairness dictates that we apply the same statistical analysis in a comparison of the two talented point guards.

The advanced metrics tell us that Mike Conley Jr. was still considerably better than Ball throughout the 2020-21 season. His 19.2 PER towers over Ball’s 17.5, and his 2.4 VORP does the same over Ball’s 1.4.

In giving ESPN the benefit of the doubt, one has to assume that they are baking-in some presumed development for Ball, as well as some likely regression for the 33-year-old Conley Jr. When viewed through that lens, Ball’s ranking ahead of the Utah Jazz floor general is justifiable, but that’s not the same as saying that it’s right. In other words, this one is a tough call.

In the case of Tobias Harris’ 46th ranking, the call is considerably easier to make. He edged Conley Jr. in both PER and VORP over the 2020-21 season, with respective marks of 20.0 and 2.7.

Harris’ gargantuan contract has colored his perception around the league, but this is still an effective stretch 4 who gave the 76ers 19.5 points per game on a tidy 59.7 True Shooting % (TS%) last season. The question of whether he’s worth his contract is certainly debatable, but his 46th overall placement on ESPN’s top 100 list is much less so.

Fans of the Utah Jazz could be forgiven for resenting LaMelo Ball’s ranking over Mike Conley Jr., but when factoring age and role into the equation, it feels (barely) fair as well.

Verdict: Buy (with apprehension)