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Larry Sanders, John Henson, Giannis Antetokounmpo and O.J. Mayo make SB Nation Top 100 of 2017

The only certainty about predicting the future: you're going to be wrong. But that's part of the fun when it comes to looking into the NBA's crystal ball.


It's hard enough agreeing on who the NBA's best players are right now. Projecting who they will be in 2017? Well, that might seem like an act in futility (see what happened when SBN first did this exercise in 2011 when we looked ahead to 2015).

But futility can be fun--there's a Bucks fandom joke in here somewhere--and it was with that in mind that the gang at SB Nation set out to predict the league's best four years from now. Six writers and editors drafted the 2017 top 100 with commentary from across the SB Nation network, with four Bucks making the cut. Details (and some additional reaction) on each of those picks below:

  • #43: Larry Sanders. Modest offensive improvement and continued dominant defense should be good to help him crack the top 30, but the fact that he's only had one year of putting it all together hurts him.
  • #45: John Henson. We're not sure if Henson will be the ideal complement to Sanders, but four years from now he'll be in the prime of his career--and hopefully doing big things in Milwaukee. This ranking struck me as reasonable given his high productivity as a rookie is mitigated somewhat by his age ("old" for a lottery pick) and long history of offensive inefficiency.
  • #79: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo might be the hardest guy to project in the entire league right now, which makes this seem like a reasonable position--halfway between irrelevance and stardom.
  • #88: O.J. Mayo. I was kind of surprised Mayo made the top 100, but it's easy to forget he'll only be 29 in 2017 and will have every opportunity to put up 18-20 ppg over the next few seasons in Milwaukee. Still, Jonathan Tjarks' commentary echoes what I've heard about Mayo from all the people who covered him in Dallas--the more you see of Mayo, the less likely you are to be wowed by his shooting and scoring exploits. That's one reason why I'd guess that the younger Brandon Knight (not in the top 100) is a better 2017 bet than Mayo.
Other notables included Tobias Harris at 41 (again: ouch) and Brandon Jennings at 84. Even without them, the Bucks' four spots in the top 100 fell just one short of the Cavs and Pelicans, each of whom had a league-high five. Meanwhile, the Thunder also nabbed four spots, including three in the top 20: Kevin Durant (1), Russell Westbrook (4), and Serge Ibaka (19). If only they hadn't dealt James Harden (9), eh? On the flip side, Dallas was the only team to come up empty, with no players cracking the century list.

The list includes 88 NBA players and a dozen players outside the league, most of them incoming college freshmen such as Andrew Wiggins (8) and Julius Randle (14). For fun I did a quick spreadsheet assigning point values to each player who made the list, assigning 100 points to #1 selection Kevin Durant and then counting down from there. The Thunder not surprisingly come out on top using that weighted formula, while the Bucks (perhaps fittingly) ranked right where they always seem to rank in everything: smack dab in the middle. Those results look a little bit better than a similar exercise ESPN's Amin Elhassan did last week when he ranked the Bucks' under-25 players as just 23rd-best in the league.

How do you rate the Bucks' youngsters? Check the poll below and chime in on where you'd rank Sanders, Henson, Antetokounmpo, Mayo and Knight in the comments.