Behind The Scenes

#NBArank wraps up, but discussion will continue

Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics ranked #12 in the poll. (Allen Kee / ESPN)

For the past six weeks, has been unveiling its list of the Top 500 current NBA players in a project called #NBArank.

It’s been no small task. That’s why editors secured 104 NBA experts from all walks of ESPN life to rate 600 players on a 0-10 scale in terms of “the current quality of each player.” The list was then narrowed to the Top 500.

The Top Five was unveiled unveiled Thursday. One glaring omission? Five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant came in at no. 6.

Here’s No. 5 on the list — with the other results included along the right hand column of that page. Fans can join the discussion on Twitter using hashtag #NBArank or by following @NBAonESPN.

Front Row had the chance to catch up with deputy NBA editor Royce Webb about how #NBArank came together.

How does a project of this magnitude get started?
We sent out a ballot to 104 ESPN NBA experts and asked them to provide their opinion on where each current NBA player rates on a 0-10 scale. We tried to be imaginative about who is connected to the NBA and its players.

In what ways does this differ from last year’s project?
Summers can be busy in the NBA, so we shortened the timetable of the rollout — it’s six weeks this year as opposed to 11 weeks last year. We tried to keep it simple — that’s one of the key elements. We also increased the pool of voters. We’ll again revisit and reevaluate heading into next year’s list.

What has the fan response been so far?
It’s been excellent. We’re projected to have 10 million page views. We’re well over 30,000 tweets and retweets.

What has been the most surprising ranking to you?
Kyrie Irving at no. 22. That’s a lot of respect for someone who is 20 years old. He’s only one year in the NBA and has only played a few college games. Yes, he was the top rookie, but he played for the Cavaliers and didn’t get the national TV exposure that others get and yet he’s already got that level of respect. DeMarcus Cousins (42) is climbing the charts and Ricky Rubio (47) coming into the top 50 was a great accomplishment.

Have you received feedback from NBA players about their rankings?
Last year we heard from LeBron James, Dwight Howard, D-Wade, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant. This year, we’re starting to receive some response. Kyrie Irving thanked us on Twitter and we posted his tweet. Ty Lawson expressed the opposite for his ranking (48th) with which he disagreed.

What do you want readers and NBA fans to take away from this project?
We certainly hope that it entertains them and provides a fresh way to look at their favorite players and players around the league and how they compare. It also gives the actual players a sense of how they stack up against each other. We also aim to generate interest across social media platforms — this is a Twitter-first project.

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