This has became a rite of October.
The Gary Parrish rankings make for good discussion fodder, especially if I disagree with him. The interesting aspect to these rankings is Parrish opts for three catch all position groupings to account for the fact so many players really don't fit so much in a tradition position but rather an area of focus. Those position groups are: point/combo guard, wings, big men. As he explains on his blog, Wayne Ellington is considered a win so he will not be on this list but on the one due out on Thursday. The one obvious Tar Heel for today's ranking is Ty Lawson.
3. Ty Lawson (North Carolina)
Why he's here: Lawson isn't a great shooter, but his speed and ability to get to the rim make that a non-issue. He's the sparkplug that makes the nation's best team run, and when they run they run really, really fast.
I will say my biggest issue with Parrish when he does these rankings is the lack of meaningful explanations for each player. Granted time and space constraints demand concise summaries plus it is easy to contradict yourself in some cases if you go to deep. I think Lawson will be a better shooter this season than he has at any point in his UNC career. Same goes for his defense. And to offer a counterpoint to Parrish here, outside shooting does matter. It matters because if you are guarding a player who can singe your eyebrows with two steps towards the basket but cannot hit the broadside of a barn with a sawed off shot gun chances are you back off and let him have the jumper. If Lawson develops anywhere close to a 40% three point shot, I suggest prayer for any opposing player that has to guard him.
No complaints about Darren Collison being #2 ahead of Lawson. I imagine that is a fairly even matchup. Stephen Curry continues to enjoy the warm fuzzies from everyone in the media with glowing accolades and whispers that he really is the best player in the nation but Tyler Hansbrough has the prominence. And not that Curry has not earned the hype, what he did during the NCAA Tournament last season proved the 25 ppg average versus Southern Conference pansies was legitimate. Davidson showed they were also a very good team but I am waiting to see how the loss of their senior point guard, Jason Richards and the fact people are paying attention now will affect their success. History seems to point to a swoon after such a big tournament run with Gonzaga being the exception to that rule. Is Davidson the new Gonzaga? Time will tell and I see Curry's place as legitimate based on past success but given to easy criticism should the shine come off this season.
(Also let me go ahead and say hello to the Davidson message board which will link this quote)
One more thing. Anyone want to guess who the big omission from this list of 40 point/combo guards is? If you guessed Duke's Nolan Smith you are correct. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Nolan Smith will start at PG this season. The fact Greg Paulus got lumped into a tri-captainancy is evidence he will not be a starter. Granted this is not confirmed but I think it is the safe bet. If you go ahead with that assumption isn't is also safe to assume Smith falls somewhere in this group of 40 players? Maryland's Greivis Vasquez is 29th for crying out loud and I think he just turned the ball over again. My point is, it is a bit of a shock to see a Duke player not on one of these lists when there is a tendency to shoe horn them in because they play for Duke. Beyond that I actually think Nolan Smith is going to be a very good PG, probably worthy of at least a mention here. But since he wasn't let me just say: Ha-ha.
Parrish will rank the wing players tomorrow. Wayne Ellington will be there, I will be very interested to see what he does with Danny Green.