Few sports matters can get internet chatter going like a good NBA debate, and it is likely in that spirit of debate that Sports Illustrated released its Top 100 NBA Players of 2019 this week.
From our angle, one truth is apparent – to become one of the best 100 basketball players in the world, being among the country’s best high school players isn’t a bad place to start.
Of the 100 players selected by Sports Illustrated, 32 were at one time named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Team. Additionally, six ALL-USA alums are listed in the 25 Biggest Snubs from the list.
Here is a list of ALL-USA alums to make SI’s rankings:
1. LeBron James (ALL-USA First Team 2001, 2002, 2003)
2. Kevin Durant (ALL-USA First Team 2006)
5. Anthony Davis (ALL-USA First Team 2011)
8. Chris Paul (ALL-USA First Team 2003)
9. Joel Embiid (ALL-USA Third Team 2013)
12. Kawhi Leonard (ALL-USA Third Team 2009)
17. Kyrie Irving (ALL-USA First Team 2010)
19. Karl Anthony-Towns (ALL-USA Second Team 2014)
24. John Wall (ALL-USA First Team 2009)
26. Ben Simmons (ALL-USA Third Team 2014, First Team 2015)
27. Bradley Beal (ALL-USA First Team 2011)
29. Jrue Holliday (ALL-USA First Team 2008)
30. DeMar DeRozan (ALL-USA Second Team 2007)
31. Kevin Love (ALL-USA Second Team 2006, First Team 2007)
39. Jayson Tatum (ALL-USA First Team 2016)
47. Jaylen Brown (ALL-USA First Team 2015)
49. Eric Gordon (ALL-USA First Team 2007)
50. Devin Booker (ALL-USA Third Team 2014)
51. Derrick Favors (ALL-USA First Team 2009)
59. Harrison Barnes (ALL-USA First Team 2010)
61. Lou Williams (ALL-USA First Team 2005)
62. J.J. Redick (ALL-USA Second Team 2002)
65. Tobias Harris (ALL-USA First Team 2010)
66. Aaron Gordon (ALL-USA Second Team 2013)
68. DeMarcus Cousins (ALL-USA First Team 2009)
69. Dwight Howard (ALL-USA First Team 2004)
72. Julius Randle (ALL-USA First Team 2013)
74. Andrew Wiggins (ALL-USA First Team 2013)
76. Thaddeus Young (ALL-USA Second Team 2006)
81. Al-Farouq Aminu (ALL-USA Second Team 2008)
88. Kyle Anderson (ALL-USA First Team 2012)
100. Lonzo Ball (ALL-USA First Team 2016).
Among those listed as snubs were Carmelo Anthony (ALL-USA First Team 2002), Tyreke Evans (ALL-USA Second Team 2008), Markelle Fultz (ALL-USA Second Team 2016), Jabari Parker (ALL-USA Second Team 2012, First Team 2013), Marcus Smart (ALL-USA First Team 2012) and Cody Zeller (ALL-USA Second Team 2011).
For every James, who was a three-time First-Team ALL-USA selection and is No. 1 on the list, there is somebody like Stephen Curry. Despite being the son of an NBA shooting stalwart, Dell Curry, nobody outside of perhaps Stephen Curry himself could foresee a former three-star recruit who was the No. 256 player in his class becoming a three-time NBA champion and a two-time NBA MVP.
Along with Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler were the other members of the SI Top 10 never to make an ALL-USA team. Harden was a highly-touted five-star recruit, Westbrook was a three-star guard and the No. 16-ranked player in California, while Butler was hard to find on any prospect list.
Those players are the anomalies, statistically speaking. And really, anybody on this list is a statistical outlier. We understand that it is no slam dunk (pun intended) that a prolific prep career will equal even college success, let alone NBA stardom.
The fact that the likelihood of faltering somewhere along the way is so high makes the success of these 32 players (plus the six ALL-USA alums who made the Biggest Snubs list) that much more impressive.
As for who will be next? That’s anyone’s guess.