Anthony Davis ranked No. 8 player in NBA by Sports Illustrated

Once again, Anthony Davis has been ranked a top-10 player in the NBA by Sports Illustrated, and once again Kentucky leads all schools with players named in its Top 100 NBA Players for 2018 rankings.

Written by Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver, SI concluded its fifth annual edition of the rankings on Thursday and Davis was the highest ranked Wildcat at No. 8 overall. He was also ranked No. 8 in last year’s edition of the countdown.

Davis, a 6-foot-11 forward, was named to the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive Second Team last season. Davis played and started in 75 games last season, averaging a career-high 28.0 points and a career-high 11.8 rebounds per game.

Former Kentucky All-American and national champion Anthony Davis was ranked No. 8 in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA Players for 2018. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)

“His face-up game is nasty; a quick first step allows Davis to create momentum toward the rim even in close quarters, a gift that plays well off of the looming potential of his shot over top,” Mahoney wrote. “As such, defenders wind up crashing into Davis all the time (8.6 free-throw attempts per game). They reach and they lunge because what else are they to do? The more Davis moves, the deeper the trouble for the big asked to contain him.”

Kentucky had nine players listed in the top 100 for the second consecutive year, leading all other schools by four. Even more impressive, 11.3 percent of the players in the top 100 who played at least one year of college basketball (three players in the top 100 entered the league straight out of high school and another 17 entered through an international league), played for Coach Cal at Kentucky.

Not to be forgotten, Enes Kanter and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, two more of Coach Cal’s pupils at UK, Derrick Rose, who Calipari coached at Memphis, and Rajon Rondo, who played for coach Tubby Smith at Kentucky, were among SI’s “biggest snubs” this year.

In addition to having the most players in the top 100, UK also had the most players in the top 25 with four. No other school had more than one player in SI’s top 25.

Joining Davis in the top 100 are John Wall (No. 13), Karl-Anthony Towns (No. 14), DeMarcus Cousins (No. 23), Eric Bledsoe (No. 38), Devin Booker (No. 64), Nerlens Noel (No. 86), Julius Randle (No. 94) and Patrick Patterson (No. 98).

In explaining how the rankings were made and what criteria went into it, Golliver and Mahoney said that both injuries and injury risks were factored into the equation, as well as previous performances, including the playoffs.

Rookies were not included because they have not yet faced NBA competition. They did use a “predictive element” in anticipating improvement from young players and perhaps a decline in aging veterans, but future play beyond the upcoming season did not play a factor, nor did the player’s salary.

“Given the wide variety of candidates involved and the deep analytical resources available, no single, definitive criterion was used to form this list,” the two authors wrote. “Instead, rankings were assigned based on a fluid combination of subjective assessment and objective date. This list is an attempt to evaluate each player in a vacuum, independent of their current team context as much as possible. A player’s prospects beyond the 2017-18 season did not play a part in the ranking process.”

You can read the complete breakdown of SI’s top 10 player rankings by clicking here.

Wildcats in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA Players of 2018

8. Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
13. John Wall (Washington Wizards)
14. Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
23. DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans)
38. Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix Suns)
64. Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
86. Nerlens Noel (Dallas Mavericks)
94. Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers)
98. Patrick Patterson (Oklahoma City Thunder)