The annual controversial ESPN NBA top 100 ranking is out and Bahamians Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton cracked the list again as the 2021-2022 gets underway on October 19.
Ayton cracked the top 50 at number 35 while Hield slightly missed out of the top-50 as he was ranked at number 51.
The NBA rank top 100 list is in its 11th season and predicts what can be expected from each player in the upcoming season.
After helping to lead the Phoenix Suns to a rare run to the NBA Finals, Ayton moved up 17 slots from last season to number 35. It is the right trend to see the 2018 NBA number one overall draft pick heading in.
The Suns ended up losing the NBA Finals series 4-2 to the Milwaukee Bucks but Ayton’s 2020-2021 run will always be remembered as the season he took a leap to stardom. His improvement on defense and the pick-and-roll dynamic with Chris Paul made the Suns a tough team last season.
He helped the Suns to finish with the second-best win-loss record of 51-21 in the league and the west this past season.
In the six Finals games, The center averaged a double-double coming away 14.7 points and a team high 12 rebounds per game. He was efficient, shooting 52.9 percent from the field this series. Ayton played at least 37.5 minutes per game this series and got 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals a contest.
The University of Arizona product put the league on notice with his performance in the 22 games that he played in his postseason debut. His numbers were impressive as he averaged a double-double with 15.8 points per game and 11.7 rebounds. His efficiency from the field was unmatched, as he shot 65.8 percent all playoffs. In the end, he averaged 1.1 blocks, 1.1 assists and 0.80 steals per game. All that came from him playing for 36.4 minutes per game.
He is the first player in NBA history to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds on 65 percent in a single playoff.
This past regular season, he played in 69 games and was able to average 14.4 points per game and a team high 10.5 rebounds. He also had 1.2 blocks per game. His production from the field was impressive as he shot a blistering 62.5 percent to finish fourth overall in the league in that statistic.
Hield made a huge jump from last season rankings by 36 spots to number 51. The Grand Bahamian was part of a proposed trade that was going to send him to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. In the end the deal fell through.
The shooting guard will be entering his sixth season in the league and is still one of the perennial shooters from deep in the league. He had a career season in made three-pointers with a single-season franchise-record of 282.
He finished second behind the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry who is widely regarded as the best shooter of all-time, finished with 337 made three-pointers in just 63 games. The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard finished third with 275 made three-pointers last season.
Hield has 1,066 made threes as a Kings player and is second behind Peja Stojakovic who has 1,070 to make the most three-pointers in franchise history. With an average of three made three-pointers in per season in his career, he is set to surpass Stojakovic in his sixth season as a King compared to Stojakovic who did it in his eighth season.
He holds the top-three positions in made threes in a single-season for the Kings – 282 (2020-2021), 278 (2018-2019) and 271 (2019-2020).
The Grand Bahamian and the Kings weren’t as fortunate as the Suns, settling for a 31-41 record – good enough for just 12th in the west. They missed the NBA’s play-in games by two games in the west.
For the season, Hield averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and a career-high 3.6 assists per game. He shot a career-low 40.6 percent from the field and matched a career-low with a 39.1 percent shooting from distance. He became the fastest player in NBA history to reach 1,000 made three-pointers this season, accomplishing that feat in the 350th game of his career against the Charlotte Hornets at the end of February.
It is a great feat for Ayton and Hield to be on the top-100 list again as they continue to climb that list.