SLAMonline Top 50

by Ryne Nelson

There are moments when we say, Damn, the NBA is almost here! We know exactly what those moments are. Because we nearly forget them until they happen, actually. And when they come, we pretend to be caught by surprise and allow ourselves to get hyped just as we did the year before. These moments remind us how time, no matter how it may drudge on, keeps making the same things fresh.

Today has become one of those moments for SLAMonline readers and writers alike. Whenever the Top 50 countdown begins, we just know the regular season is on its way. We began preparing during the first week of August. Because it’s meant to be SLAMonline’s list — as opposed to a single person’s list — no contributor will (or should be expected to) agree with the placement of every player in the Top 50. More important was that we agreed on the method by which the list was conceived. We did. And here’s how we did it…

First thing was first: choosing criteria. Farmer Jones submitted the most succinct explanation, one we easily agreed upon: “Who, based on what you expect them to contribute ON THE COURT this season, are the 50 best players in the NBA?” So that question is your answer. The 2009 SLAMonline Top 50 is our early, super extended, MVP predictions.

In order to truly call this a site-wide list, every contributor needed an equal voice. We looked to the NBA for a model and ended up using a modified MVP voting system. Everyone who wanted to contribute to this year’s “definitive ranking of the best players in the NBA” had to submit a Top 50 list of their own. I won’t say how many people contributed last year, but, 2009 kicked 2008′s ass. Thirty-one, yeah, 31 of the most tenured SLAMonline contributors and editors took part in this year’s rankings.

Talk about a list that got better with age.

Condensing 31 lists into one might sound complicated at first, but when you’re dealing with so many numbers, keeping it simple is the way to go. I’ll say it one sentence: The sum of the a player’s rankings determined his final position in the SLAMonline Top 50. Confused? For instance… If I ranked University of Illinois’ Deron Williams first on my list, he would get one arbitrary point. If someone else thought DWill is the ninth-best player (clearly delusional, but OK), nine points would be added to Deron’s total. He would have 10 total points, and the process continued until Deron Williams’ total points were tallied.

Deron’s sum was then matched against the totals for every player with a Top 50 vote. How did DWill rank against the likes of Brandon Roy, Al Jefferson, Derrick Rose, Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade and the rest? I, of course, couldn’t tell you. That’s what our writers are here for.

Lang will kick off the 2009 SLAMonline Top 50 list tomorrow with No. 50. Each post will go live at 8 a.m., six days a week (yeah, we’re workin’ Saturdays now!), until the final weekend before the season.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and pinch yourself. This is real. Another season’s right around the corner, and it’ll be here sooner than you can count to 50.