In the weeks prior to the tip-off of the NBA season, ESPN does a pretty cool feature where they rank the Top 500 players coming into the NBA season. Though the list of course has its controversial picks with some players allegedly being too high or too low, it still provides a snapshot of the league as a whole.
With the Big Ten having 32 players on NBA rosters at the start of the season, now is as good of a time as any to take a look at where the former Big Ten players ranked in ESPN's Top 500 NBA players. The conference has done very well in recent NBA Drafts and with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, the conference could have even more players in the NBA in the next few years.
Before we take a look at the list, keep in mind that these projections are for this season. These are not historical rankings or where players will end up over time. These are predictions for this year. That means rookies will likely be slotted on their projected contributions in year one. For instance, Indiana's Noah Vonleh was considered by many to be a relatively raw prospect with a lot of upside. That means he may contribute less than a player like Michigan's Nik Stauskas, who was considered to be pro ready last season. However, that doesn't mean the voters would rather have Payne over Vonleh long-term.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the list.
Former Big Ten Players In ESPN's Top 500 NBA Players
- #31 - Mike Conley, Ohio State
- #33 - Zach Randolph, Michigan State
- #55 - Deron Williams, Illinois
- #81 - Victor Oladipo, Indiana
- #86 - Jamal Crawford, Michigan
- #110 - Eric Gordon, Indiana
- #118 - Trey Burke, Michigan
- #120 - Draymond Green, Michigan State
- #140 - Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
- #147 - Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
- #155 - Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan
- #161 - Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
- #184 - Devin Harris, Wisconsin
- #203 - Cody Zeller, Indiana
- #205 - Carl Landry, Purdue
- #218 - Nik Stauskas, Michigan
- #220 - Evan Turner, Ohio State
- #221 - Steve Blake, Maryland
- #231 - Kris Humphries, Minnesota
- #250 - Noah Vonleh, Indiana
- #261 - Alan Anderson, Michigan State
- #276 - Adreian Payne, Michigan State
- #280 - Gary Harris, Michigan State
- #288 - Reggie Evans, Iowa
- #294 - Alex Len, Maryland
- #297 - Mitch McGary, Michigan
- #317 - Jon Leuer, Wisconsin
- #345 - Jason Richardson, Michigan State
- #355 - Greg Stiemsma, Wisconsin
- #356 - Meyers Leonard, Illinois
- #361 - Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
- #372 - E'Twaun Moore, Purdue
- #406 - Shannon Brown, Michigan State
- #432 - Robbie Hummel, Purdue
- #447 - Darius Morris, Michigan
- #480 - Greg Oden, Ohio State
- #483 - Devyn Marble, Iowa
There are a lot of Big Ten players that made the cut. In total, the Big Ten had 37 players make the list. Among these 37 players, 5 players made the Top 100, 13 players made the Top 200, and 20 players made the Top 250. Of course, the Big Ten hopes to raise these totals in the next few years, especially considering that many of the players listed are only in their first few years in the league, but that's still a pretty good performance.
Of course, people always want to know what these numbers mean. Obviously, putting players into the NBA can have a positive impact for any program. So, how did each program do? Let's take a look.
B1G Program Rankings On ESPN's Top 500 NBA Players List
- 7 Players - Michigan, Michigan State
- 5 Players - Ohio State
- 4 Players - Indiana
- 3 Players - Maryland, Purdue, Wisconsin
- 2 Players - Illinois, Iowa
- 1 Player - Minnesota
- 0 Players - Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers
As you can see, Michigan and Michigan State lead the Big Ten with 7 players each on ESPN's Top 500 list. Considering that these two programs recently had great NBA Draft performances, that's not really a surprise. Ohio State has certainly put out its fair share of talent too. It is disappointing to see four programs without a single player in the NBA, but Nebraska and Rutgers do at least have a shot to get some players on this list with players like Kadeem jack and Terran Petteway.
Of course, one could argue that this still doesn't give us a full picture of the performances by each Big Ten program. For instance, Michigan is tied for having the most players on the list of the Big Ten schools, but some of these players are very far down the list. Essentially, you should take into account where each player is ranked.
Considering this problem, what I have done is score each program on where their players fall on this list. Each player is scored based on where they appeared on the list. If you were ranked #500, you get 1 point, but if you are ranked #1 on the list, you get 500 points. If you do not appear on the list, you get 0 points. A pretty basic system. The scoring is admittedly pretty top-heavy, but in a league that prides itself on star talents, it seemed to make sense. So, here we go.
Scored Big Ten Rankings On ESPN's Top 500 NBA Players List
- Michigan - 1,817 points
- Michigan State - 1,786 points
- Ohio State - 1,471 points
- Indiana - 1,360 points
- Maryland - 851 points
- Wisconsin - 647 points
- Illinois - 591 points
- Purdue - 494 points
- Minnesota - 270 points
- Iowa - 231 points
- Nebraska - 0 points
- Northwestern - 0 points
- Penn State - 0 points
- Rutgers - 0 points