Ahead of every basketball season, Sports Illustrated ranks the NBA's Top 100 players. This first installment of this year's rankings, which encompasses players No. 100-51, is now available, and one member of the Chicago Bulls made the list.
Sports Illustrated ranked Bulls' point guard Lonzo Ball as 76th best player in the NBA. Now, some could argue that placement is low, but keep in mind there are 529 registered athletes in the NBA.
Ball is joining his third team in five years. That could be used as a knock against the former UCLA Bruin, but his changes in scenery have been mostly circumstantial. Ball may now find himself in the best situation he's ever experienced since being drafted in 2017. He joins a Chicago Bulls franchise that now has genuine playoff aspirations after adding two NBA All-Stars. All signs point to the Bulls being on the rise in the Eastern Conference, and Ball projects to be a key component of his new team's future success.
Ball legitimately has a shot to become an elite-level defender in today's NBA. Those familiar with his game know the playmaking ability Ball possesses as well, and his facilitation numbers should increase now that he will be surrounded by a plethora of talent that can put the ball in the net.
However, many analysts and fans sleep on the strides Ball has made in the scoring department. Since entering the league, he has improved in terms of every recorded shooting percentage. Once knocked as a poor free-throw shooter, Ball raised his FT% by 22 points in 2020-21, jumping from 56% in 2019-20 to 78% last season. His three-point percentage has improved by 7% from his rookie year. Ball shot just under 38% from downtown in 2020-21 on a staggering 8.3 attempts per game. If Ball played on the Bulls last year, he would have logged the most 3PA on the team.
At the end of the day, this ranking simply reflects the Sports Illustrated staff's analysis of where Lonzo Ball resides among his NBA peers. Entering his fifth professional season, Ball has all the tools to skyrocket up this list.