Mills, Green, Gasol crack SI top 100

Today, Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover released the bottom half of their annual Top 100 NBA players list, and several Spurs players made the list.

Pau Gasol was ranked 65, ahead of other NBA big men like Marcin Gortat, Derrick Favors, Myles Turner and Dwight Howard.

SI’s Rob Mahoney said the ranking was complicated, considering that Gasol has been both a starter and reserve and his role for next season is likely still up in the air, but Gasol’s effectiveness given the minutes he plays was the reason he was ranked at 65.

Sitting 10 spots down the list is Spurs shooting guard Danny Green, whose placement may be scrutinized, possibly more so by Spurs fans than other fans around the league. Despite his shooting slumps, Mahoney notes Green’s defense as the biggest difference-maker and the reason he was ranked 75th.

Green is one of the most stifling defenders on the floor in every game he plays. Coaches can swing him freely to cover perimeter players of all kinds. Starting a defensive liability at point guard? Have Green corral opposing ones with his length instead. Need to preserve the energy of a ball-dominant creator? Cross-match Green to find the most advantageous matchup possible.

Spurs guard Patty Mills came in at 92, and SI’s Ben Golliver says while Mills is often overlooked due to starting behind Tony Parker and with Dejounte Murray looking like the future at point guard, Mills outplayed both last season.

While that’s an arguable point, especially given Parker’s playoff performance before suffering his injury, Mills has been a mainstay in the second unit, and his ability to score quickly and push the pace on offense has given the Spurs the luxury of having a player they can easily insert when the offensive pace slows.

Pairing him in the second unit with a playmaker like Manu Ginobili has also allowed Mills to do what he does best, and hasn’t forced him into being a pass-first point guard.

For the full list of rankings, visit SI’s the Crossover. The rest of the rankings, of which several Spurs will likely also be on, will be released tomorrow, but you may notice a few noticeable names off that list.

Tony Parker, Rudy Gay and Ginobili were among the snubs of the top 100.