Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr. of the New York Knicks were named snubs in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Players for the 2018-19 season.
When Sports Illustrated released their Top 100 NBA Players for the 2018-19 season, it placed New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis at No. 52. This drop-off from the previous season resulted from a torn ACL in February, which will keep him out to start 2018-19.
Porzingis was the only Knick on this list, a potential testament to how the roster looks. SI did include two other players, but on their Biggest Snubs list, to highlight those who missed the cutoff.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Enes Kanter were named snubs by SI, placed in a group with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Danilo Gallinari and Montrezl Harrell, among others.
For why Hardaway Jr. did not make SI’s Top 100, Rob Mahoney said it’s difficult to make a case for a player that’s suited for a reserve role, unlike his placement as a top scorer—maybe the main one with Porzingis out—for the Knicks:
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"…there’s still a decent margin between the 26-year-old scorer and the cut for our list. It’s hard to make a Top 100 case for a player whose best attribute would scale down so dramatically on a winning team. Hardaway doesn’t have the game to be a primary scorer for a winning club. He may not be a secondary or tertiary scorer either; if anything, Hardaway’s skill set falls most in line with that of key reserve—one free to fire away with little penalty. Volume shooting looks good by the numbers and works fine for the Knicks. More competitive teams, however, have the kinds of priorities that would mitigate Hardaway’s production."
With Kanter, Ben Golliver praised his offensive work around the rim, but there’s something to be desired defensively, with an opponent average of 60.8 percent on shots within six feet. No ability to shoot three-pointers limit his value, as well.
"He would get more credit for [hitting the offensive glass and finishing around the rim)—and less flak for his misguided Twitter barbs—if he could anchor a defense. Alas, that’s not going to happen because he’s an archaic big: too slow and clumsy to defend in space and too timid to truly protect the rim. Last season, the 26-year-old Turkish center allowed opponents to shoot 60.8% on shots within six feet. Only three centers allowed a higher percentage on an equal or greater number of shots: Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic and Nikola Vucevic. If Kanter could hit the three like Towns or serve as a distributing fulcrum like Jokic, he would have a chance to deliver enough offensive value to offset his defensive limitations. Unfortunately, that’s an “if” that likely isn’t going to happen."
Both evaluations seem like significant drawbacks, but opinions will vary on placement in anyone’s top 100. Other lists will file in as the season nears, some of which may place either player or both in the NBA’s upper-echelon, whether it’s in the top 100, top 75 or higher.
If not, as Hardaway Jr. and Kanter enter their prime, the 2018-19 campaign can become an opportunity to take another step forward—shedding what Mahoney and Golliver said—and turn into top 100 players. Will Hardaway turn into an efficient starter? Can Kanter hold his own on defense?
In 2017-18, Hardaway Jr. averaged 17.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 42.1 percent shooting and 31.7 from three-point range. He played in 57 games, due to injuries that lingered throughout the season.
In Kanter’s first season with New York, he averaged 14.1 points and 11 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game and 71 appearances. His 59.2 shooting percentage was a career-high.