In the first of a four-part series, Vincent Goodwill and Jake Fischer provide a glimpse at the rankings put together by the Yahoo Sports NBA team of the 40 best players in the association. Hear more about Yahoo Sports NBA Levels on the “Ball Don’t Lie” podcast - and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Welcome to Yahoo's NBA Levels, where we ranked the top 40 players into four levels of greatness. Here joining me, the great Jake Fischer. He's a level-one guy, but we're going to talk about level 4 today. Level 4 is players who are either a missing piece for a current championship team or who could be a missing piece for a future championship team. Jake, who best exemplifies that for you?
JAKE FISCHER: I think, with this current landscape right now, you could easily throw out a guy like Bradley Beal, who has been considered the missing piece for this Phoenix Suns after a massive three-team trade that brought him to the Valley with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. But if we're looking for another guy still available, still could be that missing piece, I'm curious about if Pascal Siakam could actually eventually land in Atlanta after all those flirtations between the Hawks and the Raptors. Is there someone who also has all-NBA experience or an All-Star nod that's standing out to you?
VINCENT GOODWILL: It's not Pascal Siakam, who was at the top of my list, but I do think he's a great piece, considering the role that he played with the Raptors in them winning the championship a few years ago. The guy that ranks out for me is a guy who helped the team win a championship in 2021, who was just traded very recently. Jrue Holiday, now no longer with the Milwaukee Bucks.
You're talking about a guy that defends, that's high motor, that's low maintenance, that's high impact. When you think of some of the most incredible plays that we've seen from the Milwaukee Bucks in the past couple of years in the playoffs, it was Jrue Holiday's strip of Devin Booker, leading to the lob of Giannis Antetokounmpo in game 5 of the NBA Finals.
And also, even in 2022, that block of Marcus Smart from behind and knocking it off of him had us thinking that we were going to see the Milwaukee Bucks back in the NBA Finals. They wound up losing that series, so it kind of gets lost. But those are the type of players, to me, not necessarily high usage, not necessarily big ego, but guys who can come in on any team, who can fit on a lot of different teams, guys like Jrue Holiday, guys like Draymond Green-- big ego, but still big impact.
JAKE FISCHER: The Clippers are clearly hoping that James Harden could be that guy as well. We've got a little bit of time here before that could potentially get resolved. But it is interesting how this can be a sliding scale, where you see some of these guys were once considered to be level-2 guys, some of them maybe even had the opportunity to be a level-1 character here in this NBA landscape. But all these guys, I think, would be massive upgrades if they ever got moved, and that's why they are considered on this list.
VINCENT GOODWILL: And another big point here, some guys who are level 4 yearn to be level 1. Some guys who are level 4 are level 4 because they want to be, and that's the role that they have chosen for themselves, and it has worked out for them. For Jake Fischer, I'm Vince Goodwill. This is Yahoo NBA Levels.