Stephen A. Smith was very bad at ESPN after the company decided to list the 25 best players under 25 and coming up with a very controversial ranking that featured good names but in an order that almost nobody liked. NBA fans had a lot to say about it, especially with the position of some players who have done great things and have a bright future in the association.
Smith joined them and made it clear that he was unhappy with the list. More specifically, he didn’t like the fact that Charlotte Hornets rookie sensation LaMelo Ball was 3rd on the list, right behind Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson. During a recent edition of First Take, the veteran analyst called out his own network for such a very bad list.
“Hell no. I love LaMelo and he would have been my rookie of the year had he not gotten hurt. I think this kid is a future star in this league. I love LaMelo, but it is stuff like this that diminishes the credibility of ESPN,” Smith said.
“ESPN needs to drug test anyone who had something to do with this. It makes no sense. LaMelo Ball before Devin Booker, really? LaMelo Ball before Donovan Mitchell, really? LaMelo Ball before Jayson Tatum, really? I mean, what the hell is going on? I believe that ESPN should call security right now and go to whoever put this list together – line them up and test every one of them.”
ESPN Insiders ranked the NBA’s best 25 under 25 and put LaMelo Ball at No. 3, behind only Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.@stephenasmith would VERY MUCH like to be excluded from any association to this list 😂😭 pic.twitter.com/CbNHpg0vvH
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 6, 2021
This was very surprising for a lot of people and the 53-year-old wasn’t the exception. He didn’t hesitate to call out his own employers over this and did it a great way. Sure, it’s still early to say how LaMelo will fare in the league and that won’t sit well with fans. He played 41 games this season before going down with an injury, showing a lot of good things with the Hornets.
ESPN’s top 10 players under 25
(Rankings based on future potential)
1) Luka Doncic
2) Zion Williamson
3) LaMelo Ball
4) Donovan Mitchell
5) Jayson Tatum
6) De’Aaron Fox
7) Ben Simmons
8) Devin Booker
9) Bam Adebayo
10) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) April 6, 2021
Melo was the clear frontrunner to win the 2021 ROY award but now the competition is harder with him out of the picture. What would be the best top 10? That is something subjective but most people will tell that Ball doesn’t deserve that 3rd spot just yet. Some could even say he’s not top 10 on this list.