Los Angeles Lakers News: Pau Gasol Listed as 15th Best Player in the NBA by ESPN; Too High, Too Low, Or Just Right?

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 09/25/12 05:26PM EDT

ESPN's rankings of the top 500 players in the NBA is finally hitting the home stretch, as the website revealed players 11-15 on Tuesday. And based on the way the rankings have shaped up so far, Lakers fans should be very optimistic about their team's outlook moving forward.

Pau Gasol is listed as the 15th-best player in the league, and new teammate Steve Nash is No. 19. With Dwight Howard's and Kobe Bryant's places on the list still to be revealed, the Lakers have four players in the top 20, and two players in the top 10.

By comparison, the defending champion Miami Heat have three players in the top 20. Chris Bosh is No. 18 on the list, while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have yet to be revealed.

Gasol dropped four spots from his 2011 ranking despite averaging 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game last season. While he is getting up there in age, he is still one of the top big men in the league and will be a key part of the Lakers' plans this season.

These rankings were developed by 104 voters from ESPN and TrueHoop. Each voter gave the players a score between zero and ten based on "the current quality of each player", according to ESPN.

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The best part of these rankings is the Twitter interaction among various fans. Rankings exist primarily for the purpose of sparking debate, and with social media, that has become easier than ever.

Indeed, ESPN is even picking some tweets to include on its website along with the rankings. While some rankings, like Carmelo Anthony's position at No. 17, are sparking great debate, there are not that many tweets listed under Gasol's and Nash's names.

Still, some are noting that the combination of Nash and Gasol together could cause both to climb on the list next season. Specifically, a reader named Caleb Winn tweeted, "A season of running P&R sets with @SteveNash will make@paugasol climb higher than #15 on next year's#NBARank"

It's true that Nash and Gasol could very well help each other put up better numbers next year. However, as the Miami Heat have shown, it often takes a year or two for players from different teams to gel together and succeed in the playoffs. If the Lakers superstars fail to elevate each other's play right away, they could find themselves both losing in the playoffs and falling on next year's list.

What do you think of Gasol's ranking? Did he deserve to drop four spots on the list? Is Steve Nash still a top 20 player? Post your thoughts below.

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