- Tom Haberstroh
This time last year, Jeremy Lin was one of the worst players in the NBA.
Or so we thought.
In the inaugural #NBArank project last offseason, Lin ranked 467th among 500 players after being rated on a 0-10 scale by 91 ESPN.com and TrueHoop Network contributors.
We were wrong, obviously, but we weren't alone.
Yes, league executives, coaches and scouts -- professionals whose livelihood depend on getting these things right -- got him wrong, too. Before the #NBArank survey in the summer of 2011, Lin was treated like a borderline NBA player, making three trips to the D-League in 2010-11 and entertaining offers to play in Italy. After the lockout, he was waived on the first day of training camp by the Golden State Warriors and waived again by the Houston Rockets, before being picked up as a flier by the New York Knicks.
After #NBArank was released, and Lin came in at No. 467, even his trainer was yelling "467" at him during workouts.
And then, suddenly, he proved to everyone that he wasn't a fringe NBA player. Not even close. Lin surprised us all and averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 assists once he earned the Knickerbockers' starting gig in early February 2012.
After being considered one of the worst players in the league, Lin should catapult through the ranks this time around.
Now everyone wants to know who will become The Next Jeremy Lin -- a guy who went from the bottom hundred in the league to perhaps the top hundred all in one season. While we may not witness another jump quite like Lin's in the coming season, he was just one of many diamonds in the rough last season.
Last year, we ranked Lavoy Allen, a playoff starter for the Philadelphia 76ers, dead-last at 500th. Isaiah Thomas, the last pick of the 2011 draft and 464th-ranked player, won Rookie of the Month twice in 2011-12. And the San Antonio Spurs won 20 consecutive games last season with 421st-ranked Danny Green in the starting lineup.
As we learned last season, there's a good chance that several players will seemingly come out of nowhere and shock the basketball community. Who will do that next year?
Here are five candidates in the bottom 100:
Josh Harrellson (free agent)
Interestingly enough, Harrellson finds himself in a position similar to what Lin experienced last season for the Houston Rockets. Although Harrellson has proved he can play at an NBA level, the Rockets simply feature too many bodies ahead of him on the depth chart, and like Lin, Harrellson was the odd man out. There's a legitimate chance that the Rockets may be kicking themselves for this cut, as well.
This time last year, Jeremy Lin was No. 467 in ESPN's #NBArank standings. Tom Haberstroh identifies five candidates from the bottom 100 of this year's rankings who could potentially have a Lin-like rise during the 2012-13 season.