New York holds some of the strongest athletes in the world. However, it isn’t as easy to find the rankings of which ones deserve to be within the New York top ten. Here, the Allnysports experts go through this and narrow it down to the best ten.
If I was writing this a year ago, you would have called me crazy. That goes to show how much Julius Randle has improved his game over the past year. Not only is he averaging over 23 points per game, he frequently involves his teammates in plays, something he didn’t do last year when he spun near the rim. The Knicks wouldn’t be 19-18 without Randle and he has proved doubters wrong.
Just missing our top ten in the rankings was Mets stud right fielder Micheal Conforto. At just 28 years old, Conforto is another young star in New York who could be here for a long time beyond 2021, but that is going to require the Mets to spend money. And a lot of it. Conforto broke out in the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, putting up a .322 batting average, .927 OPS, and slugging 9 homers for New York. Conforto didn’t have a ton of protection around him in the Mets lineup last year, as Pete Alonso had a disappointing campaign, but assuming Alonso can bounce back in 2021, things should be better on that front.
This 32-year-old Yankees second baseman falls just outside of the top 10 rankings. His infield utility, superb defense, and potent offense make him one of the best, versatile players in MLB. Back in 2019, he signed a two-year deal with the Yankees after spending seven years in Colorado. In 2016 he had a .348 batting average to win the batting title and in 2014, 2017, and 2018 he won a Gold Glove for his defense work. In his two years so far with the Yankees, he has placed in the top-five in AL MVP voting, he has won two Silver Slugger awards and in last year’s pandemic-shortened season he slashed .364/.421/.590 with a 1.011 OPS. LeMahieu used these stats to land a new, six-year contract during the offseason.
Coming in tenth place of our rankings Kyrie Irving, the 28-year-old point guard for the Brooklyn Nets. Like Judge, Irving is a former Rookie of the Year winner, having won the award in the 2011-2012 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. During his six years with the Cavs, he scored 8,232 points, was named All-Star Game MVP, and won the NBA Championship in 2016. After a trade that saw him spend two brief seasons in Boston, Irving signed with the Nets in 2019. In his Brooklyn debut, he scored 50 points, becoming the first player to do so in their team debut.
Although injuries and personal reasons have kept him out of more games than Nets’ fans would’ve liked, he is still one of the big reasons why the Nets are performing so well. With Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden (#1 and #4, respectively), Brooklyn has a massive, three-headed monster. As the second half of the season approaches, Nets’ fans are hoping Irving and the others can help the team make a deep playoff run.
9. Aaron Judge
The second Yankees player on these rankings is none other than 28-year-old outfielder Aaron Judge. He has been one of the best players for his team and arguably one of the best outfielders in Major League Baseball. In 2017, Judge was unanimously voted as the AL Rookie of the Year and was a runner-up to José Altuve for AL MVP. That season, Judge slashed .284/.422/.627 while getting 114 RBIs and hitting 52 home runs. Those home runs set the then-record for the most in a single season by a rookie.
Additionally, he helped the Yankees make a run to the ALCS that year. Since then, while minor injuries have prevented him from playing a full season (especially last year), he has still managed to mash. In both 2018 and 2019, he hit 27 home runs. So far in his career, Judge is slashing .272/.390/.558 with 119 home runs and 268 RBIs. This season, he will be hoping to stay healthy and continue his strong form to help the Yankees reach great heights.
8. Saquan Barkley
Entering his Junior season in the NFL the talented running back from Penn State has been nothing short of stellar. Drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 draft he looked to be the future of the G-men. In his rookie year, he rushed for 1307 yards and 11 touchdowns. His sophomore season he ran for over 1000 yards and touchdowns. These stats showed the amount of star power that he can have. This past season he got plagued by an ACL injury that left him out of action all year. He is coming back strong this season hopefully just as good as he came from college. With his strength and explosiveness, he is a young superstar on the rise. With a few more seasons he can very easily be the best player on the rankings.
The newest acquisition for the New York Mets is already making waves for the team. The electric 27-year-old shortstop out of Puerto Rico has widely been considered one of the best Shortstops in the game. He has been a career .285 hitter with a sneaky amount of pop with 138 home runs over 6 years. He is one of the fastest in the game with 99 steals over his 6-year career. This more than puts him in the upper echelon of baseball talent. In the upcoming season, it is more than exciting to see how he does and the blue and orange and if he can get up higher in the ranking of New York sports players.
6. Mat Barzal
Coming in at number six in our rankings is Islanders’ centerman Mathew Barzal. Barzal is seen by many as former captain John Tavares‘ replacement on the Island and that idea isn’t too far off. Barzal, like his predecessor, is a good scorer on the top line, getting goals and assists almost on a nightly basis, putting up 227 points in 4 seasons with the Isles. He is a leader on and off the ice for New York, despite not having a letter on his jersey. The biggest thing that Barzy has that Tavares didn’t is speed. Mat Barzal is one of the fastest players in hockey if he isn’t the fastest. He can constantly create scoring chances purely based on winning races to pucks and skating around the defenders.
On any other team, Barzal would be a 40-goal scorer every single year. He isn’t on the Islanders, though, but that is only because the Islanders play the neutral-zone trap, defensive style of hockey much more than they try to outscore everyone. Barzal is likely as close to firepower the Islanders will have for a long time considering their willingness, or lack thereof, really, to spend money on the big names, and when paired with Anders Lee and either Jordan Eberle or Josh Bailey on the top line, Barzal is exactly what you would expect from a 22-year-old rising star. He is both fun to watch and he puts up numbers on the stat sheet that are some of the best the Isles have seen in a long time.
At number five in our rankings is the New York Rangers’ left winger, Artemi Panarin. Panarin, who is just 29 years of age, has recently taken a leave of absence from the team due to recent issues involving false allegations from his time spent back in Russia, but this does not take away from the fact that he is one of the most electric players in hockey. The “Bread Man” as Rangers’ fans call him, has gone from an upstart kid in Chicago six years ago, to one of the most exciting players to watch in the National Hockey League. If you want to see a guy light the lamp in several special ways, go watch Panarin play.
Panarin is one of the best goal scorers in the game right now, and his 37 goals in just 83 games with the Rangers should say something to that. Not only can the Bread Man score goals, but he isn’t afraid to pass the puck around. He’s got 76 assists to go along with his 37 goals, making a total of 113 points in just over a full season’s worth of games in New York when you consider the pandemic and then the fact that he only played 14 games before he was falsely accused of assault in Russia after speaking out against Putin. Similar to James Harden, if New York wasn’t loaded with firepower, he would likely be higher on this list. Considering where he is, though, you can’t be upset at being number five on this list.
4. James Harden
Coming in at number four in our rankings in newly acquired James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets. While at the beginning of his career, Harden began as sort of a role player in Oklahoma City alongside Russel Westbrook and Kevin Durant, he has blossomed into a star at the guard position. Harden has made nine straight All-Star rosters, assuming you count this season, as well as putting up an MVP season in 2018 with Houston. Since coming to Brooklyn, Harden is averaging 25.5 points, 11.4 assists, and 8.7 rebounds per game. It goes without saying that Harden is expected to be a star in Brooklyn, especially considering how much the Nets gave up to get him, and he has lived up to it. Had it not been for the top three athletes in New York being as high-caliber, he easily could be higher on this list.
3. Gerrit Cole
In 2019, the weak link of a Yankees team was health and depth in the starting rotation. Brian Cashman, the Yankees general manager, broke the bank and signed former Astro and Pirate Gerrit Cole to a 9-year deal worth $324 million. Cole finished second in CY Young voting in 2019 and was very solid in 2020 as well. Cole will have a huge impact on all Yankee teams for the next decade. Additionally, he is loved by all fans and players around him. Brian Cashman got it done on this signing.
2. Jacob Degrom
After being called up to the major leagues in the 2014 season, the Mets were certain they would get a great pitcher in Jacob Degrom. However, he has exceeded all expectations so far, winning back-to-back CY Young awards in 2018 and 2019. He was dominant in the shortened 2020 season as well. While the Mets typically fail to back Degrom with run support, he is typically able to hold opponents under 3 runs. Degrom will be a major part of the new-look Mets under Steve Cohen.
1. Kevin Durant
This pick is nearly impossible to disagree with. When the Nets signed Kevin Durant in the 2019 offseason, the whole NBA world went insane. Not only did Kyrie Irving come along with him, but many thought he would end up in Manhattan with the Knicks. While Durant missed all of the 2019-2020 season with an injury, he has been dominant so far this season and is the player everyone is used to seeing. Even though he is aging, he is still a consensus top 5 player in today’s NBA. Durant will make the Nets contenders for at least a few more years.
Written by Spencer Brod, Xavier Santana, Vincent Giacolone, and Zach Ouellas