If you read my post last week ranking SG’s you may recognize some of the analysis that follows. In many leagues, such as Yahoo! standard leagues, guys who play the 2 and the 3 can be used and thought of nearly interchangeably, in an umbrella position I refer to as “swingmen.” Indeed, scoring guards and small forwards are going to produce in a similar fashion generally speaking, and you are often looking for the same qualities in swingmen whether the officially play SG or SF. Nevertheless, here at Major League Fantasy Sports, we play ultra deep teams with very specific rosters, making it important to distinguish between otherwise similar swingmen. For many NBA squads, the SF is their core superstar: KD, Lebron, Melo, etc, etc, etc fall in this category. I have seen fantasy rosters built this way too, although I do not construct my teams in this manner, it can be a very successful formula. When considering your options at SF there are two types of players you will be looking for. Your first option is guys who offer a horizontal marginal advantage, meaning they contribute across the board and produce regularly in a number of different categories. Lebron James is the quintessential horizontally dominant fantasy stud as he stuffs stat sheets every night. Your second option is guys who provide a vertical marginal advantage, meaning they dominate in one category to the point that they virtually lock it up single-handedly.These types are less prominent at the 3 spot, but a good example would be someone like Nick Young for threes. As stated last week, I much prefer horizontally dominant players and this bias will again be reflected in my overall rankings.
1. LeBron James (CLE) – 56.7fg%, 75.0ft%, 1.5 3ptm, 27.1pts, 6.4ast, 6.9rbd, 1.6stl, 0.3blk, 3.5to
All hail the King, for he has returned! Lebron is undoubtedly the greatest basketball player on earth; and perhaps the most gifted athlete, physically, of all time. He doesn’t get hurt, he doesn’t get tired, he’s an absolute cyborg. The King shoots an astounding 57% from the floor while posting a ridiculous line of horizontal dominance every night. That’s simply amazing efficiency, in a range generally reserved for guys who score all their points on layups and dunks. Call me nuts, but Lebron is still my #1 overall pick. KD and Brow are great players, I get that – I see their appeal; but at the end of the day, betting against Lebron is a game you’re going to lose. If you have the first pick in your draft, don’t get cute, don’t beat around the bush, take the best player in the world and ride him to a title.
2. Kevin Durant (OKC) – 50.3fg%, 87.3ft%, 2.4 3ptm, 32.0pts, 5.5ast, 7.4rbd, 1.3stl, 0.7blk, 3.5to
Reigning MVP Kevin Durant is an equally impressive athletic freak in his own right, nobody that tall and long should be allowed to move and shoot with the proficiency of KD — it’s just not fair. Honestly, KD and LeBron need their own league where they can play against equally talented players, like the aliens from Space Jam perhaps. Like LeBron’s, KD’s horizontally stunning line should speak for itself, and if you’ve got a top 2 or 3 pick Durant should be a no-brainer. Unlike fantasy football, you know your first pick won’t be a bust (ahem: Lesean Mccoy, and Adrian “I beat my child while smoking weed” Peterson) so pull the trigger with confidence and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Update: A broken foot! NOOOO! NO! NO! NO! God damn it! Get well soon KD, ice and elevate that hoof buddy.
3. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – 45.2fg%, 84.8ft%, 2.2 3ptm, 27.4pts, 3.1ast, 8.1rbd, 1.2stl, 0.7blk, 2.6to
Phil Jackson is running the show in New York now, and will no doubt be whispering in Derek Fisher’s ear season long. This is good news for Melo, who despite being the NBA’s self-proclaimed “most underrated star” (laughing ensues), will assume the MJ/Kobe role in Phil’s immaculate offensive system. The arrival of Calderon should be a fantasy boon for Melo as well because he’s always looking to pass first, and with Andrea Bargnani starting at PF there will be plenty of leftover rebounds for Melo to inhale. You can’t go wrong taking Anthony in the first round.
4. Chandler Parsons (DAL) – 47.2fg%, 74.2ft%, 1.8 3ptm, 16.6pts, 4.0ast, 5.5rbd, 1.2stl, 0.4blk, 1.9to
I absolutely love watching Parsons play basketball. He’s big and quick and can handle the ball excellently; he can smoothly get to the hoop or pull up and rain threes on you all day; he can see the floor and find the open shot or simply make the clutch shot as the clock winds down. In his last season in Gainesville he made not one, but two full-court buzzer beaters to seal Gator victories. I believe Dirk will be a fantastic mentor for Parsons, and this may take Parsons’ game to the next level. I’m looking for modest improvements across the board and I absolutely love the assists he’ll pile up at the swing position. I think he’s a steal if you get him in the 3rd round.
5. Kawhi Leonard (SA) – 52.2fg%, 80.2ft%, 1.0 3ptm, 12.8pts, 2.0ast, 6.2rbd, 1.7stl, 0.8blk, 1.2to
There’s reason to believe Kawhi is on the precipice of a monster breakout season, as he’s poised to establish himself as one of the NBA’s next superstars. Look no further than his splits from last April, where he posted 16.1pts/3.3ast/5.9rb/2.0stl while shooting 55.3% and averaging 1.3 3ptm. He’s one of the very best shutdown defenders in the league and has a realistic shot at joining the very exclusive 1stl/1blk club this season. Kawhi also features a crazy efficient offensive game — in November 2013 he took 2.5 threes and shot 50% from the floor, but in April he took 3.6 threes and shot 55%. He not only took more shots, but he took more good shots. And obviously Manu, Duncan, and Parker are all another year older, and they basically passed the torch to Kawhi during last season’s championship run where they were unstoppable. It’s Kawhi’s time now.
6. Gordon Hayward (UTA) – 41.3fg%, 81.3ft%, 1.1 3ptm, 16.2pts, 5.2ast, 5.1rbd, 1.4stl, 0.5blk, 2.8to
If you haven’t noticed by now, I love point forwards. Assists are the most important stat in fantasy basketball because they are the hardest category to improve in after the draft, and there just aren’t that many players who you can rely on for solid nightly production. Hayward is one of the few players in the world who can give you 16/5/5 every night, and I always recommend jumping on a line like that. I don’t think that the arrival of Dante Exum will hurt his assist totals whatsoever either, and I expect Gordon to shoot a better fg% this season as well. It was only two years ago when he shot over 45%, and as he becomes more comfortable as Utah’s first option I’d expect his fg% to climb back up into that range.
7. Nicolas Batum (POR) – 46.5fg%, 80.3ft%, 1.8 3pt, 13.0pts, 5.1ast, 7.5rbd, 0.9stl, 0.7blk, 2.5 to
Batum is the quintessential horizontal type fantasy asset — he doesn’t do anything completely out of this world, but he does everything very, very well. A true renaissance man, Batum’s owners are accustomed to him stuffing the stat sheet every night and it’s difficult not to love that as a fantasy owner. My only issue here is that he doesn’t score nearly enough to be considered an elite level player, and I don’t his scoring totals will improve all that much this season as Lilard and LaMarcus remain the first two options. Furthermore, the fact that he shares the perimeter with the similarly tooled Wes Mathews also keeps his fantasy value slightly lower than I think his talent would otherwise suggest; but that’s what makes the Blazers an exciting team to watch, so and I’m not counting on that to change any time soon either.
8. Rudy Gay (SAC) – 45.5fg%, 82.2ft%, 0.9 3ptm, 20.0pts, 2.9ast, 6.0rbd, 1.3stl, 0.8blk, 3.1to
Rudy Gay caught a lot of flack last year for a number of things that rubbed fantasy owners and basketball fans the wrong way. Nevertheless I still regard Rudy as one of the best overall players in the NBA. He plays elite defense, scores points in bunches, and can take over a game at any moment. For a full breakdown on why I love Rudy Gay, check out this article from last season: “In Defense of Rudy Gay.”
9. Josh Smith (DET) – 41.9fg%, 53.2ft%, 0.9 3ptm, 16.4pts, 3.3ast, 6.8rbd, 1.4stl, 1.4blk, 2.6to
Technically he’s still listed as a SF for Detroit so I’ll include him in these rankings. Despite those terrible shooting percentages Smoove does something very few players can: he averages more than 1 steal and 1 block per game. The only other players to do that last year were Brow, Boogie, Drummond and Millsap; and note that Smoove is the only member of the 1/1 defense club who’ll have SF eligibility. That’s called a comparative advantage folks, use that to your benefit. No one’s really sure why he takes so many threes when he can barely drain half of this free throws, but the scoring, D, and rebounds will be there, and that’s where his value lies.
10. Tobais Harris (ORL) – 46.4fg%, 80.7ft%, 0.5 3ptm, 14.6pts, 1.3ast, 7.0rbd, 0.7stl, 0.4blk, 1.3to
Tobias is another upside special draft candidate who may be undervalued by most fantasy owners. Last year he was plagued by injuries and was not very good for the first half of the season– but check out his splits from December and March last season:
Dec: 39fg%,74ft%, 0.7 3ptm, 12.2pts, 7rbd, 1.7ast, 0.7stl, 0.1blk, 1.0to
Mar: 51fg%, 88ft%, 0.5 3ptm, 16.9pts, 6.6rbd, 1.1ast, 0.8stl, 0.5blk, 1.1to
Ultimately Tobias’s 2013-14 averages are skewed because of the months it took him to get healthy and find his game. Lazy owners who don’t follow the Magic will not be aware of this and therefore Tobias will likely be available later than most players of his caliber. Furthermore, with Afflalo and Nelson (arguably Orlando’s two best players from a year ago) gone Tobias will be responsible for picking up some of the lost production. Given that Harris will have an even larger role in the offense this season, is finally healthy, and is likely undervalued because of his injuries last season, Tobias offers some serious mid round value.
11. Trevor Ariza (HOU) – 45.6fg%, 77.2ft%, 2.3 3ptm, 14.4pts, 2.5ast, 6.2rbd, 1.6stl, 0.3blk, 1.7to
Ariza had the best year of his career last year and cashed in with the Rockets in the off-season where he will fill Chandler Parsons’ shoes. Now if Ariza is capable of producing the way he did last year, I probably have him ranked a bit too low; but before you fall in love with Trevor again, take a look at his career stats over his 12 year career.
43.4fg%, 69.6ft%, 0.9 3ptm, 9.7pts, 2.0ast, 4.6rbd, 1.4stl, 0.3blk, 1.4to
Those numbers hardly even warrant fantasy ownership. Nevertheless Ariza is still only 29 years old and has legitimately improved as a player, particularly offensively. I think Parsons is more skilled than Ariza, but playing in that role you know Ariza will at least get the opportunity to shine again, and you can still count on him for defense. Just be aware that last year was a contract year for Ariza, and now that he’s got a nice fat contract from Houston he’s liable to revert back to the mediocre player he’s been for much of his career.
12. Luol Deng (MIA) – 43.1fg%, 79.1ft%, 0.9 3ptm, 16.0pts, 2.9ast, 5.7rbd, 1.0stl, 0.1blk, 1.8to
Luol has huge shoes to fill as he replaces LeBron as Miami’s starting small forward. It will be interesting to see how Eric Spolstra uses him because he’s certainly not the same player that LeBron is. In my mind, Deng is one of the most overrated players in the league, which somehow happened after he spent years as one of the NBA’s most underrated players. His defense is still good, but not that good as far as fantasy production is concerned at least, and he doesn’t make enough threes to be considered a weapon in that category. People may point to his 2012 averages where he went 19pts/3.7ast/6.9rbd but that occurred when the Bulls were ravaged by injuries and Deng was forced to become the first offensive option. He’ll likely be the third option for the Heat this season behind Wade and Bosh, and after years of playing big minutes for Tom Thibodeau (he averaged 37+min/game in each of his last 5 seasons in Chicago) Deng may be starting to slow down. He’s someone I’ll be avoiding on draft day.
13. Jeff Green (BOS) – 41.2fg%, 79.5ft%, 1.6 3ptm, 16.9pts, 1.7ast, 4.6rbd, 0.7stl, 0.6blk, 2.0to
Jeff Green has a ton of upside and can be a fruitful fantasy asset when he’s good, but he’s been famously unreliable at times and could be competing for minutes with Evan Turner. If he wins the starting job he’ll give you pretty reliable scoring and threes, but it’d be nice if he could grab a few more rebounds considering the fact that he’s 6’10”. Green had a tough shooting year last season, but he did shoot 46% and 48% over the previous two season respectably so there could be some improvement in that category this season. Ultimately you’ll have to monitor the minute situation here, but I think Green is a much better player than Turner, so I’d feel good about adding him in the draft.
14. Jabari Parker (MLK) – (college) 47.3fg%, 74.8ft%, 1.1 3ptm, 19.1pts, 1.2ast, 8.7rbd, 1.1stl, 1.2blk, 2.3to
I loved Jabari Parker coming out of Duke and I was crushed when the Magic drew 4th in the lottery because I knew he’d be gone by then. There will be growing pains for sure, and like most rookies will struggle to shoot efficiently at times. But he’s a natural and explosive scorer and those rebound totals are a huge plus — finding complimentary production of this caliber is essential to building a successful fantasy (and NBA) team. Like I said for Wiggins: roll the dice and draft Jabari — let the games begin.
15. Tyreke Evans (NO) – 43.6fg%, 77.1ft%, 0.3 3ptm, 14.5pts, 5.0ast, 4.7rbd, 1.2stl, 0.3blk, 2.4to
I’ve always been a fan of Tyfreak and whether he’s starting or the first man off the bench I think he can be an nice asset to fantasy owners. First of all, for a potentially mid-late round pick he provides a nice level of assists, and he’s definitely capable of lighting up the scoreboard when he’s hot. But he’ll also be wildly inconsistent at times and will likely struggle with injuries as he often has over the previous few years. Ultimately I really like Evans’ upside, but you’ve certainly got to be careful with him, don’t put all your eggs in this basket.
16. Danilio Gallinari (DEN) – (2012) 41.8fg%, 82.2ft%, 1.9 3ptm, 16.2pts, 2.5ast, 5.2rbd, 0.9stl, 0.5blk, 1.6to
As a guy with great size and the ability to get hot from outside, Danilio is a top talent in my mind. But he also missed the entire season last year and is playing on a surgically repaired knee. I think the ceiling is high for Gallinari and if he stays healthy he’ll be a force on the offensive end of the court, but he could just as easily end up sitting on your IR, leaving you searching for a new SF.
17. Andre Iguodala (GS) – 48.0fg%, 65.2ft%, 1.0 3ptm, 9.3pts, 4.2ast, 4.7rbd, 1.5stl, 0.3blk, 1.6to
Ok so Iggy had a disappointing run last season, as his scoring numbers dipped into single digits. I think he’s poised for a rebound year however, as the Warriors are under new management — I just don’t think Mark Jackson utilized Iguodala correctly last season. He’s still going to play excellent defense, and his ast/to ratio is still very impressive — especially for someone with forward eligibility. He doesn’t need to score all that much more to return to a mid-round type value, 12 or 13ppg would make him look like Nic Batum lite, and that would be a nice snag late in the draft.
18. DeMarre Carroll (ATL) – 47.0fg%, 77.3ft%, 1.3 3ptm, 11.1pts, 1.8ast, 5.5rbd, 1.5stl, 0.3blk, 1.1to
Carroll had a nice breakout year last season and there’s no reason he can’t do it again; he has nice size and a lot of upside. That said, after 7 years in the NBA his career ppg average is a mere 6.2 and with Al Horford back in the mix there may be fewer points to go around — Carroll probably loses shots before Korver, Millsap, or Teague. Nevertheless, he went from 0.3 3ptm to 1.3 3ptm from ’12 to ’13 and could make more improvements from deep this year, this would solidify his value. He could be a nice guy to take a flyer on late, but then again he might not work out at all.
19. Nick Young (LAL) – 43.5fg%, 82.5ft%, 2.1 3ptm, 17.9pts, 1.5ast, 2.6rbd, 0.7stl, 0.2blk, 1.5to
SWAG baby! I absolutely freaking love watching Nick Young score, and scoring with Nick Young on 2k. This guy was born to put the ball in the hoop, simple as that. He offers a nice vertical advantage in threes and outstanding scoring output, with surprisingly ok defense. He’s a nice guy to own if you need to boost your scoring totals but you’ll need to look else where for secondary production.
20. Terrence Ross (TOR) – 42.3fg%, 83.7ft%, 2.0 3ptm, 10.9pts, 1.0ast, 3.1rbd, 0.8stl, 0.3blk, 1.1to
Speaking of guys who are way too fun to play with on NBA 2k video games, Terrence Ross can be an electrifying talent as well. He can certainly light it up from deep and can explode to the basket whenever he wants, but his upside is capped as the tertiary option in Toronto. Now his third year in the NBA, I’m looking for modest improvements in scoring and shooting percentage, and a few more boards would be nice too.
21. Paul Pierce (WAS) – 45.1fg%, 82.6ft%, 1.5 3ptm, 13.5pts, 2.4ast, 4.6rbd, 1.1stl, 0.4blk, 2.0to
Maybe not the Truth we all know and love, but Pierce can still ball when he needs to. He’ll spend the year teaching the young Wizards how to win and play like champions; I am really high on the Wizards this year and they could compete to lose the East to Cleveland in May. News came out today that Bradley Beal may be hurt again, which could be a benefit to Pierce’s fantasy value too.
22. Matt Barnes (LAC) – 43.8fg%, 73.3ft%, 1.5 3ptm, 9.9pts, 2.0ast, 4.6rbd, 0.9stl, 0.4blk, 1.3to
Barnes is a scrappy, hard-nosed player who I’d call a defensive specialist. I watched him a lot when he was in Orlando and he played fantastic defense against both Kobe and LeBron in the playoffs during the Dwight Howard years. The Clippers are absolutely stacked though, and I doubt there will be enough offensive opportunities for Barnes to make a huge fantasy impact. I could also call him a dirty player, but I’m going to take the high road instead of stooping down to Matt Barnes’ level.
23. Wilson Chandler (DEN) – 41.6fg%, 72.4ft%, 2.0 3ptm, 13.6pts, 1.8ast, 4.7rbd, 0.7stl, 0.5blk, 1.3to
Chandler has a nice offensive skill-set and good size that equates to a lot of uspide. He offers a nice vertical advantage in threes and should help out with a few boards too. If and when Danilo goes down again, Chandler gains a lot of value.
24 (t). Gerald Green (PHO) – 44.5fg%, 84.8ft%, 2.5 3ptm, 15.8pts, 1.5ast, 3.4rbd, 0.9stl, 0.5blk, 1.8 to
24 (t). P. J. Tucker (PHO) – 43.1fg%, 77.6ft%, 0.9 3ptm, 9.4pts, 1.7ast, 6.5rbd, 1.4stl, 0.3stl, 1.3to
Green and Tucker are battling for the starting job in Pheonix and I’m praying that Green wins out because he’s much more talented offensively. If he does win out I’ll probably bump him up a few spots because he is absolutely lethal from deep and shoots with nice efficiency for a bomber. If Tucker wins out it hard to justify owning him beyond his good defense and decent rebounding.
26. Vince Carter (MEM) – 40.7fg%, 82.1ft%, 1.8 3ptm, 11.9pts, 2.6ast, 3.5rbd, 0.8stl. 0.3blk, 1.1to
Vince had a nice season last year and should get plenty of run in Memphis who needs more offensive output from their back-court play. That said, he shot poorly last season and doesn’t do much more than hit threes any more. Don’t draft him because you don’t recognize anyone else’s name late in the draft. Do your homework first and only take him if you have to, it’s not Vinceanity any more.
27. Rodney Hood (UTA) – (college) 46.4fg%, 80.7ft%, 2.0 3ptm, 16.1pts, 2.1ast, 3.9rbd, 0.7stl, 0.3blk, 1.5to
To be honest, I don’t really watch college basketball (f****** amateurs) and I’ve never seen this guy play. But those are some nice stats and rotoworld says he’s a “legit rookie sleeper” and I’m inclined to believe them. I’ll get back to you on this one.
28. Harrison Barnes (GS) – 39.9fg%, 71.8ft%, 0.8 3ptm, 9.5pts, 1.5ast, 4.0rbd, 0.8stl, 0.3blk, 1.1to
I was really high on Barnes when he came into the league and he’s been a huge disappointment in my mind. He can’t shoot, or see the floor, and his defense is average. Maybe a new regime will help revitalize the small forward position by the Bay, but I doubt it for Barnes at least. I wouldn’t even think about drafting Barnes until he shows some offensive growth.
29. Gerald Henderson (CHA) – 43.3fg%, 76.1ft%, 0.5 3ptm, 14.0pts, 2.6ast, 4.0rbd, 0.7stl, 0.4blk, 1.5to
Gerald Henderson is a nice player and can get hot from time to time, but his inability to shoot the long ball really hurts his fantasy value, because he doesn’t do anything other than score, which he does somewhat inefficiently.
30. Evan Turner (BOS) – 42.5fg%, 81.3ft%, 0.6 3ptm, 14.0pts, 3.2ast, 5.0rbd, 0.8stl, 0.1blk, 2.3to
Maybe it’s because he’s from Ohio State, but I’ve always considered Evan Turner hot garbage. I used to call him vastly overrated but I think most people have come around to my vantage point on this issue by now. Don’t draft him unless Jeff Green or Avery Bradley gets hurt.
31. Doug McDermott (CHI)
32. Caron Butler (DET)
33. Corey Brewer (MIN)
34. Otto Porter (WAS)
35. Andrei Kirlilenko (BKN)
36. Moe Harkless (ORL)
37. Al-Farouq Aminu
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday October 19th from 11am-12pm EST for this weeks installment of Major League Fantasy Football Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596
Our guests this week will be Bryan Robinson who is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com. Bryan’s article publishes every Thursday and he focuses on the running back/wide receiver position. He also does a weekly Q&A for us on reddit’s fantasy football section every Saturday. Jeff Nelson will also be joining us again. Jeff is the DB coach for White Hall H.S. in PA and is a two time Major League Fantasy Football Champion. Come join us for a very spirited conversation.
Be sure and check out the Sports Palooza Radio Show every Thursday at 11am EST. Kerry Wood will be one of the guests this week.