Fantasy Rankings: The Too Early Top-50
With the NFL season officially underway, and fantasy football drafts in the books, it’s about time for us fantasy fanatics to start considering looking forward towards October and the start of the 2013-14 NBA campaign.
Yes, it’s still too early to begin making definitive prognostications about the upcoming NBA season, considering training camps won’t open for another month or so; however, it’s never too soon to begin light preparation in order to get a jump on the competition.
Thus, listed below is a preliminary preview of the official Top-150 overall rankings we’ll release in a few weeks.
As always, it is imperative that I issue this disclaimer: These rankings are based on 9-category fantasy scoring leagues that account for points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. The rankings for five-category leagues would look far different, especially for particular players with major flaws in categories such as free-throw shooting or turnovers.
Beneath the rankings, I have listed a handful of players that just missed the cut. I have also included a few random stats and other interesting tidbits to help explain the thinking behind a handful of these selections.
|2013-2014 NBA Pre-Season Top 50 Fantasy Players |
Just missed the cut: Paul Pierce, Ricky Rubio, David West, Dwight Howard, Greg Monroe, J.R. Smith, Monta Ellis, Pau Gasol, Derrick Favors and Tyreke Evans.
- Last season, Marc Gasol became the second player in NBA history to average at least 14 points, four assists and 1.5 blocks, while also shooting better than 84 percent from the free-throw stripe in the same season. The only player to match those across-the-board totals: Michel Jordan.
- It may look as if Nikola Vucevic is ranked too high, but consider this: Vucevic was one of only eight players in the league to average a double-double (13.0 ppg. and 11.9 rpg). And over the final five months of the regular season, from December 1 onward, Vucevic ripped down 798 rebounds, more than any other player in the NBA.
- Kemba Walker is another player we aren’t accustomed to seeing this high on cheat sheets, but the numbers demand he be respected. Walker led the Bobcats in scoring (17.7), assists (5.7) and steals (2.0), while also averaging 3.5 rebounds in 34.9 minutes. He was one of five players in the NBA who led their team in scoring, assists and steals (Steph Curry, Goran Dragic, Kyrie Irving and John Wall). Walker finished the season ranked fifth in the NBA in steals, 20th in steals per turnover (0.8), tied for 21st in scoring and 25th in assists. His 160 steals represented a franchise record.
- Kawhi Leonard is arguably the most underrated and unappreciated fantasy player in the game today. (For that reason, I suspect I’ll draft him in every league I partake in next year.) His well-rounded game is perfectly suited for nine-category leagues. He contributes across the board, and his greatest asset may be his remarkable efficiency. Leonard finished the 2012-13 season as one of just three NBA players to shoot above 49 percent from the floor, 37 percent from three-point land and 82 percent from the free-throw stripe. The other two members of this elite club were Kevin Durant and Steve Nash.
- Over his final 28 games of the year, Larry Sanders averaged 12.2 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. He flew under the radar playing in Milwaukee, but he’ll receive plenty of hype in fantasy circles this Fall.
- The Celtics are going to be bad next season. But, they are going to need somebody to shoot and score. Jeff Green will be that man. Draft him. Over the Celtic’s final 38 games last season (Rondo tore his ACL on January 28), Green averaged 16.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 three-pointers, and 1.2 blocks. Over that three-month stretch, Green was one of only four NBA players to average at least one block and one three-pointer per contest – the other three players were Nicolas Batum, Josh Smith, and Kevin Durant.
- Al Horford has now appeared in 391 regular season games, and has posted a composite average of 13.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, while shooting 53.9 percent from the floor. Per Elias, this places him in elite company, as only four other players matched those averages through the same number of games played – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Artis Gilmore.
- Brook Lopez became just the second player since 2007 to average at least 19 points, 7 rebounds, and two blocks in the same season (Dwight Howard is the other player). And at just 25 years of age, Lopez’s best days still lie ahead of him.
- There were only three players that tallied over 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 blocks last season: Kevin Durant, Josh Smith and Marc Gasol.
- I have touched on this previously, but Anthony Davis seemed to fly under the radar as a rookie. And while he didn’t quite live up to expectations, he still put up incredibly impressive numbers. He finished last season as one of only three players to average at least 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals (Joakim Noah and Josh Smith were the other two). However, Davis was incredibly efficient on offense as well. In fact, he was one of just seven players to average 13.5 ppg, while also shooting over 51 percent from the field and over 75 percent from the stripe. (The other members of this elite club were: LeBron James, Tony Parker, David Lee, Chris Bosh, Brook Lopez, and Amar’e Stoudemire). Davis did this all at just 19 years of age and in relatively limited minutes. His upside is frightening. Add it all up and you have one of the more exciting and promising young players in the fantasy hoops universe. Last tidbit for you to consider: Last season Davis became the first player since Shawn Kemp in 1991-92 (and just the 4th player in NBA history) to tally 13.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks despite averaging fewer than 29 minutes per contest.