Fantasy: Top-100 Overall Rankings for 2012-2013
Below is the first of many Top 100 overall rankings HOOPSWORLD will publish leading up the start of, and throughout, the 2012-2013 NBA season. This list is certainly preliminary, considering training camp is still a few months away and many rosters are very much in flux. Nonetheless, for the dedicated fantasy GM, it is never to early to get a head start on the competition. Moreover, the projections for the fantasy elite likely won’t change significantly, and there are quite a few sleepers I already have my eye on.
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, FG%, and FT%. The ranking 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 included a running commentary (chock-full of random stats and interesting tidbits) to help explain the thinking behind a handful of these selections…
Thus, without further adieu, I present a preliminary 2012-2013 Top 100:
|1||LeBron James||51||Joakim Noah|
|2||Kevin Durant||52||John Wall|
|3||Chris Paul||53||Eric Gordon|
|4||Kevin Love||54||Roy Hibbert|
|5||Dwyane Wade||55||Goran Dragic|
|6||Al Jefferson||56||Steve Nash|
|7||LaMarcus Aldridge||57||Amar'e Stoudemire|
|8||Deron Williams||58||Andrea Bargnani|
|9||Russell Westbrook||59||Ray Allen|
|10||Dirk Nowitzki||60||Tony Parker|
|11||Paul Millsap||61||Blake Griffin|
|13||Kobe Bryant||63||Anthony Davis|
|14||Josh Smith||64||Anderson Varejao|
|15||Pau Gasol||65||Wesley Matthews|
|16||Kyle Lowry||66||Tim Duncan|
|17||Al Horford||67||Carlos Boozer|
|18||Ty Lawson||68||Kris Humphries|
|19||James Harden||69||Zach Randolph|
|20||Marc Gasol||70||Brook Lopez|
|21||Kyrie Irving||71||Jeremy Lin|
|22||DeMarcus Cousins||72||Andrew Bogut|
|23||Stephen Curry||73||Jeff Teague|
|24||Serge Ibaka||74||Jason Terry|
|25||Ryan Anderson||75||Jose Calderon|
|26||Rudy Gay||76||Jrue Holliday|
|27||Greg Monroe||77||Channing Frye|
|28||Dwight Howard||78||Gordon Hayward|
|29||Carmelo Anthony||79||Kevin Martin|
|30||Paul Pierce||80||Nikola Pekovic|
|31||Nicolas Batum||81||Rodney Stuckey|
|32||Mike Conley||82||Arron Afflalo|
|33||Danny Granger||83||Kenneth Faried|
|34||Andre Iguodala||84||Antawn Jamison|
|35||Brandon Jennings||85||Isaiah Thomas|
|36||Kevin Garnett||86||Thaddeus Young|
|37||David Lee||87||Klay Thompson|
|38||Danilo Gallinari||88||Trevor Ariza|
|39||Marcin Gortat||89||Elton Brand|
|40||Marcus Thornton||90||JaVale McGee|
|41||Paul George||91||Raymond Felton|
|42||Joe Johnson||92||Jarrett Jack|
|43||Gerald Wallace||93||Ramon Sessions|
|44||Manu Ginonbili||94||DeAndre Jordan|
|45||Ersan Ilyasova||95||Evan Turner|
|46||Tyson Chandler||96||Jordan Crawford|
|47||Chris Bosh||97||J.R. Smith|
|48||Monta Ellis||98||Lou Williams|
|49||Rajon Rondo||99||Dorell Wright|
|50||Tyreke Evans||100||Kawhi Leonard|
Missed the Cut: Jason Richardson, Mario Chalmers, Ricky Rubio, Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, Carlos Delfino, Jason Kidd, Jared Dudley, Tony Allen, David West, Luis Scola, Chris Kaman, DeMar DeRozan, Derrick Favors, Brandon Rush, Jamal Crawford.
* You can’t really go wrong with the #1 overall pick. You could make a strong case for either LeBron or Durant, or even Chris Paul as the top overall selection. Personally, I’d go with LeBron primarily due to the all-around versatility and, just as importantly, the durability. King James has only missed a handful of games over the last few years, which makes him as dependable and reliable a fantasy commodity as we have seen in recent fantasy hoops history. Oh, and he’s pretty good at basketball as well. Despite averaging a career-low 37.5 minutes, LBJ ranked third in scoring (27.1 ppg), while pacing the Heat in assists (6.2 apg) and tying for the team lead in rebounds (7.9 rpg). In addition, James established career bests in field goal percentage (.531) and three-point field goal percentage (.362). No reason to expect any of those numbers to decrease any time soon.
* Obviously, this is taking nothing away from Kevin Durant, who won the scoring title for the third straight season, despite being just 23-years old. But the other facets of Durant’s game are also emerging, which is why he has emerged as one of the NBA’s best fantasy producers. Last season, KD averaged career-highs in rebounds, assists, blocks, and three-pointers.
* Clippers point guard Chris Paul was the only player in the NBA last season to average over 19.0 points, over nine assists and 2.5 steals; and is one of only two players in NBA history to complete a season with averages of 19+ ppg, 9+ apg and 2.5+ spg. (Tim Hardaway was the other, in 1990-1991).
* Kevin Love is the final member of the elite top tier. When healthy, Kevin Love has been as proficient as any player in the sport. Look at the ridiculous numbers he posted in March: Over 16 games that month, he averaged 30.7 points, 13.9 boards, and 3.0 three-balls. He finished the year averaging 26 ppg, 13.4 rpg, and 1.9 three-pointers. Consider this: Love averaged more rebounds than Andrew Bynum; more points than Carmelo Anthony; and more three’s than Jason Richardson.
* Dwyane Wade is a bit of a risk at #5 overall, considering the nagging knee injuries that troubled him all season long. In addition, he averaged just 22.1 ppg, the first time he’s scored fewer than 24 per game since his rookie season back in 2003-2004. Still, when healthy and locked in, he is undoubtedly a fantasy force.
* Russell Westbrook saw his scoring average increase for the fourth straight season this year (23.6 ppg in 2011-2012). And while his assists dropped dramatically (from 8.2 apg in 2010-2011, down to 5.5 apg in 2011-2012), his proficiency from downtown increased; Russ averaged a career-high 0.9 three-pointers per contest (more than doubling his previous high).
* Paul Millsap is one of those players than consistently seems to fly under the radar, despite continually putting up superb all-around numbers. Millsap stuffs the stat sheet across the board — There were only 2 players in the league last year to average over 7 rebounds and 1.5 steals = Paul Millsap and LeBron James.
* Andrew Bynum appeared in 60 games, averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 35.2 minutes; ranking among league leaders in scoring (20th), boarding (3rd), FG% (4th), blocks (6th). He became just the fifth Laker in franchise history (joining Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and George Mikan) to record 30+ rebounds in a single game on 4/30, then, L.A.’s next game, scored 30 points in a 103-97 Lakers victory over the Denver Nuggets at STAPLES Center. In doing so, Bynum became the first NBA player with 30 rebounds in one game and 30 points in the next since Moses Malone had 32 rebounds on February 11, 1982 and then scored 32 points in his next game, two days later.
* Defensive dynamo Josh Smith at it again last year, ranking among the NBA’s best in several defensive categories. He tied for 8th in blocks (115), 10th in rebounds (632) and 18th in steals (93). He was the only player in the NBA ranked in the top 20 in bpg and spg. On January 7 versus Chicago, Smith finished with 25 pts, 5 rebs, 5 assts, 6 blks and 4 stls, becoming the first player in over 18 years to hit those levels in a game (since Hakeem Olajuwon on 12/30/93), according to Elias Sports Bureau. He’s also the fourth player to ever record those numbers in a game, joining Hall-of-Famers Olajuwon (5x), Kareem Abdur-Jabbar (4x) and David Robinson (once).
* Over the final 31 games of the regular season (after returning from a minor ankle injury), Ty Lawson scored 20+ points 15 times and averaged 17.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 7.0 apg and 1.32 spg during this stretch. Lawson then went on to play arguably the best ball of his career in the postseason, giving the Lakers and Ramon Sessions fits. Lawson’s stock is definitely on the rise. If Andre Miller leaves via free agency as expected, Lawson will also see more playing time next season. Lots to like here…
* I loved Ryan Anderson as a sleeper last season, scooped him up late in nearly every draft in which I partook, and he delivered in a major way. What separates Anderson from the pack is the fact that’s he’s center-eligible and contributes in a number of different categories, without hurting you in any. Not only did Anderson lead the league in three-point makes last season, he also averaged 7.7 rebounds and turned the ball over fewer than once per game. The future of the Magic roster is up the air right now, and Anderson will obviously be impacted by Dwight Howard situation, so this is clearly something to keep an eye on.
* Steph Curry is the ultimate boom-or-bust guy. I understand I have him ranked higher than most everybody else, but I willing to roll the dice. The math is pretty simple actually; if he stays healthy and starts 70+ games next season, I guarantee you he will finish amongst the top-15 overall in 9-category leagues. If his ankle doesn’t heal and he again misses significant time, he’ll be a flop and a waste of an early round pick. I’ll obviously keep an eye on his status in training camp and the preseason, but I’m ready gamble on a guy that possess such incredible fantasy upside.
* Speaking of Dwight Howard, you guys know the deal with Superman – he is far, FAR more valuable (Top-10 overall) in 5-category leagues and head-to-head formats. But in nine-cat leagues, which are what these rankings are based on, his FT% is crippling. Last season, Dwight shot just 49.1% from the stripe. Not only does he shoot poorly from the line, he gets there more than any other player in the NBA (10.6 attempts per game), which really drags down your overall score in roto leagues. (As a point of comparison, Corey Maggette averaged just 6.5 attempts per game, but still averaged more FT makes). The other major blemish on Howard’s resume is the turnovers. Last season, he turned the ball over 3.2 times a night. Again, if you are playing in a five-category league (which tallies solely points, boards, assists, steals, and blocks), feel free to take Dwight early in the first round. If you play in an 8 or 9-cat league, let somebody else make the mistake of reaching for him too early.
* Goran Dragic, who started at point guard the last 26 games for the Rockets, averaged 18.0 points 8.4 assists, and 1.8 steals in his 28 total starts last year. Per Houston PR, Dragic dished out at least six assists in a career-best 24 straight games (3/10/12-4/21/12). It ranked tied for the second longest such streak in the NBA this season: Steve Nash ran off 40 straight, and Rondo posted 24 consecutive such games.
* Marcin Gortat was a monster last season, but what happens if his partner in pick-and-roll crime (Steve Nash) leaves Phoenix? It is highly unlikely Gortat would approach last seasons numbers if Nash isn’t running point in the Valley of the Sun.
* Much like D Howard, Blake Griffin is another player I will NOT draft next season; as his production won’t match his hype – especially in 9-category leagues. The first major issue is the free-throw shooting. Blake averaged 7.1 FT attempts per game last season (6th highest total in the NBA) but converted just 52.1%. As noted earlier in regards to D Howard, that’s the worst possible combination – a guy who gets to the line a lot, but misses nearly 50% of the time. The free-throw shooting is obviously horrible, but that’s not the only issue. The limited blocks and steals are also a problem. Griffin recorded a total of just 48 blocks during the entire 2011-2012 season. Let someone else draft him way too high and then remind that GM that you’d don’t get fantasy points for amazing dunks, as jaw-dropping windmills have the same value in the box score as a boring Timmy D bank shot. That said, if you are playing in a 5-cat league, consider this: Blake Griffin finished 2011-12 as the ONLY player in the NBA to average over 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Griffin did
it last year as well and is the first player since Kevin Garnett in 2006-07 to put up those numbers.
* Point guard Jeff Teague picked up right where he left off in the Playoffs last year, and made a case as one of the league’s most improved players. He averaged 12.6 ppg (up from 5.2 last year), 4.9 apg (2.0 last season) and 2.4 rpg (1.5), while ranking 10th in the NBA in spg (1.61), 20th in STL/TO ratio (0.79).
* Nuggets neophyte Kenneth Faried started 39 games last season, averaging 11.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 0.95 blocks in those games. Additionally, he played 20+ minutes on 34 occasions, averaging 11.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.03 blocks in those contests. Furthermore, among rookies his 7.7 rebounding average and his .586 field goal percentage ranked 1st and his 1.02 blocks ranked 3rd.
* Sounds as if Luol Deng is scheduled to undergo wrist surgery after the Olympics, torpedoing his value. And the future of his PG, Derrick Rose, is also very much up in the air. Conservative estimates suggest Rose would return in January…
* Lastly, it is very difficult to project/predict the value of certain players (Dragic, Ersan Ilyasova, Kris Humphries, Ramon Sessions, Raymond Felton, Chris Kaman, etc), due to the fact that they are free agents and we have no idea what uniform they will be wearing next season. Will they be starting and seeing major minutes? What type of offensive system will their future coach be running? There are all important, and unanswered, questions. Stay tuned…