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Fantasy Basketball Rankings 1.0


Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Three Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Here are my first rankings of the new season. As you can imagine, these will change throughout the preseason as we see more from everyone. For now, I’m including the top 96 players, and a few other names. I’ve shied away from all but two of the rookies (Ayton and Doncic, obviously) because rookies are historically, y’know, not as good as vets. I’m also avoiding the Olds, like Dirk, since I have absolutely no idea what to expect from him, and Pau Gasol, as well as guys in confusing situations that I do not, CAN NOT, trust, a la Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Without further ado, here are the first 8 rounds worth of players in a 12 team league. Holler with your laudatory exclamations of agreement in the comments section below.

  1. Karl-Anthony Towns (6th overall ESPN ADP, btw) - The Big KAT has played in all 82 games of all three seasons of his career. Anthony Davis can’t say the same. I think with Jimmy Butler gone, and the ensuing addition of shots, the KAT will show just how good an offensive force he is. I think this is his real breakout year and I’m all in on him in every league.
  2. Giannis Antetokounmpo - He can improve his shot and he doesn’t miss games and who knows what positions he’ll be eligible for by the end of the year? He’s going first in most ESPN drafts right now (10/5/18). He’s probably the safest pick in the draft.
  3. Anthony Davis - Everyone’s ranking him as if he’s going to be the #1 this year, but he’s still not 1st in ADP. That has me wondering why. Are we afraid of injury? Or, something else? His skills won’t decline, but maybe his hype just isn’t anywhere close to the Greek Freak’s, and that’s reflected in the draft market. Interesting. Any of these three should help you win your league, though.
  4. James Harden - Remember when he wasn’t a starter on the Thunder? Remember when OKC chose Serge Ibaka over him? Remember when the Thunder made the Finals? Remember when they had Durant, Harden, AND Westbrook? Since 1999, only five teams from the Western Conference have reached the NBA Finals: the Lakers (x7), the Spurs (6x), the Warriors (x4), the Mavericks (x2), and the Thunder (once). Who would you rather have: Durant/Westbrook/Harden or Curry/Klay/Draymond? OKC’s trade of Harden will go down as one of, if not the, greatest forks in the road in NBA history.
  5. Damian Lillard - He’s only 28. I think there’s more room to grow. Plus, the Blazers continue to surprise, even though it seems to be just sound and fury, signifying nothing when it comes playoff time. But, to paraphrase his teammate, Dame’s trying, Jennifer.
  6. Kevin Durant - Get real, he could be the #1 player in fantasy, if he wanted to. Like LeBron said several years ago, if he wanted to be the points leader every season, he could be. KD’s the exact same way. His most impressive feat is the fact that he DOESN’T need to dominate games in order to be dominant. He’s probably the first pick in a real life, win-it-all-this-year draft. He’s simply transcendent.
  7. Sergeant Russell Westbrook - Take that hill! TAKE THAT HILL! In all seriousness, what if the Sarge just keeps approaching triple-doubles for the rest of his career? I mean, that’s crazy...isn’t it?
  8. Steph Curry - You know he missed a bunch of games last year, right? He’s also 30, which seems impossible.
  9. Nikola Jokic - The Joker is one of the best passing big men I’ve ever seen, I think. He plays for, and is the central focus of, the Golden Denver Nuggets, possibly my favorite non-Pistons team this season. I love all of their players, and Jokic is the straw the stirs the drink. Dude’s an absolute monster. There’s a distinct possibility that he ends the fantasy season as the #1 Center.
  10. LeBron James - I doubt he plays every game this season, which lowers his fantasy value, and I doubt he leads the league in minutes like last year, which lowers his fantasy value, and I doubt the Lakers are as absolute crap as the Cavs were last season, which means he won’t have to do everything on offense, which lowers his fantasy value. I don’t want LeBron to be the #1 fantasy player, anymore. Let him rest, man! Jesus, hasn’t he done enough? Help him! Still, a top 10 player in fantasy, though.
  11. Ben Simmons - The Chosen One will be a top 10 player as soon as he develops a jump shot. Until then, I can’t allow him within those hallowed ranks.
  12. Kawhi Leonard - If he’s totally healthy, he may be a top 5 fantasy player.
  13. Joel Embiid - I anticipate two things: Philly to have a worse record than last year, and Embiid to have a better season. That doesn’t necessarily mean that his stats will improve, but he certainly will. Besides, he’s already beast, so even small gains will be fantasy gravy (hmmm...yuck).
  14. DeMar DeChozan- I can’t stress this enough: DeRozan, an elite scorer at the shooting guard position, is now playing for Manu Ginobili’s coach, Gregg Popovich. Aside from injury, there’s no GODDAMN WAY he doesn’t do well. DeChozan is the Truth: Spurs fans are about to find the eff out.
  15. Victor Oladipo - Was last year Dipo’s best year? It’s possible that 2017-18 will end up being his career season, but I think he can still improve. The Pacers are so goddamn boring that it lowers Dipo’s ceiling, but he’s still incredible, and the team should be better just because it’s hard to see them being any more mediocre than they were last year. Myles Turner needs to step up.
  16. Andre Drummond - The dude gets 16 rebounds a game, okay? Oh, and 3+ steals/blocks last year. What the hell is wrong with you. He’s still young, Blake won’t be going inside as much, Drum will be going outside MORE, and there’s no good goddamn reason why we should expect him to backslide in his free throw shooting. We should expect him to get better! Just like he expects of himself! Believe, damnit! He’s 25 years old, for goodness sakes! He’s younger than Anthony Davis! He’s a super nice guy, too. Drumothy forever, man.
  17. Dr. John Wall - I honestly believe it’s now or never. Wall needs to have a down-ballot MVP season in order for the Wizards to be a real threat in the East. I think he will. Hell, maybe assist leader this season? Regardless, LeBron is gone and DC’s been talking tough forever. I think Wall backs up the tough talk.
  18. Kyrie Irving - Another guy who should see his assists go up. He’ll be leading one of, if not the, best teams in the NBA this season. He’ll be passing to an entire team of players who look like LeBron James clones (and, Al Horford). No one’s mentioned how weird this is going to be. This Celtics team will be strange AF to watch.
  19. Kyle Lowry - With all due respect to DeChozan, Kawhi Leonard is better than him. This may be the best team Lowry’s played on; he’ll rise to the occasion. I think he has a monster year.
  20. Chris Paul - I think this is his last elite year, and he knows it. He’ll play less, but it’ll be tight and efficient. Desperation leads to greatness.
  21. Donovan Mitchell - A player on the other end of the age spectrum, this sophomore may go absolutely crazy this year. After the All Star break last season, Mitchell’s line was 22 points per game on 43% shooting, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Only 14 guys did that for an entire season last year. Seems pretty good.
  22. Paul George - We forget how good this guy is. He could be top 15, if he’s on.
  23. Jimmy Butler - I would have him higher, except that he misses games every year, and who the hell knows where he’ll land in a trade.
  24. Kevin Love - He’s now the focus of the Cleveland Cavaliers. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a great volume guy AND is a big that gets you shots from outside. This we know.
  25. Kemba Walker
  26. Draymond Green
  27. Jrue Holiday
  28. Bradley Beal
  29. Devin Booker
  30. LaMarcus Aldridge
  31. Jayson Tatum
  32. C.J. McCollum
  33. Khris Middleton
  34. Gordon Hayward
  35. Marc Gasol
  36. Klay Thompson
  37. Rudy Gobert
  38. Tobias Harris
  39. Clint Capela
  40. Deandre Jordan
  41. Blake Griffin
  42. Dwight Howard
  43. Enes Kanter - He’s younger than you think, the Knicks won’t have the Unicorn for most, if not all, of the season, so the paint will belong to Enes in the Garden. Underrated player, especially in fantasy. Also, good luck to his family back home. That’s a helluva tough situation.
  44. Lauri “Baron” Markkanen - The Finnisher is injured to start the season, but he’s daaaaaamn good.
  45. Dennis Smith, Jr. - I just love this guy to death. You have to be some kinda good as a young player to get on Rick Carlile’s good side. DSJ and Luka are going to be AWESOME together.
  46. Andrew Wiggins - This ranking is based on Jimmy Butler leaving town. If he doesn’t, then Wiggins’s value plummets.
  47. Luka Doncic - This is how much I believe in Luka. Rookie of the Year, maybe the Mavs make the playoffs, I’m not kidding. Luka’s going to be incredible.
  48. Mike Conley - People forget how good he and Big Spain are together. If they’re both healthy, people will suddenly remember.
  49. Brandon Ingram
  50. Deandre Ayton - I’m not totally crazy, the dude looks like he can score easily. Still. Losing to Buffalo really feels me with dread.
  51. Kyle Kuzma - One of the best Lakers rookie seasons of all time. THAT’S impressive.
  52. Jamal Murray
  53. Julius Randle
  54. Otto Porter, Jr.
  55. Lou Williams
  56. John Collins
  57. Al Horford
  58. Goran Dragic
  59. Ricky Rubio
  60. Lonzo Ball
  61. Aaron Gordon
  62. Steven Adams
  63. MELO! - Y’all, he’s not dead. He’ll most likely be better in Houston than OKC, if only because he has a better coach (not a fan of Billy Donovan, am I). Melo and D’Antoni didn’t fit in New York, but time’s passed and they’re both in totally different situations now. Melo should work, at least offensively.
  64. Zach LaVine - His name is The Dentist, and he’s here to do two things: chew gum and dunk the HELL out of the ball. And, he’s almost out of gum; unless you have some? Sugar-free, obviously. Dentist and all that.
  65. De’Aaron Fox - I wonder if Fox is the new Boogie: an obviously talented player who’s getting ruined by an incompetent team. Sacramento better run with this kid, otherwise what’s the point? Oh yeah, having a trillion mediocre bigs. Sorry, I forgot. BTW: I ain’t a believer in ANY of the Kings bigs. I like Fox, and, sigh, I like Buddy “Steph Curry 2.0” Hield (see below), but I am supremely unimpressed with Sacto’s collection of tweener PF/Cs. I’d love to be surprised, but get real, I won’t be.
  66. Reggie Jackson - Another player who needs this year to be The Year. If RJax can’t stay healthy this season, then he’s a complete and utter bust as a signing. The Pistons should be able to make the playoffs with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. If they can’t, blame it on the rain and Detroit’s guards. Eric Draven, the most famous mime in Detroit’s history, once said that it can’t rain all the time, but RJax is going to have to make it rain (uh, threes, sorry) in order to come back to life in this Detroit hellscape. (That was a tortured, and utterly unnecessary sentence. In that, it is similar to Reggie Jackson’s tenure in Detroit thus far.)
  67. Golden Gary Harris - I’m head over heels in love with this dude. I lovvvvve the Nuggets this season! Aren’t you excited to watch this team?? Gary Harris was top 50 in ESPN basic last year; his current ADP on ESPN is 93. Um, what? Do good, young players generally get worse? Honestly, this is probably too low; he should be top 40 by the end of the season, if all goes well.
  68. Eric Bledsoe
  69. Hassan Whiteside
  70. Will Barton
  71. Robert “Bob” Covington
  72. Jonas Valanciunas - This guy was top 50 last year, and he’s seriously undervalued. But, I think that’s because no one wants him on their team. Why?
  73. Josh Richardson - A top 50 player whose ADP is 125th! Whoa! Why again??
  74. Jusuf Nurkic
  75. Joe Ingles - He’s much, much better than you think.
  76. Taurean Prince - Top 50 player, ADP 137th
  78. Jarrett Allen
  79. Taj Gibson - Thibodeau is going to make sure that Ancient Taj dies with his boots on. The dude’s valuable in fantasy because of his minutes. So long as Thibodeau is his coach, he’ll get minutes.
  80. Nikola Vucevic
  81. Harrison Barnes - He gets -1 kudos for being boring.
  82. Myles Turner - Turn it on, man, Dipo needs you!
  83. Dario Saric - Much more valuable than you think. You’ve also never heard him utter a single word. He might not be a real this all some kind of trick to see if you’re paying attention??
  84. Jeff Teague - Boring
  85. JJ Redick - If Fultz doesn’t work out, then JJ’s right back in the starting 5. Undervalued, for sure. He’d have looked great in Indy, too, though.
  86. Eric Gordon - If he starts, he could be top 50.
  87. Nikola Mirotic
  88. Derrick Favors
  89. Kelly Oubre, Jr.
  90. Dejounte Murray
  91. Tyreke Evans
  92. Darren Collison - Boring
  93. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Better than you think and only 23 years old.
  94. Buddy Hield - Hield’s post-All Star numbers were 29 minutes per game, 15+ points per game, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Only 17 guys had a similar stat line for the entire season. I really hate to say this, because I can’t stand the Kings front office, but Hield might be turning into a real player. He was top 75 in ESPN basic last year, top 100 in my league, and he’s being drafted 124th.
  95. Dwyane Wade - Why not? One last year for Flash, maybe he’ll have a 60 point game?
  96. Boogie Cousins - This is the last pick in the 8th round. You’re allowed to reach for a season-saving miracle with this pick. If Boogie comes back early enough, and gives you 80% of what he used to, he’ll win you your league.

Here are some guys that ESPN’s ADP likes, but I think are outside the top 100:

  • Paul Millsap - 65th ADP (Not feeling it, at all)
  • Trae Young - 66th (I would like some evidence first, por favor)
  • Jaylen Brown - 72nd (He hasn’t mattered in fantasy yet; with Hayward and Kyrie healthy, will his numbers actually get better?)
  • D’Angelo Russell - 74th (Spencer Dinwiddie is a better player than him.)
  • Elfrid Payton - 76th (Why should I trust this guy again?)
  • Marvin Bagley III - 77th (The Kings took this guy instead of Luka Doncic. Get real.)