Welcome back for another season of fantasy hoops on NBA.com. I’m psyched to have the full 82 games to talk about and stoked to be back in the saddle, as we enter our 11th season of bringing you the fantasy goodies on NBA TV and NBA.com. I want to give a special shout-out to all of you who have been down from the start. I hear you on Twitter, I see you on the street and I love you all.
So let’s get back to work on winning a(nother) fantasy hoops championship.
If you won last year and you think you know everything, listen up because the fantasy landscape has changed with monsters like Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard limping in. If you didn’t win last year, then there’s even more work to do. So pull up a chair as we tip off our preseason fantasy coverage with my top 10 guards, based on 8-categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, and threes made).
Sorry, 9-caters, but I don’t do turnovers because I find it pointless to penalize the best players in the game. Last year’s top 10 in total turnovers practically reads like an All-Star team: John Wall, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis and Andre Miller. I don’t like getting penalized for picks and fumbles in fantasy football and I don’t like getting penalized for turnovers in fantasy basketball. You could torture me with 72 straight hours of Justin Bieber and I still wouldn’t cave.
10. Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks: I have Ellis ranked as my third-best shooting guard, but 10th among all guards. I tend to favor PGs over SGs because of the assist-three-steal triumvirate. That said, Ellis is one of the most electric players in the league, and with Scott Skiles (gasp!) going offensive with his Bucks — and with Monta getting a full training camp with his relatively new team — I expect Electric Ellis to light up scoreboards again this year. Last year, Ellis plummeted to 17.6 ppg in 21 games with the Bucks, but bank on a return to the 20s, as he and Brandon Jennings make a bid for best backcourt in the NBA.
9. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: It seems like Rondo should be higher, right? Well, as much as I love Rondo — with whom I have won a 5-cat fantasy championship — we are talking 8-cat rankings. Thus, his lack of threes (0.2 per game last year) and poor free-throw shooting (.619 career) preclude me from bumping him over the dudes below. But triple-doubles are the sweetest fantasy stat of all and Rondo is the league’s top triple-double threat, so he’s always cool with me.
8. Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets: Lawson (who needs a good nickname, by the way) was the 8th ranked PG on last season’s 8-cat rankings. But I’m moving Lawson up to 6th on my PG ranking — and 8th among all guards — because he’s the lightning-quick QB of a run-and-gun team. Also, truth be told, I don’t trust Derrick Rose (ranked 5th among PGs last year) or Stephen Curry (fourth) because of their injuries. Lawson helps in almost every category, is efficient and the Nuggets have built their team around him.
7. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks: Fear the deer, baby! The Bucks are going to be better than you think this year, and that goes for Jennings, too. improved his FG shooting for a second straight season (37 percent in 2009-10 to 39 percent in 2010-11 to 42 percent last season) and averaged 5.5 assists, 2.0 threes, and 1.6 steals. More telling was the fact that his numbers got better (itax)after(itax) Monta was traded to Milwaukee, as Jennings averaged 20.5 ppg on 44 percent shooting in March and April.
6. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: If you’re surprised by this ranking, then you haven’t had the pleasure of owning Irving in a fantasy league. I had him in a 30-team “experts” league and made it to the finals because he was so all-around good. Unfortunately, Kyrie got hurt, and I got beat by my boy Steve Alexander, aka Doctor A. Kyrie flirted with a 50-40-90 shooting season (FGs, 3s and FTs) for much of his rookie season, plus the goodies in points, assists, threes and steals. And don’t lose sight of the fact he is Cleveland’s franchise player.
5. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: Initially, I had Wade ranked ahead of Kobe Bryant because of the former’s insane block-steal numbers. But then I read the report that Wade may see his minutes dropped to 33, with random rest DNPs mixed in for an added buzzkill. It makes sense, as Miami cares far more about April through June then October through March.
4. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers: Kobe rolls out of bed on game day and the box score already reads: 25-5-5. I don’t care where he’s playing or who he’s playing with, that’s his line. There are some guys who get “their” stats no matter what. Kobe is one of those guys. And now that superheroes Nash and Dwight Howard have joined the fight, Kobe will only raise his game in the pursuit of championship No. 6.
3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: My top three overall guards are also my top three point guards because the position is so strong these days. Westbrook ranked second among PGs on the 8-cat chart last year — ahead of D-Will, D-Rose and everyone except Chris Paul. There’s nothing not to like about Westbrook, who is so competitive and talented that he can’t help but improve.
2. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: D-Will has had seven awesome seasons in the league, but 2012-13 will be his best one yet — and perhaps a signature season for his career. Dare I say — or chant — MVP! MVP! MVP!? D-Will is already a preseason favorite — at least in my eyes — for the soon-to-be renamed “LeBron Award”. D-Will is the maxed-out face of franchise moving to Brooklyn to play in the $1 billion Barclays Center on a team with a ridiculous starting five. Where do I sign?
1. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers: CP3 won his second Olympic gold medal with Team USA in London, but wrecked his right thumb in the process and had to have surgery. There’s no doubt, however, that Paul will start on opening night because he is one of the NBA’s toughest and competitive dudes. Paul averaged 19.8 points, 9.1 assists and 2.5 steals in his first season with the Clippers. With a deeper bench featuring finishers like Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, I’m expecting even better numbers from CP3 this year. LBJ and KD are the only players I’d rather have than Paul, who is the hands-down third overall pick in every fantasy hoops league, regardless of categories.