Rick’s Tips: Thunder A Fantasy Dream

Not only are the Memphis Grizzlies one of the NBA’s elite teams, they may also rank as the best overall fantasy team.

It’s a two-horse race for the best overall fantasy team between the Grizzles and Thunder, with the Heat (3 of the top 37 players: James, Bosh, Wade) and Trail Blazers (3 of the top 41 players: Batum, Lillard, Aldridge) ranking third and fourth, respectively. Working in the Grizzlies’ favor is the fact that they have 4 of the top 42 fantasy players, while the Thunder sport 4 of the top 49. Working in the Thunder’s favor is the fact that they have 3 of the top 20 players and 2 of the top 8.

NBA.com/FantasyKevin Durant is 1st overall (by a wide margin over Kobe Bryant), Russell Westbrook ranks 8th (career-high 8.5 assists per game), Serge Ibaka ranks 20th (may lead the NBA in blocks for the next decade), and Kevin Martin ranks 49th (15.8 ppg, 2.2 3pg, 1.1 spg).

Mike Conley ranks 12th (yes, first-round value from Conley!), Marc Gasol ranks 22nd (averaging 4.4 assists and 91 percent from the line), Rudy Gay is 33rd (one-one-and-one in blocks, steals, and threes), and Zach Randolph is 42nd (18 and 13 mitigates his lack of D).

As for each team’s fourth-best fantasy player, I’d much rather have Z-Bo than Martin for a million reasons. In terms of the top two players for each team, I’d MUCH rather have Durant and Westbrook than Conley and Gasol. So which Core Four would I rather have? It’s a coin flip, but it would be tough to leave Durant and Westbrook on the table, even if I have to take on the injury-prone Martin.

That said, there are three reasons to remain bullish on the Grizzlies. One, Lionel Hollins deploys a very fantasy-friendly rotation in that his Core Four plays between 34.6 and 37.2 minutes per game. Two, every player knows and accepts his role. To wit, the Core Four averages between 14.4 (Conley) and 19.0 (Gay) points per game. And three, GM Chris Wallace has built a deep and talented roster full of players who love to compete and win—both in reality and fantasy.

Rick Kamla is an anchor on NBA TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @NBATVRick.

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