While all of America is gearing up for fantasy football, I feel that it’s never too early for fantasy basketball draft preparation.
While most believe in building their fantasy teams around point guards and big men, that doesn’t mean shooting guards can be totally ignored. Unlike the point guards we went over earlier this week, there isn’t much depth at the two, so having a stud there could help put your squad amongst the elite.
JAMES HARDEN, Houston Rockets
Steph Curry could land himself here too if he starts the season with shooting guard eligibility in both Yahoo! and ESPN. For now though, Harden is in a league of his own as far as two guards go in the fantasy world. The edge he gives you at his position is immensely better than the next, even if you consider that the presence of Dwight Howard might hinder his scoring output a bit. Harden shot just 44 percent from the field last season, and if he can bring that number up even a little bit, the scoring numbers will be a non-issue.
PAUL GEORGE, Indiana Pacers
KOBE BRYANT, Los Angeles Lakers
I imagine he’ll miss the beginning of the year, tanking his draft stock, but those who are willing to wait on Kobe (there has to be at least one Lakers fan in your league) to return will be handsomely rewarded. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting goose eggs for the first bunch of weeks, but as long as Kobe is playing for one of the league’s most lenient coaches, his production will be among his position’s best. As for George, it’s scary that he can only build on last year’s breakthrough. These two guys represent both the past and future of the league, and you can certainly do worse if you miss out on Harden.
DWYANE WADE, Miami Heat
Sure Wade’s fantasy game is diminishing, mostly because of health concerns, but the defensive stats he gives you are as unique as they come. He “only” blocked 0.8 shots per game last season, but even if that drops in to the 0.6 or 0.7 ranges, he will help out your bigs more than any other guard. Don’t forget that there were flashes (no pun intended) last season where Wade showed his dominance, and his tank isn’t completely empty.
MONTA ELLIS, Dallas Mavericks
ANDRE IGUODALA, Golden State Warriors
After these two guys there is a significant drop off in reliability, so you’re probably going to want to start somebody in the first four tiers. I’m expecting a bit of resurgence from Iggy, who probably won’t put up numbers like he did in Philly, but should be able to solve the consistency problems that plagued his fantasy value last year. Monta is the kind of guy that can put up stats no matter where he plays, but the roster around him in Dallas really plays to his strengths, so we can expect more of the same that we’re used to from him.
TYREKE EVANS, New Orleans Pelicans
ERIC GORDON, New Orleans Pelicans
BRADLEY BEAL, Washington Wizards
KLAY THOMPSON, Golden State Warriors
ERIC BLEDSOE, Phoenix Suns
This can be nicknamed “The Upside Tier.” By the time you see these names on the board during your draft, it will make more sense to draft based on upside as opposed to safety. You can make a legitimate argument for putting these guys in any order and it will be hard to doubt. I’m high on the offensive impact of the guys from New Orleans, but everyone on this list has the potential to finish as the best of the rest outside of the first four tiers.
JOE JOHNSON, Brooklyn Nets
JAMAL CRAWFORD, Los Angeles Clippers
J.R. SMITH, New York Knicks
O.J. MAYO, Milwaukee Bucks
If you miss out on the high ceilings of the players in the previous tier, these guys present a safe floor. All of them have the natural ability to put the ball in the hole, but you don’t want to rely upon them to do too much else for your squad. If we’re going to rank Kobe like he’s healthy, we have to do the same for J.R., but will he be able to repeat his Sixth Man of the Year performance? It’s going to be hard to replicate, and when you combine his knee injury to the talent of the other three in his tier, I’ll be passing on him come draft day. Question marks also hang over Johnson and Crawford, who both play for teams that significantly upgraded their rosters. Mayo should be butter for a Milwaukee team who sent most of their offense packing this summer.
DION WAITERS, Cleveland Cavaliers
RAYMOND FELTON, New York Knicks
GERALD HENDERSON, Charlotte Bobcats
AARON AFFLALO, Orlando Magic
If any of these guys are your starting shooting guard, it’s time to hit the trading block, Shooting guard eligibility for a point guard is a beautiful thing, making Felton way more fantasy relevant than he should be and while Waiters has the upside to play himself out of this tier, I wouldn’t want to rely to heavy on a breakout season from him. Henderson and Afflalo both have safe roles for losing teams, something that usually translates to fantasy success.
MANU GINOBILI, San Antonio Spurs
KEVIN MARTIN, Minnesota Timberwolves
We’ve already seen these guys play to their fantasy ceilings in their careers, but it’s not like they’re completely useless. When healthy, Martin can put up points as efficiently as any other shooting guard and Ginobili is still crafty enough to balance out his stat line even if he doesn’t put the ball in the hole as much as he once did.
DEMAR DEROZAN, Toronto Raptors
EVAN TURNER, Philadelphia 76ers
If these guys could knock down the three-ball, it would propel them into a whole other level. I think this is this the year we finally get the most out of Turner. The lack of talent around him will force the rock n to his hands, and while it’s impossible for him to live up to the expectations that 76ers fans set for him years ago, he will certainly be fantasy relevant at least for this season. As for Derozan, it might be hard to him to get a maximum amount of touches with the ball-dominant Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay playing alongside him.
GORDON HAYWARD, Utah Jazz
DANNY GREEN, San Antonio Spurs
BEN McLEMORE, Sacramento Kings
LANCE STEPHENSON, Indiana Pacers
The ceiling vs. basement issue comes in to full affect here, with Green and Hayward being about as safe as they come at this point of the draft, and McLemore and Stephenson having barely tapped in to their full potential. The later the round, the more you should go with upside.
JARRETT JACK, Cleveland Cavaliers
MARCUS THORNTON, Sacramento Kings
RAY ALLEN, Miami Heat
WESLEY MATTHEWS, Portland Trail Blazers
C.J. McCOLLUM, Portland Trail Blazers
KYLE KORVER, Atlanta Hawks
J.J. REDICK, Los Angeles Clippers
BRANDON KNIGHT, Milwaukee Bucks
LOU WILLIAMS, Atlanta Hawks
MO WILLIAMS, ???
NICK YOUNG, Los Angeles Lakers
JASON TERRY, Brooklyn Nets
KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE, Detroit Pistons
Depending on how shallow or deep your league is, these are your Sunday pickup or bottom of the roster guys. Picking up shooting guards when your losing in threes is the perfect way to mount an end of the week comeback.