While all of America is gearing up for fantasy football, I feel that it’s never too early for fantasy basketball draft preparation. We’re in the process of breaking down each position into tiers, continuing in this post with the spot that starts with the game’s two best players.
Outside of LeBron and Durant, small forward is perhaps the only position more scarce than shooting guard. Undoubtedly, there will be players not on this list who have small forward eligibility, but they’ve probably already been mentioned as a shooting guard, or in Tyreke Evans case, as a point guard. I’m tempted to exclude Melo from it because of how much power forward he plays, but he’ll definitely be small forward eligible this year too.
LeBRON JAMES, Miami Heat
KEVIN DURANT, Oklahoma City Thunder
The gap between these two guys and the rest of the small forwards is more significant than any other position. Even if you don’t like LeBron James, he’s worth taking for the sake of trade value alone, but the fact that he missed the last couple weeks of the fantasy season scares me half to death. Durant isn’t a bad consolation prize, but unless you have either of the top two picks, neither of these guys will be on your roster.
JAMES HARDEN, Houston Rockets
PAUL GEORGE, Indiana Pacers
Both of these guys were mentioned in our shooting guard breakdown, but will probably have small forward eligibility too. I would personally use Harden and George at the two, where they dominate their position, but you can’t go wrong if either of them are in your lineup.
CARMELO ANTHONY, New York Knicks
I hate empty stats (no steals and blocks), but Melo’s scoring is almost in a league of it’s own. He has a heavy impact on your percentages because of his volume of attempts, but probably won’t shoot too much higher than the 45 percent he shot last year.
JOSH SMITH, Detroit Pistons
NICOLAS BATUM, Portland Trail Blazers
I’m interested how Smoove will fit in next to Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe in Detroit, but whether he’s at the three or the four, he can always block shots. It’s also no crazy to say that Monroe and Smith are best passers on the team. Batum may have reached his fantasy ceiling, but his stat line is diverse enough to warrant consideration ahead of the two guys ahead of him on this list.
RUDY GAY, Toronto Raptors
ANDRE IGUODALA, Golden State Warriors
Gay averaged 19.5 points and 6.4 rebounds after being traded to Toronto, and it’s possible those numbers could increase as he becomes more comfortable. As for Iggy, I’m expecting a rebound year out of him after inconsistency plagued his short stay in Denver.
THADDEUS YOUNG, Philadelphia 76ers
JEFF GREEN, Boston Celtics
This is called the “stat hounds on teams in flux tier.” These guys will account for the majority of their frontcourt’s offense and should have all the free reign in the world given their team’s situations.
LUOL DENG, Chicago Bulls
CHANDLER PARSONS, Houston Rockets
DANNY GRANGER, Indiana Pacers
DANILO GALLINARI, Denver Nuggets
KLAY THOMPSON, Golden State Warriors
J.R. SMITH, New York Knicks
ERSAN ILYASOVA, Milwaukee Bucks
After Tier 6, things even out pretty quickly. From here on out, you’re looking to draft a small forward specifically for scoring, and these are the best of what’s left at doing just that. Gallo, Smith, and Granger bring injury concerns, but could pay off in the long run.
MO HARKLESS, Orlando Magic – potential to be like green but round later
EVAN TURNER, Philadelphia 76ers
TOBIAS HARRIS, Orlando Magic
WILSON CHANDLER, Denver Nuggets
These guys have upside through the roof, and I won’t blame you for taking any one of them above the guys in Tier 7. Harkless and Harris came on strong at the end of last season and should be able to continue their success this year as there have been minimal changes to the Orlando roster.
PAUL PIERCE, Brooklyn Nets
ANDRE KIRILENKO, Brooklyn Nets
GERALD WALLACE, Boston Celtics
JOE JOHNSON, Brooklyn Nets
These guys are probably worth for to their actual teams than their fantasy ones, but that doesn’t make them totally irrelevant. I’m expecting Wallace to bounce back in his new digs, especially since he has half the talent around him that he did in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for the Nets, everyone is going to eat at each other’s fantasy values, and it’s impossible to predict who will go off on what night.
KAWHI LEONARD, San Antonio Spurs
DANNY GREEN, San Antonio Spurs
AL-FAROUQ AMINU, New Orleans Pelicans
I love the upside that all these guys have, but it’s severely limited by the cast of guys around them. As long as TP and Timmy are running the show, it will be tough for Kawhi and Green to be consistent. Aminu can be a cheap source of rebounds for the guard heavy Pelicans.
MATT BARNES, Los Angeles Clippers
MARTELL WEBSTER, Washington Wizards
MARCUS THORNTON, Sacramento Kings
KYLE KORVER, Atlanta Hawks
MICHAEL BEASLEY, Phoenix Suns
HARRISON BARNES, Golden State Warriors
KYLE SINGLER, Detroit Pistons
At this point of the draft, you’re just rounding out the bottom of your roster. Still, these guys have more upside than the next tier.
MIKE MILLER, Memphis Grizzlies
SHAWN MARION, Dallas Mavericks
VINCE CARTER, Dallas Mavericks
WES MATTHEWS, Portland Trail Blazers
METTA WORLD PEACE, New York Knicks
JARED DUDLEY, Los Angeles Clippers
CARLOS DELFINO, Milwaukee Bucks
TREVOR ARIZA, Washington Wizards
CARON BUTLER, Phoenix Suns
These guys are all veterans that you’re going to want to avoid unless you only drafted one other small forward. They’re not dead quite yet, but at this point of the draft it’s worth taking a shot on someone with more upside, even if it doesn’t fit a position of need.