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The 2009-10 basketball season is just a couple days away and many fantasy leagues will be drafting their teams this weekend. This is why I took it upon myself to comprise a top-10 list for each position, along with likes/dislikes. In addition to the lists, I will give you the secret to finding success when drafting each position. So screw the introduction, let’s get right to strategy.
When coming out of the draft you want to have at least three point guards, but the more depth the better. The ideal point guard will provide you with free throw percentage, assists, steals and three pointers, while limiting his turnovers. Obviously, if you are drafting Chris Paul you aren’t alarmed by his three turnovers per game because of his elite numbers elsewhere.
Point guards will go off the board early and often because everyone wants their shot at the elite group, but don’t be alarmed if you only have one PG going into the sixth round because you can find nice value in the later rounds with guys like Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Andre Miller and T.J. Ford.
Here is where you want to draft your scorers. You want to get guys who shoot for high percentages, threes and get steals. I tend to go more for the guys who provide more categories than elite scorers because if you can find assists with points and percentages at both PG and SG you are sitting pretty. Remember, a player who posts 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal is better than a guy who posts 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal.
You can go several ways with your small forwards. You can go offensive (Danny Granger, Jason Richardson), defensive (Shawn Marion, Josh Smith) or balanced (Vince Carter, Andre Iguodala). Either way you need to choose a direction to go with your swing man and stick with it. I tend to go for more defensive minded small forwards because I find those stats the hardest to fill.
The most important thing when drafting power forwards is to make sure they have good FG% and block totals. This position is very deep and while a lot of them will get drafted early, there will be a lot of value in the later rounds of your draft.
There is a lot of value to be had at the center position thanks, in large part, to a lot of players qualifying at both forward and center. You never want to draft a center who shoots lower than 48% from the field and if he shoots over 70 percent from the line that is a plus. You can afford to pass on guys like Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh in the first round because you can land players like Luis Scola, Al Horford, Troy Murphy and David Lee in the middle-to-late rounds of your draft.
Now that you know what to look for in the draft you can use that knowledge to draft well and win your league. Good luck!
|Player, Position, Team||Note|
|Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans||Easily the top point-guard and should be overall top pick as well|
|Deron Williams, PG, Utah||Elite assists and points with few turnovers; big drop in PG production after him.|
|Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix||On the decline, but still provides elite assists and percentages.|
|Chauncey Billups, PG, Denver||Rarely misses a game and is a great source of threes, assists and steals.|
|Jason Kidd, PG, Dallas||Epitome of a statsheet filler; lack of points hurt a little.|
|Jose Calderon, PG, Toronto||Tons of assists, few turnovers and missed a total of three free throws (151-for-154) in 2009.|
|Devin Harris, PG, New Jersey||Elite scorer with great assists and steals. Poor FG% knocks him down a bit.|
|Rajon Rondo, PG, Boston||Defensive monster who can dish with the best of them (rebounds, steals, assists) Also managed to shoot 50% from the field in 2009; needs to work on consistency.|
|Gilbert Arenas, PG, Washington||Once a top-5 fantasy player, but has played just 15 games in the last two seasons; says knee is 100 percent healthy. Could be a big reward for whoever decides to take a chance on him.|
|Baron Davis, PG, Los Angeles Clippers||He’s not as durable as he used to be and his FG% is horrendous (37%); will provide good assists, threes, and steals.|
Every year he slips in drafts and ends up producing better than his draft position. He’s a great source of threes and doesn’t hurt your FG% or FT%. He is also a cheap source for assists and will average over one steal per game.
Nelson’s very nice 2008-09 season was ended prematurely when he injured his shoulder. The 27-year-old was having a career year in points (16.7), threes (2.0) and FG% (50.3%). He fits the point guard mold perfectly by contributing in assists, steals, and threes, but he also adds very good percentages and points.
Felton is a turnover machine who shoots for a very low percentage. He provides good assists (6.7) and steals (1.5), but he hurts you in too many categories. D.J. Augustine is breathing down his neck as the future starting point guard in Charlotte, so you have an unstable situation that won’t be worth the mid-round pick you will have to use on him.
There has been a lot of talk about Ramon Session in the off season and I don’t understand why. He doesn’t stand out in any category and provides nothing from three point range, which I like my point guards to do. Also, the fact that Minnesota drafted Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio means they do not see their future with Sessions at the point. Obviously Rubio is gone, but Flynn should take over the point guard duties sometime this season.
Despite shooting just 39 percent from the field, Westbrook managed to score 15.3 points per game and shoot 81 percent from the line. Add 5.3 assists and 4.9 rebounds and you have a nice foundation that Westbrook can build on in his second pro season. Not many point guards contribute that well in the rebound category so that is a nice bonus.
|Player, Position, Team||Note|
|Dwayne Wade, SG/PG, Miami||He is one of the few players who can take over a game offensively, but he also contributes in blocks (1.1), steals (2.2), and assists (7.5).|
|Kevin Durant, SG/SF, Oklahoma City||Could be the top-scoring SG at the end of the season while contributing in almost every statistical category with good percentages.|
|Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers||One of the most consistent players in the NBA and has become less selfish, which helps owners in the long run.|
|Brandon Roy, SG/PG, Portland||He is one of the smarter NBA players out there and contributes solid numbers in seven categories.|
|Joe Johnson, SG/PG, Atlanta||Pencil him in for 21 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal for the 2009-10 season and then trace over that pencil with a pen because he’s money in the bank.|
|Andre Iguodala, SG, Philadelphia||AI2 has a lot of upside and contributes in many ways (5.7 reb, 5.3 ast, 1.6 stl); low FT% hurts though.|
|Vince Carter, SG/SF, Orlando||Will no longer be the No. 1 scorer now that he is in Orlando, but he will be motivated and should become a more efficient player.|
|Ray Allen, SG, Boston||An elite contributor in threes and FT% and that is what you are drafting him for.|
|Kevin Martin, SG, Sacramento||Great for points and threes, but he doesn’t do much else so be aware.|
|Ben Gordon, SG, Chicago||Think of him as Ray Allen light. He will knock down a ton of threes and shoot over 90% from the line; situation unsure in Detroit, but they will get him minutes.|
With Ben Gordon gone, Salmons will have the job all to himself. He impressed me last season with solid numbers in points (18.3), FG% (47.2%) and threes (1.6). He doesn’t stand out in any one category, but he doesn’t hurt you either. Look for an increased role on the offense to boost his numbers this season.
He is more limited by the minutes he gets than his talent, but if he can get up to around 30 mintues per game you can expect 17 points, 1.5 threes, 1+ steals and high percentages for the season.
Last season he was the ultimate tease. You would think he was dead and then he would pop off a 50-point night. Don’t fall into the trap. For one, Crawford gives you inconsistency and an awful field goal percentage. He is also on Atlanta, which means he is playing behind Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson, so his minutes will be limited.
Iverson is an interesting player this year. He is on Memphis and will most likely come off the bench, thus limiting his true potential. I think for what you have to pay to get him, he won’t be worth it because that backcourt (Conley, Mayo, Gay) is loaded and it is still uncertain how the minutes will get divided up.
He’s stuck in a bad situation in Washington thanks to the plethora of guards on the roster, but he is considered the starter right now and if he can keep that job and get 30+ minutes per game he will be a valuable asset in points, assists, steals and threes.
|Player, Position, Team||Note|
|Lebron James, SF, Cleveland||They call him “King James” for a reason.|
|Danny Granger, SF/SG/PF, Indiana||Had a breakout year in 2009 and you will have to draft him accordingly. Fills the stat sheet with contributions in threes (2.7), rebounds (5.1), steals (1.0) and blocks (1.4).|
|Carmelo Anthony, SF, Denver||He was a disappointment in 2008-09, but still contributes solid numbers in assists, steals, rebounds and blocks.|
|Shawn Marion, SF/PF, Dallas||Back in an up-tempo offense so look out for a bounce back season; big-time rebound help.|
|Gerald Wallace, SF/PF, Charlotte||He is a freakish athlete, but always a risk to get injured (hence the nickname “Crash”). He managed to stay healthy last year and showed his full potential as an all-around contributor in fantasy.|
|Paul Pierce, SF/SG, Boston||He has limited upside, but will be solid with percentages and points while adding a good amount of rebounds and assists as well.|
|Rashard Lewis, SF/PF, Orlando||Led the league in 3PTM last year and will contribute in steals and rebounds as well; will sit out first 10 games of the season.|
|Rudy Gay, SF/PF, Memphis||Doesn’t really stand out in any one category, but solid in most; will commit to playing more down low which may limit his three-point potential.|
|Caron Butler, SF/SG, Washington||Health is an issue and he could see stats decline a little with Arenas back, but averages are good for mid-round pick.|
|Hedo Turkoglu, SF/SG, Toronto||You might have to draft him earlier than you want thanks to his performance in the playoffs, but his value will take a hit in Toronto.|
I’ll admit that he is not the most consistent player in fantasy, but I have a bit of a man crush on him. He provides instant offense off the bench, but coach George Karl has yet to give him consistent minutes, so you will have to bank he has a breakout year. He is deadly from three-point range (2.2) and with more playing time he would be a good source of steals as well.
Fantasy owner have to be relieved that Villanueva has a starting job this year. Last season, Villanueva played just 26.9 minutes per game, but contributed solid numbers in points (16.2), rebounds (6.7), threes (1.1) and blocks (0.7). He also knocks down his free throws, which is a huge plus for a big man. I expect big things out of him this season especially with very little depth in the Pistons’ frontcourt.
Redd is almost a lock to play less than 65 games and is not going to the line or rebounding like he used to. He provides you with solid threes (2.2), but the points (21.2) and steals (1.1) are about all you get in addition to that.
Odom is not only downgrading in life (he got rid of the awesome single life of an NBA athlete to marrying Klhoe Karashian), but his game isn’t going to improve at all on the court. The addition of Ron Artest will cut into Odom’s 29.7 minutes per game and Artest also rebounds more than Ariza did. Odom scored just 11.3 points with 8.2 rebounds per game last year, but did record 1.3 blocks so that is a nice asset to have.
He saw a huge bump in minutes last year in Mike D’Antoni’s system. He showed that he can contribute in several important categories including threes (1.3), steals (0.9.) and blocks (0.9). He could provide your team with a nice balance in the later rounds of your draft.
|Player, Position, Team||Note|
|Dirk Nowitski, PF, Dallas||Consistently a top-10 player every year; draft him in the first round and just plug him you’re your lineup|
|Pau Gasol, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers||Numbers should suffer a little if Bynum can stay healthy; great assist-to-turnover ratio for big man.|
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF/C, Phoenix||Coming back from eye-injury, which could make or break your season; if healthy, will provide you with great FG%, rebounds and blocks.|
|Chris Bosh, PF/C, Toronto||Perennial 20-10 guy has some nice talent around him this season; very consistent player.|
|David West, PF, New Orleans||Gives you terrific percentages (47 FG%, 88 FT%); addition of Okafor should take some pressure off defensively.|
|Kevin Garnett, PF, Boston||Coming back from injury, but heart is never in question; could be a nice buy-low due to contribution in many categories.|
|Josh Smith, PF/SF, Atlanta||Tremendous upside in blocks, threes, and steals; a lot depends on health/attitude.|
|Elton Brand, PF/C, Philadelphia||Can’t seem to stay healthy (37 games in two seasons); great production in blocks gives him potential to be very valuable in a full season.|
|Troy Murphy, PF/C, Indiana||Had a career year and was one of the best rebounders; also one of the best three point shooters, which puts him in his own league as a PF.|
|LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, Portland||Has tremendous potential, but needs to block more shots to become one of the best PF in the NBA.|
With Yao Ming out for the season, Scola is poised to have a very good season. Last year he averaged 12.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 0.8 steals in just 30.3 minutes per game. The minutes should increase significantly, which means he could eclipse 16 points and 9 rebounds while providing good percentages. He doesn’t give much in steals, but he showed that he can contribute offensively even without Yao on the court.
Diaw is not your typical big man. He contributes in assists (4.1), threes (0.9) and steals (0.8), while his big man numbers are solid as well (5.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks). He does struggle from the charity stripe (68 FT%), but for a big man, that is a tolerable weakness.
Who knows where Boozer will be by the end of the season, but I can tell you that he won’t be on any of my fantasy basketball rosters. It’s almost a given that he will be out of Utah before the trade deadline and he hasn’t shown a great ability to play through injuries. He only contributes in points (16.2), rebounds (10.4) and FG% (49%) and will probably share more minutes with emerging forward Paul Millsap. His situation is too unstable for me and you will have to draft him within the first five rounds, which isn’t worth it.
Randolph is a good bet to finish with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but other than that he doesn’t contribute much. He has an unimpressive 47 FG% for a big man and with rebounds and points plentiful in the later rounds I would rather spend my pick on someone with more upside than Randolph in round five.
I spoke about my hate for Boozer, which means I like Millsap as a sleeper this year. He will definitely log more minutes than he did last year (30.1) which means he should improve on his points (13.5), rebounds (8.6) and blocks (1.0). He already provides you with a great FG% (53%) and while his FT% (69%) is low, that tends to be a trend with the big men in the NBA.
|Player, Position, Team||Note|
|Dwight Howard, C, Orlando||Monster rebounder and blocker; terrible FT% doesn’t matter so much in head-to-head leagues.|
|Al Jefferson, C/PF, Minnesota||Has quickly become one of the best big men in the league; needs to rebound from ACL injury.|
|Brook Lopez, C/PF, New Jersey||Was very productive in his rookie year (8.1 reb, 1.8 blk) and should get better; percentages may take a small dip.|
|Tim Duncan, C/PF, San Antonio||Timmeh’s only drawback is his poor free throw shooting; very solid everywhere else.|
|David Lee, C/PF, New York||He’s a double-double machine and in a contract year; wish he contributed more in the blocks category (0.3).|
|Andris Biedrins, C, Golden State||Very low-risk who will contribute with great rebounds (11.2), blocks (1.5) and FG% (58%); low FT% not a problem due to lack of attempts.|
|Andrew Bynum, C, Los Angeles Lakers||Health is his biggest concern, but when he plays he has major upside to contribute in points (14.3), rebounds (8.0), blocks (1.8) and FG% (56%).|
|Nene Hilario, C/PF, Denver||Another big man with health problems; you get great FG% (60%) and steals (1.2) while his blocks (1.3) continue to improve every year.|
|Marcus Camby, C/PF, Los Angeles Clippers||A lock for 2 blocks, 1 steal and 12 rebounds per game when healthy; note the “when healthy” part.|
|Emeka Okafor, C/PF, New Orleans||Playing along CP3 should help his offensive numbers; already contributes solidly in rebounds (10.1) and blocks (1.7).|
He is part of a thin frontcourt in Atlanta so, unless he gets injured again, he should be in line for a better season in 2009-10. Last season he contributed with solid points (11.5), rebounds (9.3), blocks (1.4) and steals (0.8). He still has room to grow and has shown that he doesn’t back down when a challenge rises up.
Bargnani is a special big man who can contribute in points (15.4), blocks (1.2) and threes (1.5). What he lacks in FG% (45%) he makes up with FT% (83%). If he can improve on his rebounds (5.3) he will make that next leap and could possibly be a top 10 center by the end of the season.
When playing 61 games in a season is considered a surprise you can’t feel good about drafting him. Until he shows he can average near 30 minutes per game he will be nothing more than a decent weekly fill in. The potential for nine rebounds and two-plus blocks is a reality, but if he can’t stay on the court (3.9 fouls per game) then he will never reach it. Of course, if he is around in the 10th round he is worth taking a flier on because the reward greatly outweighs the risk.
Bogut regressed last season as he battled injuries for most of the season. He averaged just 11.7 points per game, but did have nice rebounds (10.3) and blocks (1.0). Much like Dwight Howard, he is horrendous from the free throw line (57 FT%) and he is not nearly as dominant in the other areas to help owners cope with that.
Hawes is a nice sleeper because he contributes in so many categories. Last season he averaged 29.3 minutes per game and put up 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 0.5 threes, 1.2 blocks and 0.6 steals. He is going to be a bigger part of the Kings’ offense this year and his second half last season (14 pts, 0.7 3’s, 8.3 reb) should be an indication of what we should expect this season.
Tags: Al Horford, Allen Iverson, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Boris Diaw, Carlos Boozer, Charlie Villanueva, Fantasy Basketball, Greg Oden, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford, Jameer Nelson, Jason Terry, John Salmons, Lamar Odom, Leandro Barbosa, Luis Scola, Michael Redd, Paul Millsap, Ramon Sessions, Randy Foye, Raymond Felton, Russell Westbrook, Spencer Hawes, Wilson Chandler, Zach Randolph