Pip-pip! Huzzah! Ha-cha-cha! And bully! It’s time to wake grandma up, ask her where she keeps the key to the liquor cabinet, threaten her with permanent relocation to a faraway retirement community if she doesn’t tell you where the key is, get the key, use the key, grab the 30-year-old bottle of champagne and pop that sucker, because it’s time for the 2010-11 Fantasy Basketball rankings. We’re starting with the 10 best picks in fantasy basketball, followed by the next 10 and then the top 20 at each position shortly thereafter. Then the top 100. Then the top 150. The the world.
For those squeamish about something as hard-line as numbered ranks, I’ll mention general tiers. The tiers are just another way of saying that drafting Kobe Bryant ahead of Dirk Nowitzki may not follow the exact numbered rank on the list, but depending on your taste and how you shape your team, it might work out just as well. Hopefully this will assuage your fears. That’s why they’re there. They’re tiers for fears.
All rankings are for 9-category roto leagues (note the season projections at the end of each blurb. They’re compiled in increments of five-tenths. Why? Would I be here if I could predict in increments of one-tenth? C’mon. That’s just crazy talk). An H2H Top 150 is on its way sooner or later … although “later” could mean three years from now, so that’s sort of a non-statement, huh?
Here ’tis, the top 10 for 2010 fantasy basketball:
1. Kevin Durant – This first tier starts with Durant and ends with … wait, lemme get my college-lined notebook out, hold on a sec. I thought I left it right here, but … ah, yes. Found it. This tier also ends with Durant. This is a one-man tier. We’ll call it the “You Have The First Pick And Kevin Durant Is Who You Should Use It On” tier. Kid Dynamite led the league in scoring, minutes played, didn’t miss a game last season, barely missed a free throw and has only one weak-spot in his fantasy game (3.3 tov). In a season where nothing is a sure thing, Durant is a sure thing. Mind. Blown.
Season Projections: .482/.889/1.5 3pt/29 pts/7 rbd/3.5 ast/1 stl/1 blk/3 tov
2. Chris Paul – This starts a new tier that continues until Bryant. I call this tier the “Man, I Really Wish I Had The First Pick” tier. Paul, like the three players that follow him, are really good at playing basketball. Like, better than you and almost as good as that kid in charge of the canoes at summer camp when you were 10. Dude could touch the rim! I’m talking really good, guys. The problem with the consensus pick for the league’s best PG is that no one believes he’s happy in New Orleans and can’t figure (or “fig’er” if you’re from Appalachia) how that will affect his season. Also, while not prone to injury, he missed half of last season and 18 games in ’07. That’s an awful lot of uncertainty for the second pick in a draft, yes? Or as they say in N’awlins, “Oui.”
Season Projections: .480/.853/1 3ptm/20 pts/4.5 rbd/11 ast/2.5 stl/0 blk/2.5 tov
3. LeBron James – There seems to be a disconnect between how well people are projecting the Heat to do next season and the fantasy expectations for each member of its power trio. Together, James, Wade, and Bosh averaged 80.3 pts/22.9 rbd/17.5 ast in 2009-10. Last season the Suns averaged the most points per game (110), the Bulls grabbed the most boards (44.5) and the Jazz dished the most assists (26.7). Whether you believe having three of the 10 best players in the league is all a team needs for a championship or not, most people assume Miami is going to be a big ol’ grizzly bear next season. Assuming they get close to those top averages next season (go ahead and make an ass out of you and Ming. What’s he gonna do? Chase after you with that wonky foot?) it still leaves 30 pts/21 rbd/9 ast for the rest of the team each night. How much do we think a Chalmers, Haslem, Miller, Ilgauskas supporting staff is really going to contribute? This might not be great news for your Mike Miller sleeper pick, but then again, it’s gonna take a lot more than good news to lift a team relying on the output of Mike Miller out of the cellar.
Season Projections: .512/.785/1 3ptm/28 pts/6 rbd/6 ast/1.5 stl/1 blk/2.5 tov
4. Dirk Nowitzki – Look, he’s going to average 27 points and 8.5 rebounds spread out over 37 minutes a game. Fantasy owners are going to want him to play more physical and get to the line more than 5-7 times a game, but they’re also going to want him to play at least 75 games (which is why he won’t be more physical). This is Dirk’s game. You either love it or you live in San Antonio. The only surprise left for 2010 is whether he’ll start the season with long hair or an army buzz.
Season Projections: .477/.885/1 3ptm/24.5 pts/8 rbd/3 ast/0.5 stl/1 blk/2 tov
5. Danny Granger – I love the Lone Granger. Love his well-rounded game, love his attitude, love that preseason after preseason, Granger is the one top 10 guy who always seems out of place to fantasy owners who’ve never had him on their team. And I love that the Lone Granger may have gotten his Tonto in Darren Collison this season. Heck, for all we know, Roy Hibbert will finally develop into Silver this season and the Pacers won’t be unthinkably awful. I’m excited by this, and anyone who owns Granger should be excited for this because a happy Granger is a more efficient one. Let’s just hope Tonto brought along his magic herbs to keep that foot and knee healthy for 82 games. Without it, he libel to miss another 15-20 games as he has in the past two seasons.
Season Projections: .455/.860/2.5 3pt/25.5 pts/6 rbd/2.5 ast/1.5 stl/1 blk/2 tov
6. Kobe Bryant – When someone leaps out of a window and hurls themselves to the ground down below, it isn’t the ground that kills them, but the adrenaline rushing to their heart giving them a heart attack (unless the window you’re leaping from is from your second floor campus dorm room – then, it’s probably the keys in your pocket that get you. And they don’t give you a heart attack so much as a righteous thigh puncture). Anyway, most people jumping out of a window do so because they no longer want to live. Wouldn’t they be serene on the way out (and down)? Shouldn’t the heart attacks come from window washers who slip and damsels clutched by giant gorillas? Anyway, picking Bryant and his forever-broken finger at the beginning of the first round should give fantasy owners a heart attack. Picking him in the middle of the first round should provide a nice, relaxing, wind-blown ride.
Season Projections: .453/.839/1.5 3ptm/26 pts/5.5 rbd/5.5 ast/1.5 stl/0.5 blk/3.5 tov
7. Pau Gasol – This next tier runs until Lopez. It’s the “Sturdy Pick, But I’m Gonna Need To Be Careful How I Draft In The Next Two Rounds” tier. A PF/C with a floor of 18 points, 9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks is a first-round pick. And this floor will only exist if Andrew Bynum ends his penchant for watching as many Lakers games from the training room monitor as he does from the paint. Take my comments on Dirk’s consistency and give it a disgusting beard – you’ll have Gasol.
Season Projections: .530/.800/0 3ptm/19 pts/10.5 rbd/4 ast/0.5 stl/1.5 blk/2.5 tov
8. Dwyane Wade – Paul, James, Bryant, Wade … you can’t trust guys with two first names. You just can’t. And, no, Nowitzki doesn’t translate to “George” in German. I’m pretty confident that one member of Miami’s “Triple thrHeat” is going to maintain fairly similar numbers as previous years, one will take a small dip and one will take a larger hit. Bosh is the consensus candidate for the latter category. But if we find that Wade do what he always do and LeBron’s stats kneel so that they’re not eye-level with Wade’s, I wouldn’t be shocked.
Season Projections: .490/.770/0.5 3pt/23 pts/5 rbd/5 ast/2 stl/1 blk/2.5 tov
9. Deron Williams – The Jazz rid themselves of Carlos Boozer in the offseason, but had the close-if-not-equal Paul Millsap set to replace him. Then Utah added Al Jefferson in exchange for a bag of circus peanuts and a leatherbound copy of “Valley of the Dolls.” All this means is that Williams is set to do what Williams does, only he’s going to benefit from not having the Mehmet Okur Stat Suck™ suckin’ skill with his starter’s minutes. Fantasy-wise, it’s difficult to win a league without at least one premier PG and this is the strongest team Williams has played with in his career. I drew the dots, you connect ‘em.
Season Projections: .474/.807/1.5 3ptm/18 pts/3.5 rbd/11 ast/1 stl/0 blk/3 tov
10. Brook Lopez – I’m seeing Bropez falling to somewhere between 14-20 in drafts. Unacceptable. Hold out your knuckles, let me get my ruler. … Oh, we don’t whack folks with rulers anymore? What if I put on my nun’s habit, first? Still, no. How does anyone learn anything in school anymore? Look, if Yao Ming didn’t have foot problems he’d be a top 10 pick. Well, Brook Lopez’s first two seasons almost mirror Yao’s first two seasons in the league. In fact, Brook’s stats were slightly better in season 2. Or if you prefer Europe to Asia, compare Lopez’s stats to Pau Gasol’s.
Season Projections: .525/.810/0 3ptm/19.5 pts/9 rbd/2.5 ast/0.5 stl/2 blk/2.5 tov