With the full 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Rankings now complete, let’s take a look at the top 20. I’ve gotten really bored of Imagine Dragons… They were fine and it was good hearing decent music on the pop stations, but now I cringe almost as much as that friggin’ Fancy song. I haven’t heard anything more talent-less since Ashlee Simpson! And parallel-o-ly, or some real word that means that, I imagine some cringing for my sky high Goran Dragic rank. I’m on the dragon wave! Dragons are just as hot as vampires or zombies right now. You got movies how to train them, hot blondes mothering them, Hobbits sneaking up on them in caves… I’m just swept in the fever. And here’s to hoping I sweep you too! Here’s my top 20 for the 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Season (based on 9-cat H2H):
11. Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks - People are like, “Where’s the Melo, where’s the Melo?!” Kinda like, “Where’s the beef?!” Well, only if you had a Melo crush I guess… Melo is a guy that just never ends up on my team. It’s nothing personal! I’m just not huge on the high-volume scorers, unless you’re counting Val Kilmer in his prime, ya dig?! I mean, that redhead in Willow had it goin’ on! Obviously the scoring was elite, but Melo’s 8.1 boards a game – by a good margin a career best – helped vault his value last year. And while it’s also marginal, 0.7 blocks a contest was a career high. With Tyson Chandler hurt most of the year and old the rest, Melo had to be a consistent force down low. When Chandler was hurt, Il Diva was the 5! I think I could’ve played some center for that team… Needless to say, I see both stats going down with comparable scoring. He’ll probably go top-10 in most drafts, but he’d have to fall just out for me.
12. DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings - For his whole career, Run-DMC has been high-upside, high-risk. With it never turning into the full package. Until last year! When you score more than 4.5 PPG over your career-high while shooting more than 3% better than your previous career high, you’re an efficient Edward! Efficient Effie? That one bombed. A 14-15 slash of 22.7/11.7/2.9/1.5/1.3 while shooing 49.6% from the field was straight dirty. And there’s nothing to indicate it won’t repeat. He gets a minor knock in standard 9-cat leagues with the 3.5 TO a game probably carrying over to 14-15, but I see an increase in scoring coming his way with Isaiah Thomas replaced with Darren Collison at the point. We all know IT2 likes to chuck it! If I’ve got a low pick, I’d be ecstatic getting DMC at the turn in 12ers.
13. Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks - Reach alert! I think virtually all ranks will have the same top 12 as me in some sort of order pretty consistently. 13 is where it gets interesting. I had Millsap at 18 in May thinking it was fairly bold, but after comparing it to the bevy of 2nd round bigs, I’m actually moving him to the top of the 2nd round. Career-highs in scoring, treys, and assists, the Hawks got themselves a haul in signing Paul. Pizzaz from the Jazz. A perky nurple from the purple. Anyway, 17.9/8.5/3.1/1.7/1.1 last year, turning in one of the few 1+ slashes of 13-14. But unlike Cousins, it included a trey per game. A lot of people seem concerned that Horford’s return to the line-up will [Mill]sap some of his production, but December was Millsap’s best month with Horford going down near Christmas. The twin towers were finally gelling, and Horford establishing in the post gave Millsap a season-best 1.6 3PTM that month. I see Millsap as a safe multi-cat contributor, with increases in both treys and points in 14-15.
14. Al Horford – Atlanta Hawks - I’m sticking in Hotlanta like a drop of chili from a Varsity dog! The torn pec ended Horford’s season rudely after only 29 games; Horford said he was in pain and the trainer was like, “Whatdaya have, whatdaya have?!” Given it was a small sample, but Horford pulled a Cousins with career-bests in FG% and PPG at 56.7%/18.6. Millsap effect! Horford also was at a career-pace in blocks, and came 0.1 steals from averaging a 1+ 5-cat slash. Horford sometimes gets the injury prone label, but other than 11-12 when he tore the other pec, he’s played almost every game in his other 5 seasons. With both pecs repaired he should have pep in his step. If that isn’t the most throw away sentence you’ve read this year, then I’d be ashamed! I like both Horford and Millsap to rekindle that December success and have big multi-cat production from your talons.
15. LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trailblazers - Yet another big with a career season, Aldridge was a monster in 13-14 scoring more than 2 points a game better than his career-best and destroyed the glass for 11.1 boards a game, obliterating his previous high of 9.1. When you’ve got a patsy like Robin Lopez at center, someone has to board! That’s right, I’m back in mid-season, hate on Robin Lopez form, folks! But unlike the scoring boosts from Cousins and Horford, it came with a FG% cost 3% under his career norm down to 45.8%. While that’s no bueno from your big, Aldridge was also just 0.1 steals from a 1+ slash, giving you some pretty sneaky multi-cat stats. Nothing has changed in Portland, and while he battled a few injury issues last year, I see no reason to doubt the 29-year-old from having a strong, healthy season.
16. Al Jefferson – Charlotte Hornets – Speaking of strong healthy seasons, Big Al was a monster after getting over the ankle woes! But unfortunately for Bobcats fans and Heat-haters, plantar fascia kept him ineffective and out for most of the playoffs. Reports are encouraging that his foot won’t be an issue, so I’m not hesitant to grab Jefferson in the early/mid-second round. After a poor 2013 getting over the ankle issues, his season from January 14th on yielded an unreal 25.2/11.4/2.3/1/1 slash. Dem fightin’ numbers! Hopefully coming into the year healthy with a full season to gel on the now Hornets (which I’m stoked about as a life long Charlotte Hornets fan, even if the logo looks like it’s taking a silver dump), I could see Big Al being a big steal with a big second round pick.
17. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks – Yikes is Dirk a toughie! The Germinator was a monster pick for fantasy owners who got him in the third round last year (a-thank-you!), and despite being a 7-foot 36-year-old, there’s not too much doubt that he can be a fantasy wunderkind again this season… if healthy. About the only blemish on his very typical-Dirk season last year was a rebounding rate his lowest since his rookie season, but the nice FG% from a 20+ PPG scorer with some treys should be solid for you yet again. I see no reason to Diggler him lower in my ranks.
18. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers - Yet another breakout PF in our run of exclusively bigs, Blake proved to be a near-elite fantasy-asset for once and worth every penny of draft day value. Unlike his ad spots which are worth no pennies. I know Pete Nice agrees! Even though you hate Kias even more now, Blake set a career-high with 24.1 PPG and finally erected (har-har) that terrible FT% to 71.5%. While the emergence of DeAndre Jordan will likely prohibit Blake from averaging a double-double again, the slash line should be pretty consistent for you in 14-15. The only thing that continually irks me about his game is even with those ridiculous hops, he still couldn’t get close to a block a game last year! 0.6 Blks last year with a career-high of 0.7 is unacceptable. Stop messing with opposing teams’ PFs with ticky-tack mind games and swat some shots!
19. Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers - About effing time! I’m tired of reading about PF/Cs and need something new! We’re finally into the big PG run that will flood into the 20s, with Damian the flagship. A nearly identical sophomore season from lil’ Lill, he boosted his points with more treys, but at the cost of an assist per. What you’re buying from Lillard is the consistency and elite FT shooting as he’s under a steal per game and not an elite assists guy. But paired with a high-volume dimer, or even a later-round assists-guru (already thinking of you Jose Calderon!), Damian should be an omen of success if you land him late in the second round.
20. Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns - Whoa, this pick is out of nowhere! That’s what someone would say if they didn’t read the open… This is my boldest pick, well maybe Millsap at 13 can rival it, in my top 20. And the pick I struggled the most with… In overall value according to Basketball Monster, Dragic was a shocking 25th last year, and 28th in per game. So maybe not so bold after all! The big boon for Goran Targaryen was the absolutely unreal 50.5 FG% while scoring a career-high 20.3 PPG after never topping 15. All hail Hornacek! Plus he shot over 40% from deep with 1.6 treys a game. His FT shooting is a little blah for a PG, but that FG% has got me flaming for Dragic! As in, the dragon reference, OK?! The assists dropped a bit, but the Eric Bledsoe shituation with the contract dispute only helps Dragic’s case and I think IT2 fits well next to Dragic as well. Bledsoe and IT2 should be duking it out for minutes, with Dragic the most consistent. Do I think he shoots over 50% from the field again? Probably not, but should be close. Like Lillard, I think a Dragic pairing with a high-assists PG later (cough, mi amor Calderon, cough), should give you a dirty backcourt (cough, cough, cough, cough).
And there’s my top 20! As always, all ranks are consolidated into our Master Rankings with Slim’s awesome projections. Look for the Top 50 to be out later this week!