Ahhh, the early mid-rounds. This is where you can really start zagging when owners want you to zig, or zig when they wanna zag, or just be a total Zags homer and draft Adam Morrison for the hell of it! Stupid Jordan picks…
So here we start vaulting into some of the bolder calls, where hopefully you don’t say “stupid JB picks”… I finally start going an island with a few calls, particularly some saucy PF-types. Choo choo! “Know what I’m SAYIN’!!!” Uh oh, I am starting to go delirious with the rankings already… I feel like Russell Crowe in that forest outhouse with magazine clippings everywhere. “What did Oladipo say in Slam Magazine about playing with Westbrook?!” Enough foreplay! You can check out the Top-10 and Top-25 though some clickage right there, and here’s the Top 50 for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season:
26. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns
I ranked Bledsoe huge last year – ranking him 18 with an ADP in the high-20s – and everything was going so, so well… Career-highs in virtually all categories, steals to 2.0, hitting 3s, it was all so magical at a 24th mark in per-game stats,,. Then it fell apart with another knee issue, giving E Bled only 43 games or fewer in 2 of the last 3 seasons. Fortunately he got to 81 games in the sandwich 2014-15 season, so there’s hope he can stay healthy. He opted for the meniscus surgery that takes longer to heal in order to stay at his peak level, and we all love that decision for the emerging superstar as well. A big reason I liked him so much last year was the apparent PG dropoff; this year PG is a little more evenly spread through the early rounds, so I won’t feel the pressure to nab him earlier.
27. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Godzilla angry! Back-to-back games-played risks to open the 26-50 range… Starting to feel less comfortable with my ranks already!
Looking at Buckets’ stats, it doesn’t initially look like much changed until you notice he played 2 less minutes a game last year. Thanks for running him into the ground at 38:40 MPG for two seasons, Tibby Tibs! Scoring per-minute went well up, FT up a smidge, and the biggie is the AST went to 4.8. Unfortunately, he now has to play along usage-whores Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. So those dimes will likely fall, and the steals have very marginally trended down the past 3 seasons. Along with playing 67 games or under the last 3 years, there’s risk, but I have a feeling we get a pretty good year yet again and I’m crossing my fingers for 75 games.
28. Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City Thunder
Mannnnn, the Oladipo contingent is STRONG with you, Razzball Nation!
I really like the player too, but I still can’t wrap my head around how playing in OKC is any better than Orlando. Well, there is the change of something… No more SKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES! But that would be the case either way… Anywho, you trade an offensively inept Elfrid Payton to an absolute ballhog in Russell Westbrook, you get a comparable swap of low-post touches of Nikola Vucevic to Enes Kanter (who will get a tonnnnn of shots now), then a whole lot of blah is about the same for both teams. How is playing combo G next to Westbrook (the biggest change) any better?
I continue to maintain RainbOladipo’s 3-ball is a work in progress (34.8% last year, which is a career-high I guess, WOOOOO!), he was MUCH less aggressive getting to the stripe (some concussion concerns last year, again WOOOOO!), and his PPG went down a smidge on a pretty inept offensive team. The change in systems will help, but I still sadly compare these OKC combo G to a rich man’s version of the Suns, and Westbrook is E Bled and Oladipo is more Knight. Less 3s of course, and Oladipo is no question a better player, but he’s going to be the second fiddle. All of this said, I still think I’d be ecstatic to get him within the top-30, but I’m not quite paying a 19-20 ADP if he’s ranked that high.
29. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Uncle Drew getting back in our good graces! After injury concerns pushed his debut back to December 20th, we also got minutes-limits and an easing in for the Ol’ Uncle (who actually isn’t that old at all, despite looking Oden-ish, but ya know)… Then post-ASB we saw the minutes go up, the 3PT% dramatically improve as he got his legs under him, more FTA, etc. etc. He also stayed strong through the Playoffs, made the biggest Finals shot, and is playing for Team USA. Suffice to say, I think he’s healthy. You’re my boy, Uncle Drew!
30. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
Like his new compadre in The Alamo there, Senor Pau, Aldridge has a game that I think could last for a longgggg time in the NBA. They got yet another ageless big like Duncan! Aldridge always seems to get it done stats-wise despite scoring/rebounding being the only highlights in his line, as he came in at 26th in per-game last year. But it hopped up all the way to 9th, yes NINTH, over the final 31 games from Feb 1st on. It took some growing pains before LA settled in, but we got a career-high FG% and a career-low in TO in that great Spurs system. The knocks that keep me from being giddier is that Pau addition, who is an upgrade over the final Duncan year last season, and Aldridge got to only 74 games played in the Spurs DNP fest at only 30:33 MPG, his lowest since his rookie year. I’d absolutely love him in my KAT-Kemba-Aldridge build though, I might have weeks without a single TO!
31. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics
Despite the pundits saying Boston can’t win without a better-sized PG, IT2/3 is awesome and his fantasy returns were huge in 15-16. The 37th overall finish was a little annoyingly-low, but he is docked for not getting rebounds and having a bad FG%, both things that make him an UNBELIEVABLE fit after one of the punt FT bigs in the top-25. Everything else is what you’d expect from IT2/3 playing his peak-level ball, with a pretty 6.2:2.7 AST:TO in 15-16.
32. Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
CHOOCHOO!!!!! The Dieng Train is off the rails! I’m again going to parrot a lot of the stuff I said in my Way Too Early Top 50: through the first 13 games last year, he played only 19 MPG. Thanks a lot for the cockblocking, KG! Through games 14-82 – yes he played all 82 games! – Gorgui played over 28:30 MPG for a 10.8/7.5/2.0/1.1/1.2 line with 53.9% from the field and 82.6 FT%! And that was STILL after only starting 39 of those 69 games. Over that stretch, his numbers were good for 24th in overall value! Then just for the icing on the cake, the Wolves bring in Tibby Tibs, who runs his starters harder than Russian Olympic coaches. If you hop that 28:30 MPG to 35 MPG with a starting role every night, we might be CONSERVATIVE with this rank. Yes, the per-game ranks are a little bit metrics-whorish, but he could be Millsap-lite as a bedrock multi-cat PF, just without the treys. I’m seeing ranks where he’s wellllll outside the top-50. I can’t believe it. UNFORGIVABLE! Now get me some waffle fries.
33. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
The Duchess scores a royally awesome 15-16! BBM has him at 30th overall in per-game last year, while being a mother to the Royal Heirs. Truly epic season for Her Majesty.
The biggest two changes other than the obvious hike in scoring was the AST went way up as did the FTA. LOVE IT! And I was pleasantly surprised to see the AST went UP post-ASB as Giannis became the point-forward, initially thinking they would have trended down. Nothing much else to say other than he had that weird shooting lull mid-season and I remember in the comments we had some concerns his numbers were WAYYY lower with Kidd as the coach, but his strong finish alleviated any of that.
34. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Miss any of the premiere bigs in that 2nd-round big man run? No problem! Monsieur Elbow can be your backup plan!
To say Gobert’s 15-16 – especially after our rank of him – was a disappointment would be an understatement. You can’t really compare year-to-year stats since he wasn’t a starter in 14-15, but as a starter that season (37 games) to 15-16 we saw a drop of 1.5 Pts, 1.4 Reb, 0.6 Blk, 0.3 Stl, and drops in both FG/FT%. Lord give me strength! But he came into last year sluggish complaining of fatigue after playing Summer FIBA ball, then tore his knee mid-season, surprisingly recovering pretty quick for a big and was effective enough. I’m giving a loud audible sigh seeing him play in the Olympics, but hopefully his conditioning is more used to the grind and we get that 12/12 3 block guy we hope for.
35. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
As I’m writing these ranks, I’m kicking myself for not finishing all the Team Previews first. Through auditing the New York Super Knicks (hey, it’s a better name than “the Poppycockers” like I used to call them!), I realized Melo’s dimes climbed to a career-best 4.2 last year, and they bring in the assist-anemic Derrick Rose to lead the offense. As I mentioned in the preview, I could see his dimes being a surprising 5+. He’s still gonna score a ton, nab a few REB, have a good FT volume, and be pretty blah defensively. With the dimes and scoring, it’s going to come out as a pretty good player that the fantasy community might be over-sour on. There is the risk in his knees as well, which keep me from being any more interested.
36. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Man, K-Love has been getting more scrutiny than K-Federline, amiright?! Dude comes over as a superstar that we all KNEW had to play a third wheel role, we KNEW he has injury issues, and people act like he’s a leper on the team for stepping into his assumed role. Of course, all is fine now that they won the Finals…
It wasn’t huge, but Love finished 39th in per-game, but most importantly he played 77 games giving him 75+ in 3 straight years. He was actually a good bit better in per-minute stats last year than in 14-15 that gets masked in a 2+ MPG reduction if you look at the pure numbers. Sure, the Cavs might keep Love at the 31:30 range than going over 33 again, but I just like that there wasn’t really a decline in skill set. Rebounds, points, low-TO… It’s not a sexy pick in the least, but it’ll work.
37. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
Jrue is muchhhhhh sexier! Especially since he’s gonna wear rec specs on the court, just like yours truly!
The per-game numbers are obviously a little meh, but the layman might forget how much he was eased in giving him only a 62nd per-game rank. And you really don’t have to omit much to see a pretty epic line, as his last 36 games (over half his season) from Jan 10th on he went 19.8/3.1/3.7/7.3/1.6/0.3 with 2.8 TO, 1.4 treys, and 89% FT at 3.1-3.5. He hops up to 40th from that point on, with some flukes ahead of him like 1-game-played Jodie Meeks and Dahntay Jones. Jrue also played only 31.3 MPG in that span, so the reigns should come completely off. There’s still some of that injury concern lingering (get the Pels a new medical staff, or else I’ll get my staff for em!), but he’s the last interesting stud PG available which makes him worth that little extra premium given the risk.
38. Serge Ibaka, Orlando Magic
Gulp. And no, I didn’t just drink a Surge. Remember those?! But I already feel a little iffy moving him to 38 after not having him top-50 in my Way Too Early. About as iffy as I felt after 70 grams of sugar in a can of soda!
The team change is great, and Frankie V said the Magic are going to use him a lot more offensively. Next to Bismack Biyombo? Duh! But there’s still Nikola Vucevic around, and he ain’t too pleased with the Biz of the game.
To say Ibaka’s 15-16 was merely disappointing might have some readers throw things at their computer. And we want you to have your computer working, we want you to keep reading! Despite having stretches where he was legit tough to own, he wrapped a 61st overall year. The metrics-whoreness was a part of that, but the blocks fell to 1.9 – a decline in that cat for 5 straight seasons now – the FG% stayed the same as 14-15 despite shooting less treys, and the Pts/Rebs dropped. Now on Orlando, without the USG hogs he played alongside in OKC, he should really have an opportunity to shine. Upside in more offensive touches and more treys keep him interesting, but anyone pushing for him much higher than here I think is overly optimistic. The blocks had been falling due to the emergence of Steven Adams on D, and Ibaka should conceivably share *some* time with Bismack you’d assume… So I think the Boards-N-Blocks maintain at about their 15-16 level, and I could even see a decline to 1.5ish BLK if Vuc is moved and he runs most of his minutes next to Biz.
39. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz
Mmmmmm, I wanna like Favors more than Ibaka and move him up a few more, but dat back do!
I love D-Fave’s offensive game. He continues to get better and better, shoot well over 50%, and has slowly but surely improved the freebies. He doesn’t turn it over either, and get a steal per for a big. But the blocks that looked so special off the bench early in his career didn’t really translate as a starter, and they fell a good bit last year. 1.5 BLK is “nice”, but not “SKEET SKEET!”. Then to the concerns on his health: he hasn’t played 75 games the past three years, only 62 last year due to lingering back spasms, and his back has cost him games two years in a row now. It’s just a little too much risk for me to go higher, with not the biggest reward either.
40. Chandler Parsons, Memphis Grizzlies
I don’t know how the ADP is gonna look, but I have a feeling Parsons is gonna end up being one of my guys this year. The injury concern is still there after back-to-back season-ending knee surgeries, but all reports are positive, and I feel like Memphis is a pretty well-run organization. I think they have faith in the repairs and I’m gonna stay bullish.
Like Jrue, Parsons is another guy you can’t take too much stock of season-long stats, as he was eased in off that first knee repair. After somewhat struggling, CP25 went 19.0/5.9/3.1/1.1/0.3 with an unreal 2.6 treys on 51.9% overall FG shooting in his last 26 games. Only 1.7 TO too! That run was good for 19th in per-game from Jan 20th on. And you have to imagine his USG is going to stay sky-high in Memphis, who sorely needed a playmaker on the wing. I’ll be pumped if I can snag Parsons as MY playmaker wing in the 4th rounds.
41. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trailblazers
Oopsie Daze! Yeah, my CJ bias didn’t go so hot last year… Dude got a shot with a wide open opportunity, and he made the most of it. We’re talking a $100 mil opportunity he seized!
Shooting a career high was absurd, 3PT% a career best, a massive correction to his AST:TO to 4.3:2.5, he made his FT… Not much to dislike. It all came out to a 44th overall season in per-game, but I don’t really know if there’s much higher to go. It’s still Lillard’s team, and his D stats I don’t see changing much, but if he can get to 1.5+ steals and maintain everything else, it’ll be a huge season. It also helps the Blazers still have a pretty inept offense besides the backcourt.
42. Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics
The Boston Clam Crowder was a wholesome meal last year, that’s for sure!
An absolutely phenomenal year for a guy the Mavs just gave away, Crowder finished 32nd last season in per-game sats, with a poor-man’s Kawhi Leonard multi-cat wing line. The %s, the treys, the 1.1 TO, the sexy, SEXY 1.7 steals. I can’t think of any reason he can’t duplicate what he did in 15-16. He’d make a great wing pick in a Lillard build for the steals. Short-n sweet-blurb & advice right there!
43. Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
Old. Spurs. Those two words together spell DOOOOOOM! President Snow doesn’t like em young… “Sorry J-Law, but I’m more into that Little Duck!” But Pop WILL like a guy that can still put up 16+ PPG and 2 blocks, even in his age-79 season. The blocks these past two years from Chicago have been ABSURD, going 1.9 and 2.0 in 14-15 and 15-16. 11+ boards as well. Nutso. And even at an 18th per-game value, there’s just no way anyone could have the confidence to go higher than this rank. You could make the argument, but are you CONFIDENT? Do you feel lucky, PUNK?! I certainly don’t, as we could easily see multiple fantasy-playoff DNPs and I think his minutes fall under 30.
44. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Be careful, don’t tell Klay about his falling fantasy stock! He ain’t sacrificing SHIT! (Why I love being able to write for an indie blog, I ain’t gotta sensor SHIT!)
Welllllll, Klay, let me sit you down and tell you something. You’re playing next to a unanimous MVP and possibly legendary player, and a second guy who is probably the second best player over the past decade. You’re gonna get 15+ shots in only maybe in 1/3 of Warriors games. It’s just that simple. Then on top of the O dropping, he fell down in Ast/Stl/Blk in 15-16 while playing over a MPG more. He’s going from Splash Brother to Splash Annoying Nephew. ADPs will still have him too high, methinks.
45. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
I want to trust the Gordon’s Fisherman so much more, but I just CAN’T! Selling me this rotten fish, I just can’t do it!
It was a pretty rough season after showing some signs of improvement in 14-15, but last year saw the FG% go down, a third straight season of a dropping AST rate, and a third straight season of steals and blocks dropping. Sure he scored “a smidge” more, but that was aided by playing over a minute-and-a-half more. He’s a good player, and I’m glad the TO are going down, but now the Jazz have their most competent PG in a while in George Hill, and even though he isn’t exactly Rajon Rondo out there, I still think Hayward is going to struggle to get back to 4+ dimes. You gotta love the FT% and volume, but I’m struggling for the love in the other cats.
46. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Mi amor! Ready for el encore!
Rubio played 76 games after all the kankles, finished top-50 like I ranked him, and did I get any thanks?! Well, not from you readers in Razzball Nation, but Ricky gave me a happy ending! Whoa… Anyway, while Kris Dunn indeed looks like he’s going to be a very good NBA player, the Wolves still haven’t dumped Ricky and he should play his normal 30+ MPG role. Time will tell if Tibby Tibs pushes him to 35 minutes, or runs a pretty evenly-spread 3-guard rotation. With history on my side, I can say there’s optimism for the former. Everyone loves to bash poor Ricky’s jumper, but when you take 7.7 shots per game, the % doesn’t hurt, and especially feels better with the 8.6:2.5 AST:TO and 2.1 steals. He’s of course a fit in only the right builds, but he fits sooooooo nice. I would know 🙂
47. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Aighhhhht, let’s start drumming up the hype machine! It’s already starting to get out of control thanks to Rotoworld, then thanks to the Olympics and N-Joke nutting on the USA team. “Augustus, save some for later!” That’s what I would yell to Jokic if I was in Rio…
A lot of things blow me away about Jokic… Despite playing only 21.39 MPG – yes UNDER 22 minutes – he came out at 66th in per-game stats. Then BBMonster has an awesome feature – per-36 stats. Sitting down for this? Jokic came out to 13th in the ENTIRE NBA in per-game stats in his rookie season. That’s crazypants! 21:39 MPG – 10.0/7.0/2.4/1.0/0.6 with 0.4 treys shooting 51.2% from the field. Dumb numbers. I don’t ever remember them screaming off the page like that during last season. Good job barely playing him, Mike Malone!
There’s been more and more traction to Jokic and Nurk playing together, and even though Faried might start, his minutes are going to be the backup variety with Jokic starting at the 5. Ain’t no Jokic indeed!
48. Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings
Another scoring wing (although Gay is kinda stretch-4ish, but you catch my drift), Gay is also another unhappy Kings player stuck in their mess of an organization. Gotta love his quotes when asked about his new Kings teammates. “Honestly, I haven’t paid attention . I don’t even know who our new players are to be honest with you.” HAH!
Despite playing with complete strangers this upcoming season, I think Gay bounces back a bit from his lackluster 15-16 campaign, particularly in the drop from 3.7 to 1.7 dimes. Now with Rondo gone, I think they hop back to 3ish. And even though the real-life NBA metrics hate him, he still came in at 46th in per-game last year in a down year. He’s like an even boring-er version of Love. Gay Love is pretty boring this year…
49. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
One word. Zapato. Wait, I think that means shoe. What’s foot? La mano I think is hand… Can you tell I write these stream of conscious style?!
He couldn’t play in this year’s Olympics, on June 5th he said he couldn’t even run, and this navicular bone or whatever is apparently a tricky break to recover from, especially for big men. A lot of further updates just keep giving me the heebie jeebies. And that’s really all it comes down to – yes his Boards-N-Blocks were at or near career-lows in 15-16, but the rest of the package is about the same. The risk is worth it here, but any higher and I think you could be really disappointed by b2b DNPs and minutes limits.
50. Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets
Mr. irrelevant! Oh wait, dammit, we still have 150 more guys to rank!
After a horrific 14-15, Batum bounced back from wrist issues that plagued that season for a 14.9/6.1/5.8 15-16 season with 2 treys. The bugaboo was the career-high 2.9 TO… The per-game value was only 59th, but the TO and FG% weighed that down a tad. With Jeremy Lin now gone, the Hornets have an absolute zero at wing playmaking besides Frenchy, so I think we see even more dimes, but likely 3ish TO again. He makes a phenomenal pick with DeMarcus Cousins, PG and a FT-punt big though in the 4th round – TO punt, Batum’s meh scoring is accounted for; Frenchy works well in that build.
There ya go, Razzball Nation! Rankings are moving full-steam ahead! I hope to get through 75 by the end of this week and top-100 next Monday. Wish me luck, and don’t let Jennifer Conley give me the drugs! I need Ed Harris to help me think I’m breaking war codes!