With the full 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Rankings now complete, let’s take a look at the top 75. Captain N is aboard! Captain on the bridge! The respect he garners trumps captain Russell Crowe with long hair… Captain Patrick Stewart with no hair… Captain N has a huge ass flat top! And this captain is Nerlens Noel; double the N for twice the… nifty…? Twice the… neat hair? This captain will put non-believers 20,000 leagues under the sea! Here’s my top 75 for the 2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Season (based on 9-cat H2H):
51. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers – Somebody likes Noel! With the redonkulous draft class making a big splash in 2014-15 fantasy drafts, people are overlooking Noel – which is impossible since he’s 7 foot 9 (counting the hair)! I’ll admit it. “My name is JB, and I’m letting Summer League impact my ranks a little…” “Hello JB!” Averaging over two steals and right at three blocks per in 4 Summer League games, Noel also flashed a polished offensive game. Just at the eye level, Noel looked absolutely awesome. On a team with anemic post options, Noel is going to get all sorts of look on O while racking up the stats on D. Of course there’s risk – the Sixers might not stretch him out for huge minutes, and well, it’s the Sixers. But with this rank, I’m shooting for the upside and surely going to OD on Noel hype and draft him on each and every one of my teams.
52. Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards - 52 is my lucky number, maybe I should flip flop these two! While the Ten Foot Pole isn’t exactly the most exciting draft pick, he finished 31st overall last year and really nothing seems unreplicable (?) from his stat line. The real question is the health, but I’m not as worried as most. The Polish Sausage played 81 last year, only 61 in his final stint in Phoenix, but the full 66 in 11-12’s lockout. A dubdub a night, a block and a half, good FG% at around 54… It’s not sexy, but I’ll insert that weird bird-looking bald head into my line-up without much hesitancy (weird sentence, huh?).
53. Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs – Wanna win your 2003 fantasy league?! These are the ranks for you! Haha, while old, while so frustratingly benched that you’ll have a Pop voodoo doll, Tim Duncan still had a top 40 season last year. Well, finished 40th exactly, but 39th per game as well. After that humungo resurgence in 12-13, I think a regression back to what we expected in 13-14 might make him a value this season. The minutes might scare you, but he’s actually been under 29:09 in three of the past four years while still being a pretty good value. Don’t be afraid to slot Duncan in your AARP spot.
54. Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets - Ewwwww, Dwight Howard in 9-cat leagues! One of the most league setting-variant, roster construction-dependent guys to select on draft day just won’t be on any of my teams. As we’ve talked in the comments and on last week’s Pod, I’m not a punter! I’m not Todd Sauerbrun! Although he was pretty awesome… Howard just isn’t a 9-cat player, and while he actually finished out of the top 100 in total value, you have to take those algorithms with a grain of salt. The high-volume horrific FT shooting is the blunt force trauma, then to top it off, the 3+ TOs he’ll have a game is the second degree burn. Still, if you’ve built a FT-punting team without too many TOs, Dwight would be a solid pick if he lasts this long. But it just won’t be for any of my teams.
55. Thaddeus Young – Minnesota Timberwolves (we think) - We’re still waiting for Adam Silver to finally officialize the big trade, but it’s all but certain big Thad is going to be a big Wolf. Thad the impaler! With a nickname like that, you’d think he’d like moving into the wilderness there in the Midwest. Siberia-ish? But after a top 30 finish last year, his stats won’t like the move! Thad was an absolute beast last year, including a preposterous 2.1 steals. I thought it was a mammoth outlier, but he was actually at 1.8 in 12-13. After re-incorporating the three point ball, it unfortunately sunk his FG% to a career-low 45% and I don’t think he’s a 17.9 PPG scorer there in Minny. I’d grab him earlier if my PGs are shoddy on the swipes, but I think he’ll be a little overdrafted.
56. Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets - “Do you feel lucky, punk?” …Man I was trying to think of other gambling movie lines and drawing a blank… “He outplay me!”, in John Malkovich’s Russian voice… I got nothin’… Speaking of nothin’, Williams has no ankle cartlidge. I’m no doctor, but that can’t be a good thing! Despite the injury-woes, the former first-rounder years ago was still only 55th in per-game as the collection of over-the-hills there in Brooklyn lacked any sort of fantasy stand out. His numbers are in obvious decline, as his usage dropped to under 36 minutes for the first time since his 05-06 rookie year. And not just dropped off, Jason Kidd pushed them over a cliff! 32:10 last year… Which is probably where he’ll be again, but somehow he had a career best 1.5 steals per and still offers a pretty decent upside in less time on the floor. I’m certainly not reaching, but I could see him being passed over due to his boringness to a pretty low ADP.
57. Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets - Coming into the ranks, I knew he’d be one of the tougher guys to feel good about. Just how good was Ariza last year in his ridiculous Wiz breakout? In total value, he finished ahead of DeMarcus Cousins! Sure in 8 more games, but still! According to Basketball Monster, he finished 22nd last year – but a lot of that stems from good %s and low TOs. Not that that’s a bad thing, but there’s no way anyone expects another top-25 finish, especially moving to Houston. While the 2.3 treys, 14.4 PPG and low TOs should carry over, I see the boards and dimes going down as he’ll be a little less involved. “Just stand there beyond the arc next to PBev, Ariza!” That’s Harden emphasizing how much everyone else is a role player… Maybe if you didn’t flop while driving every time, Harden!
58. DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors - Nostalgia of a great call! Nothing is more fun than that. But trust me, I’ll have nostalgia with a bad call whenever the hell we get to his worthless C teammate… Anyway, DeRozan was a big sleeper for me last year and he had a tremendous season. Haters last year said it was empty points, but as I pointed out he had increasing assists numbers every season, and it took yet another giant leap forward to 4.0 last year. While his FG% took a teensy bit of a hit down to 42.9%, he scored a career high 22.7 and added nearly a three a game. What’s awesome with all those improvements is his TOs were still a very manageable 2.2 per. There’s no reason not to expect a similar season, which actually was a 42nd overall finish. I’m imagining his ADP and other ranks will have him lower, so I could see DeRozan on a ton of my teams yet again.
59. David Lee – Golden State Warriors - The Slim effect! He got his beard all in my face and intimidated me into having David Lee this low. After beating some sense into me with his didgeridoo, I realized Lee’s stats are just as hollow as Slim’s instrument/weapon of choice. He’s still an 18/10 guy with a pretty good FG%, but past that – the dimes fell off a ton, he never blocks, and the steals aren’t a big factor either. Plus he lost 3 minutes a game coming off a hip injury in the 12-13 playoffs. He’s recovering from yet another surgery for his core (so vague! Verlander had a core surgery too and look at him! Wait, way wrong sport…) and should be at 33 minutes per again with a similar stat line. Which was 59th last year per game. Safety pick.
60. Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors - The ThrAGNOF effect! If this if your first time dropping by Razzball, ThrAGNOF if the principle that you can find threes late in drafts or on the wire throughout the season. They’re the easiest counting stat to put together, and it’s more for H2H than Roto. After a step up last year in treys and points, he still does nothing else. And his overall value is skewed by the low TOs. Hard to turn the ball over when all you do is camp! Worse camper than in Call of Duty! Steph is still there to rack up all the dimes, so don’t reach for Klay at a 40 ADP in H2H leagues when you can stream treys without using a high pick.
61. Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves (we think) - Get out the hype-machine! A move to Minnesota certainly gives Wiggins a much clearer path to playing time and keeps him my 2nd overall rookie. But even a clearer path doesn’t mean a starting gig, as Corey Brewer is likely to play the 3 with K Mart the 2. Still, Wiggins should get his minutes, but the inconsistent PT will hurt his fantasy value. I thought Wiggins was indeed the best player in the draft and don’t doubt his potential, but people will reach for him. If he starts slow and the Timberwolves have an awful record, he’d be a good guy to buy low on for the second half.
62. Ryan Anderson – New Orleans Pelicans - Say whaaaaa?! Yup, I’m all in on Anderson even with the scary spinal injury he suffered last year. Of course it was a really small sample, but in 18 games he was 18th in per game value in 13-14. Like Korver and Klay, if you hit the three ball and don’t turn it over (he was ridiculous with under 1 TO a game), the metrics may overrank your value, but I think his upside is worth a pick here. He was pre-ranked right around the 50s for years, and I see no reason to rank him much lower. I get the injury risk, but the out-of-position treys with virtually no TOs is going to fit a lot of teams as they build their bigs in the mid-rounds.
63. Jose Calderon – New York Knicks - We’ve been talking about it! Commenting about it! And it’s time for JB to lead La Revolucion! The overall metrics loved Calderon, throwing around their 1s and 0s more recklessly than the easy ones on The Bachelor. He scored a 45th overall finish with the metric-loving blend of good %s, treys, and low TOs. His vault in 3-point shooting to 2.4 a game obliterated his previous career best, and other than a really rough 09-10 when he only played 68 games at 26:43 per, he had been at 6.6 Asts a game the past 7 seasons. It dropped off a ton in the Mavs scheme to 4.7 with Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki taking all the shots, and I think the worry is Carmelo and J.R. Smith will do the same. Well table that worry! At least, a little. I think he can get back to 6.5-7 in the triangle O, as Raymond Felton the Awful (his full Renaissance Fair name) had 5.6 last year! Jose should see similar production to 13-14 with a few more dimes, with another metric-inflated high seasonal value.
64. Darren Collison – Sacramento Kings – I still don’t get why the Kings hated IT2 so much, but they gave him Das Boot and brought in Colly. Ray McCallum is a concern to push for a little PT, but Colly’s defensive prowess and less aggressive offensive approach should make him a great fit. As a starter last year, Colly’s 35 game slash was 14.8/2.5/5.3/1.5/0.2 with only 1.9 TOs. He hit 1.4 treys, and shot a pretty high volume 3.1-3.6 from the FT line (87.2%). Everything screams metric-love to me, as I easily see him getting a top-50 overall finish if he holds onto the starting gig all year. As with Calderon, a little will be fueled by the metric-goodness, and nothing is going to jump out counting-wise, but he’ll be a huge value in your mid-rounds.
65. Jeff Teague – Atlanta Hawks – Ugh… I thought Teague was going to have this solid breakout last year, and instead he was more inconsistent than J-Law in American Hustle. Overall the numbers were pretty good, but he didn’t improve from deep as I had hoped, the assists dropped with the TOs maintaining, and I’m putting my metric-lovers ahead of him in this mini-PG run. Teague was killing the dimes through 2013 at over 8 per game (32 games), but in 2014, it dropped to under 6 (47 games). And a big common denominator happened right at that split – Al Horford‘s season-ending injury. And the transition immediately afterwards was so brutal, I remember people asking if he was droppable. A 13.6/2.4/4.6/1.2/0.2 slash with 3.2 TOs and shooting 37.4% over 11 games in January. Limburger cheese on a Hotlanta day! “But JB, you love Horford, you’re disproving your point!” Yup I am! Do I have a point? Rarely. But here it’s that Teague seems like a player volatile to changes, and makes his consistency worrisome.
66. Brandon Knight – Milwaukee Bucks - Knight owners reunite! I’m back for more! One of my big sleepers last year had a pretty decent breakout, but unlike my metric-lovers in ranks 63 & 64, Knight got blasted with a 105 overall rank (103 per game). While the FG% was still rough at 42.2%, even with a big expansion in shots attempted and overall scoring, it was by a pretty good margin a career high. He got to the FT line pretty frequently with good numbers and you have to take his numbers with a little bit of a grain of salt [lick] in that he only played 1:45 in his debut before pulling his hammy, then under 26 minutes his four games back getting eased in and was terrible – the first two games he came back too early, sat out 5 more, then eased in again. But he finally hit his stride; from November 29th on his slash looks like 19.1/3.8/5/1/0.3 with 1.6 treys. And I know it’s arbitrary to pick a 4-game sample, but in a four-game stretch in December (18-23 – coincidentally my birthday is the 19th, so I was happy!), Knight was arguably the best player in fantasy going 25/8.8/7.8 with 2.8 treys and only 2.5 TOs. Dem fighting numbers! Having a more dynamic option in Jabari Parker on the court should only help his development, along with Hall of Famer Kidd at the helm. I see another big step forward.
67. Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls – “Waffle! You waffled JB!” That’s my accusatory conscience reminding me of my horrible fellow-JB treatment last year. It also reminds me, “you’re just too lazy to make waffles now that I made you hungry, huh?!” I loved JB heading into the year, but after a little bit of a rough-ish start, a really poorly reported toe injury kept him out a good portion of the winter. But he came back strong, including playing an unreal 41:21 MPG in January, and it amped up his numbers to 62nd overall in per-game. It certainly surprised me when I first saw it in his 13-14 stats, but did you know he shot sub-40% from the field last year?! 39.7. With Derrick Rose back, I certainly see it going up, but I don’t think he’s a 13.1 PPG scorer again. And even with his stat line a little empty other than those sexy steals, it’s even emptier when you factor in he played 38:39 per and look at his per-36s. I have a feeling Butler might be reached for a little bit, it’s very early conjecture, but I’d caution anyone reaching.
68. Luol Deng – Miami Heat – Took me a few seconds to remember what team he’s on now! The long-time Bull is now a bit of a journeyman on his third team in the past 9 months, and I think for the first time in my fantasy basketball career, I actually LIKE Deng. Sure I have my Dookie bias, but I see him flourishing on the Heat. Deng was killin’ it when 13-14 started, on pace for nearly a career best in boards, a by far career high in dimes, and shooting over 45% which he had been well under the previous two seasons. But after a trade to Cleveland, his output plummeted and he had the bumper sticker “Cleveland DOESN’T Rock!” as he scooted out of town as fast as possible. As the secondary threat behind Chris Bosh (and, well third I guess when Wade is healthy), Deng should be in line for a 18/6/3 season with a steal, a trey, and good %s.
69. Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs - I ranked Parker here just to try and find a good “69-ed Mrs. Barry!” joke, but that is enough right there! Last year was… abysmal. Lowest minutes played in his career, lost over two dimes a game since 11-12 and 12-13, while also scoring less. That said, his post-ASG numbers were atrocious, and I think he won’t be quite as off the table as last year. His name value might make me below the ADP, but in some circles he’ll be passed too often as well.
70. Dwayne Wade – Miami Heat – Back-to-back old boring people! If you get these two guys in a turn in your middle rounds, you might as well envision your team as Charlie Bucket’s grandparents’ bed. Even in an anemic season where he’s knees only mustered 54 games, he was still 41st in per-game value. The string of DNPs and injuries will be tougher to swallow than Ray J, but he’s got upside as hot as Kim’s rack with LeBron outta town. I think at this price I am missing him in all drafts, I don’t want the headache, but when he is on the court, his output would be worth a 70 pick.
71. Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards – I want to move him up! I swear! Love Beal’s real-life game, the sweet sweet stroke, but you guessed it… He’s a ThrAGNOF! And even being a ThrAGNOF with sub-2 TOs a game, that usual mix of metric-pleasure didn’t extenz to Beal scoring an 88th overall per-game valuation. Put up more ancillary stats, yo! But not for longer than four hours… 17.1 PPG, nearly 2 treys, but 3.7 boards, 3.3 dimes, and a bad FG% doesn’t bring enough to the table to secure him a top-70 rank. I do see some improvements, his AST:TO ratio went up and he’s still young on a really up-and-coming team, but nothing major.
72. Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets – Slim loves Faried! And I, eh, kinda like him. So if this ends up being well-below the ADP, I may make a mini-adjustment. Faried lived up the Manimal nickname post-ASB, rockin’ an 18.8/10.1/1.6/1.1/0.7 slash. A big factor was Brian Shaw finally played him big minutes, as pre-ASB he was playing only 24:42 to 31:11 post. Even with the increased PT, the FG% went up (54.6% in 13.6 attempts a game is pretty high volume). But the negatives came as well; even though he improved his FT% from 58.8% to 69.7%, it also hiked in volume which is no good for a sub-70%er. And then those sad TOs at 2.4 per. He’s an amazing player to watch, one of my favorites, but even if he does become a 1+ 5-catter, it will be very narrowly in AST/STL/BLK that I think he’s just a glorified Zach Randolph with a better FG%. Slim just threw something at his computer for that line…
73. Robin Lopez – Portland Trailblazers - I just threw something at myself for this rank! Lopez top 75?! I feel like shame eating a whole pizza… I guess I have to acknowledge how well RoLo played last year, finishing 27th overall. Which is scarier than his previous rebounding totals! A boost to nearly 32 minutes a game shot up his boards to 8.5 last year, finishing with a 11.1/8.5 line including 1.7 blocks. But what the metrics really like is the 1.0 TOs a game, plus he was an unreal 81.8% from the stripe at 2.4-3 per game. There’s no reason to think he couldn’t replicate his numbers, and he’s played all 82 games the past two years, as somehow he got all the good healthy genes while Brook Lopez got all the good-at-basketball genes. I just can’t bring myself to draft him any higher though…
74. David West – Indiana Pacers – This might be the weirdest, boring-est, least fun sleeper call I’ll have this year. We all know what happened to Paul George, and the Pacers are going to need all hands on deck to fight for a playoff spot. While I like Rodney Stuckey as a later sleeper as well, I think it’s West taking a big resurgent step forward. Despite the minutes down to around 30 compared to his 36+ in the New Orleans Hornets heyday, he’s maintained nearly a steal and a block per game, and they’ll be so desperate for his offense that I see the numbers and points rise. And even if they don’t, his floor is really what he did last year which was a 46th overall finish. That surprised me! And puts him in the echelon of my favorite cardinal direction people… Clint Eastwood, ummmm, Peter North? and ummmm all the Chicago Southsiders!
75. Josh Smith – Detroit Pistons - Sounds like Smith is about to get a coaching reality-check. As Joe Dexter posited in his Pistons Team Preview, Smoove might be seeing the Beench and begin 14-15 as a 6th man. Van Gundy seems poised to correct some of those awful %s Smith has had in his career, which sunk his metric-hating value to 127th in per-game value. “Stewardess, please bring the vomit bag!” There’s no way he shoots 3.4 treys a game again this year (which he shot an ungodly awful 26.4% on), and if he’s truly the 6th man, that should cut into his sinkhole of FT%. That said, if those %s do recede and the PTS/REB go down a tad, I still think he can bring it to STL/BLK and have another 1.4/1.4 there like last year. Should easily find 3 dimes as well. Playing against some second units and defensively on matchups that suit him (Van Gundy emphasizes defensive rotations) I think can keep those defensive stats trucking and hopefully that role will cut down his labradoodles.
Whew, rankings take a while! Sorry this took a bit to finish up, but hopefully these will help shape your own opinions of the mid-to-later rounds as we approach draft days!