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Razzball Nation!  You’ve been clamoring for some updated rankings, and here they come!  I’m going to release them slowly, teasing them out, just like how we did the offseason rankings 5 months ago.  These top guys haven’t changed too much, but the rankings will expand to the top 200, culminating in an easy-to-use and frequently updated cheat sheet you can use during all your drafts as they commence in the next few months.  Fantasy NBA is coming and we’re ready to win you titles (or titties – depending on your league’s prize pool).  Previous ranks from my Off-Season Rankings are in parentheses before this re-rank:

(1) 1. LeBron James – Not much has changed for me to stick with LeBron #1 in the LeBron vs. Durant debate.  Listen, you could go either one, but I think everyone is still freaking out over LeBron getting benched and blindly assumes that the Heat will be just as good next year and the 2013-14 season will be the exact same.  I just don’t buy that, and if LeBron wasn’t benched late, I think he’d be the overwhelming favorite at #1 vs. the slight underdog.  Sticking with him.

(2) 2. Kevin Durant – I’m still gonna take Durant second to LeBron despite popular opinion, but it’s razor close.  It really comes down to personal preference, I don’t think you can argue Durant is going to just completely overthrow the King as the miles-ahead #1 fantasy player.

(3) 3. James Harden – As I said in the first round of rankings in May, it’s easy to forget that Harden was traded a week before the season last year.  Now the Rockets have an elite center with Dwight Howard to dish to, Jeremy Lin I don’t think will take a big step forward, so a lot of rock in Harden’s hands with Lin and Chandler Parsons to dish to on the perimeter.  The next four guards are all personal preference as well, the difference is razor-thin and you can go with any of them, but I like the elite scoring, the assists to go up a tad, and another near 2 steals a game from Harden.

(6) ↑ 4. Chris Paul – The first mover in my rankings, with Paul now officially back with the Clippers (there was a shade of uncertainty when I previously ranked) I think Paul is going to be the best fantasy PG.  There was also talk of bringing in some big free agents, but the only really big name the Clippers brought in was J.J. Redick who will help stretch the perimeter, but the rest of the line-up will be very similar.  Since the Clips didn’t add new huge offensive weapons, Paul will be leaned on to score closer to the 2011-12 season (19.8 Pts) vs. the 12-13 season last year (16.9 Pts) in my opinion in Doc’s new system.  Also, no Eric Bledsoe has me seeing his minutes getting back to the 35ish range rather than 33:21 a game we saw last year.  These are minor upticks, but enough for me to move him above the other two big-name point guards and 4th overall.

(4) ↓ 5. Russell Westbrook – With Paul vaulting up a few spots, I’ve moved Westbrook down one who I love to keep his improving numbers on the upswing.  As I stated in the previous rankings, marginal improvements in rebounding and 3-point shooting, but the AST:TO ratio going from 5.5:3.6 in 2011-2012 to 7.4:3.3 last year is the big step forward.  Love the way he attacks the basket, does a little bit of it all, love him at #5.

(5) ↓ 6. Stephen Curry – I really like Steph as a player, but he’s the last of the #3-#6 guards for me with the ankle issues my main concern.  Yeah he played 78 of 82 last year, but it was a huge wear-and-tear at 38+ minutes a game last year and 2013-14 will see no Jarrett Jack to help spell from handling the ball.  Curry had a huge 2012-13 and I expect another big season, don’t get me wrong, but he’s just a micro-shade below the other guys for me.

(7) 7. Serge Ibaka – I might be a tad high on Ibaka, but I love his big step forward offensively scoring 4+ more Pts a game, almost 10% better from the line, 4% better from the floor, and is even expanding a little-bit of a deep game making 0.3 3’s a game last year.  It might sound like a toss-away, but he’s going to lead the NBA in blocks and shoot that mid-to-high 50% from the floor (57.3% last year), and if he gets that up to 0.5-0.7 a game, it’ll be an elite set of contributions.  The biggest knock on Ibaka is he only grabs about 7.5 boards a game, but REB is one of the easiest stats to boost at your back-end.  I’ll grab a guy like Chris Kaman late to balance it out.

(13) ↑ 8. Kyrie Irving – If you somehow missed what the Cavs did in a very loud off-season, I’m buying Kyrie Irving to vault into the first round with the superfluous talent now surrounding him.  I like the upside of Andrew Bynum and Anthony Bennett as guys to dish to down low (not really in love with them as individual fantasy-players, but think they will benefit Irving), but I really like the pick-up of Jarrett Jack who helped vault Stephen Curry to fantasy stardom.  Look for Jack to play some of the 1/2 hybrid along with Irving – especially late in games – giving Irving the ability to score/drive/create off the ball.  All the pieces are put in place for Irving to really break out.  The biggest concern is his injury-history, but I like the upside so much I’ve put him in the first round.

(10) ↑ 9. John Wall – As I mentioned in the earlier rankings, Wall was downright elite down the stretch last year, and I think is ready to ride off that late-season success last year into a strong 2013-14.  He was a 22.1 PPG scorer in March and 23.9 in April while also dishing 8 a game plus sneaking in close to an out-of-position block a game.  I know the lack of 3-point shooting is a concern, but I can fill those out with some ThrAGNOF guys later in the draft and through streaming, plus I think he can improve perimeter game a little bit as well.  Don’t forget he started last year hurt and had to ease his way in when looking at his overall 2012-13 numbers on draft day – go big on him.

(8) ↓ 10. Marc Gasol - I love Gasol’s game heading into 2013-14 as the final pick of the first round.  He only moves down a shade with other guys moving up, but really like the spike we saw in his scoring after Rudy Gay was shipped off (13.9 in February and 17.2 in March) plus the all-around stats you know you’re going to get from the versatile center.

Dropped Out: Deron Williams

  1. ETMcgee says:
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    I’m sorry to say it, but durant was already significantly better than lebron last season (1.25 vs 1.04 in bball monster ratings for 9 cat, and would be a greater difference in 8 cat) and i don’t see lebron taking over 1st unless durant is injured. Maybe you could argue lebron in h2h rankings, but his risk of end of season down time is far greater than durant.

    I’m also much less interested in westbrook in the top 5 and not interested in john wall as a top 10 pick. Westbrook is a late first/mid 2nd round talent and you are building in a lot of growth for wall to have him in the top 10.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @ETMcgee: Like I said, it’s preference and I’m sticking with LeBron. Go ahead and take Durant 1, I’ll take LeBron 2 then. I’m more used to H2H so that evens it out for me – if ranking strictly for roto I would agree with you, but I’m ranking for both. Disagree on your assessment of those PGs, Wall and Westbrook have both shown the growth I’m looking for in their notes above, but I’m sorry I didn’t “interest” you with these!

      • ETMcgee says:
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        @JB Gilpin: Not your job to drive interest for me in a specific player, in fact i hope u are right about wall (he’s on my keeper team). I have moved away from h2h basketball (i feel like it doesn’t reward the best teams), so my perspective is much more a roto perspective. I know that people tend to grab pgs earlier than what they return in terms of overall value (except cp3), but top 5-10 for those guys just feels early to me (although it seems westbrook did return mid 2nd round value last year, maybe I have been too down on him since I suffered through those awful FG years). With young guards like rubio, lillard, conley, lawson, etc. still available, it would be hard for me to use a top 10 pick when guys like paul george, LA, batum, mgasol, horford, etc. still on the board.

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @ETMcgee: I hear ya, and no worries if you draft your guys differently. With the way the game is going, I want those elite PGs for the asts along with their overall game. I like Horford a lot, but still as early 2nd rounder, I’m slightly down on George, those other guys all seem second round targets to me, so I’d be fine letting you grab them and have the PGs fall to me. Drafts will be interesting this year!

  2. James Redacted

    James Redacted says:
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    The elite blocks that Ibaka gives you may win the category by himself but he’s really just a 3-cat player (FG%, Boards, Blocks). I’d like some more versatility in a first round selection.

    John Wall has got to be one of the more interesting players this year. He will either make or break teams/hearts.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @James Redacted: I like the scoring too for a big man, obviously not huge or anything, but I think can get it up to close to 15 a game. I kinda agree what you’re saying on Wall, obviously I lean on make.

  3. Pete Nice

    Pete Nice says:
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    I think the whole Thunder situation blows up this year, with the scenario of “The Wire” becoming reality: Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in their roles as Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell. Only who’s Avon and who’s Stringer? That is the question. The only thing for certain, in my mind, is that these two are destined for Splitsville.

  4. Michael B says:
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    I love Wall and I’m hoping to grab him in the 2nd. He was huge down the stretch for me last year, even though I reached for him in the draft. I don’t think I could pull the trigger in the 1st though. I do like going PG with 3 of my first 4 though, because I always find that assists are the hardest category to pick up late in the draft and in free agency (roto only for me). Someone can correct me on that if they have some actual stats on it (because I have none).

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Michael B: Yea I know I have Wall very, very high. I think having elite PGs is how to win leagues and agree assists are tough to come by, especially late in drafts and on the wire.

  5. nathan says:
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    hi, i am in a dynasty league with 12 teams & 16 keepers and was offered a couple trades and would like your opinion on them.. first one: trade my James Harden for his UNibrow & jennings. the second trade is trade my James Harden & Asik for his Jokim, Pierce, eric gordon & jameer.

    my first thought is to just hold harden because he should be top five for many years to come, but the first trade is interesting because i could get assists and 3’s plus blocks & steals which is what i’d be giving up in trading harden. 2nd trade is a decent haul.
    Your advice?

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @nathan: Yea I would hold Harden for both. I like Davis’ upside, but in dynasty’s I want to keep the elite guys as long as possible.

      • Pete Nice

        Pete Nice says:
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        @JB Gilpin: @Nathan: I concur with JB. Harden’s run of excellence will go on and on and on, much like his mighty beard.

  6. John says:
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    Great adjustment on your rankings from the previous one. With the kind of players surround on D-Will his fantasy stats will go down a little bit except his assists w/c will probably increase together w/ his %. I thought Ibaka is a little bit too high for 7th. John Wall will be superb this year, he will prove doubters wrong. Incredible athlete with good %, assists and defense. His only concern is his 3pm and TO w/c is normal for a PG. I have Westbrook in my league and I’m having second thought on his injury. Do you think he can get back to elite form? Is MCL a really serious type of injury that can hinders players’ athleticism? Marc Gasol is an all around fantasy player I do hope his 17 pts (in March/April) will continue. Finally, I have Westbrook, Rubio and Lowry already. Do you think its wise to trade Jennings and Ilyasova for Wall. My 3pm will suffer but I’ll have a very good PGs: Westbrook, Wall, Lowry and Rubio. Great read. Looking forward to top 20-200 updates. Thanks.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @John: Thanks man! Yup I’m down on D-Will and will have him towards the end of the second round. Yea I just think Ibaka as a stat killer is worth that price and love the continual improvement in the scoring game. Yea there are those two question marks, but Wall gives you an extra tad in blocks and I think will be a great scorer. I obviously love Westbrook, think he has a huge season and this a big make or break OKC run at a title. No, the MCL shouldn’t be an issue, he’ll be just as explosive. Wow – yea I think I would, Jennings has always had annoying inconsistencies and while I like Ilyasova, he’s not elite like Wall, I’d do that.

  7. John says:
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    By the way, I have Jennings and Ilyasova as of the moment.

  8. Bostonfan says:
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    What’s your take on kevin love, if he returns to 2011-2012 form, I think he deserves a look in the top 10, possibliy at 8 after all of the PG’s you listed.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Bostonfan: Yea I had him at 11, and I think he will stay at 11. Very close to a first rounder, but the obvious injury risk scares me a bit. Would have no problem with him going at 7 or 8 but the injury history knocks him down those few spots for me

  9. Andrew K says:
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    First off big ups to JB for feeding our basketball appetite during this slow time of the year.
    Question for You JB…but here is the situation.

    I am entering year 3 of a basketball keeper league. Its 8 cat H2H. Its a 10 team league with each team keeping 5 players (snake draft).
    I am 100% keeping :
    LBJ – Rd1
    Kyrie Irving – Rd4
    Brad Beal- Rd 9
    Keneth Faried – Rd 14

    Now my question for you is who would you keep as your 5th keeper; Jonas Valenciunus Rd-7 or Dion Waiter Rd-12?

    I need a big, so Jonas is a high end young big in a picked in relatively decent spot (rd7). Dion plays with Kyrie, has monster upside, and round 12 is amazing.
    Jonas play for my team…the Craptos.
    What do I do?

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Andrew K: Thanks man! I have a huge mancrush on Valanciunas and it’s certainly carried over to this season, I think he’s your guy.

  10. John says:
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    We are all hearing this good things about Kobe’s return. Since the Lakers made some nice moves to improve their bench particularly at the wing that can play multiple positions, do you think D’Antoni will decrease his minutes per game to somewhere between 30-33mpg? History of ruptured Achilles in the NBA is not very positive. Some tends to retire. Do you think Kobe can still play at the very elite level. Can he still crack at least 25 ppg, 4 rpg and 4apg? What do you think will be his number of games this season and when will he be ready? Given the Portland backcourt crowded situation, can Mo Williams contribute well fantasy wise? What realistic stats do you see from him? Thanks.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @John: Yeah I agree with your minute range. I don’t think he’ll be elite, but solid. I see that scoring closer to 20 than 25 in maybe 65 games. As to Mo, I think he’ll be a contributor, but as a streamer/ThrAGNOF guy in 10-team leagues – not someone that needs to stay on your team all year. 11 PPG 1.5 3PTM 3 Asts something like that. No prob thanks for reading!

  11. JH says:
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    Al Jefferson this year should seriously be a 1st rounder before Ibaka

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @JH: Wow, not outlandish, I thought moving big Al into the second round was pretty bold based on other ranks I’ve seen, but I like Ibaka’s developing offensive game and category killing blocks. Love Jefferson too though!

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