Continuing on with updated rankings after the top 10 and top 20, below rounds out my to 50. Previous rankings are in parentheses next to these updated ranks, with up and down designations only for guys hopping up or down significant spots. Have fun grilling these!
(22) 21. Nicolas Batum – A lot of commenters have wondered why he’s not in the top-20, and as I said in my previous 20-50 rankings, the declining FG% (45.1% to 42.3%) and 3PT% (39.1% to 37.2%) from 2011-12 to 12-13 gives me pause. Despite playing over 8 more minutes a game in 11-12 to 12-13, his scoring average only went up 0.4 Pts a game and he only averaged 12 a game after the All-Star Break with his wrist injury. He’s said the wrist is completely healed, and despite not needing surgery I would be worried with Batum as my second-rounder as the wrist could plague him again. He’ll still be a multi-cat workhorse, but I see no way he chucks up 6.1 3’s a night with new acquisitions Mo Williams and C.J. McCollum also manning the perimeter. Yeah their PT may not overlap too consistently, but I just don’t see the three point output mimicking last year.
(23) 22. LaMarcus Aldridge – Another big fantasy asset I’m slightly down on, the Blazers could very easily have another rough first half and look to trade their franchise big. The rumors have been swirling for quite some time, and there’s virtually no destination where I think he would be a better fantasy player than in Portland.
(24) 23. Anthony Davis – I’m ready for a huge sophomore outburst from the ‘Brow who I have the same note for as the previous rankings: 16.0+ PPG scorer in the last 2 moths (19 games played), already at 1.8 Blks and 1.2 Stls a game last year overall, and I think will get up to 2.5 Blks a game. Will do it all except hit 3′s.
(30) ↑ 24. Dirk Nowitzki – I was a little worried that the Mavs were bringing in another big – Josh Smith and Dwight Howard were rumors – but since they brought in guards I think Dirk is ready to repeat what we saw in the second half last year. He started very slow easing back from injury, but with news coming out he’s considering a return to international basketball as well has me thinking he’s feeling 100%. He’s still got some left in the Panzer.
(27) 25. Ty Lawson – The loss of Iguodala has me a little worried, but basketball’s Ty Law should put up virtually the same numbers as last year.
(20) ↓ 26. Josh Smith – I’m probably lower on him than any other rankings, but I’ll be passing on J Smoove this year. I really don’t like the move to Detroit, I know he goes to a nice destination to get even more shots, but just something has me worried he could turn into DeMarcus Cousins on such a bad team. I know Jennings is another big acquisition that could make them a playoff contender, just seems like clashing personalities and I’ve never been a Smith fan to begin with. As Tugg Speedman would say, “I’ve got a baaad feeling about this one.”
(36) ↑ 27. Joakim Noah – More a reconsideration from my previous ranks than any big news in the offseason, the Goromotaro should have another solid season. Despite my original perception that injuries ravaged his second half, his numbers still looked good when he was able to suit up. Even though he looks like a homeless 60-year old, he’s still only 27 so the plantar fasciitis has an outside shot of not cropping up in 13-14 as he’s said he’ll be healthy heading into camp.
(38) ↑ 28. Larry Sanders – The Bucks new look backcourt of O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight will reap vast rewards to the Milwaukee bigs as Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings were obviously shoot/drive-first guards. Sanders was huge last year, improving his scoring from 8.5 to 12 after the ASB and giving you elite blocks. GM John Hammond, after taking a break from building Jurassic Park, recently called Sanders the key to the team and he got a 4-year extension.
(39) ↑ 29. Ersan Ilyasova – As with my previous ranks, I’m keeping the Milwaukee bigs paired with a huge year from Ilysova coming. His 12-13 total numbers aren’t awe inspiring, but the Bucks were absent-mindedly bringing him off the bench early in the season. The same note with Sanders holds for Ilyasova – two new guards that aren’t shot-hogs will boon their fantasy stats. He’ll shoot close to 45% from deep, he boarded 9 a game in the 2nd-half last year and that will repeat, big year ahead.
(41) ↑ 30. Tony Parker – Same analysis as with Noah, even with injuries causing him to miss some games his numbers never suffered and I had him too low. But another big factor was San Antonio coming up a layup short of a title, and the Spurs will be ready to go for another run. I think he can come close to duplicating last year’s success.
(33) 31. Jeff Teague – As crazy as it sounds, I really wanted to rank Teague ahead of Parker, but just couldn’t. Listen if you told me both would play 82 games it’s obviously Parker, but Teague has missed only 2 games the past two seasons, that can’t be ignored, and is ready to become an NBA star. I wrote at length on him months ago, and with Josh Smith gone and the much more efficient Paul Millsap down low, Teague is going to flourish. Probably ranked a round or two above his ADP; I have him this high as he’ll be on all my teams.
(28) 32. David Lee – All reports are he’s feeling great off minor hip surgery in May and will continue to be a fantastic fantasy forward.
(29) 33. Mike Conley – Same anaylsis from previous rankings – he’ll take over the lead scorer role as well as facilitator with Rudy Gay now north of the border. Averaged over 16 Pts a game the last three months once Gay was gone and I think can be an 18 PPG scorer and boost his assists to 7.5 a game.
(59) ↑ 34. Pau Gasol – As promised, if Dwight was moved Pau would go way up. Even if the reports from Will Carroll, lead writer for Sports Medicine and Bleacher Report, are true that Kobe will be ready opening night, Pau is going to have another solid season as the unquestioned focal point down low. Don’t underrate Chris Kaman helping alleviate pressure giving the Lakers two solid bigs down low again for 13-14.
(31) 35. Nikola Vucevic – An absolute dream 12-13 season for Vuc, who’s 11.9 boards a game ranked 2nd in the NBA. Was durable in his first full season (as opposed to virtually every other Magic player), showed a huge improvement offensively, 2 Asts, a Stl, and a Blk a game as well – what’s not to like?
(25) ↓ 36. Dwight Howard – The horrific FT% is just too big to ignore, and while I think the move to Houston is a lateral step rather than better or worse, I was optimistic in my original ranks that the Lakers would hold onto him and build around that elite front court. The shoulder injury certainly hurt his numbers and remains a concern. However, there is optimism – Antawn Jamison recently said Kobe “rubbed Dwight the wrong way” maybe Harden can “rub him the right way.”
(49) ↑ 37. Tim Duncan – Pop quiz. How many blocks do you think Timmy averaged a game last year? Think of your number. When I did my original rankings it was during the NBA Playoffs, so with that Game 7 “haunting” Duncan, I think he has the motivation for another strong season. Not that he would need the motivation, but that extra bit of fuel on the fire outweighs an extra year on the tires. That said, it was a resurgent 12-13 after 2 lackluster years in comparison, so there is a shade of risk. PS – the answer was 2.7 a game! Maybe everyone knew that, but it blows my mind he was third in the league ahead of Dwight, Hibbert, and Brook Lopez to name a few.
(62) ↑ 38. Paul Millsap – I was perhaps too pessimistic on free agent landing zones in Operation Millsap Drop, but ending up in ATL he should flourish. Before checking, I thought Millsap was around 30 as well, but he’s only 27 and coming off an exceedingly low 30:26 minutes a game. I’m obviously in love with Teague, so in my opinion he is paired with another elite center in Al Horford and the best PG he’s played with since Deron Williams.
(40) 39. Brandon Jennings – The move to Detroit doesn’t change much for me; he’s still a great scorer but with horrible FG% and turnovers. Don’t think any of that changes with the change of scenery.
(37) 40. Rudy Gay – Off-season eye surgery, off-season working out with the Dream, and like a full offseason to gel with DeRozan. I won’t reach too high for him, but I think this will be right around his ADP. I’ve said it all offseason, love the Raptors and think this is a playoff team.
(42) 41. Kawhi Leonard – According to Basketball Monster, Kawhi was actually 23rd in overall per-game value and I think it ready to really thrive in the Spurs offense. He just does everything, very smooth game that racks up multi-cat stats, think he’s going to be a fantastic steal in the 5th round.
(34) ↓ 42. Jrue Holiday – I’m just not a big Holiday fan. I think he had a big, flukey first half of 12-13, then was awful post-ASB. The scoring average dropped more than 1.5 Pts every month the last three months of the season (20.9 to 12.7). Yeah the 8.0 assists a game make him more than just a scorer, but 3.7 TOs nullify some of that boost. The move to the Pelicans should open things up a tad with some actual scorers around him, but Holiday won’t end up on any of my teams.
(35) ↓ 43. Roy Hibbert – Nothing much has changed just thinking I had him too high a few months ago while he was rockin’ n rollin’ in the Playoffs. I do still like to cite that he has tremendous durability for a big (376 games played out of 394 in five seasons) so despite some volatility in numbers, you get the safety of him being out there.
(46) 44. DeMarcus Cousins – He’s a lot like Josh Smith to me – he can be the X Factor to win leagues or to lose them. Talent and unreal athleticism have always been there, but the very well-known spats with management and mental inconsistencies still worry me. It is encouraging to see he’s working out a possible extension with the Kings and they have faith in him, but I won’t reach for him in fantasy drafts. But if he falls to me here, I’ll be happy.
(45) 45. Blake Griffin – Just a brutal year from Griffin who disappointed owners who drafted him, and I won’t be the one to reach for him this year. Explain to me how a leaper like Griffin can only get 0.6 Blks a game in his career? While he did improve his FT%, it’s still pretty brutal and I wouldn’t want the highlights machine earlier than 45.
(63) ↑ 46. Jeff Green – We all saw what Green could do with minutes and opportunity, and both are assured to him with the big trade and regime change. Huge year coming.
(47) 47. Nikola Pekovic – Love Pekovic to be a beast again in 2013-14, where last season he absolutely dominated the paint in every game I watched. I see his FG% to go up to around 55 with the defense attention Kevin Love will command and aided by the big breakout I see for Ricky Rubio. Love those three in fantasy this year.
(N/A) ↑ 48. Kobe Bryant – Seems a bit foolish that I didn’t even rank Kobe in my top 100 4 months ago, but the ageless one is defying the odds with his Achilles rehab. When it happened, it looked like he’d miss a majority of 13-14, and as mentioned with Pau – Will Carroll, lead writer for Sports Medicine and Bleacher Report, reported that Kobe will be ready opening night. Kobe just came out and said he’s uncertain himself, but there’s a lot of optimism in the air that he may play 70ish games if he avoids another injury, and that’s too good to pass up on. I don’t see him putting up 27 a night again, but loved seeing the uptick in assists as he took the facilitator role at times in D’Antoni’s offense and think he can be solid even if he’s not the same player he was pre-Achilles tear.
(50) 49. Jonas Valanciunas – I still may have him ranked a few rounds above his ADP, but Valanciunas will be on every single one of my teams this year. I’ve written that statement here, here, and in the very early rankings here, and all he’s done is win the 2013 Summer League MVP averaging 18.8/10 and started shooting up everyone’s sleeper lists. I’m paying the premium because I’ve bought it the whole time. As said on his previous ranking, after returning from a broken finger, Valanciunas took off with a fantastic final two months of 12-13. His fantastic FG% (55.7 – 58.8 after ASB) and FT% (78.9 – 82.9 after ASB) can’t be ignored and he will get so much room down low with the focus on Gay and DeRozan. The Luminescent Lithuanian just turned 21, but has been playing pro in Europe since he was 16 – my boldest breakout buys.
(56) 50. Chris Bosh – It was another strong season for Bosh, but the scoring and boards went down. That said, he was uber-efficient with a 53.5 FG% and upped his blocks 1.4 a night. Solid play rounding out the top 50.