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Playoff basketball – yes spelled “basketball” – is underway, got some great games to kick it off, including from our boy PBev!  While I’m coming around and trying to watch more playoff hoops (baseball is still fresh and new, sue me!), I’m still more excited for the hopes and dreams of 2017-18 fantasy titles.

In case you’re still catching up, here’s my Way Too Early Top 10 ranks, which hopefully mostly hold up (they mostly come out at night…) for the 2017-18 season.  Of course my boldest call of Rudy #10 gets greeted by a first quarter knee injury in game 1 of the playoffs, hooray!  C’mon Rudy, just stay healthy, no one in fantasy cares how you play in the playoffs!  Hah!  So let’s all hope none of these guys in my 11-25 get injuries their next postseason game…  Here’s my Way Too Early Top 25 for the 2017-18 Fantasy Basketball Season:

11. Jimmy Butler Godzilla is back!

Jimmy Butler Godzilla

Oddly, Grey asked me on the Baseball Pod this morning if anyone calls me “JB Godzilla”.  Even odder, no one has ever compared my pickup game to Jimmy Butler either…  Egregious on all counts!  BBMonster had him as the 10th overall finisher, he avoided injuries playing 76 games, matched a career best in steals while besting in points and assists, while still only committing 2.1 TO.  With Dwyane Wade likely gone and no PG to speak of, Buckets should have all the USG he can handle.

12. John Wall If you wanna see a PG lefty slam, Wall is ya boi!  Also if you wanna see a career-high 45.1% shooting, career-highs in PTS and AST (23.1/10.7), then keep tippin’ on 4-4s!  Is a Paul Wall reference too dated?!  Rankings systems hate on him due to the high TOs and his low 3s (compared to the other high-TO PGs), but when you chip in over half a block a game and become a stat killer in Pts/Ast, we’ll accept all of your faults!  Gonna love the 11th/12th pick Gobert/Wall combo!

13. Damian Lillard What an unbelievable second half from The Omen, putting the Blazers on his back to bring them into the playoffs.  29.7/4.9/6.0/1.3/0.2 post-ASB, but it was the 46.7% shooting with 3.5 treys that was having him play at a near-Curry-level.  And I don’t say that in jest, like the Kings owner about Buddy Hield!  I dunno if I quite buy the steals over that stretch, but I do think we can continue to see FG% improvements as he keeps the treys up.  It was a tough call between he and Wall, but give me the dimes and steals over the treys.

14. Isaiah Thomas Heart goes out to Isaiah, playing through an unimaginably rough time.  I’ve got nothing but praise for the lil’ fellah on my end though, going mad high for him in 17-18 drafts.  He and Lillard might be the two most similar players in the top-end of drafts – score a ton, decent dimes, high treys, and both had their FG%s take big steps up.  The concern for IT2/3 – something we can’t really gauge yet – is how Boston assembles their roster for next season with all their picks and young depth that they could consolidate] into another USG-whore.  That would be no bueno, but we’ll see what happens over the offseason.

15. Draymond Green #Occupy baby!  While we all expected the offense to drop – it did – I thought the treys might tick up a little and the FG% remain usable, but damn he had trouble making his shots!  FG% fell from 49% to 41.8%, but a big reason was indeed the treys.  3.2 of his 10.1 shots in 15-16 were treys (31.7%), but last year 3.5 of his only 8.6 shots were treys (40.7%).  His FG volume is already pretty low, but I’ll split the difference and project him at around 45% from the field, and his safety in the popcorn stats and stocks keeps him a mid-2nd rounder for me.  Plus his TO did fall from 3.2 to 2.4, so the efficiency got a nice little boost in the giveaways.

16. LeBron James Ah, the enigma of ranking LeBron these days…  He’s still near the NBA’s best when he wants it, but during the slog of the regular season, he’s busy not telling you to drink Sprite.  Still finished 12th in per-game value last year, but a lot was boosted by the minutes cranking way back up to 37:46, his highest since 12-13.  The Cavs had some struggles in the reg. season losing that 1 Seed, so I think he over-exerted himself to keep them from prolonged losing streaks.  Anyway, as you’d expect from old players, steals fell to a career-low 1.2, but he salvaged his value with a career-high 8.7 dimes.  Career-high 4.1 TO too…  AND WHY CAN’T HE MAKE A GODDAMMED FT?!  Narrative remains the same, you’ll love his value if he falls this far early in the year, then frantically try to trade him as you near the fantasy playoffs.

17. Kyle Lowry Sigh…  Another upper extremity issue causing the numbers to fall apart, but unlike the hand stuff in 14-15, this time he shut it down and didn’t hurt your numbers while he couldn’t shoot…  Age is certainly a concern – he just turned 31 – but before the wrist injury, his numbers remained rock solid (unlike his bone density), and he was shooting a career-high 46.4%.  Dude, what’s with all these 3PT-shooting PGs suddenly making all their shots?!  I think the balls were juiced this year, they were just a little more flat and the surface a little less bouncy, so the treys didn’t rim out as much haha.

18. DeMarcus Cousins Well, time will tell if the twin towers approach can work in Nawleans, but from a fantasy perspective, all is well!  Scoring went down just a tad for Boogie, but boards went up, treys oddly went up, and everything else was close enough.  BBMonster had him finish 13th overall in per-game, but games played does present a little bit of a concern – got to 72 last year which was nice, but that’s after two years of 65 or under, and hasn’t played 75 since 12-13.  I could see the argument against him, but I think the TO can go further down with Jrue Holiday running the point, and he can see a little more efficiency playing next to Brow vs. being the central focal point like he was on the Kings.

19. Nikola Jokic Jock Itchhhhhh!  Wow, what an unbelievable run, after it looked like he might not be a starter all year in November.  Already ranked 20th in per-game, if you take out the rocky start, he was 19.0/10.9/5.5/0.8/0.8 over his final 57 games.  The big stat is the FG% over that span though – 58.9%!  I know Slim loves to rip the low stocks, but this is pretty much Nikola Vucevic with dimes and maybe a trey per game.  And consensus had Vooch like 25-30 for a few years.  Over that final stretch – 11/27 through the end of the season – Jock Itch was 11th in per-game.  11th!  But yeah, since the TO aren’t out of control and the %s are so good, the rating systems are gonna love on him a tad higher than I would.  I could actually see this being a pessimistic rank against consensus, but I’d be happy with him from mid-to-late 2nd round.

20. Kristaps Porzingis Kristaps!  POISON GOOSE!  We haven’t played the song recently on the Podcast at all!  BBMonster has his per-game all the way down at 35, but The Poppycockers are about to go through so much change – plus Zinger played a little hurt here and there – that I think his pure numbers in his soph. season will make him a draft day value.  The FG% went way up, blocks got right to 2.0, he doesn’t turn it over, I’m actually struggling to see why the rankings don’t love him…  He oddly had the FT% drop a little, but I think he’s gonna be a mid-80% freebie shooter.  And without the USG-drain of Derrick Rose, and who the F knows with all the Melo drama, I think The Poison Goose is a lock for 20+ points along with the rest of his poisonous goodness.

21. Myles Turner Burning through our big men!  Man, I can’t believe I let Al Jefferson scare me off ranking Turner a little better in 16-17, but lesson learned!  Here’s a guy who had a big playoffs in 15-16 that should’ve had me buying mad hard again last year…  And I was by far the torchbearer for him his rookie year!  Argh, it’s like Gobert, I was just a little too bold one year too early…  Anywho, Myles’ 31:22 MPG helped cement him a fixture in the top rounds, and he shot 51.1% from the field despite being a mid-range shooter, so was awesome to see.  2.1 blocks, and from a guy who makes his FT?!  The 1.3 TO are a big boost for him as well.  I did initially worry about the wall he seemed to be hitting late in the season – barely over 46% shooting in Feb/March and the scoring went way down – but he picked it up in April.  His first two playoff games against the Cavs haven’t been great, however I ain’t letting that keep me from walking 500 Myles.

22. Paul George As the 14th per-game finisher and being a warrior through 77 games (I mean a Pacer through 77 games!), I could see a lot of flack for having PG13 this low.  He looks phenomenal putting the Pacers on his back to try and beat the Cavs, but man, like the 3PT shooting PGs, I just don’t buy he’s suddenly a 46+% shooter!  I know I said I buy it for some of those guys above, but I’m re-thinking EVERYTHING right now…  I really think I might be on to something with the 3PT shooting guys – did they maybe make the rims like an inch wider?!  So weird!  He’s still in his prime, the scoring is awesome, but the steals went down as did the dimes, and I think we see him evolve to a shoot-first-ask-questions-later scorer.  He’ll shoot 43-44%, scoring I bet could go up even more to 25+ PPG, but the AST and STL keep him kinda a one-dimensional scorer.  I’ll shore up some other stats instead.

23. Hassan Whiteside Well, the first-round thing didn’t quite work!  3.7 to 2.1.  Almost cut in half.  Yup, that’s the blocks.  Yeesh!  65% to 62.8%.  The FT% improvements didn’t really carry over.  Bleh.  But he was still 17/14 with 2 blocks, and I guess that’s not too dissimilar from Gobert, but I’ll buy Gobert beats him in FG%, FT% and blocks by a nice little margin that’ll have me pay the premium for Monsieur.

24. C.J. McCollum He’s really good at basketball…  I don’t think long-term readers will ever live down when I doubted him as a sleeper when he broke out.  Mea culpa!  But I’m with ya now, he’s just phenomenal to watch.  A full year of CJ/Omen with Jusuf Nurkic manning the paint – this could really start working for Portlandia.  Here’s YET ANOTHER 3PT shooter who saw a drastic improvement in FG%, making an absurd 48% from the field with his 2.3 treys.  Back-to-back seasons of well over 40+% from the 3PT line too!  42.1% from deep last year!  Add in an increased FT volume at 91.2% (!!!!!!!!) and the TO going down, and baby you got a stew going!  You just gotta be sure he’s paired with an early PG that gets dimes and steals, and you’re golden!

25. Kemba Walker Are we noticing a trend yet?  44.4% from the field, and 39.9% from deep – both career-highs.  I feel like I’m in the plot of a political thriller, and I’ve uncovered a huge scandal.  Has anyone written on these FG% bumps?!  I’m going to do more research this week, it’s kinda blowing my mind.  But for the sake of wrapping up this post, Kemba scored 23.2 and maintained the dimes and low TO, but the breakout in those cats got masked by the steals falling back down to 1.1.  He’s really not that different than Omen or Isaiah, but will come at a nice little discount.  The FT volume went down and he’s not a killer in that cat like those other two, but he’s a nice, cheaper mini-PG option amongst the lollipop guild.

 

There we go, Way Too Early Top-25!  What do you think of these guys?  I don’t think I’m doing anything too egregious just yet – I think these guys are all safe and solid enough to not get supplanted by some bold calls.  We’ll save that for the Top-50…  Happy playoffs and fantasy offseason, Razzball Nation!

  1. Shahed says:
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    Wow, Paul George only 22nd, I guess I understand your logic. I actually like Conley over Kemba, but it’s close, for me anyway, I think Conley is was underrated. I agree with everything else.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Shahed: Yeah I had a feeling that would come off as really low for PG13. But gimme the stocks guys! Conley injury history still kinda bothers me. He isn’t too far away though. Conley – YET ANOTHER guy with career high FG%, took a HUGE high in 3pt volume, AND made highest 3pt%. I need to do some mad research on this

      • Shahed says:
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        @JB Gilpin: It’s the way now, gotta shoot 3s. Kyrie is another one, and Beal, career high 3 attempts and FG%.

        • JB Gilpin

          JB Gilpin says:
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          @Shahed: I’m going to find some evidence that the balls are slightly different or they widened the rims. I’m going to uncover a great conspiracy here

  2. Purdman says:
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    Phil will probably resign Rose to a 5-year max contract though.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Purdman: Hahaha I could totally see that, but would be awful. Smite away Melo, but resign Rose hahahaha

  3. Dusty says:
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    Knicks got to do something big in the off-season. Came 85 wins short of the projected 116 total this year.

    • JB Gilpin

      JB Gilpin says:
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      @Dusty: Hhahaha I know right?! Just a good 80% short of their goal haha

  4. Jeremy says:
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    nice ranks! and LOL omg I didnt even notice until you mention this. That is crazy all the career sub 40% shooters are all shooting 46+% this year lol. They definitely did something to either the rim or the ball.

    Here’s my thoughts on your ranks:

    Draymond is too high — I can’t picture taking a guy who only avg 10 pts with a top 15 pick. Points are actually kinda hard to find past the early rounds and taking draymond with a early 2nd pick will cost you to lose points every single week. Points are probably the worst cat to punt, as I have tired it b4 and did not work out too well. I like him more in the 20-25 range and i would def take jokic ahead of draymond.

    PG13 is a bit low – I know slim hates him, but he’s a stud and I’m baised cause he carried my team in the finals (17 3s, 130 pts, 10 steals lol). I watched him alot this year cause I have him and his shooting stoke is so nice that I think he will be able to keep up the 45%fg . Plus, he doesn’t have the rest risk like lebron. I think I will actually take him over lebron next year.

    Bradley Beal- Compare his stats to Cj’s. Tell me they don’t have identical stats almost lol. I think beal will be a draft day value next year. He has top 25 upside but will probably be drafted in the 3rd round. People will still be scared about his foot, but i’m all in on this guy next year, he’s so nasty. He will be my 3rd round pick in all leagues most likely. I just think because you have CJ at 24, it would make sense to have beal in top 30 as well. I have been thinking about the beal vs mccolumn debate alot lately. And I think i’m actually starting to lean towards beal more just because john wall is a bigger injury risk than lillard. If wall ever goes down, beal might avg 25+points lol.

    • Jeremy chung says:
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      @Jeremy:

      And i forgot about kyrie, his numbers are much better than McCollum this year and should well be in top 25. the only knock is the rest days but hes actually one of the most consistent player in the nba. I think i read somewhere he has 29 or more combined pts + assists in all except 1 game this year. Thats crazy. I had him in 3 leagues this year and hes proven to be a solid 2nd round pick. I think its a little crazy to not have him in the top 25 hes not even in his prime yet. I would take him over lowry next year lowry is going to be 31 and always disappoints in the most important weeks for the last 3 years, i never owned lowry b4 but every year im grateful i didnt draft him lol. I took kyrie b4 him this year and turned out to be right.

      • JB Gilpin

        JB Gilpin says:
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        @Jeremy chung: Yeah man, I didn’t notice the %s thing until assembling this. I’m gonna write an article blaming the NBA for widening rims even if I can’t find anything hahaha.

        Dray – I kinda disagree here, just means you gotta draft empty points later. Wiggins. Eric Gordon. DeRozan maybe. Ya know.

        George – Ya maybe 🙂 It did feel weird having him outside top 20. I just think as I mention above he goes more scoring and less dimes/steals.

        Beal – While indirectly the Wall vs. Lillard injury risk is there, I’ll weigh the direct injury risk of Beal’s age/leg to McCollum’s age/no injuries since the foot thing in college I believe.

        Lowry was GREAT in the fantasy playoffs in 15-16! I still have faith. Yeah Kyrie is the rest days, and it’s tough to weigh “prime” bc he’s not gonna be the alpha every night on a LeBron/Love team.

        Both Lowry and Beal will be in 26-30 though 🙂

        Thanks for the thoughts and dropping by!

  5. Lasandro says:
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    Man I love reading these. AND I’m reading them while on vacay back home (Canberra, Australia), meaning that I’ve followed your site in 3 countries, now. InterRazzional!

    I think your reasoning for Jimmy and Wall is exactly why they both should be flipped for Gobert. I think the elite guard and stls stats that those two bring to the table are harder to make up later in drafts. There are plenty of mid-tier block guys later on in the BLo, Ibaka, Turner, Nurk, DJA, Marc… and most of these guys won’t root your FT%. Jimmy and John had phenomenal years, and I don’t see how they regress next season. Rudy’s FT% woes are real. And I think if GHill returns healthy, his best scoring season may already be behind him.

    He belongs in that range, but after them two studs.

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