I’ve got to say, growing up a huge Charlotte Hornets fan, I am going to finally have a favorite team again next year. I mean, the Bobcats is such a horrific name for a professional sports team that it actually made me not cheer for them. If they follow my logic – citizens of New Orleans, I’m sorry, you’re no longer cheering for your NBA team.
If you missed it the other night, the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery was selected (coincidentally right when a huge Powerball was built up and won – conspiracy?!) with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning another #1 pick. Nerlens Noel, or Captain N as I’m going to call him, looks like he’s heading to one of basketball’s friendliest cities. Just don’t leave for another team in a televised special. Honestly, my first thought was, “great, another talented player I have to navigate through injury estimates with.”
Anyway, I doubt any NBA rookies will crack the top 100 for fantasy this year, it’s a pretty weak draft class, but that’s why these way too early rankings will be capped at 100 before readdressed closer to the season when they’ll expand to 200. As always with rankings this early, it’s May, the Finals haven’t even started yet, and there will be a lot of revisions. But here’s how I see things shaking out as of right now:
51. Kemba Walker - Go Hornets! I’m sure Walker will have more buzz (see what I did there) in a lot of other rankings, but he’s just not that caliber of player. The 2.0 Stls a game were awesome, but he shot under 30% from 3 in the 2nd half and had a lot of struggling games. I see him being a bust if picked in the top 50.
52. Greg Monroe – Man, the hate I’ve been getting from a few commenters not having Monroe in the top 50. Random fact, 52 is my lucky number! Wait, so does that mean this pick will be right, or Monroe will be awesome? That’s up to you to decide, but I see a guy that has to vie for the rock with the emergence of Andre Drummond (who I’m not the biggest fan of either but he is going to get a lot of front court minutes) and had a lot of red flags last year. A FG% that dropped 3.5% (and he only made 0.1 more FG a game, so it’s not like it was due to taking a ton more shots being an offensive focal point), a FT% dropping 5%, 2.9 TOs a game and a microscopic block total for a big. I watched 5-6 Pistons games last year and Monroe seemed to always pull a disappearing act. I’m avoiding.
53. George Hill - A solid season for Hill, just wish he could dime a bit more. But he turns the ball over so friggin’ little!
54. Tobias Harris – Since taking over Razzball Basketball, I’ve written ad nauseum on Harris. I like the kid a lot. His ranking is going to be one of the most volatile this preseason, but right now, I think Harris has won himself a starting SF gig. His numbers with the Magic were obviously mind-boggling, but that was on an injury ravaged lost team. However, he is an across the board, rainbow line gold mine, and I think even with 4-5 fewer minutes can finish the year around here. Playing with fire, but I love the upside.
55. Chandler Parsons - Continues to improve in all categories in one of the best success rates from a 2nd-round pick in his first two seasons. I love the Rockets to continue improving across the board, and Parsons to be an excellent mid-round, across the board selection.
56. Chris Bosh - Like Parsons, does a little bit of it all but from the 5 spot, however declining rebounds keeps him from being a higher pick from me. Tough to get many more boards when LeBron and Wade are hitting everything though!
57. Ryan Anderson - While he is better than your run-of-a-mill ThrAGNOF, Anderson still for some reason didn’t start over Robin Lopez, but was in that off the bench, more minutes role. Just doesn’t do enough of anything else to justify a higher ranking even though he hits so many 3′s out of position.
58. Bradley Beal - A huge rookie season for Beal, but unfortunately, only while he was on the court for 56 games. Still, the upside is huge for a sophomore breakout, especially with John Wall, who I love, driving and dishing. Showed promise that he might be able to be a rainbow line aficionado as well.
59. Pau Gasol – Howard’s return plays a huge factor in this ranking, and right now I’m guessing he does, knocking Gasol down a bit. Listen, I think he still does have gas left in the tank (see what I did there?), but injury concerns still linger. Plus declining FG% and Rebs aren’t inspiring. Will move way up if Howard moves on, especially with no Kobe for a while either.
60. Klay Thompson – The end of year shooting slump has me scared, which is why he’s lower than a few rankings I’ve seen by comparison. He destroyed a lot of playoff pushes and was borderline droppable at the end of the year. ThrAGNOF!
61. Goran Dragic – The Phoenix Suns were a joke last year. After playing well, he got arbitrarily benched for a couple of games, but there’s tons of optimism from (thank god) new GM Ryan McDonough and current interim coach Lindsey Hunter. The big breakout didn’t happen last year, but I think it could be coming this year. May move up depending on some of the Suns’ offseason moves.
62. Paul Millsap – Millsap looks like he’s changing homes, so tough to rank him higher or lower than here. Still a quality player, but if moved to the right location, could move up.
63. Jeff Green - If Garnett retires, Green may very well move into the top 50. Flashed some absolutely unbelievable games when he started, and I think everyone that is involved with the Celtics knows he needs to become a focal point. Will be even more paramount while Rondo is out. Loving the hype.
64. David West - West thrived his second year with the Pacers, dramatically improving every major stat and still able to deliver across all categories. Safe and reliable as it comes.
65. Zach Randolph - A guy that seems to be on my team a lot of seasons as a value pick, continues to be a steady scoring/boarding option, despite getting up there in age.
66. Monta Ellis – A nice bounce back year for Ellis, who returned to over 2 Stls a game, tied a career-high in assists a game, and continues to be one of the most electric guards in the game. However, as of right now, it’s uncertain where he’s going and at this point I think it’s out of Milwaukee and somewhere where he’s going to get a tad less rock. That’s obviously speculation, and Ellis’ ranking will surely alter once we know where he’s headed.
67. DeMar DeRozan - Rudy Gay obviously becomes the #1 scoring option, but DeRozan actually thrived with another star in the fold. Struggling out of the gate, DeRozan actually averaged 1.5 more Pts and 0.5 Asts after the All-Star break once Gay arrived, plus shot 3% better from the field and 2% better from deep. I have a lot of faith in the Raptors to be a surprise team next year (see Luminescent Lithuanian), with DeRozan banking on that contract without the pressure of having to be the go-to guy.
68. Derrick Favors - Still a bit raw, Favors has all the potential in the world and may be looking at a starting gig in Utah. In only 23 minutes a game last year he was 9.4/7.1 with 1.7 blocks a game. He’s uber-athletic, a real force down low, and I think could be a 13/11 guy with 2.5 blocks a game, which would be a huge value in the middle rounds. Very high on him.
69. Gerald Henderson - Listen, with my admitted Charlotte (re)Hornets fandom, I might be buying a little too steep, but Henderson’s run down the stretch was pretty unreal. His second half of 18.9/4.0/3.4/1.0/0.6 should have a lot of people interested. All he needs is consistent starting minutes, which I think he’s earned despite a high draft pick coming into the mix.
70. Jimmy Butler – After the Bulls virtually set up a triage in their locker room for players dropping like flies, Butler became a solid constant, playing 48 minutes virtually every playoff game. There is a logjam with Luol Deng still in the fold, but I have a feeling he gets moved and/or the find a way to give the uber-durable Butler a starting gig.
71. Tristan Thompson – There is a big concern that his numbers across the final four months were much improved (aka Anderson Varejao was out), but every time I watched TT I thought he looked better and better. A conservative double-double a night plus at least 2 Asts, 1 Stl and 1 Blk on the low end has me seeing a ton of upside (11.7/9.4/1.3/0.7/0.9 last year).
72. Andre Iguodala - Love Iguodala as a player, and his defensive prowess and fast break acumen make him a better real-life player than in fantasy. However, he’s still a big-time contributor to your squad and should have another solid season.
73. Anderson Varejao - The league’s leading rebounder in the first quarter unfortunately went down with injuries, which is why I can’t bear to take him any higher than this. That said, he was averaging 3.4 Asts a game, absurd in that it would’ve doubled his career-high, along with 14/14 a game. Even though I will probably be passing, there is tons of upside here.
74. Wilson Chandler - It all comes down to the Danilo Gallinari ACL tear, which depending on his recovery time, will give Chandler 2-4 months of starting time. Like Jeff Green, we saw tons of upside with big minutes, and in a starting gig, could be a monster in the first half.
75. Kyle Lowry - Have I mentioned I’m all in on the Raptors? Four guys in the top 75?! What is this, Podcast Host Nick’s rankings? I know the points were down, but he’s going to have so many wide open 3′s with Gay and DeRozan slashing to the lane, he’s gonna top 6 Asts a game again, nab 1.5 Stls and get a block here and there (averaged 0.4 Blks a game last year) which helps at PG. The back issues are a concern though.
76. JR Smith - I’m probably going to get yelled at for this ranking, but despite setting a career-high in scoring and thriving in the Knicks offense, I see a wildly inconsistent player on a team that I think will be dysfunctional next year. We saw it in the playoffs.
77. Eric Bledsoe - This obviously assumes Bledsoe gets traded and nabs a starting job. Which I think he does. That run he had when Chris Paul got hurt was absolutely unreal, in 9 starts from January 22 to February 4 he scored double-digits in every single game, 3+ assists every game (averaged 5.8), a block in every single game (1.6/game) and 2.4 steals a game. If the starting gig in the right place is set up before I adjust the rankings before the season, expect there to be a lot of Bledsoe love, and I’ll be in the wave.
78. O.J. Mayo - An absolute resurrection moving to Dallas, Mayo returned to his rookie and sophomore year form and averaged a career-high assists. If the Mavs bring in a few big-ticket free agents, he’ll move down though.
79. Andre Drummond – I must hate the Pistons, as I believe I’ll be lower on both their bigs than most rankers. You love the blocks and boards, I could see 2 and 10 a game respectively, but the offense is so raw and the playing time so ungaurenteed that I won’t pick Drummond before here.
80. Kenneth Faried - I love Faried. Love, love, love him. Hard to believe this guy didn’t average 10 boards a game last year but was close and a steal and a block a game were nice. But he gets virtually no assists, doesn’t shoot threes, and shoots only 61% from the stripe, keeping him from vaulting higher for me.
81. Glen Davis - Injuries have been tough on Big Baby, but before breaking his foot, Davis was well on his way to a breakout season. Can hit on every stat category, will be one of the Magic’s go-to scorer (still think Tobias will be right there with him though) and will be overlooked by a lot of owners on draft day.
82. Marcin Gortat - The Ten Foot Pole – my new nickname for the Polish (not Latvian!) center – had a disappointing season last year, culminating in injuries keeping him out of almost the entire last two months. That said, I think there’s still something here. Another season to gel with Goran Dragic (tough to lose Steve Nash as your table-setter) and an additional year for this dysfunctional team to actually try and win games and I think Gortat can bounce back to 2011-12 numbers. There is a possibility he’ll be shopped, so stay tuned.
83. Luol Deng – While technically still the starter over Jimmy Butler, this mysterious illness during the playoffs is concerning to me, along with other injury concerns and the fact the Bulls will probably shop him. Nothing really impresses me too much, but can contribute across the board. Will readdress once we know if he’s back in the Windy City or elsewhere.
84. Thaddeus Young - Not a big fan of the Sixers, their offense was a mess most of the time last year, but Young set career highs in Rebs, Asts and Stls and tied it in Blks. A solid, safe pick that a lot of people may not want to make, but I like the value.
85. Joe Johnson - Johnson’s numbers came down across the board moving to Brooklyn, but were still very serviceable. Nothing really sticks out for me though to want to reach any higher. I don’t see any improvements on last years’ stats.
86. Eric Gordon – The injury bug did more than bite Gordon the past few season, they implanted in his knees and have kept him from bouncing back. That said, when on the court he was solid last year. Yea he shot worse from the field and won’t get virtually any boards, but I think will hit some threes, he showed he can still drive in the NO games I watched last year, and I think if he can get past getting benched on back-to-back games will return this kind of value.
87. Gordon Hayward - A solid season for the esteemed Butler grad, who at times became the Jazz’s go-to player last season. Another year of improvements, including a drastic improvement in 3-point shooting, has me excited.
88. Jeremy Lin - Anyone who reached for the Linsanity probably isn’t going to revisit having him on their team, but Lin was still a usable player and I think improves with a full offseason with running mate James Harden. I won’t break the bank for him, but slight improvements across most categories and a high Stls tally has me liking him here.
89. Wesley Matthews - A little bit of a ThrAGNOF, but before last season’s ankle injury, played in every single game his team had taken the floor.
90. Carlos Boozer - Prerequisite - hate Boozer as a player. Always yelling, if not at other players then at the refs, if not at the refs then just out loud to no one. Very FRUSTRATING AHHHHH! Just kidding, but Boozer won’t end up on any of my teams unless he falls about this far down. Yeah the scoring and boards are nice, but doesn’t do virtually anything else and shot 5.5% worse from the field last year compared to 2011-12. Injury concerns and his old age have me cashing out.
91. Raymond Felton - After starting the season hot, Felton broke his hand and never returned to early season form whence returning. The scoring overall was up a smidge compared to the last few season for him, but the assists were down and I wouldn’t spend more than a 10th-round pick on him.
92. Andrew Bogut - You’re crossing your fingers for a healthy season, because if you get that, you’re loving the value here. Yeah he didn’t score – like at all – last year, but can do everything else – and exceedingly well for a big man. And if his minutes go up from 24 a game like last season to 30, it’ll be a huge boost.
93. Tyreke Evans - Dude has all the talent in the world, but just can’t seem to get it all together like he did in his rookie season. Before looking at his year end stats I had thought he bounced back a little, but the opposite was the case. Sure a good amount of that can be attributed to losing over 3 minutes a game, partially due to some injuries, but I don’t see him bouncing back to those earlier years.
94. Omer Asik - Asik was solid, even if a tad underwhelming in his first season as starter, averaging a double-double a game but doing nothing else special and sinking your FT%.
95. Kevin Garnett - Possible retirement looming, if I had to draft today I wouldn’t touch KG. Another ranking that will be readdressed when we’re closer to the preseason.
96. J.J. Hickson - A really underrated player for what he does, I was able to nab Hickson with my last pick in virtually all 10-team leagues last year and he delivered. Got a double-double a night, shot over 56% from the floor and surprised a lot of people. The question is where he lands and if he’ll still have a starting gig. If Portland and yes, then right around here is where I’ll have him, if anywhere else and no, it’s obviously bye bye top 100.
97. Jameer Nelson - The injury risk is always gonna be there, but when he was on the floor Nelson was pretty solid. Given a lot of that time was without Glen Davis vying for shots late and without Tobias Harris early, but Nelson set career-highs in 3s a game, Asts and Stls. There’s a tad of upside here, but I don’t want to invest too much.
98. Mo Williams - Like Nelson, injuries have been abound for Mo-Will the past few seasons, but still is a top 100 player for me. What he’s lost with his 3-point stroke he’s gained in assists.
99. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - It was an up and down rookie season for the young now-Hornet, but he’s only 19 (he’ll turn 20 right before next season starts) and oozes potential. A lot will be factored in with the Hornets’ draft and off-season moves, but he has the upside to really deliver a solid multi-cat season.
100. Jamal Crawford - Faded in the 2nd half with a few nagging injuries, but still a big scorer and a glorified enough ThrAGNOF to round out the top 100.
I could write a whole another 1,000 words on guys just out of these rankings, but I’ll let the comments flow with the players who are out. As mentioned above, I won’t be going back to the rankings until about two months before opening night, and they will expand to 200 – along with breakdowns by position. Enjoy the summer and the offseason Razzball Nation!